Ever since the Willingham/Doumit era, this team's roster has had hardening of the arteries where it came to bat-first guys. No roster flexibility, just players signed to play a corner position (or poorly at an up-the-middle position) with a side comment "and if nothing else he can DH". It seemed to me, after a while, that it came from a lazy point of view, since that kind of player is always one of the most easily available. Cruz in that regard is somewhat of a refreshing experience, as he was signed with no pretense toward being a position player - the bat has to be perceived as really, really good to make that work.
As for catcher, in this era of 13-man pitching staffs you just can't have 3 of them anymore. Either Astudillo has to be so valuable at other positions that you can keep him in a genuine utility role, or you choose between him and Garver for Rochester, or you work an emergency trade to get Castro off the books for as much salary relief as you can negotiate with some other team. I am guessing the higher-ups turn thumbs down on any Castro trade FalVine can come up with, as it won't likely cover 100% of the salary. And Astudillo as utility guy is half-assing it in my book, since it only means "third base, maybe left field once a month if you have to, and first base which is easy to cover".
Mid-game at this writing, Astudillo's BA has slipped to only .538, so he might be the first to go.
Totally agree with just about everything you said here, Ash! There has been WAY too much old school construction in the past, and simply locking in to guys for their role and their spot.
And while we can debate the Austin situation, and are, I think that old school mentality is clearly changing with Baldelli in charge. Yes, the Twins have a set OF lineup most days. But why wouldn't they with Rosario, ZBuxton and Kepler? But Cave has been seeing time. Astudillo has seen time in the OF as well.
Speaking of Astudillo, he's also seen time behind the plate, 3B and 1B as well. Gonzalez has only been at 3B thus far, as I recall, and has been struggling at the plate since the first game. But with his late start and past history, are we really worried about him? We can say we have 3 catchers on the roster, but is that really accurate? We have a veteran catcher back from a major knee injury, a young catcher with a potent bat in Garver who continues to develop defensively and can play some 1B if needed, and we have a guy in Astudillo who can catch decently/well but can also be viewed as another "super-sub".
Now, Astudillo is absolutely not to be compared to Gonzalez as a similar "super-sub". But he looks fine...whenever I have seen him or listened to games...as a 3B, 1B, LF option who can "apparently" play some 2B without embarrassing himself. I would think he'd be an good to outstanding PH option. So I don't know I'd say the Twins are necessarily carrying 3 catchers.
I find some of the debates/opinions regarding Adrianza interesting. He is, in reality, the classic utility infielder. And he by no means a great player or a dangerous hitter. But he is a fine and often excellent defensive player who has hit better then. 250 in each of his seasons with the Twins, provided occasional pop, has handled the bat well in "situations" and even snuck in a few SB. And while his time with the Twins could be short lived with overall depth/options and kids coming up, he's a pretty decent bench guy to have around.
I'm not big on a DH only guy unless he is special. And while I advocated for Brantley or McCutchen over Cruz to provide a true positional player for even better lineup versatility and construction, I'm very happy to have Cruz. And I think we can all agree on that point.
While we can absolutely debate the timing and usage of Austin, barring injury, I think we can all pretty much agree he was going to be the odd man out eventually. Sooner or later...and let's be honest, we all hope it's sooner...Sano will be healthy and ready to go and start to shine again with his ability and new dedication. That means yet another move, beyond Austin, is going to have to take place. (Again, barring injury). That is going to be a much more difficult and complex move.
Again, I don't feel the Twins are necessarily carrying 3 catchers. But they have 3 guys who CAN play the position. And two of them are younger, cheaper, better offensively, and have growth potential. Is this where the veteran Castro gets squeezed out? He's not signed beyond this season and the FO/ownership has eaten contracts or portions thereof in previous moves.