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Article: Should Luke Hughes Start at 2B for the Twins?

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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 11:26 PM

You can view the page at http://www.twinsdail...B-for-the-Twins

#2 Nick Nelson

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 12:32 AM

It's an interesting point. Really what it comes down to is defense. I put no stock into UZR samples over a partial season and tend to think Casilla is significantly better than Hughes in the field, but if there's a belief that Hughes can hold his own defensively it makes a lot of sense to have Casilla serve as utility infielder & pinch runner. As for the trivia question... Mauer, Morneau and Span?

#3 kirbyelway

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 05:51 AM

I think Casilla needs to be at 2B. Our defense was terrible last year and with our pitch to contact pitchers we need to be strong up the middle. I just think our outfield defense is going to be suspect at best, so we better be stronger in the infield. If its an offense thing then I would be all for Hughes.

#4 twinswon1991

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 05:59 AM

If Hughes has any major role on this team we can all start speculating on the #1 overall pick in the 2013 draft. Hughes, Marquis, Blacky, Carroll, Butera, etc couldn't start for most AAA clubs yet Gardy will play them cuz they are NICE. 100+ losses appear to be a given!

#5 kirbyelway

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 06:28 AM

I don't think it's that bad twinswon1991. Last year was pretty flukey with all the injuries. If the big guys stay healthy all the complimentary pieces will be fine.

#6 roger

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 07:13 AM

Yes! As you know Seth, I have been preaching that Hughes should be the starting second baseman since last season ended. Forget UZR, my eyes tell me that Hughes is a solid second baseman. Not flashy, not exceptional, but solid! Does he have Casilla's range, probably not. But then in a lot of games, Casilla doesn't have Casilla's range. He is decent turning the double play and won't hurt the team at second. Offensively, he can hit .265-.280 average with 20+ home runs. Not that he will do it this year, but he will hit like that next year if he starts most of this year. I will be surprised if he is the starter on opening day. I expect however, that he will be the starter come August with Dozier at short. The answer to your question in Morneau, Mauer and Nick Blackburn.

#7 Thrylos

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 07:54 AM

I had a chance to watch Casilla and Carroll yesterday afternoon at the AA/AAA game. Night and day. I think that Alexi is going to have a monster season. I would not mind if Carroll is the UT and Lexi and starting SS with Hughes the starting 2B. I think that we will all be (positively) surprised by Casilla this season
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#8 Mr. Ed

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 08:09 AM

I had a chance to watch Casilla and Carroll yesterday afternoon at the AA/AAA game. Night and day. I think that Alexi is going to have a monster season. I would not mind if Carroll is the UT and Lexi and starting SS with Hughes the starting 2B. I think that we will all be (positively) surprised by Casilla this season


I'm all for Casilla/Hughes. Carroll as the Utility. Hughes has to get the bat going like this in the regular season and not hit in the .230s to warrant such an opp.

#9 Seth Stohs

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 08:16 AM

The answer to your question in Morneau, Mauer and Nick Blackburn.


That is correct!

#10 mnfireman

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 08:17 AM

I think this team will be fairly solid, not great, but solid. If Carroll is to remain the starting SS then Casilla should be the utility guy. If they put Casilla at SS, then Carroll should be the utility guy. Hughes gets 2B until he plays himself out of it. Doumit, Morneau & Parmalee can share DH & 1B, with Doumit, Parmalee & Plouffe sharing RF. Mauer has caught too well this spring to not be back there 4 or 5 times a week, though with the day/night rotation of the early schedule Gardy will want to give him days off. Revere is the best 4th OF option right now, though technically the team is carrying Willingham, Span, Plouffe, Parmalee, Doumit & Revere to cover the OF with Benson, Tosoni & Mastroianni at AAA. I guess we'll see if all this versatility is a good or a bad thing. Bad baseball might have this team looking like this in September - C Mauer, 1B Parmalee, 2B Carroll, 3B Valencia, SS Dozier, LF Willingham, CF Span, RF Benson & DH Morneau/Doumit.

#11 jeffk

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 08:36 AM

I think for a team that has three middle infielders that are mediocre to passable hitters, two of which play shortstop, two of which have fluky or questionable hitting backgrounds, it becomes almost needlessly rigid to demarcate "starter" vs. "bench". Let the three of them play 2/3 of the games for the first couple of months and then adjust from there.

#12 jmlease1

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 08:38 AM

If Hughes has any major role on this team we can all start speculating on the #1 overall pick in the 2013 draft. Hughes, Marquis, Blacky, Carroll, Butera, etc couldn't start for most AAA clubs yet Gardy will play them cuz they are NICE.

