One opportunity that a team gains in a lost season is being able to take an extended look at young players without fear of meaningful damage from rookie hiccups. Yet, despite the total lack of shortstop depth within their system, the Twins seem to have no interest in giving Trevor Plouffe a legitimate shot.
Plouffe had a streak of six straight games started at shortstop in mid-May end with a remarkably poor performance against the Mariners. In the contest, a 10-inning loss at Target Field, the young infielder went 0-for-5 and made several ugly plays in the field, heavily contributing to his team's demise.
Ron Gardenhire berated Plouffe after the game and then buried him on the bench. The shortstop started only two of the next nine games (looking rattled when on the field) and last night he was optioned to Triple-A so the Twins could call up Brian Dinkelman, whose upside is about as exciting as his name.
To be clear, I'm no huge Plouffe fan. That's a big part of the reason I was baffled by the Twins leaving him as their only legitimate backup behind Alexi Casilla entering the season. He's nothing special as a hitter and obviously he's got some accuracy issues with his arm.
But he's also a former first-round pick, and a guy who was really tearing it up in Triple-A before being called up. While he batted only .210 in his 71 plate appearances with the Twins, he did hit three homers, and his .383 slugging percentage was the best of any player on the active roster. Yes, he looked shaky at times, but he's a 24-year-old playing in the bigs and desperate to impress a coaching staff he let down in spring training. Danny Valencia was struggling to adjust to Triple-A when he was the same age.
Plouffe might not be a major-league shortstop, but he probably resembles one more closely than anybody else the Twins can trot out there at this point. He's already played close to three seasons in Rochester. It's time to see what he's got.
I simply don't see the harm in saying, "Trevor is our starting shortstop and we're going to let him battle through the yips," as opposed to banishing him and giving playing time to guys like Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert, who have had far more opportunity to prove they are not MLB shortstops.