September 25, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins outfielder Denard Span (2) celebrates his 2-RBI double during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Target Field. The Twins deafeated the Yankees 5-4. Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
Yesterday, I discussed the three men vying to be the 2013 Minnesota Twins first baseman. Justin Morneau is the incumbent, Joe Mauer is the reluctant competitor, and Chris Parmelee is the new guy on the scene making a case for playing time.
The versatility of many on the current Twins roster allowed manger Ron Gardenhire to mix and match position players throughout the 2012 season based on injuries, fatigue, or a need to shake-up the batting order. In 2012, Morneau saw 99 games at first, Mauer 30, and Parmelee 38 games with the major league club. While the Musical Chairs scenario was functional during the 2012 season, largely because of the unknowns going into the season, it’s a fair question whether the approach will be a solid base for an improved 2013 season.
Instead, the Twins need to consider who the primary players are at each position and realize that, when the music stops, someone has got to go.
Morneau is one name that has been tossed around as a trade chip, but it is by no means certain that he’ll be gone on Opening Day 2013. His tenure with the team and marriage to a Minnesota native are two reasons the former MVP wants to stay. And he’s indicated that he wants to stay. If the stars align for him and he stays in a Twins uniform, the veteran is likely to remain the primary first baseman. The Twins were cautious with him in 2012, waiting until late April to let Morneau return to first base. But, his persistence in returning to the position and success at the corner spot made him a mainstay for the remainder of 2012. It stands to reason that, if he’s on the roster, fans can expect to see Morneau play more than 99 games at first in 2013.
While Joe Mauer will still see significant time at catcher, the $23 Million Dollar Man and owner of the 2012 AL fourth place batting average needs to be in the lineup more than the 74 games he caught in 2012. With Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit, Mauer, and Morneau on the roster, the DH spot isn’t simply open for for the taking. Mauer will see some time as DH, but keeping his bat in the lineup will mean playing a chunk of the time at first base, probably in the neighborhood of the 30 games he played in 2012.
That leaves 20-30 games at first base for the up-and-coming Chris Parmelee, and that simply isn’t enough. After hitting .338 with 17 homeruns in 64 games at AAA and .229 with 5 homeruns in 64 major league games, the Twins will want him in the batting order in 2013. With presumably not enough games at first base available, Parmelee is likely to see frequent starts in the outfield. The Minnesota Twins depth chart currently lists Parmelee as the second man at either left or right, but right field is where he has seen the most playing time. So, put Parmelee in right field, and the team must find a spot Ben Revere and his Web Gem catches. With the team unlikely to trade Willingham, the primary left fielder, Revere fits in at Centerfield.
Denard Span is the odd man out.
The trade deadline rumor mill has pegged Span as the sacrificial lamb for the last few years. So far, the trade has not happened, and fans may begin to wonder if the team (or maybe just the media) have been crying wolf when it comes to Span’s fate. However, Terry Ryan has been clear that all available players are on the table when it comes to offseason trades.
Span first appeared with the Twins in 2008, and he is a favorite of many fans. But his team-friendly contract makes him desirable to other teams and, partnered with a lower-level prospect, he is likely to bring the Twins the decent starting pitcher they desperately need.
What do you think – is it “Bye Bye Span” or do you see the Twins making different moves? Weigh-in with your opinions in the comment section below.