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Twins to Trade Hardy to Orioles

9 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Just after midnight central time, it came out that the Twins are very close to trading JJ Hardy to the Orioles. Rumors arose on Wednesday afternoon that the Twins may be dealing Hardy to Baltimore for two minor league relievers, but soon after, word came that the teams had much more to discuss. When the more formal announcement was made late last night, Hardy was traded with Brendan Harris in exchange for relief pitchers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson. As this transaction becomes more formal, and if there are any updates or edits, I will make them.

For the last month, the Twins have continued to speak on and on about this need for speed. They then added Tsuyoshi Nishioka  to the mix when they bid over $5 million just to negotiate with him. They have also committed to giving Alexi Casilla an opportunity to be an everyday player. It is assumed Casilla would play SS and Nishioka would play second base, although that will be determined this spring.

Although Twins fans, myself included, would love to get more for one of the top shortstops in the league, it is pretty clear that this is all the Twins could get and they decided to settle for it. I think that the Twins made the decision that they wanted to go a different direction than Hardy after he missed 60 games in 2010. They truly want to add speed. I actually don’t think that trading Hardy is a salary dump alone. Getting Brendan Harris added to the deal, assuming that the O’s are picking up Hardy and Harris’s contracts, is just a great job by Bill Smith. That’s an extra $1.75 million that the Twins would have had to play regardless. As I said all along, I think the idea situation was to have JJ Hardy at shortstop with Tsuyoshi Nishioka at second base and Alexi Casilla as the utilty player. I also am a realist and knew that was pretty unlikely.

What do we know about the two relievers coming to the Twins?

Brett Jacobson – A 6-6, 205 pound right-hander, Jacobson throws hard. He hits between 95 and 98 with his fastball. He was the team’s fourth-round pick in 2008 out of the University of Vanderbilt. He was traded in 2009 from the Tigers to the Orioles in the Aubrey Huff deal. He went back to Hi-A in 2010 to work on his secondary pitches, and he was very good. He is the type of power arm that the Twins should be looking for. He just turned 24 years old in November and should advance quickly in 2011.

Jim Hoey – He was a member of the Orioles’ bullpen in 2006 and 2007. He had Tommy John surgery in 2008 and missed the entire year. He slowly returned in 2009. In 2009, he threw 52.2 innings between AA and AAA and struck out 70 in 52.2 innings of work. He also walked 34 which isn’t ideal, but he will certainly play a part in the Twins bullpen in 2011. The 6-6 righty will turn 28 years old later this month.

Please note that if more information and specifics of this trade come out, I will update this page. I am also hoping to get some more detailed scouting reports on these pitchers and will post them when I receive them. The deal is expected to be formalized following Thursday’s Rule 5 draft as Harris is eligible for the draft. Hoey is on the 40 man roster and Jacobson does not yet need to be protected for another year.

Alright, here you go. What do you think? Please feel free to leave your comments here.

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Quick Twins Post

24 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

If you my interview with Paul Allen this morning at 9:20 on KFAN listen to the podcast (Fan on Demand) now.

The Twins were swept by the Brewers. That’s never a good thing. Yovani Gallardo is really good. How come Ubaldo, Halladay and Gallardo have been the Twins Get-Away opponent’s pitcher the last three series?

Cliff Lee rumors persist. If you believe The Bleacher Report, the Twins and Mariners nearly had a deal in place that would have sent Wilson Ramos, Brian Duensing and a ‘low-level outfielder’ to Seattle. However, when Ramos was injured last week, the deal was put off or delayed. I’m not buying that a deal was imminent. I do believe that they have talked, and I actually believe that the Twins will land the talented lefty in a few more weeks.  

Following today’s game, the Twins announced that Brendan Harris had been outrighted to AAA Rochester. Outrighted means that he was placed on waivers and no one claimed him Jason Repko, the centerfielder who signed with the Twins just days before the season started, was called up. Repko has been Rochester’s best player this year. He’s  good defensively. I’m told that his defense in CF is comparable to that of Jason Pridie, which says a lot. He’s been up in the big leagues various times over the last four years with the Dodgers, so he is no stranger to the big leagues. What is scary is that the Twins now have an extra outfielder. Does that mean more Michael Cuddyer at 3B? Yikes!

Finally, I wrote a blog entry for Minor League Ball and sent it to the great John Sickels to post as he has time. Keep checking back there to see if it is there.

Sorry about the brevity, but I am heading out of town now and don’t know when I’ll post next. Any thoughts on the Twins, minor leaguers, the Brendan Harris decision (which makes the D’Angelo Jimenez signing confusing), or anything else? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.

