Willingham has pretty much been the sole vestige of respectability for the Twins through four games. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
With the local nine starting off 0-4, it’s probably safe to say that no one envisioned that the Twins would be already ducking the proverbial tomato from the faithful. But in some ways, it sort of feels like that’s what is happening.
The club can’t play like this much longer; if it does, moves will be made to ensure that the responsible parties are demoted or cut, with a new wave of players getting a chance to make the rebound from a near-100 loss campaign.
With this in mind, here are a few pressing questions I have:
How long is the leash on Chris Parmelee?
I don’t believe Terry Ryan is prone to making rash decisions, but I also don’t think Parmelee has looked great in the early going. Sure, he deserves a bit more time, but what does he get? Two weeks? A month? I’d guess no more than the latter, especially given his jump to the bigs from Double-A, no matter how torrid his September and spring were.
I still believe in Parmelee; more than most national types, for sure. But there are a lot of things at play in the spring, and even in September. Plenty of the arms faced during those times aren’t big-league caliber arms, and while I’m not saying that’s an excuse for how well Parmelee played -- he really stung the ball this spring and last fall, no matter who he faced -- I think there’s a reason why pitching staffs traditionally have their worst months in August and September (fatigue + Sept. callups).
But I digress, as I think Parmelee will get a decently long leash to prove he can at least hack it in the majors. One possible problem though is that only he and Ben Revere -- at least among the non-essential personnel -- have options left. If the Twins decide they need some reinforcements at some point, I think Parmelee draws the short stick in that regard. This also leads into my next question...
If the Twins dump Parmelee, who is the answer at first base?
I’m not suggesting the Twins will dump Parmelee outright -- or that they even ought to -- but if the Twins decide to send him down to try jump-start the offense, chances are they aren’t bringing back any sort of Triple-A first baseman to take his place. I’d wager that either J.R. Towles or Brian Dozier would be on the way. That leaves Joe Mauer -- whom the club desperately needs catching -- and Ryan Doumit -- not all that fond of playing first -- as the remaining options. Might the Twins consider the recently DFA’d Brandon Allen? Allen, who was cut loose by the A’s on Monday, is a 6’2", 235 lb masher who has been a monster in the minors and an also-ran in the majors. He’s yet to get 200 plate appearances in any given season in the bigs, and in parts of three seasons in Triple-A -- PCL or not -- he’s hit .286/.401/.555 with 59 homers in 1116 plate appearances. It’s a low-risk move for a club with a high waiver spot and some levity in the 40-man roster. I’d say there’s almost no chance it happens, but one can dream, right?
How long can the Twins allow Ryan Doumit to catch one of the least whiff-inducing staffs in the game?
Doumit is far and away the worst catcher in the game at framing pitches, and the research from Baseball Prospectus author-turned Houston Astros front office member Mike Fast bears it out. That’s just a disaster waiting to happen, considering the Twins employ one of the stingiest staffs when it comes to BOTH walks and whiffs. More balls in play means more chances the ball scoots past Danny Valencia, Jamey Carroll, and company.
So if the Twins were to demote Parmelee, promote Towles, and have Doumit play first, would that fix all the problems? Probably not, but I do wonder if that might be a preferred option.
Speaking of Towles, let’s check out the Twins down on the farm to see what some of the guys are doing, even in spite of small sample size caveats:
C J.R. Towles - .286/.375/.571 (two doubles)
SS Brian Dozier - .474/.545/.789 (one homer, three doubles)
IF Tsuyoshi Nishioka - .063/.250/.063
Rochester Pitching Staff - 2.80 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 1.18 WHIP
OF Aaron Hicks - .188/.222/.375 (one homer)
OF Evan Bigley - .333/.350/.722 (one homer, seven RBI)
C Chris Herrmann - .267/.353/.333 (one double, four RBI)
New Britain Pitching Staff - 2.25 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 4.3 K/BB, 1.09 WHIP
IF Miguel Sano - .231/.412/.923 (three homers, nine RBI)
IF Eddie Rosario - .385/.529/.692 (one homer, four SB)
Beloit Pitching Staff - 3.75 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, 1.39 WHIP
IF Daniel Santana - .556/.579/.833 (one homer, 10 hits in 19 PA)
SS Levi Michael - .308/.471/.308 (3:4 K/BB rate)
OF Oswaldo Arcia - .167/.444/.167 (6:5 K/BB rate)
Fort Myers Pitching Staff - 4.50 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 3.0 K/BB, 1.33 WHIP
Are you still confident in your preseason prediction?
Yes (the club would be bad) (110 votes)
Yes (they'll still be good) (69 votes)
No ( they'll be even more bad) (105 votes)
No (they'll be even more good) (4 votes)
288 total votes