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Article: Where Should Jorge Polanco Play?


Seemingly a minor note in the Thursday night news that the Twins had traded Eduardo Nunez for Adalberto Mejia was the fact that Jorge Polanco was recalled to the big league roster.

 

But now what? Will Polanco finally get an opportunity to play every day for the Twins?The initial thought when the Twins traded their starting shortstop might be that Polanco, who was named to several Top 100 prospect lists, would take over the job for the Twins the rest of the way. But will it and should it happen.

 

Consider Polanco's playing time by position so far in 2016:

 

In Rochester, he has played:

  • 2B - 64 games, 559.1 innings
  • 3B - 2 games, 17 innings
  • SS - 0 games, 0 innings
In his brief time with the Twins, he played:
  • 2B - 4 games, 34 innings
  • 3B - 1 game, 7 innings
  • SS - 1 game, 8 innings
Polanco was signed in July of 2009 as a slick-fielding shortstop. He moved slowly through the lower levels of the minor leagues ,playing a variety of infield positions. At Cedar Rapids in 2013, he split his time fairly evenly between shortstop and second base.

 

However in 2014 and 2015, the Twins committed to giving Polanco a real opportunity to play shortstop full time. It didn't go well. In 2014, he committed 37 errors at shortstop between Ft. Myers and New Britain. In 2015, he had 28 errors between Chattanooga and Rochester. Reports indicated that he may have been worse than the error numbers indicate as he struggled with even the most routine of plays.

 

The question about Polanco at shortstop has generally been whether or not he had the arm strength to make all of the throws from the position. In spring training, he really struggled at shortstop, particularly with the throws. He frequently short-hopped the first baseman. Sometimes they were scooped. Other times the first baseman didn't have a chance.

 

As spring training ended and he was sent back to minor league camp, he took ground balls at third base and second base. At Rochester this year slick-fielding Wilfredo Tovar has been playing shortstop most every day. As the numbers above show, Polanco hasn't played a single inning at shortstop this year in Rochester. His one game at shortstop this year came with the Twins.

 

So, what do the Twins do with Polanco the rest of this year? First and foremost, they need to play him most every day. He is out of options next season and will have to remain with the big league club or be lost (he would be lost) on waivers.

 

As I see it, they have two options with Polanco. Maybe you have some other ideas.

 

Idea #1: Play Polanco almost every day at shortstop.

 

Brian Dozier is at second base and is back to showing power. Unless Dozier is traded, he will be the Twins second baseman the next couple of years at least. So Polanco will need to find time at shortstop of third base. Well, Miguel Sano factors into the third base decision so he needs to play there often to find out if he can play the hot corner. That leaves shortstop as the position where Polanco has a chance to play. Eduardo Escobar remains in the picture. He was the opening day shortstop after posting great numbers the last two second halves. But, Polanco needs an opportunity. It is a lost season for the Twins. Play him.

 

Idea #2: Play Polanco every day at either SS, 2B, 3B or DH.

 

Maybe even in the outfield? He needs to hit and be in the lineup every day. But with other options, they need to play to. So, Polanco can play all over, find out where he's best and most comfortable.

 

OK, your turn. What do you do with Jorge Polanco the rest of the season?

 

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Trade Dozier.    Trade Plouffe.     Bring up Beresford.     Polanco plays second, Escobar at short, Sano at third, and while that might drop the bottom out of the world at Twins HQ, it is exactly what needs to happen to start playing the generation of ballplayers that might - just might - bring this club back to prominence.

 

If any of you had a vote for whether or not this would spark interest in the future of this club, versus the depressing cycle we've been in for half a decade, you'd do it, wouldn't you?

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I think we need to wait and see what happens at the trade deadline.  If Dozier goes I think you have your answer.  Polanco plays 2B.  If Dozier stays I don't think the Twins have a choice.  Polanco steps up and plays SS.  The other option is Sano becomes DH and Polanco plays 3B.  Based on Sano's defensive skills lately that may be the best option.

