Now What?

8 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Eight days ago, the Twins could have cut their deficit in the AL Central to just four games. Today, the Twins are ten games behind the Tigers and twelve games under .500. While celebrating the organization’s 1991 World Series championship team all weekend, the Twins were swept at Target Field by the White Sox, a team that they have dominated the last few seasons. In fact, in the three games, the White Sox outscored the Twins 18-4. Considering Jason Kubel hit a three-run homer in the 1st inning of Friday night’s game, it was all downhill from there.

We will be discussing where it all went wrong ad nauseum for the rest of the season and in the offseason. We will be discussing what the team should do in the offseason pretty much as soon as the season is complete. Today, I will be toss out some ideas for what the Twins should do in the next month.

  • Call-up Kevin Slowey and have him start. Move Nick Blackburn to the bullpen.
    • The 27-year-old right-hander simply did not adjust  to the bullpen role that he was thrown into.  Since his debut with the Twins in 2007, he has gone 39-21 with a 4.43 ERA. That’s an ERA+ of 95 which means it is slightly below average for that time frame. In Rochester, he is  now 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA.  In 38 innings, he has allowed 44 hits, walked four and struck out 29. These are not numbers that scream out that he deserves the opportunity. However, with trade rumors swirling constantly, they might as well bring him up and see what he can do to improve his trade status. Or, maybe he will show that he should be part of the Twins plans.
    • Nick Blackburn has struggled. He is still owed a lot of money for afew more years, and no one will take that contract, but maybe he can find a role in the back of the bullpen.
  • Flip-Flop Francisco Liriano and Anthony Swarzak.
    • Swarzak has been terrific in spot starts and in long relief. Why not give him a six-week trial in the starting rotation and just see how he handles it. Liriano has been about as disappointing as anyone with the Twins in 2011. I know a lot of people want to see Brian Duensing moved to the bullpen, and I can understand that, but Duensing has been no worse than Liriano in 2011. I would send a message to Liriano and put him out in the bullpen for a few weeks. Duensing is at 132 innings this year. Last year, he threw 130 innings. His minor league high in innings pitched was 167. I would have Duensing make four more starts to build up that inning count, hopefully to around 155 or so. Then I would flip-flop Duensing and Liriano and let Liriano make those final four starts while Duensing pitches out of the bullpen.
  • Call-up Luke Hughes and send Ben Revere to AAA Rochester.
    • Ben Revere is  exciting, but he should be playing every day. He’sstill just 23 years  old. I’d send him to Rochester to play every day through Labor Day before he is brought back up. It is all about making him a better player. Luke  Hughes can  play  several positions and is old enough not to need a regular role.
  • Activate Alexi Casilla from the Disabled List and send Tsuyoshi Nishioka to New Britain.
    • As Nick Nelson pointed out in this space last week, Nishioka is not ready for the big leagues. I know they paid a lot to Chiba Lotte to negotiate with him, and then gave him a three-year contract, but that’s all the more reason to send him down. We all need to consider the full three years of the contract, and this year is lost. Why not let him go down and work on some things out of the spot light. Some suggest Rochester. With that swing and that defense, I was thinking New Britain might be a better option (because Ft. Myers is probably too far down the chain). Casilla has been solid since early May for the most part. His defense at shortstop is better than Nishioka’s and his arm is so much stronger.
  • Play Trevor Plouffe every day.
    • Even if he is no longer in the plans to be an every day shortstop, his AAA production warrants an extended look, and he isn’t getting that right now. For the final six weeks of the season, I would like to see him play pretty much every day. And, I would like to see him used in that Super Utility role. He should get time at all four infield positions and the two corner outfield positions. That’s six positions meaning one game at each position each week. Yes, he will make mistakes, but it’s time to give him an opportunity.
  • Place everyone on waivers!
    • This has probably already been done. The Twins, and all MLB teams, put players on waivers sometime in August. If a player clears waivers (does not get claimed by another team), then they can be traded to any other team. If a player is claimed, the Twins will have 48 hours to negotiate a possible trade with that team. Their options are to 1.) make a trade, 2.) pull the player back, or 3.) let the other team have the player and his contract. I would put Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau on waivers. There are two teams that could absorb Mauer’s contract, the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Red Sox have Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the aging Jason Varitek as their catchers. The Yankees have Russell Martin, Francisco Cervelli, and Jesus Montero had a disappointing 2011 season in Triple-A. Of course, the return for Mauer or Morneau should be big, along with the salary relief. If I am reading most Twins fans, blog commenters, etc., correctly, many may see Mauer being traded as a positive. I’m not so sure! But it doesn’t hurt anything to put the players on waivers and see if you can accumulate some talent in return. If they don’t get what they want for a player, they can always pull him back.

