I have been a Ron Gardenhire fan for a long time but I have to admit even I am more than a bit confused and irritated with his recent infatuation for having his players play multiple positions. I understand that a team needs to have utility players that can play multiple positions but there is no need to have each player on the 25 man roster be able to play multiple positions. I think you are doing a disservice to the player and the team when you have your players playing out of position. A professional player is best at one particular position no matter how many positions he might be able to play. A player becomes more skillful at his position by playing his position day after day and helps the team because everyone knows how that player will react day in and day out. An everyday player does not become more valuable by playing more positions, he becomes more valuable by becoming a better player in his assigned position. Players are not paid more because they can play more positions, they get paid more when they excel in a particular position.
I believe that Gardy is making a huge blunder by playing Danny Santana out in center field. Santana has been groomed to be a shortstop since the team signed him back in 2007 and now you bring him up to the big leagues for the first time and what do you do but send him out to play center field about 30% of the games he has played in Minnesota. What the hell? Gardy was unhappy with Pedro Florimon because he couldn’t hit and so Santana gets called up because he might be your shortstop of the future. So what does Gardy do? He turns his utility man Eduardo Escobar into the teams starting shortstop and sits Santana on the bench. Santana is still learning to play shortstop and you are playing him in center field one-third of the time? I know you have a hole in center but why send Santana out to the outfield to learn to play center field in the major leagues? Just because Santana has speed does not mean he is a center fielder, he might be, but why have him learn how to play center in the big leagues, that is what the minor leagues are for. Then in a week or two you will complain that Santana is not hitting and you send him down to the minors where he will play shortstop once again. You bring up a guy to the big leagues for the first time in his career and you play him out of position? That is just plain stupid. You hurt Santana’s development at shortstop and you hurt the Twins team while Santana learns to play center. Why in the world do you want Santana to learn to play center anyway? Byron Buxton is your center fielder of the future and is probably just a year or so away and you waste your time and Danny Santana‘s future by playing him out of position? What are you thinking? Look at the big picture Gardy, this is just plain silly.
There is nothing wrong with playing someone out of position in an emergency but to do it on purpose time and time again is just plain wrong. Santana is not the only example, look at Chris Herrmann. The 26-year-old Herrmann is supposedly a catcher and he has been in the big leagues for a total of 81 games and he has played the corner outfield more than he has been behind the plate. Today I read that he going to the minors and you want him to learn how to play center field there, why? Yikes! Dan Gladden would do better in center field now than Herrmann will ever do and Gladden is 56 years old and hasn’t played in the big leagues since 1993. Eduardo Nunez is still another example, why send this infielder out to patrol left field? Nunez played for the Yankees for 281 in four years and the Yankees had him in the outfield 8 times. Nunez has appeared in 11 Twins games, he has played in the Twins infield exactly once, at 3B. Nunez is an infielder, not an outfielder, DH or a PH.
This is not the National League Gardy with double switches and all that goes with that, manage like you want to win some games here in Minnesota. If you want to help develop players then give up your current job and take a job in the minors where you can help them develop all you want. One day you say you want to come to the ballpark everyday and throw out the same line-up day in and day out and the next day you play players in positions they are not familiar with. The majority of the blame for the Twins playing players out of position falls on Gardy’s shoulders because Terry Ryan and Rob Antony let Gardy manage as he wishes for the most part and that is the way it should be. But, I think that Gardy has crossed the line here and Ryan and Antony need to step up and put a stop to this foolishness ASAP.
Bottom line it is the managers responsibility to play his players where they have the best chance to succeed both in the field and in the batting order and to help the home team to win games, I don’t think that Gardy is doing that with this team in 2014.