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Great question.  If Polanco is not an everyday SS, then Escobar is.  Then if Escobar gets hurt, who plays SS -- Polanco?  Dozier?

 

Usually the conversion from SS to 2B is not that hard, so I wonder why he played almost all of his AAA innings this year at 2B?  With Dozier in place, he should have played SS and/or 3B and/or LF.

 

We won't know about Polanco until either he or Dozier has a change in scenery.  I'm guessing that will be Dozier in the off-season.

 

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Option 1: Move him to left field, where he would be a better, switch-hitting version of Rosario. Use Rosario (a better trade piece than Polanco today) to get more pitching.

Option 2: Trade Dozier (I think the Twins are more likely to extend Dozier than to trade him).

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Put him in LF and 3B and 2B....playing 5 of every 7 games or so......but play him. Don't just let him sit around.

 

IMO, he should have been playing in the OF in Rochester some, but he wasn't. Though, with that arm.....I think he's a 2B long term. As long as Dozier is here, not sure what to do with Polanco. .....

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It just makes no sense that he wouldn't play SS regularly in AAA. They have developed him to be a starting 2B and reduced the likelihood of success as everyday SS or even utility to fielder. I fear he is up until Plouffe is healthy.

 

There isn't a good solution. Dozier is likely the more valuable 2B this year and next. They need a very solid return. Unfortunately, there is little market for a 2B right.

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If they play him exclusively at SS they get another F minus for prepping their prospects for the big show.

 

Are they so worried about making the Minor league playoffs that they just have to play Sano exclusively at 3B and Polanco at 2B without regard for guys they seem to like at those positions on the big league club?

 

Baffling

Edited by tobi0040
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Trade Dozier.    Trade Plouffe.     Bring up Beresford.     Polanco plays second, Escobar at short, Sano at third, and while that might drop the bottom out of the world at Twins HQ, it is exactly what needs to happen to start playing the generation of ballplayers that might - just might - bring this club back to prominence.

 

If any of you had a vote for whether or not this would spark interest in the future of this club, versus the depressing cycle we've been in for half a decade, you'd do it, wouldn't you?

 

And what do the Twins do if Sano doesn't improve at third?  If you go with Polanco, Escobar, Sano and Beresford, you're really hampered if you have injuries or if Sano bombs defensively at 3B.  I may be wrong, but I don't think there is really a near major league ready 3B in our system.  If you keep Dozier, then you could trade Plouffe and Polanco could slide over to 3rd if Sano is hurt or doesn't pan out defensively.

 

If it were me, I'd try to trade Vargas, let Plouffe (if he even gets healthy) play mostly DH (Sano some DH to).  Give Polanco SS (and maybe move him around some).

 

If they can trade Dozier for quality, I wouldn't have a problem with that.  Trading Plouffe for nothing (which is all you could get for him) is a terrible idea.

 

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How's Sano's defense at 3rd going?  From what little I saw of Polanco at 3rd, he looked pretty good.  Maybe not a strong enough arm?  SS?  Maybe he's not getting enough reps to smooth out his throwing issues?

 

Outfield?  Where the heck is that coming from?  Just skimming Polanco's MiLB record, he played 10 games in rookie ball in 2011.

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I'd rotate Polanco between 3B/SS/2B and give Sano some looks at 1B.

 

The team has already screwed the pooch defensively this year, the new GM is going to have a few things to fix anyway, so I really wouldn't care if Polanco played SS exclusively.

 

However, Eduardo Escobar has already started his traditional 2nd half surge with a .785 OPS since June, so I'd like to keep him in the lineup.

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How's Sano's defense at 3rd going? 

Depends on who you ask?

 

The folks already giving up on Sano are likely to be as quickly disappointed with Polanco, at least based on Seth's report of his errors. I don't mind if Polanco moves around but the only open position in the infield is shortstop, and it is wide open now with Nunez gone.

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In a discussion of the future Twins in-field, no mention of Joe Mauer.  Mauer simply can't hit enough to stick there.  He probably can't hit enough to stick at DH either, but I'm willing to see if that helps.

