Pitchers and Catchers Report

21 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The words we have been waiting for over five months to hear. The Twins are among the last teams to report, but Sunday was reporting day for the Twins. So, spring training is upon us. The Twins hitters will be reporting by the end of the week.

I thought it would be fun to take a look back to the end of last season and see what has happened. Of course, just an hour after the conclusion of the Twins/Yankees ALDS series, the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook was released. And, looking back at it, we are thrilled with how it turned out and how accurate we were (in many cases) throughout the 140+ page document.

  • On November 5th, the Twins traded Carlos Gomez for JJ Hardy. Short thoughts on the deal – Great trade. You take a chance on a guy with Hardy’s track record, especially if it only costs you your fourth outfielder.
  • On November 7th, the Twins picked up the 2011 option for Michael Cuddyer, which despite some dissenting opinions, was an obvious choice at the time that the decision had to be made.

 When the Winter Meetings started in early December, I posted a blog entry saying there were six things that the Twins needed to do. Obviously there are varying degrees of importance in each, but here is the run down.

#1 – Sign Joe Mauer – Well, it is rather well documented that this one is not yet complete. I know many Twins fans are starting to get a little nervous. I’m officially 0.05% nervous. In other words, it’s going to happen. It’s not ‘if’, but ‘when.’ Hopefully it will be by the end of the week. If not, hopefully it will be before Opening Day. If not, Mauer is taking a huge risk. I can’t imagine that his value will be any higher than it is right now. Once the season starts, the risk increases. And what is the gain? He could get $220 million instead of $200 million?  However, if he were to get hurt or something, the amount he could lose would be even more, in both years and dollars. In other words, I still have zero concern that he is going anywhere else. (Let me say this – if you’re looking for any more analysis on potential Mauer contracts. To be honest, I’m bored of the subject. We know that the contract will likely be 8-10 years and somewhere between probably $18-20 million per year. Deferments? No trade clauses? Incentives? I can’t really control what happens, and it’s exhausting to try to keep up with all the rumors which is why I’m not going to (and why I’m really excited to start talking about actual baseball stuff again!). It will happen. I’m not worried.)

#2 – Second Base – Signing Orlando Hudson for one year and $5 million was a great thing. Not only does he fill second base, but he also fits perfectly into the #2 spot in the lineup.

#3 – Add a starting pitcher – They retained Carl Pavano after he accepted arbitration.

#4 – Acquire a True #1/Ace Pitcher – Simply put, there were none available in Free Agency. John Lackey is probably a #2, and he got $80+ million. Josh Johnson signed an extension with the Marlins after they were basically forced to by MLB. Felix Hernandez wasn’t available. The Giants didn’t trade Matt Cain. There weren’t any options available, as would be expected. That said, the reports on Francisco Liriano’s physique, stuff and confidence in the Dominican Republic give Twins fans hope that he can return to a high level of performance.

#5 – Third Base – They signed Brendan Harris for the next two years. Nick Punto has another year left on his contract, plus an option for 2011. Matt Tolbert is still around. And, hopefully Danny Valencia is ready to go by June (if not by Opening Day). Luke Hughes is likely in the picture as well. In other words, there are enough options.

#6 – Veteran Bench for the Bench – I would say that Jim Thome would fit into this category. His track record speaks for itself. It will be intriguing to see how he is used and how much he is used. But for $1.5 million, this is a great signing.

 Add in that the team replaced Bobby Keppel with Clay Condrey, a vast improvement, and that Pat Neshek should be back at some point during the season while guys like Rob Delaney, Anthony Slama, Jose Lugo and Alex Burnett continue to make themselves more big –league ready and this was a terrific offseason. If that Mauer contract gets signed soon, it could be called ‘nearly’ perfect.

Here are a few Twins-related blogs for you to peruse:

 Any other Twins stories or links, include them in the comments. Feel free to leave your comments here.


10 Responses to “Pitchers and Catchers Report”

  1. M C February 22, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    I’m not nervous either but 18-20 for Mauer? Sounds low.

  2. joelthing February 22, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    The Jesse interview with Rod Anthony over at Twinkie Town is a good read, especially between the lines. Seems the Twins felt they overpaid for Pavano, who gambled with arbitration and won. But I see it a better deal than, say, $5 mil for Washburn.

