To me, the key is a healthy big 3 - DSpan, Mauer and Morneau approach their typical numbers (and stay healthy), this lineup will hit. If not, then it will drag the whole lineup down. What I love about the Roster is that there is new blood and established leaders. The combination of young players with major league experience with hopefully a healthy core will be fun to watch. Not being weighted down with contracts also could provide the opportunity to find a missing piece later in the season.
I, too, like this group of hitters. Can't wait to see who will break out...now, if we could just feel as good about our pitching staff.
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I'm stoked to watch Parm some more. He hasn't let Target Field's pitcher-friendly dimensions and wind tunnels get to him yet, and he has more than enough minor-league experience to warrant a shot at 1B on the big club. I'll be eager to see how his defense improves as he continues to work with TK and the rest of the coaches. Good post.
I like that they're challenging him. I doon't think of the AFL as a small sample size. Instead, I include it in the larger sample size. Combining the AFL with A+ gives Hicks a .251/.361/.404 line over nearly 650 PA in 2011. The average FSL player had a .716 OPS last year. Hicks' .959 OPS in the AFL was 13th best in the league, 7th best among players with more than 100 PA. It's a hitters league, but he was less experienced than most of the guys in it and he showed he could be dominant. If he falls on his face at AA, they can always bust him back to Fort Myers for a little while like they did with Parmelee and Benson. That seems to have worked out OK.
I think Hicks during the second half of 2011 may have put up identical numbers in AA as he did in A+. The issue is that he doesn't swing the damn bat enough. His defense and his Isolated Discipline can push him up and up. I would be shocked if he doesn't improve significantly from 2011 Fort Myers. One reason is 2011 AFL--I understand that it is a hitters' league, but it is a hitters' league for AA/AAA prospects. The second reason is that the tools are slowly becoming skills and his development is there now.
He did get hit in the head in Seattle in 2005. If I remember correctly, he was taken to the hospital for evaluation and missed a good couple of weeks so I am sure that injury involved a concussion.
New Britain is a pitcher's park too. I'm not sure it really makes all that much difference where he starts... maybe the Twins see AA as a way to challenge Hicks but also show some confidence in him. If they think that helps a bit I don't see anything wrong with it.
I have no problem with Morneau at DH if that keeps him off the DL. I don't think anyone knows exactly where this is headed.
Does his being primarily the DH mean that he NEVER plays 1st? Or, for example, when Mauer needs a DH day, does Justin go out and play 1st? It seems to me that the Twins biggest goal has to be to keep them both off the DL and productive at the plate.
While offensive numbers alone won't justify either of their salaries, they are a lot better then pouring money down the drain on the DL. And I do think that CDog makes a very good point about Doumit and Parmelee. It is rarely one player for another (except when we see Butera for Mauer) -- you have to see all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle at once.
Thanks for the comment, CDog. I wasn't really trying to suggest that every one of those plays in the fields, or at-bats, or whatever, is a "chance for a concussion," so much as I was just curious and wanted to quantify how many plays Morneau is involved in during a full year of playing 1B and hitting regularly in the lineup -- how much he is out in the field and involved in plays.
It's true that Morneau's statements have been to the effect that getting "worn down" will increase his chances for developing concussion-like symptoms. Although I'm no physician, I think there might be at least some correlation between him getting worn down by both playing 1B and hitting, and thereafter being in somewhat of a weakened state where an otherwise "simple" dive to snare a grounder results in a concussion.
According to Wikipedia, Morneau was hit in the head in April, 2005. Good memory -- I don't even recall that happening. Add that to the list, then.
It seems like you're treating every "chance" to have a concussion-type injury the same. I don't think that's at all the case.
Also, I don't remember it myself, but I have read many times about a time Morneau was hit in the head by a pitched ball. This may be urban legend, and it isn't mentioned here. Anyone have facts on that?
Third thought is that I think it's odd that when talking about the lineup implications, nobody really mentions that what's really happening if Morneau moves to DH and Parmalee gets most of the reps at 1B, that the person being "replaced" is Doumit far more than Morneau.
And finally, I think almost everything I've read has been of the view that the "Morneau to DH" story has been to prevent concussions that could occur playing the field. If you actually look at what Morneau said in the interview, I think it's much more of a case that the grind and the wear on the body of playing 1B leads to greater likelihood of concussion symptoms recurring. I think that's the issue, and not another new concussion.
Overall, I think your premise is fairly obviously true: that having Morneau hitting like a beast in the lineup is better than not. I hope he eventually takes over 1B again, but if he doesn't the clear next-best-hope is to contribute from the DH spot.
If Morneau can put up these numbers as DH, no one is going to complain. Plus it should give Parmelee a chance in the majors. A lineup with a productive Morneau and Parmelee starting to come around? Sounds good to me.
They must be OPS.
jorgenswest, these numbers above are OPS I hope (assume) or what?
Just some other performances at Fort Myers to consider. I looked for players the Twins drafted out of high school that eventually had success in the majors. They may have spent more time at Fort Myers but this is their season before moving to AA. Seth probably will find obvious players that I have missed.
Player, age, OPS
Hunter, 20, .678
Morneau, 20, .821
Cuddyer, 20, .873
Span, 21, .813
Kubel, 21, .761
Mauer, 20, .807 (half season)
Hicks, 21, .722
Hicks' performance is topped by everyone but Hunter. Hunter is also the most similar in tools. I agree with those that advocate for moving him up and see how he responds.
Maybe he will need to be more aggressive against better pitching in AA. Let's find out.
It's certainly a fair question.
Fort Myers (and the league it is in) is known for holding down offensive numbers, right? I wonder if they just want to get him into a different environment, maybe a little more offensive and maybe facing pitchers with a little better control to see if they can get him to swing more. But I think you're right that it doesn't looks like he's earned anything yet.
After 4 seasons of pro ball, Aaron Hicks was still overmatched in high A. He's not a star in the making.
He's still trying to switch hit, as far as I know, despite not being able to hit left-handed. It's probably wrong to promote him, but so what? They're not hampering the development of a future switch-hitting star center fielder. They're making a small mistake with the career progression of a right-handed hitting 4th OF who can handle center field. Not going to be losing any sleep over that one, especially with Benson starting the year in AAA. and with all the genuine disasters inflicted on the franchise during Bill Smith's four year reign of terror.
They can tell Hicks it's a make-or-break year, but it's not. He'll be added to the 40 man roster after the season and have 3 more option years. The goal shouldn't be to get him to the big leagues as fast as possible, but that when he gets there, he's ready to contribute.
Thanks for the comments, and I think you're both right in the sense that the Twins are telling Hicks that this is his basically his make-or-break season. Considering he was our #1 prospect a few years ago, however, I'd prefer to see the on-the-field reason to promote him, rather than just the explanation that he's played too much low and high-A ball.