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  • Twins Will Seek Competition For Trevor Plouffe

    Plouffe should be starting at third base next year, but who will be there if he isn't?In the TwinsCentric interview with Terry Ryan last week, (the 9-page entirety of which you can find in the 2013 Offseason Handbook), we asked about his confidence in Trevor Plouffe.

    John Bonnes: Are you comfortable with [Trevor] Plouffe at third base?

    Terry Ryan: Well, he needs some work too. Defensively, heís a work in progress.

    JB: He hasnít played that much at third base in the minors, right?

    TR: No, he hasnít, but heís and ex-shortstop and he should be able to make that transition.
    Because usually that would be an easier one that going from third to short.

    JB: Sure, itís a little lower on the defensive spectrum.

    TR: The ball gets there quicker and itís different angles and different throws and Ė thereís a lot thatís different. But, heís an infielder. He should be able to catch the ball. Heís got enough arm. His accuracy was difficult.

    So, weíve got to make a decision. Alright, is he going to take the next step forward? Heís got enough bat to play there. Heís got enough power to play there. Now itís whether heís going to be able to play that position so we donít have to worry about it defensively. Itís a work in progress.

    JB: But you havenít made that decision yet? Youíre not sureÖ

    TR: Heís coming in as the third baseman. Yes, he will. I need to create some competition over there though. And we will. And heís aware of that. Nothing wrong with competition.

    JB: Does that competition include Joe Mauer?

    TR: Nope. Iím going to create some competition, but I didnít say anything about Joe Mauer.

    JB: Iím just asking. Have you thought about or talked about Joe Mauer moving to third base?

    TR: No, I havenít. Some fans have, but I havenít.

    So the good news for Plouffe is that he is expected to have the job at the hot corner. The bad news is that the Twins are going to be hedging their bets this offseason.

    If the Twins are looking for competition, they had one such candidate this year, but Sean Burroughs became a free agent. Burroughs was an interesting option because he hit left-handed, and the right-handed hitting Plouffe still has a big split (911 OPS vs LHs/ 691 OPS vs RHs) against the more plentiful side of the rubber.

    Looking at the Offseason Handbook, there are a few other fairly inexpensive options that might make sense. Eric Chavez put up very good numbers for the Yankees, but the left-handed hitting 34-year-old only had 33 at-bats against southpaws. Itís not clear how affordable he could be, but if he canít get a job as a platoon player, a spot backing up an unproven guy like Plouffe could be a very nice option.

    Most of the other names one would recognize bat right-handed, but each has some other interesting traits. For instance, Brandon Inge used to play catcher. So instead of carrying Drew Butera as a 3rd catcher, Inge could fill in udring an emergency. He had shoulder surgery at the end of the season, but is expected to be recovered by spring training.

    Placido Polanco struggled this year, but he was also dealing with a back injury. In the past, the Twins have been rumored to be interested in him and the 37-year-old might be able to occasionally fill in at a middle infield spot. Meanwhile, another 37-year-old is rumored to be retiring, but the always intense Scott Rolen might be an interesting veteran to add to a clubhouse filled with kids.

    These arenít going to be moves that transform the Twins, nor should any of them be used as an excuse to overlook bigger issues. But this might be something to watch late in the offseason, when leftover free agents are searching around, or whenever news of a six-year minor league free agents signing trickles out.

    Whoever the Twins sign will hopefully be nothing more than an insurance policy as Plouffe shows he belongs as a full-time starter. Or, like Sam Deduno and PJ Walters, that obscure signing could play a much bigger role than anyone anticipates this winter.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Will Seek Competition For Trevor Plouffe started by John Bonnes
    Comments 33 Comments
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      I don't see a platoon possibility as long as the Twins need to carry a large pitching staff. It will come down to a choice between Plouffe and the competition. Valencia lost on that choice last year.

      It is so difficult to platoon in the current era. Instead of 10-11 pitchers, teams carry 12-13. The cost is the roster spots for platoon players. On the bench sits a reserve middle infielder with a good glove at SS, catcher and 4th outfielder that can play CF. They are almost always defensively oriented with positional flexibility. That leaves at most one other spot for a bat assuming everyone is healthy and no one is day to day.

      In previous eras it was common to see a platoon at 3b, 2b or corner OF. The Twins had a 3b platoon on the 1991 team. With current roster construction, platoons can't happen. It isn't just Gardenhire who doesn't platoon.

      My personal opinion is that a platoon has more potential value than a LOOGY. There must be a way to measure the value of a LOOGY and potential value of a platoon.

      At some point, a team is going to figure out how to utilize their bullpen and reduce the number of pitchers on the roster. That team will also benefit from a bench with real options.
    1. gilesferrell's Avatar
      gilesferrell -
      Maybe inquire on Eric Chavez? He played a similar role with NYY this past year. Hit .281 with 16 HR in 278 ABs. He would be pretty cheap, would be a great PH option off the bench, and can also play first if needed. And he has 13 years of big league service, so he could be a nice veteran presence in the clubhouse. He does have an awful injury history, but for the relative small amount it would take to sign him, I'd think it would be worth a shot.
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      I know it's easier to look at free agents like Chavez, Polanco and Inge, but let's do some thinking out of the box.

      Ryan Roberts is slated to make $3 million for the Rays through arbitration. I don't see them spending that much of their payroll on him so he should be available in a minor trade. He provides above average defense at both 2B and 3B, a little pop (31 HR in the last 2 years) and decent speed (28 SB in the last 2 years. He could be the starter at 2B with Carroll as the utility guy. If Plouffe struggles, you can just move Roberts over to 3B.

