Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Position Analysis: Second Base

Luis Rivas should have been out of the Twins organization three years ago when it became clear he couldn't perform as well as many had thought. Rivas is not as careless as Cristian Guzman, but he is not a natural second baseman and his hitting has always been sub-par. When will he ever learn how to relax and slap the ball, like say Luis Castillo? He is not a power hitter, and when he realizes this and stops swinging at terrible pitches, perhaps he will stop being a rally-killer. This is why second base could be problematic this year from the Twins.

However, as my associate Nick Nelson has pointed out, Rivas could be moved to shortstop, his natural position. Rivas has a strong arm and that can cause him to make mistakes at second he may not make at shortstop. Also, if he is at shortstop, then we may not have to live a season with the mediocre play of someone like Juan Castro. That would allow the Twins to play Michael Cuddyer in his more natural position at second. Since Cuddyer hasnt played many games, its hard to judge his defense. Last year, he looked a little sloppy, but I'd say give it time. If he moves from third, we can have Eric Munson or Terry Tiffee play third. Munson gives the Twins some pop at the end of their lineup, unlike Castro, who would be a rally-killer. If not Munson or Tiffee, there is Joe Mauer, who doesn't appear to have a long future catching at this time.

The hope is that if everyone plays their natural positions, they relax and thus, their offensive numbers improve. If we can have successful season from Cuddyer, Munson, and Rivas in the bottom of the order, that should make the Twins a fairly potent offensive team.

However, such a move is unlikely and I assume that Gardenhire will keep Rivas at second base. In that case, don't expect much. Rivas' defense is brilliant at times, but is usually mediocre. At the plate, he always tries too hard, swinging at pitches in the dirt like he's Vladimir Guerrero. That style of play needs to stop if Twins hope to get anything out of Rivas this year. Rivas needs to help the team now and start playing like the player he was supposed to be three years ago.