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On last night’s Twins Winter Meetings Podcast, Fanatic Jack and NoDakTwinsFan got things started as I was a bit late. I went to see The Smurfs with the young’n at her school, and wound up late, so thanks to them for taking over. They led with Michael Cuddyer talked. When I joined, I talked about a few topics before we were joined by Twins top pitching prospect Liam Hendriks for awhile. The question I wanted to leave out there at the end of the podcast was “Where are we now? And what more still needs to be done?”
Where are we today?
Let’s start with the first question. I’m going to make one assumption. Either the Twins are going to sign Michael Cuddyer for three years and $27 million or they will sign Josh Willingham for 3 years and $22 million (and get two draft picks as well).
- Catcher – Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit, Drew Butera (Danny Lehmann, Chris Herrmann)
- First Base – Justin Morneau, Ryan Doumit, (Chris Parmelee)
- Second Base – Alexi Casilla, Luke Hughes (Brian Dinkelman)
- Third Base – Danny Valencia, Luke Hughes (Ray Chang)
- Shortstop – Jamey Carroll, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, (Pedro Florimon, Brian Dozier)
- Left Field – Ben Revere, Trevor Plouffe, (Joe Benson)
- Center Field – Denard Span, Ben Revere
- Right Field – Michael Cuddyer, Ryan Doumit (Rene Tosoni)
- DH – Ryan Doumit, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe, Luke Hughes
So, there are 13 players, and at least two players at every position. I also put close or pretty close to the big leagues guys in parentheses. I did that in part to show that the upper levels of the Twins minor leagues are not completely empty, the way some people would tell you. I would also presume that if the Twins lose out on Michael Cuddyer and sign Josh Willingham, he would play LF with Revere in CF and Span in RF, maybe.
Of course, the Twins need some pitching, but let’s take a look:
- SP – Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Matt Maloney (Liam Hendriks, Scott Diamond, Terry Doyle)
- CL – Matt Capps
- LH RP – Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, Jose Mijares (Phil Dumatrait, Tyler Robertson)
- RH RP – Anthony Swarzak, Esmerling Vasquez, Jeff Gray, (Kyle Waldrop, Lester Oliveros, Esmerling Vasquez, Jason Bulger, Jim Hoey, Jeff Manship, Anthony Slama, Carlos Gutierrez, Jared Burton, Brendan Wise, Samuel Deduno, Luis Perdomo, Cole DeVries, Deolis Guerra.)
Maloney and Gray are out of options, which is why I have them in the lead right now. Terry Doyle came from the White Sox in the Rule 5 draft, so he will also have a chance to make the opening day roster.
So, as of right now, the Twins have enough of a roster and depth to put together a roster for the 2012 season. Can they compete? As we’ve said all along, that depends on how many games played they get from Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Denard Span. It also will depend on the Twins finding at least two more pitchers to join Carl Pavano as a guy who can throw over 190 innings in a season. Bake and Liriano have to be healthy and pitch well. Matt Capps has to pitch like he did for a month in 2010 as opposed to how he did in 2009 or 2011. The bullpen would need to have two or three guys step up and pitch like Perkins did a year ago.
So, what’s left?
#1. The Twins have got to get resolution on the Michael Cuddyer situation. It seems pretty obvious to me that the Twins and Cuddyer will come to an agreement of some sort. If not, Josh Willingham is there. That said, Willingham remains available and I think he’s ready to sign with the Twins as soon as Cuddyer says no, if he does.
#2. Once the Twins sign the aforementioned outfielder, it is time to address the pitching. Depending upon how strict the $100 million budget is will determine how active they can be looking for pitching. I’d like to see them add a starter for a couple of reasons. The Twins top three starters could all become free agents at the end of the 2012 season. Secondly, the last two spots are huge question marks. As much as the bullpen is full of question marks, there are some options with some upside. And, what will help the bullpen more than anything? Getting starters to give some innings. That’s why Jeff Francis and his 183 innings a year ago (his first full year back from Tommy John) is at least a little intriguing. Paul Maholm seems like a choice the Twins might be interested in if he can be healthy this year. The Twins drafted him a few years ago out of his school, and the Twins have a history of bringing in guys like that (Lamb, Punto, others). Obviously my dream signing would be Edwin Jackson. Throws really hard and throws a lot of innings. That would mean increasing the payroll closer to $110 million.
