• Opening Presents Too Early

    Brian Dozier turns 25 next Tuesday.

    Thatís not young for a prospect. This spring he barely made the cut of Baseball Americaís top 10 Twins prospects. Above him on that list were Chris Parmelee (who is hitting .203), Liam Hendriks (who is being demoted to AAA-Rochester) and Joe Benson (who was demoted yesterday to AA-New Britain yesterday). He has never hit even double-digits home runs in his minor league career. Prior to this year, he was never a fulltime shortstop in the minors.

    Anticipation, especially prolonged anticipation, can really skew expectations.
    Dozier has been talked about since the middle of last year by manager Ron Gardenhire. At the time, Gardenhire was also desperate for anything resembling a competent middle infielder. If youíre especially optimistic about Dozierís debut this week, that prolonged anticipation is likely the cause, more so than any promise heís shown in the minor leagues. Along with his other challenges, he will likely be dealing with inflated expectations.

    But there may be a bigger challenge. Dozier is likely being rushed. After spending three years navigating through rookie ball, A-ball and AA-ball, heís had all of a month at AAA. He hasnít posted particularly impressive numbers at that level: .276 average, one home run and two stolen bases, though heís shown good control of the strike zone. And itís not like heís caught fire recently Ė heís hit about .200 over the last several weeks after a hot start.

    Finally, promoting Dozier now is an odd move financially. Major League clubs will often wait until the first couple of weeks in June to promote a prospect so he doesnít reach arbitration a year early as a ďSuper 2Ē. What does that mean? The short answer is that if Dozier succeeds as a starting shortstop, the Twins will need to pay him a million dollars extra or more per year from 2015 through 2018, just so they could call him up a few weeks early this year.

    So why now?

    Initially, the answer seems obvious: in a lost season, why not play the youngsters? But if thatís the philosophy, then why is Liam Hendriks being sent back to Rochester? Why canít Trevor Plouffe find his way into the lineup? And why not give Dozier another four weeks in Rochester to regain his stroke and lower his future compensation?

    Instead, the answer seems to be the opposite. Dozier is coming up because things are getting desperate. Heís a lottery ticket, or maybe a more apt analogy would be that heís a Christmas present that the manager (and maybe the organization) is anxious to open.

    Thatís fun, but itís worth noting just how often that has backfired on the Twins in the last year. The fast-rising Hendriks made all of nine pitching starts in AAA, didnít have much success and then struggled in the majors until he was demoted again. Ben Revere spent just a few weeks in AAA where he had trouble getting on base, did the same in extended time in the majors, and is back in Rochester. Chris Parmelee, after a strong September and spring training, skipped Rochester entirely and now has 20 strikeouts and four walks.

    One might think that with that recent track record, an organization might be a little more conservative in their callups. Instead, the Twins are rushing a mid-level prospect to the majors to help save the season. I hope they (and Dozier) enjoy the moment. But it would sure be nice if this present wasnít returned.
    This article was originally published in blog: Opening Presents Too Early started by John Bonnes
    Comments 20 Comments
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      I just have to say how I get a laugh out of some of the pic you guys post with these articles. First, since every article must have a picture, which leads to the inevitable queer pic that makes me smile since I'm reading a baseball article while a stilted red and gold USC Trojan Christmas paper and bows stare gently at me... and then the obvious fire hazard of four, count them, four lit, open-flamed votives in and amongst the packages. Good on you John
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I think that your analysis is brilliant (as always) and I agree with you about Dozier. But I have different thoughts about Hendricks and Plouffe.

      Maybe they sent Hendricks down to help him gain some confidence? Or to give Diamond a chance while he is hot? It seems to me that Hendricks has good stuff, but he is too tense when he pitches, especially when he gets in trouble. A few games at Rochester might help.

      As for Plouffe, he does not seem to be focused. I was at an Angels game last year and Plouffe was playing second base. The Angels had a man on first and two outs. Plouffe fielded a sharp ground ball and causally trotted to second, forgetting that there was only one out. If Plouffe had been paying attention, it would have been an easy double play. The Angels fans had a field day mocking him after that and it seemed to me that was not focused at the plate.