 

Polanco should play 3rd until Plouffe returns or Dozier is traded.  Sano is very likely to be a 1st baseman in the next few seasons, and could possibly be a good one.  He should play first.  Mauer is showing age, can't concentrate for a whole season, but can be dangerous when rested.  He's a natural DH at this point, at most.  You simply can't build much defensive value at 1st.

Escobar has been fairly productive despite sporadic playing time.  He deserves to play the last couple months.  

We might have to extend Plouffe also... ish.

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I think we need to wait and see what happens at the trade deadline.  If Dozier goes I think you have your answer.  Polanco plays 2B.  If Dozier stays I don't think the Twins have a choice.  Polanco steps up and plays SS.  The other option is Sano becomes DH and Polanco plays 3B.  Based on Sano's defensive skills lately that may be the best option.

But what about Trevor Plouffe?

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Polanco is a second baseman. Dozier should have been dealt before now. For three years running, Dozier has completely disappeared offensively for 2-3 months at a time.  Next year will be no different.

 

Leave it to the Twins to always create logjams at positions. Maybe the new GM can clean this mess up.

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In a discussion of the future Twins in-field, no mention of Joe Mauer.  Mauer simply can't hit enough to stick there.  He probably can't hit enough to stick at DH either, but I'm willing to see if that helps.

 

Polanco should play 3rd until Plouffe returns or Dozier is traded.  Sano is very likely to be a 1st baseman in the next few seasons, and could possibly be a good one.  He should play first.  Mauer is showing age, can't concentrate for a whole season, but can be dangerous when rested.  He's a natural DH at this point, at most.  You simply can't build much defensive value at 1st.

Escobar has been fairly productive despite sporadic playing time.  He deserves to play the last couple months.  

We might have to extend Plouffe also... ish.

Extend Plouffe!? Maybe at bottom barrel rates but I would hope that is not in the cards. Give Sano some time, he's only 23. Not gonna look it up but think I remember Beltre being pretty bad a 3B early in his career. Not sure what's cooking w/ Polanco but would be all for a Dozier trade if he can bring in some P or C help or see what the kid can do at SS. Maybe Escobar has some trade value but think trading Dozier plays better to the path I see the Twins on...which is not being a contender next year and sniffing the playoffs 2018 at best.

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First and foremost, they need to play him most every day.

So if they use Polanco off the bench instead, as strongly hinted in Rob Antony's comments in the Strib today, will you be critical of that?  Or will you later add a qualifier, like you did with your "It's Time!" article about minor league promotions a few weeks ago?

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Shortstop.  Might actually be the best option for shortstop the Twins have right now on the roster.  No way he should play third (he is 5'11" with cleats, and has not play it that much.)  He will be an improvement with the glove at SS over Nunez and is young enough to master the position.  He is a better fielder than Sanatana and has great instinct.

 

This is like asking what position should Buxton play...

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I like "Idea No. 2," but only because I'd rather the new regime trade Dozier in the offseason to make way for Polanco.

 

Having him play every day will give the Twins enough of a look to determine if he really is going to be ready to take the second base job next year. 

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In a discussion of the future Twins in-field, no mention of Joe Mauer.  Mauer simply can't hit enough to stick there.  He probably can't hit enough to stick at DH either, but I'm willing to see if that helps.

 

Polanco should play 3rd until Plouffe returns or Dozier is traded.  Sano is very likely to be a 1st baseman in the next few seasons, and could possibly be a good one.  He should play first.  Mauer is showing age, can't concentrate for a whole season, but can be dangerous when rested.  He's a natural DH at this point, at most.  You simply can't build much defensive value at 1st.

Escobar has been fairly productive despite sporadic playing time.  He deserves to play the last couple months.  

We might have to extend Plouffe also... ish.

 

If Mauer remains in the lineup, its at first base.  The only internal option that might be better defensively is Park.  

 

If Mauer and Sano are in the same lineup and Sano is not playing 3B, it should be Mauer at 1B and Sano at DH.  The only exception to that is if Mauer needs a day off from the field to rest.  The only other possible exception is to give Sano defensive reps if they don't think he can stay at 3rd.

