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GAME THREAD 4/13/2021: Twins vs. Red Sox, 1:10 CDT

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The Minnesota Twins will play today! (I think, anyways....)Although the weather is ghastly today, the precipitation will come down as sno...
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Joe West wins lawsuit against Lo Duca

Other Baseball Today, 10:42 AM
https://www.msn.com/...artan-dhp-feeds   I was a bit surprised he won this but good for him, I guess.
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Ex Twins in 2021: Where Are They Now?

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One of my favorite annual threads on the site. Let’s stay updated on ex-Twins in the news... This is a start of a list, and feel free to...
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The 5 Rule Draft

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This year's Rule 5 draft we lost Akil Baddo and Tyler Wells. So I thought I'd check to see how they were doing. 1st I checked on Baddo, h...
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Twins Following Rays and Cubs with Defensive Flexibility

During Joe Maddon’s time in Tampa and Chicago, he was known for using players at multiple defensive positions. Will Rocco Baldelli, a Maddon prodigy, follow his footsteps with Minnesota’s defensive alignments?
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Catcher
Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are penciled in to get the majority of the innings behind the plate. However, Willians Astudillo is making the Opening Day roster and he can be used occasionally at catcher. Garver and Astudillo’s bats are strong enough that they may be used at other defensive positions as well. Jeffers is the best defensive catcher as his pitch framing skills are among baseball’s best.

First Base
Miguel Sano is set to be the primary first baseman, but his long-term role might end up being DH. Reports praise Alex Kirilloff and his athleticism at first, but he is starting the year in the minor leagues. Mitch Garver might be the team’s best back-up option at first until Kirilloff is called up. Max Kepler and Willians Astudillo also have some experience at first, but the Twins can get creative and use other players at first.

Second Base
Jorge Polanco has shifted from shortstop to second base, but he certainly isn’t anchored at that position. Luis Arraez will see time at second along with Astudillo. It is going to be intriguing to see how good Polanco can be in his transition to a new position. His previous defensive flaws won’t be magnified as much at second and some think he can be above average at second.

Third Base
As Twins fans saw last season, Josh Donaldson might not be able to be in the line-up for 162-games. Baldelli will need to find days off for him to get rest as he continues to age. Sano has the most experience at third among Twins players and the team sounds open to him making periodic starts at the hot corner. Arraez and Astudillo will also get opportunities at third.

Shortstop
If Andrelton Simmons is in the line-up, he is going to be the starting shortstop, because he has proven to be one of the best defenders at that position in baseball history. On the Opening Day roster, Polanco is the most likely player to take over if Simmons needs a day off. On the team’s official depth chart, Arraez is listed as the third option at short, but that would be in an emergency situation.

Left Field
One of the biggest question marks entering spring was who would take over for Eddie Rosario. Minnesota’s initial answer will be a platoon of Kyle Garlick and Jake Cave. Brent Rooker and Kirilloff were in the mix, but they didn’t make the club. Arraez has a chance to make starts in left, but he has very limited outfield experience and that inexperience showed itself during the spring.

Center Field
Much like shortstop, Byron Buxton is the primary center fielder, but he isn’t the club’s only option. Kepler has shown the ability to fill in nicely and he is an underrated defender in center. Also, Cave has experience starting in center even if he is the worst defender of the three.

Right Field
Max Kepler is one of the best defensive right fielders in baseball and he should start here on a regular basis. Many of the same options from left field can fill in for Kepler if he is needed in center field or if he needs rest. Garlick and Cave can shift to either corner spot so that adds even more flexibility.

How many different defensive alignments will Baldelli use in 2021? What’s the team’s best defensive line-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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14 Comments

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ToddlerHarmon
Mar 31 2021 12:06 AM
Best defensive lineup probably only has one spot in question: pitcher

1 Berrios
2 Jeffers
3 Sano
4 Polanco
5 Donaldson
6 Simmons
7 Cave
8 Buxton
9 Kepler
    • JoshDungan1 and Channing1964 like this
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Channing1964
Mar 31 2021 04:39 AM
I am sorry but did I miss something? Has Garver ever played even one game at 1b? The only guy I ever heard of playing 1b is Kepler. To count Garver as a 1b depth option is a reach at best.
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Doctor Gast
Mar 31 2021 05:31 AM
IMO LAD is the one that really expounds in depth. They put a lot of importance on depth especially on SS and CF, the crucial positions, where there is very little drop off in performance, 3 or so deep. This is what I desire for the Twins.
    • Twins33 and Dman like this
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yeahyabetcha
Mar 31 2021 05:54 AM
Not convinced the Twins flexibility is a good thing. Garver is a decent catcher and Arraez is probably ok at 2b, but he is marginal at any other position. And Austudillo is not an average fielder at any position
    • mikelink45 likes this

I like the direction the squad is heading in this context, but they've still got work to do in this department. I do think it's coming though. This is where drafting athletes and finding a position for them later has it's advantages.

