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Twins Top Moments of 2011

27 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

99 losses. Confusing injuries and rehabilitation stories. Players traded, and players lost via free agency. 2011 was a really tough season for the Twins organization. However, there were a few positive moments during the season as well.

Blyleven to the Hall of Fame

  • Early in January, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced that Bert Blyleven was finally to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The Twins had some special nights for him, and in August he was inducted.

20 Year Anniversary of the 1991 World Series

  • Also in August, the Twins celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the greatest World Series of all-time, that 1991 thriller against the Atlanta Braves. Many of the Twins players from that roster were in attendance for the reunion. It’s always great to see so many of those players coming back.

No-Hitters

  • On May 4 in Chicago, Francisco Liriano was wild, and yet he completed a no-hitter against the White Sox. The final out came on a line drive to Matt Tolbert off the bat of Adam Dunn. Liriano was pitching to stay in the rotation at the time, and despite all the walks, the no-hitter continued to show how good his stuff can be.
  • On July 6, Jeff Manship made his first start for the Rochester Red Wings. Due to injury, it was his first appearance in seven weeks. Manship threw four no-hit innings. He was followed by Jake Stevens who threw three no-hit innings. Kyle Waldrop gave up no hits in the 8th innings, and Jim Hoey finished the job with no hits in the 9th inning.
  • On July 16, Tim Shibuya, the Twins 23rd round pick a month earlier, started for the Elizabethton Twins. The right-hander threw seven no-hit innings. He was followed by 31st round pick, RHP Garrett Jewell, who threw a no-hit 8th inning. 7th round pick, lefty Steven Gruver, struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning to preserve the no-hitter.
  • September 3, Alex Wimmers tossed a seven-inning no hitter for the Ft. Myers Miracle. His season started with a six batter faced, six walk outing. He was shut down for a couple of months and brought back slowly. But to end the season in such fashion was a nice way to end a rough season.

Major League Debuts

  • April 1 – Tsuyoshi Nishioka went 1-4 on Opening Day against the Blue Jays.
  • April 28 – Rene Tosoni went 2-4 with an RBI in his debut against the Rays.
  • June 4 – Brian Dinkelman went 1-3 with a walk. In his first plate appearance, he was hit by a pitch. His walk was intentional. The Twins beat the Royals 7-2.
  • July 18 – Scott Diamond was called up for a spot start in the second game of a double header against Cleveland. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on seven hits and two walks in 6.1 innings.
  • September 5 – Kyle Waldrop gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in 1.2 innings against the White Sox. The first inning he pitched was scoreless.
  • September 6 – Joe Benson led off for the Twins and went 0-3 after walking in his first plate appearance in a 3-0 loss to the White Sox.
  • September 6 – Chris Parmelee batted fifth and went 2-4 in the same game.
  • September 6 – Liam Hendriks made the start for the Twins in this game. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks in seven innings.

The Killebrew Tribute

  • Obviously one of the saddest moments during the 2011 season was the death of legendary Twins great Harmon Killebrew. However, listening and reading the stories of what a great man he was made us almost forget what a great baseball player he was. The Twins had a tribute for Killebrew on May 26. It was great to see so many former players there. Mudcat Grant was again amazing with his rendition of What a Wonderful World. However, the highlight had to be the speech of Nita Killebrew. Her poise and strength in that moment were amazing. Her words were inspirational. It was a great tribute to a great man.

Nathan Sets Twins Saves Mark

  • On August 10, Joe Nathan set the Twins all-time saves record by recording his 255th save. He surpassed Rick Aguilera’s mark of 254.

Thome Hits 600th Home Run

  • On August 15, the Twins traded Delmon Young to the Tigers in the afternoon. That was fairly big news that day, but fortunately, there was much bigger news coming later that night. Through his first two at bats, Jim Thome was 1-2 with a single. In the 6th inning, he hit home run #599 against the Tigers in Detroit. For many, it takes awhile to hit that 600th home run. Thome’s came just one inning later with two runners on against lefty Daniel Schlereth.

Draft Picks Sign

  • Within the final hour before the deadline for teams to sign their draft picks, the Twins signed all three of their first round picks. Levi Michael was the 30th overall pick and signed for $1.175 million (about $86,000 over slot). Supplemental first-rounder, Hudson Boyd, the 55th overall pick, signed for a $1 million bonus (about $350,000 over slot). Travis Harrison, the 50th overall pick in the draft, signed for $1.05 million (about $350,000 over slot). The Twins signed several other players with big potential on that final day, including Minnesota’s top high school player in 2011, LHP Austin Malinowski (the team’s 16th round pick).

Award Winners

  • Brian Dozier and Liam Hendriks were named the Twins minor league hitter and pitcher of the year, respectively.
  • Eddie Rosario was named the player of the year in the Appalachian League after putting up monstrous numbers including 21 home runs, one better than teammate Miguel Sano. Teammate Tim Shibuya was the pitcher of the year in the Appalachian League.

Terry Ryan Reclaims the GM Role

  • On November 7, the Twins announced the Bill Smith was being relieved of his duties as GM of the Twins and that former GM Terry Ryan would resume the duties in an interim role. The question is how long “interim” might be.

It was a tough year, and when trying to come up with positives from 2011, it was quite difficult to make it even this lengthy. I’m certain I missed some things. Were there any other positives from the 2011 Twins season that you can think of? Help me out here!!

TwinsCentric Notes

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Joe Nathan Signs with the Rangers

21 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Reports out of Texas are saying that Joe Nathan has signed on with the Texas Rangers. The deal is said to be for two years at $7 million with an option for a third year. The Rangers are also said to be moving Neftali Feliz from his closer’s role to the starting rotation.

After missing the entire 2010 season with Tommy John surgery, Nathan came back and reclaimed his closer’s role in April. It didn’t take too long for him to give it back to Matt Capps. After a DL stint, Nathan returned and pitched quite well, especially late in the season.

In the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, we predicted two years and $14 million for Nathan… Not too shabby.

Nathan joined the Twins at about this time in 2003. The Twins sent AJ Pierzynski to the Giants in exchange for Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser. He had one career save before coming to the Twins, and eight years and 260 saves later, he is the Twins all-time Saves leader, having surpassed Rick Aguilera just this past season.

I know there are people who can’t get past the Mark Teixeira homer in the playoffs… or a couple of other playoff blunders. I think it’s important to remember that from 2004 through 2009, Joe Nathan was, at worst, the second-best closer in all of baseball. In those six seasons, he posted an ERA higher than 2.10 just one time (2.96). He never posted a WHIP of greater than 1.06. He didn’t give up many hits. He didn’t walk many, and he averaged 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

As Twins President Dave St. Peter tweeted, “Joe and Lisa Nathan = Class Acts. Many contributions on the field and in the community. THX for 8 great years with Twins. Best of luck in Texas.”

