Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • 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. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Willingham not playing RF is baffling to me. I can't believe there is any other explanation than him asking Gardenhire not to put him there, after the short trial period in Spring Training. His prior lack of experience there seems due to having been on teams having a lefty-throwing incumbent. Otherwise his profile (OK arm, slow speed) maps exactly to RF - he used to be a catcher, a position I doubt Revere ever tried. And using the lack of experience/comfort there doesn't wash anyway: Darin Mastroianni had essentially never played there in his pro career, being mostly CF with some LF, but he tackled it. Of course Mastro *had* to say yes when Gardy told him to do it, because he's hardly secure as a major leaguer and will do whatever task is asked. But then that doesn't speak very well of Willingham, does it? You want your veteran to be a stand-up guy for the good of the team. By all accounts, Josh is very well thought of, but this particular angle is very perplexing.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      Willingham not playing RF is baffling to me. I can't believe there is any other explanation than him asking Gardenhire not to put him there, after the short trial period in Spring Training. His prior lack of experience there seems due to having been on teams having a lefty-throwing incumbent. Otherwise his profile (OK arm, slow speed) maps exactly to RF - he used to be a catcher, a position I doubt Revere ever tried. And using the lack of experience/comfort there doesn't wash anyway: Darin Mastroianni had essentially never played there in his pro career, being mostly CF with some LF, but he tackled it. Of course Mastro *had* to say yes when Gardy told him to do it, because he's hardly secure as a major leaguer and will do whatever task is asked. But then that doesn't speak very well of Willingham, does it? You want your veteran to be a stand-up guy for the good of the team. By all accounts, Josh is very well thought of, but this particular angle is very perplexing.
      So you say it's baffling...then give the "only" explanation that you can think of...and then explain why that explanation doens't make sense. I dont' get it. They came to spring training with Willingham in right and Revere in left, Gardy went on record saying he didn't like Revere in left as much as he expected, and they moved Willingham back. Maybe that's a "cover story," but why do we need to search hard for a conspiracy when the given story makes as much sense as anything else? Other than Revere's arm being more suited to LF than RF, which became a non-issue when he was sent to AAA, the rest of the outfield trouble would only be swapping the bad hitters from RF to LF.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      So you say it's baffling...then give the "only" explanation that you can think of...[] Gardy went on record saying he didn't like Revere in left as much as he expected, and they moved Willingham back.
      Fair enough. I find it also baffling for someone to prefer Willingham in left.

      I thought the "book" was to put your outfielder with all the tools in center, the outfielder with an arm but no speed in right, and the outfielder lacking the arm but good wheels in left. If you have an outfielder with neither speed nor arm, you DH him. I didn't think Willingham's arm was at issue, just his speed and maybe his dexterity.

      But you're right, I threw darts at a player's stand-uppyness in the presence of his manager giving him cover (whether it's the truth or not or someplace in between), putting me on shaky ground.
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      Before Span was locked into CF, he was a Gold Glove caliber LF. His CF play has been average to maybe slightly above. Everybody knows that Revere can't play RF with the pea-shooter arm. Span needs to take one for the team, move to RF, and let Revere et. al. handle CF. This decision should be easy.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      Fair enough. I find it also baffling for someone to prefer Willingham in left.
      In another thread somewhere, we got to the same place. That part I can't necessarily explain, but I think the rotary of "others" they've played in the outfield this year are not known to be better or worse in either corner, so I don't know if it's a huge difference to put the Hammer where he's played more.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      ...the rotary of "others" they've played in the outfield this year are not known to be better or worse in either corner, so I don't know if it's a huge difference to put the Hammer where he's played more.
      The uncertainty of who is going to emerge is probably the answer. Since I'm not in the "Revere is odds-on" camp, color me un-baffled, at least until some other riddle comes along.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      I've seen no indicators that Willingham would be any worse in RF than he would be in LF, considering his ugly approach to balls in LF, I'd think having less territory (and a decent enough arm) would make him better off in RF. And while I understand the idea of not jacking around your best hitter...I don't like the general Gardy philosophy of kowtowing to a player's wishes for where they get to play in the field. Right now the Twins best OF alignment would be Span in LF, Revere in CF, and Willingham in RF, but we won't see it because Span wants to play CF and Willingham apparently prefers to play LF. The inmates shouldn't run the asylum, but this is how Gardy keeps his rep as a player's coach.

      Plouffe is acceptable right now against LHP, but is a disaster against RHP, so he needs a platoon partner. Doumit should be able to fill it once he gets a bit healthier. I mean, come on, we all know that Butera is re-installed as the backup catcher, and will be there even if he goes 0-50. twins just need another bat or any kind, really.
    1. Visnovsky's Avatar
      Visnovsky -
      I still don't see why Gardy isn't playing Ramos and Hardy. Hardy at SS, Ramos at DH/C, Dozier at 3rd, and Doumit in RF. Then you have Span, Mauer, Willingham, Morneau and Cassilla/Carrol fill out the rest of the lineup.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Visnovsky View Post
      I still don't see why Gardy isn't playing Ramos and Hardy. Hardy at SS, Ramos at DH/C, Dozier at 3rd, and Doumit in RF. Then you have Span, Mauer, Willingham, Morneau and Cassilla/Carrol fill out the rest of the lineup.
      Haha! Nice.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I still don't understand how it isn't obvious that they should have gone with the OG lineup coming into spring training? Revere may not be great, but he certainly is probably about a .100 OPS better than the nonsense thrown out in RF (Doumit as a RF didn't hit either), and the defensive improvement alone might be worth a win.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      By the way, I am sure that Revere would be an elite LF, defensively. Good-great CF, but elite LF.
    1. twinzgrl's Avatar
      twinzgrl -
      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?
      I agree with this totally. I don't understand why they are messing around with Thomas/Komatsu/Mastroianni--just let Revere play. Find out if he is a big leaguer this year. This is the perfect year to give him a test drive. He is an exciting player, fun to watch, always hustling. Work with him to improve his walks, bunts, steals, etc. Let's find out!
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Rockies suck, guess we can try to get Cuddyer back.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Visnovsky View Post
      I still don't see why Gardy isn't playing Ramos and Hardy. Hardy at SS, Ramos at DH/C, Dozier at 3rd, and Doumit in RF. Then you have Span, Mauer, Willingham, Morneau and Cassilla/Carrol fill out the rest of the lineup.
      Sounds good, but who would the closer be? You can't have a decent team without a Proven CloserTM
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.