Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Article: MIN 4, BOS 1: For Grossman and Kepler, The Price...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:43 AM
The Twins have played two of their best games of the season to open this series against the Boston Red Sox. Last night it was the Eduardo...
Full topic ›

Article: Twins Minor League Report (6/20): Mejia Makes St...

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 11:43 PM
As the short-season minor leagues get going, it’s a lot of fun to highlight a lot of Firsts: First hits, first doubles, first wins, etc....
Full topic ›

Article: Royce Lewis: Patellar Tendinopathy

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 10:30 PM
(Twins Daily Note: In a Jeff Johnson story in The Gazette from Cedar Rapids, Royce Lewis noted that he has been diagnosed with Patellar t...
Full topic ›

Article: Twins Minor League Report (6/19): All-Star Festi...

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 10:22 PM
It was a busy night in the system on Tuesday, as the short season leagues have kicked off and two affiliate’s leagues played their All-St...
Full topic ›

Game Thread: Twins vs Red Sox, 6/20 @ 7:10 PM CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 09:53 PM
That game last night was something that I expected to see from the Twins lineup on most nights. Driving in guys when they have the chance...
Full topic ›

Defensive Reactions

Under newly installed leadership, the Minnesota Twins haven't been particularly active on the player acquisition front this offseason.

What moves they have made, though, have carried a distinct pattern. In efforts to cut down on an obscene 889 runs allowed, the Twins are emphasizing defense.
Image courtesy of Matt Marton, USA Today
It started with Jason Castro, who netted a $25 million contract as a free agent despite a sub-.700 career OPS. The former Astro generated significant demand due largely to his receiving and framing capabilities. His upgrade behind the plate over Kurt Suzuki – whose $1.5 million deal with the last-place Braves, despite posting a better OPS than Castro in 2016, reflects the league's opinion of his defensive impact – is tough to overstate.

It's the biggest splash the Twins have made, but hardly their only effort to incrementally supplement a fielding unit that last year converted balls into outs at the league's worst rate.

Castro will likely be backed up – at least initially – by Chris Gimenez, a glove-first veteran backstop. He was brought in on a minor league contract with a spring invite, as was outfielder J.B. Shuck, another defensive specialist.

As another example, when the Twins opened negotiations with the Dodgers, they were reportedly targeting Cody Bellinger, who some believe "could be elite" with the mitt at first base. Of course, those trade talks fell through, leaving the club stuck with a grossly overmatched Jorge Polanco at shortstop. On Monday, the front office made a move to create a contingency for this potentially grave weakness.

The Twins claimed 27-year-old infielder Ehire Adrianza off waivers from Milwaukee. In order to make room, they designated right-hander Pat Light for assignment, meaning they may lose the asset they acquired only six months ago when they traded Fernando Abad.

Despite his .605 OPS in 331 big-league plate appearances – all with San Francisco – it isn't hard to see why Minnesota would take a liking to Adrianza. A majority of his 650 defensive innings with the Giants came at shortstop, where he rated extremely well. (His UZR/150, albeit in a VERY small sample size, is in Andrelton Simmons territory for whatever that's worth.)

Given what we saw from Polanco and Eduardo Escobar at the position last year, Adrianza may now be the only legitimate MLB shortstop on the 40-man roster aside from Engelb Vielma, the light-hitting 22-year-old with less than 100 games of experience above Single-A.

Don't discount the possibility of this new addition becoming a dark horse contender for the starting shortstop gig. If he outshines Polanco and Escobar enough in the field, the Twins may decide they can live with his offensive shortcomings at the bottom of a lineup that could realistically feature above-average production everywhere else.

With the way things played out in 2016, sacrificing defense for offense at one of the most crucial positions on the field is far from ideal, and there's no doubt the head decision-makers recognize this.

  • Sconnie likes this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

77 Comments

Adding Drew Stubbs fits the description as well.  Great speed/defense.

 

Is JB Shuck a defensive specialist?

    • glunn likes this
Photo
Nick Nelson
Feb 07 2017 10:45 PM

Well, speedster who can run around in the corners at least. He hasn't played 360 games in the majors because of his bat. 

 

Yeah, Stubbs another guy in a similar vein. Pretty much everyone they have brought in offers at least something defensively. 

    • glunn and HitInAPinch like this

If we go with Adrianza at SS, how do we get Polanco at bats? Play him at 3B, Sano at DH, and Vargas on the bench?

