More Arbitration Decisions

2 Dec

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The Twins have a lot of decisions to make the 11:00 tonight. They have to determine if they will offer arbitration to the players that have more than three years of service time and less than six years of Major League service time. Although JJ Hardy is the name most mentioned, the Twins have to make decisions on ten other players. So although I think few of the decisions are difficult, here are some thoughts on each.

  • JJ Hardy – I think it would be absolutely crazy to non-tender Hardy. Although there has been some movement in the shortstop market, Hardy would still fit the needs of several teams for 2011. He’s young, terrific with the glove and when healthy, adequate with the bat, at least at the bottom of an order. Even if they have no intention to keep him in 2011, they should tender a contract and then trade him. My preferred Opening Day lineup would include Hardy at SS and Nishioka at 2B with Casilla as the primary utility infielder. If Hardy is gone and either Casilla or Nishioka struggles, it’s Trevor Plouffe time. I’m a big Plouffe backer, but I wonder how many Twins fans would be. Decision – Easy. Tender him a contract, and go from there.
  • Matt Capps – There should be more discussion about Capps, but there isn’t. Bill Smith has said that the team will bring back the right-hander. He is an interesting case. Although he was non-tendered after the 2009 season and signed with the Nationals for $3.5 million, he has some terrific save numbers the last two years. Saves equal dollars. So, will he jump up to $6 million in 2011, or could he jump up to $8 million? Capps is a very solid reliever. He does provide insurance if Joe Nathan is not ready to go early in the season (and odds are that he won’t be). But compare what Capps is to what Jon Rauch is, and tell me why the Twins should give Capps that kind of money. I understand that the team needs to keep Capps, in part, because they gave up Wilson Ramos to get him. But at what cost? However, with the Twins bullpen potentially decimated with the loss of so many free agents and an acknowledgement that the team will not turn the bullpen over to its talented/inexperienced minor leaguers, bringing back Capps is a no-brainer. I’d just prefer Crain for the money.
  • Francisco Liriano – Speaking of no-brainers, the only question here is whether or not to negotiate a long-term contract.
  • Delmon Young – Speaking of no-brainers, the only question here is whether or not to negotiate a long-term contract.
  • Alexi Casilla – Whether or not people have confidence that he can be a quality everyday player at SS or 2B, Casilla showed in 2010 that he can play both positions defensively, he can fill in for an extended time period, and he can put together decent at bats. This is another no-brainer since he could be a starting option and he is certainly a top utility option. He also won’t cost very much.
  • Kevin Slowey – There is no question that Slowey has terrific talent. The main problem the last two years has been staying healthy. In 2009, he missed time with a wrist injury that carried into 2010. He also was having problems in the back of his arm. When you look at his numbers, and no, I’m not talking about his terrific W-L record, he has performed as a middle-of-the-rotation type. It’s hard to complain with an ERA in the low-4s from a guy who was the team’s 4th or 5th starter much of the year. The problem last year was his inability to work consistently into the 6th inning, much less the 7th or 8th innings. It’s an easy choice to tender Slowey a contract. It will likely be about $2 to $2.5 million.
  • Pat Neshek – This could be an interesting decision. As much as it would be a no-brainer for me to tender Neshek a contract, I don’t know which direction the Twins will lean. I tend to look back at 2006 and 2007 and think about just how dominant he was. Since then, he hurt his elbow in May of 2008, and instead of having Tommy John surgery right away, the Twins decided that rest and rehab might be a proper plan. In November, Neshek had Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 2009, and came back in Spring Training. He pitched well enough that he earned a spot on the Twins Opening Day roster. Neshek hurt his hand early in the season and after a DL stint, he was optioned to Rochester where he stayed until September. Like Liriano, I would expect that Neshek will be significantly improved in 2011, his second full season back from Tommy John surgery. For less than $750K, I’d be willing to take that chance.
  • Glen Perkins – This is another interesting decision. Perkins showed signs a couple of years ago, that he could be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter. The left-hander has fought injuries and dog house time the last couple of seasons. Last year was a really tough year for Perkins down in Rochester until about three weeks before the Twins called him up. If tendered, Perkins could compete for a long-relief job. My fear would be that he would also be competing for a left-handed reliever job, and he can’t get left-handed hitters out. Again, we are talking about a 2011 contract that would be around $750,000, and the Twins need arms in the bullpen. The tough part is that he is out of options, so if he doesn’t earn the job out of spring training, he could be lost for nothing or would make the team because he has to. This one is 50/50 for me, but again, I probably would tender a contract and hope.
  • Jason Repko – The Twins signed Repko a day or two before the AAA season started and he played terrific for the Red Wings. Offensively, he was their best hitter, and he was terrific with the glove. The Twins called him up to be a fourth outfielder and he played well early, even hit a couple of home runs. Can’t hit much, but his defense in the Twins outfield was tremendous. I think they tender him a contract, and guarantee him about $650,000.
  • Clay Condrey – Condrey was kind of the forgotten member of the Twins roster. The team signed him last offseason for just $900,000 after the Phillies decided to non-tender him. He had pitched well out of the Phillies bullpen during their run from 2006-2009, but as a non-strikeout pitcher, they didn’t want to give him the $2+ million he may have received in arbitration last year. He came to Twins spring training and struggled. The groundball pitcher was giving up doubles and home runs. Something wasn’t right, and he was shut down with a shoulder injury that cost him the entire 2010 season. The assumption by many is that he won’t be back. I don’t know that that is true or fair. People can call the signing a bad one because the results were a season missed with injury. However, it doesn’t take away from what Condrey is. He is a veteran with big league bullpen experience, including in the playoffs and World Series. He is a ground ball pitcher. He is the type of pitcher that the Twins should sign. And in 2011, they may be able to get him to agree to a $750,000 contract. If they think  they can, they should tender him a contract. If not, they can cut ties.

