Saturday, April 4, 2015

"Playing matchups" versus platooning

The demotion earlier this week of Aaron Hicks and Eddie Rosario signaled that the Twins will open 2015 with a center field platoon of two mediocre veterans, Jordan Schafer and Shane Robinson. Schafer hits left, Robinson right. It's an obvious platoon.

But we are being constantly "assured" by the broadcasters that it won't be a hard platoon. They're going to play matchups.

Well, that's what platooning IS: Matchups on a rudimentary level. Earl Weaver at his mad-dougout-scientist peak in the late '70s and early '80s ran very complex platoons, all of them starting with lefty-righty and then branching out into breaking ball-fast ball and other variables, but he had as many as nine outfielders. Paul Molitor has four true outfielders, two of whom aren't going to play center field unless Moli wishes to embarrass a pitcher. He hasn't a roster built to accommodate complex lineup shuffling.

The broadcasters are saying this because that's what they're being told, and I presume they're being told that because players generally hate being platooned and so why rub it in? Of course, at this point in their careers, Schafer and Robinson ought to embrace the role. It's better to platoon in the majors than play every day in the minors -- or to find a job in the real world.

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