Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Demoting Dozier

Brian Dozier will be turning double plays in Rochester
for at least the rest of the month.

The Monday print column this week — arguing that Brian Dozier should remain in the majors — hadn't yet hit the presses when I knew it was in trouble.

The game stories on Sunday focused on a questionable decision the rookie shortstop made in the 10th inning —when he took the easy, sure out at first rather than throw home to cut off the go-ahead run or to second to try for a double play.

Ron Gardenhire took pains to avoid publicly criticizing Dozier's decision-making process, but it was clear, reading between the lines, that the manager believed that the situation demanded Dozier try for the more difficult play. Taking the one out might have been the right move in the second inning, but not in the 10th.

Dozier didn't play Monday. And when I was filling out my scorecard at Target Field on Tuesday night and saw that Jamey Carroll was at shortstop for a second straight game, I knew it was not good for Dozier.

Pedro Florimon's
on-base percentage
in Triple A was
barely over .300.
Sure enough, after the game the Twins announced that Dozier was being optioned back to Triple A Rochester, where he opened 2012. Pedro Florimon, come on up.

Florimon, 25, is a good-field, no-hit shortstop who started the Triple A all-star game for the International League last month and won Baseball America's "Best Infield Arm" poll of league managers for its annual "Best Tools" issue. This won't be his major league debut; he had a small dose with the Orioles last year.

As I said in the column, Dozier hasn't had a good rookie season. He hasn't hit (.271 on-base percentage) and he leads AL shortstops in errors despite not playing in the majors until May 7. I think his defense has been better in recent weeks, but his hitting has not.

It's hardly an outrage that he's back in the minors. I don't know that Florimon is going to be an improvement in any aspect, but if the Twins believe that Dozier will benefit developmentally from a step down in competition, so be it. A marginal drop-off at shortstop isn't going to cost the Twins a playoff spot.

Gardenhire is believed by the beat writers to have wanted to keep Dozier, but if so he obviously lost out to the front office. This makes me wonder if service time is part of this decision. Sending Dozier down now will leave him about seven weeks shy of a full season (assuming that he is brought back when the rosters expand next month).

I doubt that's enough to push back Dozier's arbitration eligibility, but it opens that possibility a bit more. 

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