Twins Offseason Blueprint

2 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on their World Series championship. If a team ever epitomized “The Playoffs”, it was the Giants. “Pitching Wins” was proven in the World Series this year. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner showed how great pitching can shut down any offense. The Giants offense was a mix-match of veterans with something to prove. Think about this. At what position would you trade the Twins starter for the Giants starter? But in the small sample size of the playoffs, a guy like Edgar Renteria can play hero despite doing nothing for two years. And the Giants had a bunch of heroes. Guys like Bumgarner, Cody Ross, Freddy Sanchez, Aubrey Huff and former Rochester Red Wing Andres Torres all had their moments in the Giants run. Of course, they also got great performances from the few stars that they have. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain set the tone with tremendous starts in the playoffs. The team’s lone offensive star, catcher Buster Posey had a lot of big hits too. And top closer Brian Wilson did a tremendous job as always closing out games.

Congratulations to the World Champion San Francisco Giants, but if ever someone needed an example of how once in the playoffs, anything can and does happen!

But with the completion of the World Series, it marks the beginning of the offseason. It is now that things start happening. Within the next five days, eligible players will need to file for free agency. That includes six-year minor league free agents like Twins relief prospect Kyle Waldrop who will need to be added to the 40 man roster within the next five days or he would become a free agent.

And then by November 20th, the Twins will also need to determine who else will go on their 40 man roster. Remember it was just days after the World Series concluded last year that the Twins and Brewers completed the JJ Hardy/Carlos Gomez trade. The Twins have 40 man roster decisions, free agents, arbitration-eligibles, and many other decisions on potential trade targets or free agents from other organizations.

The Twins front office has a lot of decisions to make, and it can be a little overwhelming. So TwinsCentric is here to help you out. With the completion of the World Series and the onset of the offseason, we are proud to announce that the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook is now available by going to www.TwinsCentric.com. The electronic book walks you through all of these decisions and more. It’s a one-spot stop for the biggest of Twins fans.

In the GM Handbook, the four of us each put together a hypothetical blue print of what we would do if we were the Twins GM. Obviously our ideas will be forgotten, and Bill Smith will have to live with his decisions (good or bad), but the exercise illustrates just how much information needs to be considered. You may ask, “Why would they show their blue print? Isn’t that the key of the book?”

Well, in reality, the blueprints are the culmination of all of the rest of the book, but the meat and potatoes of the book are all of the content to help you through the offseason of decisions. In the end, you can put together your own blueprint and then be sure to come to this site throughout the offseason to keep updated on what the Twins actually do.

With that, I submit my blue print for your consideration, mocking and ridicule:

West Coast Help

by SETH STOHS

1) Add David Bromberg, Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee, Rene Tosoni, Kyle Waldrop, Tyler Robertson, and Steve Singleton to the 40 man roster.

2.) Let free agents Orlando Hudson, Brian Fuentes, Nick Punto, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, Ron Mahay and Randy Flores leave.

3) Reach arbitration agreements with JJ Hardy ($6.5M), Delmon Young ($5.25M), Kevin Slowey ($2.75M), Alexi Casilla ($800K), Pat Neshek ($800K) and Jason Repko ($750K).

For just below $17 million, you secure your starting middle infielders, your run-producing right-handed bat, a solid starting pitcher, a reliever and an excellent defensive fourth outfielder.

4) Offer Carl Pavano arbitration.

Although certainly not a given, Pavano will likely decline it, hoping that he can turn back-to-back 200+ inning seasons into a multi-year contract. Since Pavano is a Type A free agent, you’ll get draft pick compensation when he signs elsewhere.

5) Sign Francisco Liriano to four-year, $40 million extension.