Joe Nathan is one of the best Twins players in their history, and he has represented the organization and the community very well. At the same time, Nathan turns 37 on Tuesday, so as much as he appeared to return to form late last year, it’s hard to know what he will do over the next two seasons. So it’s easy to understand why the Twins would have been hesitant to sign him to this reasonable contract. Nathan said that “winning” was going to be a huge factor in where he would sign. I’d say he stayed true to that by signing with the Rangers.

 Feel free to comment.

Nine Innings with Seth

7 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It’s time for another Nine Innings blog here at SethSpeaks.net. I think there are enough topics. Sure, the first inning is something that I posted last night already, but the rest of it will be new to you. I’d be curious your thoughts on the Nine Innings concept and if it is something you’d like to see continued.

1st Inning – Red Wings Combine for No-Hitter

Yesterday the talk was about getting Trevor Plouffe back to the Twins from Rochester. Tonight, there was another great story in the Red Wings 7-0 win over the division-leading Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Not only did four pitchers combine for a shutout, four pitchers combined for a no-hitter.

Jeff Manship made his first appearance May 15. He started and threw four no-hit innings. He walked two and struck out four. Jake Stevens, who was just called up today from New Britain when Anthony Slama was put on the Disabled List, threw the next three no-hit innings. Kyle Waldrop pitched the 8th, and Jim Hoey pitched the 9th frame to complete the no-hitter. With an out in the 9th, Toby Gardenhire ranged far to his right, dove, and came up firing to get Pete Orr at first base.

It was the 21st no-hitter in Red Wings history. The first, according to play-by-play man Josh Whetzel came exactly 123 years ago today, July 6, 1888.

Offensively, Dustin Martin led the way by going 2-3 with his 14th and 15th doubles. Brandon Roberts was 2-4. Delmon Young was 1-4 with a double.

Trevor Plouffe, after Ron Gardenhire called manager Tom Nieto to make it happen, started at 1B where he played the first eight innings. In the ninth inning, Plouffe went out to right field, switching spots with Jeff Bailey.

It’s been another frustrating year for the Red Wings and their fans, but this is a pretty exciting event. Congratulations to all involved, but especially to Jeff Manship on his return and to all of those pitchers!

Any thoughts?

2nd Inning – Minor League Notes and Scores

Along with that exciting Red Wings game, here is a quick update on the goings on through the rest of the Twins farm system with a reminder that at 10:00 central time tonight, you can catch Travis Aune and I for another episode of Twins Minor League Weekly.

The New Britain Rock Cats and New Hampshire got through two complete innings with no score. Dennys Suarex threw two scoreless innings. The Rock Cats had no hits, but they did score a run in the top of the 3rd before the rains came. The game was suspended and the teams will play a double header tomorrow.

Ft. Myers topped St. Lucie 3-2 in 11 innings. Jhon Garcia started and gave up just one run on six hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out three. Matt Schuld came on and gave up just one run over the next four innings. He got the win, and Matt Hauser came in with a runner on in the 11th and finished the game for his second save. Derek McCallum went 2-4. Nick Romero hit his third triple. Jhonathan Goncalves hit his 12th double. Jake Mauer was ejected in the 7th inning.

By the way, be sure to check out the most recent episode of Miracle Insider by Alex Margulies and Bryce Zimmerman. They have a fun interview with Tom Stuifbergen.

Beloit dropped a 3-2 decision to Peoria. Michael Gonzales provided the offense. He was 2-4 with his 12th home run and 58th RBI. AJ Achter started and gave up one run on four hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out five. Jose Gonzales took the loss. He gave up two runs on three hits in his two innings.

Todd Van Steensel put together his best start of the year and Elizabethton defeated Kingsport 9-3. Van Steensel threw five shutout innings. He gave up four hits, walked one and struck out two. Steven Evans pitched a scoreless frame. Garrett Jewell gavec up three runs (1 earned) on three hits and a walk and recorded two outs. Nick Alloway got the next four batters out. Steven Gruver pitched a perfect ninth. Miguel Sano led the offense. He went 3-5 with his fifth double and second triple. (He also committed his 11th error.) Nick Lockwood went 2-5 with his fifth double. Jairo Rodriguez went 2-3, was hit by a pitch twice, and stole a base.

The GCL Twins lost 5-3 to the GCL Orioles. Angel Mata went the first three innings and gave up two runs (1 earned) on four hits. He walked one and struck out three. Tyler Herr gave up three runs (2 earned) on five hits and a walk in 2.1 innings. He struck out three. Nick Cicio struck out two in 1.2 scoreless innings.

3rd Inning – Twins Take Two of Three from Tampa

The Tampa Bay Rays have the third best record in the AL East, and the third best record in the American League. And the Twins won the series two games to one. Yes, the Wednesday afternoon 12-5 loss was a frustrating one because the Twins bullpen imploded in the 8th and 9th innings after the Twins came back three times to tie the game at five after seven innings. But it should be no more frustrating than if they had played great and lost 6-5. The big picture remains to win series, especially at home.

On Monday afternoon, it was all about Brian Duensing in the team’s 7-0 win. Duensing threw his second career complete game shutout to top All Star David Price. Tsuyoshi Nishioka had his biggest hit as a Twins player to date. He broke the game open with a bases-loaded two-run double. Danny Valencia went 3-4 with a home run and the final dagger, a three-run home run.

On Tuesday night, the Twins won a tight one, by a 3-2 margin. In this game, it was about All-Star Michael Cuddyer and the bullpen. Scott Baker continued his dominance at Target Field with five scoreless innings before he left with a tender elbow. Michael Cuddyer grounded out to score the Twins first run, but he also grounded a single up the middle to drive in the second and third runs. After Baker left, Phil Dumatrait got five outs. Alex Burnett got the Twins out of the 7th inning. Joe Nathan looked tremendous again in the 8th. Matt Capps didn’t complete a save opportunity for the third straight time. Thankfully it was the second straight time that Gardy went to Glen Perkins to face a tough lefty, and for the second straight time, Perkins got the job done and recorded the save.

And again, on Wednesday afternoon, after Michael Cuddyer hit his 13th home run to tie the game at five after seven innings, Alex Burnett gave up four runs in the eighth and Phil Dumatrait gave up three more in the 9th for the final 12-5 score. Nishioka went 3-3 with a walk in the game. But Franky-ly, when your starter gives up five runs on six hits, four walks and three hit batters and doesn’t get through five innings, winnings isn’t too likely.

But in the end, the Twins won six of nine games on this home stand, and won all three series. That is a good thing, and a successful home stand.

4th Inning – AL Central Standings and Schedule

Cleveland Indians      46-39

Detroit Tigers             46-42      1.5

Chicago White Sox    43-45      4.5

Minnesota Twins       38-47      8.0

Kansas City Royals    36-51   11.0

Again, it remains far too early in the season to be scoreboard watching or to worry about the standings. That said, the All Star game is next Tuesday, and the July trade deadline is just three weeks away. I don’t think that the Twins need to determine now whether they will be Buyers or Sellers. However, The next 16 games for the Twins are all in the AL Central. It starts with four games against the White Sox in Chicago. Then, following the All Star break, the Twins will play the next 11 games at Target Field. It will be four against the Royals, three against Cleveland and four against the Tigers. The Twins will then play four games in Texas and then three games in Oakland, the third game on July 31, the trade deadline. However, following those 16 games against the AL Central, we may know a lot more about what the Twins should do.

