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Postseason Review: Schafer, Parmelee, Nuñez


stringer bell

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This will close out my postseason reviews of position players. Parmelee and Nuñez spent a majority of the season with the Twins. Absent significant injuries, they didn't start many games. Schafer was claimed from the Braves and played regularly. All three players had their moments, but most likely won't seriously compete for a starting spot in 2015. There is a significant possibility that one or more of these players will be cut loose in the offseason.

 

Parmelee: Chris Parmelee had chances to claim a regular position with the Twins in 2012 and 2013. In 2012 Parmelee started at first base to start the season after a very successful September audition. Justin Morneau was coming off a severe concussion and was slated to be the DH. Parmelee was given first base. He played acceptable defense, but failed to hit. Parmelee was sent to Rochester where he crushed AAA pitching, but failed to sustain his swing when recalled by the Twins. In 2013, Parm got the starting nod as the right fielder. He surprised many by being an acceptable right fielder, although he lacked speed. Again, the bat failed him and he was eventually sent to Rochester. In 2014, Parmelee competed again for a roster spot and lost out. Out of options, he was outrighted to Rochester when no one claimed him. In 32 games, Parmelee hit well, coming up with a .920 OPS and maintaining a batting average over .300. When the Twins suffered a rash of injuries, Chris was recalled and did not return to the minors. Parmelee split his playing time three ways, starting 14 games in left, 28 in right, 16 at first, and one in center field. Parmelee was inconsistent at the plate, at some points hitting in the middle of the order and other times slumping dramatically. His final numbers were so-so--a .691 OPS (94 OPS+). Probably the most striking stat was Parmelee's platoon split. His OPS vs. left handed pitching was .859, with a .325 batting average. Chris was also the Twins top pinch hitter. He was 5-13 with 7 RBI. Parmelee didn't get much of an audition late in the season, indicating that the coaching staff pretty much knew what they had. It appears Parmelee's chances of competing for a starting spot are over with the Twins. I think that if other roster moves work out that Parmelee could be a pretty good bench player. As a hitter, he has shown he can hit against lefties and has been pretty effective as a pinch hitter. He's shown he is an acceptable corner OF, as well as a good defensive first baseman.

 

Nuñez: Eduardo Nuñez was once regarded as the probable successor for Derek Jeter. Bad defense and unspectacular offense lowered the expectation to competing for a utility spot on the Yankees. In spring training, he lost out for that job and was DFAed. The Twins claimed Eduardo and early in May, he was recalled. Nuñez was primarily a backup, and he got at-bats at several positions. He started 17 games at short, 12 at third, and 11 in the outfield (10 in left, one in right). Metrics indicate that Nuñez was pretty good in the outfield, decent at short, but subpar at third. I thought he was uncomfortable in the outfield, surprisingly good at short and third. With the bat, Nuñez had some moments, but overall was not a great hitter. He showed very good speed on the bases and a bit of pop. Probably most surprising was the platoon splits. Eduardo hit well against right handers, but struggled against lefties, putting up an OPS of .716 vs. righties, but of .586 against southpaws. The future for Nuñez is pretty cloudy. With no more additions, he has a good chance of claiming a utility spot on the 2015 Twins. As noted, he offers good speed, some versatility, and some pop for a utility player. His defense isn't outstanding and he is 27, so it is unlikely he will get substantially better either at the plate or in the field. In short stints, he has provided a shot in the arm for the Twins.