There are six ideas, and I’m sure most Twins fans could easily come up with five more. I said in early June that the 2011 season was over and everything that they do should be in looking toward 2012. I was wrong then. But now it is mid-August, and I would LOVE to be wrong again, more than anything, but at this point, everything the Twins do should be with an eye to 2012.

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Any thoughts?? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

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27 Responses to “Now What?”

  1. gobbledy August 8, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Makes a lot of sense but I fear we’ll keep seeing Tolbert nearly every day and Plouffe sitting on the bench. Maybe send Valencia down he seems to be the reason we are this bad, I’ve read anyway.

  2. Roger G August 8, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    You forgot the most important thing… get rid of Bill Smith!

    The Twins are their own worst enemy. Get ready for a lot more mediocrity unless some front office personnel changes are made, and fast.

    • Kunza August 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

      What? No confidence in Bill Smith, the Kevin McHale of MLB? I can guarantee you that he will overpay mightily for Michael Cuddyer.

      I can also guarantee you that we will make at least 2 more moves that will be completely idiotic.

  3. Glanzer August 8, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Agree 100% with Nishi to NB. He’s in way over his head here and bringing this team down when he’s on the field.

    I’m on board with firing Bill Smith as questionable as his decision-making has been this year, but I mustn’t forget that last year I thought he was a genius bringing in Thome, Hudson, Hardy, Fuentes, etc. Minus the Capps trade I thought he had done a great job coming into this season.

    I’m not too worried that the Twins are having their worst season in 11 years. I’ll be worried if they don’t make the necessary moves to turn it around next year.

    Side note: I think it is odd that the only two times the Twins have had losing seasons since Gardy took over were in ’07 and presumably ’11, both years celebrating the 20-year anniversaries of World Series titles.

    • jimbo92107 August 8, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

      Hate to say it, but yup, Nishi ain’t ready for the bigs. He needs to learn an approach to pitches over 88mph. He needs to learn how to turn double plays at SS or 2B. Right now, he’s Matt Tolbert with less power and a weaker arm. Nishioka belongs in double A learning how to play major league baseball.

  4. Jack Steal August 8, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Seth,

    I have just one question for you. Do you really believe GM Bill Smith should keep his job? He has made four of the worst trades (Santana, Young, Capps, Hardy) probably in the history of the Twins. Yes, for the record I did support the Capps and Hardy deals and was wrong. I just don’t understand all the bad trades, he tried to fill our middle infield and four bullpen spots with unknown rookies, and our minor league system is a disaster. I wrote about all the failed number one draft picks over the last decade on my blog today. It just is unacceptable.

    The organization needs to beg Terry Ryan to take over as GM again. I know others believe he is still making major decisions up there but I challenge one person to tell me one bad trade he made in his tenure as GM. He is a scout and made some of the best trades in team history. David Hollins for David Ortiz. Chuck Knoblauch for Christian Guzman, Eric Milton, Brian Buchanan, and Danny Mota Roberto Kelly of Joe Mays. Washed up Rick Agulara for Kyle Loshe. Matt Lawton for Rick Reed. Let’s not forget getting Johan Santana in the Rule 5 draft. Eric Milton for Carlos Silva, Nick Punto and Bobby Korecky Pierzynski for Liriano, Nathan,Bonser. Bobby Kielty for Shannon Stewart. Brian Buchanan for Jason Bartlett (People forget about this one).