5th Inning – Twins and White Sox for Four in Chi-Town

The Twins have had a lot of success in recent years, both at home and on the road. It would be great for the Twins to end the first half on a nice role. On Thursday, we expect to see the big league debut of Joe Mauer at first base. That should be entertaining. Who will start in Scott Baker’s place on Sunday? I would assume Anthony Swarzak will and that the two innings he pitched on Wednesday should not affect that decision. On Thursday, we will get to see short-term Twins pitcher Phil Humber who has been incredible for the White Sox this year after being really terrible for the Royals last year and the Twins the year before, and the Mets the year before. It has been one of the better stories of the year. Good for him. Here are the pitching matchups for the four game series (W-L, ERA, WHIP, Opp BA):

  • Thursday night – 7:10 p.m. – Carl Pavano (5-6, 4.19, 1.30, .280) vs. Phil Humber (8-4, 2.69, 0.98, .201)
  • Friday night – 7:10 p.m. – Nick Blackburn (6-6, 4.02, 1.41, .286) vs. Gavin Floyd (6-8, 4.17, 1.20, .250)
  • Saturday afternoon – 3:10 p.m. – Brian Duensing (6-7, 4.25, 1.46, .280) vs. Mark Buehrle (6-5, 3.66, 1.30, .278)
  • Sunday afternoon – 1:10 p.m. – Anthony Swarzak (1-2, 3.94, 1.34, .273) vs. Jake Peavy (4-2, 4.83, 1.11, .236)

6th Inning – The Twins Closer?

As those who have read this website for years, I am not a big fan of the Closer’s role, or the Save statistic, and really think that the Hold state can be overrated as well. I understand, someone has to have the backbone to get the final three outs of a game without the other team scoring the tying or the go-ahead run. Personally, I believe in the concept of Closer-by-committee. I think it makes much more sense to make pitching decisions based on matchups rather than by inning. The closer role is the worst case of that. Think about it. How many times has the closer been warming up with his team holding a two or three run lead? If the team scores and goes ahead by four runs, another pitcher warms up. The average closer is successful on about 80% of save opportunities. Mariano Rivera has been a given for about 15 years. How many other closers in baseball can be counted on from year to year. Papelbon, Rodriguez, Valverde, Cordero. These closers have all had really good runs, and some really poor stretches. Joe Nathan was as much of a given as anyone until he got hurt. Joakim Soria has been tremendous the last few years, but even he temporarily lost his closer’s role earlier this season.

Closers, by their very nature, are put into situations where they are either successful, or the team usually loses. There is stress in that. A pitcher has to be able to handle that. Matt Capps has been an adequate, average closer for more of the last five seasons. He has failed in his last three save opportunities. Before that, he did not allow a run in 11 appearances and looked very good.  Joe Nathan has really looked good with his fastball and slider since his return from the DL a little more than a week ago. Glen Perkins has been tremendous all year and he continued that run since his return from the DL.

So, who should be the Twins closer? My first response is that I don’t really care. First things first, I don’t want it to be Glen Perkins? Why? Because I think that he is the team’s best relief pitcher. I don’t want him to be wasted in that glorified ninth inning role. I want him coming into the potentially game-changing situation in the 7th, 8th, or 9th inning. Last year, Jesse Crain was incredible in that role. While the closer comes in generally with the bases empty and a one, two or even three run lead, Crain (and now Perkins) has come in with runners on and a crucial point. Crain came through well last year, and Perkins has done the job incredibly this year.

Joe Nathan could take over the job again, but although he has looked good, it is hard to believe that he could pitch effectively two or three games in a row. I think if he can get there, that will be huge for the Twins.

Matt Capps has done the job most of the time, but he is struggling right now. What he needs is to get another opportunity and despite any struggles, get that 27th out. He has done the job and he can do the job. And frankly, will we trust him any more, or feel more confident, that he will get the job done in the 7th or 8th innings?

So, I guess I would have a situation where Nathan is the closer, but Capps gets that role if Nathan did the day before. And, Glen Perkins should face tough lefties in the ninth inning and come into crucial situations in the 7th or 8th inning.

7th Inning – Tom Kelly in the Booth!

Bert Blyleven is taking an extended All-Star break. On Wednesday, Tom Kelly joined Dick, errr… Richard, Bremer in the Twins TV telecast. I was able to listen for about three innings or so, and I have to say that I was impressed. I learned more from Tom Kelly in those innings than I have learned from Blyleven over the last several years. I’m sure he can’t say everything that he would know about players, but he knows a lot more than Blyleven. It was interesting to hear him talk about the struggles that Joe Mauer could have at first base. He said that it won’t be about catching the ball at 1B, but it will be more about understanding situational play like bunt plays or cut-off situations. It was interesting to hear him talk about the growth process of Danny Valencia, and also about Michael Cuddyer who is the only player remaining from when Kelly managed.

I am eagerly anticipating listening to Kelly throughout the next four games. No, I don’t think that he would be good as the everyday guy. He may not be good for the average fan who watches the Twins game. Let’s face it, if you’re reading this and peruse Twins blogs daily, you’re probably not the average Twins fan that watches Twins games. The average fan will listen to Blyleven’s old jokes and think it’s funny and any time he says anything (over and over) about pitching or team chemistry, etc., they enjoy it. I don’t mind listening at times, but I certainly don’t listen to Blyleven to learn anything. With Tom Kelly, I really felt like I was learning something and gaining just a little bit of inside information.

8th Inning – Jeter Approaches 3,000 Hits

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter sits at 2,997 career hits entering games on Thursday. The team will head back to the Bronx for games this weekend. It is likely that Jeter will achieve the impressive career statistic at home in front of the Yankees fans, which is quite appropriate.

When he achieves the 3,000 hit milestone, he will become the 28th player in Major League Baseball history to do so. The most recent member of the exclusive club was Craig Biggio who got a single on June 28, 2007. Before that, it was Rafael Palmiero in July of 2005. Before that, Rickey Henderson in 2001. The last player to get his 3,000th hit in a Twins uniform was Paul Molitor in September of 1996 when he became the only player to hit a triple for his 3,000th hit. Exactly three years later, September 16, 1993, Dave Winfield got his 3,000th hit.

Derek Jeter is the Brett Favre of MLB. The media loves him and maybe over-hypes him. He can do no wrong. Nicknames like “Captain Clutch” may not be appropriate at all times. Sure, he may not have earned those Gold Gloves. Maybe he hasn’t been an “All Star” the last two years (his 36 and 37 year old years).

But take a step back. In my mind, when considering his position, Derek Jeter is as close to an inner-circle Hall of Famer as we have seen. Maybe not in the Babe Ruth category. Maybe not in the Willie Mays or Hank Aaron category, but he is elite.

