One Bench Bat?

11 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net (and www.StarTribune.com) -

At least out loud, the Twins have stressed their offseason needs as adding speed and adding right-handed hitting. Hence you can fully understand why the team is still at least mildly interested in 40 year old left-handed bench bat Jim Thome. Right?

There is no question that Jim Thome played a very important role for the Twins in 2010. At $1.5 million, he was the best bargain free agent on the season. This offseason, people in the Thome camp have said that he would like to make up for making so little in 2010. He is apparently garnering interest from the Rangers and the Rays, among other teams. He posted one of his best seasons of the decade in 2010 when he hit .283/.412/.627 with 16 doubles and 25 home runs. He has 589 career home runs so the 600 milestone is certainly in his sites. Thome is certainly worth thinking about bringing back. If he is willing to play for $4 million or less, the Twins are likely happy to bring him back. That said, the other teams might be willing to pay more. If the Twins do not bring back Thome, what are their options? We shall discuss here today, and feel free to comment on who you think the best choices are.

In-House

If the Twins choose not to add a free agent bench bat, the top prospect to consider for the role would be Luke Hughes. He is a right-handed, and although he is not a great defender, he can play three outfield positions, 3B, 2B and 1B. He could get at bats as the right-handed DH and pinch-hitter as well. We had the opportunity to see a little bit of his power when, in his first major league at bat, he homered off of the Tigers’ Max Scherzer. Of course, hitting has not been his problem in recent years. Staying healthy is his problem. But if he is a role player, maybe that will help his durability.

Other options for a bench bat include Trevor Plouffe, Steve Singleton, Dustin Martin, Jeff Bailey and Chase Lambin.

Free Agents

There are several free agent bats that are still available as of right now. Here are nine options, each of which is a right-handed bat, for you to consider. Who makes the most sense?

Mike Sweeney – the long-time Royals 1B/DH has been a bit of a nomad the last few years. He split to the 2010 season between the Mariners and the Phillies. In 56 games, he hit .252/.321/.444 with five doubles and eight home runs. He could play some 1B if absolutely necessary. Likelihood – Likely would only need a minor league deal with big league invite, but odds are very low.

Manny Ramirez – Manny Being Manny was traded from the Dodgers to the White Sox near the deadline. In just 90 games in 2010, he hit .298/.409/.460 with 16 doubles and nine home runs. The 38 year old is very unlikely to sign with the Twins for many reasons, the most important being that he could very well be done.

Jermaine Dye – Dye missed the entire 2010 season. He had some offers but felt they were too low, so he sat out the whole year. In 2009, he hit 29 home runs but played really bad right field. After missing the season, will he come down on his salary expectations, or is a one year, $2 million enough to sign up the36 year old?

Vlad Guerrero – The 35 year old hit .300/.345/.496 with 27 doubles and 29 home runs in 152 games. His OPS was very similar to Delmon Young’s in 2010. In his career, he has hit .325/.406/.588 against left-handers. But Guerrero is likely looking for more than $6 million so don’t expect the Twins to sign him. 

Andruw Jones – The Yankeees allegedly want the 33 year old from Curacao as a backup outfielder. With the White Sox in 2010, he hit .230/.341/.486 with 19 homers. Against lefties in his career, he has hit .261/.361/.401 against lefties. He can play some outfield still, but he’s mainly a pinch-hitter and DH. 

Marcus Thames – The 33 year old played in 82 games in 2010 with the Yankees. He hit .288/.350/.491 with seven doubles and 12 homers. In his career against lefties, he has hit .264/.333/.505. He can play the corner outfield positions and even got a game at 3B in 2010. 

Troy Glaus – The 34 year old played in 128 games for the Braves a year ago, and it was a roller coaster. After a bad April, he was the NL’s player of the month in May. By mid August, the Braves traded for the struggling Derrick Lee, and Glaus became a pinch hitter and bench bat. He can play a little at 1B and even played some 3B for Atlanta in the playoffs. Overall, he hit .240/.344/.400 with 18 doubles and 16 home runs. 

Scott Hairston – The 30 year old played in 104 games for the Padres in 2010. He hit just .210/.295/.346. He played primarily left field, but he played CF and RF as well. in 2008 and 2009, he hit 17 home runs each year. Against lefties, he has hit .278/.331/.498.

Jorge Cantu – Cantu is the youngest player on this list. He has been around for awhile yet won’t turn 27 until the end of January. Between the Marlins and Rangers in 2010, he hit a combined .256/.304/.392. Cantu can play 1B and 3B, and also spot-start 2B. Against lefties, he has hit .272/.323/.451 over his caeer;

Do any of those names interest you? So, who should the Twins choose? What factors should go into such a decision What do you think? Jim Thome? Luke Hughes? Or a free agent? What do you think? 