    • glunn likes this
Photo
HitInAPinch
Feb 08 2017 02:40 AM

 

Adding Drew Stubbs fits the description as well.  Great speed/defense.

 

Is JB Shuck a defensive specialist?

If Stubbs could regain his offense circa 2009 - 2014, he could be a great addition.And a nice rotational player for days when the Twins face left-handed pitchers. 

Photo
HitInAPinch
Feb 08 2017 02:42 AM

 

 

If we go with Adrianza at SS, how do we get Polanco at bats? Play him at 3B, Sano at DH, and Vargas on the bench?

I'm thinking, with the new front office, Vargas may not be guaranteed 40 man guy.We shall see.....

 

If we go with Adrianza at SS, how do we get Polanco at bats? Play him at 3B, Sano at DH, and Vargas on the bench?

 

Again, they are absolutely not going to DH Sano.

 

I will never, ever understand this. Kid is 22 years old and numerous fans want to DH him already. Watch Sano enough in the field and you see something there. He has not had much chance to play third in the majors because he initially came up as a DH for a playoff run and then the Twins made the stupid decision to keep try him in right field. 

 

Give Sano a spring training at third and put him there the first few months of the season.

 

Personally, I find it doubtful that anybody but Polanco is the starting shortstop. At least for the first few months of the season, you stick him there and see if he improves. If it doesn't work, you find a trade partner for Dozier and put Polanco at second and Adrianza gives you a glove at short.

    • Thrylos, brvama, Cory Engelhardt and 3 others like this
Photo
theBOMisthebomb
Feb 08 2017 07:29 AM

Again, they are absolutely not going to DH Sano.
 
I will never, ever understand this. Kid is 22 years old and numerous fans want to DH him already. Watch Sano enough in the field and you see something there. He has not had much chance to play third in the majors because he initially came up as a DH for a playoff run and then the Twins made the stupid decision to keep try him in right field. 
 
Give Sano a spring training at third and put him there the first few months of the season.
 
Personally, I find it doubtful that anybody but Polanco is the starting shortstop. At least for the first few months of the season, you stick him there and see if he improves. If it doesn't work, you find a trade partner for Dozier and put Polanco at second and Adrianza gives you a glove at short.


The Sano at DH take is a visceral reaction to Miguel not being able to catch infield popups. He does have some talent there and an arm. It's just hard to lose the visual of those botched catches.

 

The Sano at DH take is a visceral reaction to Miguel not being able to catch infield popups. He does have some talent there and an arm. It's just hard to lose the visual of those botched catches.

That and his lateral movement is weak.  

 

Of course, when he does make a fairly routine play on a ball like, say, going three steps to his right, fielding it, then taking 3 more steps to stop his momentum to plant and throw (barely getting the runner because of his great arm) the play is regarded as awesome :-)

Photo
tarheeltwinsfan
Feb 08 2017 08:08 AM
Twins new motto is: "Defense" instead of hit it over "the fence"! I like it.
    • Nick Nelson, glunn, Twins33 and 1 other like this
Photo
Deduno Abides
Feb 08 2017 08:08 AM
Stubbs hasn't graded as a good fielder since 2012 (and he's a K machine, over 40% the last few years) and Shuck has never graded as a good fielder, except he was OK in SSS in 2014.

Castro isn't a great fielder; he's just good at pitch framing, which will remain a valuable skill only if umpires fail or are unable to learn from their mistakes, now that they are featured so much (and he's a K machine).

Yay! Florimon lite.
    • jorgenswest, Mike Sixel, messed up and 2 others like this

 

The Sano at DH take is a visceral reaction to Miguel not being able to catch infield popups. He does have some talent there and an arm. It's just hard to lose the visual of those botched catches.

 

I get that, to an extent. The Sano-as-DH thing began even before those pop-ups were dropped. A lot of people view him as a DH because of his size.

 

Here's the thing, though: You WANT Sano to be a third baseman. A 40-homer third baseman is a lot rarer than a 40-homer first baseman or a 40-homer DH. And he has a ton of value if he simply plays average defense. 