He is a career .312/.383/.449 hitter. He’s a middle infielder so I’m not looking for huge power numbers, and yet he has 236 career home runs. He is a batting average and on-base percentage guy. And then, you can say that he’s played for the Yankees, but he has been a winner, and he has been the clear leader of that winner. I’m amazed by his durability. Since his first full big league season in 1996, he has had less than 650 plate appearances just once, and that was 2003 when he had 542 plate appearances. He has had one year in which he hit less than .290, and that was last year, his 36 year old season when he hit .270. He has seven top ten MVP finishes, has finished top three times and many believe he should have won at least one of those. He has stolen bases. He walks. He’s been terrific as a top of the lineup hitter. Honestly, there is nothing to not like about Jeter!

Maybe it’ll be 20 years down the line, but at some point, people outside of New York have to take a step back and realize just how good Jeter has been.

9th Inning – Rain Delay

Alright, for the second straight week, you’ll only get through eight innings, but there will be another blog post later today that you will want to consider. A discussion with KFAN’s Joe Nelson has given me an idea for a blog posting.

I will be on the Pale and Hosed podcast, a White Sox podcast, at about 9:30. I’ll provide more details when I can. Then at 10:00, Travis Aune and I will be co-hosting Twins Minor League Weekly.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading! As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Rough Night for the Twins

15 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

A lot of Twins fans a feeling a little big down these days. The team came into Thursday’s game against the Rays with a 4-7 record and having just lost a 10-5 decision with their ‘best’ pitcher. Twins fans are starting to realize just how important defense is when you don’t have any, and specifically you don’t have any range. That’s not the fault of the players. Their speed is what it is.

Twins fans are frustrated. Likely, the Twins are very frustrated.

And then came the lineup for Thursday’s game in Tampa against righty James Shields. A day after getting the day game after a night game off, Joe Mauer was not in the lineup for a second straight game. Was it just because Carl Pavano was on the mound and Drew Butera is his catcher? Was he hurt? Was he just being wimpy. Soon after, Gardy told reporters that he was “sore” and that was “all they needed to know.” For me, that made me think that he was fed up with Mauer. We have heard too many reports of Gardenhire’s frustration with Mauer’s subtle hints that he shouldn’t play. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was just sitting him again, benching him to some degree, because of that.

During the game, Drew Butera came through with an RBI single that gave the Twins a 2-0 lead. The Twins had 12 hits, and four of them were doubles, but again scored just two runs. Joe Nathan came in for the bottom of the 9th, to protect a two run lead. With one out, Felipe Lopez had a long at bat the ended with a double. Nathan then walked Ben Zobrist. On a 3-1 count, Joe Maddon sent the runners and Matt Joyce lined a ball to the gap which scored both runs and tied up the game. Nathan was able to get out of the 9th with the game tied. Nathan has been good. All closer’s blow saves, so that doesn’t worry me in the least. Plus, he held on so the Twins still had a chance in extra innings.

With two outs in the top of the 10th, Matt Tolbert singled and advanced to 2B on a passed ball. Danny Valencia came up big again with an RBI single to give the Twins a 3-2 lead.

Then Matt Capps came in to protect the one-run lead. He got the first out, but then Super Sam Fuld singled and Johnny Damon hit a walk-off home run to end the game. Again, Capps has been tremendous this season. So I’m not worried about him. But what are the odds that both of the Twins closers (who have both been good) would blow a save in the same game? The unfortunate thing, besides another loss and the record dropping to 4-8, was that Carl Pavano’s eight shutout innings were essentially wasted. Some may question the decision to take him out of the game. However, with 104 pitches, that’s just the way the game is played. And, had Nathan been able to close out the game, not one would even mention it.

But then following the game, the news came out that Joe Mauer was going to be put on the Disabled List with “bilateral leg weakness.” Whatever that is. From Livestrong.com:

Bilateral weakness in the leg muscles can be as mild as a generalized feeling of fatigue in your legs or as extreme as complete paralysis. Bilateral weakness indicates a problem in your central nervous system — in your brain, spinal cord or nerves. Many disease processes or trauma can cause bilateral weakness in your legs.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/352012-bilateral-weakness-in-the-leg-muscles/#ixzz1JaSO0PWw

Please go here to read a lot more about bilateral leg weakness, the symptoms, causes, treatments and more. Now I know that sometimes players get put on the DL and an injury is needed to be called out. Sometimes what it is called is not exactly what it is. Even if it is bilateral leg weakness, as you can see, there are many levels of severity. Hopefully some rest, rehab and restrengthening will be in line and it won’t be long before he is back.

So, the Twins called up 31-year-old, minor league veteran Steve Holm from Rochester. He will likely get plenty of playing time while Mauer is out. He has played in 53 games in 2008 and 2009 for the San Francisco Giants, the organization that drafted him in 2001. That summer, he got to catch a 17-year-old Francisco Liriano. He spent a couple of summers catching Matt Cain. He has caught Tim Lincecum in the minor leagues, and Sergio Romo and many other big league pitchers. He is a defense-first catcher, but he can put together a solid at bat at times too. Rene Rivera and Danny Lehmann were likely also considered. None of the three were on the Twins 40-man-roster, so Holm had to be added. The Twins are now at 39 on their 40 man roster.

So, two weeks into the season, things could not be going much worse for the Twins. The one thing they thought they could count on, the offense, is not hitting or scoring runs. Delmon Young has returned to swinging at everything. Several of the Twins key hitters got off to a very slow start. Tsuyoshi Nishioka fractured his fibula and is going to be about six to eight weeks which really highlighted the Twins lack of middle infield quality and depth. That is accentuated by Alexi Casilla being really bad both offensively and defensively. Luke Hughes has been called up and held his own, but now Michael Cuddyer is getting time at 2B against right-handed pitchers which allows the Twins to get Jason Kubel and Jim Thome into the lineup, but it also really weakens and already weak defense. The Twins best pitcher’s work ethic was (Again) called into question this spring and he has been awful in his first three starts. Joe Nathan, Matt Capps, Jose Mijares and (surprise surprise) Glen Perkins have been very good so far, but the back of the bullpen, where there were some concerns, have had some struggles.

And another concern in the offseason was what the backup plan was if (or when) Joe Mauer would go on the Disabled List. The answer, for me, was that if Joe Mauer gets hurt, it doesn’t matter who becomes the starter, it will be a big step down. At least the Twins do have very good defensive catchers that will work well with the pitching staff. They can bat 8th or 9th and any offense from them should be considered a bonus. Everyone knows that I was probably higher on Wilson Ramos than anyone, frequently discussing my plan for how he and Joe Mauer could split time between catcher and DH for years to come. However, he’s gone, he’s been gone since July, and Twins fans need to move on. Secondly, Matt Capps has been tremendous since coming to the Twins. (Doesn’t mean I think it was a good move long-term, but means that at least the Twins have had a great return in Capps) Others are upset that Jose Morales was traded in the offseason too. Again, he was out of options. He was not going to beat out Drew Butera. Getting anything out of him was what needed to be done. Obviously right now it would be nice to have Jose Morales around, but that doesn’t make the trade the wrong thing to do.