    In fact the only bad move Ryan made that will always haunt him is not resigning David Ortiz. It’s tough to say if Ortiz would of ever been as successful here in Minnesota like he was in Boston. I mean he had Manny Ramirez hitting behind him for all those years.

    • mike wants wins August 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

      The lack of AAA talent is on Ryan and his scouts…the lack of young players on the roster is on Ryan and his scouts. This is not a BS=Bad, TR=Great situation. Ryan failed to extend or trade Johan or Torii at the right time. BS is part of the problem, I believe, but I’m not convinced Ryan is your savior.

      • Kunza August 8, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

        You are 100% correct. Didn’t Terry Ryan actually botch the Santana deal. I thought he left the GM spot open the winter that Santana was traded.

  5. MrHockey August 8, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Their defense is terrible. They have 82 errors in 114 games. In 2010 they had 78. In 2009 they had 76.

  6. Jeff August 8, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    The remainder of this season must be *purposeful* for the Twins. They need to answer the question, “who is in and who is out for 2012?” Then look to fill gaps from outside the organization. We know what we have in Tolbert, Hughes, Repko, Young, etc. Twins need to give others like Plouffe, Slowey, Slama, Tosoni more opportunity.

    • mike wants wins August 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

      Agreed, 100% agreed.

      • Kunza August 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

        I say take it one step further…. bring up a few young guys like Guttierez and even Benson. See what they have. Bring up Liam Hendrickx and give him a shot. Other teams do it. We have this stupid idea of waiting until a guy is 23 or 24 until he can make his MLB debut.

  7. Sean August 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    I’ll take Bill Smith over Seth and that’s not good. You don’t put the best Catcher in the majors on the market, especially in August. IF you want to trade him you do it in the offseason. Which also makes no sense as you don’t sign a guy to an 8 year deal to trade him due to a down year team and player. As for Morneau you don’t trade him for a different reason. His value is to low. Only a moron like Kenny Williams would claim Morneau (Like Alex Rios) and his 15 million a year when he is hurt and hasn’t produced at all this year. Why does Trevor Plouffe who can’t play any position suddenly seem to be a possible super utility guy? Doesn’t a super utility guy need to actually be able to field a position? Plouffe’s pathetic performance in 100+ ABs this year while also being a non-prospect certaintly doesn’t seem to indicate he should be playing full-time. Why put Blackburn in the bullpen when Duensing is actually effective against Left Handed bats. This point is also moot as Kevin Slowey hasn’t earned a chance while playing medicore in AAA ball and playing medicocre in the MLB? He basically is Duensing or Blackburn.

    • Seth August 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

      “Only a moron like Kenny Williams would claim Morneau (Like Alex Rios) and his 15 million a year when he is hurt and hasn’t produced at all this year.” –> My point exactly… doesn’t hurt to put him on waivers and see. Can always pull him back.

      Likewise, what’s the negative in putting Mauer on waivers and letting people decide. I wouldn’t sell low at all. I would expect very high return for him (which they probably woudln’t get), so then pull him back and keep him.

      re: Plouffe – 100 at bats is enough?

    • Kunza August 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

      That’s idiotic.

      • Kunza August 8, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

        I meant to say idiotic to take Bill Smith over Seth. Seth is one of the smartest baseball minds I have ever met. Not sure I could have a conversation about baseball with Bill Smith.

  8. Sean August 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Francisco Liriano should finish the year being a starter full-time in the chance he pitches well. This would increase his trade value in the off-season. Liriano is a guy who could possibly fetch a decent prospect. Currently his value is crud. Slowey has no value and even if he pitched well in the majors he wouldn’t fetch anything in the offseason as he isn’t a top pitcher. Liriano has the talent and the stuff to warrant a chance on another team. Kevin Slowey has earned a non-tender.

