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More Arbitration Decisions

2 Dec

also available at http://www.SethSpeaks.net

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

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

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

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

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Twins Link Blotter

13 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Good Wednesday, All! I pretty much passed out last night after my podcast, but I wanted to get up early this morning and at least provide you with some links!

That’s it for now, have a great day! Any thoughts?

Roger’s 2009 Twins Minor League All Stars

25 Nov

also available at http://www.SethSpeaks.net

Over at Twinkie Town, our friend Roger Dehring does a tremendous job keeping Twins fans updated on the Twins minor league system. Every Saturday, he produces his Weekly Twins Minor League Update. Recently, he provided a top ten list of Twins minor leaguers by position. He has developed a formula that looks at all Twins minor leaguers, and how they perform. The formula is complex but it involves a point system using several statistics and comparing them to an average number. He also factors in several other things including age and level of competition.  He has been using and tweaking his formula for a couple of years. It is not a prospect list, it shows actual performance. Anyway, about this time each of the last several years, Roger has posted his annual Twins minor league all-star team here. So, I am happy to welcome today’s guest writer, Roger Dehring.

Here are Roger’s 2009 Minnesota Twins Minor League All Stars:

            This year’s edition of the Twins organization all-star team follows.  This year’s team is comprised of those players who had the best seasons at their respective positions, regardless of level of play.  This team also includes at least one player from all of the Twins minor league clubs. 

The starting nine for 2009:

            Ben Revere-CF           Ft. Myers Miracle                             

            Brian Dinkelman-2B   New Britain Rock Cats

            Wilson Ramos-C         New Britain Rock Cats

            Chris Parmelee-1B      Ft. Myers Miracle

            Danny Valencia-3B    Rochester Red Wings

            Rene Tosoni-RF          New Britain Rock Cats

            Erik Lis-DH                New Britain Rock Cats

            Angel Morales-LF       Beloit Snappers

Trevor Plouffe-SS       Rochester Red Wings

The lead-off hitter is also the Organization’s Player of the Year, Ben Revere.  After flirting with a .400 Average for much of the 2008 season at Beloit, Revere had an excellent follow up season for the Miracle, missing the FSL Batting Crown by only .002 as he finished his season hitting .311/.372/.369 in 466 at bats with the league’s most hits (145), third most runs scored (75), third most steals (45 in 62 attempts) and fourth best OBP (.372).  Revere took more walks (40) than he had strikeouts (34) and reports indicate that he has improved defensively.  Look for Ben to move up to New Britain next spring with a trip to Minnesota in his future sometime late in 2011.

Our second baseman, Brian Dinkelman, had a special year for the New Britain Rock Cats.  Dinkelman was an Eastern League All-Star who had the league’s eighth best average (.296) with the fifth best on base percentage (.383).  Dinkelman led the Rock Cats with 38 doubles, which was also the second most doubles in the league.  Dinkelman surprised local fans with his productivity with 8 home runs and 65 RBI.  Some have questioned his range, however, seven errors in 129 games is a clear indication that he has a solid glove defensively. 

Perhaps the top prospect in the organization is our number three hitter, catcher Wilson Ramos.  After being named last winter’s Caribbean League Championship Series MVP, Ramos got off to a tremendous start before going on the disabled list with a broken finger which was followed by a leg injury that would cost him much of his season.  Ramos is again tearing up his winter league where he is hitting near a .400 Average with 6 home runs early in the VWL season.  Ramos led the Rock Cats in hitting at .317/.341/.454 in 205 at bats with 4 home runs and 29 RBI.  Perhaps the best defensive catcher in the organization, other than Joe Mauer, Ramos has everything one would expect to become a future major league star.  All that remains is the question of when his major league career will begin?

The cleanup hitter was considered the best high school power hitter in the draft when the Twins made Chris Parmelee their first round pick in 2006.  Although Parmelee has played a lot of right field the past few years, he split his time between right field and first base this season at Ft. Myers.  He also has played exclusively at first base this fall in the AFL, thus, I have him in the lineup as our first baseman.  Parmelee was one of the most productive hitters in this season’s pitcher friendly Florida State League.  He finished his season with 16 home runs, which were the third most in the league with a league second best 73 RBI.  He is a young man who draws a lot of walks, 63, which enabled him to just miss being in the league’s top ten on base percentages (.359) while his .441 Slugging percentage was seventh best in the league.   