Liriano is entering his second season of arbitration eligibility and our estimates have him getting $4.5M. Liriano has ace potential and it showed again during a strong 2010 season. Let me submit to you the following chart for your consideration:

Zack Greinke   Josh Johnson   Francisco Liriano
ARB 1 (08) 1.4M   ARB 1 (09) 1.4M   ARB 1 (10) 1.6M
2009 3.75M   2010 3.75M   2011 4M
2010 7.25M   2011 7.75M   2012 8M
2011 13.5M   2012 13.75M   2013 14M
2012 13.5M   2013 13.75M   2014 14M

Yes, there is risk with Liriano physically. But Josh Johnson also had Tommy John surgery, and Greinke’s battle with depression early in his career is certainly noteworthy in this discussion of risk. Liriano returned to his 2006 form in 2010, and he is primed for a breakout 2011 season. All three of these pitchers will be 27 years old throughout the season.

6) Re-sign Jesse Crain for three years, $10.5 million.

In May, most of Twins Nation was ready to ship Crain off. At the time, he was a “Crain Wreck.” He has one of the best fastball velocities in baseball, but when he started throwing his slider consistently for strikes and relying upon it, he became one of baseball’s best relievers. The Twins will be losing a lot out of their bullpen and despite many good arms at Triple-A, the team does need to have a veteran presence as well. Crain seems to have figured things out, and is in line for the second three-year contract of his career.

7) Trade outfielder Jason Kubel, shortstop Trevor Plouffe and pitchers Kevin Slowey and Anthony Slama to Giants for starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez and lefty reliever Javier Lopez.

We saw in the playoffs that the top teams have not just one but two, and often three, “Ace” types of pitchers. You have to give up something to get something, and in this proposed trade, the Twins would be giving up a power-hitting left-handed bat in Kubel (who could find McCovey Cove to be a fun target). They would also give up Kevin Slowey who, despite few quality starts, has found a way to win games and be a solid starting pitcher in his brief career. The Giants could lose both Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria in the offseason, so they could be interested in Plouffe. Bullpen is important, and Slama could do well with the Giants. Javier Lopez has been a good, but not spectacular, lefty reliever for quite some time. He was terrific in his brief stint with the Giants and is just shy of free agency meaning he would have one more year of arbitration-eligibility.

Clearly Sanchez is the key component to this trade. Always talented, Sanchez has been an enigma to the Giants throughout his career. He’s always had no-hit stuff, and in 2010, he did throw a no-hitter. Over his previous two seasons, Sanchez went 17-24 with ERAs of 5.01 (2008) and 4.24 (2009). However, left-handed pitching wins, and power arms with the ability to get strikeouts dominate. Sanchez knows how to miss bats. In 193.1 innings in 2010, he struck out 205 batters. In just over 600 career innings, he has a strikeout rate of 9.4 per nine innings. Even in his breakout 2010 season (during which he went 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA), he led the National league in walks in 96. He made $2.1 million in 2010, his first year of arbitration. I would try to extend him to a three-year, $26 million deal in which he made $5 million in 2011, $9 million in 2012, $11 million in 2013, and have an option for 2014 at $13 million with a $1 million buyout.

8) Tender a contract to reliever Matt Capps, and then trade him and pitchers Kane Holbrooks and Anthony Swarzak to the Dodgers for reliever Kenley Jansen and shortstop Ivan DeJesus, Jr. (Or Matt Capps and a pitching prospect for Kenley Jansen.)

Matt Capps came to the Twins at the July trade deadline and did a nice job in the role of Twins closer. He was scary, but he succeeded. Scarier is the idea that he could make $8 million in his final year of arbitration. The Twins had to tender him a contract because the idea of giving up a catching prospect of the caliber of Wilson Ramos for a two-month rental is not fun. Can Capps be traded? How many teams need a closer? The Dodgers have Jonathan Broxton who was an All-Star but ended up losing the closer role to Hong-Chih Kuo who dominated left-handed batters but isn’t really the closer type either. The Dodgers may be a team interested in taking a proven closer. If the Twins send a couple more pitching prospects in the deal, could they get back a couple of very good prospects in Jansen and DeJesus?

