Monday, November 30, 2015

Why Plouffe stays at third

A comment on Friday's post wonders why the Twins aren't considering Trevor Plouffe for the outfield instead of contemplating such a move for Miguel Sano. After all, Plouffe was in the process of becoming an outfielder in 2012 when Danny Valencia's Twins tenure imploded and Plouffe wound up at third.

Indeed, that idea has crossed my mind (and entered the blog) more than once. But Terry Ryan has ruled it out. Four (explicit or inferred) reasons:

Squatters rights. This is not unique to the Twins. Teams rarely force an established player off his accustomed position to make room for a newcomer. They may sound him out, but if there is resistance, they'll generally leave the veteran alone and shift the kid -- or trade the veteran. Why? Because having a central figure of the team angry and resentful is bad -- bad for the manager and bad for the rookie trying to establish himself. (Note: This is a general observation, not necessarily specific to the Plouffe-Sano dynamic.)

I have a co-worker who rejects that thinking. If my boss tells me to do something, I do it; if I don't, I might get fired. But there are a lot more people capable of doing my job or his job than are capable of playing baseball at that level. It's a rare skill set. (The trade option is, in a sense, a variation of firing the player, except that he doesn't wind up unemployed.)

Plouffe isn't the player he was when the Twins had him in the outfield. He's heavier (by some 15 pounds) and older (29) than he was back then. It's a good guess that, even though Sano outweighs Plouffe, Sano is faster and simply a better athlete. Neither is likely to be an outstanding defensive outfielder, but Sano has better tools to bring to the job.

Plouffe is a better defensive third baseman than Sano. Play Sano at third and Plouffe in an outfield corner, you have a (presumably) below average defender at both positions; play Sano in the outfield and Plouffe at third, you have a below average outfielder and a good third baseman.

It's all posture. If the theory this is all about maintaining Plouffe's trade value is correct, which is more likely to be part of it: Plouffe's too good at third to move or We have to move him to make room for Sano?

1 comment:

  1. That makes sense. I forgot about the human element. If Plouffe doesn't want to switch positions it could cause a rift. Molitor experienced this himself as a young player when the Brewers tried to establish him in center and moved Gorman Thomas to a corner. Thomas didn't resent Molitor, but was certainly miffed at management.