    • glunn, Oldgoat_MN and d-mac like this
Photo
diehardtwinsfan
Feb 08 2017 08:31 AM

yeah, way too soon to be taking Sano to DH.... Way too soon. Plenty of 3B guys have come up and improved defensively over time.I'll live with a bit below average for now knowing he will be an offensive force there. As he ages, that may change, but for now, Sano is a 3B.

    • glunn, brvama, Oldgoat_MN and 2 others like this
Photo
nicksaviking
Feb 08 2017 08:51 AM

I just hope this isn't actually Defensive Over-reactions.

 

I'm fine with Castro, but it's not like he's on a team friendly deal. Adrianza? Ugh, OK I guess, but again he doesn't look like he can hit, neither can Drew Stubbs. I understand this team needed to improve defensively, but I don't think it's wise if this team commits to 4-5 of their 12 batters being offensive black holes. In the case of Adrianza and Stubbs, even if they make the team, they're unlikely to start. Their glove doesn't do the team nearly as much good on the bench.

 

This is starting to look like an overcorrection to me, like the when the Twins finally realized they needed to stop prioritizing control over velocity in the draft and then went out and drafted a dozen hard throwing relief pitchers.

    • glunn, Mike Sixel, messed up and 5 others like this
I think the Twins painted themselves into a corner and therefore Adrianza with likely stick on the 25 man. Having Sano and Polanco on one side of the infield is very scary for Twins pitchers. We don't strike out a ton of hitters and Polanco doesn't get to a lot of balls. My totally unscientific opinion is that it will be better for our pitchers to overindex defense at SS. Could be that Polanco starts the season at SS but after a short period of time will fill in at 2B and 3B, still getting plenty of AB's.
    • birdwatcher likes this

 

I think the Twins painted themselves into a corner and therefore Adrianza with likely stick on the 25 man. Having Sano and Polanco on one side of the infield is very scary for Twins pitchers. We don't strike out a ton of hitters and Polanco doesn't get to a lot of balls. My totally unscientific opinion is that it will be better for our pitchers to overindex defense at SS. Could be that Polanco starts the season at SS but after a short period of time will fill in at 2B and 3B, still getting plenty of AB's.

 

How often do you plan to bench Dozier, for that to work?

Polanco needs to show he can handle the SS position to get the starting gig.  I like what Adrianza brings to the left side.  It's nice to see the Simmons comparison.  The Braves got a haul for Simmons and his bat is average for a SS.  Here are his 2015 numbers with the Braves .265/.321/.338--There is no power there.  His numbers with the Angels this year .281/.324/.366--Again, no power.  He did hit 17 HR in 2013 but his avg and OBP (.248/.296) were not good.  If Adrianza offers a similar glove to Simmons, we have a glove first SS until Gordon or Javier make the show.  Yes, I know that Adrianza's bat is about 25% worse than Simmons but his numbers from the minors look much better, so is it a case of not enough consistent BA's?  Maybe, maybe not.

 

I would much rather have Adrianza in the Util role that DanSan as he offers a much better glove anywhere you put him!!

 

Oh, and Sano will be fine at 3B.  Give the guy a chance.  He had no reps at 3B last year.  when you only do something once a week or not for 3 months, you are going to make a mistake here and there.  That's life.  The pop ups, eh, the outfield screwed with that I think.  Give him the season, if he can't handle it or doesn't show improvement, then maybe move him to 1B, He shouldn't be a full time DH until he is at least 30!! (i.e Big Papi)

    • birdwatcher, d-mac and Dozier's Glorious Hair like this

 

How often do you plan to bench Dozier, for that to work?

You put him at DH not the bench!!

How often do you plan to bench Dozier, for that to work?


Not that I will be given the option to fill out the lineup card :), but I would have Dozier in the lineup close to everyday. 2B, DH and even via giving him a 1B glove and telling him to spend time in spring training learning the position.
Photo
Nick Nelson
Feb 08 2017 09:21 AM

 

If we go with Adrianza at SS, how do we get Polanco at bats? Play him at 3B, Sano at DH, and Vargas on the bench?

I think my ideal usage for Polanco, at this point in time, would be sort of a roving infielder. Start at short with fly ball guys on the mound, start at third (with Sano at DH) with more GB-centric starters. Occasionally spell Dozier at second. Seems unlikely though because then what is Escobar doing on the roster.

 

 

This is starting to look like an overcorrection to me, like the when the Twins finally realized they needed to stop prioritizing control over velocity in the draft and then went out and drafted a dozen hard throwing relief pitchers.

