Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Safe To Prove Costly For Twins?

The 2015 Major League Baseball season is just one day old. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Twins find themselves with only a tally in the loss column to this point. More unfortunately is that observations from one game have cause knuckle-dragging fans to already deem the 2015 season a failure. Whether because of anger that four years of losing causes, or the disappointment that still looming prospects has provided, a vast contingent isn't pleased. While those aren't viable reasons for angst at this point (and frankly lack even a decent sense of comprehension), the Twins safe decision making was on display yesterday, and should be plenty scrutinized in the immediate future.

Against the Tigers, the Twins sent out what can be considered their top lineup. With Phil Hughes on the mound, at no other point (outside of replication) will the Twins 25 man roster be better represented than it was yesterday. Forget the fact that they were facing Cy Young level pitching in the form of David Price, there's no denying we might have seen and heard the first glimpses of concern.

Starting in centerfield yesterday was Jordan Schafer. A protoypical fourth outfielder, generally utilized for his speed, the Twins have given the offed Atlanta Brave the keys to the outfield. In turn, on at least two occasions, defensive missplays cost the Twins. Allowing a run while stumbling late in the game, the Twins saw the deficit increase further than it should have due to their own doing. As a secondary option, manager Paul Molitor chose to bring journeyman Shane Robinson north along with Schafer. Employing a two man (remember it's not a platoon) centerfield, the Twins have gone with options that are definitely not starters, and potential questionable roster inclusions.

When the bullpen entered the game yesterday, it was by way of Double-A Rule 5 Draft Pick, J.R. Graham. The hard thrower immediately worked himself into trouble, and then showed the resolve to get himself out of it unscathed. While it worked out in the team's favor this time, there's no doubt that Graham's shaky first inning doesn't bode well for the future. Considering that Molitor has said he plans to use some combination of Graham and Duensing in a 7th inning role, disaster could be looming for Minnesota.

Despite not factoring into the action yesterday, Mike Pelfrey was also removed from his bullpen role in favor of Aaron Thompson. Following the loss of suspended starter Ervin Santana, Pelfrey was added back into the rotation. Despite a less than promising track record, the Twins decided to go with what was comfortable, rather than what may push them forward.

That point gets us to the elephant the Twins see sitting at the end of their bench. Each and every roster move made this season has signified a stagnant style of thinking. Knowing this team isn't necessarily built to compete (despite what Terry Ryan has stated publicly), the ceiling has been purposely lowered from within. With options in house that could potentially stretch the ceiling, push the organization forward, and enhance development as a whole, the Twins have turned an opposite direction.

It's fair to suggest that promotion of youth for the sake of doing so doesn't make sense. There is no reason to sacrifice potential ability because of immediate desire, but what the Twins have put in place leans towards the other end of the spectrum. Names like Schafer, Robinson, Nunez, Pelfrey, and well really the whole bullpen sans Glen Perkins, suggest a lack of faith in organizational advancement. Imagine if the Twins had instead included Hicks, Rosario, May, Meyer, or Tonkin? What if they went out and replaced their bench bat with a name like Dayan Viciedo? What if they increased their own ceiling by allowing for the floor to be lowered because the upside was substantially greater?

The premise is simple, knowing you aren't built to be amongst the elite, transitioning towards a future gain strategy would seem to make a lot of sense. While Pelfrey or Schafer may not make the mistakes a Meyer or Rosario will, they also represent a muted level of talent. Outside of finishing first, the positioning is relatively irrelevant, and the Twins have sent out a roster that fails to maximize upon this concept.

At the end of the day, most of the "safe" options for the Twins are immediately replaceable. When the bullpen falls, or Pelfrey blows up, or the outfield crumbles, the Twins can turn over the keys. The question becomes, why not do some of that from the beginning in hopes of advancement, rather than after issues in response to failure?

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