What more could go wrong at the start of this season? I hate to ask the question because, as we all know, things can always get worse. There are 150 games to go. It annoys me when people think that it can’t get better. But as I wrote yesterday, it seems that the more that the Twins have going against them, the more they come through, and the better they play. The Twins have played without Mauer before and done alright. The Twins played last year without Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan and won 94 games. I’m not intimating that the Twins are better off losing its star players, but what I am saying is don’t jump off the bandwagon now. Now is when they need the support, not the complaining.

Thursday Night’s Twins Minor League Weekly Podcast– Travis had a previous commitment. I was a little worried about how I would fill 30 minutes, but somehow, someway, I found plenty to talk about and could have gone longer. I discussed how the teams are doing and who is off to a fast start, but I also mentioned the names of some guys who are really struggling through the season’s first week. I also went much more in-depth with the injury discussion and the catching carousel.

Catching Carousel: Joe Mauer to the Disabled List, Steve Holm promoted to the Twins, Danny Lehmann promoted to Rochester, Dan Rohlfing promoted to New Britain.

MINOR LEAGUE UPDATES

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DayRene Tosoni, Rochester Red Wings.

Seth Speaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayLogan Darnell, Beloit Snappers

Red Wings Ramblings

Thursday – Game 1 – Red Wings 3, Lehigh Valley 1 – Eric Hacker started the first game and was excellent. The threw six shutout innings, giving up just two hits. He walked none and struck out five. Phil Dumatrait came in for the 7th, but a hit and two walks later, the bases were loaded with a 1-0 lead. Jim Hoey came in. He struck out the first batter he faced, but he hit the second to allow the game-tying run. He struckout the next batter. In the bottom of the 7th, Rene Tosoni hit a two-run, walk-off home run to end the game. The Red Wings managed just four hits. Ben Revere had a double. Dustin Martin hit his first home run of the year to give the Red Wings their 1-0 lead earlier in the game.

Thursday – Game 2 – Red Wings 3, Lehigh Valley 5 (8 innings) – Kyle Gibson got the nod in the second game. He gave up two runs on five hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out three. Carlos Gutierrez pitched a scoreless inning. Chuck James then threw a scoreless 7th inning. He started the 8th inning and gave up one run. He left with two runners on base. Kyle Waldrop came in and gave up a hit that scored both runners, but he got the final two outs. Matt Brown was 2-3. Dustin Martin hit his second home run of the day, and of the season. Rene Tosoni tied the game up at three with a two-run double.  

Injury Notes – Trevor Plouffe suffered some whiplash and a slight concussion on Wednesday. He did not play on Thursday. Ben Revere bruised his knee on a stolen base attempt in the second game. Anthony Slama  was activated from the Disabled List. Ryan Mullins was also activated from the DL, but he was optioned to Ft. Myers.

Rock Cats Report

Thursday – Rock Cats 6, Portland 2 – The Rock Cats finally got to play their home opener. Bobby Lanigan went the first six innings. He gave up two runs (1 earned) on five hits. He walks two and struck out four. Cole DeVries did a great job out of the ‘pen again. He threw three innings of one-hit ball to record the three inning save. Joe Benson hit his third and fourth doubles in four at bats. Ray Chang launched his first home run. Chris Parmelee hit his fourth double.

Miracle Matters

Thursday – Miracle 7, Bradenton 8 – The Miracle found themselves down 7-0 after two innings, and 8-2 after three innings. They made a big comeback, but it came up just short. It was a rough start for Tom Stuifbergen, to say the least. He gave up eight runs (7 earned) on nine hits and a walk in three innings. Ryan Mullins came in and threw three shutout innings. Blake Martin then threw two scoreless innings.  Jhonathan Goncalves went 3-5. Nate Hanson was 2-4 with a double. Steve Liddle went 2-5 with a double. James Beresford was 2-4 with a walk.

Injury Notes – Paul Kelly will again miss some significant time. He had a blood clot in his right shoulder. As I wrote the other day, He left the game earlier this week because his right arm was numb. He has already had surgery to remove the clots, but they still don’t know how long he’ll be out. Miguel Munoz appears to be headed toward Tommy John surgery. I was told that the ligament did not tear, but it actually came off of the bone (which just sounds painful, doesn’t it?). And Tom Stuifbergen had a rough start last night, but more worrisome, he left the game with shoulder pain. It will be evaluated, but hopefully it is nothing serious.

Snappers Bites

Thursday – Snappers 0, Clinton 2 (13 innings) – A day after getting just one hit in a 1-0 win over Clinton, it was another pitcher’s duel between the two teams. This one had no scoring until Clinton batted in the 13th inning. Logan Darnell started and went eight shutout innings. He allowed just two hits, walked none and struck out six. Blayne Weller gave up two hits and a walk in 1.2 innings, but did not allow a run. He struck out four. Clinton Dempster went 2.1 scoreless innings, but he gave up two runs in the top of the 13th before Matt Hauser got the final two outs.  

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments.

2011 Twins Predictions

1 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Thursday was officially Opening Day, and I have to admit, it was a strange day for me. First, it was on a Thursday for the first time. I had enough troubles with ESPN getting a Sunday night season opener, after Opening Day had always just been a Monday thing. MLB decided to start the season three or four days earlier in an attempt to keep the World Series out of November. Second, the Twins didn’t play on Opening Day. Only 12 teams did. So, I guess all I can say is:

Happy Minnesota Twins Opening Day to you!

Predictions are always fun because at the end of the year, I can pick and choose which ones I will remind you that I made. Or, if they’re that far off, I can forget to remind you about my picks and hopefully you won’t remind me too often. Below are some predictions, some more bold than others, for the 2011 Minnesota Twins season with some other predictions randomly thrown in.

