Spring training is filled with so many stories, so many hopes, and so many players who must feel top-of-the-world walking around with the stars and the top coaches. We, the fans, get to sate our baseball jones and start to kvetch about all the decisions that must be made to put together The Team (and in the case of Twins fans, wash the bad taste of 2011 out of our collective mouths). So, let me put out a story line that has been a bug in my butt for the past several months. What the Sam Hill is the point of Jamey Carroll, and why is he being group-hugged as the default solution to our middle infield woes? Follow this meander after the jump.
Twixt the 2010 and 2011 seasons, the Twins played their most aggressive card in a long time shelling out Big Bucks for Nishi, a batting champ and solid glove -- in Japan. We know it couldn't have turned out worse. A bit of shaky fielding with the oddities of the Western hemisphere and the different climate (and maybe even a bit of blame for a favorite of mine, Lexi), Joe-Joe trying to force feed 2% in spite of his lactose intolerance, the slow adjustments to MLB pitching, and THEN breaking a leg after six games and getting to try in all again, but largely at 2B. Yeah. It was ugly. And it didn't build confidence. So what's the answer?
Evidently the best thing to do is to go find a gritty player in the twilight of his career. When I see Jamey Carroll, I feel like LNP aged ten years and had some pop in his bat during some part of that decade, then returned with the same naked pictures of Gardy that got him so much playing time in the first place. Maybe that's what the organization needs -- after all, there is no guarantee that Nishi will be able to rebound (though I hope that a guy who had so much of a jinx in the first year stateside might get a reprieve).
But I don't get why so many people (including Gardy, if you read between the lines) are giving SS to Jamey and giving Nishi a chance to compete for a spot on the bench, but, ya know, maybe some time riding buses in Rochester will give him the grit we so value.
So, after a couple weeks, Nishi is hitting about 270. (with no errors), Jamey has a sub-Butera 050. and we still hear nary a good word for our 3-year $15 mil investment. Can somebody let me in on the joke here? I will seek insight and clarity in the comments.