To Do List

7 Dec

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Baseball’s Annual Winter Meetings are now underway in Indianapolis. Each team’s front office officials will be there. Many agents will be there. A ton of media will be there. Several people will be there in suits, dressed to impress, looking to be hired by an organization. In my mind, the week of the Winter Meetings are a lot of fun! Rumors are flying all over the place, and we get to decipher which we believe or pass off as unlikely. In the end, very little major actually happens at the meetings, but like most baseball fans, I will be clicking refresh at about 20 times an hour, or so.

Winter Meeting Podcasts – Another thing you should do is listen in on the Winter Meetings Podcasts each night this week. On Sunday night, Travis Aune and I hosted the week’s first show at 6:00. During the 45 minute show, we discussed the things the Twins need to do this offseason and answered a lot of questions about a lot of players and rumors and such. It should be a fun show which went about 50 minutes. You can listen to it by clicking here. Tonight’s show will be live at 10:00 central time and again be scheduled for 45 minutes. Check it out live, or listen to it the next morning online or on your iPod. (By the way, you should continue to head to Twinkie Town to help vote on the Twins Top Prospects.)

As I said, it is unlikely that a lot of moves will happen this week, but a lot of conversations and discussions will be had by the Twins. But I still think it is important to make a checklist, of sorts, for what the Twins needs are the remainder of the offseason. Here is my To Do List for the Twins. I’d love to see what you would edit, delete or add.

  1. Sign Joe Mauer to a long-term contract extension. I’ve said 7 years, $132 million. I think we all know that this should be the team’s #1 priority this offseason, but it should be way back on the backburner this week. In fact, it is being said that Mauer’s agent, Ron Shapiro, will not be in Indianapolis. Don’t read into that too much at all. The Twins and Mr. Shapiro can still speak on the phone or in e-mails this week. I still am predicting January 29th as the day that the Twins announce the signing of Mauer to a long-term extension.
  2. Second Base – There are several solid 2B options that would vastly improve the Twins roster. Placido Polanco is going to Philadelphia. But my choice, Felipe Lopez is still available. So is Orlando Hudson. Lopez may require three years. Hudson is likely looking for two years. Could the Twins be interested in Dan Uggla? Should they be? I’m not. One year options like Adam Kennedy are out there as well. I think that because of the quantity of available 2B, it would be a place that they could upgrade at minimal cost. Also, the Twins decision to not protect either Steve Singleton or Brian Dinkelman tells me that they do not believe either can be their starting 2B. Does anyone really see Alexi Casilla as a legitimate option at 2B anymore? He is young? Steve Tolleson won’t be a big league regular, and he’s as old as Dinkelman! My suggestion is to go out and get Felipe Lopez. Offer him a 3 year, $20 million deal, slightly higher than Polanco got, and add a vesting option, and get it done.
  3. Starting Pitcher – Carl Pavano has to decide whether he wants to accept the Twins offer of arbitration by tomorrow. I probably don’t need to go through my thoughts on this again, but I will give the crib notes. The Twins were wise to offer Pavano arbitration. It appears that several teams are interested and may be willing to give him a second, or even a third year. If he accepts arbitration, the Twins have a #4 starter who will make about $6-7 million for 2010. That’s probably the worst-case scenario in my mind. If he rejects arbitration, the Twins will receive a supplemental first round draft choice. That’s the best-case scenario. Doogie Wolfson made a solid case for it not being the best case though. If they don’t retain Pavano, the Twins might sign Jarrod Washburn. Good point, that would be the worst case scenario! This idea of needing a veteran remains ridiculous in my mind. Hasn’t Scott Baker been around long enough to be considered a veteran? If they need a big game pitcher, isn’t that what Nick Blackburn has become? That brings me to my next point:
  4. This team could really use a True #1 starter, an Ace. In Baker, Blackburn and Slowey, the Twins have some high quality #2/#3 types. But again, a true ace would really help the Twins.  The Royals have Zach Greinke. The Tigers have Justin Verlander. The White Sox have Jake Peavy. There are not a lot of aces out there. I don’t think the Twins need to pay John Lackey what he is looking for. That would not be smart. The cost, in terms of prospects, to acquire Roy Halladay for one year would be ridiculous. The names we hear most are Josh Johnson and Matt Cain. We don’t know what the cost to acquire them would be either, but I would certainly ask. Who are some other ace-types out there, guys that are fairly young?
  5. Third Base – As you know, I’m in favor of trusting the 25 year old, Danny Valencia, with the gig at the start of the season, rather than wait until June, but the Twins seem very against that idea. Without getting another option, that means a platoon of Matt Tolbert/Brendan Harris/Nick Punto for the first few months of the year. Since those guys will likely be hitting 9th and hopefully playing solid defense, that isn’t as horrible an idea as we may want to think. I’d rather do that for two-and-a-half months than sign someone for too much.
  6. Do the Twins need a veteran bat off the bench? The assumption would be that the Twins bench would consist of Jose Morales (or Drew Butera), Matt Tolbert, Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie. In the Twins lineup, there are not really any hitters to pinch hit for, other than Nick Punto, so there may not be a big need for pinch hitting. That said, if the Twins are batting in the 9th in a big game, who would you pinch hit? The difficult thing is that the player would be replacing one of the above on the active roster, so he would also have to have the ability to play a defensive position. Are there any pinch-hitting types available? Guys that could produce in the late innings? Maybe Eric Hinske? Maybe Xavier Nady? Those two would certainly be improvements than the guys they have. I don’t feel real strongly about this one, but I think I should be considered. That currently comprised bench has me longing for a bench that includes Luis(!) and Lew!
  7. The final big event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 draft. The Twins are currently at 40 on their 40 man roster, so likely they would not make a selection. However, there are several Twins farm hands that could be lost in the Major League portion (and likely the minor league portion as well). In my mind, both Steve Singleton and Brian Dinkelman are guys that not only could be selected, but could remain on a big league roster for the full season. Jose Lugo was selected last year, and his stuff remains tough. Lefty relievers who throw 94 mph with a nasty slider tend to get taken. This year, he could be lost. And I also believe that Santos Arias is a guy that could be a surprise name to some if he is taken. It is always interesting to watch.   

