Where are we (Twins) now?

9 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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.  

Feel free to comment.

23 Responses to “Where are we (Twins) now?”

  1. thrylos98 December 9, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    The Twins can always ‘compete’ depending how the division goes. And I don’t think that the other teams in the Central are getting much better. A lot of things do need to fall in place but primarily, healthy seasons and close to career seasons for Mauer, Morneau, Span, Liriano and Baker will go a long way. Now if Doumit and Valencia have break-through seasons, Revere gets his OPS close to .340ish, Casilla plays a full year the way he can play, they will be in good shape (all of those things are possible, btw.)

    Right now the rotation and pen are problematic, but when I try to compare the potential 2012 pitching staff to the 1987 pitching staff, I think that the 2012 could be better on paper with Liriano and Baker healthy and a couple of the young arms getting it together. I’d still like a decent RHP set up option and this could be one of Oliveros, Hoey, Blackburn, Burnett, but getting one outside the organization might help.

    Speaking of the division: Cleveland were overachieving last season, Chicago is falling apart, KC is KC. The Tigers are not getting younger and if Verlander returns to human and Cabrera starts to show signs of decline, everything is possible.

  2. gobbledy December 9, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    so we have a chip, a chair and need a prayer?

  3. dave December 9, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    thrylos98 is correct, of course, and so long as the division is so weak the Twins will do what they always do. Were just one powerhouse were moved into the Central Division….By the way we are at a minimum of two starters short… and whatever happened to the possibility of trading for Johnny Cueto?

  4. mike wants wins December 9, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Willingham and Cuddy were nearly identical last year, but Willingham was better most of the last three years (in looking at Fangraphs value charts)…they are the same age, they hit right handed….I guess I’d go with whichever is willing to take less money.

  5. jeff December 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    Seth,
    Do you think the Twins are too loyal to their players and staff? After last season, shouldn’t the team be looking at a much bigger overhaul than they are? This group of players has proven to be wildly inconsistent, injury prone, and at its best, not even good enough to get to the ALCS . Is Willingham a step down from Cuddyer in any way other than familiarity with fans and media?
    I was hoping for a little more turnover this offseason than it appears we are going to get at this point.

  6. DH in Philly December 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    The best way to describe Willingham is that he is “the grass on the other side”.

    • TT December 9, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

      I think that is about right, except Cuddyer is a much better fit for the Twins. Aside from the clubhouse stuff, he plays right field. Willingham has played there once for 35 games a few years ago. He’s a career left fielder with questionable defense. He has played first base 3 times in his career. And he hasn’t been anywhere near as durable.

      I am not sure he is a very good alternative even if Cuddyer goes elsewhere.

  7. birdofprey December 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Yeah, this will shock you, but I agree with thrylos’s assessment of the Twins’ chances to compete. The odds are very good that the team is better simply due to health. They have stockpiled a ton of options for the pen. If one out of six of these options pan out, the bullpen will perhaps even be a strength. One more reliable starter would be cool. Then, with Detroit having peaked, and KC a year away or so from being awesome, we have a chance.

    As for Cuddyer, I would love him to show some loyalty to the Twins by signing with someone else. He is not a difference-maker. Give me Willingham and the draft choices any day. See, Mike Wants Wins, we can agree!

    • mike wants wins December 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      You know, I forgot about the draft picks! Given that they are the same player, at the same cost, you should sign Willingham and get the picks. Good point.

      • mike wants wins December 9, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

        Does anyone think the Twins think this way, though? I am seriously considering becoming a Rays’ fan, they run a team the way I would like it to be run.

      • TT December 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

        Mike,

        They aren’t the same players. One is a known quantity well known to the team and the manager. The other is someone who will have to adjust to a new organization and the organization will have to adjust to him. That is assuming they have the same skill set, which in this case they don’t. One plays left field. The other plays right field, first base and, in a pinch, second base.

        The draft choices just aren’t worth that much. It is an opportunity to add a couple players at a cost of somewhere around $1.5-$12 million. There is value there, but it is unlikely either one will be a significant contributor at the major league level. Given that, it isn’t much of an issue compared to a lot of other things.

  8. gobbledy December 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    pitching, pitching, pitching! there is no way looking at this staff right now you can say this is a good major league staff. pavano leads the league in hits allowed and every other starter is a big question mark. not one of these guys has a track record of consistent pitching over time. it’s really hard to think they will all suddenly find what it takes and then stay healthy as well.

  9. mike wants wins December 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Twins related comments in the KLAW chat today:

    Mike (Minneapolis) ****editors note – I did not ask this
    How did Hicks look in the AFL? How many prospects are able to tell a ball from a strike and never able to hit?

    Klaw (12:09 PM)
    He can tell a ball from a strike, but not a breaking ball from a fastball. It’s weird. He did look better as the AFL went on, but of course the pitching tends to get weaker as pitchers rotate out

    Jon (Jacksonville, Florida)
    Keith, can Revere win the job out of ST and if so, what is his upside for a full year?

    Klaw (12:13 PM)
    He can. I could see .280/.340/.330 but with 10-15 runs saved on defense, at least. My worry is that he has so little power pitchers will just challenge him, and that’s how you get a line like he posted in 2011. Not that I’m predicting stardom either.

  10. R Hobbs December 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Seth, you usually write well but this is an exceptional article. I am bummed we lost Shooter Hunt. His ceiling is high. He also might have the best name in baseball.

    • Chuck December 9, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

      Seeing Shooter Hunt pitch for two years in Fort Myers, I was not impressed. Yes, he has great upside and wish him the best in the Cardinal organization. I believe that Shooter and his wife have a home in Fort Myers. I was more surprised that nobody was taken in the Rule 5 draft. I know David Bromberg was worried that he might be taken, but he was not. The Twins as an organization know more than we do.

  11. peterb18 December 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    With a filled stadium throughout the season, and revenues high where is the ownership? We should be able to weather this storm(lack of talented players) for the next few years if the Pohlads would step up to the plate. Increased revenues, a new stadium, etc—where is the revenue as promised? Soon as the crowds at the stadium start to lessen then we will see ownership step up to the plate and produce another winning team.
    This team was decimated by bad decisions by management and we are supposed to keep supporting a sub-par team. The same people that made those terrible decisions last year are still making the calls. At times last seson we were entertained by a Triple AAA roster. I think at this time we don’t realize how weak, or sub-par this team is going to be. Weak
    outfield with no power, weak starting pitching, poor relief pitching, and key players all beset with injuries. Where is the media on these issues?

  12. darin December 11, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    What about Jason Kubel? I have not a word spoken about him? You would have sworn he retired with the lack of news. Just watch, he will sign a 1 year deal with some team for less than $5 million and have a huge year. I would take Kubel over David Ortiz if I was Boston. Just think how good he would be with a team that believes in at least trying to hit HR’s.

  13. Dave December 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Darin is 100% correct. Obsessed with signing Cuddyer, Kubel a throwaway.

  14. Mr. Ed December 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Hoey Gone. Florimon outrighted to AAA

  15. Chad Groetsch December 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Does anyone remember when Seth used to post constantly about the Twins in the off-season? No? I don’t either.

  16. Dave December 15, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    Since he has faithfully posted for a LOONG time, Seth must have the best reason possible not to at the moment.

  17. DH in Philly December 15, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    He has Kidney stone issues (or something like that). You should request a refund, Chad

    • Chad Groetsch December 15, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

      You guys are tough. Seth is by far my favorite Twins blogger. I’m just anxious for the grapefruit league to begin and the return to regular programming. No dissing the man.

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