The third baseman is a player we have all heard a lot about the past year or so, Danny Valencia.  After beginning his season back at New Britain this past spring, Valencia was on fire immediately following his promotion to AAA when he hit .360/.372/.573 in his first 19 games.  Valencia went on to finish his AAA season by hitting .286/.305/.466 in 269 at bats for the Red Wings.  Much has been written the past six months about whether or not Valencia is ready for the big show and whether or not he is the heir apparent for the Twins third base job perhaps as early as next spring.  There have been questions about his defense, his hitting at Rochester the last half of the season and why a young man who normally took a reasonable number of walks only walked 7 times in 71 games in AAA.  We won’t know what type of major league player Valencia will be until he arrives in Minnesota; however, we do know that he had an excellent season last year at New Britain and Rochester.  If he isn’t ready for the Twins third base job this spring, he must be very, very close.

The right fielder is a young man who made the jump to AA last year after playing only 44 games beyond rookie ball.  Rene Tosoni first came to our attention in 2007 when he hit .301/.407/.428 for Elizabethton in his first year of professional ball.  This past season, Tosoni, was the lone Twins representative in the Future’s All-Star game, was one of the top hitters for Team Canada in the World Cup and is now representing the Twins in the Arizona Fall League.  As could be expected for someone with such little experience, Tosoni struggled at New Britain for his first couple of months, however, had an excellent second half to finish with .271/.360/.454 in 425 at bats with 15 home runs (tied for eleventh most in league) and the league’s eighth best 71 RBI.  Seth recently reported from personal observations that Tosoni is an excellent defensive outfielder who can play all three positions.  He also reported that he needs to work on his at bats against lefties.  It is likely however, that someone with such limited experience should be able to continue to improve his game as he works his way up to the Twins.

The designated hitter is a young man the Twins drafted in the ninth round of the 2005 draft out of the University of Evansville.  Erik Lis has been one of the organization’s best hitters every year since his rookie season at Elizabethton.  This season was no exception as Lis was one of the Eastern League’s better hitters, finishing with a league seventh best 17 home runs, tenth most RBI (69), and twelfth most doubles (29).  Lis, who struggled with an injury the last few weeks of the season, had the league’s sixth best slugging percentage (.462) to go with a .283 Average and .353 OBP.  With Justin Huber moving on to Japan, the door should be open for Erik to move up to Rochester next spring where he will again be one of the better hitters in the league.

The left fielder is a young man who may have as much upside potential as any player in the organization, Angel Morales.  Although Morales can also play center field, he played mostly corner outfield positions with the Snappers after Aaron Hicks joined the team.  A very young man who won’t turn 20 until later this month, Morales is another young player who struggled during his first six weeks of the season.  He also adjusted and was one of the leagues better players during the second half.  Although limited to only 376 at bats by an injury that he battled during much of June, Morales was amongst the top fifteen home run hitters (13) with a team high 62 RBI.  Morales finished his season hitting .266/.329/.455 with 19 stolen bases in 25 attempts.  What may be most important for a young man who struck out nearly 40% of his at bats in 2008, he lowered his strikeout rate to 27.7%.  People who have seen him play have said that the ball explodes off his bat.  There is no question that he is a very raw talent, but his future is as bright as any in the organization.   

Shortstop Trevor Plouffe has always been very young for his league since the Twins drafted him in the first round of the 2004 draft.  This past season was no exception as Plouffe didn’t turn 23 until mid-season even though it was his second season at AAA.  None of his numbers stand out, yet, he had a very solid season hitting .260/.313/.407 in 430 at bats with 23 doubles, 5 triples, 10 home runs and 60 RBI.  Plouffe finished his year playing for Team USA in the World Cup where he had an excellent tournament playing with many of the best players from throughout America.  Although he continues to make what may be considered too many errors, people who watch him defensively say he is above average.    