Alright, there you have my thoughts on the Twins needs this offseason. The Winter Meetings provide a location to hold some face-to-face discussions to move toward addressing the team’s needs. Will each of them be addressed this week? Of course not, but if nothing else, it is a list to start your discussion. What would you add, delete or edit? Send me an e-mail, or leave your Comments here.

24 Responses to “To Do List”

  1. dave December 7, 2009 at 8:43 am #

    We are not going to get an “ace,” so let’s move on. If it’s not Pavano, 9 chances out of 10 it’s Washburn. So maybe Carl isn’t such a bad idea after all. If we don’t find a second baseman it means 155 games for the Nickster. If we do, we can hope Punto rotates with Harris and Tolbert until the Twins call up Valencia in June. And please, no trading for broken down guys who happen to have grown up in Minnesota.

  2. sam December 7, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    the twins had two bats off the bench in winfree peterson but did not keep them i think peterson will sign back but i think winfree is gone the twins have on need for him …

  3. TT December 7, 2009 at 9:58 am #

    A starting pitcher is a top priority. They have two holes in the rotation. Auditioning for one is fine, auditioning for two is not.

    Why should they give up on Casilla?

    At Rochester last year:
    Alexi Casilla .340/.379/.449 197 chances / 6 errors
    Danny Valencia .286/.305/.454 165 chances / 12 errors
    Which one looks more like a future major league player?

    Casilla may or may not make it. He has certainly had some chances and has not taken them. But filling the hole at third seems like a higher priority than second.

    That said – I think a number two hitter IS a priority and Lopez fits that better than most of the third base candidates out there. Hardy and Punto are the current candidates and neither one really fits.

    If the Twins add another infielder, I would expect either Harris or Tolbert will be gone. They might try to deal Casilla, but I don’t think they are likely to let him go on waivers.

    As for pinch hitters, JD Hardy still needs to prove he can hit better than last year. If not, he is definitely going to be a candidate to pinch hit for.

    The players taken in the rule 5 draft that have contributed to the Twins can be counted on one hand. The players of value they have lost is even shorter. I think Kevin Cameron is the best of the latter. I think Shane Mack, Johan Santana and Brian Buscher are the only Twins players that were taken in the Rule 5 draft. Its easy to overestimate its importance.