 So there you have it, a couple of thoughts on the players that the Twins have to tender contracts to by 11:00 tonight or lose. I’d be interested in your input, so please feel free to discuss (nicely) in the Comments section. By the way, in the last couple of days, I’ve been talking about the Twins on the Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast, on The Dan Hammer Show yesterday on The Fan 740 in Fargo, and last night The Twins Geek and I joined the Fanatic Jack Twins Podcast. Be sure to listen to those if you haven’t already.

PODCAST ANNOUNCEMENT – In my podcast on Tuesday night, I announced that I am going to host special Twins/Winter Meetings podcasts each night from Sunday night through Thursday night. Be sure to check daily for the show’s times (likely 10:00 central time). The shows will be a half-hour in length, and I will be joined by a guest each night to talk about the day’s signings, Twins rumors, AL Central rumors, trades and anything Twins fans want to discuss. We will definitely want your feedback and questions in the chat room for those shows. I am lining up guests, but at this point, Aaron Gleeman and Phil Mackey have confirmed that they will be on one of the nights each. Mackey will be in Orlando, at the Winter Meetings. It should be fun.


16 Responses to “More Arbitration Decisions”

  1. JimCrikket December 2, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    As I often find myself doing, Seth, I generally agree with you on most points… but not all.

    You’d rather have Crain than Capps “for the money”? I couldn’t disagree more. No way I would rather shell out the $15 million guarantee over 3 years for Crain over risking $6 million for a one-year deal with Capps. I’m obviously much more of a believer in Capps than… well… almost everyone else, I guess. But there is absolutely no way I would pay Crain what he’s asking (and, apparently, going to get) on the open market.

    I also wouldn’t bring back Repko when I’ve got Ben Revere around to pretty much fill the same role. I know people talk about him needing to “play every day”, but I just don’t see that any more. Looking at the guys coming up behind him in the organization, is anyone really projecting him to be the “CF of the future” in Minnesota? He looks like a career 4th outfielder to me and, that being the case, let’s start using him in that role right now. He’d be a decent pinch runner (which they’ll need if Thome returns and Lexi is starting) and could provide an upgrade defensively in the outfield for “late and close” games.