The Reserves:

            Josmil Pinto-C Elizabethton Twins

            Brock Peterson-1B      Rochester Red Wings

            Steven Singleton-2B   New Britain Rock Cats

            Brian Dozier-SS          Elizabethton Twins

            Wander Guillen-3B     DSL Twins

            Oswaldo Arcia-LF      GCL Twins

            Aaron Hicks-CF          Beloit Snappers

            David Winfree-RF      Rochester Red Wings

Justin Huber-DH         Rochester Red Wings 

            The reserves are led by two members of the Division Champion Elizabethton Twins, designated hitter,  Josmil Pinto and shortstop Brian Dozier.  Pinto was the fifth best hitter in the Appy League with a .332 Average and the league’s best slugging percentage, .610.  Pinto also led the league with 13 home runs and had the league’s second most RBI, 55.  Brian Dozier stepped into the lineup when Tyler Ladendorf was promoted to Beloit.  Dozier, a 2009 draft pick, finished with the league’s second best average and on base percentage, .353/.417.

The Rochester Red Wings placed three reserves on this year’s team, right fielder David Winfree, first baseman Brock Peterson and designated hitter Justin Huber.  Although Peterson’s 316 at bats were a few short of the number needed to qualify for the league titles, his .304 Average and .376 OBP would both have been ninth best.  He also was the Rock Cats top hitter if one doesn’t include Jose Morales who spent about half his year in Minnesota.  David Winfree also had a special rookie season, hitting .273/.317/.460 with 14 home runs, 61 RBI and a team best 31 doubles.  Huber, who recently left the Twins organization for Japan, led the Red Wings with 22 home runs and 76 RBI while hitting .273/.356/.482 in 440 at bats. 

The Beloit Snappers are represented by center fielder Aaron Hicks.  Hicks began his season in EST before joining the Snappers where he hit a respectable .251/.353/.382 in his first season of A ball.  Hicks is considered a “5” tool player also stole 10 bases in 18 attempts with nearly as many walks (40) as strikeouts (55).  Hicks was honored recently when Baseball America named him the Midwest League’s Top Prospect.

The second baseman is Steven Singleton, who began his year in Ft. Myers before a mid-season promotion to New Britain.  Singleton hit .269/.329/.424 in 297 at bats at Ft. Myers.  As is not often the case, Singleton’s numbers soared when he arrived in New Britain where he hit .291/.319/.418 in 158 at bats.

One of this year’s best new players in the six team system was GCL Twins left fielder Oswaldo Arcia.  Arcia hit .275/.337/.455 in 167 at bats with a team best 11 doubles.  He had a team high 5 home runs which also was ninth best in the league.  Arcia, who didn’t turn 18 until this past May, stole 8 bases in 8 attempts.

The last reserve is third baseman Wander Guillen.  Guillen joined the DSL Twins in July when he was sixteen years old, then proceeded to lead the team in hitting at .336/.443/.409 in 110 at bats.  Although he didn’t have enough at bats to qualify, his .336 Average was the fourth best in the league while his .443 OBP tied teammate Romy Trinidad for fifth best in the league.       

The Starting Rotation:                      

            David Bromberg         Ft. Myers Miracle

Steven Hirschfield      Ft. Myers Miracle

Anthony Swarzak       Rochester Red Wings

B.J. Hermsen               GCL Twins

Adrian Salcedo           GCL Twins

            While at Beloit, David Bromberg led all of minor league baseball in strikeouts in 2008 with 177 in 150.0 innings.  This season Bromberg moved up to Ft. Myers where he led the Florida State League with 148 strikeouts in 153.1 innings.  Bromberg was named the FSL Pitcher of the Year and the Twins organization Pitcher of the Year while winning the second most games in the league, 13-4.  Bromberg finished his award winning season with a league fourth best 2.70 ERA and ninth best WHIP of 1.23.      

