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Recent Blogs


Five Position Player Headlines

Man, does it feel good to finally have real baseball news coming out of Florida. At the beginning of the week, Glen Perkins threw off the mound for the first time on his way back from injury. Phil Hughes might turn his removed rib into jewelry. I also ran through multiple headlines fans could follow as pitchers and catchers reported to Fort Myers.

Many position players are already in camp but their official reporting date will be this weekend. Here are some headlines to keep an eye on in the weeks ahead.
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA Today Sports
Sano Starts At Third
Minnesota's attempt to use Miguel Sano in the outfield was a disaster. His offensive numbers also took a dip after a tremendous rookie campaign. Sano will start this season as the team's Opening Day third baseman. As a prospect, there were questions about his defensive skills at the hot corner. With Trevor Plouffe no longer on the roster, Sano should get every opportunity to prove he can handle playing on both sides of the ball. It will be interesting to see if he starts to get any reps at first base since Joe Mauer's contract expires after the 2018 season.

Dozier Tries To Replicate
After a huge offensive season, Brian Dozier will try to prove that 2016 was not a fluke. He's been a very streaky hitter throughout his career. Let's not forget that last season he was barely hitting over .200 with five home runs through the season's first two months. I've been critical of Dozier's defense for the better part of two seasons and it's getting late in his career to make some major improvements on that side of the ball. It seems unlikely for Dozier to crank out another 40 home runs but he still can show some improvements by avoiding long offensive slumps and playing better defense.

Young Outfield Pieces
The Twins could enter the year with Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and Eddie Rosario as their starting outfield. This is a very young outfield core that is lacking in the experience department. Buxton showed some improvements in the last month of 2016. Kepler had an up-and-down rookie year as the league adjusted to him. Much like Sano, Rosario came back to the pack in his sophomore season. If these players can reach their full potential, this group might be the key to leading the Twins back to the playoffs.

Battling For DH and First Base
With Byung-Ho Park clearing waivers last week, this might leave the door open for other players to make the Opening Day roster. Joe Mauer will likely be penciled in at first base or DH for most of the season, Kennys Vargas is an intriguing option after he hit double-digit home runs for the first time at the MLB level. It also sounds like the Twins are interested in adding a veteran bat and the list includes former fan favorite Justin Morneau. Other players will likely get some at-bats in the DH spot as the Twins try to figure out their best offensive and defensive alignments.

Polanco's Spot To Lose
Minnesota's revolving door at shortstop will likely continue in 2017. All indications are that Jorge Polanco will be given the opportunity to start at shortstop. This would leave Eduardo Escobar as a utility player off the bench. Escobar would be familiar with this role. In each of the last three seasons, he has played the most games at shortstop but there was only one season where he was the team's Opening Day starter (2016). It seems likely for Polanco and Escobar to both get plenty of opportunities this year. However, Minnesota needs to decide if Polanco can handle shortstop as the team waits for other prospects, like Nick Gordon, to develop.

What position player headlines will you be watching this spring? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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17 Comments

I actually find myself most excited see what Kepler can do this season after pitchers adjust to his MLB tendencies. I really hope he continues to mature and evolves into a dangerous #3 in the lineup ahead of Sano (I'm not interested in running Mauer out of town, but he really should not be in the #3 slot AT ALL this year).

    • glunn likes this

I find myself smiling and thinking positively about 1 2 3 & 4. 5, however gives me pause.  We saw nothing positive from Polanco at SS. For our pitchers sake, I hope Escobar is the starting SS and stays as the starting SS all year. Trade Polanco.

demote Santana and pick up a journeyman utility infielder.  For the pitchers sake, Please don'd play Polanco at SS.  :)

    • HitInAPinch likes this

Sano and Polanco are the most interesting to me.  Both have so much potential with their bats and so many question marks with their gloves.  If they can develop the glove to average levels, their ceilings are quite high.  To me, their development is the key to this teams improvement this year.

    • Bob Twins Fan Since 61 and DocBauer like this
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killertwinfan
Feb 17 2017 08:02 AM

 

I find myself smiling and thinking positively about 1 2 3 & 4. 5, however gives me pause.  We saw nothing positive from Polanco at SS. For our pitchers sake, I hope Escobar is the starting SS and stays as the starting SS all year. Trade Polanco.

demote Santana and pick up a journeyman utility infielder.  For the pitchers sake, Please don'd play Polanco at SS. :)

I like what you are saying here.  To me the core of our success was based on good fundamentals.  I understand the game has changed, but I prefer to watch a good fielding team.  Also, there is a good chance our pitching staff will pitch a shade better knowing they have a good defense behind them.  It would also help to know they are going to get a bunch of runs behind them, but I don't think that can happen this year.

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theBOMisthebomb
Feb 17 2017 08:50 AM

The strikeouts on this team sicken me - Sano and Rosario need to get them under control if they are going to be key cogs in a winning Twins machine.  Strikeouts are toxic regardless of what some advanced metrics state. 