 

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So if they use Polanco off the bench instead, as strongly hinted in Rob Antony's comments in the Strib today......

Polanco is (or was) a top organizational prospect behind Buxton and Sano, so benching him sounds like a terrible idea.

 

Is Antony dictating to Molitor or is Molitor telling Antony this stuff? Because I also heard Antony say that when Plouffe comes back, Sano will be the guy being moved around again.

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We've been operating under stock market reasoning for too long - stocks are up, so don't sell because they are valuable and will continue to escalate.    Stocks are down, so sell them off for nothing.    When are we going to start selling off assets at their peak value?    That's my thinking with Dozier - two months ago, we were all saying that if only we could dump him, but he's hitting so poorly and with no power.

 

He is a cost-controlled player (though I am not familiar enough with the second base market to vouch that there is a need for him anywhere) that would be attractive not only to playoff teams but other teams who are looking to build quickly despite a disappointing 2016.    There is no other reasonable place to put Polanco.    The whole Polanco plays SS notion is wrong - it is the same thinking that puts players out of position, where they have limited or no experience, and dooms them to failure so the front office can conclude that they just weren't ready.

 

Mauer will be staying at first, though he can be spelled by Sano or Kepler or Vargas.  Polanco everyday at second.    Escobar everyday at SS.    Sano primary 3b.    Park/Vargas is our primary DH/pinch hitter.    Rosario, Buxton, Kepler in the OF.    Grossman 4th OF; two catchers not named Suzuki (Murphy or Garver plus Centeno for the rest of this season to see what we have); and Santana on the bench.    Depending on whether you can flip Plouffe or when he gets healthy, Santana or Beresford goes back to AAA.

 

Once the front office starts looking at our prospects and their natural positions, they can start to look at the team of 2018/2019 and realize where the blockades exist.   Abad and Kintzler - gone in the next two days.   Opens up auditions for the rest of 2016.    Suzuki - gone in the next two days.  Opens up catcher spots (and we can resign Suzuki in the off-season, a la Aguilara, if desperation sets in).    Milone and Nolaso - gone in the next two days (or in Nolasco's case, moved to long relief if no one will take on even a reasonable portion of his salary).    Welcome to the rotation Trevor May and Jose Berrios.

 

Not only does this rotate the roster and open up spots for prospects at their natural positions, it sends a message to every minor-leaguer in our organization that by effort and not by coronation or inertia do you play big league ball.    Sorry for the long rant.    If we don't use these next two months as an audition, we have completely wasted our already-wasted season.

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At this point I'd prefer to trade Dozier and put Polanco at 2nd by the start of next season, if they're sure he can hit. This team can play .500 ball in a year or so with the right moves and some luck in development from the young guys. Having a 30-error butcher at SS would be a handicap to a contact-heavy pitching staff.

 

I'm getting tired of Dozier's extreme hot/cold spells, especially at the top of the lineup. After his crazy June he had a 3 week stretch hitting .145/.253/.339, then heated up again over the last week. I can understand that volatility out of your #7-#9 hitters, but it's maddening at #1-#4. Seeing opposing teams IBB Mauer to get to your clean-up hitter is a pretty big indictment on what other teams think of Dozier, even if he did pull off a hit in that spot.

Edited by Taildragger8791
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...which is not being a contender next year and sniffing the playoffs 2018 at best.

on that, I disagree with you. With the wild card it might only take a season with something like mid-80s wins to find yourself in contention. The Twins did that last year by accident. Although I agree I wouldn't necessarily call them a contender next year, but wild card should be the minimum goal every year for most teams.
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Depends on who you ask?

The folks already giving up on Sano are likely to be as quickly disappointed with Polanco, at least based on Seth's report of his errors. I don't mind if Polanco moves around but the only open position in the infield is shortstop, and it is wide open now with Nunez gone.

IMO:  a lot of consternation over a player [ Polanco ] who more than a few here are profiling as a utility player....

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