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In Defense of Defense

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#1 Teflon

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 05:52 PM

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.

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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.

#2 John Bonnes

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 07:09 PM

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.

#3 nicksaviking

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 07:17 PM

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.

#4 Thrylos

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 07:39 PM

Jim Palmer, doing color for the Orioles broadcast, said, "Cuddyer probably would have caught it, but he's in Colorado."


the problem with that is that Jim Palmer has seen maybe a handful of games of Cuddyer at RF. The rest of us know that Cuddyer (and Kubel) did not have that ball either... Cuddyer missed many similar balls in the past. Span overplayed too and if he did not break but was where he was supposed to be that wouldn't have been a triple either.
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#5 Land Of 10,000 Beasts

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 09:16 PM

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.

#6 Boom Boom

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 09:58 PM

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.

#7 Riverbrian

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 11:01 PM

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.

#8 Shane Wahl

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 12:08 AM

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.

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 12:29 AM

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.

#10 Seth Stohs

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 12:39 AM

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..

#11 Riverbrian

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 07:55 AM

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..


First off... Seth I read your stuff all the time. Keep up the good work. I appreciate what you do immensely.

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.

#12 spideyo

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 08:20 AM

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.

#13 jimbo92107

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 08:46 AM

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...

Edited by jimbo92107, 07 April 2012 - 08:51 AM.


#14 spideyo

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:42 AM

Still don't understand the love affair with Joe Benson. Is it the hair?

#15 The Greatest Poster Alive

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:45 AM

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.


Sure but he would have 10 hopped it to the cutoff man.

#16 minn55441

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:46 AM

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.

Edited by minn55441, 07 April 2012 - 09:49 AM.


#17 The Greatest Poster Alive

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:51 AM

First off... Seth I read your stuff all the time. Keep up the good work. I appreciate what you do immensely.

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.


Revere's hitting ability has not translated into the majors yet. He has never earned a starting job.

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.

#18 Neinstein

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 10:10 AM

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." [SIZE=2]​Albert Einstein[/SIZE]

#19 silverslugger

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 10:19 AM

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.

#20 Seth Stohs

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 10:31 AM

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.

#21 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 11:19 AM

Still don't understand the love affair with Joe Benson. Is it the hair?


Still don't understand the love affair with Ben Revere. Is it the smile?

#22 CDog

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 11:36 AM

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.


Still waiting for any evidence of anybody saying that Willingham was unwilling or unable to move.

#23 Teflon

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 11:48 AM

Perhaps I was spoiled by the soul patrol, but an outfield with enough range to cut off the ball in the gaps and to catch up to fly balls in foul territory helps turn non-serviceable pitchers into serviceable pitchers. (How else do you explain Carlos Silva?) The Twins dilema is they have propensity of players best suited for DH at-bats that now won't be happening because of Morneau's delicate cranium. I don't think you have to play the hand you're dealt. Isn't this where you try to address your needs by making a trade? I watched the Diamondbacks-Giants game last night and Arizona has put a pretty decent outfielder on the bench (Gerardo Parra) to give Jason Kubel at-bats. Parra would be a great addition. He's an elite defender and a decent-enough hitter to merit a spot in the lineup. Parra wouldn't block Benson's or Hicks' advancement because Willingham is not a long-term solution. (And Willingham can always DH once Justin recovers, can't he?) I'd be on the phone finding out what Arizona wants in trade.

#24 silverslugger

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 12:04 PM

Historically, how often do trade occur in April and May? I certainly don't remember many in April. To me, if a team were going to trade to address a perceived need, it would've been during ST. I think most clubs are going to give their current roster 50 games or so to see where they are at before considering trades, unless the injury bug hits. Also, per Arizona, if they are giving at bats to Kubel over a more defensive outfielder then they are coming at it from the same philosophy as our Twins, so to speak.

#25 Neinstein

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 12:19 PM

I was very happy with Carroll's defensive play in game 1. Hope to see many more nice plays throughout the year.
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#26 Teflon

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 12:33 PM

In Spring Training they thought Morneau would play first, Doumit would DH, Willingham would play RF, and some combination of Revere and Plouffe would play left. Once they decided Morneau would be the primary DH and Willingham would play left, however, RF became more of a question because of their reluctance to put Revere out there. By the way, there's no MLB rule against making trades in April or May. (I looked it up.) Not doing it because, well, it's just not done, is an argument without any actual justification. Same as saying that because the Diamondbacks are valuing Kubel's offense over Parra's glove, that's the way it should be. Arizona already has two other pretty good defenders in ther outfield in Upton and Young so can more afford to make room for a bat. They also have a pitching staff in Kennedy, Hudson, and Collmenter that misses a lot more bats than the Twins do.

