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  • Where Does Carroll Fit In?

    During the first half of the season, Jamey Carroll seemed to be showing his age. By the All-Star break, he was hitting .234 with a brutal .597 OPS, and he had long since lost his job as the team's starting shortstop. He was certainly making his two-year, $6.5 million contract look like a poor investment.

    Since the break, Carroll has looked more like the player the Twins thought they were getting. After finishing 2-for-5 in the nightcap of yesterday's doubleheader, the veteran is now hitting .306/.369/.361 since the Midsummer Classic, a line that compares favorably against his .290/.368/.344 output over the two seasons prior.

    Even though he hasn't been able to authoritatively claim any position this year, Carroll has clearly been one of Ron Gardenhire's go-to guys, as he ranks fifth on the team with 518 plate appearances. And his production over the past few months has warranted the tread he's gotten. Even though he lacks any semblance of power and he's not a spectacular defender, a .750 OPS from a middle infielder is none too shabby.

    So how will Carroll figure into next year's plans? Presently, the team lacks solidity at either middle-infield spot, and relatively speaking, he looks like a pretty appealing option. Then again, it appears that the manager has lost faith in his abilities at shortstop, given that he drawn only nine starts at the position since losing his regular job there in early May.

    There's another dynamic in play when assessing Carroll's 2013 role. He has a 2014 option in his contract that becomes guaranteed if he reaches 401 plate appearances next year. Granted, that option is only for $2 million, but he'll be 40 years old in '14 and he's already shown signs of decline this year in spite of his strong second half.

    What do you think? Should the Twins move forward planning on having Carroll as their starter at second (or even short) next year with the hopes that his post-break performance is a sign of things to come? Or should they keep him in a utility role, hoping to fill the middle-infield spots with younger players that are potential building blocks, while at the same time improving their chances of avoiding that 2014 option?
    This article was originally published in blog: Where Does Carroll Fit In? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 34 Comments
    1. joeboo_22's Avatar
      joeboo_22 -
      The problem I have with Jamey Carroll, isn't what he does, or doesn't do for that matter. But the fact that he is on this team. Maybe I'm completely wrong here, but I feel Jamey is the type of guy on a playoff team, a guy who can play 3 infield positions, make the plays, hit .240, get on base, etc. The thing is he is what 38-39 years old? The Twins biggest hole (non-starting pitching) is middle infield, and I just feel like if he was a true utility guy, I'd be fine with it, but Gardy loves to give these type of players a starting role. The Twins should try to figure out who is there SS and 2B for the future next year, whether its Dozier, Florimon, Escobar, or someone else, and by giving Jamey Caroll 140 starts at 1 or the other just sets it back more.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      [QUOTE=joeboo_22;55539]The problem I have with Jamey Carroll, isn't what he does, or doesn't do for that matter. But the fact that he is on this team.

      Agreed. I like Jamie Carroll. I think after 2011 the twins needed a steady, professional person in the infield. He did what he is supposed to although a few more hits would have been nice. I have enjoyed watching him. With the state of the team, what is the benefit to having him there now? The team can use this opportunity to try and groom a future player. If he is around he needs to be utility and nothing more.
    1. TwinsMusings's Avatar
      TwinsMusings -
      In 2013, Jamey Carroll should be a utility player. His value is highest in that role in part because he is a great role-model for the younger players to learn from and emulate. Professional attitude and consistent effort from the bench is essential and he provides it. If Carroll reaches the number of AB to trigger the option for 2014, it will be less that he has "earned" them and more that one or more of the starters are injured or faltering.
    1. twinzgrl's Avatar
      twinzgrl -
      I like him. I like his hustle and ability to play multiple positions. Great utility guy.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      I suspect that the Twins will start 2013 with 3 middle infielders. Carroll is likely to be one of the three. Who the other 2 will be, is anyone's guess at this point. I assume Dozier, Florimon, and Escobar will be candidates to be in that mix and I wouldn't be surprised if Ryan brings in somebody else.