      Plouffe has had stretches where it seems clear that he has great tools in the field and at the plate. I think that he has the talent necessary to be a good player. But, like Valencia, it seems to me that Plouffe would need to get his head (and heart) more into the game. It also seems to me that the manager should do whatever he can to help this type of player get more focused. I don't know if any manager could "fix" Plouffe or Valencia, but it seems to me that they both have a lot more talent than they have shown this year.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I believe that every move at this point should be in consideration of what is best for the prospects, looking toward mid-2013 or 2014. I don't get why they didn't wait for 4 weeks to call up Dozier. I didn't get why Hendriks and Parmelee were up to start the season. Everything should be done with 2014 in mind.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      They are rushing them through or bypassing AAA entirely but that doesn't mean they aren't conservative with the prospects. Perhaps if nearly all of the high school players weren't required to play short season ball until they were 20, go to Beloit for a minimum of 1 year and spend 2 seasons between Ft. Myers and New Britain, they would have more time to spend at Rochester. College players have it a little better. Most only have to play one season of rookie league.

      The orgainzation thinks it is manipulating the youngsters' contract situation well, but it is backfiring. These guys are in the system so long, almost all of them are forced onto the 40-man roster when they are still only in AA, with some having to be assigned while still in Ft. Myers. This is not good planning. The Twins are forcing themselves to make roster decisions on guys who are still several years out.

      There is an esoteric arguement against this approach as well. While it is only conjecture and in no way could it ever be proven, the long wait to the majors could be killing the drive of these guys. If you are a high school player drafted by the Twins, you can almost put it down in ink that you won't have a chance at seeing Target Field for six years. To an 18-year old, six years is an eternity, it is in fact 1/3 of the time they have spent on this planet. For plenty of young men, knowing you have next to no chance of reaching your dream for a half of a decade could really dampen the fire that got them drafted so high in the first place.

      For the love of the game, move Sano from Beloit ASAP. Why must his defense and contact rate be refined in Low A ball? His main attribute is his power and that is easily passing expectations. He can improve his glove and batting eye at Ft. Myers just as easily. Ditto for Rosario, .410 OPB with 17 BB to 15 K's? What more does he have to prove other than two months isn't quite enough time to adjust to a new postion. Ft. Myers can help with the transition, they have better coaches anyway. At this rate they too will fall into the same trap. A full year in Beloit followed by a year split between Ft. Myers and New Britain. The next year they start at New Britain which is when whispers of a call up bypassing Rochester takes place.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      This is sort of a non-issue IMO. There really is little or no downside to bringing Dozier to the major leagues at this point. He is what he is. More time spent beating the bushes at Rochester with retreads, has-beens and never-will-be's (which is pretty much what AAA ball is these days) will be no more beneficial than taking his lumps in the show.

      And I'm pretty skeptical that an extra year of arb for Brian Dozier is going to have more than a very marginal impact on any future Twins budget. We should be so lucky...that'd mean he's nailed down a middle infield spot and has earned and extra million or two. I'd rather that than invest time and ABs in a 38 yr old SS on a team going nowhere.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      For the love of the game, move Sano from Beloit ASAP. Why must his defense and contact rate be refined in Low A ball?
      Defense... Yes.

      Contact Rate ... No. That's not going to get better by moving up.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Calling up Dozier at this time was not all about Dozier. You are probably right that he could use more time at AAA. However, there was no middle infielder backup at the majors, except Flouffe. It appears that Carroll was proving that he really is better suited as a utility man. There was no else at AAA or really AA either except maybe Florimon, who should be called up. So there you are.

      Most things don't really work out exactly like you want them to. Still, calling up Dozier clearly was part of the "plan" for this year. The exact timing depended how everything else was working.

