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Article: Dozier’s Days Numbered, Then What?


Despite sweeping the hapless Baltimore Orioles, and then taking a series from the equally terrible Kansas City Royals, the Minnesota Twins are still trending towards being sellers in 2018. With a couple more weeks before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are coming down to crunch time in terms of stockpiling assets. Minnesota doesn’t have much in the form of big pieces, Kyle Gibson and Eduardo Escobar potentially chief among those, but arguably the most intriguing name remains Brian Dozier.A late-bloomer, Dozier didn’t reach the big leagues until 25, and he was initially cast as a shortstop. We saw how that went, and he was quickly sent over to second base. Fast forward two more years, and the 28 year-old was a first time All-Star while being arguably the best power-hitting two-bagger in the sport. Since then, he’s won a Gold Glove and picked up progressing numbers of MVP votes each season. 2018 has hardly been a great start for the Twins star, but it follows along the same path he has blazed plenty of times to this point.

 

Now well into July, Dozier is beginning to do Brian-like things, and his second half surge appears to have started. Despite just a .732 OPS on the season, he’s got a .905 mark across his last 21 games. If you shrink the sample size down to just the month of July, Brian is hitting .317/.378/.683 with seven extra-base hits (four home runs) across 11 games. In short, it’s a great time for him to be going well.

 

After being the subject of trade talks two winters ago, Minnesota wisely decided that their premium player was worth more than the Jose De Leon return that the Dodgers were willing to part with. Forget that De Leon has since undergone Tommy John surgery after being traded to the Rays, I’m still not convinced Minnesota can’t get an equal or better package at this point. Manny Machado will be the cream of the crop come trading season, but Dozier is capable of being a big get up the middle for a team looking to make a postseason push.

 

Concerning the Twins however, Paul Molitor will be tasked with filling his position in the field, as well as the gaping hole in the lineup. From where I stand, I can see only two options in how to handle the days post-Brian Dozier. In my mind, only one of them is right, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any more likely. Let’s explore:

 

Option A: It’s Nick Gordon Time

 

In dealing Dozier, the Twins essentially wave the white flag on their season. While they could be sellers and pivot as they did a year ago, moving one of their best players is something you wouldn’t expect to come back from. In operating this way, the focus needs to turn from winning games, into focusing on process for 2019.

 

Given the expectation that Nick Gordon will become the Twins second basemen of the future, getting him up to the big leagues, and acclimated, should be of the utmost importance. He’s scuffled mightily at Triple-A Rochester, posting an OPS just north of .600. I really don’t care about his production however. He dominated at Double-A, and there’s been some questions surrounding his bat ever since he was drafted. Allowing him to get in the field, settle into a new role, and get used to the rigors of big league baseball is a must. The more high-end pitching he faces now, the less of a learning curve there should be expected in the season ahead.

 

The core of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Jose Berrios, Max Kepler, and Eddie Rosario will ultimately determine what this team can accomplish in the next few years. As veterans step aside however, the graduation of top prospects such as Gordon, will need to go smoothly to fill in. Now is not the time to worry about starting his clock or whether he’s going to step in and be all-systems-go right away. Get young Flash in there, and take what you can into the offseason to work on.

 

Option B: Utility All Over

 

Ehire Adrianza was recently activated from the disabled list, and returns to the Twins having had a nice little hot streak before landing on the shelf. He was going to lose his starting role at SS when Jorge Polanco returned regardless, but now there isn’t a clear avenue to playing time.

 

Minnesota has pushed Adrianza out into the outfield at times over his tenure here, but he’s yet to play second base this season (in part because Dozier has been there for 89/90 games). Should Minnesota go this route, Adrianza likely becomes the starter at second. Polanco would stay at short, as it’s his long-term home, and Eduardo Escobar remains at the hot corner.

 

In operating this way, the Twins would really be up a creek without a paddle. Adrianza doesn’t figure into the future plans, and they’d be past the point of prioritizing wins. Unfortunately, it’s hard to not see this as a likely scenario, given how much run players like Ryan LaMarre and Bobby Wilson have been given.