            Stephen Hirschfield began his season in the Ft. Myers bullpen before moving to the starting rotation when several starters moved up to New Britain.  Hirschfield joined Bromberg as one of the best starters in the FSL, where he had a 7-7 record with the league’s second best ERA (2.23) and best WHIP (1.03).  Hirschfield, who struck out 86 while walking only 31 in 117.0 innings, pitched so well that he earned an assignment to the Arizona Fall League.

            Twins fans are familiar with the third starter, Rochester’s Anthony Swarzak.  Swarzak had a 4-5 record for the Red Wings with a 3.28 ERA and 45 strikeouts with only 21 walks in 79.2 innings.  Considering that he allowed 10 earned runs in 8.1 innings in the two starts following his return to Rochester from the Twins and it is easy to see how dominant he was this season for the Wings.  Swarzak made 12 starts for the Twins, finishing with a 3-7 record, 6.25 ERA and 34K/20BB in 59.0 innings.   

            The fourth starting pitcher is one of two all-star starters from the GCL Twins, B. J. Hermsen.  Pitching in his first season of professional ball following his signing after the Iowa high school season last summer, Hermsen was as good as any pitcher in the Gulf Coast League.  Hermsen finished his season with a 6-2 record, the league’s third best ERA (1.35) and best WHIP (0.68).  Hermsen had 42 strikeouts in 52.1 innings while allowing only 4 walks. 

            The fifth starter is another young pitcher from the GCL Twins, Adrian Salcedo.  Salcedo also was one of the top pitchers in the league, finishing with a 3-2 record and the league’s seventh best ERA (1.46), fifth most innings (61.2), third most strikeouts (58) and eighth best WHIP (1.02).  What is most remarkable, however, is that Salcedo allowed only THREE walks or one walk every 20.4 innings or 0.44 walks per 9 innings pitched. 

The Bullpen:

Closer – Alex Burnett

Short Relief – Andrei Lobanov

            Short Relief – Anthony Slama

            Relief – Joe Testa

            Relief – Matt Tone

            Relief – Kyle Waldrop

            Relief – Zach See 

            The Closer is this year’s top rated pitcher, Alex Burnett.  Burnett had been a starter prior to this year including 2008 when he had an 8-6 record with a 3.76 ERA for the Ft. Myers Miracle.  In last fall’s Instructional League, the Twins began the process of converting Burnett to a short reliever.  He began this year back at Ft. Myers where he appeared in 18 games (22.2 innings) with a  2-1 record, 4 saves, 1.99 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 26K/7BB.  That performance earned Burnett a mid-season promotion to New Britain.  Whereas many pitchers hit a wall when promoted to AA, Burnett flourished.  His numbers were as good if not better than at Ft. Myers, appearing in 40 games (55.1 innings) with a 1-2 record, 9 saves, 1.79 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 52K/19BB.  I ranked Burnett as the top pitcher in the organization this year and indications are that he is now on the fast track to Minnesota.

            The left handed short reliever is a young man from Moscow, Russia who pitched for the GCL Twins this season.  Andrey Lobanov, 19, appeared in 15 games (22.0 innings) for the Twins with a 2-1 record, 7 saves, 0.82 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 35 strikeouts (1.59 strikeouts per inning) with a Dominance Ratio of 2.333.  Perhaps more astonishing however, is the fact that Lobanov walked only 1 batter this season…or 0.41 walks per nine innings pitched.  Can Lobanov continue to dominate hitters as he moves up through the organization, only time will tell.  If he can, this young lefty may be special!

            The right handed short reliever is a young man we should see in Minnesota sometime next year, Anthony Slama.  Following a 2008 season when he was the Twins Relief Pitcher of the Year, Slama repeated that performance this year.  He began his season in New Britain where he appeared in 51 games (65.1 innings) with a 4-2 record, 2.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 93K/32BB.  Slama moved up to Rochester late in the year where he appeared in 11 games (15.2 innings) with a 0-2 record, 3.45 ERA and 19K/8BB.  Slama again led the organization this year with 29 saves while his 25 saves at New Britain led the Eastern league. 