2010 Twins Predictions – Hitters

6 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

We are now one game into the 162 (or 163) game season, so I wanted to post all of my predictions for the world to mock and ridicule. You had previously seen my projections for Joe Mauer and Delmon Young, but here are the rest of the Twins hitters.

  BA OBP SLG OPS 2B 3B HR RBI SB
Joe Mauer 0.321 0.404 0.517 0.921 41 2 24 104 2
Jose Morales 0.265 0.308 0.299 0.607 6 0 0 11 0
Drew Butera 0.227 0.261 0.273 0.534 1 0 0 3 0
Jim Thome 0.243 0.348 0.491 0.839 8 0 13 39 0
Justin Morneau 0.294 0.365 0.543 0.908 38 1 32 122 0
Orlando Hudson 0.274 0.347 0.408 0.755 27 5 8 54 6
JJ Hardy 0.287 0.349 0.448 0.797 34 2 18 82 2
Nick Punto 0.262 0.332 0.371 0.703 22 3 3 41 12
Brendan Harris 0.257 0.306 0.372 0.678 23 0 9 39 0
Alexi Casilla 0.159 0.197 0.202 0.399 2 1 0 8 1
Delmon  Young 0.309 0.344 0.471 0.815 33 5 21 82 18
Denard Span 0.296 0.381 0.411 0.792 25 8 8 56 26
Michael Cuddyer 0.281 0.360 0.508 0.868 33 3 27 107 4
Jason Kubel 0.317 0.396 0.578 0.974 43 1 34 132 0

Yes, you read it right. I believe that Jason Kubel will put up better offensive numbers than Joe Mauer. Take a look, review the numbers. Let me know what you think… Leave your comments.

2010 Roster Projections: Minnesota Twins

21 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Alright, Opening Day is just two weeks away. The minor league seasons will begin in about 2 ½ weeks. It’s late time for me to post my roster projections. I know a lot of people in the cities of the Twins affiliates appreciate this, having an idea of who they may be able to see in their home stadium this year. Today I will be posting my projected Twins roster. Tomorrow I’ll post my projection on the Rochester Roster and so on through the week until I post my projected Beloit roster on Friday.

So here we go, starting with, the Minnesota Twins:

The Hitters

  Minnesota
C Joe Mauer
1B Justin Morneau
2B Orlando Hudson
3B Brendan Harris
SS JJ Hardy
LF Delmon Young
CF Denard Span
RF Michael Cuddyer
DH Jason Kubel
Bu C Drew Butera
Bu IF Nick Punto
Bu IF,OF Alexi Casilla
Bench Jim Thome
DL (Jose Morales)

 Analysis: I guess there really aren’t any surprises here. Yes, Nick Punto will likely start at 3B just as much as Brendan Harris. I think as long as he isn’t traded, Alexi Casilla will make the roster because he is out of options and they don’t want to lose him for nothing. And, I think I’ve been fairly clear on my thoughts that Wilson Ramos needs at bats and time behind the plate, so being a backup, even for a short time, makes no sense. Mauer, Morneau, Hudson, Hardy, Young, Span, Cuddyer, Kubel, Thome. This is a pretty exciting lineup that is going to score a lot of runs.

The Pitchers 

  Minnesota
SP Scott Baker
SP Nick Blackburn
SP Kevin Slowey
SP Carl Pavano
SP Francisco Liriano
   
CL Matt Guerrier
8L Jose Mijares
8R Jon Rauch
BP Jesse Crain
BP Pat Neshek
BP Anthony Slama
BP Clay Condrey
DL (Joe Nathan)

Analysis: Starting Five looks set and looks really good. We’ve spent the last couple of months trying to convince ourselves that Francisco Liriano could turn things around, and so far, so good. The other four are just very solid, if not underrated. I put Matt Guerrier in the closer’s role, just because he did such a good job in the 8th inning (often against the other team’s best hitters), that there is no reason to think he can’t do it in the 9th inning. If not, Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain or even Pat Neshek can get the job done. My thoughts on Neshek’s return have changed somewhat. He appears to be back and continues to get better and stronger. I now believe that he will make this roster, and who knows, by midseason, he could be closing too. Clay Condrey hasn’t been very good in spring, but he was solid for the Phillies the last three years, so I trust that over six or seven innings in March. Finally, the final bullpen spot may be determined by how much Gardy wants a second left-hander. If he is insistent upon it, then Brian Duensing is the guy. If he’s looking for the best relief pitcher, then Anthony Slama is the guy. Slama hasn’t pitched much this spring, but when he has, he has done well. It will be good to see him facing some big league hitters the next couple of weeks.

