Not too surprisingly, the early reports are accurate. After passing his physical yesterday, the Twins today made the official announcement of signing Jamey Carroll. Terry Ryan says he will be given the opportunity to compete for the shortstop job. He also says Nishioka will get a “clean slate” and have a chance to win the shortstop position as well.
Most bloggers are assuming it is Carroll’s position to lose. That is not a bad assumption given the salary he was signed for – 2 years/$6.75 million. That would be too much to pay someone you expect to be in a utility role only.
Right now the presumption is the Twins infield will be Morneau, Casilla, Carroll, Valencia with Luke Hughes and Nishioka the prime candidates for backup roles. Ryan has more than once indicated that Plouffe will have a better chance to play in the outfield or DH.
Based on past performance, especially last year with the Dodgers, Carroll will be an upgrade both in the field and at bat. He will almost certainly be batting second in the lineup given his outstanding on-base percentage in his career. Some have said his on-base success last year was due to his batting 8th in the lineup where pitchers pitched around him or walked him to get to the pitcher. One report indicated that he batted first and second as well and his on-base percentage was even better when he hit in those two slots.
My sense is it is unlikely that he will suddenly be a bust, even at his age. I look forward to seeing him in spring training and to open the year.