            Joe Testa is a long reliever who had about as good of a season as any pitcher in the organization.  Testa began this year at Beloit where he was the Snappers lone all-star, appearing in 25 games (45.2 innings) with a 0-2 record, 2.56 ERA and 63K/23BB.  Testa moved up to Ft. Myers following the all-star break, where he appeared in 21 games (37.0 innings) with a 5-0 record, 1 save, 1.22 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 53K/18BB.  Testa finished his season with an excellent 1.208 Dominance Ratio which was higher than any pitcher in the organization not playing rookie ball.

            Matt Tone was a fourteenth round pick in this year’s draft.  The left handed Tone was assigned to the Elizabethton Twins where he was as good as any reliever in the Appy League.  Tone compiled a 4-1 record in 16 appearances with 1 save, a 1.31 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 45K/23BB in 34.1 innings.

            Kyle Waldrop, who was one of the twins first round picks in 2004, had been one of the organization’s top starting prospects as he rapidly moved through the organization.  That all ended last year when he spent the entire season on the disabled list following shoulder surgery.  Waldrop returned this season working out of the bullpen at Ft. Myers and later in New Britain.  While in New Britain, Waldrop was one of the best relievers in the league.  He finished this season with the Rock Cats with a 2-3 record in 31 games (55.2 innings) with a  1.46 ERA and 30K/18BB.  Earlier, he appeared in 20 games for the Miracle with a 3-2 record, 3.09 ERA and 20K/7BB in 35.0 innings.  Perhaps his biggest achievement this season however, was staying healthy and pitching better throughout the year.

            The last reliever is Zach See who was signed as a non drafted free-agent this past winter.  See was another young reliever who had an incredible year with the GCL Twins this year.  He appeared in 13 games with a 2-0 record, 2 saves, a 0.69 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 34K/10BB in 26.0 innings.     

 

There you have it. Roger’s 2009 Minnesota Twins Minor League All Star team. What are your thoughts? If so, Send me an e-mail, or leave your Comments here.

Twins Notes

18 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Hopefully you have all had a chance to listen to last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. Danny Valencia led off the show, and we talked about everything from his time in New Britain, his promotion to Rochester, playing winter ball in Puerto Rico, his thoughts on what it would mean to be added to the 40 man roster on Friday, his offseason and much more, including his thoughts on trying to make blogger TT happy! J Next on the agenda was a very good interview with Steve Singleton. We discussed his time down in Arizona, the level of play, what he’s learned about himself through playing there, his thoughts on what it would mean to be added to the 40 man roster, fantasy football, and much more. After that, I was able to discuss some other Twins related topics and answer a few questions. So again, if you haven’t yet listened to the show, you can listen to it by going here. It’s pretty cool to have two guests on last night who could conceivably both be with the Minnesota Twins sometime in 2010.

Speaking of podcasts, I will be a guest on Twins Talk podcast tonight at 9:00 p.m. central time which is hosted by Jack Steal of Fanatic Jack Talks Twins and also Topper Anton of Curve for a Strike. Also on tonight’s show will be Andrew Bryz-Gornia of Off the Mark.

The Twins have eight minor league free agents. According to Baseball America, they are: David Winfree, Brock Peterson, Alejandro Machado, Brian Buscher, Matt Moses, Oswaldo Sosa, Frank Mata and Reid Santos. It is likely that the Twins will try to retain a couple of them, but others they will just let go elsewhere. In my opinion, there are only three that they should try to retain.

  • The first choice would be David Winfree. He is just 24 years old and had a very solid year in his first AAA season. He is a right-handed bat with some power. He may never hit for average and doesn’t get on base at a great clip, but I would think they would be happy to have him stay.
  • Brock Peterson had a very strong second half in Rochester last year, arguably the team’s top hitter the last few months. He is another right handed bat with a little power. He plays 1B, and the Twins have a guy who plays there. They also have a backup in Michael Cuddyer and may end up signing a bench bat there as well. Also, Erik Lis has spent the last two years hitting well at AA New Britain. He likely will move up to Rochester. Also, Whit Robbins plays an excellent 1B and was an All-Star in AA Eastern League last year. He may have an opportunity to move up to AAA. If not, Peterson could be brought back, especially since Justin Huber is not coming back.
  • Frank Mata is the third that I would try to bring back. He is a Tommy John survivor from a few year ago, and he throws very hard. He may or may not have a big league future, but I think he’s got the kind of stuff that is worth giving another year to.

