The opening day roster pretty much dropped today. It won’t last that long–I’d expect to see Hendriks and Burnett sent to Rochester when Baker and Marquis return–but this is the team we’ll see for the season’s first couple of weeks. If there’s one thing we can take from the spring, it’s that Chris Parmelee sure impressed the Minnesota brass.
Parmelee seemed like he had an outside shot of starting 2012 with the team coming into the spring, but I don’t think many expected him to break camp as the starting first baseman. He’d mashed in the bigs last September–but 88 strong PA’s does not a major leaguer make. With Morneau and Mauer looking fairly healthy, the addition of Ryan Doumit, and Revere, Willingham and Span seemingly entrenched in the outfield, there didn’t seem to be much room for the first baseman and part-time outfielder. And surely the Twins would rather have one of their better prospects playing every day than sitting on the bench, waiting for time. Or at least that is what I was expecting a month ago.
Then Parmelee had a mighty fine spring, hitting .290/.389/.597 with 5 home runs (including a monster earlier today) and generating some fairly ridiculous hype. A week or so ago, it seemed he’d pushed his way into the starting lineup–most likely at the expense of Revere who most thought was a lock to (at the very least) platoon with Trevor Plouffe in a corner spot. Now, it looks like Parmelee will be the everyday 1B, pushing Morneau to DH (where some think he’ll be at less risk of injury) and Ryan Doumit and Trevor Plouffe into even more of a super-utility role (expect Doumit to see time in right, at 1st, catching and DH. Plouffe will probably see some time at all those spots save catcher).
The best case scenario here is that sometime in the last 8 months or so, Parmelee turned a corner. He hit 12 of his 17 home runs last season in the second half and obviously killed the ball during his September cup of coffee. This guy was a first round draft pick for his power potential, and you have to hope that some of that is starting to materialize. The Twins certainly seem to think so, as both Gardy and Terry Ryan have publicly noted his ability to mash. If he has, indeed, unlocked some of the power promise we’ve heard a lot about, Parmelee could be a solid player. He’s always shown good plate discipline (a 13.6 percent career walk rate) and makes enough contact to hit a solid .270. Gaby Sanchez numbers (.266/.352/.427 .342 wOBA in 2011) aren’t out of the question. That’s not world-beating, especially at first base where 16 of 23 qualified hitters matched or exceeded that wOBA last season, but it’s serviceable. And for a league-minimum salary, I’d be plenty OK with that.
The less-optimistic view here is that Parmelee has just gotten hot at the right time, and he’s still the hitter he was in the minor leagues. The guy who owns a .436 slugging percentage and has averaged just over 12 homers per season over his six-year career. ZIPS (which working only from numbers probably couldn’t spot a potential breakout in the power department) pegs Parmelee for a .244/.311/.357 line this season, and while I think he’ll exceed that, those numbers aren’t even acceptable for a shortstop, let alone a first baseman.
I obviously don’t have the full picture here (I’m working primarily from numbers and third hand scouting reports) but I’m not convinced Parmelee can hit enough to be a major league first baseman. He seems to have convinced the Twins though, so for now we’ll have to trust Terry Ryan’s decision-making and hope for the best. If nothing else, it’ll be nice to see a fresh face and some youth in the increasingly decrepit Twins lineup. It’ll be fun to see what Parmelee can do with a full time job.
Song selections are back after a lengthy hiatus. Nothing is better than some calypso on a beautiful day such as this. And nobody does calypso better than the Mighty Sparrow. Here he is singing “Only a Fool.”