100+ losses appear to be a given!


Blackburn is a MLB-calibre pitcher; on most clubs he'd be a 4th-5th starter. Hughes is a player we don't know about yet. He's got nothing left to prove in AAA, but might not be able to make it in MLB. But if he has a major role on this club it'll mean either A) someone got injured or B) he played himself into a starting job. If it's A, that could be bad. If it's B, it's awesome. Marquis is a 5th starter for us and would compete for that role on a lot of other clubs too. Starting pitching is still hard to find and if Marquis is getting ground balls, he can be effective. Carroll got a lot of starts for the Dodgers last year...are they a AAA club? If he comes in with a .380 OBP and solid defense he'd start for a lot of teams too.

100 losses are hardly a given.

But to Seth's question...I would give Hughes a shot at the starting 2B job. If his defense can hold up I think he'd bring a little power and balance to the lineup. Casilla is probably best suited as a utility guy, and it would make it easy for him to come in as a late-game replacement for Carroll to give him a few more innings off. Casilla is a better option as a pinch runner, which gives him more value on the bench than some other options. The question is: is his defense reliable enough at 2B? The range might be an issue, with Carroll's strength being his ability to make the play cleanly, not ranging far and wide. But I think it's worth seriously considering.

#13 DAM DC Twins Fans

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 08:50 AM

I think Hughes should be given a shot at 2B and Casilla at SS. Carroll at UT. Dozier in Rochester. Revisit on June 1--if Dozier ready bring him up and play him at SS and see who is better at 2B Casilla or Hughes. (Advance June 1 date if injuries require).

#14 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:04 AM

I think people tend to forget that Hughes was pretty good up until his break out season in NB a few years back and has been injured ever since. The org has been very high on his athletic ability, but that health thing is a big deal. I know you cannot put a ton of stock in ST numbers, but what he's done this spring is certainly enough to gain consideration. Given that they have 3 middle infielders, of which 2 can play SS and all can play 2B, I think you can setup a nice 3 way platton giving hughes a good number of starts at 2nd and 1 or 2 a week at 3rd to give Valencia an occasional day off. If he continues hitting, Gardy will have no problems finding a place for him to play every day. Otherwise, he's a nice bench bat with some decent pop. If one of Carol or Casilla flops (and I think both are possible), you still aren't hurt that bad and can be looking at average production out of the other position. If both flop, Dozier is waiting on a callup. The problem, as I see it, is that none of these guys have been a token of health over their career. While I think the odds are low of all 3 seeing significant DL time, I do think it's probably higher than we'd like, and I'd say that there's a decent chance that 2 go down for a while. Hopefully though, it's at separate times. There's some decent reason for optimism here. Hughes (if he hits the potential he showed a while back) could be a dark horse that has a significant impact on the course of the season.

#15 jimbo92107

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:04 AM

I'm all for Casilla/Hughes. Carroll as the Utility. Hughes has to get the bat going like this in the regular season and not hit in the .230s to warrant such an opp.


Agreed, and I also agree that it probably won't start out that way this year. Pitchers on this team will start the season with the best fielding infield behind them. After they see who's pitching well (a month?), Gardenhire may start Hughes at 2B and slide Casilla to SS when Baker pitches, because he's a fly ball guy. That's when they might go with a speedier outfield, too, like Plouffe LF, Span CF, Revere RF. After that (another month?), if Hughes plays nice, steady 2B and hits well, Gardenhire may relax and let Carroll be the utility guy.

What I like in this situation is the flexibility they can tap into. Lots of young talent and role players are available this season. Gardenhire typically lets the season starting lineup have a good, long look before he starts tinkering, and it's hard to argue with that approach.

#16 BHAERTZEN

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:00 AM

Putting Nick Blackburn on that list is ridiculous.

If Hughes has any major role on this team we can all start speculating on the #1 overall pick in the 2013 draft. Hughes, Marquis, Blacky, Carroll, Butera, etc couldn't start for most AAA clubs yet Gardy will play them cuz they are NICE.

100+ losses appear to be a given!


#17 LRGAMBLE

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:23 AM

My impression of Alexi is that he can make some very impressive flashy plays with the leather. But the routine ground ball seems so mundane to him that he ends up bobbling it or adding more drama to the play than there should be. I think his base running is suspect too. Not that I have access to these stats but I think he leads the Twins in "picked off first base". He seems to nap over there. However if he can keep his head in the game and bat the way he was before his injury last fall he can be very good. I guess it really comes down to the question of which Casilla are we going to get?

#18 twinswon1991

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 11:10 AM

Putting Nick Blackburn on that list is ridiculous.


