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  • What is the plan for Brent Rooker?


    Cooper Carlson

    The Opening Day roster was revealed a couple days ago and there was a notable surprise. Outfielder Kyle Garlick made the team over Brent Rooker. Why?

    Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

    The quick emergence from Brent Rooker last season before the season ending injury was a ton of fun. He finally made it to the majors and was displaying the power we had all heard so much about. It looked like he may finally have a future on the Twins big league club. Fast forward to Opening Day, 2021 and once again he is stuck in the minor leagues.

    The thought throughout most of the spring was Kirilloff would have a chance to take a spot from Rooker on the team, but even without Kirilloff the Twins still opted against keeping Rooker on the team. Instead, Kyle Garlick is the fourth or fifth outfielder.

    Garlick is a 29 year old player who has played 42 career MLB games with a career .691 OPS. He has had some success in the minors, but not enough to ever keep him on a team. The Twins brought him in this spring and he showed off what he can do, hitting .293/.304/.683 (.987) with five homers in 18 games. He was impressive enough to make the opening day team over the 26 year old prospect Brent Rooker.

    Rooker had a rough spring statistically, hitting .237/.250/.395 (.645) with just one homer in 18 games. The Twins seemed to take spring performance as an actual measuring stick for who makes the team, which is something a lot of people no longer like to do. This was the case for Kirilloff who didn't make it and Astudillo who did make it. Performance mattered more than potential this spring.

    Garlick may very well be off the roster in a month, but it's interesting to see the Twins reward him for playing well this spring. They obviously saw something in Garlick when they claimed him, and now they could see him work well on the roster.

    So what's the plan for Rooker? I think he has the potential to be the future designated hitter and fourth outfielder on this Twins team. Hopefully he is just going down to the minors for a short stint because the Twins may need his powerful bat on the bench ready to go.

    What did you think of the decision to keep Garlick over Rooker? Was it a mistake? Let me know down below in the comments!

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    The decision to keep Garlick over both Kirilloff and Rooker is puzzling at best. Can a handful of spring at bats matter more than established minor league track records? It would appear to be the case, unless the FO has another unknown reason. Broxton also had a decent spring, and he has had some success at the ML level far exceeding Garlick, and Broxton can play CF. Again, puzzling...

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    Honestly I think I could be persuaded either way.  Based on spring and his past AAA performance I can see why the Twins are starting the season with Garlick.  I didn't really see him make any errors in the field.  He was hitting the ball hard and had more HR's than anyone else on the team.  He only had one walk and a fair number of K's but he was making good contact as well.  His OPS in AAA and this spring show that this is the player he is and that in general it works for him.

     

    Rooker started hot but fell off mid way. He was pretty K prone throughout the Spring and his K rate is higher than Garlick.  Rooker has a 421 BABIP which is likely unsustainable and he only has one walk.  He only hit one home run and didn't seem to be squaring up the ball as well as Garlick.  Rooker also looked sloppy in the field which didn't help him either.  Rooker still looked susceptible to striking out on breaking balls and he went into a deeper funk to end spring training.

     

    Add it all up and this spring Garlick looked like the player that could likely help the team the most to start the season.  I was surprised how well Rooker played when they brought him up last year and really thought he was going to win the job to start the season but given his lack of contact and poor defense I can see why the Twins might be concerned.  He would be a great DH candidate but that role is filled.  I still think he puts things together and his bat plays but for now I am fine seeing what Garlick can do.

     

    Honestly I don't see Garlick making it long term but I have been horribly wrong before.  I don't see Garlick having enough plate discipline to make it.  Just as plate discipline dinged Rosario and became a somewhat fatal flaw I think it will be the same with Garlick, but he bought himself a chance to prove guys like me wrong.  I hope he is a great player for the Twins this year as we need all the great bats we can get.

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    The decision to keep Garlick over both Kirilloff and Rooker is puzzling at best. Can a handful of spring at bats matter more than established minor league track records? It would appear to be the case, unless the FO has another unknown reason. Broxton also had a decent spring, and he has had some success at the ML level far exceeding Garlick, and Broxton can play CF. Again, puzzling...

     

    Garlick has had more at-bats in the majors than Rooker, plus I would suggest looking at Garlick's 2019 minor league numbers if you are putting that much weight on Rooker's minor league numbers.

     

    Garlick AAA 2019: 81 Games, 304 PA, 23 HR, 59 RBI, .314/.382/.675

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    Kinda missing the point by citing Rooker’s ST slash line by itself. It’s the K’s...which are not as beholden to the mitigating circumstances of sss as are the other factors going into the slash line.

