• The Right Field Mess

    It was a risk without an acceptable backup plan. The Twins knew that. And it failed. And theyíre paying the price. And that price is a .192 batting average.

    Thatís the combined batting average of whoever the Twins have played in right field so far. Itís last in the majors. Their combined OPS is .594. Thatís the career OPS of Juan Castro. And there isnít anything close to a solution in sight unless the Twins want to mess with their best hitter.


    Two weeks before the end of spring training, the Twins shuffled the roster, deciding that Josh Willingham would move back to left field and Chris Parmelee would come north with the club as first baseman, essentially replacing Ben Revere in the starting lineup. The plan would work because Ryan Doumit had the flexibility to play a somewhat passable right field.

    At the time, it looked like a solid way to boost the Twins lineup, if Parmelee hit.
    When Parmelee fell flat early in the season, the plan went to hell. To his credit, Gardenhire has done a decent job playing musical chairs but any give night, there is position left standing. That position is right field.

    Seven players have started there and none of them have more than 13 starts. The projected starter, Ryan Doumit, only has six starts because on any given day there is a spot open at designated hitter or catcher that he can fill. And there is no use having him stumble around right field when it only means a questionable bench player will end up as the DH.

    The guy with the most starts is Trevor Plouffe. He would be the best option right now except:

    1. Heís hitting .152.
    2. He hasnít shown any ability to hit right-handed pitching.
    3. Heís usually already at another spot in the field, playing an infield position now that Danny Valencia is in AAA.

    Seventeen starts have been taken by Darin Mastroianni, Eric Komatsu and Clete Thomas. They could all be valuable role players. None of them should be starting consistently in 2012 for a major league team.

    That leaves Revere, who has all of seven starts. Defensively, right field is a terrible position for Revere, as it limits his biggest asset (his range) and emphasizes his biggest weakness (his arm). Also, the jury is still out regarding Revereís offense. He returned to AAA and hit .330 this year, but still hasnít shown any ability to get on base beyond posting a crazy high batting average. Getting on base needs to be his game.

    The best option goes back to the original plan: moving Revere to left field where his defense makes him a real asset and having Willingham play right field. But Iíll excuse Gardenhire for not wanting to jack his cleanup (and best) hitter around.

    Like a lot of things the team is dealing with this year, there isnít an easy solution. Even with a lineup that has stayed remarkably healthy, the Twins find themselves one legitimate bat short of a major league lineup on a consistent basis.
    This article was originally published in blog: The Right Field Mess started by John Bonnes
    Comments 34 Comments
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I love Willingham, but he seems only marginally effective in left field. Does he have enough arm and speed to be adequate in right field?

      Why not move Span into right field and let Revere play center? It seems to me that Revere gets to more balls than Span, and that Span has a strong enough arm to get some assists playing right field. Of course, as you have noted, Revere needs to get on base more, or go back to Rochester. But why not have the fastest outfielder in center field?
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Don't excuse Gardenhire for that, John. That was a huge mistake. Willingham should have been able to handle RF, an easier position at Target Field. It was a ridiculous decision.

      But what do I know? I am the guy who wanted to throw a few million at Andruw Jones or Cody Ross or Bobby Abreu or Ty Wigginton or . . .

