So… Now What?

7 Oct

Also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Alright, it is time to start thinking about 2009. The 2008 season was an overwhelming success in most ways although it sure would have been nice to get one more win and be in the playoffs. But hopefully the Twins will use that loss as motivation for next year. Hopefully the players work even harder in the offseason to take steps forward. And hopefully the Twins front office works even harder this offseason to bring the Twins roster forward, to make it even better.

 

And that’s really what today’s posting is about, What would I do if I were GM Bill Smith and had to construct the Twins roster? It’s a job that we all would probably love, and yet, after last offseason, I think we should all appreciate the difficulties of the job. This year, there isn’t a $150 million pitcher that should be traded. There isn’t an over-30 outfielder that wants five years at $18 million each. However, that isn’t to say that there isn’t plenty of work to be done.

 

The team will face much higher expectations in 2009 and with that comes the need to improve. The front office needs to determine their areas of need. They need to evaluate their current big league lineup and which players will continue to improve, and which could regress. Which players could be used in trades and which are untouchable? It would be hard for the team to hit so well (over .300) with Runners in Scoring Position, and that’s just one way to look at how the Twins must improve to keep up.

 

I do need to point out that I have no way of knowing who the Twins would receive if certain players would be traded, so my roster will be comprised of players currently in the Twins organization with a couple of guesses as to other players they could (or should) acquire. But remember who the Twins were able to receive as part of trades in the last couple of years. So, I will present who I believe the Twins should have on their roster, then I will take a look at those that I really don’t think should be back.


So, here you go, position-by-position. Normally, I go with 14 position players and 11 pitchers. However, I think that there are several reasons that the Twins can (or need to) go with 13 position players and 12 pitchers…
Seth’s Minnesota Twins 2009 Opening Day roster: (Note – some of the 2009 contract values are known, but many of the value projections are estimated.) 

Position Players (13)


Catcher


Joe Mauer - ($10.5 million) – Arguably the league’s MVP. What he did in 2008 was incredible! He won his second AL batting title. He was second among all AL catchers in innings pitched. His percentage of base stealers thrown out was not terribly high, but part of that is because so few people run against him. He came up huge in clutch situations, leading the AL in WPA (Win Probability Added). $10.5 million is more than fair. In fact, I would try my best to extend his current contract, which runs out after the 2010 season, for at least three more years (about $42.5 million?). 

 

Mike Redmond – (0.95 million) – The Twins have until shortly after the World Series is complete to determine if they will pick up the $950,000 option for 2009. In my mind, it is an easy choice. First, he has been as good as any backup catcher throughout his Twins tenure. Secondly, there just isn’t a better option available in the organization. Who knows if Jose Morales will come back from his injuries? Could Drew Butera hit enough to warrant consideration as a backup? How far is Wilson Ramos from being ready? Those are questions that the Twins will likely have better answers for after another year. Until then, there are no concerns with Redmond. The only concern is who is the Twins #3 catcher should Mauer or Redmond get hurt?

 

First Base


Justin Morneau – ($10.6 million) – The 2006 AL MVP could be in line for his second MVP award. If he wins it, it will be controversial based on ending the season by going just 3-30. However, the MVP award is about the full season, and that is why I believe that Morneau is clearly a candidate, along with Mauer. It would be nice to see the power increased in 2009, as he hit just 23 this year. But he hit .300 and showed good plate discipline most of the season. Defensively, Morneau has come a long way and should be considered for a Gold Glove as well. He’s signed through 2013.


Second Base

 

Alexi Casilla – ($440,000) – We likely expected too much from Casilla in 2007. He had moved up to the Twins late in 2006, all the way from Ft. Myers, but in reality, he was brought up to pinch run in the playoffs. So when given a shot in 2007, he showed that he had a long way to go. He went down to minor league camp early and really struggled to start the season in Rochester. He was really only promoted because of all the injuries. Geez, even Howie Clark was called up first! But when he came up, he got off to a very good start and played well right up until he injured his wrist. Most impressive was how calm he was at the plate. He stood at the plate and was willing to take pitches and hit with two strikes. Now, some may want him to move to shortstop and bring in a 2B. Personally, I prefer that Casilla stay at 2B. If my calculating is correct, Casilla will not be arbitration-eligible until after the 2010 season. 

 

Matt Tolbert – ($410,000) – Tolbert is a younger version of Nick Punto. I think he is a little better as a hitter. He may not be quite as good defensively, although he does have the ability to play 3B, SS and 2B fairly well. He even dove into 1B once like Punto and that stupid decision cost him about four months of this season. So, you basically have a Punto clone, who will make about $2.5 million less in 2009. Sounds like a pretty easy idea which one you would keep around, doesn’t it?


Third Base


Adrian Beltre – ($12 million) – I spent much of late July saying that I didn’t think that the Twins should go after Adrian Beltre if the Mariners were insisting on acquiring one of the Twins five young starters and more. I have to say that I still agree. If the Mariners are unwilling to trade Beltre for a group of two or three second tier prospects, then I am more than happy to put Luke Hughes in this category. What am I looking for in a 3B acquisition? I want someone with a one year contract, and because of that, the dollars of the contract do not matter. Garrett Atkins is not real good outside of Coors Field. Kevin Kouzmanoff is OK, nothing great, but would be around for awhile. The reason… Luke Hughes and especially Danny Valencia. At least one of them will be ready to step into the Twins lineup by Opening Day 2010. With Beltre, you get a guy with 30 home run power. You also have a great defensive 3B, on par with Eric Chavez, circa 2003. Finally, Beltre had his best year in his free agent season with the Dodgers. Hopefully he could have another contract year with the Twins. When he leaves for big money after the season, the Twins can take those two draft picks in 2010, and replenish the system of those players dealt in the trade. My thought is that I would deal Anthony Swarzak, Boof Bonser and Jay Rainville (or an equivalent package) for Beltre.

 

Brian Buscher – ($440,000) – Buscher showed through his early time with the Twins in 2008 that he can be a solid hitter. He drove in a lot of runners early. Now, he did struggle the last month of the season, but I think he showed enough that he warrants a roster spot. It may just be a pinch hitting role if the Twins do acquire a regular 3B. 


Shortstop


Ronny Cedeno – ($450,000) – This is probably a name that will get me bashed a little bit among readers, but it is a name that I happen to really like. Now, Cedeno was the Cubs starting shortstop through much of the 2006 season. He really struggled with the bat in his first full season. He actually spent much of the 2007 season at AAA Iowa where he hit .359/.422/.537 with 15 doubles and ten home runs. Now I do understand that is in the Pacific Coast League, but nevertheless, it is worthy of note. In 2008, he spent the season as the Cubs utility infielder. With Ryan Theriot as the Cubs shortstop, and Mark Derosa as their second baseman, I would target Cedeno. Would he have a huge impact on the Twins? Well, it would be unlikely he would become an All-Star. But he is known as being a very good glove, good range guy. There is the added bonus of maybe, just maybe, at age 26, he is ready to thrive in a full-time role.