      Wilson Betemit is also said to be available due to the emergence of Manny Machado. He's slated to make $2 million and won't cost much to acquire. He's a poor defender but has always crushed right handed pitching. He could provide some starts vs. RH starters along with some pop off the bench.
    1. iastfan112's Avatar
      iastfan112 -
      Other than Chavez non of the options out there seem like a good fit. I'm thinking minor trade or picking up a MILB free agent or DFA might be the best route. I think Ryan is right to be looking at stocking up the position as the team is short of options should Plouffe fail.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Someone else mentioned Brandon Inge and I think that might be a decent idea. He's certainly not flashy (and in a perfect world, you'd find someone who can hit righties to complement Plouffe) but he also slots in as third catcher, allowing the team to free up a bench spot for someone else (who can hopefully hit).
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      I think whoever they get will be someone who an play several positions so they have value on the benh for us. Also they will be solid or better defenders. That takes out players like Betemit. Chavez is too 1 dimensional meaning 3b, 1b and DH (which we have options for) .

      I like Inge in that he can also serve as the 3rd string C which frees up a roster spot. He is also a plus defender at 3rd.

      Polanco is another good option though the Twins seem to have several people they feel are capable at 2nd which is Polanco's other defensive spot. This makes good sense if the Twins felt they could move arroll back to SS if need be. That doesn't seem to be the case as he didn't play much there last year. Other than that he would be a good choice.

      Ryan Roberts looks interesting, but I am going to bet that Tampa is willing to pay 3 million and let him go after next season. If they are willing to trade him, what would be the cost?
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      There would be more flexibility to fine tune their roster if Mauer played some 3b. Gardy seemed open to it at the season ticket holder conference. If Jr wants to create competition at the hot corner, there's his man.

      Stick Plouffe at 1B against lefthanded starters and they'd have even more flexibility to bring in a righthanded corner infield bat.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      We've got enough options at shortstop, though!
    1. notoriousgod71's Avatar
      notoriousgod71 -
      I'm thinking Brian Buscher!
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Inge hasn't caught since 2008 - I suppose he could do it in an emergency, and I would much rather have him than Butera on the bench.
      Still, Inge hasn't hit over .250 since 2006, and some of his averages are Butera like (.205, .197. .218); may as well just get Punto at that point.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I do jot understand the interest in Inge. A platoon would be great, if they can find a cheap way to do it, and carry less pitching.
    1. iminnesota55's Avatar
      iminnesota55 -
      Why is anyone even discussing Inge? When he was released by the Tigers last year, the Twins didn't make any kind of move for him. If we didn't want him last year, why would we want him now?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by iminnesota55 View Post
      Why is anyone even discussing Inge? When he was released by the Tigers last year, the Twins didn't make any kind of move for him. If we didn't want him last year, why would we want him now?
      Because he could probably be had on a minor league contract this offseason.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Not sure I can agree with this, "The bad news is that the Twins are going to be hedging their bets this offseason." It seems pretty smart for the Twins to not assume the 27 year old Plouffe will suddenly become a solid MLer. He has some pop but his defense was horrible.
    1. Craig in MN's Avatar
      Craig in MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by iminnesota55 View Post
      Why is anyone even discussing Inge? When he was released by the Tigers last year, the Twins didn't make any kind of move for him. If we didn't want him last year, why would we want him now?

      When Inge was released, Valencia still had at least a loose grip on third base, was hitting much better than Inge, and the Twins had bigger issues to deal with. And they probably thought that if they had to dump Valencia, they'd want to give Plouffe a chance to play 3rd consistantly to see what he could do. That would mean that Inge wouldn't have anywhere to play. And, hey, the Twins did just that and it worked out pretty well. After 2/3 of year of seeing that, now they might have a different opinion of what Plouffe can do and can't do, and might have rethought what they how Inge could fit.

      I think I'd rather have Polanco than Inge, but there is some logic to why they'd talk to Inge.
    1. wavedog's Avatar
      wavedog -
      I'll throw in a Jeff Keppinger nomination for possible competition - Can play 3B, 2B, 1B. Not ideal because he bats right-handed, but is a quality hitter. Maybe he is too similar to Carroll but I like his bat.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Are the Phillies going to pick up Ty Wigginton's $4 million option? He's not worth that price at this point. In any case, whoever Ryan brings in is going to be of the "Good name five years too late" variaty the Twins have been signing year in and year out. Wake me up when they sign a starting pitcher.
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Are the Phillies going to pick up Ty Wigginton's $4 million option? He's not worth that price at this point. In any case, whoever Ryan brings in is going to be of the "Good name five years too late" variaty the Twins have been signing year in and year out. Wake me up when they sign a starting pitcher.
      Which is fine. I'm sure if they went out and spent $10-12 mil on a new starting 3B, everybody would scream that the money should be spent on pitching. Go out and sign an aging, semi-decent 3B to help the lineup, clubouse, and hopefully Plouffe.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      chavez or reynolds? each should be fairly cheap,
      as for chavez i would wonder if his power resurgence is from sitting next to a-riod or is real?
    1. crapforks's Avatar
      crapforks -
      I don't understand why Eric Chavez would sign with the Twins. Hasn't he been on the verge of retirement for a while? His body breaks down with regular playing time. He seems willing to come cheaply with the understanding that he will be a part-time player and he will have a shot at a ring.
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