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Tuesday Camp Notes: Splitsville

Today was a split-squad today for the Twins, with Phil Hughes and a few regulars heading to Clearwater to face the Phillies while most of the positional mainstays remained in Fort Myers for a match-up against the Orioles at Hammond.

The Twins won 5-1 in their home park, with Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe each chipping in two-run homers.

Carlos Quentin and Oswaldo Arcia, competing for a bench spot, were slotted back-to-back in the lineup for a second straight day, while several relievers vying for bullpen jobs got the chance to make key impressions.
Image courtesy of Jerome Miron, USA Today
* With Quentin having a June 1st opt-out built into his minor-league deal, there has been some speculation that the Twins might send him to Rochester as depth in case somebody gets hurt or Arcia fizzles early on.

But assistant GM Rob Antony says that the veteran outfielder, who sat out the 2015 season, was signed with an agreement that he’d only be shipped to Triple-A if he had a clear path to the majors.

“He had no problem going to the minor leagues if we saw him as a fit, if he just needed at-bats or something,” Antony explained. “But if we said we don’t see it happening or whatever, I basically verbally told him … I’m not just going to run you down to Rochester and hold you there for two months.”

In other words, if the Twins decide Arcia is their guy, don’t expect Quentin to stick around. But it’s overly hasty to presume that outcome.

“He’s had a very good spring,” the AGM noted of Quentin, who went 1-for-3 with a double and walk today.

* Will it be good enough to unseat the front-runner Arcia? The 24-year-old had himself a solid game with a double and a walk of his own. He also struck out for a 10th time (tying Byung Ho Park for the team lead), but his approach at the plate has been noticeably better.

“Bruno’s happy with his progress, so that’s enough said,” according to bench coach Joe Vavra, who watched things play out today as acting manager.

Meanwhile, Arcia's improvement in the outfield and on the base paths has been as obvious as the trimmed down physique that’s contributed to it. Today he made a heads-up play scrambling from second to third on a ball that skipped away from Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph. This after sprinting about 100 feet to make a nice running catch in left on Monday.

“Those are all big plays, and we’re watching,” Vavra said. “Those are important."

* Spring training is interesting. For established veterans who have been through the grind repeatedly and are just trying to stay healthy into the regular season, it becomes a nuisance that drags on.

For guys like Buddy Boshers, it’s an opportunity worth savoring.

The non-roster invite was out of organized ball last year, pitching in an independent league where he caught the attention of the Twins and a few other teams by posting a 1.00 ERA with a 71-to-14 K/BB ratio in 54 innings. When he had the choice between a couple of different suitors on minor-league deals, Minnesota’s bullpen composition appealed to him and his agent.

“That was a big key for signing here,” said the 27-year-old southpaw. “They needed some left-handed depth in the bullpen.”

He ended up pitching for the Somerset Patriots after being released from Rockies camp last March and receiving no calls. The resounding success he achieved in the Somerset bullpen with his mid-90s fastball and big curve led to his landing with the Twins and getting a shot to compete for a relief job.

Given that he isn’t on the 40-man roster, Boshers is a long shot to win a spot on Opening Day, but right now he’s got all he wants: a chance.

“I’m getting some opportunities so I can’t really complain,” he said.

He made the most of the one he got today. Boshers worked two scoreless frames, including a 1-2-3 sixth against three intimidating big-league righties: Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo.

* Boshers wasn’t the only reliever battling for a job who got an extended look today. It was a bullpen game for Minnesota, with lefty Logan Darnell getting the start and pitching just a couple innings, so the Twins were able to stretch out a few arms, giving two innings apiece to Boshers, Brandon Kintzler and Michael Tonkin.

The stakes are high for Tonkin, in terms of his future with the organization, because he’s out of options and would almost certainly be claimed if he hit waivers. He’s been enduring a miserable spring but had an excellent outing today, retiring all six batters he faced.

The big righty was repeatedly painting the outside corner with his 95 MPH power fastball, making it almost unhittable, and mixed in a sharp breaking ball that drew strong reviews from Vavra after the game.

* A couple hours away in Clearwater, the other half of the split-squad dispatched the Phillies 7-5. Byron Buxton had a pair of hits but struck out three times. Park drove in a couple of runs. Slugging prospect Daniel Palka, acquired in exchange for Chris Herrmann during the offseason, launched two home runs.

* The Twins released a number of minor-leaguers over the past couple days, and most of the names wouldn’t be recognized by anyone other than our guy Seth.

