Winter Meetings Primer

6 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The Winter Meetings have barely even started yet, and already, there is a ton of news. As I’ve mentioned, each night this week at 10:00 central time, I will be hosting a Winter Meetings Podcast in which I will discuss the day’s transactions, rumors and more, and try to put some Twins context to it all. Sunday night was the first Winter Meetings Podcast, and I was joined by Jim Crikket of Knuckleballsblog.com, and John Bonnes, aka The Twins Geek. I’m sure there are times when my thoughts are controversial to Twins fans. I mean, not as controversial as the Gophers’ hiring of that Kill guy as their new football coach, but still, kind of controversial to some. We really discussed all aspects of the Winter Meetings and what to expect or hope for from the Twins.

Winter Meetings Podcast Schedule (all start at 10:00 central time): Monday – Nick Nelson, Tuesday – Aaron Gleeman, Wednesday – Phil Mackey (live from Orlando), Thursday – Travis Aune to talk about the Rule 5 draft and put a bow on the Winter Meetings.

 Here are some of my thoughts on the news from Sunday:

  • I got beat up (not literally) this past summer when I suggested that Jayson Werth would make $100 million this offseason. However, I was shocked when he got seven years and $126 million from the Nationals. He is a very good player, but come on, he’s not one of those types of players.
  • Based on the Werth deal, I have no problem with Carl Crawford asking for eight years and $180 million. What will Cliff Lee get once the Yankees and Rangers start serious talks with him?
  • What alarms me about the Werth signing most is that if Carl Pavano signs with the Nationals this week, the Twins would get the Nationals’ 3rd round pick. Their first-round pick is protected. Their second round pick likely goes to Philadelphia for Werth, so the Twins would get their third round pick, plus a supplemental pick between the 1st and 2nd rounds.
  • Shawn Marcum was traded from Toronto to the Brewers last night. The Blue Jays received the Brewers top prospect, Brett Lawrie, who is a Canadian. It seems to be a good match. Of course, the Blue Jays are a team rumored to be interested in acquiring Zach Greinke, so it’s possible this is a precursor to an even bigger deal. I would love to have seen Marcum in a Twins uniform the next several years. Lawrie is a good prospect, on par with Aaron Hicks.
  • The White Sox signed Adam Dunn for four years and $56 million. They brought back AJ Pierzynski for two years and $8 million. They will likely bring back Paul Konerko in the next couple of days for around $13 million a season. The Tigers added Victor Martinez for four years and $50 millions to be their backup catcher and DH. I know a lot of Twins fans are upset about the AL Centrals doing this, but these players are certainly not players the Twins would have targeted anyway, so I don’t quite get the reaction. The Tigers had $60 million come off the books, so it should be no surprised that they would spend.
  • For the Twins, I would like to see them add a starting pitcher of high caliber. Marcum would have fit into that category. Greinke does as well. I don’t think that I would overpay for Greinke the way that the Royals seemingly would expect the Twins to, but he would be a good addition. Of course, bringing back Carl Pavano for too many years and too many dollars is also a possibility. Depending upon that decision, the team may need to make a move involving one of their current starters.
  • The big area that the Twins need to address is in the bullpen. With potential losses of Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch and others, they will need to add a couple of players. I just don’t think that Gardy would have enough confidence in some of the younger, less experienced pitchers. I’ve mentioned Jose Veras and George Sherrill and Hideki Okajima, but there are others.
  • I will be curious what happens with Jim Thome. I would love to see him back in a Twins uniform, but I also agree that it is hard to have such a one-dimensional option. He is said to be looking for two years, and he should be after last year. If the dollars make sense, great. Otherwise, I think that Matt Diaz may make a lot more sense since the Twins need a right-handed bench/DH bat more than a left-handed DH bat.
  • One thing I would not like is to see JJ Hardy traded for only a relief pitcher. I get it. Apparently the Twins don’t want to keep Hardy around. Without saying it, it is pretty clear. I think it would be a mistake to trade him for just a reliever, but I am not against trading him. I think he has much more value than that.
  • That said, I have never  been a fan of signing big name free agents to big dollar, long-term contracts because they are generally bad contracts within a couple of years as the players get into their mid-30s. Free agent relievers are going to make a lot of money as well. That’s why I understand that obtaining reliever help via trade probably makes the most sense. Otherwise, I might prefer the Twins wait another month for their reliever help.
  • I am finding Twins’ fans angst somewhat comical. Yes, the White Sox signed Dunn, likely will resign Konerko and already brought back Pierzynski. The Tigers added Victor Martinez. All of those are big names, and yet they are names that the Twins should not have been involved in. The Twins needs are in relief pitching, and those types of signings will never garner huge excitement. I do expect Twins fans to be disappointed during the Winter Meetings, but I’m not certain they should be. Jayson Werth signing a ridiculous contract doesn’t mean that the Twins are doing nothing. I’d love to have Carl Crawford roaming left field, but not at $22.5 million. (and yes, I get that we have a catcher making the same). Cliff Lee? He’s going to make way too much for way too long too.
  • That isn’t written to give the Twins a free pass at all. In fact, I am a little concerned. With the dates for the various offseason decisions to be made all moving up, it appears that more will happen at the Winter Meetings than normal. I think the Twins are all-in on Carl Pavano, and although I don’t think that’s a good idea, I do understand. But if they don’t get him, what is the backup plan, and who will be left at that time? I want the Twins to get a solid reliever, like the names I mentioned above. But after that, they’re all just names and I would have to wonder if they’re better than the Twins internal options. I don’t understand the urge to trade someone like JJ Hardy who, although he is very slow running the bases, has great range defensively and will only make $6 million next year. I wouldn’t so much be nervous about a Nishioka/Casilla middle infield, I’d be more worried about the next step if one got hurt or didn’t play well.
  • All that said, I am going to sit back and enjoy the Winter Meetings. It is fun to follow all the rumors, most of which are just that. It’s fun to discuss and dream and hope.  

