Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mangled in the Outfield

The Twins outfield did not have a good night defensively in Toronto on Wednesday. With Kevin Slowey on the mound surrendering several drives to the outfield, the Twins' fielders were plagued by miscues and misplays. Delmon Young let one ball bounce right out of his glove and failed to reach others that seemed catchable. And then there was of course the inside-the-park home run that fell between Young and Denard Span, which essentially decided the outcome of the game.

When the Twins traded Carlos Gomez during the offseason and committed to a regular outfield alignment of Young, Span and Michael Cuddyer, many groaned about the potential defensive repercussions for a team that features several fly ball pitchers. Slowey possesses the most extreme fly ball tendencies of any pitcher in the major leagues (a full 51.4 percent of balls put in play against him have been hit in the air this year) and last night's game was one of those nightmarish occasions where balls were flying all over the outfield and the Twins' lack of range out there was fully exposed.

Young, Kubel and Cuddyer all rank toward the bottom of the team in UZR, and while Span has improved his mark this year he's still not much above average and continues to miss a number of balls that we're used to seeing Gomez catch. The flip side is that each of these outfielders has been at least competent offensively (and in some cases very good) so the Twins don't have to deal with Gomez creating another hole in the lineup.

Last night, unfortunately, the offense couldn't quite do enough to make up for the defensive lapses in the outfield. For the most part, though, I'll take the boost in the lineup and stomach an adventurous night in the field from time to time.

With that said, I'm hoping Scott Baker gets a little more help tonight.


Dan Cook said...

I hear what you're saying, but I really don't miss Gomez a bit.

Not only did he create a hole in the line-up, but for every spectacular defensive play he made, there was also a tumbling throw from center that sailed over Mauer's head, or 50-hopped it's way to the plate.

Milwaukee can have that headache, thanks.