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  • The Rundown: Shortstop Shakeup


    On Tuesday, Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus prospect staff wrote an article assessing the industry’s views on baseball’s four shortstop uber-prospects: Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell. That quartet, along with Red Sox rookie Xander Bogarts, comprise the strongest crop of shortstop prospects since the trio of Alex Rodriquez, Derek Jeter, and Nomar Garciaparra debuted in the mid-90s. If you’re one of the five teams lucky enough to boast one of these up-and-comers, your future at the position is in good hands. Alas, the Twins are not one of those teams.

    More than any other position on the diamond in recent years, the Twins have consistently struggled to get adequate production from the six-hole. Over the past decade, they have managed to field an above replacement shortstop in just four seasons, with Jason Bartlett’s 2007 representing the only truly good season of the bunch. In that time, just three teams have gotten worse offensive production from the position. The team’s incumbent, Pedro Florimon, sports a career line of .215/.275/.315 and is off to another blistering start this season (2-for-20), making it clear the solution does not reside on the current roster.

    It should come as no surprise, then, that on Monday the Twins acquired shortstop Eduardo Nunez from the Yankees in exchange for minor league pitcher Miguel Sulbaran. The 20-year-old Sulbaran, acquired last year from the Dodgers in exchange for catcher Drew Butera, had posted solid numbers over three minor league seasons, but had yet to advance past low-A ball. Though a decent get for the no-hit Butera, he failed to make the Twins top-30 prospects list according to Baseball America and was thus deemed disposable. So what do the Twins get in Nunez? Simply put, he is the anti-Florimon.

    G AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ E DRS UZR UZR/150
    Florimon 188 .215 .275 .315 7.3% 25.1% 62 26 19 0.7 0.6
    Nunez 270 .267 .313 .379 6.2% 12.3% 86 30 -39 -30.6 -33.9
    Though his career numbers are anything but elite, Nunez clearly rates as an above-average offensive player at the shortstop position. He strikes out half as much as Florimon, gets on base more often, and hits for more power. On the other hand, whereas Florimon has been an above average defender, Nunez has cost the Yankees at least three wins in his brief time at short (though he’s been less awful at third base). Both players have committed an inordinate number of errors, but Florimon’s range has allowed him to compensate for those mistakes in a way that Nunez simply cannot. Essentially, the Twins now possess two flawed alternatives, and the question becomes which skill set the organization values more.

    Given that they made no real effort to acquire a replacement for Florimon this offseason, at least that we are aware of, the Twins clearly liked the glove enough to overlook his black-hole offense. On the other hand, this is the same team that is actively trying to convert a 34-year-old Bartlett into a backup outfielder and recently started Jason Kubel and Chris Colabello at the corners (in the same game!), so defense is clearly not the organization’s end-all, be-all. With Nunez ticketed for Triple-A, Florimon does not appear to be in imminent danger of losing his hold on the starting gig. However, if the defense slips at all and his average continues to hover around the Mendoza Line, the club would be wise to see what it has in Nunez in what figures to be another lost season.

    Lastly, it remains to be seen what effect the acquisition of Nunez will have on Danny Santana, the team’s ninth-rated prospect (via BA) and someone viewed as a possible replacement for Florimon down the road. Santana has proven incapable of drawing a walk and commits an obscene amount of errors, but he has hit at every level and had been starting for Triple-A Rochester to begin the season. If Nunez becomes the team’s new starting shortstop, a demotion to Double-A New Britain is not out of the question for Santana, who at this point in his development needs as many reps in the field as he can get.

    The trade for Nunez will likely have little impact on the future of the Twins, but if nothing else it serves as another story to follow in what will likely be another long season in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. #p2c

    Originally published at pitching2contact
    Comments 91 Comments
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Just because Sulbaran (or any prospect) may never pan out, doesn't mean they don't have value.
      They are assets.
      I guess I just don't see any reason to dump them at such a young age unless you are getting something of value in return, which they did not in Nunez.

      To put it in perspective, a lot of people on here basically said, "good riddance!" when we cut Alex Presley, owner of a career WAR of 1.2.
      Yet now we actually traded an asset for someone with a career WAR of (negative) -1.9.
      Furthermore, a lot of people said "great trade, we fleeced them!", when we got one of the Dodgers top 20 organizational prospects for Drew Butera.
      And even further, while he was here, some of the same people told us over and over again that a player like Butera had value, and the organization loved him.

