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Article: Twins 2019 Position Analysis: First Base

cj cron tyler austin lucas duda alex kirilloff
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#21 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 09:54 AM

 

It is always puzzling to me when reading about first base that there are several mentions of Kepler.Yes, he played some first base in the minors, but it wasn't that much...was it?But he is our best right fielder, one of the best in MLB.Yes, he does have a second position, but it is center field where he played quite a bit last year. 

 

I don't understand the constant mention of him at first base which would see someone who isn't as good as he playing right field.I say keep one of the best right fielders in the game in right field.Look for others to cover first base.

I think it's because when you look at the bench, we don't have a LH 1B to spell Cron. Cron got over 500 ABs last year for the first time and you don't want to over expose him. I think the thought is that there will be 30-40 games at 1B for someone else and a LH hitter would be better. Also, Cave hit well last year and is a capable defensive OF - he was the regular CF last year when Buxton went down, not Kepler, so Molitor saw Cave as the better CF - and you'd like to get Cave 300+ ABs to see if his .797 OPS with 13 HRS in 300 ABs last year is for real.Add that all together and playing Cave or Kepler at 1B for 20 games makes some sense. Kepler's played there and is 4 inches taller so he seems to make more sense, although I hope that both Kepler and Cave are getting work at 1B this spring. I see 1B this year as a place to get ABs for Cron, Sano (with Gonzalez at 3B), Gonzalez (with Sano at 3B), and one of Kepler or Cave. 

 

That probably means no room at the Inn for two or all three of Astudillo, Austin or Adrianza unless you exercise Cave's option. I think Cave's the best player of the 4 but Rocco's going to have to make that decision this spring. 

 

Isn't it a refreshing change to be debating the merits of 4 guys who actually belong on a major league roster competing for the last 1 or 2 spots instead of wondering what long time journeyman/has been/never was is going to fill out the last couple of uniforms? I'm cautiously optimistic that this team could actually be pretty good in the field.Now if only we could do something about that pitching staff....

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#22 Nick Nelson

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 10:23 AM

 

There is literally no reason for the Twins to find out. Cron, Austin, Sano, Garver and Kepler should all play first base before Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has played 1200 innings at first base in the majors. Sano, Garver and Kepler have played about 180 combined. Austin probably won't be on the roster.  

 

 

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#23 caninatl04

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 11:13 AM

 

I don't see anything wrong with a bench of
Cave
Garver
Gonzalez
Austin

I mean the guys they have playing everyday are young, and as long as the twins don't have any new 80 game suspensions I don't see that much need for an Adrianza or any other light hitting middle infielder. If need be, injury or something you can probably find a guy like that on waivers, or use Gordon in that role if need be? I mean Danny Santana is still getting work, so there are guys out there that can fill that need. Put the bats on the bench until they need that guy.

Cave OF PR
Garver C 1B
Gonzalez pretty much anywhere
Austin 1B DH PH

So, what do line-ups look like versus RHP and LHP?


#24 MMMordabito

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 11:20 AM

 

I don't see that much need for an Adrianza or any other light hitting middle infielder. If need be, injury or something you can probably find a guy like that on waivers, or use Gordon in that role if need be? I mean Danny Santana is still getting work, so there are guys out there that can fill that need. Put the bats on the bench until they need that guy.

 

 

They also have Torreyes available for this situation.

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#25 yarnivek1972

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 11:54 AM

Gonzalez grades pretty well at 1B. 1B and OF are the only positive UZR fielding positions for him. He has played 191 games at 1B in his career and 55 over the last 2 years. Sano has played 22, Garver 8, and Kepler 3 (4.1 innings) in their careers.

I don't understand why players like Kepler should be ahead of him at 1B. Kepler is one of the best defensive right fielders out there. Moving him to 1B would be a downgrade defensively. I would argue that any OF prospect should be considered for 1st before unseating Kepler. Just because Kepler can play 1st doesn't mean he should.


Gonzalez grades similar to Sano at 3rd in UZR and much better than him at 1st. Seems like the best case here would be to keep Sano at 3rd and Gonzalez at 1st if both are in the lineup.

Then you have Austin who likely won't make the team and Garver who should probably be the primary catcher.


Gonzalez’s bat doesn’t play at first base. I guess the hope is that it would for Cron, Sano, Garver, Austin and Kepler.

I didn’t look at the numbers, but if Gonzalez is about the same as Sano at third, that’s concerning. Sano has been one of the worst in the league the last two years.

