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  • Mining For Twins

    When the Twins sent Tsuyoshi Nishioka down, they admitted that they might need to replace him with a guy from another teams roster. Theyre right. Looking at the guys that remain in camp, there isnt another really good option, at least not one that can play shortstop.

    Fortunately, this is the right time to find just such a player. At the end of spring training, teams make all kinds of guys available: players without options, Rule 5 draft picks or just guys that are dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for someone else.

    In fact, the Twins took advantage of that just two years ago. They were faced with a similar problem they didnt have a great option to be the backup center fielder. Towards the end of spring training, the Dodgers released Jason Repko. A week later, the Twins signed him and he played here for the last two years.

    So lets get a jump start on some names that you might see on the Twins roster in a couple of weeks, even if theyre with other teams now. All have their warts we are talking about utility players after all - but some intriguing traits, too.

    Wilson Valdez Hes the kind of guy you might expect the Twins to seek for this position. Hes old (33), has a good defensive rep, is on the Reds (who the Twins love to scavenge) and is full of veteran nougaty goodness. Hes also out of options, but is a long shot to be available. On the one hand, the Reds traded for him just a couple of months ago. On the other, it looks like they could have some similar, slightly younger options. If he is available, I gotta imagine the Twins will swoop in.

    Emmanuel Burriss Hes just 27, hes a switch-hitter and he has stolen as many as 68 bases in a year in the minors. Hes also out of options and batting for a bench spot with the Giants. However, hes struggled to get on base in the majors with just a .311 OBP. More unfortunately, hes having a fantastic spring and probably winning that last bench spot.

    Chris Nelson This 26-year-old has struggled to find playing time with the Rockies and hasnt done much (.254 BA/.284 OBP) when he has. However, hes torn up AAA to the tune of .321/.371/.518 in 608 plate appearances. Hes out of options, and had only a mediocre spring so far, but a recent neck injury to Casey Blake might mean the Rockies will have room for him on the roster. Stay tuned.

    Donnie Murphy Hes 29 years old (which is relatively old) and has only hit .202 in limited time over six years with three different teams. He also was hurt part of last year. Finally, hes having a miserable spring with the Marlins and is out of options. Hell likely be available.

    Hes intriguing because he represents a rarity a middle infielder with some pop. His right-handed bat hit double-digit home runs in several minor league stops, and he has a .500+ slugging percentage at AAA.

    This is just a few of the guys, obviously, but they probably represent some of the more likely options. If youve got any other ideas, Id love to hear them below.
    This article was originally published in blog: Mining For Twins started by John Bonnes
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      None of these guys make any sense for the Twins whatsoever. It makes no sense to add players like this when they already have the equivalent talent in Florimon and Hollimon. But then again, it is truly weird to have to be in this position of talking about these players instead of Derrek Lee. I cannot fathom how signing Lee isn't a clear decision for this team.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      If a guy with potential upside like Chris Nelson comes available, I think you take it...
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Chris Nelson and Trevor Plouffe have had similar career paths to this point. THey're not necessarily the same player, but they were drafted out of high school in the same year and have each had some good moments but generally struggled in their careers. He still has a chance to be decent. I'd be good with any of those listed. I wouldn't give up much for any of them.
    1. twinsfiend's Avatar
      twinsfiend -
      In my opinion, the twins top 3 qualities they should be looking for in a utility player are: defense, defense, & defense

      We are talking about someone who will get less than 100 ABs all year. If an injury occurs on the middle infield you know they will call up Dozier to fill in everyday. So this is a guy we bring in after we pinch hit for one of those middle infielders in the 8th inning, we need defense. Sure he'll get an occasional spot start, but where he will provide the most to the team is his defensive play.

