May 5, 2015

Twins bypass Aaron Hicks for Eddie Rosario to replace Oswaldo Arcia

Eddie Rosario Twins

It's common for the Twins to cite a prospect's lack of "consistency" in the minors as an excuse for why they haven't been called up. Most recently they did so with Triple-A reliever Lester Oliveros, who has a 1.65 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 76 innings since last season. Sustained dominance like that makes the notion of Oliveros lacking "consistency" seem absurd, particularly compared to the low standards for "consistency" the Twins so often seem to have for mediocre veterans.

Another problem with the Twins citing a lack of "consistency" whenever it suits them is that when it doesn't suit them they're quick to ignore the concept. Right now, for instance. Needing outfield help with Oswaldo Arcia headed to the disabled list with a hip injury, the Twins called up Eddie Rosario from Triple-A to make his MLB debut at age 23. Rosario was hitting .242/.280/.379 with a 17/5 K/BB ratio in 23 games for Rochester, which is terrible.

And that's nearly identical to his terrible performance last year, when Rosario was suspended for the first 50 games following a positive drug test and returned to hit .237/.277/.396 with a 68/17 K/BB ratio in 79 games at Double-A. In between he was talked up by the Twins throughout spring training only to hit .233 with zero walks in 17 games. In retrospect the spring disconnect between the praise he received and his performance was foreshadowing.

Rosario was suspended 50 games for drug use and hit terribly at two levels of the minors and in spring training since returning, but "consistency" apparently isn't always a must for a call-up. For whatever reason the Twins and especially manager Paul Molitor are infatuated with Rosario and it's also clear they've totally soured on Aaron Hicks, himself a former top prospect who struggled in the majors after being handed an Opening Day job too soon and is still just 25 years old.

Hicks is hitting .289/.375/.494 with a 15/12 K/BB ratio in the same Rochester lineup as Rosario, topping him in every way except being on the Twins' good side. Hicks also hit .291/.387/.441 with a 40/37 K/BB ratio in 67 games between AA/AAA last season, easily out-performing Rosario again. And while Hicks has struggled for the Twins, he posted a .341 on-base percentage over 69 games in the majors last year while Rosario has failed to crack a .300 OBP in the minors since last year.

For the sake of simplicity, here's how their career Double-A and Triple-A numbers compare:

TRIPLE-A      AVG      OBP      SLG      OPS     K/BB
Hicks        .264     .349     .410     .759     1.58
Rosario      .242     .280     .379     .659     3.40

DOUBLE-A      AVG      OBP      SLG      OPS     K/BB
Hicks        .289     .389     .461     .850     1.31
Rosario      .260     .302     .403     .705     3.55

Hicks is also considered as good or better defensively than Rosario, who attempted to transition from center field to second base before going back to the outfield full time this season and has always been projected more as a corner outfielder due to limited range. It's hard to blame the Twins too much if they've indeed given up on Hicks, but there's no indication Rosario is ready for the majors and this move makes any "consistency" talk look even sillier than usual.

As for Arcia, this is another setback on his quest to gain the Twins' trust and establish himself as an everyday, middle-of-the-order bat. Molitor's willingness to platoon has put Arcia on the bench frequently versus lefties and both his plate discipline and defense remain huge weaknesses. He's hitting reasonably well at .276/.338/.379 in 19 games, but all four of Arcia's walks have been intentional and he's swung at the second-most pitches outside the strike zone in the league.


For a lot more about the Twins' recent roster moves and call-up timetables, check out this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode.

  • h2oface

    great article. this promotion baffles me. it seems very personal when it comes to hicks, now.

    • Jeffrey Hamilton

      I agree. Hicks needs to take a more “professional” approach, but I can’t imagine the team is better off with Rosario.

  • zooomx

    The Twins are anticipating that this is a short call up. Ryan wants Rosario to get a taste of the big leagues to see if it gets him going. Not sure if it would be prudent to call up Hicks for a short 15 day call up. The bigger argument is whether Hicks should be called up to be a regular over one of our current outfielders.

    • D-Luxxx

      The answer to your 2nd question is a resounding “Yes.”

      • Danyo

        Completely agree. Hicks is the key to winning the World Series this year. He’s a proven MLB talent.

        • Dr. J

          Take it easy Francis.

          • Danyo

            Hmmmmm. I’m no expert, but I’d say my previous comment was sarcasm.

  • mazeville

    If it’s a short callup and the Twins simply want to give him a taste of the majors for a couple of weeks, as the Twins are saying, I have no problem with it. You don’t want to call up Hicks only to send him back down in two weeks. But I do believe Hicks should be up and not Schaefer. But in terms of weird Twins decisions, giving Rosario a taste of the majors perhaps as an incentive is hardly the worst thing they’ve ever done. The bullpen? That’s terrible. The odd ignorance of defense? That’s unforgivable. This strange reliance on mediocre veterans over promising rookies? Pathetic.

  • Kale

    Someday I’d like to read a “glass half full” post by Gleeman regarding the Twins.

    • Zach Neal

      I think he’d like to write one.

      • Kale

        You mean like if the Twins had just won 5 straight games, and were 2 games over .500 (like when this article was written)?

        • D-Luxxx

          4 against the White Sox and 1 ugly win against the A’s is no reason to crow. The season is early and I wouldn’t read much into their record at this point. IMHO they’re playing above their heads. I hope I’m wrong, but with the bullpen and mediocre bench I don’t think I’m wrong…

          • Danyo

            Agreed. MLB wins only count if you beat division leaders. However, losses always count.
            It’s called D-Luxxx scoring. I wish websites and newspapers would start using this method when posting team records and league standings.