      Left field is bigger than right field at the place the Twins play half of there games at. This Willingham thing caused a change reaction at the same time Morneau's situation caused a chain reaction and the Twins took the worst path possible. Sign Clete Thomas instead of moving Willingham over? What?
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      This is the reason the Twins should have resigned Kubel. I think it's about time Mastroianni gets sent back down or cut. He's a AAAA player who doesn't bring much to the clubhouse. Last night must have been his first start in 2 weeks because I don't remember him being a part of the 5 out of 6 "hot streak". We have enough poor outfielders as is with Plouffe and Komatsu. Since Komatsu is doing the best and has the most future potential, the others better be on thin ice.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      I think this may speak to the lack of leadership from the veterans. It should be obvious to everyone on the team that the best scenario for the Twins is to move Josh Willingham or Denard Span to right so the best hitting option in the outfield grab bag, Ben Revere, can play. Michael Cuddyer volunteered to play which ever postion would most benefit the team. Despite Gold Gloves in six of the past seven years, Kirby Puckett was fine with moving to right field in the middle of 1993. I think Span and Willingham need to be held to some degree of blame as both have been reluctant to move although it would be in the best interest of the rest of the club.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Moving span makes sense if you are not trading him. If you are trading him, keep him in center. Not moving Willingham I the spring was a mistake. Now? Plouffe should play every day.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      We signed 2 free agent bats--Doumit and Willingham--unfortunately neither can play defense. Our only good defensive option in RF is Span. Our only good defensive option in LF is Revere. To me the answer is to play Revere in LF and Span in CF and Willingham in RF....until we bring up Benson and make Willingham a DH.
    1. Texastwinsfan's Avatar
      Texastwinsfan -
      Would it be out of the realm of hope to consider Wilkin Ramirez. With a .343/.363/.586 line he has to warrant a shot at some point. He would have to be added to the 40 man roster but he seems to be a legitimate option to handle right field.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by glunn View Post
      I love Willingham, but he seems only marginally effective in left field. Does he have enough arm and speed to be adequate in right field?

      Why not move Span into right field and let Revere play center? It seems to me that Revere gets to more balls than Span, and that Span has a strong enough arm to get some assists playing right field. Of course, as you have noted, Revere needs to get on base more, or go back to Rochester. But why not have the fastest outfielder in center field?
      If the Twins had a chance at competing, this would be the correct answer.

      However, I get the feeling that they want Span to play center because moving him to a lesser defensive position may decrease his trade value a bit.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I think they should just let Revere play right for now. RF is large in target field and Willingham's arm isn't great either AND he's really slow. At least Revere has the range. I think the Twins should let Revere get 400 AB up here and see what they have.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Texastwinsfan View Post
      Would it be out of the realm of hope to consider Wilkin Ramirez. With a .343/.363/.586 line he has to warrant a shot at some point. He would have to be added to the 40 man roster but he seems to be a legitimate option to handle right field.
      I would have mentioned Ramirez as well because he's my adopt-a-prospect, but I think you have to focus solely on his triple A line. It's a .314/.314/.400 and has been on the decline recently. He's 1 for his last 9 and has really only played 8 games at AAA this season. He's been striking out at a very high rate as well. Ramirez could definitely be in the Twins plans, but they need to give him some more time to correct a few flaws.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      ginnarthor, LF is bigger than RF in Target Field.

      To me, Ramirez should have been considered higher on the depth chart than Mastroianni, so we will see if they swap them in the next few weeks.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      To Plouffe: by the day you turn 26, you better have your (expletive deleted) together (close to .700 OPS by that time, for instance).
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by shanewahl View Post
      ginnarthor, LF is bigger than RF in Target Field.

      To me, Ramirez should have been considered higher on the depth chart than Mastroianni, so we will see if they swap them in the next few weeks.
      He probably is and would have been if he was back and playing yet when Mastroianni was called up. Mastroianni was playing really well when they had a need. Now he's hardly playing so sending him down makes sense.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Depending on Swarzak and what the Twins wish to do with Blackburn, they ight have to swap out Mastro for another pitcher.

      But, yes, Willingham should be in right field, although the sun hitting him out there deadens his profile for all the fans! Or Span, who has major value ONLY as a centerfielder, so you hate to pull THAT plug too soon. Revere can play right, but then you have TWO dead arms playing the wrong spots in the outfield.

      We complain about Revere's on-base. Yes, he can take a few more pitches and a lot more walks. He needs to learn who to bunt. He can run and I am excited everytime he gets on base and I want the Twins, in the midst of a dismal season, request Revere to steal everytime he makes it to first and almost everytime he makes it to second. Let's make this guy Mr. Pressure. It amps up the game. The question is where do ou bat him in the order and who do you put immediately behind him to best use his stealing abilities.