    • sam December 7, 2009 at 10:24 am #

      TT. you know alot about the twins Y do you think the twins did not keep winfree he only 24 and played all year in AAA and played as good as anyone the twins had .

      • TT December 7, 2009 at 11:25 am #

        There is a saying that you get to the big leagues on your glove and you stay there with your bat. We tend to compare players based on their bats.

        My guess is Winfree is one of those guys whose defense is going to make winning a job tough. It is sufficient only for a corner outfield spot. And his bat is also sufficient, but not great for a corner outfielder. There aren’t many major league jobs for guys like that. He will have to find himself in the right place at the right time and take advantage of the chances he gets. The Twins aren’t the place for that to happen right now.

        Winfree started out as a third baseman. If he was still there, the excitement about Valencia would likely be directed at him.

  4. JK December 7, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    JJ Hardy is likely to hit better this year. Bill James did a study on factors that indicate a high probability of a bounce back campaign and Hardy was in the top 3. The factors were age, babip, previous level or performance, speed score.

    I reviewed the last 10 rule V drafts and there are no examples of 26 year old middle infielders being taken. I cannot imagine anyone taking Dinkelman. If you’re contending, you’d want more of a sure thing. If you’re rebuilding, you’d want someone with more upside. Singelton has a chance to be taken. It seems that middle infielders taken are mostly slick fielders, with the exception of Uggla.

  5. Michael December 7, 2009 at 11:46 am #

    Florida is asking a fortune for Uggla. They asked for Bumgarner from SanFran. Granted they won’t receive this much, but it tells us how much Florida values Uggla.

    I don’t think Florida is trading JJohnson, and SanFran seems to be “going for it” so I don’t see them trading Cain.

    I have no problem with Nicky as our starting 2B, but I really don’t want to see him as our starting 3B. I’d rather see us try to find a decent hitting, power 3B.

  6. thrylos98 December 7, 2009 at 11:55 am #

    Well… another priority is to deal with their jammed pitching staff that is out of options (Perkins, Liriano, Bonser, Neshek, Crain). Unless they want two of Liriano, Perkins and Bonser in the rotation, with one in the pen (probably a lefty since there is only Mijares there) and Duensing in Rochester… Add Swarzak, Manship, Slama and Delaney to the mix and between AAA and the Twins there is a lot of pitching. And I am not even talking about the Kepels of the world that will be signed as MiLB free agents be next spring…

    Add to that the jam of middle infielder types and that’s why I think that the 2B (or a 3B) would come via a trade. On the other hand, I would love them to go after Troy Glaus with an one year contract full of incentives…

  7. Seth December 7, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    Perkins and Neshek both have options remaining.

  8. sam December 7, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    thanks TT but if we look at winfree glove at third baseman to valenia or hughes it is just as good if we are talking just gloves and if that the case what about plouffe or tolleson.i think it is all about right place and right time..

  9. Kunza December 7, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    All of us Minnesotans who think Mauer is a lock to stay in Minnesota regardless, are starting to kid ourselves.

    Do you really, honestly, truly believe Mauer will sign a new contract if our only offseason move was to bring in JJ Hardy?

    No pitcher of significance.
    No 2B of significance!
    No 3B of signficance.

    Mauer, we all think, will take a lot less than the Skankees or Blow Sox will pay him, but only if we take that 6 -10 million a year savings and buy another player or two.

    A Minnesota Twins armageddon on the horizon?

  10. Dave December 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    I can’t make up my mind which may have a higher priority for Joe–securing a Yankee-esque salary or adding to a roster filled with holes. But Mauer probably wants both: scads of money and at least two or three serious upgrades. I’m not sure either is realistic. But, then, I’ve aways been among the minority who think the chances of Mauer sticking around are less, maybe considerably less, than 50%.

  11. TT December 7, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    “Do you really, honestly, truly believe Mauer will sign a new contract if our only offseason move was to bring in JJ Hardy?”

    Yes. I think Mauer is going to stay in Minnesota.

  12. ScottyB December 7, 2009 at 2:49 pm #

    Nice to-do list Seth.

    I still say that the Twins should offer Mauer a deal that includes a ten year retirement package of $3MM per year as part of the agreement – they could handle the extra 3 mil in 15-20 years with no problem, and that would help with flexibility during the initial term of his contract. (ie your 7 year $132 (just under $19 MM per season), becomes a 7 year $102 MM contract or $14.5 MM per season.) Much easier to handle and allowing the team to improve in other places – an ace perhaps.