DeJesus may be the Dodgers second baseman to start the 2011 season, so he may not be available. If not, I would still trade Capps for Jansen straight-up. We talk about the Twins acquiring power arms a lot. Well, Jansen is a power arm, capable of touching triple digits. He is a work in progress. You may recall that he made his name as the strong-armed catcher of Team Netherlands in the 2009 WBC. He couldn’t hit, so the Dodgers converted him to a pitcher, and he made the transition last spring. He was with the Dodgers by the end of July and pitched in 25 games. He was 1-0 with four saves. He posted an ERA of just 0.67 and a WHIP of 1.00. In 27 innings, he walked 15, but he struck out 41.  

9) Sign Lance Berkman for one year, $6 million.

I would love for the Twins to bring Jim Thome back. He was great on the field and provided power to the Twins lineup. He was great in the clubhouse, as a mentor to young players. In 2011, he will be chasing his 600th career home run. But in some ways, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was right. Thome is very one-dimensional. He provides nothing defensively and no speed. He really struggles against most left-handed pitchers. Now, Berkman is certainly not a great hitter against lefties either, but with Kubel and Thome off the roster, Berkman becomes the Twins regular DH and will get many more right-handed at bats. After posting OPS+ of 130 or greater every season since his 34 game debut in 1999, Berkman struggled in 2010 and was traded by his hometown team to the Yankees. His struggles resulted in an OPS+ of 114, still well above average, but not to the expectations of Berkman. At 35, it is possible that Berkman could be happy to get a one-year, make-good contract and prove that he is not done. With the Twins, he could play daily, even spelling Justin Morneau at 1B or one of the corner outfielders occasionally. All reports would indicate that Berkman would fit well in the Twins clubhouse as well.

2011 Opening Day 25-Man Roster

STARTING LINEUP

  • C: Joe Mauer ($23M)
  • 1B: Justin Morneau ($14M)
  • 2B: Alexi Casilla ($800K)
  • 3B: Danny Valencia ($450K)
  • SS: JJ Hardy ($6.5M)
  • LF: Delmon Young ($5.25M)
  • CF: Denard Span ($1M)
  • RF: Michael Cuddyer ($10.5M)
  • DH: Lance Berkman ($6M)

(Approx $67.5M)

BENCH

  • C: Drew Butera ($450K)
  • IF: Matt Tolbert ($450K)
  • IF: Luke Hughes ($420K)
  • OF: Jason Repko ($750K)

(Remember, also paying Brendan Harris $1.75M for 2011.)

(Approx $3.82M)

ROTATION

  • SP: Francisco Liriano ($4M)
  • SP: Jonathan Sanchez ($5M)
  • SP: Brian Duensing ($450K)
  • SP: Scott Baker ($5M)
  • SP: Nick Blackburn ($3M)

(Approx $17.45M)

BULLPEN

  • CL: Joe Nathan ($12.5M)
  • RP: Jesse Crain ($3M)
  • RP: Javier Lopez ($1.5M)
  • RP: Pat Neshek ($800K)
  • RP: Jose Mijares ($450K)
  • RP: Kenley Jansen ($450K)
  • RP: Jeff Manship ($450K)

(Approx $19.15M)

TOTAL 2011 PAYROLL: $108M

SUMMARY:

My proposed lineup would change very little from the one that last year finished fourth in the league in runs scored. A healthy Justin Morneau will help, of course. The losses would be Thome and Orlando Hudson with Alexi Casilla taking over at 2B and Berkman at DH. I would like to see Casilla win a second base competition in the spring with the likes of Luke Hughes and Steve Singleton. If not, those guys could contribute as well. There was a little effort to make the Twins a bit less left-handed dominant, although only minimally.

In the starting rotation, Pavano would be gone, but he would be replaced by the immensely talented Jonathan Sanchez. Between Sanchez and Liriano, they have two pitchers with ace potential. But the season really relies on Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn being solid, and consistent (!), contributors throughout the season. 

There is risk in the bullpen when you lose so many veterans, especially not knowing what to expect from Joe Nathan. I do think it is important to add some quality power arms to the mix though, and we’ve done that.