      But don't complain about on-base when the other three candidates are batting, what.......192. You can bury a dead bat somewhere (third base) in one position, but not two. And give Revere the chance, please.

      But then the question is, amisdt all the Span talk, who actually will come up and take the vacant outfield spot and how dismal MIGHT they be while given the chance (Benson).
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      The problem isn't where you play Willingham and/or Revere. The problem is the Twins are short one everyday outfielder, unless you think Revere can hit enough to play every day for a good team, which is at the least unknown, at the worst very unlikely.

      There might be some small defensive benefit to playing Revere in left and Willingham in right, primarily due to Revere's weak arm, but other than that, the idea that somehow Revere's speed makes a huge difference in LF but not in RF is nonsense. Corner OF defense just isn't that difficult or important to worry much about anyway.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      The idea of moving the starting outfielders around makes sense if Revere is considered a regular. I don't think he has proved that. With Parmelee out of the mix, Willingham can probably be used as a DH more and Revere can play more LF. I suspect Span will be on the market this summer. If he is moved, Revere is probably the regular CF.
    1. Montecore's Avatar
      Montecore -
      I'd go with Willingham in RF, Span in CF, and Revere in LF. Sure, they need an all-around OF, as to whom that would be...? I'd like to see what Revere can do. Stick with Plouffe at 3B.
    1. savvyspy's Avatar
      savvyspy -
      Not that it matters, but Span should move to right with Revere in center. Its a somewhat interesting conversation but the fact remains is this is by far the worst roster in the majors and Gardy doesn't have a ton of options. Maybe the front office will decide to get off its hands and blow this thing up rather than act like they are Jason Marquis away from contending. Until then you could play a traffic cone in right and the team wouldn't be that much better or worse.
    1. tmerrickkeller's Avatar
      tmerrickkeller -
      As we armchair GM this thing, you gotta start with "here's where we are now" not "here's what we should have done in the offseason to avoid being here." The decisions, when they were made, weren't all bad - if Willingham would have played RF and let Revere play LF, if Parmelee would have hit, if Clete Thomas or Komatsu or Mastroianni or Plouffe or Doumit would have found a home, this wouldn't be a topic of conversation. None of that happened, and here's where we are now. My first choice would be to move Span to RF and put Revere in CF everyday right now. I appreciate the comments about putting Span in the best position to showcase his skills, but there isn't a GM in baseball who doesn't know that Span can play center. They might even think that the Twins are under-utilizing his skillset in right, and that makes him more valuable to another team who thinks that he'll do even better if placed back in his "natural" position. Plan B - Willingham goes to RF, Revere to LF. I know Ben's not getting on base all that much, but he adds a spark to this team that no one else on the roster touches, and anyone who undervalues outfield defense is missing both the momentum swings that happen with great defensive plays, and, in most cases, were also bemoaning watching Delmon play there the past few years (and, frankly, forgive me for saying, but Willingham hasn't looked much better than Delmon ever did).

      Point being, we gotta do something different. We can maximize defense and keep the same guys in the lineup and start letting them settle in - I like the lineup of Span RF, Dozier SS, Mauer C, Willingham LF, Morneau 1B, Doumit DH, Plouffe 3B, Carroll/Casilla 2b and Revere CF, with all the options available if we only have 1 backup outfielder (Komatsu?), plus Butera, Carroll/Casilla, and 1 more bench player (hoping its Valencia once he turns things around in AAA platooning with Plouffe).
    1. goliath's Avatar
      goliath -
      I wonder if it would be worth looking into trading for Travis Snider from Toronto. He's still young at 24, he's lost some luster, stuck at AAA, hasn't been able to stick at the majors, may need change of scenery. Mashes RH pitching OPS 1.146 (but only .530 vs LH). Platoon with Plouffe?
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