Friday, July 15, 2011

Young, Plouffe Return for Twins

When the Twins decided to demote Trevor Plouffe earlier this season I, along with quite a few others in the blogosphere thought the move was a poor one. Plouffe was hardly an elite prospect entering the 2011 season, but his status as a former first round pick gave some credence to his scorching hot start for the Twins AAA affiliate.

Sadly the Twins decided to send Plouffe back to AAA despite him showing some glipses of his phenomenal power by hitting three home runs and five total extra base hits in his first 72 Major League plate appearances. The decision was made after Manager Ron Gardenhire repeatedly blasted the young infielder to the media following series of errors.

The irony of the situation of course is that Gardenhire did nothing but heap praise on import Tsuyoshi Nishioka while making excuse after excuse for his own gaffes. It's a perplexing and disturbing double standard that Gardenhire has long employed on middle infielders who haven't fit his desired mold.

To Plouffe's credit however he took his demotion well, and while the Twins asked him to learn to play other positions, he just kept hitting homerun after homerun. In his first game back last night, playing as the DH, Plouffe launched his 19th home run of the year, and his 4th at the MLB level in his third trip to plate. That towering shot off the foul pole that put the Twins up 4-3, and they would go on to lead for the rest of the game.

Where he'll ultimately settle into the lineup - or even IF he'll ultimately settle anywhere - remains to be seen. What can't be disputed is that the Twins need his bat. Not only for the impressive power he provides, but to add balance to a lefty heavy order.

Of course, Plouffe's call up was just half the story. The Twins also added Delmon Young to the lineup. Young had been out since June 25th following an embarrassing attempt on a fly ball that ultimately led to an inside the park home run and a trip to the DL with a sprained ankle that he suffered when colliding awkwardly with the base of the wall.

While Young is off to another of his typically slow starts, his bats showed signs of life during his rehab stint as he hit two home runs and three doubles in just 31 AAA at-bats. Then in his first game back he went 3-4 with a pair of doubles and a single, all on crisply hit line drives.

The Twins need Young, like everyone else on the team to hit well over the second half if they're to continue to claw their way back into a race for a playoff spot and while his defense is consistently atrocious and I'll continue to lobby for his banishment from the outfield, his bat can carry a team when he's hot.

In order to make room for Young and Plouffe, the Twins have optioned both of their Rene's: Tosoni and Rivera to the AAA. Neither player was particularly impressive, but each had their moments as they helped play a role in turning around a Twins team that was decimated by injuries earlier in the year. They should certainly feel good about their contributions, even if their numbers were decidedly uninspired.

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