      So, to go full circle here is what we were told by a certain crowd here:
      a) Drew Butera is not as bad as you think, he has value, the Twins know what they are doing playing him.
      b) Another example of Terry Ryan's brilliant trading, we actually got a decent spec for Butera!
      c) The Twins know what they are doing cutting Presley, even though we have no other legit backup OF'ers. He is a nothing player, he sucks, he has no value to us.
      d) Sulbaran was a nothing prospect, the Twins know what they are doing getting Nunez, he has value to the organization.

      Perhaps I'm just cynical, but it's hard not to see this line of reasoning as simply blindly defending any and all moves the Twins make.

      You want to trade Sulbaran? Fine, I'm not saying I'm opposed to that, but get something with value in return, you can find career negative WAR players on the waiver wire, or bagging groceries somewhere, or playing in the beer leagues.

      You want to take a chance on a guy like Nunez? Fine, maybe there is something there, and his career performance to date is not representative of who he really is. But grab him on waivers. If he doesn't make it to you on waivers, oh well, let another organization trade something for a guy with a negative career WAR.

      And Nunez is basically Benson. A once heralded prospect who couldn't hack it in real games. So if you are suggesting re hashing that argument, then you are making my point for me.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      http://espn.go.com/mlb/team/roster/_...innesota-twins

      I'm not sure if I understand your post, at all. If you scroll down to the bottom of the 40 man list, there he is. The Twins arranged a trade to be certain Nunez wouldn't be claimed from underneath them. Every beat reporter has been receiving inside information that Nunez is being given every chance to claim the major league job. As I predicted in my post, he started at SS yesterday for the Wings.

      From the Twins website:



      The Twins optioned Nunez because he had an option left. He is in Rochester to get his timing down and to demonstrate that he's major league ready.

      My bad. DicknBert said he was assigned rather than optioned. I'm actually a little peeved they used a roster spot on him. I suppose they'll just DFA him when he shows his true value.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      Just because Sulbaran (or any prospect) may never pan out, doesn't mean they don't have value.
      They are assets.
      I guess I just don't see any reason to dump them at such a young age unless you are getting something of value in return, which they did not in Nunez.

      To put it in perspective, a lot of people on here basically said, "good riddance!" when we cut Alex Presley, owner of a career WAR of 1.2.
      Yet now we actually traded an asset for someone with a career WAR of (negative) -1.9.
      Furthermore, a lot of people said "great trade, we fleeced them!", when we got one of the Dodgers top 20 organizational prospects for Drew Butera.
      And even further, while he was here, some of the same people told us over and over again that a player like Butera had value, and the organization loved him.

      So, to go full circle here is what we were told by a certain crowd here:
      a) Drew Butera is not as bad as you think, he has value, the Twins know what they are doing playing him.
      b) Another example of Terry Ryan's brilliant trading, we actually got a decent spec for Butera!
      c) The Twins know what they are doing cutting Presley, even though we have no other legit backup OF'ers. He is a nothing player, he sucks, he has no value to us.
      d) Sulbaran was a nothing prospect, the Twins know what they are doing getting Nunez, he has value to the organization.

      Perhaps I'm just cynical, but it's hard not to see this line of reasoning as simply blindly defending any and all moves the Twins make.

      You want to trade Sulbaran? Fine, I'm not saying I'm opposed to that, but get something with value in return, you can find career negative WAR players on the waiver wire, or bagging groceries somewhere, or playing in the beer leagues.

      You want to take a chance on a guy like Nunez? Fine, maybe there is something there, and his career performance to date is not representative of who he really is. But grab him on waivers. If he doesn't make it to you on waivers, oh well, let another organization trade something for a guy with a negative career WAR.

      And Nunez is basically Benson. A once heralded prospect who couldn't hack it in real games. So if you are suggesting re hashing that argument, then you are making my point for me.
      What does Alex Presley have to do with any of this? If you're suggesting that I was somehow in favor of cutting Presley, you're barking up the wrong tree. Personally, I think Presley and Mastroianni are basically the same guy, except that Presley was already on the roster. The thinking that releases Presley just to replace him with Mastrioanni is more than a little baffling because that's where we all knew we'd end up sooner or later.

      It seems to me like some people confuse being critical with critical thinking. I am apathetic, not in favor of everything the Twins do. I simply do not care about the 25th man on a roster chock full of what *should be* 25th men.

