Right now Plouffe is the best option for the MLB club, whether its for half a year or a year and half. Many things could change that though. If Sano's elbow is not ready, if he struggles, if Plouffe gets hurt, or if he struggles. Another thing to look at is if Parmalee absolutely kills it, Willingham returns to 2012 form and Arcia improves on last year, maybe Mauer HAS to move to third to get Parm's bat in the line-up. Doubtful, but still.
If Plouffe can't handle it, maybe Dozier should move to third and Escobar gets second.
After Mauer, this team is hardly set. It should be open to playing whoever the hot hand is with the bat, and platoon/substitute accordingly.
To me Parmelee absolutely killing it is a far cry from reality as is Willingham returning to 2012 form. And why move Dozier to third and put Escobar at second? Wouldn't Escobar simply going to third be more logical? However, Arcia improving I can easily see.
Only reason to move Dozier anywhere is to shortstop if Rosario pushes him out of 2nd base. Won't happen this year and unless Hicks rebounds I see an outfield of Buxton, Rosario and Arcia for quite a while.
I've always believed the "Mauer to 3B" advocates significantly underestimate what it takes to learn to play even an adequate MLB-level 3B. Mauer's a great athlete with impressive instincts, but I don't think that means he would just pick up a fielder's glove, walk out to 3B and play on.
Sano is a pretty impressive athlete as well. He was playing shortstop before the Twins signed him. They immediately moved him to 3B in his first spring training and have worked with him pretty much constantly ever since. He's now, apparently, reached the point where he's playing a passable minor league level 3B.
I want both of those guys focusing as much of their attention as possible on hitting baseballs for as long as they are teammates with the Twins. Asking them both focus their attention on learning another new position just as they're finally about to play on the same field together seems like a bad idea to me.
Jim Cricket. I advocated the switch for Mauer several years ago, but that was when Morneau was holding the 1st base spot. I no longer am in favor of it but I believe he could make the transition and be adequate in a short period of time. I also believe that if he had made the switch 3 years ago he would be way more than adequate by now. In other words I think he has the talent set to be a GREAT 3rd baseman just based on his talent set as catcher and his general athleticism. I consider skill set to be a different category and that is what would take time to develop and it just no longer makes sense so I agree it would now be a bad idea.
Maybe I'm biased because I played a lot of 3B in my younger days... It's not easy. Those reaction plays are tough and so is charging in on a ball.
Joe Torre never played a major league game at Third until he was age 29, in his 10th year in the majors. The next year he won the NL MVP at age 30 playing the position for 161 games. Joe Mauer doesn't turn 31 until mid-April...a great athlete can make the necessary adjustments and be more than merely "competent" at a new position reasonably within his range of athleticism.
Now, how Joe would handle the hot corner after a decade behind the dish.... *shrug*. I have no doubts however that had the Twins moved him to 3B in the minors that he would have been gold glove caliber there as well.