After the recent demotion of the struggling Danny Valencia to AAA Rochester, I couldn’t help but reflect on the black hole that third base has been for the Twins for what seems like the past decade. Like a galaxy-swallowing behemoth, the hot corner has slowly and methodically chewed up and spit back out seemingly every third baseman that Ron Gardenhire’s tried there. It’s not fair to call them weaklings, but it is accurate to note that none of these unsuccessful candidates had much hope when they began their tenure there. They were simply stopgaps, warming the position until the next Corey Koskie could be found.
Valencia may have been the exception, or at least so it has seemed. His rookie year he hit .311 and posted an OPS just a tick under .800. His defense was mediocre, with room for improvement. He took a step back in 2011, however. As a sophomore, he .246 with a dreadful OBP under .300. And he was one-upping that disappointing season this year, as he was hitting below the Mendoza line before he received his bus ticket to the minors. Alright, he probably got to fly there….
Meanwhile in Minnesota, Jamey Carroll and Trevor Plouffe are now the stopgaps at third. Carroll’s slugging percentage is lower than Valencia’s and Plouffe’s average has dipped below .150. Yes, he did hit a game-winning home run th
is afternoon, but most pitchers could hit replicate the numbers these two are putting up. So the question is, are there any options in the majors or minors that the Twins could look to? (Excluding Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka, of course.) Options that could possibly end the curse of Corey Koskie?
As a sidenote, this curse has been around since 2005. The previous six seasons, third was manned by Koskie, who averaged offensive numbers of 17 homers, 72 RBIs, a .282 average, and an OPS of .840 over that stretch. His successor was Michael Cuddyer (whose glove couldn’t stick there), Tony Batista (who’s wide open stance failed to yield results), Nick Punto (a Piranha), Brian Buscher, Mike Lamb (a terrible signing), Joe Crede, and Brendan Harris. So yes, these many, many players listed did not work out. How about this following list? Could any of them be an answer for Gardenhire at third?
Players Currently in the Organization
- Ray Chang – he has an average over .300 in AAA, but that could be deceiving as this singles-machine’s OPS is still below .700
- Pedro Florimon – his style of play has impressed the organization, but he’s never played an inning at third, so you can exclude this middling prospect
- Deibinson Romero – the current third baseman for the team’s AA squad, but hitting under .250 in his second season there—this from a 25-year-old
- Jairo Perez – despite posting an OPS just under 1.000 in 2011, he’s currently hitting just .250 in high-A ball as a 24-year-old
- Miguel Sano – if there’s anyone in the organization who can fill Koskie’s shoes in the batter’s box, it’s this 19-year-old, who’s currently meeting all expectations in single-A ball this year
Players Currently Not in the Organization
- Alex Liddi – on a team that may see Kyle Seager and prospect Vinnie Catricala as future platoon mates at the hot corner, Liddi could be expendable if the Twins would offer the right piece for him
- Matt Dominguez – currently posting an OPS .635 for Miami’s AAA squad, this former top-100 prospect could be had, especially now since he’s blocked by the team’s new third baseman of the future, Hanley Ramirez
- Mark Trumbo – though he’s amid a position squeeze on his current team, the Angels, this seems an unlikely deal to happen as his hot-hitting bat easily offsets his horrid defense at third on a team that’s struggling to score runs
- Brandon Laird – his star has lost some shine as he’s progressed through the minors, but Laird would most likely be easily attainable if the Twins wanted to give him a shot
- Brett Wallace – the transition back to third hasn’t been too ugly for this former top prospect who highlighted a deal for Matt Holliday, and on a team with a new GM at the reins, Wallace could possibly be dealt again…and this time for perhaps another Matt…Matt Carson or Matt Rizzotti, whichever Rochester’s willing to fork over
Other Less Likely Options
Gordon Beckham (could Orlando Hudson’s signing prompt Chicago to deal him?), Jack Hannahan, Kevin Youkilis, Justin Turner, Reese Havens, Blake Dewitt, Luis Valbuena, Pedro Alvarez, Matt Hague, Cody Ransom, Conor Gillaspie, Chris Nelson