Minnesota Twins Organizational Depth – Infield


He’s working on it, but even Terry Ryan knows the 2013 Twins are not deep at many positions. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, I have been focusing my attention on the past and the future.  I finished up my top 25 prospect list a couple weeks back and have looked at many areas of Twins history over the past few Saturdays.  In the coming weeks, I want to focus on the present.  What does the Twins organization look like right now?  This week, I will focus on the infield.  Next week, we will discuss the outfield and bench.  I’ll finish with the pitchers in a couple weeks.  Our fearless leader, Ben Noble, has been previewing positions as well.  He goes into a lot more depth with each player, and I will provide a link to his positional breakdowns as well.  I am focusing more on positional depth and how that impacts the 2013 season.

We should start by defining organizational depth.  For me, depth includes the Major League team, but also minor leaguers with a legitimate chance of helping the Major League team in the foreseeable future.  These are guys who could be called upon if injuries hit or if starters are ineffective.  Some are prospects, like Liam Hendriks last season.   Some are just veterans who can fill a temporary void.  Think Clete Thomas.  I’m limiting myself to just 2013.  Trying to project any further can be extremely difficult and things will change so much by then, that this exercise would be somewhat futile.  Plus, I am planning to carry out that futile operation in a few weeks.  Stay tuned for that!

Look, I made this chart, ok?  You don’t have to look at it or use or whatever, but it’s there if you want it.  I used some colored dots to give a visual representation of where I think the Twins organizational depth sits right now.  Green is good and red is bad.  White is average.  If you aren’t sure which dots are for which positions, then please respond in the comments below.  We’ll start with areas of good depth and move downward.  Each listed player is someone who I think will be a part of the Twins short-term plans.  They are listed with their age going into next season, the years remaining on their contract (or seasons left under team control) and their rWAR last season.

* Player is not currently on 40-man roster

Catchers – Good Depth

Joe Mauer (MLB), 30, signed through 2018, 4.1 WAR

Ryan Doumit (MLB), 32, signed through 2014, 1.0 WAR

Drew Butera (MLB), 29, 3 more seasons of team control, 0.2 WAR

Chris Herrmann (AAA), 25, 6 more seasons of team control, -0.3 WAR

*Eric Fryer (AAA), 27, Minor League Free Agent, 0.0 WAR

The catcher depth is good because of one player.  Joe Mauer is still excellent.  He may not crouch behind the plate as often as he used to, but he is still one of the best when he is back there.  It does sound like the team wants him to catch more, but that may change as the season actually progresses.  However, Ryan Doumit is a perfectly acceptable back-up, although he isn’t much when it comes to defense.  As an offensive package, Mauer and Doumit are pretty hard to beat.  Personally, I’d like to see the Twins carry only 2 catchers, but I know from their history that a third catcher will find his way to Minnesota.  I am not sold on Butera’s defensive prowess (SSS), so I’d prefer Herrmann just because he might hit better than .200.

Ben’s Catcher Preview

1st Base – Average Depth

Justin Morneau (MLB), 32, signed through 2013, 0.9 WAR

Chris Parmelee (MLB), 6 more seasons of team control, -0.6 WAR

Joe Mauer (MLB), 30, signed through 2018, 4.1 WAR

*Jeff Clement (AAA), 29, Minor League Free Agent, -0.3 WAR

*Chris Colabello (AAA), 29, No MLB experience

The depth at first base depends a lot on a healthy Justin Morneau.  Parmelee and Mauer, the two players most likely to receive the extra first base at bats, already have positions of their own.  If Morneau stays healthy (and isn’t traded), the Twins likely can get good production from this position.  The beauty of first base is that you can usually stick an immobile outfielder there (*cough Josh Willingham cough*).  Jeff Clement could certainly fill in if needed, but he won’t set the world on fire.  Chris Colabello and his 7 seasons in Independent Ball would be a really nice story, making an MLB debut at age 29.  If it gets to that point, we can safely say the season is not going well, but I am willing to guess Colabello would become a quick fan favorite.  Right now, the depth at first isn’t great, but finding a player to play first base isn’t like splitting an atom.