      I think Carroll is largely best utilized as a utility infielder. Still, if he outplays his competition, than he will play more. It is probably way to early to guess who the starters will be. Largely because I don't think the Twins have any idea yet, whether they will give Florimon, Dozier, and Escobar the chances to win the jobs in spring training, or whether they need to bring in more competition.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Actually, I think the real question here, is there anyone in this group who can play shortstop everyday? The Twins might not be looking for a long term answer, it is possible there is a long term answer in the lower minors, but they sure would like to find an answer to that question for at least a year or two. They might go into spring training with Florimon, Dozier, Escobar, and Carroll if they are reasonably sure one of these guys can handle short at least adequately as an everyday player.
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      1. Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
        Quote Originally Posted by SeanS7921 View Post
        Trying to understand why Carroll is an average fielder? Is UZR for his career which is extensive is way above average at 2B and 3B. At 2nd he has fielded over 4500+ innings which is a great sample size. He is excellent at 2B. He is average at SS and this year he has fielded the position above average. Combine that with a decent average and OBP and he is a pretty solid guy to have around for the price. Starting 2B or playing wherever needed should be 100%.
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post

      It's ironic, isn't it, that UZR requires a large sample size, but when it gets too large it's useless again. But it is.

      Looking at Carroll's career numbers when he's 39 years old tells us nothing about what he is now. I'm happy for him that he's been a good fielder for a decade or so, but he can't be coasting on his numbers from when he was 31.
      He isn't coasting from numbres when he was 31. His UZR at all three positions this year is outstanding. So, I'm not sure why you are all about his numbers when he was 31. You can look right now and see he has been dominate with a +UZR for all positions....
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      once again ron gardenhire is showing his true colors.....jamie carroll is a utility player...he is a very good utility player,this year he has had more at bats at age 38 then any time in his career, like nick punto and many others ronnie wants to make them starters which they are not...carroll needs to be what he has always been ,and always will be, a good solid replacementfor the infield

      go jaime
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Plus, it's only $2M which is very reasonable even if he does become "just a utility guy."
      If you had a roster full of him, you'd be spending only $50M. Of course you wouldn't want a roster like that. (You need Drew Butera to pitch.) But he's not exactly breaking the bank versus paying some AAA guy at minimum. So yes, I agree he's been a good signing.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Many people assume that Dozier/Florimon will be the starting INF in 13.
      If that is the case, this is a 90L team again. MN MUST sign a legit starting middle INF this offseason, even with the need for pitching.
      If they can do this, then Carroll is the perfect UTI guy or maybe even a lighter starting 2B. He has very good value to me as he's a professional and this team needs that.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by greengoblinrulz View Post
      Many people assume that Dozier/Florimon will be the starting INF in 13.
      If that is the case, this is a 90L team again.
      I think that's a little overly dramatic. The Twins won 87 games in a 2009 season where Alexi Casilla (.538 OPS) and Nick Punto (.621 OPS) were their middle infield starters on Opening Day and for much of the season.

      In principle I agree with you, though. Neither Florimon nor Dozier has done anything to earn a starting spot next year. It's actually sort of an outrageous notion.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      It's actually sort of an outrageous notion.
      And yet feels oh so inevitable.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I really think that the middle infield might go 2 ways in 2013:

      a. let the "kids" (Dozier, Escobar, Florimon,- alphabetical order) fight for 2 starting positions and trade Carroll
      b. hand Carroll a starting job (heck he is a 2.3 WAR MIF... they have not exactly grown on trees for the Twins) and try to get someone else for the other, while having the "kids" fight for a utility job

      assumptions: Nishioka is traded to Japan and Casilla is non-tendered (I don't like the latter much, but...)

      b. makes sense only if the Twins get 2-3 starting pitchers better than Diamond. a. makes sense otherwise.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Is Carroll part of the solution towards rebuilding this franchise?

      I don't think so.

      How about Florimon, Dozier and Escobar?

      Probably not.

      Florimon - There is no reason to expect that he will have any value at the plate. Is anyone concerned that his defensive metrics are very poor after 300+ innings at SS? His reputation coming to the organization is a flashy and erratic defender. He is too old to be a prospect.

      Dozier - there is a chance he might be able to put up an acceptable OBP. The minor scouting reports about his defense look accurate. It is acceptable at best. Sounds like a player who can have value in a utility role. Too old to be a prospect.

      Escobar - He comes with an excellent defensive reputation from his time in the Chicago organization. If he is the real deal and a top defensive SS, his weak bat may be OK. He must be an elite defender. His age gives him some upside.

      It doesn't seem likely that any of these 4 is the long term answer. Carroll certainly isn't and should not get significant playing time next year. I don;t think any other team would be inept enough to take his contract, but I would try to trade him.

      I would like to find out if either Escobar or Florimon are elite defenders. The early metrics at SS and defensive reports from the minors suggest that Escobar may have the edge.


      Trade Carroll
      Find a 2B
      Give Escobar an extended shot at SS (or Florimon is Twins scouts see something other scouts and metrics do not)
      See if Dozier can find his bat in a utility role.
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