Left Field

 

Delmon Young - ($800,000) – Many were disappointed with the first year in Minnesota for Delmon Young. Was it his fault, or our fault? Were our expectations too high? And then let’s just take a step back and realize that he spent the whole year at 22 years of age and hit .290/.336/.405 with 28 doubles, ten homers and 69 RBI. When you consider that in the first two months of the season, he hit around .250 with just seven doubles and no home runs, he improved as the season went along. And if you compare his numbers to last year, he did improve. I fully expect him to take a big step next season. In the comments on this site within the last two weeks, someone compared Young’s numbers in his second season in the big leagues to those of Kirby Puckett in his second big league season. Puckett hit .288/.330/.385 with 29 doubles, 13 triples, four home runs and 72 RBI. Then remember that Puckett was 25 while Young was 22. Now, I’m not saying Young is about to become the next Kirby Puckett. But I definitely believe that he is worth building around. In reality, the Twins should also consider a four to five year deal with him now before he takes off in 2009. Time Allotment – 7 starts in 10 games in LF, 1 start at DH.   

 

Center Field


Carlos Gomez – ($450,000) – By hitting just .258 with a .290 on base percentage, and a sometimes wild and crazy swing, it was clear that Go-Go was anything but a leadoff hitter. Remember in the spring, he was certain that at some point, he would be hitting between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Well, although it took about two months too long, Gardy finally moved Gomez to the spot in the batting order to best place his offensive skill… ninth! But let’s again not minimize just how young Carlos Gomez is. He won’t turn 23 years old for almost two more months. And, if we learned anything this year, it is that Gomez is a pretty incredible defensive centerfielder. In fact, he makes Torii Hunter look slow defensively. He made a lot of bad throws early in the season, but as the year progressed, he cleaned up most of those types of mistakes. Offensively, it is more than evident that the talent is there. Gomez exudes tools! Will they ever all come together? Will he ever hit for a solid batting average? Maybe. Will he ever be one to take a lot of pitches? Doubtful. Does he have the build and swing to eventually hit 20 or more home runs? Absolutely. If he can get on even 32% of the time, he could steal well over 50 bases in a season. Gomez needs to continue to play and get at bats (at the bottom of the order). He also needs to be out in CF most games. He also needs to bunt more. When he hit .299 with three homers and six steals in May, we were all ready to crown him the next coming. Then he hit .236, .220 and .238 in June, July and August and many were ready to give up on him. His month of September again gives us hope that he can be much more. Time Allotment – seven starts in CF every ten games, late inning Defense replacement in the other three.  


Right Field


Michael Cuddyer  - ($6.75 million) – Unfortunately, so frequently fans subscribe to the whole “What have you done for me lately?” philosophy with players that get hurt. It really isn’t a very wise philosophy. In my mind, you don’t even look at the 2008 numbers of Michael Cuddyer. He was on the disabled list three times and missed significant time because of it. When he came back, it would take a week or so to get back into the swing of things and just as he was about to break out, he would get hurt again. So again, what he did statistically in 2008 should not be a factor in what you do with him in 2009. In my mind, you have to look at what he did between 2006 and 2007 when he did play healthy both years. In looking at batting average and on-base percentage, the numbers those two years were pretty close. There is a big different in slugging percentage because he hit 13 less doubles and eight less home runs. If he can be somewhere in the middle of those numbers, his run scoring and RBI production will sit in the middle too. That makes him a 90 run, 90 RBI type of right handed bat with power. For $6.75 million, I think you take that any year! Time Allotment – 7 out of 10 games in RF. 1 out of 10 games at DH. One game every two to three weeks at DH.

 

4th OF/Everyday Leadoff Hitter

 

Denard Span - ($440,000 million) – Sometimes the best thing to do is just admit that you were wrong. I’ve written several times that if Denard Span wants, I would be happy to eat some crow, prepared however he likes. What Denard Span did in 2008 for the Twins was shocking, and yet, when it goes this way, I am thrilled to be wrong. When Span came up the second time, he was a completely different player. He just looked like a major leaguer. His approach at the plate and plate discipline were incredibly impressive, and it took too long to install him as the team’s leadoff hitter. He really is the best pure leadoff hitter that the Twins have had since Chuck Knoblauch. And Span is not just some slap-hitter. He showed a lot of power whether it was the six home runs or all of the well-struck extra base hits. And speed? I really do think a race between Span and Gomez would be worth the price of admission. After never really having a very good stolen base percentage in the minor leaguers, Span stole 18 bases in 25 attempts. Defensively, he is a natural-born outfielder. He just makes playing the OF look so easy. Yes, there are the web gems. Yes, his range makes a lot of plays that others would not get to look easy. But he is just so smooth out there. That is why I believe he is the one Twins outfielder best suited to play all three outfielders in this scenario. Also, he seems so strong mentally that he would be able to handle it. I just think it is important that Span be considered the Twins every day leadoff hitter. Time Allotment – 3 out of 10 games in LF. 2 out of ten games in CF. 3 out of ten games in RF. Late inning defensively replacement in games not started. Again, sometimes it is great to be wrong.  

 

As a side note – This scenario makes Jason Pridie a AAA outfielder and the Twins probably first call up should any of the four outfielders get hurt.  

 

Designated Hitter


Jason Kubel – ($2.5 million) – The only thing that Jason Kubel needs to do is figure out how to hit in April and May! In April, he hit just .229. In May, he hit just .247. Although he hit for more power in the season’s first half, he was a far batter hitter overall in the second half. He also needs to figure out a way to hit a little better against left-handed pitchers. But it is interesting, he walks at a much better rate against left-handed pitchers than right-handed pitchers. So, is he more focused? Is he too patient? Is it too small a sample size? Jason Kubel hit 20 home runs, giving the Twins a second home run threat in the lineup. Kubel is in his second year of arbitration. In my mind, the Twins should try to work out a three year deal with Kubel with a fourth year option. Something like three years, $14 million with a $9 million option for 2012.


Pitchers (12)
Starting Pitchers (5)


Scott Baker – ($500,000) – I think that Baker is right on the edge of maybe being a Super 2 arbitration-eligible after this season. If that is the case, I would expect him to make about a million dollars more than I’ve listed. In either case, I think a nice five year deal with a couple of option years would be about right if you ask me. I would offer a five year deal worth $21 million with a $0.5 million buy out with a $10 million option in 2014 and a $12 million option for 2015. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Scott Baker. He went 11-4 with just a 3.45 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. He doesn’t walk many and finds a way to get a lot of strikeouts. He is Brad Radke in terms of mannerisms and poise on the mound. But when it comes to stuff, Scott Baker has much more. Radke hit 90, maybe 91 if he really threw hard. Baker has two fastballs that act very differently, one with great movement, the other that hits 94! He also has a very good (not quite Radke-esque) changeup. He also has a very good curveball and slider, pitches that Radke simply did not have. I think that Baker is an All-Star waiting to happen, and a true ace for years to come. Plus, at 27, he is the elder statesman of the Twins rotation.  


