Thursday, March 29, 2018

A bench of role guys

There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of bench players. There are players -- typically veterans -- who have specific in-game roles.  And there are players -- typically younger -- who are waiting for a regular to get hurt or slump his way to the bench.

Leo Durocher, Hall of Fame manager, was notorious for dividing his teams into the guys who play and the guys who sit. Casey Stengel and Earl Weaver, also Hall of Fame managers, platooned everybody but their superstars; it was hard to tell who was their bench guys some years.

Rosters are shaped differently these days; benches are thinner when about half the roster is pitching. But the Twins bench under Ron Gardenhire tended strongly toward the Durocher model. Gardy didn't platoon much, and he liked a set lineup.

Paul Molitor has edged away from that, and it really shows in the bench the Twins expect to open with today. There are four players, and it's not difficult to identify their in-game roles:

  • Mitch Garver is the backup catcher. He's a right handed hitter, which gives Molitor a platoon option with starter Jason Castro. 
  • Ehire Adrianza, utility infielder, is a superior gloveman who started games last season at five different positions. He's a switch hitter.
  • Robbie Grossman, switch-hitter, is an on-base percentage specialist. The more he plays in the outfield, the less his bat helps. 
  • Ryan LaMarre, right handed hitter, is something of a mirror image to Grossman. Despite his gaudy spring training numbers, he's never been much of a hitter, but he's fast and a good defensive outfielder.
The Twins' nine regulars tend heavily to the left side. The bench is all right-handed or switch hitters. Molitor has some bat-first options and some glove-first options. There is nobody on this roster like Luis Rodriguez a few years ago, where one wondered what function he had. There is an obvious purpose to each of these four, and I applaud that.

No comments:

Post a Comment