One that stuck out, however, was pitcher Brandon Poulson. You may remember him as the the big 6’6” righty with a triple-digit fastball who received a shocking $250,000 bonus to sign with the Twins in July of 2014 despite being undrafted.

If they could get the kid to throw it in the zone, it was said, he could be a story destined for Hollywood.

Unfortunately, that just never happened.

“Couldn’t throw it over,” Antony said. “He had a terrific arm, and we tried a lot of different things, but he wasn’t able to throw enough strikes.”

Poulson is now 26, and still hadn’t appeared in a full-season league. In 20 rookie ball appearances over the last two seasons, he issued 32 walks in 27 2/3 innings.

* Tomorrow Ricky Nolasco will take the mound against the Rays at 12:05 CT. It'll be my last day in camp, sadly, but Parker will be checking in to wrap up our spring training coverage.

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26 Comments

Another strong Notes column, Nick!

 

The Quentin thing is interesting. I really think that agents, scouts and players generally have a ton of respect for the Twins organization, and specifically the front office. I spent a little time chatting with Antony by the minor league fields one day. Just a nice  chat, but from it, you can glean a lot. 

 

People have a ton of respect for him in his contract dealings. Players, agents, they really respect how the Twins choose to pay pre-arbitration players. They are able to get guys like this on "gentlemen's agreements."  

 

As it relates to Quentin, it will be very interesting. I can't see a scenario where it makes any sense whatsoever to have him on the roster over Arcia or probably Sweeney. That said, I think he's had a solid enough camp that I could see him chatting with Ryan and Antony and Molitor at the end of camp. I can see them telling him that he isn't making the team, but they like what he showed. They don't see a "clear path" for him to get to the big leagues (meaning, they can't promise anything). I can see them telling him they would love for him to be at Rochester and play most every day because if he keeps producing, they could definitely see him coming up. But I can also see them telling him and his agent to feel free to talk to other organizations before reporting. Maybe there's a gentleman's agreement saying that team can't or won't be in the AL Central, but if he finds someone who has an MLB job available, they will let him go. If he doesn't find that, let them know and he can head to Rochester, still having that June 1 opt-out. 

 

I'm purely speculating, but I could easily see that type of scenario playing out. 

    • SQUIRREL, glunn, TRex and 4 others like this

I am sorry to hear that Poulson did not work out.  I was hoping that he could harness that 100 mph fastball.

Maybe Brandon Poulson could pitch for the St. Paul Saints. Pitching every day to live hitters might make him throw strikes, and then work his way up...

 

Or not.

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bluechipper
Mar 22 2016 04:49 PM

9 Ks in 5.1 innings for Phil Hughes? Is that right? If it is, I think that deserves a mention somewhere. Pretty good overall spring training day for the Twins today.

 


 

As it relates to Quentin, it will be very interesting. I can't see a scenario where it makes any sense whatsoever to have him on the roster over Arcia or probably Sweeney. That said, I think he's had a solid enough camp that I could see him chatting with Ryan and Antony and Molitor at the end of camp. I can see them telling him that he isn't making the team, but they like what he showed. They don't see a "clear path" for him to get to the big leagues (meaning, they can't promise anything). I can see them telling him they would love for him to be at Rochester and play most every day because if he keeps producing, they could definitely see him coming up. But I can also see them telling him and his agent to feel free to talk to other organizations before reporting. Maybe there's a gentleman's agreement saying that team can't or won't be in the AL Central, but if he finds someone who has an MLB job available, they will let him go. If he doesn't find that, let them know and he can head to Rochester, still having that June 1 opt-out. 

 

I'm purely speculating, but I could easily see that type of scenario playing out. 

 

Have been thinking about this a lot. There are 2 ways he gets in:

 

a. over Arcia.Huge mistake in so many ways.

 

b. Buxton at AAA.Rosario/D Santana at CF, Quentin platooning with Arcia for a corner OF spot.

 

The problem is what has not been mentioned about his performance today:Quentin's glove is horrible.Makes Sano look like a gold glover out there.Today: he was running perpendicular to a ball with the glove extended.Dropped another one.Let a third get stuck under the padding.Blah.Total Stiff.

 

 

 

    • Bob Sacamento likes this

 

Have been thinking about this a lot. There are 2 ways he gets in:

 

a. over Arcia.Huge mistake in so many ways.

 

b. Buxton at AAA.Rosario/D Santana at CF, Quentin platooning with Arcia for a corner OF spot.

