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If the Twins season were to start today, the Twins outfield would be pretty well set. Denard Span would be leading off and playing in centerfield. Josh Willingham will be hitting somewhere in the middle of the lineup and playing in right field. Ben Revere will be playing in left field most days with Trevor Plouffe spelling him from time to time, particularly against some tough left-handers. Ryan Doumit can spell Willingham in right field from time to time while also DHing.
Waiting in the wings will be Rene Tosoni and Joe Benson, both of whom we saw in 2011, and both of whom likely would need another half-season of Triple-A seasoning before being ready for more full-time duty in the big leagues. Dustin Martin is as ready as he’ll ever be after putting up very solid numbers in 2011, his third Triple-A season. The Twins also added some minor league free agents with big league service time. Wilkin Ramirez was a highly touted prospect in the Tigers system just two years ago. Brian Dinkelman saw time during the 2011 season with the Twins and is now a career .301 hitting in the big leagues. Matt Carson hit 24 Triple-A home runs in 2011 and spent time with the A’s in 2009 and 2010.
Waiting in the wings are several outfielders including Aaron Hicks, Angel Morales and Oswaldo Arcia who could all spend time in Double-A in 2012. Also, Chris Herrmann will primarily be catching, but he is also a terrific outfielder.
Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Jason Repko will all be playing elsewhere in 2012. Willingham was added and will do a fine job providing power and on-base percentage to the middle of the lineup.
From time to time we hear a rumor about the Twins potentially trading Denard Span. Obviously that all originated with the Nationals rumors last year at the trade deadline revolving around Drew Storen. Trading Span before the season makes absolutely no sense. With the injury concerns that affected him much of the second half of the 2011 season, the Twins would be trading low. With his defense and on-base skills, he can provide a lot of value to a team, but he will need to rebuild that value. He is signed to a very reasonable contract and can be a new team leader for the Twins.
Then some turn their attention to Ben Revere. Should the Twins trade Revere? What is his upside? That has certainly been a discussion topic for blogs the last year or more. However, he will make league minimum for a couple more years, and if the team is working on a salary cap, and has some huge contracts (Mauer, Morneau, etc.), then having production at the league minimum is necessary. Revere will hit for more average than he did in 2011 and with that will increase his on-base percentage. He plays good defense and is a terror to opponents on the base paths.
Of course, the appropriate saying for both is that they should remain with the Twins unless Terry Ryan is overwhelmed by an offer.
The Twins have really filled out the offense for their 2012 season, it appears. There are some names available in free agency. There are some DH types like Luke Scott, Vlad Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez and Hideki Matsui that are still available. There are names like JD Drew and Kosuke Fukodome who certainly can get on base at a good clip. The only outfielders that would be worth going after, in my opinion, are Cubans Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, but those two will get huge signing bonuses from the big money teams.
Others: Alfredo Amezaga, Rick Ankiel, Milton Bradley, Jay Gibbons, Scott Hairston, Bill Hall, Willie Harris, Brad Hawpe, Eric Hinske, Conor Jackson, Austin Kearns, Ryan Ludwick, Xavier Nady, Corey Patterson, Juan Pierre, Cody Ross, Ryan Spilborghs, Marcus Thames and Dewayne Wise.
Frankly, outside of Cespedes and Soler, I’m not really interested in any of the above outfielders or DHs. Does that mean that I think Trevor Plouffe is better than someone like Cody Ross? No, but Plouffe makes league minimum while Ross will be very overpaid. And, Plouffe, being out of options, needs an opportunity to show whether he is a capable big leaguer or not.
I feel the Twins outfield situation is fine. Obviously they will have to play well on the field, but I wouldn’t make any additions. Would you? What would you do? Feel free to leave comments in the Comments section.