#3. The Bullpen needs help. Now that Octavio Dotel and LaTroy Hawkins have signed elsewhere, I don’t think there is a great, exciting bullpen guy out there. I’d subscribe to the Twins typical plan of waiting until late January or even early February and see who is there. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Austin, MN, native Michael Wuertz could be available to the Twins on a minor league deal at that time. He has some upside if healthy. He just hasn’t been for two years.
THE RULE 5
I always spend a bunch of time thinking about the Rule 5 draft. I try to figure out who the Twins will protect on their 40 man roster. Then after that decision, I try to figure out who the team is at risk to lose. Then it gets to the Rule 5 draft day (yesterday), and as usual, nothing happened. Only 12 draft picks were made in the Major League portion of the draft. The Twins used their second overall pick on Terry Doyle. Then in the minor league draft, they took Marty Popham but lost Shooter Hunt, the only player the organization lost.
Terry Doyle – He will likely receive a legitimate opportunity to be the Twins 5th starter out of spring training. He was with the White Sox organization last year and put up a 3.07 ERA and 12 strikeouts and 33 walks in 173 innings. He has good control and a fastball in the low-90s. Sounds like a typical Twins pitcher, huh? The Twins liked his durability. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League where, in a hitter’s league, he went 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA. I guess in my mind, there’s no reason to be disappointed in this pick. I always dream of the Twins taking guys who throw in the upper 90s and have huge upside. The 25-year-old Doyle is not that. But if he was that, he would have been protected by the White Sox. Doyle won’t turn into Johan Santana, but he certainly looks more exciting than Jason Jones was. We’ll see what happens in the spring. It would be interesting to see if the Twins and White Sox would be able to work out a deal should the Twins want to send him to AAA.
Marty Popham – In the AAA portion, the Twins selected this right-hander from the Cleveland organization. He throws a lot of strikes as well. In 112 innings, he struck out 106 and walked just 25 and reached AA. His other numbers are pretty pedestrian, although considering that this guy wasn’t protected on Cleveland’s AAA reserve list is a little surprising to say the least. The Twins will be able to keep him regardless.
Shooter Hunt – The Twins lost Shooter Hunt to the Cardinals organization in the AAA portion of the draft. The Twins weren’t surprised to see Hunt taken. They knew it could happen. Having interacted some with Hunt in recent years, I really hope the change of scenery helps the former supplemental first round pick. Hunt has electric stuff; a very good fastball and a tremendous curveball. He struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings. Unfortunately, it’s been well documented that he also has walked 11 batters per nine innings. I certainly hope the change of scenery helps him because he’s got such great upside still.
Daniel Turpen – Following the Rule 5 draft, the Twins and Rockies completed the Kevin Slowey trade. Turpen, who was picked in last year’s Rule 5 by the Yankees, was not selected this year, so he was the Player to be Named Later. He has a big fastball that allegedly has touched 98 mph and sits between 93 and 95 with good sink. In 60 AA innings, he walked 35 and struck out 33. So, although he has the big fastball, it hasn’t shown in his numbers to this point and since he’s already 25, the odds of that happening aren’t great.
Finally, here are all the shows from this week’s podcast. It was a ton of fun and we had some great guests. Please listen by clicking on the links and feel free to e-mail me any feedback you may have.
- Sunday night – Guests: Steve Adams (MLB Trade Rumors, Twinkie Town), Fanatic Jack and John Bonnes (Twins Geek, TwinsCentric)
- Monday night – Guests: Brian Dinkelman (Twins 2B/OF), Parker Hageman (Over the Baggy, TwinsCentric)
- Tuesday night – Guests: Brian Dozier (Twins minor league SS), Nick Nelson (Nick’s Twins Blog, TwinsCentric)
- Wednesday morning – The newest Gleeman and the Geek podcast will be ready to download.
- Wednesday night at 9:00 – Fanatic Jack’s Show
- Thursday night at 9:00 – Guests: Fanatic Jack, Nodak Twins Fan, and Liam Hendriks.
Feel free to comment.