 

The problem is what has not been mentioned about his performance today:Quentin's glove is horrible.Makes Sano look like a gold glover out there.Today: he was running perpendicular to a ball with the glove extended.Dropped another one.Let a third get stuck under the padding.Blah.Total Stiff.

 

Molitor said as much about his ability to play OF last week when I was there. Basically said that his body has just been so beaten up over the years that playing the outfield isn't really realistic at this stage. It was good to get him out there to verify, but I don't see a scenario where it makes sense.

This is off topic but is there any insight into why the Twins didn't put Plouffe in RF instead of Sano?  I know he's the better 3B defensively but he'd also be the better RF defensively and they seem to be (1) screwing around with their best offensive player by putting him the field where his problems defensively may spill over to his offense; and (2) screwing up Sano's future where he for sure won't be a RF long-term and now he's also not a 3B.  I thought Ortiz comments on Sano playing RF made a lot of sense.  I just don't see this being a successful experiment, and then what do they do with him defensively especially with Park in the mix?  Riding out his defense at 3B and hoping he develops there seems like the much smarter long-term move.

I have no idea if he will be successful in the outfield or not but I am guessing in a 40 yard dash Sano would beat Ploufe by several yards.

 

    • dbminn likes this
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Nick Nelson
Mar 22 2016 08:53 PM

 

This is off topic but is there any insight into why the Twins didn't put Plouffe in RF instead of Sano? 

I think it's basically about deferring to the veteran. Plouffe has been the third baseman for the last three years, and he's an entrenched guy at this point. I too think he'd fare better out there than Sano but I get it, I guess. 

 

Believe me, as much as they try to sugarcoat it, the Twins have no illusions about what they're getting into. They know this is far from ideal. 

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pierre75275
Mar 22 2016 09:39 PM
Did any one else see those bombs hit by Palma??? Holy camoli they were tattooed!
    • DrNeau likes this
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pierre75275
Mar 22 2016 09:40 PM
Stupid auto correct!! By Palka!!
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bluechipper
Mar 22 2016 10:08 PM

 

Did any one else see those bombs hit by Palma??? Holy camoli they were tattooed!

Those were impressive. That first one was off a pitch chest high and the second one went out just left of center. Wow.

 

I really like the big leg kick too.

    • DrNeau likes this

 I guess I

 

Have been thinking about this a lot. There are 2 ways he gets in:

 

a. over Arcia.Huge mistake in so many ways.

 

b. Buxton at AAA.Rosario/D Santana at CF, Quentin platooning with Arcia for a corner OF spot.

 

The problem is what has not been mentioned about his performance today:Quentin's glove is horrible.Makes Sano look like a gold glover out there.Today: he was running perpendicular to a ball with the glove extended.Dropped another one.Let a third get stuck under the padding.Blah.Total Stiff.

Agree, if they take him over Arcia, that is a massive and unforgivable mistake IMO.

 

The fact is, the Twins already have enough 1B/DH types on the roster. Quentin basically becomes a bench bat and a bench bat only, no? I mean I guess he maybe gets one start a week when a guy like Mauer or Park needs a day off. Playing him in the OF, one that is featuring Sano to boot would be a huge disaster.

 

If you really wanted to find him a spot on the roster/bench then IMO the spot you should be looking at him taking would be Nunez's.

 

In that scenario Santana becomes your backup at 2B, SS and CF. Sano can take 3rd if Plouffe ever needs a day off and really Escobar and Dozier should be playing every day anyways, so there is no need for two MI backups on the bench in Santana and Nunez.

 

If someone get's hurt, Polanco gets called up.

 

Now with all that said, I don't think Quentin should be taking a roster spot from anyone at this stage, try to get him down to AAA for a month and wait for the inevitable injury/someone with options that struggles to call him him.

 

    • Dantes929 likes this

Quentin should be toast. Right up there with the Bartlett/Kubel experiment of 2014. I hope it doesn't go as far as the Jason Squared debacle.

 

So Paulson made $250K for less than two years of part time work. Not bad.

 

But I can also see them telling him and his agent to feel free to talk to other organizations before reporting.

I agree with your take, but I wonder how this specifically works in practice.  If he's property of the Twins, other teams can't talk to him, correct?  I know teams can waive that, like the Johan trade and extension talks, but that was the team broaching the subject with the other club.  I wonder if a player or his agent can call another team and say, "hey you got room for me? it's okay, I've got permission to talk to you."  Or if it would be the Twins that would have to contact other teams on Quentin's behalf first.

Is there a place we can find those minor league releases? 

