In the last couple of days, the Twins made what some might have thought an odd waiver claim. Clete Thomas was placed on waivers by the Detroit Tigers and the Twins claimed him. In doing so, the Twins had to make a corresponding set of roster moves.
To create a spot for Thomas on the 40-man roster, Scott Baker was put on the 60-day DL. That is no surprise as Baker will be out for the season following his elbow surgery. What came as a mild surprise to fans who had hopes for a starting spot this year for Ben Revere was his being sent down to AAA Rochester.
The moves make sense in the bigger context. Rochester has had some injuries to outfielders and Revere needs more regular playing time if he is to continue to develop. He is still quite young and has some upside, so the opportunity to play every day is important.
Thomas is a capable, versatile outfielder who is used to a bench role and is not seen as losing much by not getting playing time regularly. In fact, his role will likely be limited to defensive replacement most of the time. With the pressure off Gardenhire to play Revere enough, the right field situation becomes less of a log jam and Trevor Plouffe is almost certainly going to get more time on the field than he has to this point.
I am hoping this will also improve the outfield defense at least a bit. So far, Ryan Doumit has been adequate at best in right field and Josh Willingham has been less than that in left field.
Probably the most disappointing thing for me so far this season has been Willingham on defense. He has been exciting to watch as a hitter, but quite an adventure – similar to the foibles of Delmon Young – in the field. My disappointment stems less from his weakness as a defender and more because he seems to be so lackadaisical in his effort so often. To give credit where it is due, he has made a few nice running catches, some in foul territory, so he appears more capable than he has played at times. In spring training, I noticed he did not run out ground balls and otherwise seemed to lack hustle. In the field, he has looked very much like he doesn’t care much if he gets to a ball in time or even throws to the right base with much authority. Again, credit where it is due, he did once make a nice foul territory catch and a subsequent great throw to home to get a runner trying to score, but one good play has been overshadowed by some very weak play.
This bears watching, because right now, the Twins seem to have too many DH types and not enough defensive players. As it looks currently, I would not be surprised to see a shift in alignment to Morneau at first base, Parmelee in right field, Plouffe and Doumit platooning in left field with Willingham as the full time DH. It may just be marginal improvement, but I think in the long run Willingham is a tremendous liability in the cavernous left field of Target Field.morn