Francisco Liriano – ($500,000) – 18 months removed from Tommy John Surgery, Liriano threw a remarkable 199.1 innings in 2008 between the Twins and in the minor leagues. That is especially remarkable when you consider that those early starts with the Twins and Red Wings were pretty short. Having not thrown an inning since August of 2006, that was about as much as the Twins or anyone could have asked for him to do. Liriano went 6-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 14 starts with the Twins. After being recalled by the Twins on August 1st, Liriano went 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA. Opponents hit just .236 against him. In other words, he was back to being a very good major league pitcher. The scary thing for opposing teams is that Liriano was not quite back to 2006 form. It will be great for him to have a full offseason to just recover, rest and prepare for next season. Liriano will fall just shy of Super-2 eligibility, but I would again be more proactive in signing Liriano to a long-term deal. I think we all acknowledge that Liriano is more of an injury risk than Baker, but if the Twins want to continue to be competitive, having a 1-2 of Liriano and Baker at the top of a rotation is a great way to do that. To have them each pitching for less than market value allows the team to add other pieces. Like Baker, Liriano will be an All-Star again (remember, he was added to the All-Star roster late in 2006). However, Liriano is just 24 years old.

 

Kevin Slowey - ($440,000) – All I know is that if Kevin Slowey is your #3 starting pitcher, you are going to be a very solid major league baseball team. Slowey has drawn comparisons to Brad Radke and even Greg Maddux. Again, not sure the Maddux comparisons are fair to anyone, but earlier in the season, when he was just coming back from injury, I posted on several sites that I thought he would win 200 games in his big league career. Again, if someone like that is your #3 starter, you’ve got a chance every year! What we saw from Slowey in 2008 that we didn’t see in 2007 was more pitch selection and strikes with various pitches. Last year, we saw mainly just a fastball and secondary pitches that just weren’t working. In 2008, we saw a fastball with much better control. We saw a slider at 84-86 mph. We saw a slow curve in the mid-70s. The changeup in the low 80s was perfect speed. So we saw four big league pitches that he could use in any count. What we need to see as he progresses is just better and better control. Considering Slowey walked just 24 batters in 161 innings, it’s hard to say that control is the issue. The concern is control within the strike zone. It can be frustrating at times, as it was with Radke, to see 0-2 fastballs right down the middle hit for solid singles. But again, that will come with experience. He is just 24 years old.    

 

Nick Blackburn  - ($440,000) – I have to admit that Nick Blackburn far exceeded my expectations for him in 2008. He went 11-11 with a 4.05 ERA. (Note League Average ERA was 4.18) Considering he has remained true to his minor league form meaning very few strikeouts. He struck out just one batter every other inning. Fortunately, he only walked a batter approximately every six innings. He also gives up hits. The similarities to Carlos Silva are more than a little alarming. Blackburn has better fastball with a much more developed slider/cutter and curveball than Silva ever had. He has good movement that creates a lot of groundballs. I still believe that long-term, he may be best suited in the bullpen, maybe even in the back end of the bullpen, but what he did in 2008 should have people excited to see if he can improve upon it. What he did in his final start of the season tells us that when he’s on, he can be very good. He is already 26 years old.  

 

Glen Perkins - ($440,000) – 12-4 with a 4.41 ERA. Not bad at all for a rookie in his first big league season as a starter. Perkins began the season in Rochester because the Twins wanted him to start. When Liriano’s struggles forced him back to AAA, Perkins came up and took his spot. The lefty from Stillwater and the U of Minnesota definitely got some run support on his way to the excellent record. Many will talk about his 7.45 ERA in five September starts. However, I have to point out that between July and August, he went 8-2 with an ERA of 3.63. For part of that time, he was the Twins best starting pitcher option. The fact that he put together a very strong 2008 is more impressive when you consider he threw all of 28.2 innings in 2007. I think there is a lot of reason to believe that Perkins will step up again in 2009 as a starter. Remember, he is still just 25 years old. One number that would have to be of concern though… in 2008, left-handed hitters hit .352/.437/.484 against him in 122 at bats. So Perkins was clearly the fifth of the five young starters that the Twins trotted to the mound, but there is plenty of reason to be excited about his future still.   


Left-Handed Relief Pitchers (2)

 

Craig Breslow - ($420,000) – Did you know that in the Dome this year, Craig Breslow gave up just one run in 16.2 innings (0.54 ERA) over 17 games? Overall, he was 0-2 with a save and a 1.63 ERA. In 38.7 innings over 42 games, he walked 14 but struck out 32. The Twins have liked Breslow for quite some time, so when Cleveland took him off their 40 man roster after just seven games, the Twins happily claimed him, and he paid off. Not blessed with overpowering stuff, Breslow profiles as a LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY). However, the Twins were not afraid to use him for an inning or sometimes two. Whatever role the 28 year old was put into, he succeeded.  

 

Jose Mijares - ($400,000) – What a year for Mijares! Just to get back to AA this season after his broken elbow sustained in a car accident in Venezuela before spring training would have been a success. To have had Terry Ryan see him and tell Bill Smith that he could help the Twins in September made for a great story. The fact that it took Gardy almost two weeks just to get him into a game was unfortunate. The fact that he far exceeded anyone’s realistic expectations makes it a wonderful story. By season’s end, he was the team’s 8th inning guy and he did a tremendous job. And, he is just 23 years old still!  

 

Right-Handed Relief Pitchers (4)


Jesse Crain - ($1.7 million) – It was good to see Jesse Crain back with the Twins for the 2008 season after major shoulder surgery took much of his 2007 season away. The fact that he pitched in 66 games this year tells us that he is nearly 100% and that the shoulder is at 100% That tells me that he will be ready completely in 2009, which I think is very important for the Twins. He was a big part of the Twins bullpen from 2004 to 2006 and was again, more than would have been planned, in 2008. The stuff is still there. He’s hitting 94-96 on the fastball, 89-91 on the slider, and his curveball is sharp at 76 mph. He will be a big part of the 2009 bullpen.

 

Pat Neshek - ($450,000) – Losing Pat Neshek early in May of 2008 really was a back breaker for the Twins. He was their link between the rest of the bullpen and Joe Nathan. Losing him meant not only the innings that he didn’t pitch, but the extra innings and extra tough situations that Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain and others had to come into. To this point, Neshek’s rehab has been flawless. Obviously we hope that continues. Hopefully Mijares and Crain and a rejuvenated Guerrier will allow the Twins to be extra cautious with Neshek through the 2009 season. Some will likely say that the Twins should go out and buy another reliever as insurance. I think that there is enough within the Twins system to feel good about their depth.   

 

Matt Guerrier - ($1.6 million) – I am certain that many Twins fans would just assume let Guerrier go after his struggles the last two months of the season. In my mind, with Guerrier being in his second year of arbitration, he is worth the dollars that it will cost the team. Let’s not forget that he has been an important part of the bullpen since 2005. In 2007, he had a 2.35 ERA in 88 innings pitched. He was that good. His numbers through July this season were very much in line with the solid numbers he put up in his first two full seasons. In other words, given a full offseason, given a chance to just get away from the game, and being able to go to spring training and starting over is exactly what he needs. I expect him to be a big time performer again in 2009.  

