Monday, June 30, 2008

Span Respawns

It's been an interesting season for Denard Span. The 2002 first-round pick competed for a spot on the roster out of Spring Training this year, but lost the center field job to Carlos Gomez. Span was sent to the minors, but didn't stay there for long, as Michael Cuddyer's trip to the disabled list in early April made room for another outfielder. Span finally got his chance to play in the big leagues, but he didn't make much of an impression, hitting .258/.324/.258 in 31 at-bats.

Rather than sulk, Span went down to Class-AAA Rochester and went on a tear. He hit .342/.432/.539 in May, and was hitting .365/.441/.500 in June. As unimpressive as he has been in his minor-league career prior to this year, it seems clear that Span has turned a corner and wants to be a major-league player. He'll get the chance now, with Cuddyer heading back to the disabled list due to another finger injury.

My guess is that Span will be more productive in this stint with the Twins. He was hitting the ball all over the place in Rochester, and he's had a taste of the big leagues already so he shouldn't be overwhelmed. Granted, I think Span has a very limited skill set so his upside is not terribly high, but if he can come up and give the team some good at-bats with a solid batting average, I think we will all be satisfied.

For some thoughts on Kevin Slowey's outing yesterday, feel free to head over to the Daily Dose column at Rotoworld, where I'm once again filling in for Mr. Gleeman today.

11 comments:

Andrew Kneeland said...

I hope Span tears up the major league pitching, too. Maybe when Cuddyer comes back Minnesota opts to leave Span in Minneapolis and do something with Monroe...like cut him.

TT said...

I think Span has a very limited skill set

Lets see. He hits for average, gets on base, has good speed and is better than average defensively even if you put him in center field. Where exactly are the limits? He doesn't hit home runs?

Span still needs to prove himself at the major league level. But his "skill set" appears to make him a solid everyday center fielder.

Nick N. said...

Lets see. He hits for average, gets on base, has good speed and is better than average defensively even if you put him in center field. Where exactly are the limits? He doesn't hit home runs?

I don't think he'll ever hit for any power, and I don't think he's a real strong defender. So you've got the on-base skills and the speed, and he'll need to maximize both in order to be a valuable big-league player. I've been a real doubter of Span throughout his career thus far, so maybe it's just taking me longer than most to come around on him this year. You could be right that I'm underrating his upside.

TT said...

I don't think he's a real strong defender

I think you are wrong about that and every report I have seen on Span agrees with me. But if you don't think Span is a plus defender in center field then his lack of power is an issue. He will probably never have enough power to be an above average corner outfielder.

Nick N. said...

Span has enough speed to cover some ground, but his routes aren't good and he has a weak arm. From what I've seen of him in right field and what I've read about his abilities in center field, I'd judge him as about an average defender in CF. His upside offensively seems like .280/.340/.350 or thereabouts, which as you mention is quite pitiful from a corner OF spot.

TT said...

is upside offensively seems like .280/.340/.350

Except that Span is doing much better than that at AAA. If that's his upside, I pity guys like Buscher and Tolbert who didn't do nearly as well at an older age.

his routes aren't good and he has a weak arm.

Compared to Torii Hunter maybe, but he is also 24 years old.

Frankly, the blogsphere decided Span was a failure and is going to find some reason why it was right unless he turns into Torii Hunter. It took a while for the folks that labeled Torii a "slap hitter" to come around on him too.

twayn said...

Considering that Cuddyer has an anemic 0.2 VORP on the season, I think Span will be an adequate replacement for a couple of weeks. But let's not get crazy. Monroe is third on the team in home runs in limited plate appearances. Right now he's a much better option than Span off the bench in close and late situations.

Anonymous said...

Love that title. Must have been a looonnng round of counter-strike.

Nick N. said...

Except that Span is doing much better than that at AAA. If that's his upside, I pity guys like Buscher and Tolbert who didn't do nearly as well at an older age.

Well technically his upside is higher than that, but everything he was doing in the minors was kept afloat by a very high batting average. Can he carry that up to the majors? Maybe, but I kind of doubt it. I just don't see anything that really differentiates Span from Jason Tyner.

If this all sounds like a huge tirade against Span, it's not meant to be. I think he's a fine stopgap in the outfield and I'll enjoy having him around because it's nice to have another guy in the lineup who can take a decent at-bat. I just don't think his upside is a starting outfielder in the major leagues.

Must have been a looonnng round of counter-strike.

BOOM, headshot!

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