 

Schafer: Jordan Schafer was once a top prospect for the Braves. He had had opportunities, but poor performance, off-field problems and injuries combined to short circuit his trials with the Braves and the Astros. The Braves DFAed Schafer at the trade deadline after poor performance as the last man on the bench for a contending team. The Twins claimed Jordan and immediately used him regularly, mostly as the left fielder. Regular play netted improved performance. Schafer eclipsed almost all of his Brave stats in a month, reaching base at a good clip, stealing bases and playing good defense in both left and center. Schafer hit .333 with an OPS of .831 in August. He tailed off in September, compounded by a non-throwing shoulder injury. He finished his two-month trial with the Twins with a .285 average, .707 OPS (100 OPS+) and 15 stolen bases in 147 plate appearances (roughly a quarter of the season). Schafer posted severe platoon splits for both the Braves and the Twins in 2014. He had an OPS of .822 (.326 BA) against right handed pitchers, but had a near-helpless .388 OPS (.171 BA) against same-handed hurlers. Schafer displayed one outstanding skill--he is an outstanding base stealer. He swiped 15 bases in his limited time with the Twins. His defense rated as pretty good, especially in left field, a new position for him.

 

Going forward, the Twins must decide what to do with the arb-eligible Schafer. Given his good performance late in 2014 and the lack of great internal options, I expect that the Twins will find a way to retain him. I expect that Schafer will compete for a starting spot, but his likely landing spot is fourth or platoon OF. Having the skill of being an accomplished base thief gives him a leg up to be a helpful bench player. His poor performance against LH pitching would limit him to being a platoon player at best. At 28 years of age, the most the Twins can hope for from Schafer would be to see what they saw from him in August and September. I think that Schafer can be a helpful player for an improving Twins team.

 

I think all three players profiled here are big-leaguers. I don't think any of them will ever be more than a part-time player. None of the guys is really young (Parm 26, Nuñez 27, and Schafer 28), but all seem to have skills that could help them be helpful bench guys. Nuñez plays both infield and outfield, Parmelee plays first and the outfield corners and Schafer looks like a three-positon outfielder. Nuñez and Schafer have good speed and Schafer appears to be an elite base stealer. Parmelee had a good season (SSS) pinch-hitting and facing LH pitching. Ideally, bench players should provide high-quality defense, and that's not the case here. Acquisitions and DFAs will probably determine whether all three guys remain with the Twins.

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Parmelee has shown just enough, has improved just enough, that I'd bring him back on a milb contract of nobody claims him. He's never become, and never will become, what we hoped. But he's just young and talented enough to be a possible bench player. At worst, he's a solid AAA player to fill out the Rochester lineup. At best, the lightbulb dimmer switch turns up to be a Randy Bush-like sub role player.

 

I kind of like Nunez. There's nothing special about him at all. But when given a shot here and there, he hasn't been bad, and has had some nice performances. With Polanco, Beresford and others in the wings, or on the rise, his time could be limited. Still, he's not bad as a utility type with a little pop and speed. Like Parmelee, unless someone claims him, I'd like him back. And I'd spend some time with him in the OF come ST, not as a daily option, but simply to increase his bench versatility. Some 1B maybe???

 

Schafer is maddening! Is he a former top prospect who never made it...and baseball history is overflowing with those guys...who teased once for a couple months? Or is he one of those former top prospects who gets another chance with the right team, at the right time in his maturity to become a solid player or role player? Baseball also has a long history of these types of players.

 

I think he comes back to compete with Hicks, an inexpensive acquisition, possibly Santana and Rosario, for a shot or share of CF and a 4th OF option. Decent defense, outstanding ability and instincts on the base paths, don't you have to at least take another look at him?

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I think Schafer has a great shot to make the team. If not a starter then the 4th OF, and at minimum as a role player in the way Kansas City has been using Jarrod Dyson, as a late inning pinch runner and OF replacent (likely for Arcia).

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I think all 3 should be back with the Twins next year.  They should all be on the bench too.  Though if the Twins do not go and get a LF then Schaeffer and Parmelee look like a solid platoon combo there.  With 300 AB and pinch running appearances Schaeffer could potentially steal 30-40 bases. and Pamelee could hit 8 -15 HRs with 200 - 300AB with close to a .700-.720 OPS

 

Nunez is a solid MI bench player.  He is capable of hitting 260-.270 with  .310 / .350 for a .660 OPS with 10-15 stolen base potential.  He could start for a stretch but not full time IMO.  I like that the Twins have a veteran bench going into next season outside of back up C.

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