Monday, April 18, 2016

Molitor Should Be Making It Work In Minnesota

Just a handful of games into the 2016 Major League Baseball season, and things were trending downwards big time for the Minnesota Twins. Starting 0-9, there was plenty of reason to panic, 162 games aside. While Twins players seemed to stay the course, Terry Ryan and the organization made somewhat of an odd decision a week ago.

With Miguel Sano starting in right field and still getting used to his role, Byron Buxton scuffling at the plate, and Eddie Rosario being lackluster across multiple facets of the game, a shakeup was needed. Instead of going internally though, using the organizational depth, Terry Ryan decided to sign veteran outfielder David Murphy.

In and of itself, the Murphy signing is far from terrible. If he makes the big league roster (which it sounds like he won't have a long stay at Triple-A), he'll make right around $1.5 million. A 10 year vet, Murphy owns a .274/.333/.432 career line. He's significantly more acceptable at the plate against righties, but as a left handed batter, that's not totally unexpected. In the outfield, the only position he's better than league average is left fielder, where he's worth 3 defensive runs saved in just over 4,700 innings.

That brings us to the Twins odd predicament, and it's only been further highlighted over the course of the past few games.

Looking at the youth the Twins employ, Miguel Sano is the least likely to ever go back to the farm. Despite his bat starting out ice cold, the Dominican has seen Minnesota committed to his development in right field. He's been decent despite some minor struggles, and his bat is going to come around. In center, Buxton has given the Twins some pause, and he could go back. Regardless what happens to Byron though, Murphy is not a center fielder, and his -8 career DRS would be ugly there. That brings us to left field.

Considering the options for the Twins to send to the farm when Murphy comes up, Eddie Rosario should be considered the most deserving candidate. His approach at the plate has been largely worse than it was a season ago (which was already ugly). He's been worth -2 DRS in left field this season, and he's given the Twins more head scratching moments than he hasn't. That all being said, I don't see the Twins making that move at all.

The problem however isn't who is sent down, but in that Murphy is probably going to come up to the Twins to play. Oswaldo Arcia was brought north out of spring training because the Twins aren't dumb. Just 24 years old, the Venezuelan had a 100% chance of being claimed on waivers by another team had Minnesota DFA'd him. Having brought him north though, he started just one of the Twins first 8 games.

After being given some leash, Arcia started each of the games in which the Twins faced off against the Angels at Target Field. Minnesota swept the series, and Arcia provided two game winners across the three game span. His .385/.429/.615 slash line is no doubt a product of a small sample size, but his home run and three runs batted in are production areas he should be expected to contribute in.

Sure, this early into the season, the Twins have plenty of other narratives to focus on, and many of them have arguably more weight. That said, in a season in which the Twins seemed committed to having the youth be the backbone of their success or failure, relying on an aging vet seems counter productive. Whether it be Arcia or Max Kepler, there's internal options with far more upside that should have been considered more heavily.

Within the next handful of games, we'll find out how this narrative is going to play out. Twins beat writer LaVelle E. Neal noted that Murphy was told he won't be at Triple-A Rochester long. Given what seems like an assurance he'll bump someone off the big league roster, we'll have to take a wait and see approach. No matter what though. Murphy of the internal candidates is a decision that appears to go against what the Twins were pushing for in the season ahead.

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