  9. gobbledy August 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    i would hardly call mauer the best catcher in baseball at this point.

  10. Kunza August 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    One thing I love about the new media age is that it allows us fans to voice our frustrations, even though our comments fall upon deaf ears.

    To me, this team lacks an identity. There is no strong leadership on the roster, in the dugout, and definitely not in the front office. The Twins think that “Twins baseball” is alive and well, but it has been slowly dieing the last 5-6 years. We really don’t do anything well anymore.

    Bill Smith and Ron Gardenhire are going nowhere next season, even though I would like to see both gone. After next season I think neither will be back. I just don’t see any way this team can make enough significant moves to get back to top of the AL Central.

    Everyone continues to throw out their “wish” list of getting a front line starter and better bullpen help. Who are you going to get that is an ace? Still waiting for someone to come up with a legit answer. Haven’t heard one yet and there won’t be one, either.

  11. Sean August 8, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    If 172 ABs for Nishioka warrants demotion to AA ball then yes Plouffe at 106 ABs should not play full-time. Nishioka UZR at SS is -7.2. Plouffe is -30.3. OOPS! Yeah he really is that bad of a fielder while Nishioka just sucks. I use that as an example to those who say Nishioka is over matched. Well Plouffe is overmatched on the field and I’m not even talking about his under 200 average or under 300 OBP.
    Nobody is going to claim Morneau it’s a moot point. If someone did then what do you get back? Nothing you get a player to be named and you get that 15 million off your back. But, are you sure you want to dump a guy who just a little of a year ago was outstanding? Pretty big risk for a player to be named and 15 million in savings per year. If the Twins played in the Dome that 15 might be a little more important.

    • Seth August 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

      I don’t think I’ve ever said that I want to dump Morneau. Pretty sure I haven’t ever said that.

    • B-Rab August 8, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

      I’m not sure you’re grasping the concept of putting somebody on waivers. If we put Morneau on waivers, somebody claims him, and we aren’t overwhelmed by an offer, we simply take him back and nothing happens. Virtually every player in baseball is put on waivers…why are you putting up a big deal about this?

      If Liriano is part of the future in MN (not so sure he is), I think putting him in the bullpen for any length of time is a huge mistake for the Twins. I don’t think he’d be real fond of that move. I really can’t argue with any of your other points…the fact we’re locked in with Blackburn for a couple more years at a good chunk of payroll depresses me to no end.

  12. Clyde August 9, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    Hey Seth –
    If Nishi is sent to NB, what do you suggest the Twins do with Dozier? Send him to Rochester? BTW have you heard anything about Dozier’s defense? Looks like he handled the jump from A+ to AA seamlessly.

    • Kevin M August 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

      I am very curious about Dozier as well. His numbers are excellent and he might be what the Twins are looking for at short or 2nd.

  13. Sean August 9, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Not everybody is put on waivers, it’s news when you hear a big name that was pushed through. It would leak if Morneau was put on waivers and you would hear about it in grand detail if Mauer was. The main point I’m trying to make is there is no need to put Morneau on waivers. Nobody is going to claim him and if by some crazy fluke he was then we would not get a good return back. So there is no point. You can make larger more comprehensive deals in the off-season.

  14. Bill in Sarasota August 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    1. Give Plouffe 30 days at 2nd.
    2. Put Baker on DL and Slowey in Baker’s spot. Hopefully he can increase his value for the off season.
    3. Put Nathan and Capps on waivers. Nathan has $2mil buyout and Capps would jump at arb if offered.
    4. Put Thome on waivers after he hits 600. He deserves a chance at the World Series.
    5. Offer arb but don’t offer multi-year contracts to Cuddyer and Kubel (get the picks).
    6. If Young has a good 1st half in 2012, then trade him at the deadline.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. One Immediate Change The Twins Should Make » Knuckleballs - "Like butterflies with hiccups" - August 8, 2011

    […] Stohs put a lot of thought in to a post detailing his suggestions for how the Twins should play out the season. He makes some good points. He also got me thinking […]

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