      I don't get upset about the reshuffling of deck chairs and marginal prospects. I do not get riled up over roster decisions made on the 10th of March. I do not care about Miguel Sulbaran. The best thing he ever did for the Twins was get Drew Butera off the roster forever.

      When the Twins traded Wilson Ramos, I hollered at the skies for a good month. Wilson Ramos mattered. Trading JJ Hardy, that mattered.

      Joe Benson doesn't matter. Eduardo Nunez doesn't matter. Miguel Sulbaran doesn't matter.

      But hey, feel free to gnash your teeth about it, I suppose.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      If the plan is for Nunez to start at SS, the Twins must know that he has significant work to do on the defensive end.

      It will take a lot of time and hard work on Nunez' part.

      He has a strong but inaccurate arm, poor hands and foot work. He tends to lose focus. These were the reports prior to him entering the majors.

      The hands and foot work can improve with hard work and playing time. It may not be enough to be adequate at SS.

      If the Twins intend to play him at SS, he needs 80-100 games in AAA to see if he can develop the defense.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      If the plan is for Nunez to start at SS, the Twins must know that he has significant work to do on the defensive end.

      It will take a lot of time and hard work on Nunez' part.

      He has a strong but inaccurate arm, poor hands and foot work. He tends to lose focus. These were the reports prior to him entering the majors.

      The hands and foot work can improve with hard work and playing time. It may not be enough to be adequate at SS.

      If the Twins intend to play him at SS, he needs 80-100 games in AAA to see if he can develop the defense.
      This guy isn't a rookie. He's not 22 years old. Consistent playing time could be one factor, and maybe a consistent position. I doubt that Nuñez will be the answer at shortstop, but his situation would be completely different than what he experienced in the Bronx. He would be counted on for some offense and might bat in the top of the order. If he hits satisfactorily, he can probably get regular playing time. As far as his defense goes, it isn't range I would think since he has very good stolen base numbers. Hands, footwork and arm accuracy can be worked on, but if he's 26, I doubt he can develop much. Probably the best one could hope for would be for Nuñez to be "acceptable". I have also seen that attitude was a problem--perhaps coming into a new environment could help there.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      This guy isn't a rookie. He's not 22 years old. Consistent playing time could be one factor, and maybe a consistent position. I doubt that Nuñez will be the answer at shortstop, but his situation would be completely different than what he experienced in the Bronx. He would be counted on for some offense and might bat in the top of the order. If he hits satisfactorily, he can probably get regular playing time. As far as his defense goes, it isn't range I would think since he has very good stolen base numbers. Hands, footwork and arm accuracy can be worked on, but if he's 26, I doubt he can develop much. Probably the best one could hope for would be for Nuñez to be "acceptable". I have also seen that attitude was a problem--perhaps coming into a new environment could help there.
      In my opinion... His D is already acceptable.

      He made some mistakes and Yankee fans don't forgive. The bad D thing took on a life of its own.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      He made some mistakes and Yankee fans don't forgive. The bad D thing took on a life of its own.
      I have a hard time believing he's even adequate defensively when you can almost read the gag reflexes from the authors that are typing the scouting reports on Nunez's defense.

      The Twins put themselves in a bad situation by not finding a guy during the offseason who could actually play shortstop at the MLB level. I don't really understand the acquisition of Nunez because he's so flawed defensively... But hey, maybe the Twins see something there and if they want to give it a shot at the expense of a 5'10" out-of-shape player they don't seem to like, well... *shrugs* I guess that's a fair deal. I don't know for sure because I've seen neither Nunez nor Sulbaran play a game. I'd like to think the Twins have and will defer to them micro-managing their roster, equipped with knowledge none of us have on hand.

      But again, in the end, there's at least a 95% chance none of this will matter in the slightest bit. Getting upset over deals like this seems like the very definition of "missing the forest for the trees". Too busy getting upset about a C- prospect in the low minors to notice that the Twins don't have a shortstop or corner outfielders or that the top two prospects in the organization have yet to play a regular season baseball game.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Nunez was used in RF today.

