|Dec. 7, 1968: Arno Goethel (St. Paul Dispatch &|
Pioneer Press) for The Sporting News
LEO CARDENAS: his defensive line in '69...
Cardenas (left) congratulates Rich Reese (scoring), with
Frank Quilici and Rick Renick." Mr. Automatic" turned in the all-time
best Twins shortstop year in the field in 1969, all things considered.
The 2011 season for the Twins was similarly vexing, and not only for the multiple players they shifted in and out of the starters role at short. This modern edition was also painted into a corner by injuries, poor performance, and the twin terrors of quiet dissension and malingering. Tsuyoshi Nishioka achieved a level of notoriety not seen in Minnesota with his unorthodoxy, not covering second base for putouts, and just the way he'd field hard-hit grounders ("He looks like he's getting paved," quipped Minneapolis Star Trib columnist Jim Souhan). Then there's Trevor Plouffe - one could never be sure if his throws to first would arrive in the first sackers numbers, in the family jewel box, or in a fan's beer in Row A. Here were the Twins' choices at short - contributors to arguably the worst record in club history:
|No, Trevor. We didn't like |
watching this mess either.
|2007 Topps Heritage card|
While definitely not blowing you away with numbers and hype, Carroll looks to be a guy who can make all the routine plays, if not being a great range guy (3.18 as compared to the National League average of 4.40 for 2011). It is legit to view him with some reserve. It took him until age 29 to become a full-time player, and he never played as many as 120 games in any one season until 2010. I'm viewing him as a super utility man in the Nick Punto mold. He doesn't have Punto's track record as a fielder, but he hits for a better average. Yes, I am aware of that RBI thing (17 in 146 games in '11). He has never played as many as 70 games at short in any of his 10 seasons, but does possess a .987 fielding percentage at the position, lifetime. My gut reaction is that he may yet wind up as the Twins everyday second baseman, and that Alexi Casilla will finally remain healthy and nail down short for a whole season. Then, too, there's some likeable minor league kid named Brian Dozier, winner of the 2011 Twins Minor League Player of the Year award. He very likely will get an opportunity to show his stuff in the 2012 Spring Training camp.
As it's doubtful they Twins will be able to crow as they did in acquiring Cardenas 43 years ago, they will hopefully recoup some satisfaction in knowing order has been restored at short. By SOMEBODY out there!