Like Jack said at FanGraphs, Ichiro Suzuki isn't about to be your backup outfielder. So when we talk about backup outfielders, we're looking for specific skill sets that compliment (and make up for deficiencies in) our current outfielders. For the Twins this means speed, versatility and cost efficiency more than anything else.
Instead the Twins went to the list of minor league free agents, and found another option in journeyman Charlton Jimerson.
Jimerson was a fifth-round draft pick by the Astros in 2001, and as a 21-year old in Houston's low a-ball affiliate displayed the profile that follows him to this day: the kid had power, and the kid struck out like it was going out of style. 22 of his 46 hits went for extra bases, earning him a very respectable .442 slugging percentage as a kid getting his first taste of professional ball. His .304 on-base percentage made him look like Joe Crede, however, and his 79 whiffs in 197 at-bats made him look like Adam Dunn. In some ways those comparisons could be promising, but he never matched Crede's defense nor Dunn's ability to strike fear into opposing pitchers.
Before joining the Newark Bears of the Independent League in 2009 (where he led the squad with 21 bombs), Jimerson collected 3403 at-bats over eight seasons in the minor leagues and hit .258/.312/.456. He also struck out 1177 times (34.6% strikeout rate) and walked just 236 times. For anyone who's counting, Craig Monroe has hit a similar .252/.301/.441 in his major league career. Expectations of upside should be tempered pretty severely.
What makes the Jimerson signing attractive is that he does fit a number of desireable attributes. He's cheap, we don't have to find room for him on the roster, he plays all three outfield positions and the man is fast--236 stolen bases over his career, with just 63 caught stealings (78.9% success rate).
He's not perfect, but reserve outfielders never really are. If only for the fact that he gives the organization one more option to look at, it's a fine pick up. In one extreme, he probably appears in 10 or 12 games for the Twins, picks up a hit or two and spells our boys. In the other, he ends up back in the Independent League where he can tear it up along with Carl Everett and Rob Mackowiak. More likely he's going to land somewhere in between.
Signing Jimerson is a risk-free move. He gives the organization another look and is a guy who can give them what they need in what amounts to a fifth outfielder's role. It is what it is.
#-- / Outfield / Minnesota Twins
Sep 22, 1979