    Also, the budget seemed to be pretty set at $90 million and ownership had to say yes to going after Hudson and did. I still disagree that payroll should be a flat 52% or so of revenue, especially when you start hitting the heights the Twins hope to hit in 2010. If you spent $60 on non-salaried revenue in 2009, show me where you now will be spending an extra $30 million (or $90 million)…unless youa re hiring a helluva a lot more ticket takers, sales people and ushers.

    We sometimes forget that the Twins move further into the middle of the pack and won’t be getting the Yankees subsidy in the future.

    Excited about 2010. It looks like the Twins do have adequate backup at all positions, even the thought of Cuddyer playing first again for a long stretch of time (ofr Thome, maybe). Hopefully backups will be kept to a minimum.

    I’m still trying to figure if Detroit got stronger adding Damon and trading Granderson. And confused as to their need to overpay the guy.

    • TT February 22, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

      “If you spent $60 on non-salaried revenue in 2009, show me where you now will be spending an extra $30 million (or $90 million)…unless youa re hiring a helluva a lot more ticket takers, sales people and ushers.”

      I don’t think those are the largest non-salary costs. Scouting and development are. We have already seen some willingness to open the check book on that end of things.

      It sounds like their current budget assumes mostly sell-out crowds. That is not unlikely this year, but it probably not going to continue indefinitely, no matter how successful they are on the field. There is just too much local competition for sports and entertainment dollars.

      The other issue is that while the Twins will get revenue sharing money this year, they won’t in the future. They were over that 50% mark a few years ago and then spent a couple years making up for it. That cycle will repeat itself at some point, but the next few years don’t look to be a down part of the cycle. The Twins are going to have some real payroll issues moving forward with Mauer and Morneau and a lot of other young players reaching arbitration and free agency. They need to save every dollar they can if they are going to have continued success.

  3. Jesse H February 22, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    Couple of quick reactions:

    1. Mauer – I am under %50 confident but for the same reasons you list. There is no reason for Mauer to push the negotiations in to Spring Training unless they are significantly far apart on something. The fact they are significantly far apart on something after almost 4 months of negotiation makes me worried.

    2. Agree.

    3. Agree with a caveat of I would have preferred Sheets or Harden but recognize I may very well be wrong. Just like the upside of those guys better.

    4. Cliff Lee was available for a decent package of prospects. You can argue the merits of trading prospects for a 1 year rental but he was available. Also I think Harden or Sheets could have impersonated a #1 if healthy while Pavano is a 2-3 at this point.

    5. I think this position will be fine if they let Harris/Valencia man it. If Punto and his .620 OPS get a lot of at bats then it will be a detriment to the team.

    6. Vet – This is another toss up. If the OF is healthy this year then this is a good move. If any OF gets injured then having a backup DH will hurt the team. I like the fact they took a chance though.

    I like the offseason, I would give it a B now going up to an A- if they sign Mauer.

  4. RandyC February 22, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    I really think we should sign Rocco!

  5. TT February 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    On Mauer –

    Its the Twins that need a deal now, not Mauer. I don’t think there is anything wrong with Mauer deciding he wants to go to free agency and see what that has to offer. If he gets hurt, he will still command enough money to leave him set up pretty good. Its not like the Twins are ever going to decide they don’t want him.

  6. dave February 22, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    Overall I am very optimistic. Seth has always been 99.95% sure Mauer would re-up. I’ve never been more than 50-50. I heard an interview Mauer gave someone which aired on the East coast on Saturday morning. There was nothing in it that suggested Joe felt it was essential that he return to the Twins, including Morneau’s comment that he would kill Joe if he didn’t return. We have talked ourselves into believing that he’s just one of us plus unlimited talent, that it’s imperative for Mauer that he play in front of his family. I agree with the rest of Seth’s assessments except that not enough is being made out of what will no doubt be Gardy’s obsession that Thome get his at bats. Those will come almost entirely out of Young’s ABs and puts Kubel in the outfield, a disaster waiting to happen.

    • TT February 22, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

      I agree on Thome. The original stories on Thome were that he was willing to take a bench role. Now it sounds like Gardy convinced him he would get a lot of at bats.

  7. scot February 22, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    I have read nothing that indicates Thome will be anything more than a bench player with maybe some time filling in at DH. Gardy has said that Young is his LF and I expect him to get every chance to succeed or fail at that position this year. The Twins need to find out exactly what they have with this guy and see if he is part of their future.

    Mauer needs to be signed ASAP, dragging this out longer is not a good thing. If he is not signed by the time regular season starts I will be very worried. Get er done Twins!

  8. Dave February 22, 2010 at 11:25 pm #

    BTW: the links were outstanding!

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