If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here.

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.

Where Are We Now?

21 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins offseason continues to role on, but let’s be honest, things are starting to get exciting. The Twins Winter Caravan’s first week is nearly complete. Two more groups will head out next week to places far and wide to talk Twins baseball. Next Thursday night will be the annual Diamond Awards, a black tie event honoring the Twins of 2009. Then starting next Friday is Twins Fest. And then, just a couple short weeks later, Pitchers and Catchers will report to Ft. Myers. As you know, I love the offseason as much as anyone, but the idea of the dawn of a new season being that close has to get everyone excited.

On a quick side note before I continue, next Tuesday’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast will be expanded to two full hours. Instead of going from 9:00 to 10:00 central time, I’ll be on from 8:00 to 10:00 central time. I’ve already got three confirmed guests, none of which has been on a previous podcast. I’m hoping to have anywhere from 6-10 guests in total, so it should be a very fun show!

Alright, back to our regular scheduled blogging. We know where we are on the calendar, but what does it mean for the 2010 Twins and their fans. With the eight Twins arbitration-eligible players signing earlier this week, the team now has some payroll certainty. We also have heard that the Twins offered Jarrod Washburn $5 million, which the lefty inexplicably rejected. So, that offer would have had to have been made knowing that the Twins would be at about $90 million after these arbitration signings. That tells me that there could be $4-6 million left to spend.

What moves have happened?

  • The Twins acquired a 27 year old former All-Star shortstop (JJ Hardy) who plays solid defense and could hit 15-18 home runs for their fourth outfielder (who was also very good defensively). Neither player is a certainty at this stage, but the general consensus is that the trade makes the Twins better.
  • The Twins offered arbitration to Carl Pavano, and as you know, he took it. The 31 year old pitcher will make $7 million in 2010, a fair amount for a league average pitcher with his service time. Although I probably would have preferred he reject arbitration and the Twins gain a supplemental first round draft pick, Pavano is certainly a better ‘veteran’ starting option than Jarrod Washburn or other pitchers on the market. Retaining Pavano, in all, leans to the positive for the Twins.
  • Finally, the Twins essentially replaced Bobby Keppel on their roster with Clay Condrey, which is a clear improvement. There are three moves that make the Twins better.

The Twins lost Joe Crede, Orlando CabreraMike Redmond and Ron Mahay (although technically Crede could still come back). All had some value to the Twins, but none will be particularly lost.

What’s Left?

The Twins, like every other team in baseball, still have a few holes. Are they holes, or are they perceived holes? Well, that is up to each individual to decide. Here are the general areas in which the Twins have perceived holes:

1.)    Second Base – As of today, Nick Punto would be the leading candidate to be the team’s second baseman. I know I’m not the biggest Nick Punto fan, but if he’s batting ninth and playing second base, he is the least of the Twins worries. He takes a ton of pitches. He has a very solid on base percentage. Yes, I would prefer if he hit .260, but any way you can get on is a good thing, and Nick Punto somehow coaxes a lot of walks. There are still two good options out there at second base in Felipe Lopez and Orlando Hudson. If one of them would be willing to take the one year, $5 million deal that the Twins offered to Washburn, I would be thrilled.  

2.)    Third Base – I think if the season started today, Brendan Harris and Matt Tolbert would be your starting third basemen. I’m not Tolbert fan, but I do like Brendan Harris. I especially like it because he can play three positions and has some pop from the right-side of the plate, so that when Danny Valencia is ready (2-3 months?), Harris still can help the team in a utility role. I have pretty much zero interest in bringing in Joe Crede or Melvin Mora. I would be interested in Miguel Tejada for the same one year, $5 million contract, but I would prefer to focus on 2B. If they sign a 2B, Nick Punto can play 3B, and again, bat ninth and play solid defense.

3.)    #2 hitter – Right now, the Twins best #2 hitter option is probably Nick Punto. His ability to take pitches, foul off pitches and get on base make him a viable option. His inability to hit make him a better option in the #9 spot. This is where adding Felipe Lopez or Orlando Hudson both make a lot of sense. Both have the ability to get on base, but both can hit as well. Adam Kennedy is a solid on base guy too (and he could play 2B or 3B), but he’s a left-handed hitter, so if he hit second, the Twins would probably bat five lefties in their first six batters.