 

Philip Humber  - ($600,000) – In this scenario, it appears that it is Boof Bonser or Philip Humber. In my mind, the bigger upside is in Humber, so I would stick with him as the long reliever. He is 25 years old and can provide innings. I also think that he has enough stuff and a big enough curveball that he can do very well out of the bullpen. In reality, though, Bonser came on at the end of the year. I just think that he could get the Twins more in a trade. In fact, Bonser is the guy I would send to the Cubs for Ronny Cedeno.  
 

Closer (1)


Joe Nathan – ($11.25 million) – 18 walks, 74 strikeouts, in 67.2 innings. 39 saves in 45 chances. 1.33 ERA. 0.90 WHIP. Again, Joe Nathan was an All Star and among the top relief pitchers in the entire game. He finally is getting paid close-to market value. He definitely deserves it. And because the Twins have so much payroll to work with, I wouldn’t consider trading him at this point.  

 

SUMMARY


So, there you have it, my look at a potential 2009 roster. If you add up those contracts, it comes to under $65.47 million. Here is a breakdown of the salaries:

Hitters (13) – $46.73 million

Starters (5) – $2.32 million

Relievers (6) – $5.17 million

Closer (1) – $11.25 million

 

All said, we’ve got a payroll of $65.47 million. What have we done? Well, we have a solid five man/four position outfield/DH situation. We shored up the need for a RH power bat and a solid defensive 3B by acquiring Adrian Beltre. We saved a couple million by letting Nick Punto leave and picking up a solid young SS with good range, a strong arm and potential with the bat. We are sticking by our young pitchers without trading away much of the AAA depth. We have let Dennys Reyes go make some money elsewhere and trusted Matt Guerrier to pitch like he did from 2005-2007. We also tried to sign long-term deals with Jason Kubel, Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano.   
 

You may be asking yourself, what would the possible lineups look like? Well here are a couple of attempts, one against righties and one against lefties:
 

Every Day Lineup (with Gomez sitting)
Denard Span – CF                              

Joe Mauer – C

Adrian Beltre – 3B

Justin Morneau – 1B

Michael Cuddyer – RF

Jason Kubel – DH

Delmon Young  – LF

Alexi Casilla  – 2B

Ronny Cedeno – SS 

 

With Span sitting – Move Casilla to leadoff, move Cedeno up to 8th. Gomez bats 9th.

With Young sitting – put Gomez in the 7th spot.

With Cuddyer sitting – put Young in the 5th spot, Gomez in the seventh spot.

With Kubel sitting – Move Casilla to the 2 spot, move Mauer, Beltre, Morneau and Cuddyer down one spot. Bat Gomez 8th.              
 

Who’s Gone??

·         Nick Punto – Probably not as easy a choice as you would think. Punto put up a 96 OPS + in 2008 which is not at all bad for a middle infielder without any power. He hit .284. But again, I think that the Twins have equivalent options that are significantly cheaper. It will be interesting to me to watch this though. Obviously Gardy would love to keep him around. Will Bill Smith take him away from Gardy? This one will be interesting.  

·         Dennys Reyes  – The 31 year old lefty is going to make himself a lot of money this offseason. He has been very good two of the last three years with the Twins, and solid lefty relievers are making a lot of money these days. Thankfully Jose Mijares stepped up the last couple weeks of the season and Craig Breslow was excellent during his time with the Twins, Reyes is very expendable.

·         Adam Everett, Eddie Guardado  – The Guardado trade in August ended up not being worth it as he did very little for the Twins. He will become a free agent and likely sign somewhere. Adam Everett was hurt most of the year and Nick Punto playing solidly made him a bench player. In fact, remember that the Twins were about the release Everett when Alexi Casilla got hurt so they brought him back. Both of these veterans will likely wind up somewhere.   

·         Randy Ruiz, Ryan Jorgenson  – These two came up late in the season. Ruiz actually made several starts in a few August weeks, but played very little down the stretch. Jorgenson was a September call up who barely got into a couple of games late. Both should be taken off the 40 man roster to make space for more valuable pieces. I would have no problem with the Twins taking them off the roster and immediately offering them both minor league contracts with invites to spring training. I think both would realize that with the Twins, if they perform, they will get a big league opportunity.

 

Who’s Next??

·        Brian Duensing – The 25 year old Twins 3rd round pick in 2005 out of Nebraska, Duensing stagnated in 2008. His big struggle was that he gave up a lot of big first innings. He went 5-11 with a 4.26 ERA in 2008. But he could be the next starter promoted from Rochester if there is an injury.

·         Kevin Mulvey – If not Duensing, then I think that Kevin Mulvey would be next on the list. Mulvey went 7-9 but had a solid 3.79 ERA in Rochester in 2008. He’ll eventually be a mid-to-late rotation starter for someone, even if it’s after a trade to another organization.    

·         Anthony Swarzak – Of course, based on his 5-0, 1.80 ERA, performance in seven AAA starts at the end of the season, if Swarzak gets off to a fast start in 2009, he could be called up at any time too. Of course, if the Twins have a need in the bullpen, Swarzak may have the type of stuff that could do very well for the Twins in short work.

·         Rob Delaney – Of course, if you want a bullpen guy who is about ready, Rob Delaney could be it. He spent half the season dominating the Florida State League and the other half of the season dominating the Eastern League. There was talk of him being promoted late in 2008, but the Twins wisely didn’t do that. The undrafted St. John’s grad will be quite the story when he gets to the Twins.

·         Luke Hughes – If there is a bat that is closest to the majors, it is probably Luke Hughes. Although he needs more seasoning to work on cutting down the strikeouts, he has some serious pop in his bat. He just doesn’t have a real strong position. He’ll be playing 3B in Venezuela this winter.

·         Danny Valencia – If But the 3B of the future is Valencia (who is about six weeks younger than Hughes – both 24), in my mind. He is a more complete package at 3B. Better defensively. Better ‘average’ type of hitter, and just as much, if not more potential power. He’s going to the AFL to see how he does against better competition.

·         Trevor Plouffe – The other Twins area of need is SS, and hopefully Plouffe could be the answer to that. He spent half of 2008 in AAA and held his own against much older competition. He could use another year of work, but he could be solid even if called upon in 2009.
 

40 Man Roster??

Before any of this stuff happens, the Twins will likely make some 40 man roster decisions. The Twins ended the season with 37 players on the 40 man roster. Pat Neshek will have to be taken off the 60 Day Disabled List, so he will be added to that number. If I take off the names of the players I let go (six more), that puts us at 31 players on the 40 man roster. I would immediately take Julio DePaula off of the 40 man. He was horrible at AAA this year after a very solid 2007 that saw him promoted to the Twins twice. He’s not young, so if they lose him, oh well. Now we are down the 30. I personally would keep Oswaldo Sosa and Sergio Santos on the 40 man roster until there are other guys that the team would rather protect. As bad as Sosa was in 2008, he is still quite young and just needs to harness control of his pitches with such great movement. Control is not something he fought with previously. Santos just came to the Red Wings after being DFAd by the Blue Jays in June or July. I have always liked him and would like to see him stick around. But again, if other guys have to be protected to make that happen, those two could easily be removed. Same thing, really, with Jose Morales whose injury this year really hurt what could have been another very good season.