    • Bob Twins Fan Since 61 and BoofBonser like this
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Comrade Bork
Feb 17 2017 12:18 PM

I actually find myself most excited see what Kepler can do this season after pitchers adjust to his MLB tendencies. I really hope he continues to mature and evolves into a dangerous #3 in the lineup ahead of Sano (I'm not interested in running Mauer out of town, but he really should not be in the #3 slot AT ALL this year).


After his hot start and a couple of national spots on his good eye and approach at the plate, it was a bummer to see Kepler fall off. He had the most interesting backstory and really hope he can make the proper adjustments. I'm cheering for him the hardest, though that night just be my family's German background shining through. Go Kepler!
    • D.C Twins likes this
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zach.jezierski
Feb 17 2017 12:49 PM

The outfield looks like they can build in too some of the best up and coming players in the majors. The question mark lies with the left side of the infield. Sano has been less than stellar in the field for the past one and a half seasons and this Polanco experiment will be interesting. Can't wait to watch these young players hopefully grow up this season

    • waterboy likes this

 

 

 

Those are conflicting statements ;)

 

Polanco should be given the opportunity to be the Twins starting SS for a full year.He really needs stability to improve his fielding and if he does not get the opportunity to do so, it will not happen. 

 

Now if Dozier for some reason is traded, that's a different discussion.

But I would agree with the first statement and not the second above.

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Lee-The-Twins-Fan
Feb 17 2017 02:34 PM

 

Those are conflicting statements ;)

 

Polanco should be given the opportunity to be the Twins starting SS for a full year.He really needs stability to improve his fielding and if he does not get the opportunity to do so, it will not happen. 

 

Now if Dozier for some reason is traded, that's a different discussion.

But I would agree with the first statement and not the second above.

I don't know that they should give him a full year. I think you evaluate where players are every week – but he should be given at least two months of leash. He needs to improve, but, he has to be able to do the job offensively and defensively. I think he can. But if he's struggling, especially defensively, after two months, you start looking at alternatives, additional coaching, more platooning, something. 

    • D.C Twins likes this

 

I don't know that they should give him a full year. I think you evaluate where players are every week – but he should be given at least two months of leash. He needs to improve, but, he has to be able to do the job offensively and defensively. I think he can. But if he's struggling, especially defensively, after two months, you start looking at alternatives, additional coaching, more platooning, something. 

 

Not when they are not competing.It took Koskie and Morneau 2 seasons each to master their positions.They got to give Sano and Polanco the same chances, esp. when they are not competing.

    • Dantes929 and Deduno Abides like this

I think the SS competition between Polanco and Adrianza is closer than we like to believe. It would not surprise me if Adrianza started more games at SS than Polanco this season. 

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Deduno Abides
Feb 17 2017 06:03 PM

I think the SS competition between Polanco and Adrianza is closer than we like to believe. It would not surprise me if Adrianza started more games at SS than Polanco this season.


Start Polanco if you want to play your best team and to develop your best players for the future.

Start Adrianza if the season is going to be an extended evaluation of pitchers.
    • Riverbrian and D.C Twins like this

 

I think the SS competition between Polanco and Adrianza is closer than we like to believe. It would not surprise me if Adrianza started more games at SS than Polanco this season. 

 

For that to happen Dozier would need to be a goner...

I firmly believe Sano will surprise people with his defense at 3B. He will NOT be a finished product when the season ends, but he will show ability and a future there.

IMO, Polanco is the bigger concern. But we can't forget he has played a lot of SS until recently (minors I mean) and he is athletic. I firmly agree with Thrylos that he needs opportunity and stability. He is probably not the future, but if he can just be solid/average defensively, with his bat, he could be a real cog for the lineup.
    • Dantes929, TheLeviathan and Halsey Hall like this

I think about it a little different (like most things I guess)

 

 

I don't think Polanco's defense will determine if he's the regular SS...It will be his offense.

 

If Polanco is clearly hitting the ball well... He will get the chance to play defense often and hopefully get better at SS.

 

But if he does any kind of sophomore slumping at the plate... His defense then will not be able to save him and therefore... the Twins might as well go with Adrianaza for the defensive upgrade. 

 

Polanco will have to hit to keep the SS gig. 

 

Of course Molitor may not take into consideration any of these factors... So I guess... this would be how I would do it. 

    • Dantes929, DocBauer and D.C Twins like this

For that to happen Dozier would need to be a goner...


Not really... All it would take is Molitor valuing defense over offense.

Start Polanco if you want to play your best team and to develop your best players for the future.Start Adrianza if the season is going to be an extended evaluation of pitchers.


I don't think it boils down to that. Molitor could value Adrianza's defense and let Polanco be the utility guy this year. Based on what we saw last season I would almost bet on Adrianza being the guy to start most games at SS because he's better defensively than Polanco.
    • D.C Twins likes this

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