      I hope it is a sign the Twins view him as a utility player and not a regular shortstop. It may be a role he can play on a winning team.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      If the Twins intend to play him at SS, he needs 80-100 games in AAA to see if he can develop the defense.
      That is not happening. Because Danny Santana needs time at SS to improve as well. At this point, other than my belief that Escobar should be the starter at SS, Nunez belongs to the majors more than Florimon.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I have a hard time believing he's even adequate defensively when you can almost read the gag reflexes from the authors that are typing the scouting reports on Nunez's defense.
      I saw him play SS and RF this weekend. As a SS he is better than Nishioka, Plouffe, Harris, Dozier. Not as good as Casilla or Escobar or Florimon from recent memory. As a RF he is better than all of the starting corner OFs the Twins had this season.

      No gag reflex here.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      What does Alex Presley have to do with any of this?
      Because the Twins didn't even try to get anything in return for a 28 year old with a positive career WAR, letting the first team on the waiver wire claim him, yet they don't mind giving up something for a 26 year old with a negative career WAR.
      You don't need to be an accountant to know that compounding a bunch of transactions like that leads to consecutive, hmmmm I dunno, 95+ loss seasons.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Eduardo Nunez doesn't matter. Miguel Sulbaran doesn't matter.

      But hey, feel free to gnash your teeth about it, I suppose.
      Unless you have a crystal ball, you can't possibly know that.

      Sulbaran doesn't matter, why, because he doesn't profile as a star? Winning teams need good role players too.
      All it would take for the Twins to lose this trade, is for Sulbaran to get a couple decent years in as a 5th/spot starter or a middle reliever. I don't see how you can say at this point that a 20 year old prospect can never hit that ceiling.

      And I'm not "gnashing my teeth" about it. Let's not exaggerate. I'm simply saying that I don't like the trade.

      I'm starting to get a little curious what the point of a Twins message board is, if every time someone bothers stating their opinion everyone is just going to overreact and tell them how dumb or pointless their opinion is.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      Unless you have a crystal ball, you can't possibly know that.

      Sulbaran doesn't matter, why, because he doesn't profile as a star? Winning teams need good role players too.
      All it would take for the Twins to lose this trade, is for Sulbaran to get a couple decent years in as a 5th/spot starter or a middle reliever. I don't see how you can say at this point that a 20 year old prospect can never hit that ceiling.
      Miguel Sulbaran is a 20 year old in A ball. He's 5'10" and sits at 90-91 mph. Scouting reports suggest that he is at or near his ceiling. The Dodgers gave him up for Drew Butera. The Twins, after seeing him last season, gave him up for Nunez.

      Is it possible that Sulbaran turns into a good MLB player? Sure. You can say that about any player in the minors. Everyone has a "chance". It's incredibly unlikely that he turns into anything.

      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      And I'm not "gnashing my teeth" about it. Let's not exaggerate. I'm simply saying that I don't like the trade.
      Yes, let's not exaggerate...

      Eddie Rosario, allegedly, cares more about getting high than he does his baseball career. Are we just going to bail on him as well?
      You're not just saying you don't like the trade. You're exaggerating and basing decisions on a small fragment of information. Maybe the Twins know Nunez and like him. Maybe Sulbaran is a royal pain in the ass. Maybe his arm is shot.

      Or maybe it's just a bad trade. Any of these are possible, I'm just not quite sure why anyone would get too excited and/or down about a move like this one. Was it puzzling? A bit. Will any of it matter? Probably not.

      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      I'm starting to get a little curious what the point of a Twins message board is, if every time someone bothers stating their opinion everyone is just going to overreact and tell them how dumb or pointless their opinion is.
      It's fine to have an opinion. It's also fine for some of us to roll our eyes at the never-ending grief over players who will never meaningfully impact an MLB roster.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      I'm quite sure that you determining that my opinion on a thread being not worthy of discussion is specifically against TD policy, as is talking down to me like your opinion is superior to mine.

      But then again, it's pretty tough to call the cops on the cops, so whatever.

      Let's see how long it is tolerated if I go around "rolling my eyes" at others opinions.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      In my opinion... His D is already acceptable.