Ben’s First Base Preview

2nd Base – Poor Depth

Brian Dozier (MLB), 26, 6 more seasons of team control, 0.5 WAR

Jamey Carroll (MLB), 39, signed through 2013, team option for 2014, 3.2 WAR

Eduardo Escobar (MLB), 24, 5 more seasons of team control, 0.2 WAR

*Ray Olmedo (AAA), 32, Minor League free agent, -0.1 WAR

If Brian Dozier can seize his opportunity to be the Twins’ everyday second baseman, the infield depth improves.  Dozier was brutal at the plate and in the field last season.  He claims to have been pressing at the plate and bringing his offensive woes into the field with him.  Many would argue that Dozier was never a shortstop to begin with, and that second base was his best position anyway.  I hope so.  Carroll seems to be slated for a utility role.  If pressed into a starting position, the infield depth weakens immediately.  When we look through the rest of the infield positions, it will be clear why Carroll is needed all around the diamond.  Escobar can play second, short and third as well, just not as well.  If you know what I mean.  Olmedo is just minor league depth, but could be called on in a pinch.

Ben’s Second Base Preview

3rd Base – Poor Depth

Trevor Plouffe (MLB), 27, 5 more seasons of team control, 0.9 WAR

Jamey Carroll (MLB), 39, signed through 2013, team option for 2014, 3.2 WAR

Eduardo Escobar (MLB), 24, 5 more seasons of team control, 0.2 WAR

*Deibinson Romero (AAA), 26, No MLB experience

Is Trevor Plouffe the power-hitting third baseman that we watched in the middle of 2012 or the shaky infielder with low OBP skills and contact issues?  If Plouffe doesn’t hit for power, he offers little to nothing.  He was injured after his hot streak, so I am willing to see what he can do with a full, healthy season.  There is very little depth behind Plouffe, other than the aforementioned utility infielders Carroll and Escobar.  Deibinson Romero could get a look, if injuries were to befall the Twins’ infield.  Romero has had two full seasons at New Britain, and nearly posted an .800 OPS last season.  He was pretty bad in the field though.  The Twins repeatedly stated that they would bring in competition for Plouffe, but have not done so yet.  It could be that the Twins will pounce on a waiver claim during or right after Spring Training.  If they do not or cannot, Plouffe should be clear for over 500 at bats.  With 2013 looking pretty bleak, this might be the right move.

Shortstop – Poor Depth

Pedro Florimon (MLB), 26, 6 more seasons of team control, 0.8 WAR

Eduardo Escobar (MLB), 24, 5 more seasons of team control, 0.2 WAR

Jamey Carroll (MLB), 39, signed through 2013, team option for 2014, 3.2 WAR

Brian Dozier (MLB), 26, 6 more seasons of team control, 0.5 WAR

*Ray Olmedo (AAA), 32, Minor League free agent, -0.1 WAR

I can’t say I am super psyched about Pedro Florimon.  He is clearly a good defender, and I guess the team doesn’t have a lot of great offensive options anyway.  Dozier couldn’t handle short, Carroll is getting old and Escobar might not be any different than Florimon.  Florimon is flashy, and he’ll make exciting plays.  He cannot hit.  If he gets regular playing time, he could challenge for the worst OPS in the league.  His glove had better be great.  This seems like a good time to point out that I do like Escobar.  He can hold his own in the field, and has similar offensive skills compared with Florimon.  He has been terrible in AAA, so that might keep him from getting a real chance, but he is 2 full years younger than Florimon, so he might be worth a look at some point.

Overall, the depth in the infield is not great.  Joe Mauer is fantastic.  Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit are good hitters.  Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe should be interesting to watch.  Pedro Florimon can make exciting plays.  The infield is filled with questions and back-ups.  The lower minors aren’t exactly rife with ready talent.  If we can be patient as fans, we might have a completely revamped infield by 2015.  Some of these players will be around, but many are likely to be elsewhere.

Next week, we’ll tackle the outfield and the bench.  What do you think of the Twins’ depth in the infield?  Is there anyone you think I am being too hard on?  I’m a shock jock; I live for ratings and controversy.   

On the lighter side, I found Scott Diamond’s place in MLB history.  You can read it here.  It’s short.