        • Zach Neal

          No. Like if they didn’t inexplicably fail to get any value out of a supposedly stocked farm system.

          He mentioned he’d rather have the Twins system in 5 years than the Tigers system. And talent wise, maybe, but Dombrowski has been very good at getting talent onto the MLB field in Detroit. It might be at the expense of a depleted farm system, but the goal in Detroit seems to be to get talent on the field.

          • Danyo

            Ouch, Zach. That looks like strike 2, and you missed badly on both attempts.
            Better choke up on the bat, and protect. One more strike and you’re out!

          • Zach Neal

            I guess we’ll agree to disagree. Enjoy reading the site.

  • jimbo92107

    I can see why the Twins would make this move. Patience with Hicks in AAA, and a little encouragement for Rosario, who may benefit from a cuppa coffee. Wrong with this is what? Maybe a taste of the bigs will help Eddie get a better mental attitude in his head, where it belongs. When Arcia heals up, Eddie goes down, but with a smile on his face. See if that doesn’t make his bat a little more lively. We could all use that.

  • Taylor Henrichs

    As much as you don’t understand the Twins’ infatuation with Rosario, I find Twins fans’ obsession with Hicks & this trivial roster move even harder to understand (with respect).

    The team is 2 games OVER .500 right now, in the middle of 5-game win streak, and if you polled a majority of fans you’d think that baseball as we know it is ending in Minnesota because of the sudden-felt absence of a 25-yr-old, career .201 hitter.

    You claim that Hicks was “handed an Opening Day job too soon” yet now practically calling for Molitor’s head because Hicks isn’t being called up (for what would likely be a 15-game stint) in the first week of May, which coonfuses me. Comparing minor league statistics until you’re blue in the face is great and all, but they mean next to nothing when you exclude the way Hicks’ stats have transferred to games that actually mean something. I haven’t “given up” on Hicks but I’m also realistic about his potential and I think this particular move was solid. It’s likely to be a short stint, which would make zero sense for a guy like Hicks looking for one last go at things. Instead, give a new exciting young talent (with potentially more pop in his bat) a chance to show what he can do in the big show, and get some valuable experience under his belt.

    • D-Luxxx

      Take a breath there buddy. First of all there is nothing in Aaron’s post asking for Molitor’s head. The coach doesn’t really make that call, and honestly even if he did, there is nothing in Aaron’s post asking for him to be fired.
      2nd of all, if everybody is so excited for Rosario to come up and get his cup of coffee, then why has he been with the club for two days and not gotten a single plate appearance or spent any time in the outfield? If They have that little faith in him, then why bring him up at all?
      Honestly the whole thing is pretty confusing to me, but ultimately, what Aaron is saying is that it is confusing that an organization that stresses consistency would call up a guy who has been consistently bad the last two years over a guy who has been consistently good the last two years in the minors.
      Hicks was handed the job too soon by the way. He played one season in AA ball and then they skipped AAA and moved him to the big league roster based on a superb Spring Training and a glaring need for a CF when they traded Span and Revere in the off-season. He wasn’t ready, and the Twins are now punishing him for not being ready. If they’re going to give up on him after less than 550 PA, then whatever, but he’s got very little left to prove in the Minors. He’s a defensive upgrade over whatever we’re running out there right now. Jordan Schafer is a career .229/.309/.309 hitter with almost 1500 PA. He’s 28 years old. Hicks is a career .201/.293/.313 hitter with 550 PA. He’s 25 years old. Give me the guy who has shown he can get on base even when he’s not hitting well and has some pop over the guy who barely gets on base more and has zero pop any day. Any day.
      The question isn’t why was Rosario called up over Hicks. The question is why isn’t Hicks up here already?

      • Danyo

        Take a breath there, buddy. That’s a lot of words. All you had to write was Hicks is the key to winning the World Series this year. I don’t know how anyone could dispute that. I mean .201/.293/.313?
        Those are darn near HOF numbers.

        One point… Rosario not playing might be the reason they called him up and not Hicks. I’m just spitballin’ here.

        • D-Luxxx

          You were supposed to read that post with your breath held. How did you miss that?

          • randy_moist

            We could only be so lucky.

  • David Rasmussen

    The Twins are 2 games over .500 . To some, this is evidence of a brilliant front office. To me, this is evidence of smoke and mirrors. It doesn’t seem like the front office wants to win. The bullpen decisions are odd. Chris Herrmann over Josmil Pinto is bizarre. The 2014 success stories of D. Vargas and D. Santana seem likely to be an illusion. Arcia, clearly a building block to future success, is not played as if he has the potential to improve. Eddie Rosario, with his minor league numbers, is clearly not ready. A plan to bring in more talented players and lose, ala 1982, would excite me more than watching the Shane Robinsons and Jordan Shafers of the world.

    What the front office may know that I don’t know: attitudes of players, how to motivate people, how to build team unity, how to hit, how to pitch, how to manipulate media into selling Target Field tickets. So, there are numerous reasons decisions are going to be made which do not make sense to people like me.

    However, I do get a vote. And if Chris Herrmann is going to start over Josmil Pinto, I certainly have the option to stay away from Target Field and watch and listen to broadcasts of other teams. The Cubs this year are full of exciting young talent.

    • Kale

      “Arcia, clearly a building block to future success,”

      I disagree. He’s essentially a DH who can only hit right handed pitching. Does he have potential? Yes. So does Kennys Vargas, but Vargas is a switch hitter. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised to see Arcia dealt…if he can show that he has some value.