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Article: Position Battle: Starting Center Fielder

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#41 Lonestar

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 10:28 AM

I'd rather see the team playing for the terrific future than playing for the mediocre now.

That resonates because that is what we all want. We just differ as to how to play for the future.

Some would say if we were playing for the future last year, Hicks would have started the year in AAA. Many of us would not have subjected Hicks to so much futility in the majors last year -- that is, demoted him earlier.

I put no stock in Spring Training small sample size. I would send Hicks to AAA because that's what his track record indicates. I'm guessing the Twins decision will be based on the health and spring trainings of Presley and Mastro. Then again, Mastro is not on the 40-man roster.

Depending on the nature of his call up, I would start him 50-90% of the time. I would bat him 9th because I think he will be a better hitter than Florimon and would rather have him batting before the top of the order. He might become a lead off hitter or a #6 or #7 hole hitter.

We'll see what his future is. Is he more like Jaque Jones or Ben Revere or Torii Hunter or Joe Benson?

#42 cmathewson

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 10:35 AM

We'll see what his future is. Is he more like Jaque Jones or Ben Revere or Torii Hunter or Joe Benson?


If he was just a right-handed batter, he'd project similar to Hunter, IMO. As a switch hitter, he's kind of Hunter from the right side and Span from the left side.
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#43 zak4221

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 10:36 AM

I hope Willingham has a strong first half, when buxton is ready, they will trade willingham and move hicks to left.

#44 Don't Feed the Greed Guy

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 10:55 AM

I like this progression during the 2014 regular season, based upon on-the-field performance, not merely potential:

J.D. Williams: (et al.) A to AA
Buxton: AA to AAA, September call-up to MLB
Hicks: AAA to MLB

I would like to see these players on the field every day, whether in the minors, or when their performance makes Kubel, Willingham, Parmelee, Mastro and/or Presley expendable/releasable/tradable around the All-Star break, if not earlier.

The tricky balance is allowing for a natural progression of talent, rather than creating a logjam at the highest levels in the organization.

Throw in Rosario as the wild card as he comes off his 50 game suspension.

#45 Oxtung

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 10:50 PM

The optimism here boggles my mind.Hicks' just had one of the worst rookie seasons of the last 50 years. In fact his .192 BA is the 5th worst. He gets sent to AAA and doesn't show anything there either. Now people want him to start again in the majors to begin the season?

<---- Mind Boggled

#46 TKGuy

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 10:15 PM

I guess I don't see the logic of not starting Hicks. Learn on the job and as long as he has matured, he should be in CF until Buxton comes. Then Hicks can move A corner spots. I like Presley as a 4th OF. It's time for Mastro and Ramirez to go, so keep Hammer, Hicks, Arcia, Presley and Parmalee.

I think same thing goes for Pinto, why not get some experience and see if he is the future, and if not, we have some other options working up the system

#47 Oxtung

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 02:43 PM

I guess I don't see the logic of not starting Hicks. Learn on the job and as long as he has matured, he should be in CF until Buxton comes. Then Hicks can move A corner spots. I like Presley as a 4th OF. It's time for Mastro and Ramirez to go, so keep Hammer, Hicks, Arcia, Presley and Parmalee.

I think same thing goes for Pinto, why not get some experience and see if he is the future, and if not, we have some other options working up the system


In education you don't just drop a student into a situation they aren't ready for and say "sink or swim". When you're teaching mathematics you don't take a kid that can't add and try to teach them multiplication. All learning is a step by step process and you need to have a grasp on step X before you can move onto Step Y.

It's pretty clear after last season that Hicks hasn't mastered the fundamentals needed to succeed at the MLB level. He has missed a step or three along the way and needs to relearn some things.

Why not let him learn in the majors? Failing for a short amount of time can be a good thing. It can force a student to refocus or accept that the previous fundamentals were important to learn.

After they fail however they have to have time to go back and relearn those fundamentals in a lower pressure environment. If a student fails at multiplication because they can't add, hammering them over and over that they're a failure because they can't multiply does no good. In fact it can cause long term damage. It leads to resentment and a loss of confidence which in turn leads to feeling worthless at a given task. When that happens you've now removed any desire a student once had for learning the task. They dread the task now.