      I expect Dozier will be all right. If he handles the defensive side all right, anything he produces offensively this year will be a bonus. He doesn't have to hit much to be an upgrade over Carroll or Casilla.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I believe that every move at this point should be in consideration of what is best for the prospects, looking toward mid-2013 or 2014. I don't get why they didn't wait for 4 weeks to call up Dozier. I didn't get why Hendriks and Parmelee were up to start the season. Everything should be done with 2014 in mind.
      I agree that they should be focussing on 2013 and 2014 right now, so here is the contradiction: If they are focusing on 2013/4 they need to get rid of as many veterans as possible, esp. the ones who will bring back some decent pitching prospects (because right now the organization does not have the starting pitching to contend in 2013 or 2014), whose contracts are ending the next couple of years and save some cash to sign free agent SPs either this or next off-season. By doing this (getting rid of veterans) you have to play rookies. Same as 1984-5 and 2000-1: Rookies developing in the majors. And I'd rather see rookies play than the stopgaps and misfits of the near and far past.
    1. twinsfan214's Avatar
      twinsfan214 -
      I don't really care who's up and who's down right now. We need to concentrate on figuring out who is going to be our starting pitchers in 2013/14. Problem is, we don't have that many "veterans" to trade for decent young or young-ish pitchers. What are we going to do?
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      I don't really care who's up and who's down right now. We need to concentrate on figuring out who is going to be our starting pitchers in 2013/14.
      Twinsfan, I think you are largely right about this. I also suspect that maybe why Liriano is getting this extended opportunity to figure it out. The same is true of Blackburn. Diamond is up for that reason, at least in part. Can he be a major league starting pitcher? We will likely see guys like Walter, French and Henriks again before the season is out.

      I also think that some lower level starting pitchers may get challenged a bit by moving them faster than the Twins usually do, just to see if they could be answers sometime in 2013 or 14. Clearly the starting pitching is the biggest problem for the Twins right now. The Twins may have to resort to throwing money at the problem, but if there are any internal answers they will try to discover them this summer.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      They are rushing them through or bypassing AAA entirely but that doesn't mean they aren't conservative with the prospects. Perhaps if nearly all of the high school players weren't required to play short season ball until they were 20, go to Beloit for a minimum of 1 year and spend 2 seasons between Ft. Myers and New Britain, they would have more time to spend at Rochester. College players have it a little better. Most only have to play one season of rookie league.

      The orgainzation thinks it is manipulating the youngsters' contract situation well, but it is backfiring. These guys are in the system so long, almost all of them are forced onto the 40-man roster when they are still only in AA, with some having to be assigned while still in Ft. Myers. This is not good planning. The Twins are forcing themselves to make roster decisions on guys who are still several years out.

      There is an esoteric arguement against this approach as well. While it is only conjecture and in no way could it ever be proven, the long wait to the majors could be killing the drive of these guys. If you are a high school player drafted by the Twins, you can almost put it down in ink that you won't have a chance at seeing Target Field for six years. To an 18-year old, six years is an eternity, it is in fact 1/3 of the time they have spent on this planet. For plenty of young men, knowing you have next to no chance of reaching your dream for a half of a decade could really dampen the fire that got them drafted so high in the first place.

      For the love of the game, move Sano from Beloit ASAP. Why must his defense and contact rate be refined in Low A ball? His main attribute is his power and that is easily passing expectations. He can improve his glove and batting eye at Ft. Myers just as easily. Ditto for Rosario, .410 OPB with 17 BB to 15 K's? What more does he have to prove other than two months isn't quite enough time to adjust to a new postion. Ft. Myers can help with the transition, they have better coaches anyway. At this rate they too will fall into the same trap. A full year in Beloit followed by a year split between Ft. Myers and New Britain. The next year they start at New Britain which is when whispers of a call up bypassing Rochester takes place.

      I agree about Sano and Rosario if they continue this for another 100 plate appearances or so. It is OK to wait until the short season is here and some of the EST or quick signing draftees go to Beloit.