#26 JLease

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 12:07 PM

I'm a little surprised to see Kirilloff already be suggested as the long-term solution at 1B; from what I've been reading (particularly here at TD) he grades out to be a solid if unspectacular corner OF with a capable arm and good overall athleticism. And unless Kepler starts hitting a lot more, you lose so much value bumping him all the way down to 1B; you're better off trading him at that point, aren't you?

 

Rooker seems like he's one of the better options for a longer term solution, assuming Cron doesn't step up and become a serious contender. And I think it's a mistake to write Cron off: He's had 4 seasons as a (mostly) regular. 2016 & 2018 he was a quality starter, 2015 & 2017 he was just a guy. But in the 2nd half of 2017 he raked, and had a very solid 2018, so it's not unreasonable to think that last year's performance is repeatable and if that's who CJ Cron is I think we're going to be awfully happy and not worrying too much about Tyler Austin.

 

Regardless we'll get more pop and less D with fewer BBs out of 1B this year at a significantly lower price. Dan Barreiro will be thrilled as long as whomever he is gets RBIs and swings at more pitches with runners on base.


#27 Mike Sixel

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 12:20 PM

If the FO plan was a platoon of 1B only types, that's a terrible plan......in this era of 13 man pitching staffs.

 

I'd still like to see Austin get time in RF, to see what he can or cannot do there. 

 

I'm guessing it is Cron, with Sano, Garver, Gonzales all getting a few games here and there at 1B. 

 

Duda makes no sense at all on this roster, w/o an injury.

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#28 IMissJoeMauer

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 01:33 PM

I miss Joe Mauer.
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#29 RaymondLuxuryYacht

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 01:37 PM

Austin 0 for 3, with 3 K's today in Clearwater - looks overmatched.


#30 Twodogs

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 02:20 PM

So, what do line-ups look like versus RHP and LHP?


OF Buxton
SS Polanco
DH Cruz
OF Rosario
3B Sano
OF Kepler
2B Schoop
1B Cron
C Castro

Those other guys are on the bench

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#31 yarnivek1972

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 03:18 PM

OF Buxton
SS Polanco
DH Cruz
OF Rosario
3B Sano
OF Kepler
2B Schoop
1B Cron
C Castro

Those other guys are on the bench


I think it is extremely unlikely that Buxton starts the season as the leadoff hitter.

#32 TheLeviathan

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 04:04 PM

 

Only similarities between the two are both are coming off career years, both have good power, and the national experts thought both were solid moves. Cron is a low risk, high reward placeholder. Rooker and Kirilloff will probably be up in September, and hopefully one will take over 1B early in 2020.

 

If all we wanted was a placeholder we already had Austin. 

 

I imagine, after this year, we'll look at LoMo and Cron much the same way - we bought high (not in terms of cost, in terms or production expectations) and we received low.As a general rule I prefer to buy high on what is likely to stay high or buy low on upside.Cron offers the worst of both worlds.

 

I hope I'm wrong though.

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#33 Original Whizzinator

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 07:21 PM

I think many feel the Twins have a glut of outfielders, so Kepler playing some at 1B helps out with this. I don't think anyone expects he would play much at first.


Yes but I also don't understand why Kepler wouldn't be far down any list for first base. The man needs to be roaming the nether regions, as chilly would say he is a kick ass center fielder. Seriously he not only is in the top few at right field but not many guys are better at center. The guy is smooth out there and always knows right where the wall is. Which might be why he is always available. Not to mention that so far his bat hasn't played at first.

#34 chpettit19

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 08:05 PM

I find it interesting that so many people seem so confident in Cave being at least a useful ML piece after 309 PAs of 113 OPS+, yet are so worried about Cron after 2035 PAs of 112 OPS+. And that's not even mentioning so many people really wanting Austin to be on the team despite having 400 PAs of 100 OPS+. Seems like a lot of this is maybe a little emotional attachment to guys who've worn a Twins' uni.

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#35 DocBauer

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 08:17 PM

If all we wanted was a placeholder we already had Austin. 
 
I imagine, after this year, we'll look at LoMo and Cron much the same way - we bought high (not in terms of cost, in terms or production expectations) and we received low.As a general rule I prefer to buy high on what is likely to stay high or buy low on upside.Cron offers the worst of both worlds.
 
I hope I'm wrong though.


Completely respect your opinion while also hoping as well that you are, indeed, proved wrong, lol.

