Do the “Middle Infield Shuffle”

Tonight’s Twins lineup will have Alexi Casilla moved over to second base, with Matt Tolbert starting at shortstop. It’s widely speculated that this is a very temporary move, and that Trevor Plouffe could be on his way to join the team in the very near future.

Plouffe is absolutely destroying Triple-A pitching, hitting .282/.344/.590 in just under 100 plate appearances for the Rochester Red Wings. Exactly half of his 22 hits have gone for extra bases, so even though Plouffe has yet to OPS better than .740 at any stop, the Twins are surely banking that he’ll be able to top the meager .190/.257/.286 line that Casilla has managed to date. It’s hard to argue that point, or that he could be much worse than Casilla in the field, as Alexi has been plagued by even more inconsistency in the field than ever before.

For what it’s worth, to me it just appears that Casilla lacks good baseball instincts, which no doubt limits the amount he can help a club on a day-to-day basis. For instance, the play in Kansas City where he want back on a flare, only to make the catch and attempt a Derek Jeter-esque jump throw to the plate. What was that about? Casilla has a strong enough arm to nail the runner at the plate, especially from less than 200 feet out. Another instance was when he tried to pick up where the ball was hit as he was rounding third base, resulting in being thrown out by a mile. There’s simply no time that, as a baserunner, one should ever do that. That’s what a third base coach is for.

But I digress…

Another option that could become available for the Twins is Felipe Lopez. Lopez, who was designated for assignment by the Rays today, is a polarizing character among Twins fans on Twitter, but his career line of .265/.335/.394 isn’t half bad, and he can at the very least stand at shortstop and not embarrass himself too badly.

The highlights of Lopez’s career include a 2005 season in which he triple-slashed .291/.352/.486 for the Reds, and a 2009 season where he hit .310/.383/.427 between Arizona and Milwaukee. If he can come within shouting distance of those marks, he’s a huge upgrade for a Twins club that was poorly constructed from the start. He hasn’t come close to those marks this season, as his .222/.263/.347 line will attest to, but his BABIP is down and likely to rebound a bit, and he’s still hitting line drives and ground balls at a very good rate. He’s due to rebound a bit, and now might be a good time to buy low.

Now it’s pretty obvious that Lopez isn’t what one might call a “Twins player.” What I mean by that is that he’s been benched for not hustling, and likes to wear earrings and jewelry on the field (Think about it, when did we last see a Twin wearing earrings? Ever?). At some point, though, the club has to realize that being a friendly good guy isn’t a prerequisite for winning, and that winning will make the clubhouse a fun place whether it’s 25 Albert Belles or 25 Michael Cuddyers.

With that said, I’m on board with acquiring Lopez AND promoting Plouffe. When Nishioka returns, let the best man stand at shortstop, and platoon the others around the infield (did I mention Lopez can play third, and maybe light a fire under Danny Valencia?) in an effort to find the best lineup night in and night out for the club.

About Brandon Warne

Sportswriter trying to make it.
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