Saturday, June 19, 2010

Testing the Michael Cuddyer Principle

This is an interesting experiment with a variety of potential benefits and pitfalls: At least during this nine-game interleague road trip (translation: no DH), Michael Cuddyer figures to spend considerable time at third base.

He's played there before, of course. He was the "regular" third baseman in 2005, but played himself off the position by September. He wasn't good there defensively then; he's hardly likely to have improved at third after four seasons in the outfield.

There is a vocal faction in Twins Territory — has been since he vacated the position and emerged as a middle-of-the-order bat — that has wanted him returned to the hot corner. Ron Gardenhire has resisted that notion until now.

I wrote about this a few weeks ago: The Cuddyer Principle holds that (within certain limits) a major league player can play out of position for a while without it being blindly obvious that he doesn't really belong there.

The Twins figure that Cuddyer has already established that he's not a legitimate third baseman. Right now, Gardenhire's willing to pay that price to keep Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Delmon Young in the lineup.

I doubt Gardenhire will make this a permanent arrangement, even though it would (at least in theory) create a regular lineup spot for Jim Thome. But then, I didn't expect him to bend this much.

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