Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kirby Puckett's Throne

Before seeing this tweet via, I figured that the Twins had made their decision on their future in center field - Denard Span was gone, Ben Revere installed. Revere took the role of heir apparent in 2012, filling in at center when necessary but otherwise biding his time in right field and occupying the second slot in the lineup. He played well too; by all accounts, including that of this handsome blogger, he played an excellent defensive outfield and hit then ran well enough to cover his deficiencies in plate discipline and power. And as of 2 hours ago, it looked like the Twins had made room for him by shipping off Span for sorely needed pitching; inducing a passing of the torch in center field.

But then of course Morosi had to come in and pour a bucket of water all over the figurative torch. The Twins may not see Revere as the heir to Kirby Puckett's throne. Before he even gets a chance to seize the position, Revere could be on the way out. Here's the thing: I'm confident this is the right decision.

(click the jump!)

The market for center fielders right now is bone dry. BJ Upton signed a deal for $75 million, Andres Torres inked his for $40 million and Shane Victorino, who won't even play center, will be paid $39 million. Needless to say, the demand is more present than ever for capable outfielders. As a result, teams that missed out on the first run - the Rays, Phillies and Mariners to name a few - will be doing anything they can to get their hands on a qualified batsman. I'd also like to mention, all the noted teams are rich with upper-level pitching prospects.

How crazy would the Twins have to be, though, to trade a proven 24 year-old who won't even enter arbitration until next offseason? As it turns out, not the crazy. Top prospect Aaron Hicks should start the season in Rochester and be a phone call away once deemed ready. Hicks was rated the system's #3 prospect by Baseball Prospectus. BP noted his "arm is very strong; plays as true weapon in center field; above-average speed; above-average defensive profile at position", meaning that defensively, Hicks is ready to take the reigns. As it is, the questions lie in his bat. Hicks will never be the .300 hitter Revere has been, however, through his superior plate discipline, he has a good shot of matching his league average on base average and supplementing that with real power. In the meantime, witholding the possibility of returning a center fielder in a trade, the Twins have Darin Mastroianni to stopgap the position. Darin plays an unspectacular game, but he's arguably as good as Revere right now.

Any trade involving Ben Revere, will have an eye to the future. A future with Hicks roaming center field. A future that may be coming sooner than anyone could have thought. But, this is good for the Twins; if any team should be wishing out of the present, it's Minnesota. The possibility of Aaron Hicks taking Puckett's throne looks more likely now than ever before. That is, until Byron Buxton is ready for his shot.

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