There are several other former Twins minor leaguers who now find themselves as free agents. Since I follow the Twins minor league system so closely, I still am interested in following the careers of former players. Here are those players and the team that they played with in 2009:

  • Bobby Korecky (Arizona), Trent Oeltjen (Arizona), Mariano Gomez (Atlanta), Luis Rivas (Cubs), Doug Deeds (Cubs), Michael Restovich (White Sox), Alexander Smit (Reds), Korey Feiner (Reds), Lew Ford (Reds), Levale Speigner (Marlins), Michael Ryan (Marlins), Casey Daigle (Astros), Tim Raines, Jr. (Royals), Henry Bonilla (Dodgers), JD Durbin (Dodgers), Danny Ardoin (Dodgers), Luis Maza (Dodgers), James Tomlin (Dodgers), Mike Lamb (Mets), Tristan Crawford (Phillies), Terry Tiffee (Phillies), Matt Kinney (Giants), Ramon Ortiz (Giants), Julio DePaula (Rays), Rashad Eldridge (Rays), Justin Jones (Nationals).

I apologize for not posting my thoughts on the Twins 2010 uniforms. Maybe I’m weird, but I just don’t find that to  be an exciting piece of news. I like them. They’re cool. I like the gray ones because they’re at least a little bit different. I know it’s all important, but I’d much prefer to talk about free agents, trade targets and 40 man roster decisions.

Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times wrote a book called Evaluating Baseball Managers which will be released soon.  He provided a fun excerpt of the book. It was a section on Billy Martin when he was with the Twins in 1969.

As Joe Christensen mentioned in his blog today, the AL Manager of the Year will be announced this afternoon and Ron Gardenhire should receive strong consideration. I know that many blog readers disagree many times with Gardy, but he has to be considered for the award. My personal vote would go to Ron Washington of the Rangers, but then I could make a case for either Mike Scioscia or Gardy for 2nd place. If Gardy finishes second yet again, he could officially be named the Susan Lucci of baseball!

Alright, that is it for today. Are there any other Twins topics of note? If so, Send me an e-mail, or leave your Comments here.

What Would You Do? 40 Man Roster Decisions

16 Nov

also avaialble at www.SethSpeaks.net

Over the next week to ten days, the Twins will have to make some final decisions on their 40 man roster. There will be some tough decisions.

But before we get started, I should point out that it appears that Juan Morillo will now come off of the Twins 40 man roster as he has signed with a team in Japan. I wrote about that possibility here last week when I could come up with only one reason for his addition to the Twins 40 man roster. It appears that the Twins should have temporarily kept Justin Huber on the 40 man roster too as he is close to signing in Japan as well and the Twins may have got some money for him as well.

Technically the Twins have 40 players on their 40 man roster. However, the Twins five internal free agents will come off of the roster unless the Twins decide to sign one of them quickly. There are (too many) rumors about the Twins talking to Orlando Cabrera about playing 2B. That would be horrible, so we can assume that won’t happen. Right? There is also talk of conversations with Scott Boras regarding Joe Crede. Again, I understand some think that would be a good thing. Personally, I am just not a fan of that idea. Carl Pavano would be a solid #4 type of pitcher and the Twins should consider the idea of bringing him back, if the price is right. However, the assumption is that there will be several teams interested in his services, and hence, he probably would not sign quickly. Ron Mahay would make sense if the Twins didn’t have several other left-handers who could either start or be a second lefty reliever. Mike Redmond is a good guy and a good teammate, but bringing him back makes no sense.

So, I will work under the assumption that all five will be off of the 40 man roster, which would put the Twins at 35.

