There’s an old adage in baseball which states that good teams are “strong up the middle”—meaning catcher, shortstop, second base, and center field. Though this franchise has been rife with CF talent, it hasn’t had a long-term or compelling SS since Cristian Guzman was chopping balls off the Dome turf and the post-Mauer C era has been a bit rocky.
But after some Falvine (TM) moves this past offense, the Twins might actually be able to make the old-schoolers smile regarding the middle of the diamond:
With the exception of Willson Contreras taking over Yadier Molina’s shin pads in St. Louis, the Twins may have executed the biggest catcher free agent “get” by bringing in Christian Vazquez to help out the pitching staff. He will of course split time with the returning Ryan Jeffers, who is hoping to fully realize his offensive potential (being just 25 years old, there is still time for this to occur).
Oh—you mean the platinum-glove defender with the clutch bat who just improbably inked the biggest FA contract in team history? Yeah—Carlos Correa is likely the new face of this team, if not entire franchise, and will be for quite some time (he’s only 27!). Should his much-discussed ankle give him trouble and prompt “na na na na boo boo” tweets from the Giants and Mets, Kyle Farmer is a more-than-capable backup.
We all know that if Jorge Polanco stays healthy, he is a force to be reckoned with in the batter’s box. Moving him to 2B didn’t necessarily curb his ankle woes in 2022—but then again, everyone got hurt in 2022. This is where we cross our fingers and other relevant body parts and hope for some injury regression-to-the-mean. Again, Farmer can spell him along with Nick Gordon in the super-utility role.
I have little doubt that Byron Buxton will play 150+ games, have a 30-30 season, win AL MVP, and lead a Puckett-like playoff charge. He certainly has the talent to make it a reality. But just in case those feats aren’t accomplished, the Twins recently acquired Michael A. Taylor—”Byron Buxton at home”—to continue the elite defense and not be a travesty with the lumber in that extremely-unlikely Buxton injury scenario.
So, if you are seated directly behind Target Field’s home plate in 2023, you shouldn’t have to crane your neck any lateral degrees to see some spectacular baseball.