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Danny Valencia, starting third baseman since 2010, demoted to Triple-A by Twins

May 10, 2012, 11:51 AM EDT

New York Yankees v Minnesota Twins, Game 2 Getty Images

As soon as the Twins called up Brian Dozier to start at shortstop and shifted Jamey Carroll into a utility man role it was clear that Danny Valencia and Alexi Casilla were on some very thin ice.

Carroll has started each of the past three games at second base, but apparently that was due mostly to Casilla being limited by a shoulder injury and instead Valencia is the one on the chopping block after serving as Minnesota’s starting third baseman since mid-2010. Last night the Twins demoted him to Triple-A.

Valencia was never a top prospect and a modest minor-league track record made it obvious that his strong half-season debut was largely a fluke, but he’s declined even further than expected since then both offensively and defensively. He’s played 266 games in the majors and hit just .262 with a .699 OPS, which would be poor production from a shortstop or a catcher and is downright awful for a third baseman who’s mediocre defensively on a good day.

On the other hand he’s 27 years old with more than 1,000 plate appearances in the majors, so a demotion to Triple-A furthering his development seems like wishful thinking. Valencia is what he is at this point, and that’s simply not a quality regular because he can’t hit right-handed pitching. With that said, he’s a career .325 hitter with an .859 OPS against left-handers and that type of production certainly has a place on a major-league roster if used correctly.

Francisco Liriano is at a career crossroads five months from free agency and Valencia may beat him out the door if the Twins can find a taker willing to trade even a mid-level prospect for him. In the meantime Minnesota will turn to some combination of Carroll, Casilla, and Trevor Plouffe at third base, which isn’t likely to be much of an upgrade.

  1. The Baseball Idiot - May 10, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    He needs to learn to play 1B and LF. He’ll have a job.

    • dluxxx - May 10, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      Nah, he needs to learn how to hit. His best option is as a platoon hitter. Guy hits lefties and that’s about it…

      • The Baseball Idiot - May 10, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        He needs to learn more postions so he can be platooned more often. He’s not going to find a lot of work as a right-handed platoon third baseman only.

  2. racksie - May 10, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Gleeman: I can’t believe the Twins demoted their “Ace” to the bullpen. That is a shocking development. Unless you are aware he has never been an “Ace”, and does not have the mental fortitude to ever be an “Ace”. And half a season, of bad mechanics but great results, before “Tommy John” surgery is not an “Ace”. Guess they should have traded their “Ace” when they had the chance, huh?

    • raindog - May 10, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      You do realize that Liriano was the only Twins pitcher capable of becoming an “ace” right? And that “ace” is just a silly, meaningless term to begin with. And that it’s a little weird that you comment on this every time there is a story about Liriano?

      • racksie - May 10, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        Was, is the key word here. And that “was” before “Tommy John” surgery. And it may be weird, but it was also “weird” when Gleeman posted, with a headline that said the Twins were trying to trade their “Ace” Liriano, when he was clearly not an “Ace”. And has shown nothing to prove he was/is an “Ace”.I like Gleeman, and his writing, and his posts, but something so silly should be something he get’s reminded of. I’m here for that. He can ban me if he wants. But he knows I’m right.

    • Tim OShenko - May 10, 2012 at 2:17 PM

      racksie, I think you’ve sufficiently reminded Gleeman in the past that calling Liriano an ace was, to put it mildly, a poor assessment. Even if he doesn’t respond personally to your incessant heckling, I am quite sure that he’s aware, as is everyone else, that Liriano no longer qualifies as an ace or even a potential ace. It’s okay. You can let it go.

      • racksie - May 10, 2012 at 2:33 PM

        A little contrition goes a long way. I know a “non-credentialed” “blogger” may not want to recognize the people who “comment” on his “blogs”, but it was a silly statement, and he has refused to acknowledge how silly that statement was. And we all know it was very silly. So Gleeman contrition=no more “Liriano Ace” mockery. Fair enough, Gleeman?

      • The Baseball Idiot - May 10, 2012 at 2:44 PM

        Tim, don’t feed the wild animals. It just makes them come back for more.

      • Tim OShenko - May 10, 2012 at 4:24 PM

        Duly noted. At any rate, I said my piece, and now am moving on.

  3. ryanincowtown - May 10, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    what a great roster for some of the richest owners in baseball …

  4. spudatx - May 10, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    What’s Al Newman up to? He might be a better option yet than Plouffe.

    • kopy - May 10, 2012 at 12:51 PM

      Plouffe is intriguing enough to want to see more at-bats for him. He has very nice BB/K ratio and has good discipline so far concerning not swinging at pitches out of the zone.

      That said, only in the cheap seats and standing-room areas of Target Field do I feel safe from his wild throws.

  5. trevorb06 - May 10, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    I’ve got to say, as excited as I was to see Ryan back making the calls, I’m not to terribly thrilled with what he’s doing so far.

    For all of Valencia’s short-comings he is sadly the best option we have at 3rd. The Twins really should trade for a cheap 3rd base option that we can platoon with Valencia.

    Really though, the Twins aren’t inspiring a lot of hope right now. That once promising farm system is looking pretty barren as well. 😦

  6. randygnyc - May 10, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    There is no future at 1B on the twins unless your last name is Mauer.

    Anyway, Valencia played well and is a fan friendly guy. He went out of his way to autograph a ball for my 10 year old girl last year.

  7. schrutebeetfarms - May 10, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    It would be helpful if the Twins would not keep trying to have Velencia hti the ball to right field. He’s a natural pull-hitter. This has JJ Hardy written all over it.

    • Bryz - May 10, 2012 at 2:29 PM

      This is a joke, right? From watching games, it’s clear that Valencia’s problem is he’s trying to pull those down-and-away sliders and curves. If he could lay off them (or punch them to right field) he’d be hitting much better. Instead, since he’s struggling with that, pitchers are attacking the outside corner, and refusing to throw anything inside.

      In fact, he has indeed hit the ball well to right and right-center on occasion, it’s just that those hits have fallen into the outfielders’ gloves.

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