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  • The Rundown: Shortstop Shakeup


    On Tuesday, Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus prospect staff wrote an article assessing the industryís views on baseballís 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 youíre 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 Bartlettís 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 teamís 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 heís been less awful at third base). Both players have committed an inordinate number of errors, but Florimonís 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 organizationís 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 teamís 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 teamís 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. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Huh, my bad, I though Hardy was hurt last year. thanks, makes me feel a bit better about their options....I guess.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Huh, my bad, I though Hardy was hurt last year. thanks, makes me feel a bit better about their options....I guess.
      Brock's point about Hardy is gut wrenching. Assuming they had not traded him and instead used Nishioka's money (plus some of the surplus) to sign him to a long-term deal, just think of the stability at that position such a move would have enabled. <shakes head>
    1. oldguy10's Avatar
      oldguy10 -
      Wouldn't the Twins have been far better off signing Solarte even as a six year free agent than casting their lot with Florimon? I sure think so and I find it hard to disagree with my statement when one looks at Florimon's hitting stats.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by oldguy10 View Post
      Wouldn't the Twins have been far better off signing Solarte even as a six year free agent than casting their lot with Florimon? I sure think so and I find it hard to disagree with my statement when one looks at Florimon's hitting stats.
      Personally, I think so.

      Then again, my dislike for Florimon is quite well known.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Beresford's ceiling is Jamey Carroll. And he is not a shortstop. Utility guy at best.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Beresford's ceiling is Jamey Carroll. And he is not a shortstop. Utility guy at best.
      Would you rather have a 24 year old Jamey Carroll, or a Pedro Florimon?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      What's funny is that a 24 year old Jamey Carroll was a pretty bad player.

      A 34 year old Jamey Carroll, on the other hand... He's a pretty valuable guy to have around.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      What's funny is that a 24 year old Jamey Carroll was a pretty bad player.

      A 34 year old Jamey Carroll, on the other hand... He's a pretty valuable guy to have around.
      Yep, a late bloomer. It's interesting to see some of the infielders ahead of Carroll in the Expos organization. Jose Vidro; Orlando Cabrera, etc... Here's a link to Carroll: http://www.baseball-reference.com/pl...arroja01.shtml

      If Beresford is also a late bloomer, via the Australian leagues, he could be an option. I like his .363 OBP last season. He doesn't walk much (30 BB in 2013; 35 in 2012) but doesn't strike out either (51 k's in 2013; 53 in 2012). Dozier, on the other hand, struck out 120 times last year.

      The options at middle infield will expand in about 40 games when Rosario joins Nunez, Santana, Dozier, Florimon, and Escobar. If Beresford continues to rake (.436/.486/.531 in 9 games) he should be added to the mix.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      What's funny is that a 24 year old Jamey Carroll was a pretty bad player.

      A 34 year old Jamey Carroll, on the other hand... He's a pretty valuable guy to have around.
      So, you want a 34 year old Pedro Florimon…
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I've seen a lot of scenarios mentioned here. Is it possible that the Twins will go for Escobar as the regular shortstop and move NuŮez in as the utility infielder? Who knows? Maybe NuŮez can become the next Alex Gordon and become a plus defensive outfielder. Not likely, I know.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      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.
      I think that you can add Liriano and Garza and Lohse and Hardy and Dickie to that list.
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