Blacky couldnt crack the rotation on any other AL team. No team would give a bag of balls for him unless the Twins ate his entire contract. You must not watch regular season games if you think Blacky belongs in the Bigs.

#19 bteichr

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 11:29 AM

I don't think any of Carroll, Casilla, and Hughes has done enough to earn a full time starting spot. I'd like to see the playing time split equally between them. There are generally 6 games per week and two positions to fill, so let them each start 4 games per week or so. I'd have Hughes play 2B, Casilla play SS, and Carroll switch between SS and 2B depending on the other starter. Then if one (or hopefully two) of them get hot, they can get more PT. If the Twins did this, they'd benefit from the strengths of each player while limiting their exposure to each guys weaknesses.

#20 spideyo

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 02:53 PM

If Parmalee gets significant time in RF, I wouldn't be surprised to see Hughes get some starts at 1b too

#21 Ultima Ratio

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 06:15 PM

I'd love to see Hughes get a shot to start. Solves the backup SS problem with Casilla as the utility man, and perhaps Hughes burst through with reliable and desperately needed production on this club. Why not take a chance? We did with Casilla.... well, we keep taking that chance with Casilla, hoping he can put it together. Unless Hughes' defense is a real liability at 2B, give him a shot to start and keep starting. If he blows it, then put Casilla back in... this seems like a great bet.
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#22 jorgenswest

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 07:43 PM

What if Luke Hughes were to bat against lefties? Is he a better hitter against lefties? The major league sample is not sufficiently large. On the surface, it appears he has been a poor hitter on either side with an edge to hitting against right handed pitching. At the sample size, the K/W ratio may be more telling.

RHP 55/14 in 217 PA
LHP 27/10 in 107 PA

Looks like a poor hitter either way with no apparent platoon advantage. You can look at some minor league data here.

http://mlsplits.driv...ayerinfo/471863

Luke Hughes may be a late bloomer. He'll need to be because there is no evidence based on past performance to suggest he is anything more than a AAAA player. In fact, I question whether any team would claim him if they tried to send him down at some point this year.

I would go with Alexi for now and put hope in Dozier for the summer (with Carroll as utility)

#23 jmlease1

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 08:33 AM

Blacky couldnt crack the rotation on any other AL team. No team would give a bag of balls for him unless the Twins ate his entire contract. You must not watch regular season games if you think Blacky belongs in the Bigs.


Seriously? I'm not going to pretend that Nick Blackburn is some elite pitcher or anything, and the twins probably made a mistake giving him the long-term deal they did when they did...but if you don't think Nick Blackburn doesn't belong in MLB I just don't know what to tell you. His first 2 full seasons with the Twins he had an ERA+ of 103 and 109 and WAR of 2.2 and 2.8. That's a nice solid number for a back of the rotation guy. Year 3 was awful (75 ERA+ and a negative WAR), but last season was a step back in the right direction, except for the injuries. Healthy, there's no reason to believe Nick Blackburn can't put up an ERA+ of 105-110 and a WAR of 2-3. If you don't think that kind of player doesn't have a place on a big-league roster you're living in fantasyland.

The same kind of analysis can apply to Luke Hughes: are we expecting him to be Dustin Pedroia? No! But the Twins 2Bs last season were dismal. It wouldn't take a lot for Hughes to be a significant improvement on what we got out of that position last year, and he seems capable of the job. Having competent, reliable, quality MLB players down the roster goes a long way towards making a team a winning ballclub. The twins aren't going anywhere if Mauer, Morneau, and Liriano don't have good, healthy seasons. But even if they do, the team isn't going to be a winning ballclub if they don't get reasonable production at 2B, CF, 3B, and the bench. (the pitching staff is another issue). Hughes can help the production at 2B; the question is, should he be starting? I'm leaning towards yes.

#24 John Bonnes

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 09:37 AM

Luke Hughes is all of 13 days younger than Casilla. I think he has a role on a major league team, and it might even include some time starting in the same way that Jamey Carroll has had a role that includes some time starting. I hope Hughes can eventually replicate his 759 career OPS in AAA, and I'm hopeful they'll find some good moments for him to get at-bats, but I don't bench Casilla for him. ON the other hand, I don't have any problem with him stepping in if there's an injury.

#25 Shane Wahl

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 04:08 PM

"But then in a lot of games, Casilla doesn't have Casilla's range."-- that's a pretty good summation of Alexi Casilla's defense.


#26 rogrulz30

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 04:03 PM

I wouldn't be surprised to see Hughes in at 2B, or take over the role at third over Danny Valencia.