Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer DL stint provides right time to promote Jake Cave
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins offense has been struggling for most of 2018. Making it the perfect time to see what Jake Cave can do with his bat in the majors.
The Minnesota Twins have hit a stretch where they simply cannot stay healthy. That has made it impossible for them to roll out their ideal lineup. Including the Jorge Polanco suspension, the Twins had a lineup Saturday with five players starting who weren’t projected to begin the season in those roles. Others missing were Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Jason Castro, and Joe Mauer.
As Mauer was announced to go on the disabled list, the corresponding move was a bit interesting as outfielder Jake Cave was added to the 25-man roster. Cave came to the Twins this offseason as the New York Yankees outfield just got too crowded and so the Twins capitalized by trading for the intriguing outfield prospect.
So while the Cave move came at a bit of surprise it made absolute sense considering where the Twins sit currently. One of the most intriguing things about Cave from the moment he was acquired is that he is able to play all three outfield positions.
That makes him interchangeable with all three Twins starting outfielders. Most notably the struggling Byron Buxton who has gone 1-for-13 with four strikeouts on the team’s current home stand following Sunday’s game.
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The Twins have two other outfielders with the same defensive abilities sitting at Rochester, so why Cave over those two? Ryan LaMarre who was up with the Twins earlier this season has continued to do nothing but hit the baseball. He had a batting average of .324 in the majors and his hitting above .400 at Triple-A.
Then there is also Zack Granite who has proven very serviceable in the majors after his time with the Twins in 2017. While LaMarre and Granite can both hit for average, Cave has potential to make some true offensive noise.
With Sano out, Dozier and Buxton struggling, and now on-base machine Mauer out the Twins are desperate for impact offense. Cave between Triple-A and Double-A in 2017 hit .305/.351/.542 with a .893 OPS, 20 home runs, and 26 doubles.
Those are power numbers that neither LaMarre or Granite can be expected to produce. Cave didn’t waste any time showing off that power potential as he hit a two-run home run in the second at-bat of his major league debut Saturday. Something the Twins are certainly hoping to only see more of from the left-handed batter.
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Cave’s power numbers were a one season jump from his previous seasons in professional baseball. The unproven nature of his power is the only reason he was available at all this offseason. Making it no certainty what Cave will provide with his bat in the majors. With so much of the Twins offense missing or struggling. This is the perfect time to give Cave a shot and see if he is able to give life to an offense that has gone missing for much of 2018.