I get what you're saying but I don't see the downside to their strategy. All these guys are coming in on minor-league deals with no strings attached (ostensibly). It's just good to have quality gloves on hand, when there was clearly a shortage in that regard. 

    • glunn, Riverbrian and Dozier's Glorious Hair like this
Photo
nicksaviking
Feb 08 2017 09:23 AM

 

How often do you plan to bench Dozier, for that to work?

 

If I'm in charge of this team (fingers crossed!) I give Dozier reps at 3B this spring. Not that I want to take Sano's glove away, but if it comes to that due to injury or ineffectiveness I think a Dozier-Escobar-Polanco infield would be fine, assuming Dozier doesn't have any issues learning another position.

    • Riverbrian and specialiststeve like this
Photo
Nick Nelson
Feb 08 2017 09:24 AM

 

Castro isn't a great fielder; he's just good at pitch framing, which will remain a valuable skill only if umpires fail or are unable to learn from their mistakes, now that they are featured so much (and he's a K machine).

You think a guy with a .230 career average, who hasn't played 130 games in a season, got a $25 million deal solely because of one skill, eh? 

    • brvama and d-mac like this
Photo
nicksaviking
Feb 08 2017 09:28 AM

 

I get what you're saying but I don't see the downside to their strategy. All these guys are coming in on minor-league deals with no strings attached (ostensibly). It's just good to have quality gloves on hand, when there was clearly a shortage in that regard. 

 

I don't have a problem with them coming in on minor league deals so much as I have a problem that in doing so, they probably have stopped the club from bringing in a professional hitter on a MLB deal. Ryan Raburn was my guy, and a modest ask at that. The guy destroys lefties, I'd rather have that on the bench or in a platoon. As far as the current projected starters go, outfield defense wasn't an issue. I don't think the Twins needed to prioritize a glove over a bat for the 4th/5th OF gig since the starters are solid and Granite is lurking.

    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, messed up and 4 others like this
Photo
Deduno Abides
Feb 08 2017 09:42 AM

You think a guy with a .230 career average, who hasn't played 130 games in a season, got a $25 million deal solely because of one skill, eh?


Yes, most of his $25M is for pitch framing, plus the hope that he can be a strong offensive player if he bats only against RHP. His blocking and throwing skills are just OK and his overall DRS was only 3.4 better than Suzuki in 2016. The big difference between them is that Castro was 24 runs better in pitch framing. So, yes, he got a $25M deal for pitch framing (and possibly the urgency of new management).

BTW, it's been years since his average was above .230, even though he was playing half his games in Minute Maid, where he's hit most of his homers the last three years.
    • jud6312 likes this
Photo
diehardtwinsfan
Feb 08 2017 09:44 AM

 

I just hope this isn't actually Defensive Over-reactions.

 

I'm fine with Castro, but it's not like he's on a team friendly deal. Adrianza? Ugh, OK I guess, but again he doesn't look like he can hit, neither can Drew Stubbs. I understand this team needed to improve defensively, but I don't think it's wise if this team commits to 4-5 of their 12 batters being offensive black holes. In the case of Adrianza and Stubbs, even if they make the team, they're unlikely to start. Their glove doesn't do the team nearly as much good on the bench.

 

This is starting to look like an overcorrection to me, like the when the Twins finally realized they needed to stop prioritizing control over velocity in the draft and then went out and drafted a dozen hard throwing relief pitchers.

 

True, but I think it's more of a late inning defensive substitution where they make sense. I wouldn't start either of those guys other than giving someone else the occasional day off, but having options to improve the defense when there's a lead certainly makes sense.

3 year/24.5M is not a big contract. It's a rather small FA contract for a starting veteran player.

 

He was worth over 9M last year and over 11M in each of the two previous seasons (and I doubt his pitch framing skill was included since it's based on his WAR which didn't have framing included).  If he's not really a low 1 WAR player like Fangraphs says, and more of a 2-3 WAR player when taking into acount the framing like Baseball Prospectus attempts to do, then this deal looks extremely good for the Twins.

    • d-mac likes this

Similar Articles


by Tom Froemming , 12 Jun 2018
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 07 Jun 2018
Photo


by Jamie Cameron , 24 May 2018
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 22 May 2018
Photo


by Heezy1323 , 17 May 2018
Photo