Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Crash Course on Jeff Bailey

First off, please note the re-design of the website -- I got a little sick of the cheesy old blogspot format and the nondescript banner at the top of the page. I used to think of it as elegantly simplistic and eventually just realized it was lazily underwhelming. New banner courtesy of my awesome co-worker, Mike Moreno, who is kind enough to help me with design work in his free time. Background image is still something I'm mulling over so feel free to veto and I'll try to find something else.

Spring is winding down -- sadly -- and rosters are starting to take shape. The inimitable Seth Stohs has a great piece on who remains in camp and their likelihood of seeing any big-league action, and I encourage you all to read it although I imagine you've already done so.

Amidst his deductions of people having slim to no chance of cracking the 25-man out of camp, he spends a little time mentioning the likelihood that we will all become familiar with Jeff Bailey at some point this season, and I agree wholeheartedly.

This is Jeff Bailey

During the offseason, Bailey was one of those names that I simply glazed over during what seemed like 4 long months of signing AAA filler, but I think we were all a little remiss in dismissing him so quickly. My eyes were set on names like Troy Glaus and Derrek Lee so naturally Jeff Bailey faded quickly in mind.

To be honest, it's tough to really consider Jeff Bailey a prospect at this point, and I'm not arguing that we do so. He's bounced around enough (Marlins to Expos to Red Sox to Twins) that he hasn't really been able to latch on, but at the same time he did experience a respectable showing with the eastern powerhouse Red Sox between '08 and '09. In '08 over a miniscule sample size of around 30 games he hit a solid .280/.390/.460 with a couple homeruns in less than 60 plate appearances.

While it's tough to judge from such a small sample size in the Majors, at least he's shown that he can fill in decently when needed -- and his minor league numbers are solid. In fact, I'd find him oddly comparable to Garrett Jones, a guy who could never latch on anywhere despite being given a few chances at the majors, but who tore up the minors. Jones is about 3 years younger and spent 3 fewer years bouncing around farm systems, but Bailey has a better slash line in the minors (.276/.380/.478 as opposed to .258/.312/.450) so perhaps Bailey just needs to find his groove at the majors. He's got the pop in his bat to justify a position at 1st base or corner outfield -- in fact like our Spring Darling, Luke Hughes, Bailey hit a homerun in first MLB at bat and it was also against the Tigers.

Also Jeff Bailey again

Perhaps it's time to back off, I don't want to be known as the Bailey advocate of the Twins blogosphere -- for Bailey to crack the roster would likely mean that both Morneau and Cuddyer are not ready to go, and we don't want to imagine that scenario. Though with the fact that Cuddyer is just now about to start playing in his first real Spring games, and that it's taken Morneau this long to play in back-to-back games, we have to consider the possibility that one or both might not be ready at the get-go of the season (which THANK HEAVENS is less than two weeks away!).

Of course if Bailey sticks around the minors with us this season, puts up something similar to his career numbers, and there's room on the 40-man I can't see how he wouldn't get a September call-up. At that point, with a beat up and weary roster we could probably use an extra corner infielder/outfielder with a little veteran pop from the right side of the plate coming off the bench.

I'd say that chances are greater than not that we see Bailey getting at least a cup of coffee this year, and while I know he might not be the next big thing, he should be able to hold his own if he gets a shot and hopefully he's able to use it as his chance to stick like Garrett Jones did.

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