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Michael Cuddyer is now the Twins’ starting second baseman

Apr 25, 2011, 3:13 PM EDT

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In the wake of Tsuyoshi Nishioka‘s fractured fibula the Twins have occasionally moved Michael Cuddyer from right field to second base, where he hadn’t played regularly since 2005.

Cuddyer hasn’t exactly thrived there, looking passable at best defensively while hitting just .160 in six games, but yesterday manager Ron Gardenhire announced that Cuddyer will be his primary second baseman until Nishioka returns next month.

It’s an odd move for a Twins team that’s constantly talking about (and being credited with) “doing the little things” and playing strong defense, because not only is Cuddyer a mediocre right fielder playing second base after five years away from the position he isn’t even providing a big offensive boost in the process.

Once upon a time Cuddyer was a good enough hitter to make trading offense for defense a worthwhile proposition, but he’s hit just .268 with a .333 on-base percentage and .411 slugging percentage in 177 games since the beginning of last season. That’s barely above average for a second baseman and Cuddyer has been particularly punchless versus right-handed pitching, slugging .379 off them during that time.

Gardenhire has talked about how playing Cuddyer at second base allows the Twins to also get both Jason Kubel and Jim Thome into the lineup at right field and designated hitter, but when Cuddyer isn’t a threat versus righties and neither Kubel nor Thome are threats versus lefties the benefit is mostly in name and reputation rather than actual production.

  1. spudchukar - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Miss Nick Punto?

    • cusoman - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:59 PM

      Nope.

    • kirkmack - Apr 25, 2011 at 4:15 PM

      I’m pretty sure he’s married, so it is Mrs. Nick Punto to you.

    • shanemcdowell - Apr 25, 2011 at 4:59 PM

      A little. But then I think about how LNP would somehow turn this 4-week fill-in stint into a full-time gig, pushing Valencia back to AAA, or something equally soul-crushing.

  2. sknut - Apr 25, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    I like the fact Cuddy plays anywhere but it has to be productive as well. But really the Twins haven’t developed any middle infeilders so why not run him out there for another month.

  3. minnesconsin - Apr 25, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    One of the problems with this team right now is that nobody’s playing particularly well. When your other options at 2b are Hughes, Tolbert, and the like, it starts to look like a good idea to let Cuddy flail around there for a bit.

    I’m not a Cuddyer fan, to be honest, and I was kind of surprised at your digs at his defensive skills. I always thought he had an above average arm if nothing else, but that -27 career UZR is scary. Nothing like Delmon’s -43 (or for that matter Kubel’s -38), but still scary.

  4. visnovsky - Apr 25, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Come on Gleeman. These guys are significant offensive upgrades to Tolbert and and Hughes. And I doubt the defensive drop is enough to make up for their sub .500 OPS.

  5. smarterthangirardi - Apr 25, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    whats that i hear? pretty sure thats nick puntos ringtone for gardy

  6. mplsjoe - Apr 25, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    Making the best of a bad situation. I have no problem with playing Cuddy at 2B given the alternatives. Especially since Lexi Casilla is about 10 minutes away from being DFAed, letting Trevor Plouffe play SS. Can’t have a middle infield of Plouffe and Hughes/Tolbert.

  7. tjwilliams - Apr 25, 2011 at 10:59 PM

    Can you please rename this article “Jim Thome is now the Twins’ starting Designated Hitter”? I would feel much better that way.

  8. mahrens65 - May 6, 2011 at 1:25 AM

    I’m a huge Cuddyer fan. What guy on the team plays through all the injuries that he had last season.. stepping in for Morneau. No on heard a word about his knee, until he had the surgery post season, and how many games did he play last season? Yep, Cuddy needs to get on the bat but he is a hell of a guy on the field. No one wants the Twins to Win more than Cuddyer does.

  9. mahrens65 - May 6, 2011 at 1:28 AM

    By the way, I was at Spring Training and Casilla sucked then. I’m sure he is a great guy, but go to AAA for awhile. Don’t knock Cuddy. I signed up to this website because of this stupid article, Aaron. Marginal at best…. my ass. Have you watched the man play?

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