Another reason for sending him back to AAA is that while the major league staff might be the best at teaching the advanced concepts that pitchers need to understand to be successful that does not mean they are the best at teaching the previous steps that lead up to the advanced stuff. The whole point of the AAA staff is to teach those concepts. Another benefit is that Hicks will be surrounded by guys learning the same concepts and he can talk with them about it.

Recap: We know Hicks has failed in the majors and needs to learn some of the fundamentals he's missing. By going back to AAA he is in a lower pressure environment more conducive to learning, surrounded by others learning those same concepts and with a staff that is dedicated to teaching those specific concepts. Once he is starting to master those missing fundamentals he will also be at a level that is easier for him to be successful leading to more confidence which in turn reinforces the fundamentals. At that point he is ready for a second attempt at MLB.

#48 cmathewson

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 03:17 PM

The optimism here boggles my mind.Hicks' just had one of the worst rookie seasons of the last 50 years. In fact his .192 BA is the 5th worst. He gets sent to AAA and doesn't show anything there either. Now people want him to start again in the majors to begin the season?

<---- Mind Boggled


Correction, he had about the worst first fourteen days of a major league career you can have. But he made adjustments and did decently for a rookie thereafter.

In March and April, his OPS was .356. In May is was .707. In June, it was .708. In July it was .671. You do him a disservice by ignoring the improvement he made last year. From May through July, Hicks had a higher OPS than Presley did in September (.699).
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#49 stringer bell

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 03:25 PM

No question, Oxtung made some good points. Hicks made the team in 2013 on the basis of having good tools, having his best minor league season, and having a fine 2012 minor league season. Since he fell somewhere between disappointment and failure, we can discount the spring training performance and since he is coming off a poor 2013, his promotion couldn't be based on his previous season. The Twins aren't going to platoon him with a LH hitter or bring him up as a fourth OF, so he needs everyone else to fail miserably or be injured or he has to be beyond good in spring training games.

#50 birdwatcher

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 03:40 PM

I guess I question how much of Hick's struggles were due to lack of "knowledge". We can take that math student, send him to take part in the school play, feel comfortable that he has his lines down, and then watch him step onto the big stage under the bright lights and stumble through his lines. I wonder if Hicks had a bit of stage fright. Sometimes it just takes getting used to the spotlights.

#51 cmathewson

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 04:13 PM

I guess I question how much of Hick's struggles were due to lack of "knowledge". We can take that math student, send him to take part in the school play, feel comfortable that he has his lines down, and then watch him step onto the big stage under the bright lights and stumble through his lines. I wonder if Hicks had a bit of stage fright. Sometimes it just takes getting used to the spotlights.


There's a lot to that. His whole family in attendance. Leading off against Verlander. First pitch strike on a curve ball that went six inches around the plate. That was like choking on your first line. After that, his confidence took a nosedive. The fact that he recovered is encouraging.
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#52 Jdosen

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 09:59 PM

I'd like to be optimistic on Hicks, and I think if he's handled correctly he can still be a valuable player, but if I had to guess, I would say most players who are as bad as he was last year never amount to much.

I want to see Hicks in AAA on Opening Day. Not only has he not yet shown that he can hit Big League pitching, he certainly hasn't shown that he can hit AAA pitching yet either. I'd like to think that he can, and 5-7 weeks in Rochester will only help his development. If he's having success (not only in numbers, but if the coaches feel his approach is ready), then call him up and set him loose.

Whatever the Twins do, I hope to God they don't let ST numbers (good or bad) decided anything. Hicks is not the only example for ST numbers not correlating with success in the regular season. Another one I remember is 2012 Liriano who tore it up in ST and was in the bullpen by May.
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#53 Kwak

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 11:00 PM

Whatever the Twins do, I hope to God they don't let ST numbers (good or bad) decided anything. Hicks is not the only example for ST numbers not correlating with success in the regular season. Another one I remember is 2012 Liriano who tore it up in ST and was in the bullpen by May.


However, in 2013, Liriano was instrumental in helping his team qualify for the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, and was named comeback player of the year in the National League.