 

At the end of the day the hope should be that if the Twins do sell, and most importantly regarding Brian Dozier, the position is turned over to the man in waiting. Stephen Gonsalves, John Curtiss, Trevor May, and a handful of other players should make their way up from Triple-A, but Gordon must be chief among them.

 

Once a team has decided to close shop on a given season, making sure to learn something and get the most out of every game from a development standpoint needs to be the focus. Selling off assets and failing to capitalize on opportunity- allowing process and ability to drive results could very well have the Twins staring at the next big prospects to be sent back down in hopes of figuring it out.

 

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I think Gordon will benefit from more AAA based on his strikeout and walk rates but it is those that see him everyday that can assess his pitch recognition. If he still has work to do at AAA then they need to be patient.

 

I wonder if they see Polanco in the near term at SS. The best defensive pairing for next year might have Polanco at 2B and Adrianza at SS. Can Adrianza hit close enough to the median SS to provide acceptable production over the span of his peak seasons?

 

The most productive offense/defense pairing next year might be Polanco and Adrianza but that could be at the cost of developing Gordon long term and allowing him to struggle in the majors next year.

 

I would go with the pairing I think will be best in the near term and go with Adrianza as long as his bat is close to league median SS.

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I am casting my worthless vote for Gordon at second and Sano back at 3B.  And I do not see this as stepping back.  Despite what Dozier might do, for the current season he has contributed nothing of value.  Despite what he might do, the player who takes his place needs only do more than what Dozier has contributed to make a positive for the team.  

 

Ehire is utility.  Nice to have, but lets not get confused about his role. Polanco is SS until Royce Lewis takes over.  Then we can have more complex conversations.

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Watching the NESN broadcast of the Red Sox tonight, they made it sound a near certainty that Pedroia was done for the season - his recovery, if rushed , could end his career, so they are preaching patience.

 

Nunez could return to a utility role, and Dozier could do great things in Fenway. Not sure if Boston is interested, or what they might offer, but you can be sure they want to win the division above all. A late surging, Gold Glove  Dozier could help them accomplish that.

 

Getting Gordon a shot seems the logical choice.

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Depends on whether Escobar is traded as well.  If he is not, he would be the second baseman with Sano moving to third.

 

If he is, Adrianza can be the second baseman.

 

Gordon has a .609 OPS in AAA.

 

Last thing the Twins would want to do is to yet rush another prospect in a year that they are not competitive.

 

Frankly, I'd rather see Arraez at second base than Gordon this season...

 

 

 

 

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The sooner this organization comes to the realization that Miguel Sano has no business playing third base, the better off it will be. Over the last two years, he’s literally been one of the worst defensively. True enough that Escobar has technically been slightly worse. However, Escobar has been hitting while Sano has not. And, Escobar makes up for astoundingly poor range by being pretty sure handed with the balls he gets to. Sano has better range than Escobar (but still very bad) and then compounds it with way too many errors. In an era where errors are barely called, that Sano makes so many is clearly concerning.

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"I really don’t care about his production however. He dominated at Double-A, and there’s been some questions surrounding his bat ever since he was drafted. Allowing him to get in the field, settle into a new role, and get used to the rigors of big league baseball is a must. The more high-end pitching he faces now, the less of a learning curve there should be expected in the season ahead."

 

YES!  THIS!   Wonderfully stated and I couldn't agree more. 

 

It's been a rough season for many reasons that the FO does not control BUT they control what to do with the current situation. Get the young guys much needed experience. 

 

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I don’t think going to Gordon makes sense given his current struggles at AAA. September callup to get his feet wet and he will shuttle between here and Rochester in 2019. 2020 is his timeline for “full time.”

 

Also, I’m not convinced Dozier is going anywhere. I think they probably should trade him, but I don’t know if what they are offered from interested teams will satisfy. In fact, I could see them giving Dozier and Escobar both a QO!