4.)    Veteran StarterDoug Davis signed with Milwaukee. Washburn is still out there. My feeling is that the Twins do NOT need to add another starter. The top four are Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Carl Pavano and Kevin Slowey. In spring training, the likes of Brian Duensing, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Manship and Anthony Swarzak can battle for the fifth spot. You have enough depth in case of injury. In my mind, it doesn’t make sense to bring in a starter who will make much more money than these guys and probably wouldn’t do any better.

5.)    5th outfielder – With Delmon Young, Denard Span and Michael Cuddyer set as the primary outfielders, and DH Jason Kubel able to play both corners adequately, I don’t see the 5th outfielder spot being all that crucial. And honestly, I wouldn’t spend any/much money to acquire it. I would be looking for someone who could play CF since the Twins don’t have an option if Span were to need a day off. He’d obviously have to be able to play both corners too. It’d be nice if he could have a little bit of pop in his bat for those 12 inning marathons, but primarily, he needs to play solid defense and be able to run the bases. Jason Pridie does all of that. I’m not saying I’d be comfortable with him if he had to start more than two or three games in a row, but if that were the case, the Twins could find someone. When I saw Brandon Jones was taken off of Atlanta’s 40 man roster; that intrigued me. He was sent to the Pirates. I would prefer guys like that, 26-30 year old minimum salary guys

What Would I (Try To) Do?

Two things. That’s all.

1.)    I would throw one year, $5.5 million contract offers to Felipe Lopez and Orlando Hudson. They would be worth $5 million in 2010 with a team option at $6 million in 2011 (with a $0.5 million buyout). Make sure both know that they will sign the first to agree to it. I’d consider going up by even $1 million in 2010 base salary.

2.)    I’ve said all along that I thought the Twins and Joe Mauer would announce the signing of a new long-term extension that will keep in a Twins uniform for years to come. I think that announcement happens in the second half of the week next week.

If those two things happen, coupled with their previous moves, this will have been a remarkable offseason for the Minnesota Twins and their fans. It has already been a very good offseason. If they sign a second baseman, but don’t sign Mauer, it’s still a very strong offseason. If they don’t sign a second baseman, but they do sign Mauer, it will be a tremendous offseason.    

What would you do? Map it out. If you have any questions or comments, click here.

Twins Arbitrary Thoughts

19 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

There will be a new SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast Tuesday night at 9:00 central time. I am finalizing a guest list, so be sure to check back to find out who will be on the show.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins and all eight of their arbitration-eligible players will be in the news. The players and their agents will tell the Twins the amount of money they hope to make in 2010. The Twins will also tell the players (and the world) what value they would like to pay each player in 2010. Basically, this process lets the players and teams know what the other would like, and many times they come to an agreement right at the midpoint. However, if neither side is will to budge, they will go to an arbitrator in early February and will either make the amount the player wanted or the amount that the team was willing to pay, depending on a three person panel. The third option is that the two sides will agree to a multiple year contract.

In the following chart, you will see what the player’s base salary, and my predictions for what the Player will request, what the team will offer, and then the midpoint of the two. Of course, if you bought the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, you have probably already read plenty on this topic. What are your thoughts on the below? What will happen? Will any sign multi-year deals?

SETH’S ESTIMATES

Player 2009 Salary Player Request Team Offer Mid-Point
Jesse Crain $ 1.7 M $ 2.6 M $ 1.8 M $ 2.2 M
Pat Neshek $ 0.44 M $0.85 M $ 0.55 M $ 0.7 M
Matt Guerrier $ 1.475 M $ 3.0 M $ 2.25 M $ 2.675 M
Francisco Liriano $ 0.43 M $ 1.5 M $ 0.75 M $ 1.05 M
Carl Pavano $ 1.5 M $ 8.25 M $ 6.75 M $ 7.5 M
JJ Hardy $ 4.65 M $ 6.5 M $ 5.5 M $ 6.0 M
Brendan Harris $ 0.4461 M $ 1.45 M $ 0.85 M $ 1.15 M
Delmon Young $ 1.152 M $ 3.0 M $ 2.1 M $ 2.55 M

Looking at this list, it’s hard to find a name that the team would want to sign for more than just the one year. In situations like Crain, Young and Liriano, you have to see which version will show up in 2010. Which JJ Hardy is the Twins getting?  What will Brendan Harris’s role be in 2010, much less beyond. Of course, therein lies the risk. In some cases, a multi-year contract might come at a lower dollar value than it will in a year if they do produce. The Twins will weigh that risk, but I can’t see any multi-year deals. I see a lot of mid-point deals being reached.

If you have any questions or comments, click here.