Monday, November 14, 2011

Hot Stove Report: Carroll, Plouffe, Cuddyer

Twins sign Carroll for SS
The Twins first player move of the offseason came over the weekend as the team made a 2-year, $7 million investment in Jamey Carroll to be the starting shortstop for the Twins in 2012. He will be 38-years old before the start of next season and he has never really been handed an everyday starting job. That can be scary to consider for some Twins fans who might have been looking for a bigger splash in the middle infield. It is hard to find a free agent SS and the Twins needed to find a competent player to take over the role for next year.

Carroll can play multiple positions in the infield and he gets on base at a very good rate. He does not offer much home run power but in the catacombs of Target Field, the Twins will not be expecting him to develop into a power threat. For his 10-year career his batting line is .278/.356/.348 and 12 home runs. His defense in the middle infield will be better than anything the Twins mustered in 2011. It looks like the Twins new double play combination will be Carroll and Alexi Casilla which will be a welcome sight to the Twins starting staff.

Plouffe switching to outfield
In his introductory press conference, Ryan made sure to point out that defense was an issue for the Twins last season. The signing of Carroll seems to be one of the first steps to remedy the problematic defense but the Twins are going to have to find room on the roster at different positions for some players. Until this season, Trevor Plouffe had spent his entire career in the Twins system playing at shortstop. It looks like those days are over for Mr. Plouffe as Terry Ryan announced over the weekend that Plouffe will be getting the majority of his playing time in the outfield or at designated hitter.

This could also mean that the Twins have to prepare for the likelihood that Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel might not be back with the team next year. The team will need more depth in the outfield and Plouffe is out of minor league options. He has spent parts of the last four seasons at the AAA level and he will be 26 years old next season. The former first round pick is running out of chances to prove his worth to the Twins organization and this could be his final chance at redemption.

Phillies only modestly interested in Cuddyer
From all of the reports, it seemed that the Phillies were by far the frontrunner for the services of free agent Michael Cuddyer. He was in Philadelphia at the end of last week to tour the stadium and to rub elbows with the brass of the organization. One of Cuddyer's best baseball friends, Jim Thome, recently signed with the team so it could make sense for the two to join forces to push for a title. It seemed as if it was just a matter of time before he would sign on the dotted line. 

A report out of Boston over the weekend cited one major league source as saying the Phillies are not placing the highest priority on signing Cuddyer. The exact quote from that major league source was, "He's about a middle priority. They'd love to have him, but the Phillies aren't going to go crazy to make it happen, either." On the heels of the giant contract for Jonathan Papelbon, it seems natural that the Phillies might have to conserve some money in other areas. 

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