    The signing of Lopez makes so much sense, it’s hard to imagine that they’re not talking to his agent – I believe Mr. Boras as we speak. He’s a perfect bat for the 2 slot, an above average defender and he’s played with JJ Hardy already, so they will be comfortable with each other from the first day of spring training.

    I am concerned about the bench. The Twins are in need of a backup outfielder who can play all three slots. Jason Pridie is a AAA or AAAA outfielder. If Span goes down, I wouldn’t trust Pridie to take his place for any length of time. I think Rocco Baldelli would be a great fit as an extra bat off the bench and a backup outfielder. Morales will be fine as a backup catcher, with Butera at Rochester. I like Tolbert’s glove, versatility and speed, but I wouldn’t mind a replacement for Harris, but I could also live with him.

    I said it before and I’ll say it again – Bill Smith needs to make the less splashy trades to build minor league depth, especially in middle infield. If Jesse Crain is just released because of his high salary, I’m going to be very pissed. His second half last year shows that he is a viable member of a bullpen, keep him or trade him, don’t release him. Same with Perkins, Bonser and Liriano. I think that Casilla also could be worth trading, as a change of scenery would do him good.

    There are indications that Pavano is going to accept arbitration – we’ll find out by midnight. But as stated, we still need an Ace or at least a #1. Kyle Gibson could be that in a couple years, so I’d be willing to go sort-term with one of the guys coming back from injury – Harden, Sheets or Bedard. Please no Washedupburn.

    There’s my 2 cents.

  13. Dave December 7, 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    Granted Pavano has had his own arm issues, but I don’t see the percentage in going after guys who are always hurt, like Harden and Sheets, or pitchers who are vastly overrated, like Washburn. We have a slew of middle of the pack starters and relievers. I agree the real measure of Bill Smith may be in getting some value for the Crains of the staff, and real value for guys who have been startes, such as Perkins. If he hold onto Liriano, he will be sorry.

  14. Killabrew December 7, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    Would anyone be interested in having Jacque Jones as a bat off the bench? I think he would be worth a Spring Training invite.

  15. mike wants wins December 7, 2009 at 4:25 pm #

    Jones? Why would he be good? He’s too old to play the field effectively (and he never had a good arm), and can’t hit lefties at all. What would he bring other than “veteran presence” to the team?

  16. Killabrew December 7, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    To reiterate:
    1. It’s a minor league contract with a Spring Training invite.
    2. If he makes the team, he is a bat off the bench… he doesn’t need to hit lefties.
    3. He’s only 34
    4. Acknowledging he was out of baseball in 2009, his UZR doesn’t suggest that he has lost effectiveness as a fielder.
    5. At best, I see him as competition for Jason Pridie or acquiring a Rocco Baldelli. I think he brings more to the bench than Pridie, and I think he will accept a bench role better that Baldelli (who started 34 of 45 games w/Boston).

    But it is certainly a small point of discussion compared to our need for Starting Pitching.

  17. TT December 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    Jones might be candidate for a bat off the bench, but he sure isn’t going to play center field. That means he isn’t competition for Pridie.

  18. sploorp December 7, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    According to MLB trade rumors, the Padres need a catcher and some pitching. They also may be looking to trade Kevin Kouzmanoff to get it.

    The Twins have plenty of both, so it sounds doable to me.

    He has an okay bat, but strikes out a lot. He wasn’t much defensively in the past, but glancing at his stats just now, he looks like he finally got it together in the field last year – not great numbers, but was plus replacement value across the board.

    I wonder if Perkins and Butera would be enough to pull off a trade and, if it was, should the Twins do it?

  19. sploorp December 7, 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    My first choice would be signing Hudson or Lopez to play second and let Punto keep 3rd warm for Valencia.

  20. Bill in Sarasotra December 7, 2009 at 10:06 pm #

    I believe the Twins will wait until next month or February to sign a IF from the discount bin like Crede last year.

    There’s no rush to sign anyone any time soon in this market.

  21. Sue December 8, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    Who did the Twins remove from the 40 man to make room for Pavano?

  22. TT December 8, 2009 at 8:59 pm #


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