2011 MINNESOTA TWINS PROJECTIONS

  • Matt Capps will record twice as many saves as Joe Nathan.
  • Joe Mauer will hit less than .320, but he will hit more than 40 doubles and more than 16 home runs. He will win his fourth straight, and fifth total, Silver Slugger Award.
  • Justin Morneau will post an OPS of just over .880.
  • Delmon Young will:
    • Hit over .300.
    • Hit more than 28 home runs
    • Drive in more than 120 runs
    • Post an OPS of less than .900.
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka will post an OPS of over .720 and steal more than 25 bases. He will also deserve to win the AL Gold Glove, but he won’t because Robinson Cano is a really good hitter.
  • Alexi Casilla’s OPS will be within .030 of JJ Hardy’s. He will also be within 2.0 UZR of the former Twins shortstop.
  • The date that I will stop watching the Twins on FSN with the volume on will be April 6th.
  • Denard Span will post an OBP over .370. He will steal more than 30 bases.
  • Michael Cuddyer will lead the Twins with more than 40 doubles. He will also top 20 home runs.
  • Danny Valencia will post an OPS greater than .820 with more than 32 doubles and more than 15 home runs.
  • Jim Thome will NOT post an OPS of over 1.000 again in 2011. In fact, he won’t post a .900 OPS. He will hit less than 15 home runs but more than the 11 home runs he needs to reach career home runs number 600.
    • Let’s go on a limb and say that he will his Home Run #600 on August 24th at Target Field in the 2nd inning off of Jake Arrieta.
  • Carl Pavano will throw 200 innings, but his ERA will be over 4.40.
  • Francisco Liriano will throw less than 190 innings with an ERA over 3.50 and a K-rate less than 8.5 per nine innings.
  • Brian Duensing will throw 175+ innings with an ERA of under 4.25.
  • Nick Blackburn will throw more than 210 innings with an ERA just under 4.00.
  • Scott Baker will throw 190+ innings with an ERA under 4.20.
  • Kevin Slowey will not make a start for the Twins in 2011, and he will average more than a strikeout per inning
  • I will be wrong about one of the five starters pitching well, Kyle Gibson will make his Twins debut on June 18 at Target Field against the Padres.
  • Joe Mauer and Delmon Young will represent the Twins at the All-Star game.
  • The Twins will open their 2011 home schedule with a 3-4 record, including a split against the Yankees at Yankees Stadium.
  • Ron Gardenhire will be ejected eight times in 2011.
  • No Twins hitter will top 30 home runs, however, Justin Morneau and Delmon Young will come close, while Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel will hit over 22 each.

AL CENTRAL STANDINGS (Projected)

Minnesota Twins        93-69

Chicago White Sox      91-71

Detroit Tigers              80-82

Cleveland Indians        72-90

Kansas City Royals     63-99

AMERICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFF TEAMS

AL Central – Minnesota Twins (2)

AL East – Boston Red Sox (1)

AL West – Oakland A’s (3)

Wild Card – Chicago White Sox (4)

ALDS: Boston over Chicago in 4 games, Oakland over Minnesota (in 5 games, the A’s rotation contains lefties Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden, and the bullpen has Brian Fuentes, Craig Breslow and Bobby Cramer. The Twins have not addressed their need for a right-handed bat. Unless they do, it could be another one and done.)

ALCS – Boston over Oakland in 5 games.

NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYOFF TEAMS

NL Central – Milwaukee Brewers (3)

NL East – Atlanta Braves (2)

NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers (1)

NL East – Philadelphia Phillies

NLDS: Braves over Brewers in 4 games. Phillies over Dodgers in 4 games.

NLCS: Braves over Phillies in 7 games.

WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS

                Braves over Red Sox in 6 games.

 What are your predictions for the 2011 season, for the Twins or the league. If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to comment or ask.

——————————————————–

  • TWINS MINOR LEAGUE WEEKLY PODCAST LAST NIGHTNIGHT – If you are interested in the Twins minor league system, check out Twins Minor League Weekly podcast from last night. Travis Aune and I will host the 10:00 p.m. podcast each Thursday throughout the season. Last night, we discussed the projected rosters and picks to click for the Rochester Red Wings and New Britain Rockcats. We started talking about the Ft. Myers Miracle when the 45 minute podcast abruptly came to an end. Next Thursday, we’ll discuss minor league opening night and continue to look at the Miracle and Snappers rosters.

Still Building from Within

21 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net and www.startribune.com/blogs/twinscentric.

Look back a decade: Torii Hunter spent a couple of seasons making people wonder about his skills before becoming a star. Look back a generation: Frank Viola spent two seasons with a five-plus ERA before blossoming. Tell me why Casilla is utterly hopeless?

Howard Sinker in his A Fan’s View blog yesterday made a tremendous point. It is important to remain patient. Of course, in Viola’s third year, he posted a 3.21 ERA over 257.2 innings. I think Alexi Casilla will be fine. I think that Tsuyoshi Nishioka will be just fine. Will either post a .730 OPS? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t fill their roles adequately. I just don’t think that offense will be the biggest issue for the Twins in 2011. Pitching, both starting and bullpen, is where there are question marks, but the cupboard is not empty.

What I would like to see is if 29-year-old Scott Baker, in his seventh season with the Twins, can hit 200 innings (or post a sub-4.20 ERA) for just the second time, and earn his $5 million salary. I’d like to see Kevin Slowey, in his fifth big league season, be 100% healthy, and see what he can do. He threw 199 innings in 2007 between Rochester and Minnesota. I’d like to see Nick Blackburn get back to going 11-11 with an ERA between 4.03 and 4.05 like he did in 2008 and 2009. As bad as portions of their 2010 seasons were, none of this is unrealistic. They have done it before. Along with that, maybe Brian Duensing can prove a lot of us wrong and put together another strong season in 2011, hopefully the full season as a starter. And, Francisco Liriano put himself back in discussion for best pitchers in the league (which is also helped by Cliff Lee moving to the NL). If healthy, he can still continue to improve.

So, if Carl Pavano leaves for greener pastures in places like Washington, D.C., or Pittsburgh, it really is not the end of the world. What are the odds that he could post a 3.75 ERA again or throw another 221 innings in a season? Not terribly good.

The Twins have a history of building from within, or giving opportunities to players who have come up through their system, and to stand behind them through struggles. We have seen it time and again. And for the most part over the last decade, it has paid off. The Twins have used free agents to complement their core of home-grown players. Last year, there wasn’t a solid internal option at second base, so they signed Orlando Hudson.

Last week, the Twins lost Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier to free agency. It is likely that they will not bring back Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch or Ron Mahay either. Fans, understandably, are up in arms about the lack of certainty in the Twins bullpen. There is no certainty that Joe Nathan will return to form in 2011. Jose Mijares is immensely talented, but he was up and down in 2010. Matt Capps is the given in the Twins bullpen, and he is what he is (a solid reliever). Beyond that, there are a lot of question marks.

Twins fans don’t want to hear about someone like Glen Perkins being a bullpen option in 2011. There are also a lot of guys with little or no big league experience being mentioned as options. I understand that is scary. We want certainty in the bullpen, right? Certainty, in this case, would have been retaining Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier because they are veterans, right? But if I read the comments here at the StarTribune.com blogs or many Twins blogs, most blog commenters were not big fans of Jesse Crain. Most blog commenters were not exactly confident when Matt Guerrier would come into games. But aside from Rafael Soriano, Brian Fuentes and Type A free agent and former Twins pitcher Grant Balfour, few relievers have been more reliable than Crain and Guerrier. And you didn’t want them back. So, who would be out there at this stage that could be counted on more? I am a proponent of signing RHP Jose Veras and LHP Hideki Okajima, but in each case, there are reasons that their 2010 team non-tendered them. Certainly not guarantees.

Simply stated, there are very few reliable relief pitchers from year to year. Most (or at least many) relief pitchers are failed starters. There are a lot of injuries. It is in the bullpen where you can find diamonds in the rough. It’s where guys (like Guerrier) who are out of options to get an opportunity, and a few take advantage of it. Look at the Yankees’ David Robertson. In 2009, he was a question mark. In 2010, he was getting put into some pretty big situations for the pinstripes.

