It's no surprise that the Twins have a backup plan in the event that they can't ink Jim Thome to a contract that suits both his agent and the Minnsota organization. The names brought up are two names which have been common in discussion around Twinkie Town for some time, namely the aging Troy Glaus and the enigmatic Jorge Cantu.
First thing's first, we need to get one thing straight: this post does not necessarily advocate the addition of Glaus or Cantu over Thome or, for that matter, Vladimir Guerrero. This is simply a way to look at both of those backup options by glancing through a few of the more notable numbers to see how they might fit with our 2011 Twins.
#25 / Third Base / Atlanta Braves
Aug 03, 1976
Is it just me or does Glaus look a bit like Jack during season three of LOST?
Only recently has Glaus' name come up in rumors, and he's come up with Cantu on two occasions. Both players seem to be backup options not just for the Twins, but for the Padres.
Glaus turned 34 in August, and in recent years he's had to overcome not just age but injury. He missed (essentially) all of 2009 to a right shoulder injury, and coming back this year met with varying levels of success. A very slow start was followed by good months in May and June, before July and August saw him regress to the point where the Braves dealt for Derrek Lee. At this point Glaus was relegated to bench duties, starting just twice in September where he was 4-for-15 during the entire month. His seasonal highlight may have come on June 13th, when he blasted a pair of home runs against the Twins.
#8 / First Base / Texas Rangers
Jan 30, 1982
Jorge Cantu: Backup infielder with pop, or the equivalent of Luke Hughes?
Cantu, 29, has sandwiched a couple of good seasons in between a few lackluster ones. At his best he's a guy who can give you 40+ doubles and 25+ home runs if playing full time, but those are seasons where, for whatever reason, he's also been able to handle a breaking ball. I can't say for sure whether a successful offensive campaign and the ability to hit a slider are related, but no doubt it helps.
2010 wasn't one of Cantu's good seasons, and after he was dealt to the eventual AL Champion Rangers he wasn't a factor. Still, the potential is there for a good year, particularly if the Twins wouldn't have to rely on him on an everyday basis. While Glaus would primarily slot into a DH/backup first baseman role, Cantu could potentially back up third base as well. Neither of these guys will field their position particularly well, but versatility may play slightly in Cantu's favor.
After the jump, the tale of the tape.
Line 'em up.
|.234||AVG vsL||.243||.272||AVG vsL||.273|
|.286||OBP vsL||.371||.323||OBP vsL||.396|
|.362||SLG vsL||.391||.451||SLG vsL||.542|
|.266||AVG vsR||.243||.275||AVG vsR||.248|
|.311||OBP vsR||.330||.319||OBP vsR||.344|
|.405||SLG vsR||.405||.444||SLG vsR||.471|
That's a lot to look at, but don't rush. You've got plenty of time.
Of course, looking at what a guy has done in the past is just part of the picture. Taking injuries and age into account play against Glaus, but if consistency and track record is your thing then Cantu doesn't look too pretty either. But these kinds of issues are to be expected because neither of these guys are the complete package. If they were, we wouldn't be comparing them to see who's the better bench option.
It's going to be easy to look at each of these guys and just pick one. Maybe you like Glaus as a pure role player, but you prefer Cantu as a guy who could start for a week or two straight while somebody is on the disabled list. Maybe Glaus has a more definable role, where Cantu is more of a wild card. Chances are, whichever guy you feel fits better for the Twins is probably the guy you'd prefer to have, because this isn't an open-and-shut comparison.
Going forward, Bill James sees a slightly better year coming from Glaus (.779 OPS, .345 wOBA, .187 ISO while continuing to both walk and strike out a lot) than from Cantu (.762 OPS, .329 wOBA, .168 ISO while walking and striking out less).
Both of these guys won't sign for more than $3 million guaranteed, and it's quite likely at this point that they'll be lucky to find an offer worth $2 million. All financial considerations being equal, who would you choose?