Two weeks ago, I tackled the depth at each position in the infield. You can read it here. In short, there is great depth at catcher, decent depth at first and little depth elsewhere. Our own Ben Noble has been giving detailed previews of each position. I will provide links for each as I review each position myself. I am looking at depth for the 2013 season. What can we expect from the less familiar names? Who will fill in if injuries hit? Who is waiting in the wings, in case a big trade is made? I expect most of these players to suit up for the Twins at some point this season.
I think the depth in the outfield is very interesting. One spot is filled, one is presumably filled and the third spot is wide open. I should point out that I don’t really make much of a distinction between left and right field with this roster. Normally, I am a huge proponent of having specific types of players at those positions. I like a power-hitting, big-armed right fielder and a left-fielder with some range. Clearly, the Twins do not agree with my ideas. Therefore, I lumped all corner outfielders together. I’ll put which side of the outfield I think is best for their talents in parenthesis.
* Player is not currently on 40-man roster
Corner Outfield – Average Depth
Josh Willingham (MLB), 34, signed through 2014, 2.9 WAR (1st base?, left field I guess)
Chris Parmelee (MLB), 25, 6 more seasons of team control, -0.6 WAR (left)
Ryan Doumit (MLB), 32, signed through 2014, 1.0 WAR (DH?)
Darin Mastroianni (MLB), 27, 6 more seasons of team control, 0.8 WAR (center)
Chris Herrmann (AAA), 25, 6 more seasons of team control, -0.3 WAR (left)
Joe Benson (AAA), 25, 6 more seasons of team control, 0 WAR (did not appear in MLB in 2012) (center, but then right)
*Brandon Boggs (AAA), 29, 5 more seasons of team control, 0 WAR (did not appear in MLB in 2012) (center)
*Clete Thomas (AAA), 29, 5 more seasons of team control, 0.0 WAR (left)
Oswaldo Arcia (AA), 22, No MLB Experience (left)
*Wilkin Ramirez (AAA), 27, 6 more seasons of team control, 0 WAR (did not appear in MLB in 2012) (left)
As constructed right now, the outfield defense could be a bit of a train wreck. Willingham only scores about a .1 on the WAD scale (Wins-Above-Delmon) and Parmelee is a first baseman with less range than Jason Kubel. However, the offense produced by these outfielders could help soften the issues with the defense.
Ryan Doumit is probably the back-up corner outfielder, when he isn’t the back-up catcher or DH. Ryan Doumit does not improve an outfield defense, but doesn’t hurt the offense either.
We’ll get to center field in a bit, but in a perfect world, Mastroianni should be the 4th outfielder on this team, and is excellent in that role. He can get on-base, he has great speed and he plays all three outfield positions very well.
Chris Herrmann might get a shot in the outfield, if needed. He is similarly versatile compared with Doumit, but does not possess Doumit’s offensive capabilities. The fact that he can catch is really interesting, but he likely will be bringing that versatility with him to Rochester.
Brandon Boggs, Clete Thomas and Wilkin Ramirez will be available if needed. Hopefully, they will not be needed.
Oswaldo Arcia is lurking. This guy has hit at every level. I’m not sure what the Twins will do with him in 2013. He might start at AA, but he might start at AAA. He’s hurt right now, but I am still 99% sure he ends the year in the MLB. I have a strong feeling that he replaces Willingham in left or Parmelee in right, after a Twins’ trade. He’s very close to ready but a little extra seasoning cannot hurt.
Center Field – Average Depth
Darin Mastroianni (MLB), 27, 6 more seasons of team control, 0.8 WAR
Aaron Hicks (MLB), 23, No MLB Experience
Joe Benson (AAA), 25, 6 more seasons of team control, 0 WAR (did not appear in MLB in 2012)
*Brandon Boggs (AAA), 29, 5 more seasons of team control, 0 WAR (did not appear in MLB in 2012)
*Clete Thomas (AAA), 29, 5 more seasons of team control, 0.0 WAR
Aaron Hicks seemed to be the early favorite for the center field job, but he has been very slow to adjust to new levels in his minor league career. His glove is ready and his arm is tantalizing. Offensively, he had a big breakout last season at AA, but has not played a single game at AAA. He is a very exciting player and I really hope he seizes this opportunity. I know that I would really enjoy watching him all season long.
Joe Benson is lurking. Remember Benson? He taught us all what 2 million strikeouts in 1 month looks like. That’s a bit unfair, but if he can’t get his strikeouts under control, he will continue to struggle against MLB pitching. If he refines his approach, adjusts to the pitchers and learns the strike zone, he will be fine. Of course, that could be said about basically any player. Benson’s defense and arm are excellent though, and he would be able to handle center fairly well.
As I stated earlier, Mastroianni is a great 4th outfielder. If he assumes that role, he will serve as the primary back-up in left and right. The defense will vastly improve when he is in the lineup and his on-base skills and speed are enough to keep the lineup mostly intact. Right now, he might be the favorite to start in center. If this is true, it could be that the Twins want to have an extra year of team control over Hicks. They could just bring Hicks up mid-season, after he gets some extra seasoning at AAA. It’s not bad strategy.
I don’t have much to say about Boggs and Thomas. If they are needed, then the team has even more issues than we might be anticipating. Basically, Hicks and Benson would need to flame out and Mastroianni would either have to be very ineffective or injured. I really don’t want to think that all these things will happen.
DH – Good Depth?
The Twins don’t really use a set DH. They usually rotate guys through the position as a way of giving days off. I actually think this is a pretty decent strategy. Joe Mauer can rest his legs. Justin Morneau can have a lighter day. Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit can play their natural positions. I kid. Since there is no one on the roster worthy of giving a full-time DH position to, this strategy doesn’t bother me. However, if Joe Benson and Aaron Hicks are both ready to contribute, there is a strong argument toward putting Willingham at DH, moving Chris Parmelee/Doumit to left and playing Hicks and Benson in the outfield. Benson or Hicks at DH would be a huge waste of their defensive talent.
Bench – Poor Depth
The depth is poor, simply because we don’t know how the probable starters are going to respond in Spring Training. If Hicks, Benson and Brian Dozier can show that they are ready, the bench gets stronger. Having Mastroianni as your fourth or even fifth outfielder is outstanding. I really think he was created in a lab to be a fourth outfielder. If Dozier can hit, Jamey Carroll will become a valuable player off the bench, capable of playing second, third and short.
On the other hand, if those three young players falter, the bench is really weak. Eduardo Escobar would be the utility guy, and he hasn’t been very impressive in his MLB career. If Mastroianni needs to start in center, the Twins are looking at Clete Thomas or Brandon Boggs as the fourth outfielder. That is hardly ideal. We all know that Drew Butera will be on the bench, and that certainly doesn’t help matters.
Overall, the outfield depth is much more impressive than the infield depth. There are a lot of young outfielders, waiting for the chance to show that they can contribute. If any combination of Benson, Hicks and Parmelee produces, the Twins could have a good outfield. In addition, they would improve the outfield defense and the Twins’ bench. A lot is riding on their young shoulders, and they will have a lot to prove this Spring.
Next week, we will investigate the pitching staff in detail. What do you think the Twins’ outfield will look like when April rolls around? Please respond in the comments below.