Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Shaking the glove tree, Day 2

The Twins on Tuesday signed veteran outfielder Drew Stubbs to a minor league contract with invite to major league camp.

That makes two days in a row that the Twins came up with a player more known for his glovework than his hitting.

Stubbs was once regarded as a promising prospect with power and speed. In 2010 he hit 22 homers and stole 30 bases for Cincinnati. He followed that up with a 205-strikeout season, and things pretty much deteriorated from there. He hasn't been a regular since 2014, and he split last year among three different organizations. He has a career slash line of .244/.314/.394, which isn't strong for an outfielder, and he's on the wrong side of 30 now.

Still, one can imagine a scenario in which Stubbs emerges with a share of an outfield job. He could be the right-handed complement to Eddie Rosario in left field -- a platoon with some offensive liabilities but featuring two players capable of playing center field. He's a better fit for that role than J.B. Shuck, who was signed earlier in the offseason to the same kind of contract.

The new front office has added some defense to the roster options, starting with Jason Castro, who is assured of the job of primary catcher, and continuing through Chris Giminez (catcher), Ehire Adrianza (infielder) and now Stubbs (outfielder). It remains to be seen, of course, how many of these guys make the team, and if they do how much Paul Molitor, whose lineup choices have tended to emphasize hitters, will play them.

But as one who has maintained for years that the best way to improve the pitching is to improve the defense, I applaud this direction.

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