 

As for who I would add to the 40 man roster, I would automatically add Anthony Swarzak, Trevor Plouffe, Luke Hughes, Brian Duensing and Steve Tolleson. I would strongly consider Erik Lis. Others to consider would be Juan Portes, Kyle Waldrop (although the shoulder surgery and missed 2008 season would make it unlikely he would be taken), Jay Rainville, Matt Fox and Loek Van Mil. Some of these decisions can be made as late as early December, so I will put more thought into it at that time.

 

 

So there you have it, my choices to be on the 2009 Minnesota Twins rosters, who won’t be back, and what other minor leaguers may get an opportunity to contribute or at least be added to the 40 man roster. As I’ve mentioned previously, I really think that Bill Smith has another important offseason in front of him this winter. Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please send me an e-mail or post Comments here.  

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38 Responses to “So… Now What?”

  1. Andy Darsow October 7, 2008 at 1:28 am #

    So what are you doing with Brendan Harris? I really like him and would give him the 3B job over if they can’t get someone else. I would like to see the Beltre move. Cedeno?? Nah, I’ll just leave it at that. They have enough internal options that would be just as good as Cedeno. He’s a utility player and we already have enough of those. My only real concern with your lineup is the bullpen…no moves? I think they are fine but they need one veteran power arm back there. Whether it is a reclamation project or whatever, they have to give themselves some options. We all saw what happened when Shek got hurt this year. Interesting but I personally like the Orlando Cabrera idea if they are truly willing to go there at short. I am interested in your thoughts on Harris though.

  2. SethSpeaks October 7, 2008 at 8:35 am #

    Andy, good to hear from you again. It’s been a while.

    First of all… Brendan Harris – Primarily, this is simply oversight on my part. I can’t believe I didn’t at least mention him. To somewhat answer that, if the Twins bring in an Adrian Beltre to play 3B, then Harris may have to be a part of such a deal. If not, does it make sense to have two right-handed hitting third basemen? That’s kind of like having both Mike Lamb and Brian Buscher at 3B (except with a LOT more talent in both cases). Now, it could be argued that Harris could just be a utililty player and play SS and 2B and PH as well, and in reality, I have no problem with that. I like having the switch-hitting Matt Tolbert on the roster and defensively, he’s better at all three spots. I guess it comes down to Buscher or Harris in that situation. I could go either way with that.

    As for Orlando Cabrera – no thanks! If you’re going to go for a decent glove, no bat SS, I’d rather go wit ha 25 year old with upside than a 34 year old with attitude issues and declining talent. Let me defer a more detailed response to Aaron Gleeman’s column today (http://www.aarongleeman.com/2008_10_05_baseballblog_archive.html#6654565446779850697) in which I would also be sure to note the Joe Mauer paragraphs as well.

  3. Jeff P October 7, 2008 at 9:11 am #

    Great job, I agree with most of what you wrote. I especially hope they extend at least a couple of their young players who they think will be a big part of the team over the next 5 years. A couple of other thoughts:

    I think a number of guys outperformed in 2007 compared to what their talent level is, including Casilla and Buscher. For that reason and because their payroll is low anyway, I would be tempted to keep Punto for another year. I hope I am wrong about Casilla/Buscher but even if I am I like Punto’s versatility late in the game defensively or if someone gets injured.

    I am not a big fan of the Beltre trade, I would rather get by with Harris/Buscher and hope for Hughes/Valencia in 2010.

    I would rather make a trade for JJ Hardy. I know he will cost more in terms of players/prospects, but he gives us good power and our options at SS are not all that appealing. I think we would also have him for two years, at that point you can decide to resign him or if you think Plouffe is ready you could go that direction.

    As for your who’s next group, does Machado belong? He was injured for all of 2007 and the first 1/2 of 2008 but hit well at Rochester. He was a rule V guy a couple of years ago and a decent prospect at one time.

  4. SethSpeaks October 7, 2008 at 9:26 am #

    Beltre is a one year guy, that’s why I would do that and still hope that Hughes or Valencia would be rady in 2010.

    I just am not a big JJ Hardy guy. Like you said, I think that he would cost more than Beltre. He’s got some pop in his bat though, so I don’t think that it woudl be a horrible acquisition if they do.

    Machado may be around next year. Not sure. They may just let him go. But he could be another utility infielder option, if his shoulders are ok.

    I’m not a Kevin Kouzmanoff guy, but I would be curious what people think of Khalil Greene.

  5. mike wants wins October 7, 2008 at 9:32 am #

    I think they are two hitters away from being a very good team. Now, Young may be one of those guys next year, but I have my doubts. Cuddy would be a big step up from Young offensively, unless one of them either really improves or gets worse.

    I liked the Beltre trade this year, but I like it less next year. They don’t get him this 1/2 year (when they were close to the playoffs for sure), and I think Swarzak has the best stuff of any of the guys that are close to the majors right now.

    I’d like to see them go after Brandon Wood (hey, if you aren’t going to aim high….). The LAA don’t seem to like him, but he’s ok defensively (or good, depends on who you read) and he is likely to hit 25+ HRs (while striking out a lot, but he does get on base). He could play SS or 3B. If you add him, and you get cuddy’s bat in the lineup, I think the team hits much more consistently.

    As for pitching, I need to go to a meeting…..

  6. gobbledygookguy October 7, 2008 at 9:34 am #

    harris is a better utility guy than keeping buscher around who can only play 3b and that not very well. harris, with a little work could play 1b on occasion and all the other infield spots. maybe not a great fielder but he has some pop in his bat. punto just isn’t a productive bat, only 53 rbi in nearly 2 full seasons is not good.
    the other option is to trade kubal, who is getting expensive in twins $$, and use buscher as a lh dh/ph and cuddy as the regular dh. cubs need a lh bat bad and may have a power type bullpen guy, i’m thinking he would have some value. is buscher really that much differant then kubal?

  7. SethSpeaks October 7, 2008 at 9:49 am #

    I did jot down Brandon Wood as another guy that the Twins should explore. I think given every day play, he could be very good. In my mind though, they should play him at SS until he proves he can’t play there. Huge power upside. And having (eventually) Wood and Valencia on the left side of the infield gives a lot of hope for 20-30 home run power from each.

    I also circled several others that are worth the Twins time to at least ask about…

  8. tborg October 7, 2008 at 9:51 am #

    Phil Miller wrote that Liriano was eligible for arbitration (and didn’t say anything about Baker’s eligibility). You and Twins Geek report that none of the starters are likely to be eligible for arbitration. Which of you didn’t do your homework?

    Looking at Cuddyer’s salary next year, and reports that Cabrera will get $30M over 3 years makes me realize that Cuddy’s contract isn’t the anchor some are making it out to be.

    I’m intrigued by Ronny Cedeno too, especially if it prevents the braintrust from pursuing Cabrera. Sadly, unless you can get a real upgrade (like Hardy), Punto seems to be a decent option. If only there was a way to prevent Gardy from continuing to trot him out there if he struggles.

  9. SoCalTwinsfan October 7, 2008 at 10:00 am #

    I hadn’t thought about Cedeno. He would be an intriguing option.