 

The only thing I really worry about is that most of these positions have significant drop offs from the starter. Being capable and being adequate at a given position are two different things. But as I noted above, I do think some good options are waiting in St. Paul.

    • Channing1964 likes this
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Major League Ready
Mar 31 2021 07:55 AM

 

I am sorry but did I miss something? Has Garver ever played even one game at 1b? The only guy I ever heard of playing 1b is Kepler. To count Garver as a 1b depth option is a reach at best.

 

5 games according to Fangraphs

    • Channing1964 likes this
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Channing1964
Mar 31 2021 08:13 AM

5 games according to Fangraphs

Throw him out there by all means

Cave is not on my personal list, If Buxton goes down we need to reach into the minors where we have our next CF - Celestino.SS is not well backed up and neither is 3B.I see Garlick fading after one month in time for the Kiriloff call up.  

Garver has not hit well this spring, he did not hit well last season. We have to stop talking about his good bat until he shows that he found it again.  

 

Kepler is ready to go now that he had his 1 for 33 stretch in ST - right?I hope he blasts his way to erasing that debacle. 

 

Buxton (172), Cave (219), Garver (172) and Sano (159) have to leave their ST numbers behind.I left Simmons off the list because of his late start. I forget - ST Stats don't matter unless you are Kiriloff. 

I am sorry but did I miss something? Has Garver ever played even one game at 1b? The only guy I ever heard of playing 1b is Kepler. To count Garver as a 1b depth option is a reach at best.


Garver has played games at 1B a handful of times with the Twins
    • Channing1964 likes this
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Channing1964
Mar 31 2021 08:26 AM

Garver has played games at 1B a handful of times with the Twins

This year? I must have missed it....Throw him out there anyway. If that has to happen we will already be in big trouble

This year? I must have missed it....Throw him out there anyway. If that has to happen we will already be in big trouble


As a means to give Sano a day off here and there, it’s fine. Donaldson can play there, too, as a means to give Sano a day off, and Arraez or Astudillo can play 3rd. The article isn’t assuming that Garver or anyone would be a longer-term injury replacement, just that we have versatility to move people around when needed for a game here or there
    • Channing1964 likes this

Outfield seems to be in rough shape. We have Kepler, Buxton (who will get injured), Cave (of whom nobody is overly impressed) and a slew of people who had to battle it out for the least worst option as 4th. 

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iowaguychris
Mar 31 2021 09:32 AM

I love the idea of flexibility.The only position I'm not confident in the plan is for 3rd.If Donaldson has a long term injury, would they move Sano there for possibly the rest of the year? Or would they have a permanent platoon of the others in that spot?Or is there anyone in the minors who could simply come up and man the position for 100+ games that wouldn't diminish our depth for other positions?

The analytics say it’s more important to be above average offensively than above average defensively...and that ethos has strengthened as balls-in-play have continued to decline.

 

So, we can say it’s ‘flexibility’ or a ‘better/new’ type of athlete, but I don’t think that’s the case at all...and that take doesn’t pass the eye-test, either. If anything, today’s players are much slower (and bigger/stronger) on average than players of 30 years ago. Instead, IMO, it’s simply a growing trend, an inevitable trend given the modern game, to put the organization’s 9 best available hitters in the lineup as often as possible, while making the considerable defensive compromises necessary to make that happen. Defense-first players are dinosaurs, only existing at C, SS, and CF...rapidly approaching extinction at CF, and critical habitat showing signs of stress at SS and C.

 

Great defensive players will continue to come along, but more and more as opportunistic occurrences and less and less structurally (i.e., how players are developed, evaluated, and promoted). The bias for offense above defense is greater now than for any previous era.


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