  2. mike wants wins December 2, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    Jim, I’d rather have Rauch for $3-4MM than Capps for $6-8MM. I might rather have Crain, but not if I have to sign him for three years. I hated the trade then, and if the trade makes them feel some sunk cost needs to be re-couped (which is one of the classic blunders of business people), then it is an even worse trade. Read Joe Posnanski, and tell me any closer is worth real money.

    I’d 100% rather have Revere than Repko. The whole “play everday thing” is stupid. How is it better to have him play every day in AAA, than to have him contributing in the majors? It’s a silly, old skewl argument.

    They cannot let Hardy go. Does anyone trust Casilla or Plouffe to be 1/2 the player he is? Plus, I fear they’ll deal a legit starting SS for a middle reliever, ugh. Unless you can get a real player for him, it makes no sense to deal him. None.

    Condrey, why offer him? What do the Twins get that they can’t find someplace else? Same, as much as it pains me to say, for Neshek (though I’d probably offer him arbitration).

    I’d offer Perkins, and package him for something else.

  3. JimCrikket December 2, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    mike, I did read Posnanski (I always read Posnanski!) and I agree about closers being widely overvalued. That said, I do think most bullpens should have 2-3 very good RPs. Whether you pay any of them $10+ million or not is kind of a factor of your payroll limits.

    Rausch at $3-4 vs Capps at $6 (I can’t believe he’ll get $8)… If I’m the Twins and I no longer have to watch every penny, I take Capps. It’s not about the closer role, to me, it’s about Capps has a few MPH on his fastball over Rausch and is younger… meaning, he could get better. Rausch is what he is and he’ll be that until he gets worse, which he’s arguably already started to do.

    I also don’t think the “play everyday thing” is altogether stupid. Young players do need to play regularly to improve and if you have a future ‘star potential’ player, you don’t promote him just to play once a week and end up not having him live up to his potential. I just don’t see Revere as still being in that category. He’s shown what he can do playing every day in AAA. It’s time to use him for whatever the Twins can get from him.

    I also agree that trading Hardy for a RP would be absurd. If you feel you need to trade him (and I also would prefer not to), then get position/pitching prospects that at least might have higher upside than a replacement level bullpen arm.

  4. Seth December 2, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Good discussion…
    On Revere… he’s never even played at AAA, so I don’t know how you can say that he’s done everything he can do at that level. I would argue that he could go back to AA. Also, I am not the highest on Revere’s potential either, but a guy who has hit over .300 at each level, is worth giving a little more development. Also, reports on his defense tell me that he’s not a great 4th OF option at this point. And, I know Repko can’t hit much, but we don’t know yet that Revere would be better (we assume). Revere is 22 and hasn’t played in AAA, not sure I get why he should be rushed. Not saying Repko’s great and has to be the 4th OF answer, but I’m not ready to put Revere on the bench yet.

    • JimCrikket December 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

      Seth, obviously you’re right on the issue of his not having yet played at AAA. I stand corrected. Since I watched him play in Spring Training with the Twins last March, he’s just registered in my feeble brain as a AAA guy all year, even though I realized that wasn’t the case. Still… I just see no indication that the Twins expect him to be a long term starting OF with them and if Gardy wants to increase his team speed, he’s a guy who could provide that speed off the bench.

      If Revere’s not going to play a role in Minnesota this season, I’m not sure when he will. By 2012, you’re probably looking at the Benson and Hicks types starting to nudge their way in to the plans, no? So maybe Revere is just a guy you package at mid season to fill a hole then.

  5. JimCrikket December 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    Twins have re-signed Repko for $600K… so I guess that pretty much ends the 4th OF debate.

  6. Neshek Update December 2, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    Pat Neshek posted on his website today

    “not really big news but I signed back with the Twins last month…don’t know why it took until today for it to be announced but I’ll be back with the Twins”

  7. dave December 2, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    I feel very uncomfortable. I find myself in agreement with virtually every decision that Twins front office has made of late, including re-signing Repko. Before you know it, I’ll be praising Gardy. (Okay, I draw the line there.) However, even if they think otherwise, it would be a huge mistake not to keep Hardy.