And we’ve done that for just shy of $110 million, which 1) seems like a realistic payroll number to start the season, and 2) hopefully allows the front office some wiggle room to again make moves as needed throughout the season.

What do you think? This was written 2-3 weeks ago. So, I’m sure some might change, and obviously there is no right or wrong answer, but I would love your thoughts, and your opinions. And again, if you’re interested in the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, click here for much more information.

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17 Responses to “Twins Offseason Blueprint”

  1. Andrew November 2, 2010 at 12:24 am #

    I find Jansen to be a very intriguing reliever. Even with the success of the bullpen this year, I think adding a power arm would be good.

  2. Jack Steal November 2, 2010 at 12:31 am #

    Trade Kubel, Plouffe, Slowey, and Slama for Jonathan Sanchez and Javier Lopez. It is stunning to think you with all your baseball knowledge, would trade a stud, a #3 starter with a huge upside, and 2 good prospects for a #2 starter who walks everybody and a washed up relief pitcher. Glad you are not the GM of the Twins!! Keep Kubel and trade Young makes no sense. The Twins have no intention of signing Young long-term so trade him now while other teams want him.

  3. Bill in Sarasota November 2, 2010 at 7:56 am #

    Especially since the 2011 draft is supposed to be very good, I would take a chance and offer arbitration to all of the “B” free agents and Pavano.
    I would try to sign Benoit and if successful, I would non-tender Capps. Capps is going to get 7-8 million and the Twins cannot afford it.
    Capps-Ramos was a mistake at the time and a bigger one now.
    Your bench has nothing. Imagine Thome and Ramos slitting the DH (Ramos replacing Butera) while the other one is on the bench as a PH threat.

  4. mike wants wins November 2, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    I agree with the package Kubel/Slowey plan, I just don’t like the target all that much. I can’t name the SP I’d want, but Sanchez is not that guy. I’d rather a big time OF prospect be thrown in, and that you get a better SP in return.

    Ramos is not an option, so imagining him on the bench is pure fantasy. I like Hughes on this bench next year, I think he’s a RH PH, and backup OF and INF. He’s not great at any of them, but I think he’s a good bench player.

  5. TT November 2, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    I think you have to offer arbitration to all the type B free agents. In the unlikely event any of them accept, they would contribute to the Twins next year if kept and will not really be so overpriced that they can’t be traded. With Pavano and Guerrier the chances they will turn down arbitration are higher.

    I would offer Pavano arbitration. An offer to Guerrier should depend on who else they are able to find for the bullpen. If the bullpen hasn’t been bolstered by the time arbitration offers need to be made, they should make an offer. The worst that can happen is they have an expensive part for the bullpen.

    The Twins should keep Capps. They are going to need a closer next year and Nathan is unlikely to come back ready to step into that role. In fact, there is no guarantee Nathan will ever be able to pitch again. Pat Neshek is probably not a major league pitcher any more. Rebuilding the bullpen really has to be the focus and that starts with keeping your only established closer.

    If they can sign Crain for three years at $3.5 million per year, by all means they should do it. I don’t think that is going to happen. That said, the bullpen really needs to be the focus for Smith.

    The other issue is the outfield/DH situation. Where do Kubel and Thome fit and it looks like Ben Revere may be ready to help as well. I think they need to lock Young up with a long term contract if they can. I agree that is unlikely and it may be time to move him to make room for Revere. That would allow them to ease Revere into the lineup with Kubel as the backup if he isn’t quite ready.

    I think they should try to resign Thome and I don’t think he will cost them that much. He is a part time player and there aren’t many contenders who have the luxury of being able to accommodate that as well as the Twins.

    Hardy is a free agent after this year. That means the Twins are going to have to find a new shortstop or hand him a multi-year contract. It makes a lot of sense to see if Plouffe (or Casilla) is a long term answer. Whether to offer Hardy arbitration for this year is a budget decision. I would use the money to sign Punto as a backup to the youngsters. Of course, letting Hardy go along with Rauch and the Twins have nothing to show for Santana except a young pitcher struggling at AA and a supplemental draft pick from Rauch.