      So having said that I like the idea of Valdez who is older and good defensively and could be a good clubhouse and dugout presence for some of the young guys on this team.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfiend View Post
      In my opinion, the twins top 3 qualities they should be looking for in a utility player are: defense, defense, & defense

      We are talking about someone who will get less than 100 ABs all year. If an injury occurs on the middle infield you know they will call up Dozier to fill in everyday. So this is a guy we bring in after we pinch hit for one of those middle infielders in the 8th inning, we need defense. Sure he'll get an occasional spot start, but where he will provide the most to the team is his defensive play.

      So having said that I like the idea of Valdez who is older and good defensively and could be a good clubhouse and dugout presence for some of the young guys on this team.
      These are the Twins. Utility guys only get less than 100 at bats in a season if they're injured, or called up late in the year.

      Casilla gets hurt. Hughes gets hurt. Another utility guy will get plenty of at bats.
    1. Gernzy's Avatar
      Gernzy -
      Quote Originally Posted by shanewahl View Post
      None of these guys make any sense for the Twins whatsoever. It makes no sense to add players like this when they already have the equivalent talent in Florimon and Hollimon. But then again, it is truly weird to have to be in this position of talking about these players instead of Derrek Lee. I cannot fathom how signing Lee isn't a clear decision for this team.
      I would much rather have Parmalee over Derrek Lee.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      I would much rather have Parmalee over Derrek Lee.


      Absolutely. Enough of the re-tread signings that smack of the Terry Ryan mid-late 90s GM work.
    1. Brandon Warne's Avatar
      Brandon Warne -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Chris Nelson and Trevor Plouffe have had similar career paths to this point. THey're not necessarily the same player, but they were drafted out of high school in the same year and have each had some good moments but generally struggled in their careers. He still has a chance to be decent. I'd be good with any of those listed. I wouldn't give up much for any of them.
      From the sounds of it, Nelson is going to be starting at third for the Rockies until Arenado is ready.
    1. Cris E's Avatar
      Cris E -
      Nelson tore up Colorado Springs, so don't be too fast to overlook his career .254/.284/.376 in a couple hundred ABs with the Rockies. That said, we're looking for a glove guy who can be comfortable with a bench role, so he could still be a good fit. I'm for anyone, in the system or not, who has a solid grasp of defense at a number of positions. It would be swell if Nishi figured this out by mid-year, but I'm not confident he'll learn more than one position any time soon or be able to settle in on the bench at any point at all.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Ed View Post
      I would much rather have Parmalee over Derrek Lee.


      Absolutely. Enough of the re-tread signings that smack of the Terry Ryan mid-late 90s GM work.
      First, these other candidates aren't even re-treads. They're AAAA guys who the Twins have no business signing given that they are trying out a bunch of AAAA guys already. Second, Derrek Lee isn't Roberto Kelly, Darrin Jackson, Jose Offerman, Tony Batista, Mike Lamb, etc. He is an MVP only a few years removed from a .972 OPS and can still have significant platoon value. Third, Chris Parmelee hasn't even played at AAA yet and has very limited time with the Twins. You cannot look at a small sample from September and ST and make assumptions about being MLB-ready. Given how he has performed each full year in the minors, he definitely should be in Rochester.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      It's time to move on with the young guys. This team needs to look in the mirror, realize it isn't going to compete for the WS this year, and stop using old AAA guys from other teams on the MLB roster. I don't think they will.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I still think that Punto might be an option. He is 5th in the middle infield depth right now in Boston, and will probably go with at most 4 (Pedroia, Ciriaco, Inglesias and Aviles.) Plus his contact is (now) reasonable and we know how the Twins feel about him...
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Do people forget that those "retreads" that Terry Ryan got in the 90s, in bad seasons, brought minor leaguers that helped spur the runs of the 90s. This current MLB roster has plenty of very tradeable commodities if (or 'when' as most seem to prefer) the Twins are out of contention in June/July. The players they bring in could help the last couple of months of this year and team with Benson, Parmelee, Dozier, Hendriks, and the like to give the Twins a pretty strong, competitive team in 2014 or sooner.
    1. raykinsella's Avatar
      raykinsella -
      I don't understand the Twins' concept of requiring their minor league prospects to obtain an AARP card before they are promoted to the 'big' club. Instead of bringing in another club's wash-outs, start Dozier and make Casilla or Carroll utility players (roles they are much better suited for).