    Some other things on Slowey: He came up 1 2/3 innings short of qualifying for leaders. Otherwise, he would be fourth in the AL in WHIP, first in BB/9 and second in BB/SO rate. Baker has been great, but I think Slowey will eventually pass him up in the rotation order. If Liriano regains his velocity to pre-surgery (or at least another couple mph), then he will likely be the team’s ace, but Slowey has some terrific peripheral numbers.

  10. SoCalTwinsfan October 7, 2008 at 10:01 am #

    Oops. Make that second in SO/BB rate.

  11. TT October 7, 2008 at 10:07 am #

    With probably the youngest team in baseball, shouldn’t the Twins basically stand pat this winter and see how their young players develop? Making decisions based on less than a season worth of play usually ends up coming back to bite you.

    Tolbert may be the next Punto, except for his defense isn’t as good? That is like saying he could be Justin Morneau, except his offense isn’t as good. Punto defense is close to gold glove caliber at three positions. Tolbert doesn’t really replace that. Even an optimistic evaluation of these two, says Tolbert is a downgrade. And once you get rid of Harris and Punto, there isn’t anyone else to step in at shortstop or second base.

    Mijares is someone I like. But lets get real, he was facing batters who were not only seeing him for the first time, but probably didn’t even have minor league scouting reports to work with. In addition, Mijares was almost completely fresh, having spent most of the year on the DL. How will he do when he has had a season of work and batters have faced him a few times? We have no idea. Mijares could be better than Reyes, but he could also flame out entirely.

    That Breslow was successful with the Twins this year was encouraging. But Breslow was available for a reason. Again, its not clear what happens as he gets more exposure. He did well this year, but he is hardly a proven commodity. He is one of those guys you hope will do as well in the same role next year – not someone we should project to take on a larger role.

    Humber is an unknown quantity. He might be as good/bad as Bonser/Bass. But he could be a lot worse. The problem with auditioning mop-up pitchers is that their failures get passed on to the rest of the bullpen who have to get the outs the mop-up guy didn’t. Afterall, the role of a mop-up pitcher is to keep the rest of the bullpen fresh.

    So should we get rid of Bonser and Reyes and replace them with two unknown quantities in Mijares and Humber. And assume Neshek will come back and sparkle and that Guerrier was just tired and that Crain will be effective. That appears to be a plan to make an already weak bullpen even weaker next year.

    Could Humber and Mijares be better than Bonser and Reyes? Sure. But now isn’t the time to make that decision. Those are decisions Gardy and his coaches should make based on their actual performances in spring training and early next season.

    When you start talking about a guy like Delaney with half a season at AA as ready to help a pennant contender, you know the minor league options are pretty thin. Its not that there aren’t lots of options, there are. Its just that none of them are pounding on the door, obviously ready to help.

    Neshek, Crain and Guerrier are also all question marks in terms of what roles they can take next year. There need to have available as many potential alternative answers as possible. Now is not the time to be narrowing the field.

    Their first priorities ought to be to get Punto and Reyes back under contract. Then you can let the unproven guys compete for positions knowing you have someone ready to step up if they don’t. If Punto and Reyes price themselves out of the market then you go to plan B.

  12. greenmachine October 7, 2008 at 10:11 am #

    What do you have to give up to get Ronny Cedeno? That would be a trade, right?

  13. Joel October 7, 2008 at 10:12 am #

    Great job Seth!!! Very interesting to read your analysis!!

    Two thoughts: 1) Punto will be back, Gardy likes him too much. 2) Twins won’t go after Beltre, or any other expensive third basemen, they’ll go the cheap route and stick with Buscher/Harris with Hughes/Valencia in the wings.

  14. SethSpeaks October 7, 2008 at 11:48 am #

    All fair points, TT… I think you made a great point ,and one I was trying to say, that they can’t just stand pat if they want to contend again. As everyone would know, I’d love to see them go young and know they’d all be better next year. That’s not likely, but we can hope.

    Also, what are you willing to pay for Punto and Reyes understanding it is unlikely that they will sign one year deals? If Punto signed a one year, $2 million deal, I have no problem keeping him around. If it’s going to be two years and $7 million, I don’t like it. If Reyes signs another 1 year, $1 million deal, sure. If he goes out on the market and gets three years and $12 million, would you pay for that?

    Ronny Cedeno would have to be acquired in a trade. One mid-level prospect and a low-level prospect maybe?

    As for arbitration-eligible, one person around the Twins told me that he did not think that Baker or Harris would be arbitration-eligible. I know that Baker has to be very close to Super-2 status.

  15. coolbrees15 October 7, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    What about moving Cuddyer to third base. He was drafted as a shortstop orignally and has played third base in the minors. It might take sometime for him to adjust but that seems more along the twins style as in they would not have to trade anyone to fill the position. It also allowa them to have span, gomez, and young in the outfield and in the batting order at the same time.

  16. TT October 7, 2008 at 1:27 pm #

    I think you made a great point ,and one I was trying to say, that they can’t just stand pat if they want to contend again.

    Well, if I made that point I certainly didn’t intend to. I think the Twins will contend again next year. I also think they should basically stand pat and see what they have next spring. Its just not clear where the biggest holes are or what surpluses are really there to deal away.

    Obviously that depends in part on who is available at what price. Beltre provides both defense and offense at a position where the Twins appear weak in both departments. If they can get him at a reasonable price, then that makes sense. Of course, if they could get Sabathia at a reasonable price, moving someone to the bullpen would make sense. That isn’t going to happen.

    As for salaries, I don’t pay much attention. I think the years are a bigger issue. If they can sign Punto and Reyes to one or two year contracts, then any reasonable salary will work. I probably wouldn’t go to three years with either one.

  17. thrylos98 October 7, 2008 at 1:40 pm #

    I’d rather have Harris on the bench than Buscher. Buscher is just not versatile enough. Also, I am fairly convinced that Perkins is not starter material. You either keep him as a long reliever or trade him for a third baseman. I’d love to see Delaney over Guerrier at the pen also.

  18. mbrian33 October 7, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    Great work Seth.

    I like the Cedeno idea. That is the type of player the Twins should be targeting–good defense, lower salary, the younger the better.

    The Beltre deal would be o.k., but I wouldn’t want to give up any more than that for a one year player. I would think Harris and/or Buscher would be part of the package.

    I’m probably in the minority in thinking the Twins would be alright just standing pat. The biggest problem was the bullpen and there is a call to add a middle reliever. But the Twins will hopefully have Neshek coming back and they will have Mijares from day one–that looks like two major additions to the bullpen.

    They probably won’t hit .300 with RISP again, but the Twins will have Casilla and Span for the whole season, a healthy Cuddyer, and improving young hitters in Young and Gomez. Add that to typical years for Mauer, Morneau, and Kubel, and the line-up looks like it could again score some runs.

  19. greenmachine October 7, 2008 at 2:12 pm #

    Seems to me that the Twins should target some significant upgrade in the infield – not just any veteran. I think this offseason should be judged on whether Bill Smith succeeds in bringing in that upgrade or not. That could be the difference between the Twins just being scrappy in 09 or being scary in 09.

