Two weeks ago, I had a post where I guessed the probabilities of four non-roster invitees successfully making the Twins’ Opening Day roster. At the very bottom was “savior” Brian Dozier, stating that his probability was an F. No chance. Nada.
Well, it looks like one of the Twins brass doesn’t agree. General Manager Terry Ryan stated that the recent demotion of Tsuyoshi Nishioka “has nothing to do with Dozier,” but that could easily be interpreted to mean “Nishioka’s only shot of starting the season with us was as a utility infielder, and Dozier’s not going to fill that role for us.”
There seems to be some rumblings that Dozier is not guaranteed of being sent to the minor leagues, as I first thought. For one, he’s now survived two sets of cuts from spring training, despite the fact that he’s never seen any action in Triple-A.* Two, even with the offseason signing of Jamey Carroll to play shortstop, there’s still a way to fit Dozier into the picture.
* Though the same can be said of Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee, and neither of them are likely to be on the major league roster at the beginning of the season, either.
Carroll and projected starting second baseman Alexi Casilla both have the ability to play the middle infield positions. The same is true for Dozier, though there are some questions on his range at shortstop. Additionally, the removal of Nishioka means the Twins do not have a really good backup infield option for the bench. It could be Luke Hughes, but the Twins won’t put him at shortstop unless it’s an emergency. It might be Trevor Plouffe, but the Twins appear to want him to become a full-time outfielder.
Out of Carroll, Casilla, and Dozier, it’s clear that Dozier will not be the utility infielder. While I won’t place him on a pedestal like Tom Powers, I do think he has a chance of being a Danny Valencia-esque player at shortstop (read: someone that won’t be a star, but can hold down the fort, possibly all the way through his arbitration years). However, Carroll and Casilla are good fits for this role. Certainly Carroll isn’t preferable because of his contract, but that’s been his role for his whole career. Meanwhile, Casilla is the cheaper option, and I don’t think anyone could really argue that moving him to backing up the infield will hurt the team.
This means that we have several possibilities that could play out if Dozier indeed breaks camp with the major league club. He could be the starting shortstop, with either Casilla or Carroll manning second while the other is on the bench, or Dozier is at second base with the same arrangement for Carroll at shortstop and Casilla on the bench or vice-versa. If this was to happen, I’d hope for Dozier to be at shortstop (provided his defense has been proven to be adequate) with Carroll at second base.
But will this happen? I still think no. Just like with Parmelee and Benson, I feel that Dozier is destined for Triple-A. The Twins may be talking him up right now, but his lack of experience above Double-A is currently a red flag. Sure, there have been people promoted directly to the big leagues from Double-A that stuck, but those are typically top prospects, not fringe guys like Dozier. While there may be hints from the front office that he has a chance of joining the Twins in Baltimore to kick off the season, I still feel it won’t happen. That F that I gave him two weeks ago is going to stick.