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Mining For Twins

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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.
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  1. DrJubal's Avatar
    Is it wrong to wonder about bringing up a younger player from AA or AAA (Dozier, someone else?) and doing a trial by fire? (I realize there are 40man roster implications)

    Or is the thinking we want them playing every day in the minors rather than 2 games a week up in the show?

    I just see one as a future investment and the other a purely stopgap measure.
    Updated 03-23-2012 at 11:19 AM by DrJubal
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