     

    Rooker struck out in 48% of ST PA’s. 48%. He made Sano, who had an absolutely atrocious spring offensively, look like Wee Willie Kepler. Rooker started out decent, and then was pretty much a train wreck in appearances over the last 2-3 weeks.

     

    As someone who was likely to platoon quite a bit (and on the short end of the platoon), I’d much, much rather see Rooker iron out some issues as an every-day player at AAA. He’ll be back when/if he irons things out.

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    Garlick set the Cal Poly Pomona single-season homerun record with 17 jacks in 2015, was drafted by the Dodgers, then batted .349 across 2 Single-A leagues that same year. In 2016 he was named to the California League Mid-Season All-Star team before being promoted to AA. In 2017 he was named to the Texas League Mid-Season All-Star Team but then injured his hand. Garlick debuted with the Dodgers in May, 2019.

     

    At age 29 he's not really a prospect anymore, but Kyle Garlick is not just LF meat. If he can do some mashing on left-handed pitching and keep his defensive routes and throws on track he should be able to help the Twins.

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    The decision to keep Garlick over both Kirilloff and Rooker is puzzling at best. Can a handful of spring at bats matter more than established minor league track records? It would appear to be the case, unless the FO has another unknown reason. Broxton also had a decent spring, and he has had some success at the ML level far exceeding Garlick, and Broxton can play CF. Again, puzzling...

    Agreed.  The argument against Rosario was always that he was blocking the young players.  Now you clear the spot, only to block it with Garlick?  Com'n.... If you are going to make that move, you got to give the prospects a chance.

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    After this disaster in LF to open the year, I would like to see a public apology from all the writers hating on Rosario the last 3 years to finally admit that they were wrong.

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    I could see Rooker / Kirilloff / Larnach co-existing quite easily at some point. I likely won't be until next year but the three of them splitting duties between LF / RF / 1B & DH could work nicely. Maybe the FO is attempting to manage the current roster while setting the stage for the future. 

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    I could see Rooker / Kirilloff / Larnach co-existing quite easily at some point. I likely won't be until next year but the three of them splitting duties between LF / RF / 1B & DH could work nicely. Maybe the FO is attempting to manage the current roster while setting the stage for the future. 

     

    The FO is just trying to save face after a string of 3 bad decisions leaving the outfield in shambles.  They cant let go of the sunk cost of those decisions and just go with whats best for the future of the franchise.

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    After this disaster in LF to open the year, I would like to see a public apology from all the writers hating on Rosario the last 3 years to finally admit that they were wrong.

     

    The reason we didn't pay Rosario is because we would've had to pay him 10 million. He's not worth 10 million.

     

    Also, I don't see why putting Garlick in LF over Kirilloff or Rooker is just to "hold the fort." Garlick looks intriguing, given the spring he's had. IDK if it will work out, but why not try it? He definitely could help the Twins, at least it seems. He's been better than Kirilloff and Rooker, as well.

     

    Bottom line - Rosario isn't worth $10 million.

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    The reason we didn't pay Rosario is because we would've had to pay him 10 million. He's not worth 10 million.

     

    Also, I don't see why putting Garlick in LF over Kirilloff or Rooker is just to "hold the fort." Garlick looks intriguing, given the spring he's had. IDK if it will work out, but why not try it? He definitely could help the Twins, at least it seems. He's been better than Kirilloff and Rooker, as well.

     

    Bottom line - Rosario isn't worth $10 million.

    Saying Rosario is not worth $10m is a fine argument to make. The past 3 years of wanting to trade him for a bucket of balls was not ever a reasonable argument. The disaster we are seeing in our OF now is living proof of it.

     

    Nothing about Garlick is intriguing. There was no reason to add him to the 40 man roster when there were others more deserving. And now he is blocking some players from learning through fire. At some point you need to give your prospects a shot.

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    AZTwin, I respectfully think that a little patience is warranted and your wishes will come to fruition in due time. There is no prospect blocking by starting with Garlick and Cave. I too like Rooker. He missed a bunch of time last year and this will benefit him as well as the team long term.

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    We have seen it before...guy scuffles his first few times up in the bigs. Then, somewhere along the line he "figures some things out" like no more swinging at outside curves. After that, he's a major league ballplayer.

     

    Kyle Garlick could be one of those guys. If spring performance means anything at all, the best hitter in spring should get a legitimate shot. Integrity move by the Twins. Now, most of us are assuming that Garlick will cool off at the plate, but that's our own bit of homer bias. We would prefer the kid that came up through the Twins system to get the nod. 

     

    With this group of young outfielders, anything could happen. Garlick could stay hot at the plate, or he could scuffle, opening up an opportunity for Rooker, Celestino, or Larnach. It's going to be fun watching each one struggle to find their game and hang on. 