#27 Riverbrian

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 12:53 PM

Revere's hitting ability has not translated into the majors yet. He has never earned a starting job.

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.


If you double Plouffes home run production using simple math. Don't conveniently forget to double his strikeout total. That would be 71 k's to 135 to 145 and that .238 average looms large. Has Revere earned a job with Angels... I'd say no but he was a spark plug last year and he earned it with the Twins.

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 01:06 PM

I don't believe corner OF defense is worth downgrading offensively. Teams have stuck less-than-great defensive outfielders in the corners for a century and a half, and done just fine. Boston won 2 WS with Manny Ramirez in LF. The number of fly balls that a Ben Revere would catch vs a Ryan Doumit isn't very significant over the course of a season. Yesterday the sun probably had as much to do with him not catching that ball as range did, and there's no guarantee Revere (or any outfielder) catches that ball either. In the specific case of Revere, his arm would cost at least a portion of the runs his range might save anyway.

I would also remind everyone the Twins defense saved Pavano a couple baserunners, and at least one run yesterday. Willingham saved a run with a throw from LF that Revere probably doesn't make, and Carroll's over the shoulder catch on a popup was a legitimately major league play. Parmalee made a nice play on a ground ball up the line. So let's stop pretending that defense cost the Twins a game yesterday.

I would also remind those clamoring for Ben Revere, that if we're going to make sweeping generalizations based off one game samples, that every run scored in yesterday's game involved an XBH. I, for one, do not want to see Ben Revere's bat in the lineup on an every day basis. One more weak spot, IMO.

#29 coddlenomore

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 01:14 PM

Funny Mr.Stohs, using that logic, how could you have ever defended Drew Butera as a ML catcher and not seem to be bothered by his complete lack of any sort of offensive ability?

#30 Riverbrian

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 02:03 PM

I don't believe corner OF defense is worth downgrading offensively. Teams have stuck less-than-great defensive outfielders in the corners for a century and a half, and done just fine. Boston won 2 WS with Manny Ramirez in LF. The number of fly balls that a Ben Revere would catch vs a Ryan Doumit isn't very significant over the course of a season. Yesterday the sun probably had as much to do with him not catching that ball as range did, and there's no guarantee Revere (or any outfielder) catches that ball either. In the specific case of Revere, his arm would cost at least a portion of the runs his range might save anyway.

I would also remind everyone the Twins defense saved Pavano a couple baserunners, and at least one run yesterday. Willingham saved a run with a throw from LF that Revere probably doesn't make, and Carroll's over the shoulder catch on a popup was a legitimately major league play. Parmalee made a nice play on a ground ball up the line. So let's stop pretending that defense cost the Twins a game yesterday.

I would also remind those clamoring for Ben Revere, that if we're going to make sweeping generalizations based off one game samples, that every run scored in yesterday's game involved an XBH. I, for one, do not want to see Ben Revere's bat in the lineup on an every day basis. One more weak spot, IMO.


A couple of things

#1 I don't care if Doumit dropped that ball in RF. It proves nothing and isn't related to my personal point. On the subject of Doumits defense. He's a career .271 who routinely hits double figures in dingers and his primary position is catcher. If he could play defense at all. Those numbers are worth money at the C position. He can't play defense and that is why he has failed to hold a starting job with the Pirates who have been one of the worst teams in baseball. It's not like Doumit had to beat out Johnny Bench for a job. As an OF. He's a career .271 hitter who can maybe hit 20 dingers if he stays healthy. Guess what if Doumit and Plouffe are the RF tandem. You have already sacrificed offense. So... You better be able to go get it in the field.

#2. I hope you are not implying that we have a 2004 version of Manny Ramirez in this current Twins lineup. If we have someone who hits like that. Yeah go ahead and let the ball scoot through the gaps for extra bases on occasion. I don't see any of the current Twins OF candidates hitting .300 plus with 40 home runs. We don't have that... of course that could just be my opinion. Maybe Plouffe will go nuts.

#3. Using your World Series point. Need I remind you that the hated White Sox won the 2005 World Series with Scott Podzednik and beat the Astros with Willy Taveres.

#4 maybe it's once a week or twice a week or 5 times a week that OF defense comes into play. Please also consider that it's about 27 weeks in a baseball season. Clamoring for the guy who will hit 14 homers is a round tripper every two weeks.

#5 when in doubt... Take the guy with world class speed and career .300 average in the minors. The twins have tons of players capable of 15 homers with regular at bats. Unfortunely the majority of them are capable of hitting south of .250.