      That said, FTM needs somebody besides poor Andy Leer manning third base!
    1. adjacent's Avatar
      adjacent -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
      Calling up Dozier at this time was not all about Dozier. You are probably right that he could use more time at AAA. However, there was no middle infielder backup at the majors, except Flouffe. It appears that Carroll was proving that he really is better suited as a utility man. There was no else at AAA or really AA either except maybe Florimon, who should be called up. .
      If that was the reasion, then the option was Chang. He can back up all the infield positions
    1. Eric R Pleiss's Avatar
      Eric R Pleiss -
      I think the Super-2 issue is overblown. If Dozier turns into an everyday shortstop and will be here for the next 3-5 years, an extra million dollars a year is not going to be a heavy tax to pay to have him on the roster. And if he isn't the shortstop of the future, you never have to pay him the extra cash because his on the field performance won't dictate a large arbitration salary.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by ERolfPleiss View Post
      I think the Super-2 issue is overblown. If Dozier turns into an everyday shortstop and will be here for the next 3-5 years, an extra million dollars a year is not going to be a heavy tax to pay to have him on the roster. And if he isn't the shortstop of the future, you never have to pay him the extra cash because his on the field performance won't dictate a large arbitration salary.
      If they signed a minor-leaguer with might be ready but with zero major league experience from another organization for 3 or 4 million...just to play for the next month...something tells me people would rightly be fairly upset about that.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Obviously, if Dozier sucks, it's a moot point. But if he becomes the regular shortstop - even if he's only worth a couple of years of arbitration, it's a couple of million bucks. It's not my money, so I don't care much. It's just odd. It whiffs of a bit of panic.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      Obviously, if Dozier sucks, it's a moot point. But if he becomes the regular shortstop - even if he's only worth a couple of years of arbitration, it's a couple of million bucks. It's not my money, so I don't care much. It's just odd. It whiffs of a bit of panic.
      Especially odd for a team that didn't want to spend another $1M-$2M on a backup bat or reliever.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      If they signed a minor-leaguer with might be ready but with zero major league experience from another organization for 3 or 4 million...just to play for the next month...something tells me people would rightly be fairly upset about that.
      If this was remotely related to bringing up Dozier, who might cost an extra couple million over the course of 2 or 3 season--if he works out--you might have the semblance of a rational point.

      But it isn't. So you don't.

      Nor, for that matter, did Bonnes.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      The rules for super 2 have changed with the new CBA. The new threshold is 22% and while the date is a moving target it will be much later than last year. I have read in a few places that it is expected to be sometime in July after the all star break.

      In any case, it will be a much longer wait than 4 weeks from now.

      I would expect the Twins understand these implications. In any case, no team should consider waiting the super 2 for a 25 year old player. The Twins will be able to keep that player under a reasonable contract through their prime.

      It is the Harper's, Trout's and hopefully Sano's where teams might proceed with some caution.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      The rules for super 2 have changed with the new CBA. The new threshold is 22% and while the date is a moving target it will be much later than last year. I have read in a few places that it is expected to be sometime in July after the all star break.

      In any case, it will be a much longer wait than 4 weeks from now.

      I would expect the Twins understand these implications. In any case, no team should consider waiting the super 2 for a 25 year old player. The Twins will be able to keep that player under a reasonable contract through their prime.

      It is the Harper's, Trout's and hopefully Sano's where teams might proceed with some caution.
      I heard about that change, but couldn't find it documented. Thanks for the insight.

      I keep hearing this argument about "calling up a 25-year-old" regarding Super 2, and it makes no sense to me. Certainly, it is MORE important for a superstar - the difference might be $3-4M/year instead of $1-2M per year. And I can see that age might be more important for when someone hits free agency - I'd rather lose Dozier at 32 than at 28. But the free agency issue is moot shortly after the beginning of the season. Is the argument that Dozier isn't going to be good enough to hang onto through five or six years? Or that in the grand scheme of things teams don't really care about $1-$2 of blown money in a given year?
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      I would be motivated by the following.

      The Twins need to know if he can play defense adequately enough at the major league level. If not, they have no options for next year. He needs significant time this year.

      They need to maximize his value in his prime ages of 26-30. Most players have a period of adjustment at this level. AAA and AA can not prepare them for major league pitchers. Reaching MLB 1000 PA's sometime during or before the age 26 season will maximize and lengthen their prime phase of their career. His lack of time at AAA will cause more growing pains, but by the end of next season we should know if he is a valuable piece to the team or not.

      On another note, Casilla and Valencia have reached that threshold. They are in the midst of what would be their prime. This is the year they need to step forward or it is very likely we have seen the best they have to offer.
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