    From a numbers perspective I kinda like JJ Hardy. One interesting offer might be Gomez and Duensing, or Gomez and Boof, since the Brewers had Cameron for a one year deal. But I also see Seth’s point about OF depth being a good thing since Young, Span and Gomez are all less than proven in different ways.

  20. Dome Dog October 7, 2008 at 2:19 pm #

    I really hope that the Twins do NOT go out and get any bullpen help in free agency, since the good ones generally tend to get paid way more money than they are worth. I’d be okay with signing one or two guys to very small deals in hopes that they work out (like Reyes did for us a few years ago). Otherwise I think they can fill out the bullpen with talented young arms that they already have.

    But PLEASE don’t stand pat with the rest of your roster! There is no reason for them to just sit around and count on the young guys to get better. The only ones with a proven track record on this team are Mauer, Morneau, and Nathan. You basically know year in, year out, what you are going to get from them. But you have NO IDEA on what you are going to get next year from Span, Gomez, Young, Casilla, Buscher, Tolbert, etc… Hopefully they all take the next step, but realistically at least a couple of them will take a step or two in the wrong direction.

    If you can sell high on some to get a more proven commodity that fills a hole, I’d be all for it. Of course, being the fan that I am, if they stand pat and do nothing in the offseason, I’ll still manage to convince myself that we are World Series contenders by the time opening day rolls around again!!

  21. Corky October 7, 2008 at 2:36 pm #

    First of all thanks for the awesome write up, as always, Seth. It’s greatly appreciated :).

    But anyways, Cedeno is certainly an interesting option. I’m not sure I see the same in him as you do though. A career major league line of .252/.289/.350 (with just short of 1000ABs) doesn’t really get me excited. His minor league numbers are marginally better, but he seems to fit that utility infielder profile to me, which is pretty much right where the Cubs have him. And I think what we have on the team now or have in the system would be comparable to Cedeno.

    I am definitely against the Carbera idea too however. No way, no how, no thanks. Way too expensive for an average at best SS, and a clubhouse cancer.

    There are a lot of people pushing the trade for Hardy (on both sides it seems), especially since the Brew Crew have a SS prospect in the waiting apparently (forget his name). But I’m sure a Hardy trade would command a Blackburn/Perkins type and another higher level prospect. Brandon Wood seems like a good buy low type of player, however.

    This will be an interesting off-season just because the Twins could either lay low and build off of this year, or have an almost “win-now” type of attitude by dealing for a Beltre/Hardy, etc. Not that laying low wouldn’t be a “win-now” strategy, because I think the Twins look very good for the next 3-4 years. Which is much better than what I thought after last season :).

  22. J. Lichty October 7, 2008 at 2:40 pm #

    Couple thoughts on a well thought out post:

    1) Beltre – I agree that he still is the primier option for 3b, but think you underestimate his value. Why would Seattle take 3 second tier prospects for him when they can get 2 1st rd picks for him when he walks after the season. I think your package gets closer, because all three of those arms could potentially help Seattle, but I still think you are looking at Blackburn, Perkins and two of the others you are discussing.

    I think that Buscher/Harris platoon at 3b is servicable and would not want to overpay in terms of prospects for Beltre, but the two draft picks at the end of the year gives Seattle a lot of leverage in any deal.

    2) I think Punto will be back. The Twins have cash and Gardy loves him.

    3) Not thrilled about your SS solution, but like your approach that SS comes through a trade for possibly undervalued young SS rather than FA pickings, like Cabrera.

    4)I think Span needs to be playing 9-10 games at least. I prefer a rotation of Span filling LF, CF, RF on a relatively consecutive rotating basis, with the other playing 2-3 games as a base. Injuries and matchups will adjust this, and giving span a rest against a tough leftie now and again can get the numbers for the others up there. But sitting Span for 20% of the games is too much assuming he can keep it going. With he and Mauer getting on base almost 4-10 times – he just needs to be in there more than you have slotted. Cuddyer can pick up DH and 1b games to get his at bats up a little higher than the 66% of the playing time in RF I would slot for him under my rotation, and can maybe give GoGo and Young a few more games in LF and CF respectively. Obviously we will see some injuries (probably Cuddyer) and that may take care of things as well.

    5) given the shakiness of the bullpen last year I agree that need 12 pitchers to sort out who will be effective and to reduce work load. What cannot happen is that Gardy has on his roster 3 relief pitchers who he will not use so that the ones he will use get overworked.

    I do not have as much faith as you that Neshek will be where he was two years ago. Even before he got hurt he was not pitching terribly well. Unless he is lights out during ST, he may need to start in the minors (I believe he still has 1 option), just so the other pitchers can be sorted out. I am just not confident that the no surgery route after him being shut down in 2007 and missing most of 2008 has resolved the issue and would hate to cut bait on an effective pitcher based upon the hope that Neshek will be back to form after such a long layoff.

    I also do not think that Crain is the answer. Yes he seemed to have good velocity back, but he has no movement on his fastball and was very hittable. His control was also terrible and it seemed that there was always 1 or 2 baserunners on, even when he was getting out of innings. If Crain is given a shot, it needs to be at the expense of a pitcher with options even if that pitcher is better than Crain or another returner. The Twins need to have depth here so that they can give shots to these guys that had success in 2007 but were epic fail last year, without leaving themselves without alternatives. That is why I thin Neshek (if he has options) and Mijares probably should start out in the minors.

    Guerrier should be given a chance but again on a very short leash. He simply cannot be thrust into the role he was in last year.

    Mijares did well in short sample size. Love his stuff. Biting slider makes a great SO threat. He should obviously should be in the pen eventually. Given his service time, he probably should start in the minors to give depth to bullpen should Guerierr, Crain and Neshek not rebound.

    Boof probably needs to be traded because I think of the arms in the pen he has the most value. Anyone with that kind of SO ability and good fastball, has a chance to be highly successful. If Perkins or Blackburn is moved, Boof should get another shot at starting.

    Breslow did everything we could have hoped and will be back.

    If Humber cannot be moved, he will stay on the roster, and I think he showed that he can be a decent long relief option — certainly as good or better than Bass.

    They need to bring in at least one and maybe two solid bull pen options from outside the organization.

    Thus my opening day pitching roster looks like this.

    5 returning starters; Nathan, Crain, Guerrier, Breslow, one of Humber/Bonser; one outside the organization upgrade on 1 year deal. This assumes that Neshek has an option. If not, he needs to replace Guerrier or Crain, who hopefull can be moved. There will be some trades from this group, Bonser the most likely because he has the most value.

  23. Ruth October 7, 2008 at 2:45 pm #

    I would like to see Delmon Young traded and Denard Span play LF every day. Jason Pridie could be the 4th outfielder. I was really disappointed with Delmon’s fielding this year and he didn’t seem to improve at all as the season went along, so I don’t think we can hope for anything better (unlike Justin Morneau who has worked hard to become a great first baseman)

  24. SethSpeaks October 7, 2008 at 3:03 pm #

    1.) I don’t understand people thinking that Perkins can not be a starter. What is that based on? His September? It may or may not be right, but I don’t understand why people are so certain he can’t do it.

