Thursday, July 8, 2010

I got it, I got it (crash)

I've no numbers to support this, so it may simply be a matter of flawed perception, but it sure seems that the Twins have more near-collisions (or actual collisions) in their outfield since Torii Hunter left. Or, perhaps more to the point, since Denard Span arrived.

Until this year, I was inclined to think that Carlos Gomez was a factor. Gomez certainly poached fly balls beyond the normal limits of his range, and Span was playing outfield corners for the first time in his career. But Gomez is gone, and the close calls continue.

Wednesday was a case in point. Span and Delmon Young bumped in pursuit of a Jose Batista drive to the gap; Batista ended up with an inside-the-park home run and Young ended up with a sore wrist. A few innings earlier, Young alligator-armed a fly ball only to have it go off the end of his glove for an error; it may simply be an error, or perhaps he was pulling back because Span was flashing into the vicinity.

Orlando Hudson and Span bumped in short center earlier this season; Hudson missed about three weeks as a result.

I don't know what the issue is here. Is Span slow to call his teammates off, or not doing so at all? Is his voice too soft to be heard over the crowd? Am I exaggerating the issue?

As the center fielder, Span is supposed to take everything he can reach. Everybody else — corner outfielders, middle infielders — is to defer to him. I don't think this is happening.

Earlier this season, the Texas Rangers had a similar issue involving Josh Hamilton, who has spend much of his time in center but is now a corner outfielder, and new CF Julio Bourbon. Hamilton still had the center fielder mindset, and Bourbon was too willing to defer to the larger man. They had a meeting, after which Hamilton said he told Bourbon something like: When you call for it, I'm going to stop.

Which is the way it's supposed to be. What I see too often in the Twins outfield is dangerous — the players and to the scoreboard.

1 comment:

  1. The Twins have an issue this season the have not had in several years, they are decidedly mediocre or below average even in regard to outfield defense.

    Delmon Young has been okay trending toward very good in LF. Cuddyer is a big boy has slowed down considerably in RF overnight or maybe the new Target Field has exposed a lack of range always there. His arm is a weapon but is mitigated by how many balls he has to lumber after in the Target Field gaps. Kubel is his equal in RF now.

    I remember about 3 years a go super agent Scott Boras wanted a new stat introduced into baseball called EP’s…Exceptional Plays on defense. After years of Torii Hunter EPs and Carlos Gomez afterward the Twins now
    get none of those in CF. Span seemingly never makes a the above ordinary play in CF which is surprising as he had quite a few when playing the corner OF spots at the HHH Dome. He seemingly takes odd angles or gets bad jumps and is now the master of the, “he just missed making a great catch,” non game turning defensive play. All this is puzzling because Span’s rep in Rochester was of someone who could chase down balls in the gaps. Span’s arm is a borderline liability as well.

    With fly ball pitchers Blackburn and Baker and the vast spaces of CF at Target Field, the Twins are having some issues they never had to be concerned about.

    Also, Span needs to get some days off…I wrote in a comment here about looking at Dwayne Wise the day the Phillies released him. Ask Jason Kubel if Wise could be of some use to the Twins in CF. Jason Repko or Dwayne Wise, who would you want out there when Span needs a rest?