Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nicki Puntolbersilla

(I'll write about the Favre thing some other time. I'm sick of it, everyone's sick of it, and the silver lining is that it's one step closer to Brad Childress being fired. Let's move on to more aggravating issues.)

I know I've already written about this, but we're past the point where it can be overstated: DEAR GOD CAN WE PLEASE GET A MIDDLE INFIELDER?!?

It's been well documented how atrocious Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert and Alexi Casilla have been through 101 games this year, but... what if we combined their powers to build a SUPER Twins infielder, a conglomerate of suck. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Sultan of Scrappiness, General Get-After-It... Nicki Puntolbersilla!

491 spell-binding at-bats produced...

92 hits!

15 extra-base hits!

2 home runs!

41 RBI!

69 walks!

92 strikeouts!

A .187 batting average with a .281 on-base percentage!

(By the way, it is astounding to me that Casilla was the guy that broke up Buehrle's bid for a 2nd perfect game in a row last night. That's why baseball's awesome.)

Throw in an average OPS+ of 40 between all three, and you have by far the worst middle infielder this side of Tony Pena Jr. The Twins would be better off if they dragged Steve Lombardozzi out of retirement. Speaking of which...

Looking up those guys' stats made me realize something. The Twins haven't developed an even passable middle infielder that stuck around longer than one season since Chuck Knoblauch and Pat Meares were the everyday starters in 1997. And just to clear things up a bit, these guys were not products of the Twins farm system: Christian Guzman, Luis Castillo, Brent Gates, Brendan Harris, Juan Castro, Jay Canizaro, Augie Ojeda, and Adam Everett. All of those guys were clearly way too good (read: Major League average) to be from the Twins organization. Except Jay Canizaro. He could've fooled me.

(I know Punto also isn't a product of the Twins system, but he might as well be, since he fits exactly what they're apparently looking for.)

Todd Walker - It seems really weird that the Twins would use a 1st round draft pick on a 2nd baseman, but they did in 1994. Walker produced in his first chance to be the everyday starter in 1998, but petered out a bit the next season as every single statistical category dropped off somewhat. I remember there being grumblings at the time that Walker was hard to work with because he didn't fit the "Twins way". He was traded in 2000 to make room for... well, no one. He had a decent journeyman career and put up some okay numbers for the Cubs.

Denny Hocking - Taken in the 52nd round of the 1989 draft. I know every joke has been made about how many rounds the MLB draft has, but dear god, 52 rounds?!? Who else was drafted, the kid from "Rookie of the Year"? Anyway, he was a career utility player who hit .257/.316/.359 (batting average/on-base/slugging) when he had at least 200 plate appearances. I would kill for that now. But still, I doubt he would've started for any team except the total dregs of the league (which the Twins were at that time).

Alex Prieto - Yeah, not much to see here.

Cleatus Davidson - Who?

Luis Rivas - Between 2001 and 2005, Tom Powers wrote about 174 columns about "when it's going to click for Rivas." Suffice to say, it never really did. Again, he was better than what the Twins have now, but I don't see him starting for very many other teams even in his better years.

Luis Rodriguez - The Latino Denny Hocking.

Jason Bartlett - Traded to the Twins as a AA prospect so its a stretch to include him here, but I just wanted to be the 979,000 person to point out how utterly foolish it was of the Twins to give up on him so quickly. "Whoa whoa whoa, wait a sec, we can't have a shortstop hitting .265, that's CRAZY!"

Tommy Watkins - Here's a sampling of what middle infielders the Twins have in Rochester!

Matt Tolbert and Alexi Casilla - See beginning of column.

The usually reliable Aaron Gleeman makes a "Top 40 Twins prospects" list every offseason. Shockingly, his 2009 list features two second baseman: Reggie Williams and Steve Singleton. Okay, they're #33 and #36 on the list, but still. It's too early to tell with Williams, but Singleton has struggled to get out of Single A and appears to be on par with the above guys I've listed. That's a relief.

Evidently, it's not the "Twins way" to bother developing middle infielders. Nicki Puntolbersilla is proof of when this method goes terribly wrong.

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