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    While I suspect Garlick won't be long remembered in Minnesota, I also think we should wait and see before considering the moves made this winter as a disaster. Opinions are just opinions and the page is blank. It could be a momentous mistake to let Rosario go with a year of control remaining or it could be a savvy decision. 

     

    I have offered my opinion on Rooker for quite a while. He profiles as below-average in almost every facet except for power and it seems to me that he is going to be a major liability wherever he plays in the field. Finally, 29 plate appearances isn't enough to make a solid evaluation. Rooker did very well in those trips to the plate, but that doesn't give him a ticket to stardom. 

     

    Fittingly, the front office never said that the job in left field was either Kirilloff's or Rooker's to lose and they have the option of playing Arraez and Cave out there more days than a rookie. Both Rooker and Kirilloff will be available and most likely both will get their chance to prove themselves before the season is even half over. 

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    I'm not sure what exactly the plan is with Rooker... and the greater plan of drafting power-only bats. We've got similar guys like Wallner and Sabato in the pipeline, and then Kirilloff and Larnach also profile as bat-first OFs. Rooker is getting old for a prospect, so I was hoping to see him sink-or-swim in LF before Kirilloff got his first big chance. I have to wonder if there's any path to him in a starting role, or if he's going to just be a bench bat / be lower end piece in a trade.

     

    As for Garlick, I think we're overreacting really hard here. I can't blame the FO for wanting to get a bench bat/platoon partner for Cave who can mash lefties after how pathetic we were against them in 2020. Methinks Falvey & Levine have always liked Garlick and want to give him a test drive, and best case scenario he sticks as a bench bat. 

     

    I think the claiming of Ildemaro Vargas in 2020 was very similar - they gave a guy they always liked 24 PAs when there was a bench spot open, he struggled, and then they DFA'd him. I wouldn't be surprised if Garlick is given a similar shot, though he probably gets more than 24 PAs.

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    Garlick has had more at-bats in the majors than Rooker, plus I would suggest looking at Garlick's 2019 minor league numbers if you are putting that much weight on Rooker's minor league numbers.

     

    Garlick AAA 2019: 81 Games, 304 PA, 23 HR, 59 RBI, .314/.382/.675

     

    Kirilloff's minor league numbers are better overall than Garlick's, he is a Top 25 prospect in all of MLB and is six years younger. Rooker's numbers overall are on par or better in some respects to Garlick's as well. 

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    Kirilloff's minor league numbers are better overall than Garlick's, he is a Top 25 prospect in all of MLB and is six years younger. Rooker's numbers overall are on par or better in some respects to Garlick's as well. 

     

    I think it's hard to look at Kirilloff's performance this spring and his lack of at bats last season and come to the conclusion that he should have the roster spot over Garlick. 

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    Rooker's problem is that outside of the huge power, he's got limitations in a number of other areas: poor defense, low contact rates, struggles with pitch recognition, etc. He did everything we could have asked him in his call-up last year, but it was a really small sample. He struggled in ST this year and it looked like his problems with breaking pitches was starting to really bite him.

     

    Garlick outplayed him this spring, so it looks like the Twins decided Garlick was a better platoon partner right now for Cave. I do think it's important to realize that Kirilloff wasn't really competing with Garlick: Kirilloff was competing with Cave for the starting spot and they were never going to run Kirilloff out as the backup there. They wanted a RH OF bat to back up the corner spots, which makes a lot of sense.

     

    I don't think anyone owes any apologies for moving on from Rosario; it's 100% true they would have had to pay him $10M to keep him and that's an overpay. How do we know? when offered the chance to have him at that price, every other team in the league passed, not once but twice. And then pride gets in the way, which is why Eddie has taken his talents to Cleveland on a contract the Twins probably would have paid.

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    I'm not sure what exactly the plan is with Rooker... and the greater plan of drafting power-only bats. We've got similar guys like Wallner and Sabato in the pipeline, and then Kirilloff and Larnach also profile as bat-first OFs. Rooker is getting old for a prospect, so I was hoping to see him sink-or-swim in LF before Kirilloff got his first big chance. I have to wonder if there's any path to him in a starting role, or if he's going to just be a bench bat / be lower end piece in a trade.

     

    As for Garlick, I think we're overreacting really hard here. I can't blame the FO for wanting to get a bench bat/platoon partner for Cave who can mash lefties after how pathetic we were against them in 2020. Methinks Falvey & Levine have always liked Garlick and want to give him a test drive, and best case scenario he sticks as a bench bat.