    As for the wheeling and dealing, I doubt any of those trades have legs. These off-season fantasies always seem to involve trading a bunch of mediocre players for some other team’s talented player. It doesn’t work that way. Teams understand that its the guys near the peak of the player pyramid that win championships.

  6. TB November 2, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    Oof-da. I’m glad you’re not GM.

  7. mike wants wins November 2, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    Oh, and one WS does not “prove” that starting pitching wins games.

  8. MrHockey November 2, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    I would resign Fuentes–he was their most effective reliever down the stretch and he provides insurance for Nathan.

  9. MrHockey November 2, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    I agree–re-sign Thome over Berkman.

  10. gobbledy November 2, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    berkman is a bad choice he has bad splits rh and that’s where we need help. i’d rather see them pick up andrew jones, hit over .900 ops against lh pitching. dh against lh pitching and fill in all outfield spots. he isn’t a star anymore (post science help) but still very good against lh pitching. and he’s been really cheap the last 2 yrs less than a mill.

  11. mike wants wins November 2, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    Take your $6MM on Berkman and put it into Adam Dunn, and your offseason is much better (though that is $10MM, not $6MM).

  12. Jesse H November 2, 2010 at 10:57 pm #

    I would add a move that is not roster related but instead goes to the heart of the playoff failures and that move would be for someone in the organization to play the bad guy and put pressure on the team to win a series against the Yankees in the regular season. I think either Bill Smith or Dave St. Peter needs to come out before the season and state:

    “I like the guys on this team but if this team cannot become competetive against the Yankees during the regular season I will need to re-evaluate the roster. I am instructing Ron Gardenhire to treat the 2 series against the Yankees like a playoff series and the organization will be embaressed if this roster that consists of numerous all-stars and a payroll of over $100 million dollars cannot compete against the Yankees.”

    I think this teams needs to learn how to play under stress and they need an artificial sense of urgency added to a series or two during the regular season to better prepare for the playoffs.

  13. R Hobbs November 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    Boy Seth; normally I agree with you but here I think you are way off. The Twins’ OF situtation is unsettled. I can’t see Kubel or Young going anywhere. You keep Fuentes over Capps because he is a lefty and a better closer to boot if Nathan can’t meet the bell. I can’t believe Neshak’s 82 mph fastball and bad attitude see spring training. Berkman is slightly more attractive than Thome but save the dough. JJ Hardy at 6 or 7 million ain’t worth if Punto will take 2. The truth is simple; the Twins can’t spend big dough to improve marginally at positions. They need to hoard it to sign an ace. They will perenially be the Central Division champs dispatched in the first round until they do. Remember -if Smith hadn’t blinked on Cliff Lee, the boys might have rings.

  14. Seth November 3, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    I’d definitely keep Fuentes over Capps, for sure… but I’d still rather have Kenley Jansen, although he’s likely not available. Neshek does NOT have a bad attitude at all!

    And finally, does Texas get rings??

  15. scot November 3, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Fuentes would be nice but he is a free agent and too expensive I think, he is gone. Capps is expensive also but arby eligible and Twins need insurance for Nathan.

  16. TT November 3, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

    I don’t see why people think an aging lefty, Fuentes, is more valuable than a 27 year old closer who can only be expected to get better, Capps. But even stranger is that you think that is really the choice. They have Capps, Fuentes is a free agent. You don’t seem to understand there is a big difference between a bird in the hand and one in the bush.

  17. Large Canine November 4, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    2011 is going to be like kissing your sister. At best we go about 120mil to win the div and lose in the first round. At worst we go 100-110mil and don’t even win the division. I think to do what the Twins fans want and sign the big boys for 130-140mil is unrealistic. Pohlads won’t do it. I am looking forward to 2012 when Cuddy and NAthan contracts are done. Then we can restructure with a few young guys and a few 5 mil FA’s. I think this current group saw their best chance this season.

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