    2.) Delmon Young… How many errors did he have this year? How many balls did he not get to or catch? it may not be pretty, but he makes the plays that he can get to, and he’s got a very strong arm. he’s WAY too good to give up on. And I don’t know who is questioning if he works hard…

    3.) J Lichty – GREAT posting… I really enjoyed reading your well-put together thoughts. I don’t necessarily agree with all of them, but then I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I write either. You make a good point about Neshek and Mijares. Both come into the season with question marks, and the Twins have done a good job of letting guys with option go down to Rochester while guys without option are given every chance to succeed. Again, that is important for long-term success. As for Span, my initial thing had him starting 9 out of 10, but I figured with Gomez’s defense, I would let him play 8 out of 10 in CF with Span playing the other two.

  25. thrylos98 October 7, 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    Seth,

    yesterday catcher Josh Bard who was bothered by injuries last year was released by the Padres. I think that the Twins should try to at least invite him to spring training because if he is back to form, he is a much better bench option than Redmond…

  26. thrylos98 October 7, 2008 at 3:19 pm #

    As far as Young’s fielding goes (the numbers for 2008 are not available yet), in 2007 his +/- number was -10 (as a RF); for comparison Cuddyer’s +/- number was -29.

    Why I am convinced that Perkins cannot start?

    a. I think that his makeup is very similar to that of Bonser. He lets the game get to him, resulting in mental lapses and mistakes. At least Bonser did not dog out a teammate when he made an error…

    b. He has trouble closing the door. He lags the ML average in outs on batters with 2 strikes

    c. He is a fairly one dimensional pitcher, because his off-speed stuff is not very effective against ML Batters and when he cannot locate his fastball or pressing (see a above) disaster ensues…

    Can he become an effective ML starter? Probably. Right now I think that he is best suited at the pen, esp. if there are better options. If there are not, he would be an ok #5 starter unless he improves those 3 things

  27. mike wants wins October 7, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    The issue isn’t Buscher/Harris at 3rd, or Delmon in Left, or Punto at short, it is the combination of those three that make the Twins less than they need to be to be a great team. Buscher/Harris would be fine, if Delmon hit 20HRs and more doubles and got on base more often. The issue isn’t each individual position, but the portfolio of the positions taken together.

    They weren’t good enough to win a bad division, and if you think the Twins young players will improve, then you have to think that Cleveland’s will also, and maybe KC’s. Who knows if the Sox will find one more SP in free agency and Detroit buys two of them?

  28. roger October 7, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    Great post Seth. You know my feelings about next year. Pretty much stand pat, with a few real smart moves. 1) they need one very good middle relief guy; either as a free-agent or by trade. They cannot go into the season with the intent to compete depending on Neshek, Crain and Guerrier. I think they all will be ok, but to many question marks. 2) they have to find a good AAA/AAAA catching prospect, someone who can get the job done as a backup if something should happen to either Mauer or Redmond for an extended period of time. 3) I am happy with the rest of the team, big question is do they keep 5 solid players for the 4 outfield/dh spots? If they want someone better at another position, there is one player in that group to help get them. 4) do they resign Punto? That will somewhat determine what happens to Harris who also could become expendable.

  29. TT October 7, 2008 at 4:59 pm #

    They weren’t good enough to win a bad division

    Who is “they”? Because it was not lack of offense that was the Twins problem. They lead the division and were third in the league in runs scored. Defense and pitching are the two areas the Twins need to improve.

    if you think the Twins young players will improve, then you have to think that Cleveland’s will also, and maybe KC’s

    Neither one has as many young players as the Twins. Both the Twins pitching staff and lineup are as young or younger than any in the division according to baseball-reference. Of course that has its upsides and downsides. But that is why waiting until you see what you have next year makes sense.

  30. greenmachine October 7, 2008 at 5:19 pm #

    I think it makes sense to say the 5th starter spot is open for competition in Spring Training. There are legitimate signs to worry that Perkins may not be the fifth best starter we have:

    2008 xFIP
    Perkins: 5.05
    L Hernandez: 5.49
    Bonser: 4.31

    2008 WHIP
    Perkins: 1.47
    L Hernandez: 1.63
    Bonser: 1.48

    Do those numbers condemn Perkins? No, of course not. He did plenty this year. But they do indicate that he might have been lucky in some cases where he succeeded given peripherals between Bonser and Livan an unspectacular WHIP due to being pretty hittable. I don’t think it should be a given that his rotation spot is secured.

  31. thrylos98 October 7, 2008 at 5:21 pm #

    greenmachine,

    agreed. Here are some other numbers (scouting) to ponder (2008 all Twins starters currently under team control)

    123 inning % of complete innings pitched:

    Slowey: 49%
    Liriano: 45%
    Baker: 44%
    Blackburn: 40%
    Bonser: 38%
    Perkins: 34%

    Opponents BA against sliders (and % of pitches that was a slider):

    Liriano: .125 (26%)
    Baker: .190 (21%)
    Bonser: .228 (20%)
    Slowey: .256 (12%)
    Blackburn: .293 (22%)
    Perkins: .351 (7%)

    Opponents BA against curves:

    Bonser: .186 (16%)
    Baker: .222 (10%)
    Slowey: .261 (12%)
    Blackburn: .280 (13%)
    Perkins: .286 (7%)
    Liriano: N/A

    Opponents BA against changeups:

    Baker: .204 (7%)
    Slowey: .261 (7%)
    Liriano: .264 (19%)
    Perkins: .300 (14%)
    Blackburn: .350 (9%)
    Bonser: .412 (5%)

  32. SAM October 7, 2008 at 5:50 pm #

    IS WINFREE DONE???

  33. JA October 7, 2008 at 6:16 pm #

    Seth,
    I agree with you on most fronts, I just do not see giving up that much for Beltre. Also, how are we going to acquire Cedano? Agreed, he could be a great pick-up.
    If Neshak is healthy, I do not have any bullpen concerns, or starters for that matter.
    Pridie, can someone find his stats from June 1st on? Mashed the league in ’07, ok April, terrible May, terrific June forward. Baseball is the ultimate game of adjustments, and he did just that.

  34. thrylos98 October 7, 2008 at 6:20 pm #

    Pridie’s splits:

    June: .267/.296/.442
    July: .330/.343/.670
    August: .295/.347/.375

    but here is the kicker:

    BABIP

    June: .337, July: .384, August: .423

  35. Bill October 8, 2008 at 7:26 am #

    After watching the Cubs fall apart in the playoffs it became obvious that they need a left handed power hitter. The Twins need a SS and middle relief. How about a Kubel for Theriot and Marshall. It may take more to get this done but I’d push for Theriot before Cedeno.

  36. Kim P October 8, 2008 at 1:41 pm #

    Not bad Seth but with B.S. at the wheel those trades for Beltre and Cedeno will never happen. I would rather see Cuddy platoon at DH with Kubel and spell Morneau at 1st. Ideally he could play some 3rd but that didn’t work out to well last time. I just think the outfield of Young, Gomez, and Span is solid. Tolbert would fill Puntos’ shoes but not as an everyday SS.

  37. Brad October 8, 2008 at 4:00 pm #

    Would Seattle be interested in Cudyer & Boof or Duensing for Beltre? I want Gomez, Span & Young playing OF 95% of the time.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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