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Polanco is not a starting SS on a winning team but is their best 2nd base option. I would slide him over and figure out a solution for SS

If he hits anywhere near like he did for the second half of last year, he could be. 

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Why? Dozier is a better player than Escobar.

I'm not quite sure I agree here. Dozier is without question elite when he hits. His peaks are awesome but the valleys are frustrating. Escobar has been very good and plays multiple positions. I'd keep Escobar if I had to choose. 

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I'm not quite sure I agree here. Dozier is without question elite when he hits. His peaks are awesome but the valleys are frustrating. Escobar has been very good and plays multiple positions. I'd keep Escobar if I had to choose.

Insanity. I love Escobar. But Dozier is the better player. Come on. I'm not even the biggest BD fan. Looking at results, I'm not sure Dozier is part of any solution, his leadership mostly failed, and possibly blocked future leaders from stepping up.

 

That said, is Gordon really or future 2B or AS? He's very young, and developed very questionable minor league power. His prospect status has taken a hit. Moving to 2B because he couldn't unseat Adrianza would only be a greater hit. Then when he struggles... There is still a chance he develops into a really good player. I'm trying to think of a player who's fallen down prospect lists then rocketed back up...

 

Anyway, Gordon's future as near as it is, is no sure thing. He still had significant trade value, but less than last year. I'm not liking a lot of our choices at this point.

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I think Ted might have this one backwards. If I was Derek and Thad, I'd trade Escobar, keep Dozier. Escobar would likely bring in more trade value at this point. Let Dozier continue to heat up. Give him a qualifying offer at the end of the season (which he would turn down) and gain the draft pick. Go after Escobar again in the off-season.

This does leave a hole at Third for the rest of this season. You basically hope Sano figures it out and can return to the hot corner. Gordon comes up next year.

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 Give him a qualifying offer at the end of the season (which he would turn down) and gain the draft pick.

 

There is no way that Dozier will turn an 1 year $17M offer down when the best alternative might be a 3 year / $15M offer...

 

This is 2018 not 2015.  Things have changed.

 

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Why? Dozier is a better player than Escobar.

 

In a alternate reality where objective metrics like slash lines, WAR, and WPA do not matter

 

I just hope that a single general manager (outside of the Twin Cities) agrees...

 

Unless we are talking about Dozier being a better banjo (or something other than baseball) player than Escobar... In that case I have no comment.

Edited by Thrylos
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In a alternate reality where objective metrics like slash lines, WAR, and WPA do not matter

 

I just hope that a single general manager (outside of the Twin Cities) agrees...

 

Unless we are talking about Dozier being a better banjo (or something other than baseball) player than Escobar... In that case I have no comment.

Uh, no. 

 

In the reality of Dozier having better slash lines for the past 4 years. Escobar was a better hitter for the first 90 games of 2018, but I'd be willing to bet he isn't by the end of 2018, he won't be for this year, either.

 

I don't pay much attention to WAR, but since you do, please check Dozier's WAR over the past four years and compare it to Escobar's.

 

WPA is interesting trivia, but no way to measure worth.

 

Escobar is 1.5 years younger, and can play on the left side of the infield, so that's a plus. But as a second baseman, Dozier is the better player as of today, and I'd bet for the next couple seasons as well.

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In general going back two or three years to project forward will give a much more reliable projection than the current partial season or previous season.

 

This breaks down if there is an injury that drives a sudden drop. I don’t think that is the case with a Dozier. If a team needs a starting 2B to finish out the season and are given the option of Dozier or Escobar, I think they choose Dozier.

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Uh, no. 

 

In the reality of Dozier having better slash lines for the past 4 years. Escobar was a better hitter for the first 90 games of 2018, but I'd be willing to bet he isn't by the end of 2018, he won't be for this year, either.

 

I don't pay much attention to WAR, but since you do, please check Dozier's WAR over the past four years and compare it to Escobar's.

 

 

 

I'm not weighing in on this one way or the other, but to talk about value today and going forward, you shouldn't use WAR from 4 years ago, especially because Dozier is the age where he's likely already passed his peak. 

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