It looks like the Minnesota Twins are finally going to get Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia back from their respective wrist injuries that they suffered very early in the season. Without their two opening day corner outfielders the Twins have been cobbling together outfield lineups like crazy, with 8 different guys playing in left field and 6 different players in right field since their injuries. When some of those players are Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nunez, Jason Barlett and somewhat Chris Herrmann, the Twins should be very happy to have a bigger chunk of professional outfielders again.
With that being said, Willingham and Arcia leave a lot to be desired in the field. Age for Willingham and hopefully just inexperience for Arcia makes the outfield a whole lot bigger for opposing hitters. But the standards for outfield defense for the Twins this season aren’t all that high to begin with, something that was pretty apparent in the game against the Giants on Friday night with two missed diving attempts. At this point in the season tightening up their corner defense doesn’t seem likely, so the Twins need to ensure that their outfielders are producing at a high enough rate to at least balance out some missed outs here and there. Willingham and Arcia should be able to add some more pop to the lineup and hopefully their offense will shine more for the right reasons than their defense for the wrong reasons.
With a seemingly imminent double call-up on Monday, who are the Twins going to send down to Triple A? There are plenty of possibilities so let’s quickly break down each option.
Danny Santana – Sending down Santana could be a possibility now that Escobar has established himself as the starting shortstop. Santana is still developing and could be the SS of the future so the Twins couldn’t be faulted too much sending him down to get him consistent playing time. However, keeping Santana around gives the Twins the option to play him at SS and move Escobar around the diamond to give other players a rest day.
Eduardo Nunez – Nunez hasn’t started a game since May 17th and in his ten games for the Twins has played LF five times, DH twice, pinch hit twice and played 3B once. He’s hitting .286/.333/.393 which are pretty good numbers and can play multiple positions which definitely gives him an edge to stick around on the team. It would be a little head scratching if the Twins send down BOTH Santana and Nunez because of the infield flexibility one of them would give the team.
Chris Herrmann – Herrmann was just called up and he gives Gardenhire the extra catcher option that he craves when he plays Kurt Suzuki and Josmil Pinto in the same lineup. Herrmann hasn’t hit well at all in the at bats he has got with the Twins but his flexibility might be too much for the Twins to give up.
Aaron Hicks – Hicks has also gotten some attention for a demotion because his hitting numbers aren’t spectacular but there isn’t a clear CF option for the Twins with Sam Fuld still having problems with his concussion. Hicks has a .340 OBP, which is pretty good for an 8 or 9 spot in the lineup, and should stay with the Twins.
Chris Parmelee – Parmelee is another option for a demotion because of the position he has been playing. Like Arcia, Parmelee is a left-handed hitter with some decent power and primarily plays in right field, meaning they probably wouldn’t both play in the outfield at the same time. Parmelee though has fought his way back up to the Twins and has already hit three game changing HRs. His overall numbers aren’t great though and he is only hitting .111/.150/.278 in the last week.
Chris Colabello – Colabello started off the season extremely hot but May hasn’t been kind to him at all, resulting in him getting only one AB in the last week. His .125/.169/.196 batting line and 3 walks vs. 24 K’s in May are some glaring reasons to let him get down to Triple A to recalibrate his swing. His right-handed bat would be a nice thing to have on the bench going forward but he won’t get into games if Gardy doesn’t trust his swing right now. He’s able to back up Mauer at 1B which is important but Parmelee might be a more natural fit at first base.
Jason Kubel – Much like Colabello, Kubel has cooled off significantly in May and has showed signs of returning to his poor form from his disastrous 2013. Is he finally washed up or do the Twins just need to ride out this bad month? He would need to be designated for assignment so who knows what might happen to him. Could he serve a purpose as a pinch hit extraordinaire?
I think that Hicks and Kubel are the safest picks to stay with the Twins. After that I want Herrmann to stay with the team because it typically means that Pinto gets more at bats. The most beneficial demotion long-term for the Twins could be sending Colabello down to get some swings and tear up Triple A for a while. If he gets his confidence back that would be a huge asset for the Twins for the rest of the season. After that it’s sort of a toss-up between Santana, Nunez and Parmelee but I think that Nunez could be sent down without so much of a blink of an eye. He hasn’t played all that much for the Twins and Parmelee and Santana are more exciting players.
Whatever happens on Monday, the Minnesota Twins should be a better team because of the addition of Willingham and Arcia. Hopefully they’ll start putting up some great numbers with some exciting bombs to the seats while they’re at it!