Check it out if you are able to. Feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

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16 Responses to “One Bench Bat?”

  1. jeff January 11, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    If the Twins decide to spend some real money on a bench bat, which I think they should, Guerrero is a much better baseball decision than Thome. I love Jim Thome. But he’s slow, not right handed, and can’t play the field at all. Guerrero has only had a couple of seasons under 30 home runs, and as a .300+ power hitter would make our other hitters better as well.

  2. gobbledy January 11, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    taking the money into account and that we have kubel signed and on the roster, sign lasting milledge to something around 1m. kubel dh’s against rh pitching only! against lh pitching milledge plays either lf or rf and delmon or cuddy dh. kubel against lh, .225/.311/.344/.655 not good; milledge against lh, .320/.414/.512/.926 good. repko goes to aaa for insurance. milledge is a better defender than either dy or cuddy and is faster. not sexy but a low cost move that could give us better balance against lh pitching and leave a little money for other help.

  3. mike wants wins January 11, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    I’d rather have Andruw Jones of the free agents. He can still play more OF than you give him credit for. Vlad put up those numbers in a hitters’ park, on a team not pursuing him at all.

    Best case, from an overall perspective (budget, for example) is if Hughes can be that every position utility guy that can pinch hit a little (if we are talking only 1 guy).

  4. TT January 11, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    I am not sure Hughes is really an option as a bench bat. He doesn’t have many major league at bats and he isn’t likely to get many just as a backup DH. While Hughes has played a number of positions in the minor leagues, I am not sure he is really a major league player at any of them. Its tough enough for a veteran to just come off the bench, its really not a role for a player just trying to get their feet wet. On the internal options, I think Justin Huber would be a possibility since he is back in the organization after playing in Japan.

    I am not excited about any of the free agents. I am not sure you want to spend six million dollars on a guy who will get a 200 at bats. Thome has a variety of things going for him. Not the least of those is his clubhouse presence on what is still a pretty young team.

  5. peter January 11, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Marcus Thames, if the price is reasonable… our division rivals are stocking up on left-handed relievers…
    if Marcus does not work out we can always use Luke or trade at mid season deadline..

  6. JA January 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Who doesn’t like the idea of Vladdy coming of the bench in the 8th inning to face Matt Thorton. Or Crain, Sale, Perez, Soria or who ever. But is that really a role he would accept? He should still find a everyday DH spot somewhere.
    Thome might not be as ideal, but we should be very happy if he’s back.
    Seth what do you think of Willy Aybar, he had a down year and is young enough to hopefully bounce back abit? Could be had for low $$’s.

  7. mbrian January 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Although he seems like a swell Twins clubhouse type of guy, I’d scratch Sweeney off the list. Over the last four years his OPS+ is only 100 and his career platoon splits are actually worse against LHP than they are against RHP.

  8. Seth January 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Gobble – Note also that Lastings Milledge is playing this winter for Aragua with all the Twins guys, so it’s not like it’s unreasonable if the guys down there like him.

    Sweeney was just a name, that’s why he was mentioned first. No interetin in him.

    • gobbledy January 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

      i bring him up because he is cheap, young and may still have some upside. the money seems like a big part of what they can still do. even 5m for thome, and i thought he was our mvp last year, when we have kubel would leave at least 1 or 2 other spots short changed. saving 4-5m may help fill a relief or middle infield spot. skimping on 2-4 roster spots very well might cost several wins over the course of the season, imo.

  9. JimCrikket January 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    I’ve concluded that Thames is the best option if Thome’s money demands are too much… and maybe even if they aren’t. Dead pull RH hitter could be very nice to have coming off the bench or DHing against LHSPs.

  10. hoff January 12, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    Andruw Jones. I feel a good year. He’ll be cheap or at least as cheap as Thome will want and he can play in the field.

  11. Juanie January 12, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    Why not take a flier on Dye? A nice RH bat who has historically hit LHP pretty well over the years. I’d rather have Dye as a DH over Kubel or Thome when the Twins go up against Sabathia, Lester, Price, C. J. Wilson, (insert LHP) in the playoffs next year.

    Too bad Dye and Guerrero don’t have the personality of Thome.

  12. Chubbawubba January 13, 2011 at 2:05 am #

    Dye might be the missing ingredient. He reminds me of a guy the Twins had when they won it all in ’91…. Chili Davis! I’m not a stat expert, but I checked and their numbers appear similar.

  13. SD Twins Fan January 13, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    I agree with gobbledy: Milledge could be a good deal.

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