Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Contemplating Eduardo Escobar

Eduardo Escobar (5) is greeted by Chris Colabello
after his game-winning homer Monday in Cleveland.
A bit more than a week ago, I posted this piece suggesting that Eduardo Escobar was about to supplant Pedro Florimon as the Twins shortstop.

And sure enough, Escobar started three games in a row at short, sat for the second game of a doubleheader, started the next day. Escobar went 6-for-17 in the process with three doubles and a couple of walks.

And then, for some reason, Florimon was back at short. He's started the last three games, going 1-for-10 in the process, which is pretty bad but barely lowers his batting average for the season (.109).

Escobar pinch hit for Florimon in the seventh Monday night and grounded out, but he came up again in the 10th and homered for the only run of the game.

I am willing to concede that Florimon is the superior defensive shortstop, although I don't think it's like we're comparing Ozzie Smith to Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Escobar can play shortstop. For what it's worth (not much), the defensive metrics at Baseball Reference actually give Escobar the edge this year.

But Florimon at the plate is hopeless. He entered Monday with 676 major league plate appearances and a slash line of .208/.269/.307, and it got a little worse that night.

I've seen enough of him. Give Escobar the job and let him run with it as far as he can.  No, he's not really going to hit like Derek Jeter used to, but he's not a Florimon-like automatic out either.

And I think that's what's going to happen, sooner or later. Right now the Twins have too many shortstops (Escobar, Florimon, Danny Santana) on the active roster. But I think that by the end of the week, Oswaldo Arcia will be deemed fit to return, and Santana will return to Rochester. And I think somewhere around the same time, Florimon will get shipped out too. (Probably with Eduardo Nunez coming up, although I think James Beresford would be a better choice.)

The Florimon-Escobar situation shouldn't turn into a reprise of Pat Meares-Denny Hocking two decades ago, when Meares got the first crack at the shortstop job and held it for years without doing anything worthwhile with it, while Hocking got pigeonholed as a utility guy.

Escobar, I fear, is getting pigeon holed as a utility guy. Maybe that is his ceiling, but it's painfully obvious by now that Florimon is miscast as a regular.

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