Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Ballplayers as roster fluid

One aspect of Rocco Baldelli's managerial style that intrigues me has been his eagerness to move players all over the field.

Four Twins -- Ehire Adrianza, Luiz Arraez, Willians Astudillo and Marwin Gonzalez -- have started games at at least four different positions, excluding designated hitter.

Gonzalez has started 32 games at third base, 11 in left field, 11 in right field, nine at first base, two at second base and one at shortstop.

Astudillo (currently on the injured list) has 13 starts at catcher, eight at third base, four at first base, three in right field, one in left field and one at second base.

Adrianza has 11 starts at shortstop, 11 at third base, seven at second base, three at first base and two in right field.

Arraez has eight at second base, seven at third base, five in left field and two at shortstop.

The surprise here is Arraez. Adrianza, Astudillo and Gonzalez came to Minnesota from other organizations with versatility as a key component of their value. Arraez, the one home-grown player of the group, was primarily a second baseman in the minors, with little exposure to the left side of the infield and even less time in the outfield.

There are certain players Baldelli doesn't shuffle around. If Jorge Polanco's in the lineup, he's at short. If Byron Buxton is in the lineup, he's playing center. C.J. Cron, first base. Jonathan Schoop, second base. Jason Castro, catcher.

Of note: Baldelli has yet to start Mitch Garver, who has in the past played some at first base and corner outfield, other than at catcher or designated hitter.

But Baldelli treats much of the rest of the roster as fluids, flowing them around those foundation rocks. Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Jake Cave have all started games in center field. With Cron on the injured list, Baldelli started three different first basemen in the three games in Cleveland after the break -- Adrianza, Gonzalez and Miguel Sano.

When the Twins signed Gonzalez, people asked me: What position is he going to play? My response was: All of them. The same applies to the three A's -- Adrianza, Arraez and Astudillo. They all have more than 100 plate appearances despite stints on the injured list and time in the minors.

They've hit. They've fielded. And Baldelli finds them playing time.

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