With that, I’ll call it a day. Feel free to discuss throughout the day in the Comments as more Twins rumors and thoughts come to light. Again, be nice and respectful.

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11 Responses to “Winter Meetings Primer”

  1. dan December 6, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    what do you think about Twins chances of singing Brandon Webb

  2. mike wants wins December 6, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    They should have been in on DUnn. He’s 10x the player Kubel or Cuddeyer are. He could have been the DH/backup 1B (a position he was average at defensively last year). He gets on base at a higher rate than anyone not named Mauer. But, we all knew they wouldn’t be in on him. Some of the angst isn’t over the Twins not signing these guys, but our opposition seemingly, seemingly, getting better.

    A starting SS for a reliever, what a horrible value trade. I’ll be even less impressed with Smith’s ability than I already am.

  3. roger December 6, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Seth, I don’t see them doing anything with Hardy until they have Nashioka signed. And that isn’t likely to be this week. Also, look for them to do a fairly significant trade this winter to get a top reliever and/or a very good starter. Expect they are looking at the trade market more so than signing free agents, thus, aren’t as rushed as fans would like them to be!

  4. JimCrikket December 6, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    I’m a bit confused by the last couple of points you wrote, Seth. First, you find it comical that some of us have expressed angst over the lack of progress the Twins have made so far in strengthening the team and tell us we shouldn’t be disappointed if/when they also do little at the Winter Meetings… then you turn around and express your own concerns over essentially the same issues that are causing some of us to express such “angst”.

    There’s certainly still time to make some progress, but as you point out, timing is more critical with the deadlines moved up this year. The Twins’ MO of waiting the market out and then picking up the undervalued leftovers may well be a good idea for filling their middle-inning relief pitcher spots, but not if they seriously want to improve the top of their rotation or their right-handed hitting. There aren’t many guys on the free agent or trade markets in those areas and there will be far fewer of them a week from now, I believe.

    Obviously, the Twins need to fill their bullpen, too, but there are so many arms out there and I don’t believe many (if any) teams will follow the Tigers’ model and overpay for them (as Fuentes, Rauch, Crain and Guerrier may be finding out already). The Twins can afford to wait that market out a while and I totally agree that trading Hardy just for relief help would be a terrible waste of an asset.

  5. Seth December 6, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    JimCrikket – that’s actually kind of my point… I find it comical when some people get bent out of shape over some of these signings, particularly over guys that the Twins wouldn’t have been after anyway. But at the same time, I get it because there are times when I sit down and think about it and realize that if the Twins want some of these mid-level talents, they may have to overpay for them (Whether that means trading Hardy or paying too much in terms of $ or years). But if they’re smart and don’t do those things, then they’re left with basically the same team as last year or worse, and that certainly doesn’t give much confidence. So, in reality, I don’t know what the right thing or best thing to do is. I know that doing nothing is NOT it, but I also know that overpaying is probably worse than doing nothing.

    • JimCrikket December 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

      So, essentially, you’re agreeing that no matter what Bill Smith does, it’s going to be the wrong thing? :)

      I get it, though. It’s a tough job that requires careful thought and planning… and the cooperation of 29 other GMs, countless agents and players, and a boatload of dumb luck to come out of the off-season where you want to be. Even then, about 75% of your team’s fans will think you failed… and they may be right.

  6. mike wants wins December 6, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    Never overpaying is also wrong, I believe. Now, they’ve clearly overpaid for Mauer, but what I mean is, overpaying to get someone from outside their system (heck, maybe they did that with Capps too). I’m not asking for a Jason Werth type mistake, but a Casey Blake type move.

    Missed your podcast last night – did you talk about Gardy and his obsession with speed and (s)crappy MIF, instead of a guy like Hardy?

  7. Doofus December 6, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    They have made a few moves in the right direction so far. Its not like the Twins need to do too much to keep the status quo. Sign the Japanese player, don’t trade Hardy, resign Guerrier, sign a low cost reliever, and Thome. That should be enough for the offseason unless we go out and get another starter.

  8. Bill in Sarasota December 6, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    1. Don’t re-sign Pavano, Crain, and Hudson. Get the comp picks.
    2. Re-sign Thome.
    3. Re-sign Guerrier or other top FA reliever which doesn’t involve picks.
    4. Don’t trade Hardy.
    5. Sign Nishioka.
    6. Sign Matt Diaz for platoon.

  9. Bill in Sarasota December 6, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    Seth,

    Since Nats lost Dunn and got WhSox 1st pick, is that available for FA signings (Werth, …)?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Monday in the Off-season: Winter Mtgs & Twins Fest | Knuckleballs - December 6, 2010

    [...] ESPN radio’s Phil Mackey is down in Florida covering the Winter Meetings and wrote up a great report covering what needs to be done.  If you need a quick catch up, I would give it a read.  Seth also has a good write-up with more of the player detail over at Seth Speaks. [...]

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