      He made some mistakes and Yankee fans don't forgive. The bad D thing took on a life of its own.
      I take defensive metrics with a large grain of salt. But when they are this consistently bad for this length of time, it is unequivocal evidence that he is bad at defense, He can hit a little, but not enough to make up for his atrocious fielding. Brendan Harris is a good comp, and he literally tripped over his feet out there.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Would I trade Butera for Nunez? Hells yes, considering that we have an abundance of back-up catchers and a shortage of middle infielders. But neither is worth much, and neither will make much of a difference in the grand scheme of thigs.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      I take defensive metrics with a large grain of salt. But when they are this consistently bad for this length of time, it is unequivocal evidence that he is bad at defense, He can hit a little, but not enough to make up for his atrocious fielding. Brendan Harris is a good comp, and he literally tripped over his feet out there.
      It all could be... I've seen him play a handful of times and nothing scared me at all. I'm a defense freak to a fault. I can't stand bad defense and When I see bad defense... I'm pretty judgmental and I say "there it is".

      I always like to see for myself... And I don't belong to the church of defensive metrics.

      However a handful of times ain't nothin in the grand scheme of things. I watch a lot of baseball but no way can I watch enough to be 100 percent and I apologize for being cocksure enough to give that impression. Nunez has certainly played more games than I've seen him play by a large margin.

      It's much easier for me to say Delmon Young was a butcher because I saw him butcher many many times in a Twins uniform. I'm hard on Plouffe and I'm pretty locked on that position and no written article, scouting report or defensive metric will change my mind. Only Plouffe will change my mind.

      I've also seen these reports take on a life of their own first hand. The Ben Revere arm for example. Teams were gonna run all over Ben's arm... Some people lost their minds over it... They didn't run all over Ben but it didn't stop people from claiming the world would end if Ben had to make a throw. Some folks tend to make mountains out of molehills.

      I will probably get a chance to see Nunez night after night for myself and increase my sample size. I've seen enough of Florimon to believe he's a top 5 defender at the SS position. His bat is another story.

      Right Now... My head is leaning toward moving Dozier into the middle of the order and finding a decent leadoff hitter. I kinda hope Nunez could be that guy cause I don't know how to get that guy otherwise.

      Gardy tho... May do something completely different regardless so my wish for a leadoff hitter is pointless and could be miles from context.

      With that in mind... Brock is right... No reason to lose sleep over it. The difference between the players involved is 6 of one... Half dozen of the other.

      I was upset about the Gomez trade because I recognized his unbelievable talent right away. I was pretty darn sure that Gomez would be what he is right now. I saw Gomez play and it was obvious much like the first time I saw Wacha pitch. Nunez ain't in this zip code from my recollection.

      I was upset about the Ramos trade because I didn't like Capps and Ramos looked a lot like Pinto does to me right now. Nunez ain't in this room either. I was sad about the Revere trade but understood it because the pitching was pretty frightening.

      Nunez is a Twin now... I'm pulling for him. Sometimes a player revives himself ala Nate McLouth and many times they don't but it's always worth a shot.

      Nunez will carry no baggage with me... He will have to boot his way to that... I can wait to see for myself.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      I'm quite sure that you determining that my opinion on a thread being not worthy of discussion is specifically against TD policy, as is talking down to me like your opinion is superior to mine.

      But then again, it's pretty tough to call the cops on the cops, so whatever.

      Let's see how long it is tolerated if I go around "rolling my eyes" at others opinions.
      OK... I'm sure Brock will apologize for the rolling eyes comment.

      But let's focus more on the discussion. Brock's post was at least 98 percent on topic.. Your post quoted above has no topic discussion in it.

      And now my response to your response as moderator has no topic discussion as well and that is how things get off the rails.

      If you didn't like the rolling eyes comment... I understand... Report it!!!
    1. savvyspy's Avatar
      savvyspy -
      As long as the Twins starting shortstop is batting .060, I'm even willing to see the cinder block handed Nunez as a viable alternative. They are about a week away from letting the pitchers hit and DHing for Florimon as their best next option.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      I'm quite sure that you determining that my opinion on a thread being not worthy of discussion is specifically against TD policy, as is talking down to me like your opinion is superior to mine.
      I never said it was unworthy of discussion. I said it was unworthy of excitement and/or dismay.

      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      Let's see how long it is tolerated if I go around "rolling my eyes" at others opinions.
      I've been posting on baseball message boards for 15 years. Somewhere around 1-3 times a season, a player is traded or let go and people tear at their hair over the deal.

      Once has that player turned into something meaningful within a reasonable time frame. A certain DH for the Red Sox. I think we all know his name.

      So, yeah, you go through this dog-and-pony show enough times, you start to roll your eyes. If you take offense to that, so be it.
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