#54 Jdosen

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 11:31 PM

However, in 2013, Liriano was instrumental in helping his team qualify for the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, and was named comeback player of the year in the National League.

He certainly was, but that doesn't change the fact that his ST numbers don't correlate to regular season numbers.
I just started the blog Troy Williamson's Hands which is about MN sports and whatever else I want to write--you can find it at http://troywilliamso...s.blogspot.com/
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#55 Mike Sixel

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 09:57 AM

I want Hicks in LF, with Pressley in CF until Buxton is up in September. Get Hicks used to his LT position (assuming Rosario is at 2B or traded).......no need for Willingham to see the outfield for this team. IF they are seriious about not being in big holes at the beginning of games, they need OF defense.

I don't know, it is a site to discuss sports, not airline safety.....maybe we should take it less seriously?


#56 cmathewson

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 10:55 AM

I'd like to be optimistic on Hicks, and I think if he's handled correctly he can still be a valuable player, but if I had to guess, I would say most players who are as bad as he was last year never amount to much.

I want to see Hicks in AAA on Opening Day. Not only has he not yet shown that he can hit Big League pitching, he certainly hasn't shown that he can hit AAA pitching yet either. I'd like to think that he can, and 5-7 weeks in Rochester will only help his development. If he's having success (not only in numbers, but if the coaches feel his approach is ready), then call him up and set him loose.

Whatever the Twins do, I hope to God they don't let ST numbers (good or bad) decided anything. Hicks is not the only example for ST numbers not correlating with success in the regular season. Another one I remember is 2012 Liriano who tore it up in ST and was in the bullpen by May.


Most player struggle when they come to the majors. Ben Revere had one of the worst Septembers I ever remember in his debut. Hunter was bad when he came up, in fact, the whole 99 team sucked that year.

Michael Cuddyer. Jason Kubel. Justin Morneau. Jason Bartlett. The list goes on. More recently, Carlos Gomez says hi. Brian Dozier was horrible in his debut.

Everybody fixates on the season opener and forgets the rest of the year. I don't get it.
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#57 cmathewson

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 10:57 AM

I want Hicks in LF, with Pressley in CF until Buxton is up in September. Get Hicks used to his LT position (assuming Rosario is at 2B or traded).......no need for Willingham to see the outfield for this team. IF they are seriious about not being in big holes at the beginning of games, they need OF defense.


You'd rather have Pressly hitting than Kubel? Good luck with that.
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#58 Mike Sixel

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 11:25 AM

I'd rather have Pressley fielding. No idea what to do about the hitting. But since they already punted on the hitting, let's put the best defense out there. Two mediocre things are less valuable in sports than 1 good and one bad thing. Prevent the runs, get lucky with the hitting, win a few more games. Or, just be bad at field and at hitting....

I don't know, it is a site to discuss sports, not airline safety.....maybe we should take it less seriously?


#59 Alex

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 12:10 PM

I'd rather have Pressley fielding. No idea what to do about the hitting. But since they already punted on the hitting, let's put the best defense out there. Two mediocre things are less valuable in sports than 1 good and one bad thing. Prevent the runs, get lucky with the hitting, win a few more games. Or, just be bad at field and at hitting....


We'll see how Kubel hits this season, but he was terrible last year, way worse than Presley.

#60 Alex

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 12:11 PM

Correction, he had about the worst first fourteen days of a major league career you can have. But he made adjustments and did decently for a rookie thereafter.

In March and April, his OPS was .356. In May is was .707. In June, it was .708. In July it was .671. You do him a disservice by ignoring the improvement he made last year. From May through July, Hicks had a higher OPS than Presley did in September (.699).


Presley didn't have the power Hicks had but his .336 OBP makes him far more valuable if he can continue to produce that, which may be doubtful and that's why you see the difference in OPS. That's the most concerning aspect of Hicks's struggles is that he never found the ability to even draw walks and he's always had a high number of strikeouts, which we can expect to be higher in the majors. It wasn't good, not really ever, with the exception of facing LHP, but that's the less frequent platoon split, and he's too young to be platooned since you want him to get as many at bats as possible.