     

    I think the claiming of Ildemaro Vargas in 2020 was very similar - they gave a guy they always liked 24 PAs when there was a bench spot open, he struggled, and then they DFA'd him. I wouldn't be surprised if Garlick is given a similar shot, though he probably gets more than 24 PAs.

    I scratched my head after the Twins secured a spot for Garlic on the fragile 40 man while we already have a ton of great prospects on and off it that fit his profile. I'm not questioning that he deserves to be on the opening roster but aren't there greater needs.

    I've scratched my head on the FO infatuation with this profile of great bat and their best position is DH. Why do they seek them out and hoard them? I think I finally figured it out. I'm going to call this condition "David Ortiz phobia". Ever since the Twins FO suffered the shame of releasing David Ortiz, they have made it a point to never ever make this mistake again. They are scared to death of releasing or trading another David Ortiz so they over compensate because of this fear. Thus this imbalance of this area with other areas that is needed. This is only a theory.

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    After this disaster in LF to open the year, I would like to see a public apology from all the writers hating on Rosario the last 3 years to finally admit that they were wrong.

     

    Don’t you think we should let them play the first game before determining it's a disaster? Might want to wait a month or two. You might even want to wait until the end of the year and see if they were able to successfully transition Rooker / Kirilloff or Larnach into LF while bridging the gap between Rosario and his successor. Production anywhere near Rosario will be a net positive considering the savings allowed us to sign Simmons.

     

    Might also want to consider that MLB is littered with less than celebrated players that were traded with less than 1,000 ABs and then became league average or above. I would bet some Dodgers fans cursed Turner and Muncy getting playing time when they first came along. The Ray’s and A’s have managed to compete despite very limited financial resources by spotting and acquiring this type of player.

     

    I will consider it a big win if we get a combined wRC+ of 100 from a LF platoon. Rosario’s wRC+ is 98 in his last 1,000 ABs. Cave’s is 103. Garlick really struggled like many others last year but his wRC+ was 114 with the Dodgers in 2019. So, 100 seems very reasonable. Anything above that is probably better than what we would have got out of Rosario. To do this while transitioning to Kirilloff / Larnach / Rooker would be great execution.

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    If I were running the Twins FO, I'd see what I could get in a trade for the package of Sano, Rooker and Smeltzer.

     

    If that would yield another solid starting pitcher or a 1B who is an upgrade over Sano defensively and contact wise, I'd listen.

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    The reason we didn't pay Rosario is because we would've had to pay him 10 million. He's not worth 10 million.

     

    Also, I don't see why putting Garlick in LF over Kirilloff or Rooker is just to "hold the fort." Garlick looks intriguing, given the spring he's had. IDK if it will work out, but why not try it? He definitely could help the Twins, at least it seems. He's been better than Kirilloff and Rooker, as well.

     

    Bottom line - Rosario isn't worth $10 million.

     

    He signed for $8M, which is in line with his 2020 performance according to Fangraphs.

     

    I would note that his 2020 performance is likely his current floor, not his ceiling nor his median. Cleveland got a bargain at $8M, and the Twins would have little risk signing him for $10M, if your narrative is true. Eddie was not on the free agent market for very long, which suggests to me that he was not holding out for nor was he seeking a higher dollar contract.

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    If I were running the Twins FO, I'd see what I could get in a trade for the package of Sano, Rooker and Smeltzer.

     

    If that would yield another solid starting pitcher or a 1B who is an upgrade over Sano defensively and contact wise, I'd listen.

     

    It wouldn't.

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    I think the plan for Brent Rooker is to put the side work in on the Taxi squad, and be ready to knock the snot out of stirkes, let balls go by, and run the bases smart.

     

    Oh, and to field cleanly what he can get to.. And hit his cut off.

     

    In short, plaay ball.

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    What I take from statements of team as it relates to Rooker and Garlick is that Rooker is a statute in the outfield and he will need to hit at a super elite level to get a chance to play in the field at this point.  So the future for him appears to be either DH when the ageless one retires, or is let go, or Rooker will have to learn to play defense at an average level, unless he becomes such a good hitter we can deal with poor defense.  

     

    The team has clearly taken defense into account when planning their team recently.  Something I am happy about.  Defense normally goes very overlooked unless it is so elite and highlight making.  That is because for most fans errors, attempts, and put outs are the only counting state to quantify their value.  You can see the highlight plays, which sometimes are not that impressive when you break down the play.  I remember for years some people would praise Edmonds on defense, while others said he was overrated because his range was limited and dove because he had too.  I never really looked into which was accurate, but the point is, so much more goes into determining a good defender than just counting numbers and highlight plays.  Having top defenders will mean less runs and pitches from our staff which is a good thing over a full season. 

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