With that said, there are a lot of options for breakout types in the Twins bullpen. Remember that they only need three or four of these guys to produce for the Twins in 2011:

  • Anthony Slama – It amazes me that many Twins fans seem to think he can’t contribute to the team. Are people really willing to say that a poor 4.2 inning debut in the big leagues tells us that he can’t pitch up there? Really? His 1.95 ERA over four minor league seasons mean nothing? His 12.5 K/9 means nothing? His 1.06 WHIP? His 2.44 ERA in one-plus seasons at AAA mean nothing? Bloggers and blog commenters have been clamoring for Slama for a few years, and now they’ll give up on him? Because of 4.2 bad innings? I think Slama can be a solid 7th inning guy.
  • Alex Burnett – he has a chance to be really good. He came up as a starter, a successful starter, but in 2009, he moved to the bullpen. Despite not pitching in AAA, and only a short time in AA, he was on teh Twins Opening Day roster and spent most of the first half with the Twins. He struggled as the season went along, but he has great stuff and will definitely be back with the Twins, eventually pitching late innings.
  • Pat Neshek – It amazes me how quickly some Twins fans turned on the sind-winding reliever. Yes, his velocity was down. I get that. But this year, he will get an actual offseason of working out and preparing, not an offseason of rehabilitation. Will he come back and be as incredible as he was in 2006 and 2007? Maybe, maybe not, but I’m willing to give him that opportunity.
  • James Hoey – Similarly, there was a lot of excitement about Hoey with the Orioles in 2006 and 2007. The righty throws hard and was generally thought to be the closer of the future with Baltimore. And then he had shoulder surgery, and he worked his way back up the ladder. His velocity is back. The strikeouts are back. He will need to cut down walks, but he is a power arm that the Twins bullpen needs.
  • Rob Delaney – Delaney was undrafted in 2006 and dominated the lower levels of the minor leagues, including AA. AAA has been more of a struggle, but consider that in 80 AAA innings, he walked just 23 and struck out 92. Sure, his one inning in the big leagues last September wasn’t pretty. He looked nervous and gave up a homer, a single and a walk before getting the three outs. But again, I’ve heard some say that he can’t handle the big leagues because of that one outing.
  • Kyle Waldrop – It surprised a lot of people that the Twins didn’t protece Waldrop after a terrific 2010 season with the Rochester Red Wings. Since returning from his shoulder surgery, he has been incredible out of the bullpen. After 20 games in Ft. Myers, he posted a 1.46 ERA in 31 New Britain games. He posted a 2.57 ERA in 2010 in Rochester, but his ERA was at ONE halfway through the 2010 season. Yes, he was not good in the Arizona Fall League, but he still has a chance to be a very good, groundball reliever.
  • Glen Perkins – A left-hander who did succeed a few years ago as a starter, he looks to be a lefty reliever in 2010. Of course, he doesn’t get left-handed batters out, so I just don’t know how he can contribute, but stranger things have happened when players get opportunities.
  • Eric Hacker, Yorman Bazardo, Jeff Manship, Anthony Swarzak, Chuck James – These guys could all get an opportunity for a long relief role. Manship filled the role toward the end of 2010 and could do so again, but the others are options.
  • Carlos Gutierrez – In a podcast just last week, Gutierrez informed me that he wants to pitch out of the bullpen, that it is where he is ‘at home.’ However, he acknowledged that spending the last couple of years as a starter has been valuable in helping him develop secondary pitches. I’m frequently asked who could be the 2011 version of Danny Valencia. Kyle Gibson certainly could come up in June and contributed as a starter. Carlos Gutierrez could come up in June and really help out the Twins bullpen.

Are any of those big name acquisitions? No. They are internal options. Can any of them contribute to the Twins in 2011? Absolutely. Can three of four of them join Nathan, Capps and Mijares to form a solid bullpen? Defintely. Am I just trying to be positive here? Probably. But can the internal choices be equal or better than the external, high-cost free agents? Absolutely.

The Twins historically have relied upon their own players, on building from within. It’s been a philosophy that has worked well for them. Even if their payroll has gone from $65 million to $100 million to $115 million, there is no reason to start spending foolishly on free agents or giving up the farm for players who might help. Can the Twins win the division with their current roster? I think so. It’d be tough, but I would not put it against them.

To be fair (and honest), I have been immensely frustrated with the Twins offseason. I expected them to wisely stay away from high-dollar free agents. I thought we might hear more about trades than we have. The Twins might soon spend a lot of money for two or three years on a guy who is already 35 years old. They could also give two years to a 40 year old one-dimensional player. I’m sure those moves will make a lot of fans happy. Maybe I’m strange. I figure there are six or seven weeks until pitchers and catchers report, so I still hold out that the team will add an impact player, the type of player who can make a difference without breaking the bank. But I don’t know that the team is better. I also don’t know what the Twins plans are, or their contingency plans are (if Pavano and/or Thome were to sign elsewhere). No one does because the Twins front office is great at not letting information leak We can’t all be Jim Breen!

Finally, Twins fans need to remember one important thing… at least the Twins and their stability is a lot better than following the Vikings and their chaos this year!

MORE TO READ TODAY:

Here are a few more articles for you to peruse throughout the day:

·         JJ Stankevitz has been a frequent guest of the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. He does a great job as the blogger for the White Sox site on Examiner.com. He is also a student at the University of Missouri where he writes for KBIA Sports Extra as well. He recently had the opportunity to meet fellow Missouri student/alumni and current Twins prospect Kyle Gibson. The results were a terrific article on Gibson.

·         Parker from Over the Baggy posted an article on the blueprint for a bullpen.

·         Needless to say, Fanatic Jack is Dazed and Confused about what is going on with the Twins offseason. It is really hard to disagree with him.

·         Twinkie Town has now completed its Top Ten Twins Prospects and you can now vote for Twins Prospect #11. Roger Dehring is going a great job of running the polls, and the discussion is terrific for anyone interested in Twins prospects.

Be sure to tune in to tonight’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast, live at 9:00.

Twins Bullpen Blitz

14 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net and www.StarTribune.com –

It will be another offseason full of difficult decisions for the Minnesota Twins front office. There are double-figure free agents. They have two contracts with 2011 options that they need to determine if they should be picked up. There could be as many as nine arbitration situations. Although the Twins have a fairly solid core of players under contract for 2011, it will be interesting to see how those players are complemented.

One area that could experience the most turnover is in the bullpen. Over the last decade, Twins fans have seen how important a strong bullpen can be as well as how much it can hurt if the bullpen struggles. Even with Joe Nathan out for the entire 2010 season, the Twins went into the playoffs with what was believed to be solid, deep bullpen.

However, that group in the bullpen was comprised of several players who may not be in a Twins uniform in 2011 for various reasons. Here is what we know today:

Joe Nathan – We know that the Twins will be paying the veteran closer $11.25 million for the 2011 season even if we can’t confidently predict how good and how healthy he will be.