Also, while I don't think the Twins would force Quentin to go to AAA when a real MLB opportunity was available elsewhere, remember the Twins have made a fair investment in him so far -- a bunch of spring training playing time.  I don't think they want to reward other teams by making Quentin available for free, when those other teams quite possibly weren't willing to make that investment of spring training playing time.  That's going to hurt the team's bargaining position in the long run, relative to other teams.

 

So it's not quite as simple as doing the "right thing" for the player.  I'm not so sure the Twins would be willing to flat-out release him so he could go elsewhere, they will probably insist on some kind of token return.

 

Is there a place we can find those minor league releases? 

Check the minor league forum here:

 

http://twinsdaily.co...or-league-camp/

Interestingly, I thought the June 1st opt out date was standard for minor league contracts of veterans with 6+ years of MLB service time, but according to the Cristian Guzman example in this article, that only applies if they finished their MLB contract the previous year:

 

http://www.baseballa...ague-contracts/

 

That means the standard opt out clause, as well as the "retention bonus" due at the end of spring training if he wasn't added to the MLB roster, wouldn't apply to Quentin (who was released last April, then retired from a minor league contract in May), nor would they apply to Sweeney who was also released last April.

 

Quentin must have negotiated his June 1st opt out clause, so I'm seeing less of a team imperative to let him go earlier as part of a gentleman's agreement.

 

And Sweeney apparently has no opt out at all.

 

https://twitter.com/...322021623865345

 

I have no idea if he will be successful in the outfield or not but I am guessing in a 40 yard dash Sano would beat Ploufe by several yards.

 

It wouldn't be close. 

 

This is off topic but is there any insight into why the Twins didn't put Plouffe in RF instead of Sano?  I know he's the better 3B defensively but he'd also be the better RF defensively and they seem to be (1) screwing around with their best offensive player by putting him the field where his problems defensively may spill over to his offense; and (2) screwing up Sano's future where he for sure won't be a RF long-term and now he's also not a 3B.  I thought Ortiz comments on Sano playing RF made a lot of sense.  I just don't see this being a successful experiment, and then what do they do with him defensively especially with Park in the mix?  Riding out his defense at 3B and hoping he develops there seems like the much smarter long-term move.

 

Sano is faster. He's a better athlete. Any issue that Sano is having out in RF, Plouffe would too. Plouffe is a better 3B. They want Sano to stay in shape. Sano has the better arm. 

 

Easy choice really. 

    • WLFINN likes this

 

Sano is faster. He's a better athlete. Any issue that Sano is having out in RF, Plouffe would too. Plouffe is a better 3B. They want Sano to stay in shape. Sano has the better arm. 

 

Easy choice really. 

 

You left out the part where Sano is somewhere around 6'4" - 6'5" and 265-275 pounds... and the 1st or 2nd most important asset the Twins have

 

You left out the part where Sano is somewhere around 6'4" - 6'5" and 265-275 pounds... and the 1st or 2nd most important asset the Twins have

 

I don't see that as an issue at all, and neither should they. 

 

People often say, What if he gets hurt playing in the outfield? Well, he has been hurt a few times playing 3B, so unless they just DH him, then it's just a call they had to make.

 

I don't see that as an issue at all, and neither should they. 

 

People often say, What if he gets hurt playing in the outfield? Well, he has been hurt a few times playing 3B, so unless they just DH him, then it's just a call they had to make.

 

The fact that you can count on 1 hand anyone his size playing OF full time on one hand, is an issue. 

 

You also never mentioned that Trevor Plouffe has actually played OF before.  

 

Either way, this argument has been done numerous times and I see no need to rehash it. That being said, I had a big problem with "easy choice".. because that is simply not true. 

    • jimmer likes this

 

The fact that you can count on 1 hand anyone his size playing OF full time on one hand, is an issue. 

 

You also never mentioned that Trevor Plouffe has actually played OF before.  

 

Either way, this argument has been done numerous times and I see no need to rehash it. That being said, I had a big problem with "easy choice".. because that is simply not true. 

 

First factor should have no bearing.

 

Regarding Plouffe in the OF... that was about 5-6 years ago, and it wasn't very much, and there's a reason that he was quickly moved back to the infield.

 

I should have said, "Of the options that they have on the roster to move to RF, Sano was the logical choice." 

 

But you're right, it's an old topic. They're going to go with it. As Nick said, the Twins aren't under some illusion that it's going to be pretty all the time. They know he's a great athlete, with decent speed and a strong arm, who is young, and that his bat being in the lineup is #1."


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