      The way Justin looks, the Twins need to keep Parmelee and hope that Morneau is capable of handling the DH role. This would allow the Twins to get by on two catchers which would hopefully send Drew Butera to greener pastures. If they need to keep three catchers Rivera's relationship with Liriano should earn him the role if all else is even between he, Butera and Towles.

      And for Heaven's sake, when you have an athlete like Joe Benson available, start him anywhere in the outfield and save Revere as the fourth outfielder, or starter in case Span has a relapse.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Do people forget that those "retreads" that Terry Ryan got in the 90s, in bad seasons, brought minor leaguers that helped spur the runs of the 90s. This current MLB roster has plenty of very tradeable commodities if (or 'when' as most seem to prefer) the Twins are out of contention in June/July. The players they bring in could help the last couple of months of this year and team with Benson, Parmelee, Dozier, Hendriks, and the like to give the Twins a pretty strong, competitive team in 2014 or sooner.
      Agreed. On the other hand, this farm has several (duplicate and blocked) tradable commodities, if the Twins are competing in July. Frankly, I will not write them off yet, like the doomsayers are saying, especially with 3/4 of the competition losing their closers and the remaining competition losing Cabrera for at least some time.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      My two cents: I think there are a lot of guys overrating Twins "prospects" here. Dozier hasn't appeared in a top 100 list of baseball prospects ever, I don't think. Benson occasionally appears at the bottom of such a list. Parmelee does not ever rank that high. And NONE of them have played so much as a game above AA - and the youngest of them is 24. So while I respect everyone's right to get all amped up in the spring, we might want to temper our enthusiasm a bit.

      The Twins don't have anyone in the organization that matches these guys skill set right now. Nishi just stinks. Florimon has also never played above AA. Dozier is the exception, but he SHOULD play every day and it should probably be at Rochester because - well, go back to the first paragraph.

      Just for the record, I'm optimistic about these guys futures. I just think the smell of last year's desparation has people going a little nuts right now. AAA is where they belong. It's crazy to put them anyplace else, except maybe AA.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      So, because they aren't on Top 100 prospect lists, they aren't capable of being solid, productive everyday players in the big leagues? Not sure.

      I think I'm pretty realistic about what these guys are and aren't, and that opinion has nothing to do with the spring stats or even September stats. I think all four (Benson, Dozier, Hendriks, Parmelee) have things that they can work on for a month or three in AAA. I think the Twins lineup is just fine as it is. Span, Carroll and Mauer are good OBP guys. Morneau is a concern, of course, but if his wrist is alright, he could be alright. Willingham, Doumit and Valencia all have 20+ HR potential. Revere can be better and Casilla is OK if he hits like he did after May 15... and of course before injury. There's no need to rush Benson, Dozier or Parmelee if all those starters are healthy. Hopefully they'll make their point about being big league starters by about the end of May and the Twins will then make room.
    1. raykinsella's Avatar
      raykinsella -
      John---I enjoy your informative writing very much and reading Twins Daily is a great way to unwind in the evening. I also respect your opinions greatly as you obviously have insights on the team that the rest of us don't have.

      While prospects need some way to be measured or rated, I have never put a great deal of stock in top 100 lists. Players have obvious physical qualities that are easy to define or list, but a team is never sure what the internal make-up of a player is or how they will react to a situation such as playing in the 'bigs'. A kid like Parmelee, who may not have the physical characteristics that scouts prefer, has a definate ability to flat out rake the ball. Thurman Munson was a player that had an ugly body but his mental and physical toughness made him one of the greatest catchers in AL history. I think that these guys, many nearing their mid-twenties, bear a chance to see how they will handle the major leagues.

      While some of us may be overrating some of these kids, we are keeping this in mind---the future equals hope. Why not see what could happen?
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