I think one thing we all have to do is just forget about Morrisson. They may both be power 1B who each played for the Rays, but comparisons should stop there. They are different players, at different points in their careers.

Cron has been solid, but bounced in and out of lineups behind other guys, putting up decent but spectacular numbers, never having more than 400 AB until his breakout in 2018. He finally played daily and got 500AB. He reportedly made some adjustments to his approach. You would think Rocco is at least familiar with him also coming over from TB and having some input on his signing.

He could, more or less, duplicate his 2018 season. He could regress some and still be a decent hitter with 20+HR power and still be an asset. I doubt he's any sort of long term solution, but he could prove to be a solid short term option until Rooker, Kirilloff, etc, is ready.
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#36 DocBauer

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 08:26 PM

Two spring training starts for Tyler Austin.
 
Both at 1B. 
 
I've been holding out hope for some OF work.


Agreed!

Three options:

1] It's still very early and they are looking at a lot of guys right now.

2] They are being short-sighted, which seems strange for this FO and Rocco's approach coming over from a forward thinking organization.

3] They have drilled Austin in the OF and don't like what they see, which sounds a bit strange considering he was originally an OF in the minors, and have already made a conclusion.

Sure hope it's #1.

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#37 Nick Nelson

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 08:30 PM

 

Yes but I also don't understand why Kepler wouldn't be far down any list for first base. The man needs to be roaming the nether regions, as chilly would say he is a kick ass center fielder. Seriously he not only is in the top few at right field but not many guys are better at center. The guy is smooth out there and always knows right where the wall is. Which might be why he is always available. Not to mention that so far his bat hasn't played at first.

Everything you said here is correct, but I guess it comes down to this: If Cave does manage to build on his rookie campaign, and is a guy you want in the lineup against righties over Cron (not hard to envision), you're probably gonna want to play the guy at first who has experience and comfort there. Cave's not as good as Kepler in the OF but the drop-off isn't catastrophic for a game here and there.

 

 

I think one thing we all have to do is just forget about Morrisson. They may both be power 1B who each played for the Rays, but comparisons should stop there. They are different players, at different points in their careers. 

Another thing to consider is that Morrison was likely hurt. He had hip surgery in August which suggests a pretty serious issue. Who knows how long and how much it affected him, but he said at the time that he'd "just been grinding through it."

So, ya know, extenuating circumstances. 

 

When the Twins added Cron I wasn't terribly enthused, but I've definitely warmed up to it with further thought. The guy has just produced really consistently, at every step. Yeah he could drop off a cliff but there isn't any rational reason to expect it. 

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#38 chpettit19

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 08:36 PM

 

Agreed! Three options: 1] It's still very early and they are looking at a lot of guys right now. 2] They are being short-sighted, which seems strange for this FO and Rocco's approach coming over from a forward thinking organization. 3] They have drilled Austin in the OF and don't like what they see, which sounds a bit strange considering he was originally an OF in the minors, and have already made a conclusion. Sure hope it's #1.

Delmon Young was a minor league OF too, doesn't mean he should have been in a ML outfield. Having watched Austin run I can't imagine he's a useful outfielder. I think it is a sign that this FO, and possibly Rocco, too, take defense serious and don't want to put bad fielders out there if they don't have to. 

 

And it's not like Austin has lit the world on fire at the plate in his career. It's been spotty chances for him, but he's a career league average hitter. Taking ABs away from any of our OFs for that doesn't seem like the right move to me. If you think consistent ABs makes him an above average hitter maybe there's more to the idea of finding him a second position, but I just don't think he's good enough with the bat to make up for what I would guess is subpar OF defense.

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#39 Mike Sixel

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 09:04 PM

I find it interesting that so many people seem so confident in Cave being at least a useful ML piece after 309 PAs of 113 OPS+, yet are so worried about Cron after 2035 PAs of 112 OPS+. And that's not even mentioning so many people really wanting Austin to be on the team despite having 400 PAs of 100 OPS+. Seems like a lot of this is maybe a little emotional attachment to guys who've worn a Twins' uni.


Cave can play defense some. Cron? I think that's part of it for me. But offense? No idea if either will repeat their performance
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#40 chpettit19

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 09:21 PM

 

Cave can play defense some. Cron? I think that's part of it for me. But offense? No idea if either will repeat their performance

That's fair. I'm not overly excited or down on either of them. Just find it interesting. Not saying it's good or bad, just interesting that their stats (given, only offensively) are super similar, but they tend to be viewed very differently on a lot of these boards.

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