Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Revolving Door at Third

Jerry Crasnick at ESPN.com wrote an interesting piece about the lack of consistency that teams have at certain positions. He cites the A's Travis Buck as a particularly extreme example, as last week he became the eleventh different opening day left-fielder in eleven years.

Crasnick didn't mention the home team, but they've had some notable inconsistency with personnel too. Check out this awesome chart that lists all the Twins opening day starters through the years.

There's been some turnover, to be sure. But third base is what most Twins fans should think when they hear the phrase 'revolving door.' (besides some nightmares of the Metrodome.)

2002: Corey Koskie
2003: Michael Cuddyer
2004: Corey Koskie
2005: Michael Cuddyer
2006: Tony Batista
2007: Nick Punto
2008: Mike Lamb
2009: Joe Crede
2010: Nick Punto

I get dizzier than Corey Koskie when I look at that list. Of course, the opening day starter is terribly misleading because most of those guys only made it a few months there. Closer look? Well, okay.

Michael Cuddyer: Only played seven games at third in 2003, before taking over right field. He must have shown something, because Gardenhire turned to him when Corey Koskie left for Toronto before the 2005 season. Cuddyer played 95 games there, hitting .263 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI. The company line was that he couldn't produce offensively while worrying about balls banging off his face at the hot corner. I didn't realize this, but Cuddyer was very Nick Punto-esque until 2006. In 2004, he played 48 games at second base. Why don't I remember this? He also played 43 at third and ten at first base, while only 15 in the outfield. All while hitting just .263/45/12. If the internet existed back then, I'm sure someone would have started a Free Mike Cuddyer movement. Once he finally settled into right field at age 26 in 2006, he hit .284/109/24.

Although the best move for him might have been the one that put him between two leftys: the MVP and the batting champ.

Tony Batista: Remember when the Twins were small market? That was funny. On a team that had Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter at peak performance, the front office patched the hole at third with this guy. What did we think when we saw this headline?

Twins grab 32-year-old Tony B. from Japanese league to start at third

I actually miss the days of low expectations and blind optimism. I'm sure I thought he'd be a decent player. At any rate, he hit five bombs in 50 games before being released in early June, at which point Nick Punto took over and the Twins ceased to lose.

Nick Punto: had an awful year in 2007. For which many fans will never forgive him. The 2007 season sucked in general. So they decided to bring on...

Mike Lamb: was a decent player, but not for the 2008 Twins. If he had signed a one year deal instead of two, he probably would have been released much earlier than September.

Joe Crede: I won't call this signing a bust, because the Twins knew they were signing an injury-prone, on-base handicapped player. But it must have been killing them when they realized, in mid-September, they were paying two third baseman to workout in Florida.


Suggesting that someone switch positions is one of the most comically silly things that rubes bring up on a regular basis. Someone, somewhere, right now, is telling his buddy that Joe Mauer should switch to first base and they should trade Morneau. Or someone else is asking is Wilson Ramos can play second.

But I'll say this: I wish Michael Cuddyer's move to third base would have worked out.

Sorta Related posts

Cuddyer Apology

Who is Danny Valencia?

Opposite Day


soup said...

I will never regret signing Tony B. He makes me giggle. He's so sleepy.

Daymonster said...

yeah. Tony B is awesome. Like in this video.

Carl said...

Why do the Japanese baseball uniforms have English on them?

haasertime said...

good question. Maybe because they write downward in japanese? Or is that chinese?

soup said...

I can't speak for the Japanese, but in Korea they did the same thing. They write all brand names in English so they are easier to sell internationally. Sony, for examples, would be very hard to sell in the West if it were written in Japanese

And in both Korea and Japan, baseball teams are generally not named by location but by company. So instead of the Minnesota Twins, it would be the Target Twins.

Though, in Korea the names on the back of the jersey are in Korean. In Japan they're in English. Not sure why.