04-06-2012, 06:52 PM #1
In Defense of Defense
I've been arguing in various posts that the Twins need better defenders in the outfield corners if they want to support their pitching staff. In today's season opener, we instead got a catcher put in right field and the result was a Nick Markakis drive at the fence getting misplayed into a into a run-scoring triple.
Jim Palmer, doing color for the Orioles broadcast, said, "Cuddyer probably would have caught it, but he's in Colorado."
I think most actual right fielders would have made the play, too. Yes, it had a fair degree of difficulty as it was a midday start and there was a bright sun, but that's why you play full-time outfielders in the outfield in games with this pitching staff, tough sun, etc. and not catchers. (Doumit's handled 112 chances as an outfielder in his 7-year big league career.) I like Doumit. I think he was a good signing by the Twins, but he looked as uncomfortable playing that position as I felt watching him. Joe Mauer, the best natural athlete Minnesota has ever produced, says he's uncomfortable trying to play right field.*
It should be noted that Josh Willingham, an actual outfielder by trade - albeit a slower one, made a very nice fielding play on a Matt Wieters foul ball along the line in short left and a strong throw to the plate to double up Markakis who had tagged-up at third. Willingham doesn't have a rep as being strong-armed but made a quick accurate thow. Kudos, Josh. Nice play.
* On second thought, maybe Dave Winfield is the best natural athlete Minnesota has produced since he could play right field.
04-06-2012, 08:09 PM #2
It was an important play, to be sure. And Doumit looked pretty bad. I guess I just believe that an average athlete can pick that position up fairly quickly. This year might change my tune, but I'd still stick with this alignment over one that had Parmelee on the bench.
04-06-2012, 08:17 PM #3
Absolutely right. The strange thing is, this is totally contrary to Twins baseball. There is a reason Plouffe and Hughes no longer play short. I'm not sure why the same pricipal doesn't apply to the outfield. Regardless, Doumit is not part of the long term plan. Hopefully Plouffe gets enough time out there to see if he is. Having a backup catcher/late inning pinch hitter of Doumit's caliber is not a bad option in my book.
04-06-2012, 08:39 PM #4-----
Blogging Twins since 2007 at The Tenth Inning Stretch
04-06-2012, 10:16 PM #5
You took the words from my mouth. I know his arm is below average, but Ben Revere should be out there. If he makes that catch, the momentum of the game would have been changed, and I'm pretty sure Revere would have made that catch with ease.
04-06-2012, 10:58 PM #6
I think the outfield defense may be a bit better with Plouffe in right, and I'll take him there over Revere. The only better option is Revere in center and Span in right, but Gardy doesn't want to move Span.
04-07-2012, 12:01 AM #7
If batters don't swing and miss...you have to catch the ball. Do you really like the odds of that with Willingham and Doumit both in the OF. A big Target field OF for half the games. This park and pitching staff demands speed and defense.
04-07-2012, 01:08 AM #8
Still . . . who cares about Doumit's non-defense? This is only an issue because Josh Willingham cannot make a simple move from LF to RF. It's astounding that a manager and general manager would allow that.
04-07-2012, 01:29 AM #9
If you want to improve the OF defense (which I don't happen to think is that big of an issue, either for the Twins in the specific or to be a winning baseball team in general), Joe Benson improves the OF defense more than any current option, including Ben Revere.
Revere, by the way, just transfers the weakness from corner OF to another spot in the lineup.
04-07-2012, 01:39 AM #10
In a given game, how often will there be a ball hit that Doumit (or Plouffe, or Parmelee) don't get to or don't catch that Revere would? My guess is about once a week. How often will Doumit (or Plouffe, or Parmelee) do something more offensively than Ben Revere? Probably 4-5?
That's not a knock on Revere, and it's not in any way claiming that defense isn't important. It's saying that Doumit likely catches that ball 9 out of 10 times. That was ugly, but it shouldn't hide the general principle.
The again, I agree that Willingham should be in RF with Span in CF and Plouffe/Revere in LF..