Matt Capps – He has a year of arbitration left. Looking historically at closers in their final arbitration year, it is likely that Capps could demand somewhere between $7 and $9 million in 2011. He was solid in 2010, and he would provide insurance should Nathan not be ready. He is prone to allowing plenty of base runners.

Jesse Crain – Despite the hanging slider to Mark Teixeira in Game 1, Crain proved himself to be one of baseball’s better relievers through most of the 2010 season. He is a Type B free agent. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he accepted, he could make $3 to $3.5 million in 2011. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines it, the Twins would get a supplemental 1st round draft pick when he signs elsewhere. After his season, it is likely that Crain could command a three or four year contract at an average of $3.5 to 4 million a season.

Jon Rauch – He was solid as the Twins closer through most of the season’s first half. Very hittable, but he racked up good save totals. He was also so bad late in the first half and early in the second half that the Twins had to trade their most big-league ready prospect for Capps. He also would be a Type B free agent. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he accepted, he could earn as much as $4 million in 2011. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines, the Twins would get a supplemental 1st round draft pick when he signs elsewhere. He could likely get a two year contract in the neighborhood of $5 million.

Matt Guerrier – Guerrier has racked up the relief appearances over the last four years. He has remained remarkably durable. He has also pitched at a very good level, well enough that he would be a Type A free agent. If the Twins offer him arbitration, and he accepted, he could earn $4 million in 2011. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines, the Twins would get the signing team’s first round pick next summer (unless the signing team owns one of the first 15 picks in draft, in which case, the Twins would receive their 2nd round pick) and a supplemental first round pick. Because he isn’t a strikeout pitcher, Guerrier could struggle to find a team willing to give up and early draft pick to sign him. If the Twins do not offer him arbitration, Guerrier could probably sign a two year deal worth between $6 and 7 million total.

Brian Fuentes – The Twins got a good one when they acquired Fuentes from the Angels. The 35 year old southpaw was amazing against left-handed bats. He led the league in Saves in 2009 and recorded 25 saves with the Angels in 2010 before the trade. He made $9 million in 2010. He becomes a Type B free agent because his 2011 option would only vest with 55 games finished (he finished 35 total in 2010). If the Twins offer him arbitration and he accepts, the Twins would likely pay him between $9 and 10 million in 2011. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines, the Twins would gain a supplemental 1st round pick next summer. If the Twins do not offer arbitration, he could sign with a team needing a closer and get two years and $14-15 million. Or, if all teams see him as an 8th inning lefty type, he could still get two years and $8-9 million.

Clay Condrey, Randy Flores, Ron Mahay – We have to assume that these free agents will not be back with the Twins in 2011, and if so, it would be like Mahay’s minor league deal signed late in spring training.

Pat Neshek – He made $650,000 in 2010, his first arbitration year. If he is offered arbitration, he likely would be in the $650,000 to $750,000 range. If not, he would become a free agent.

Glen Perkins – Perkins got enough time in 2010 with the Twins to make himself arbitration-eliglble this offseason, a year later than he wanted. He would probably make $750,000 in arbitration, if offered.

Jose Mijares, Alex Burnett, Jeff Manship, Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney, Kyle Waldrop, Anthony Swarzak, Jose Lugo – These pitchers all have less major league service time than required to be arbitration eligible, so they would make about the league minimum, around $420,000. Mijares would likely be closer to $450,000-500,000.

More to Consider:

  • The Twins bullpen generally consists of six and sometimes seven relievers, including the closer.
  • Joe Nathan is pretty much untradable right now. Until he proves he is healthy, the assumption must be that he will be paid by the Twins.
  • There are free agent bullpen options left and right, many of whom will be available and looking for a job as spring training approaches. So your bullpen does not completely need to be filled by the above players.
  • It cost top prospect Wilson Ramos to acquire Matt Capps from the Nationals. There is no way that the Twins would non-tender Capps. But think about this; would you rather have Matt Capps at $8 million, or bring back Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier at a combined $7 million? Would you rather pay Capps $8 million. Could the Twins trade Capps before arbitration to bring back more young talent?
  • How much money should the Twins tie up in the bullpen? Potentially $20 million is locked up between Nathan and Capps. If we assume a $110 or even $120 million payroll, how many dollars should the bullpen cost?
  • With that in mind, would you rather have Capps at $8 million or JJ Hardy $6 million and a veteran, right-handed bench bat who could spell Justin Morneau at 1B for $2 million?
  • If the Twins bring back Carl Pavano and pay him $9 million in 2010, there could be a starter or two who would pitch out of the bullpen. Francisco Liriano and Brian Duensing will be in the rotation. Scott Baker will get a big pay raise in 2011, so he should start. Nick Blackburn’s salary jumps up to $3 million in 2011. Kevin Slowey could get $2 million or so in his first year of arbitration. Without a trade, there are six starters right there, and one would likely get pushed to the bullpen.
  • And that doesn’t even take into account a couple of pretty strong starting pitching prospects in Kyle Gibson and David Bromberg, both of which could be ready by June for the big leagues. It also doesn’t factor in a couple of very hard-throwing bullpen arms who could be ready soon like Carlos Gutierrez or Billy Bullock.

So, if you’re the GM, and you have to worry about a payroll, and you alone have the final call on the Twins roster, what does it look like? Which free agents do you offer arbitration? Which do you want back? Which young pitchers do you want to be on the big league roster? How do you make it all work?

The TwinsCentric Offseason Handbook is now available for pre-order at just $4.95 for the first 500 copies sold THIS WEEK. To learn more about the entire Twins roster, all the questions they have to ask, and the options that they may have, this is a must-have electronic book. We will look at the 40 man roster decisions, outline the entire Organizational Depth chart, review the cases for and against the many Twins players eligible for arbitration, look at the Twins players who can become free agents, look at other players around the league who will be available via free agency as well as potential trade targets. This book is as comprehensive as it gets. If you’re not convinced, you can get last year’s version for FREE as a sample of what you will be getting.

PODCASTS – Last night, the Twins Geek and I were both on Fanatic Jack’s podcast and we talked about all of the Twins free agents and arbitration-eligibles and some possible trade candidates. It was a lot of fun and if you have a chance, please listen to it here. Of course, if you missed my podcast on Tuesday night, you can http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sethspeaks/2010/10/13/sethspeaksnet-weekly-minnesota-twins-podcastlisten to that here.

BLOGS

Arizona Fall League

The AFL is back in swing now and the Twins prospects are playing for the Peoria Saguaros. In their first game, on Tuesday night, Chris Parmelee went 1-4 with a double. Joe Benson was 0-2. Ben Revere was 0-1. Tyler Robertson gave up one run on a hit and three walks in his first inning. Kyle Waldrop gave up two runs in his two innings. Last night, Ben Revere went 1-4 with an RBI. Chris Parmelee was 2-4. Joe Benson went 1-3 with a run scored. Carlos Gutierrez struck out two in a scoreless inning. The one Twins prospect that has not played in their first two games is David Bromberg. The righty will start for the team on Friday.

Lots of things covered above, please Leave your comments here.