  8. TT December 2, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    1) Revere IS a potential future star. His speed and bat will make him a top of the order player. But his defense needs work. That means playing every day. It would be stupid to hand a bench role in the big leagues to a 22 year old player whose only experience above AA is a brief September call up.

    2) Capps is a proven major league closer. All the nonsense about how closers are “over-valued” is basically irrelevant. The Twins bullpen is almost empty. In any case, this is mostly about people who won’t admit they were wrong about Capps.

    What’s really unclear is why people think Capps is going to get twice as much as Rauch. Rauch made $2.9 this year and Capps made $3.5. I see little reason to think that proportion is going to change. If Capps can double his money in arbitration, Rauch should do even better, given spending half the year as closer and the increase in his saves. And he has more experience than Capps, which counts for something in arbitration.

    3) Benson was drafted a year ahead of Revere. I think he is now clearly behind him on the development chart. That should tell you something about the trajectory of their careers. Its possible that Benson’s power will eventually make him a superstar, unfortunately its not very likely. You have to hit the ball to hit home runs. Benson has consistently struggled to do that and I don’t see much evidence of significant improvement.

  9. mike wants wins December 2, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    You know, I’ve re-thought the Revere opinion I posted before. I think he could use time in AAA. Of course, I believe he’ll sit in AAA or even AA longer than he needs to (Valencia), but I hope to be wrong about that.

    Capps is an average “closer”. He’s not worth $6MM, and I don’t think he helps the Twins any more than Rauch. Trading a top chip for him makes no sense to me. Feel free to disagree, but this isn’t about stubbornness.

    Revere is not a potential star, but I think we’ll disagree on that one as well.

    I wonder if they keep Kubel, with all this talk about speed…..

    • DH in Philly December 3, 2010 at 9:34 am #

      I have never seen any “evidence” that Valencia stayed in the minors longer than he needed to. The fact that he came up and did well seems to me to support the idea that he was brought up at exactly the right time.

      Just because the Twins had a hole at third doesn’t mean Valencia’s development was complete and he was ready to be brought up. He was brought up when he was ready and the results seem to indicate that the timing was appropriate.

      Revere’s star potential is limited by certain factors that people seem to dwell upon. Benson’s star potential is equally limited by factors (consistent 30+% K Rate) that people seem eager to ignore, for whatever reason.

      • mike wants wins December 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

        He also sat on the bench for a month or so while Cuddy played 3B. It was only when they HAD TO PLAY HIM that they did. Also, his success when he came up does not prove that he was brought up at the right time. You can’t logically draw that conclusion. You could offer other evidence, but his success is not sufficient to make that leap. The evidence that he stayed too long was that they started Punto, Tolbert, Harris, and other stiffs there, when Valencia was also an option. Of course, there is no guarantee he would have succeeded earlier, but it is hard to see how he could have been as bad as Tolbert or Harris was.

        What does Benson’s star potential have to do with Revere’s (other than they are competing for an OF spot on this roster some day, maybe)?

  10. mike wants wins December 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    Oh, and the play every day thing is stupid was an exaggeration, but it’s so hard to make those on the intertubes….

  11. ben December 2, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

    10.Oh, and the play every day thing is stupid was an exaggeration, but it’s so hard to make those on the intertubes….

    Yeah, I NEVER see people exaggerate on the internet…

  12. Jeremy December 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    11/05/10 RHP Clay Condrey elected free agency.

  13. Jim H December 2, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

    I don’t get where the Capps-Rauch comparsions come from. Rauch is a huge intiminating man with barely a 90mph fastball and average stuff, if that. Capps has a mid 90’s fastball with a very sharp slider. He has had good success as a closer at a young age. He quite possibly could get better, he isn’t that old, while Rauch is probably declining. Capps probably needs to sharpen his control and perhaps add a pitch to become dominating. It doesn’t much matter what Rauch does, he isn’t going to get better.

    I understand many people think the Twins overpaid for Capps by trading Ramos for him. Even if that proves to be true, it doesn’t change what Capps is, a very good reliever with a chance to get even better.

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