04-07-2012, 08:55 AM #11
2nd... you of all people should know that a career .326 hitter in the minors is not an offensively liability. To assume Plouffe is a better offensive option because he may hit 10 homers is someplace I can't go.
3rd... Talking about Revere's arm is fair game. Everything else is a ballplayer. 34 steals last year and a decent average. Now just teach this 5 8 guy to draw a walk and look out. He's a kid with wonderful potential. Play him. He earned the LF job.
04-07-2012, 09:20 AM #12
I would bet leaving Willingham in LF had less to do with his unwillingness to move, than it was keeping a spot open the they could put Doumit, Plouffe, and Parmalee in.
And I personally don't like the idea that it's worth sacrificing defense for a good bat. Even the best batters get hits less than 4 out of every 10 at bats. Even 1 or 2 flyballs that don't get caught could lose a game for us.
04-07-2012, 09:46 AM #13
The real shame of it is that Denard Span is a fantastic right fielder. Never saw a guy patrol the RF sideline better than he did, and his arm from there seems stronger, probably because he positions himself really well to move forward into catches. Span's range and positioning in right brought a new dimension to that area. When Joe Benson arrives, that's where Span should go.
In fact, seeing what we did yesterday should make it even more urgent to get Benson into the mix for his defense. We didn't exactly see a lumber company out there, and Joe Benson's bat is no worse than...oh well, small sample size...
Last edited by jimbo92107; 04-07-2012 at 09:51 AM.
04-07-2012, 10:42 AM #14
Still don't understand the love affair with Joe Benson. Is it the hair?
04-07-2012, 10:45 AM #15
04-07-2012, 10:46 AM #16
A major league outfielder has to make that catch. I like the idea of getting Doumit's bat in the lineup, but the trade off is what we all saw yesterday. We can't afford to give away runs. Small sample size, but I think we are just seeing the beginning of what will become all to common this year. Why didn't the Pirates try and retain him?
His defense isn't good enough at any one position to stay in the lineup, and now with no DH spot open we are in the same boat the Pirates were in when trying to find bats for him.
Last edited by minn55441; 04-07-2012 at 10:49 AM.
04-07-2012, 10:51 AM #17
Plouffe is a better hitter than you're giving him credit for. He played 81 games last season and hit 8 HR... simple math puts a fair projection for Plouffe at 15-16 on a full season.
04-07-2012, 11:10 AM #18
At that time of day, in Camden Yards, he's looking into the sun.
It looks so horrible that the ball actually taps his glove, but I'm amazed that he almost made that catch at all.
Hope it doesn't continue down the road. Target field has the same angle as Camden Yards.
Yes, Doumit is not a great OF, but it could have happened to anyone. so.. moving forward, we want to see his bat even out the runs some how."You teach me baseball and I'll teach you relativity. No, we must not. You will learn about relativity faster than I learn baseball." Albert Einstein
04-07-2012, 11:19 AM #19
I like Doumit on the team and like him as our backup catcher. I think the real question here isn't so much whether it should be Revere or Doumit in RF. Gardy has already come out and stated that if Doumit starts at a position other than C, then he stays in the game so we don't lose our backup. But rather, is Doumit's bat that much better than Plouffe's bat considering Plouffe with his range and arm could probably become that much better than Doumit defensively. Let's face it, both are learning to play RF on the fly while serving on an MLB roster. I'd rather have Plouffe doing the learning as my regular RF, not Doumit. Doumit is an asset, as our backup catcher who will catch 2-3 games per week. His bat isn't that much better than Plouffe, or Hughes for that matter.
04-07-2012, 11:31 AM #20
John brought this up a month ago, and I may have changed my mind on it now. If Revere isn't going to play pretty much every day (and I don't count pinch-running as playing, even though it is, but you know what i mean), he should be in Rochester. His minor league numbers indicate that he can eventually hit for better average, which will naturally bring up the OBP. He made things happen last year despit pretty poor offensive numbers. Consider he's a little younger than Benson and Parmelee and Dozier, the idea that he completely is what he is probably isn't fair yet. I don't think he's got a ton of upside, but if he can become what Juan Pierre was a decade ago, that's pretty valuable. But the decision to move Willingham means that Revere sits.