If you checked out the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook (which is still available as an e-book or a print version), there was an article on the 40 man roster called “Nine to Note.” Information was given on nine players that the Twins should consider adding to the 40 man roster. Of those nine players to consider, two of them (David Winfree and Brock Peterson) were not added to the 40 man roster and can become free agents. The Twins can bring them back if they want, but they will not be added to the 40 man roster. And to this point, the only player added to the Twins 40 man roster was Juan Morillo, who was not even considered among the nine. And now I don’t look quite so dumb!

So, let’s get back to this week. Again, the Twins are likely going to be at 35 players on the 40 man roster. If that is the case, there are four spots available. However, are there others that can be removed from the 40 man roster? Last week, Justin Huber was removed. The Twins tried to take Armando Gabino off of the 40 man roster, but in doing so, he was claimed by the Orioles. So as the Twins make these decisions, they will have to consider a couple of things. If the Twins take the player off of the 40 man roster, would they be lost to another organization? Is the player that would be added better (or a better fit for need) than the one who would be removed? 

With that, let’s take a look at a few guys that the Twins could consider removing from the 40 man roster:

  • Bobby Keppel – in 2009, the Twins saw what Keppel can be. They saw the very good and the saw the very bad, all within his three month stint with the team. Since he is out of options, he would have to make the Twins roster and stay on it, or potentially be lost. With Morillo and Bonser also out of options, and Pat Neshek likely coming back at some point, what are the chances of Keppel making the Twins roster?
  • Boof Bonser, Jesse Crain and Pat Neshek – All three are arbitration eligible this year. All three have had injuries and missed time in the last couple of years. All three have experienced big league success. And, I am pretty sure that if taken off the 40 man roster, all three of them would be gone.
  • Glen Perkins – It’s hard to imagine that he will be back with the Twins, but can he be traded?
  • Drew Butera – Can’t hit. Led International League in Passed Balls, but still known to do a good job of calling games and throwing. Can’t hit. At all. There are a lot of backup catchers around who can throw runners out who will play for $750,000, if the Twins even needed that.
  • Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert, Steve Tolleson, Nick Punto, Trevor Plouffe – They’re all the same. Play a little defense. Play a couple of positions. Hit once in a while, but not necessarily well. How many backup infielders are needed? Obviously Punto and his $4 million deal aren’t going anywhere. Casilla is out of options. Plouffe is at least young. He is probably the only player who would be lost if left unprotected. He would certainly be claimed.
  • Deibinson Romero – He’s all about the tools, apparently. He’s a big guy, strong. And, the reality is that he hasn’t actually produced much since he was in the rookie leagues. He’s 23 already. The tools are all there. The effort has been questioned.
  • Luke Hughes – I keep hearing people say that he could be removed. If he is, he would be claimed by the first team who could. He’s not going anywhere.
  • Jason Pridie – very good defense. Left-handed bat who refuses to walk. Has some pop in his bat. With Carlos Gomez now gone, the Twins need a 5th outfielder who can play all three outfielders, including centerfield. Other option would be to let him go and sign a veteran outfielder who could pinch hit. Pridie does have one more option year left.

OK, so we started at 35. Will the Twins sign any of those five internal free agents before the 40 man roster is set? How many from the current 40 man roster would you remove?

Now let’s consider the players who would have to be added to the 40 man roster or left subject to the Rule 5 draft. Note that if they are not selected in the Rule 5 draft, they would stay in the organization unless they are six year minor league free agents. 

The Obvious Additions:

  • Danny Valencia – Whether everyone considers him the 3B of 2010, or the 3B of the Future, or a possible 3B, he has experienced success at each level including AAA. If left unprotected, he would be gone.
  • Deolis Guerra – He’s 20. He showed much improved control in 2009. He’s got three potentially big league pitches. He’s had success in AA. Again, this is an easy choice as his potential alone makes him a target for some Rule 5 team.
  • Alex Burnett – The Rule 5 is about finding players with either high upside and can be hidden on a roster, or about guys who can contribute to any degree with the big league club. Burnett fits into both categories as he could already contribute to a big league team’s bullpen and he has tremendous upside in a bullpen.

Must Strongly Consider:

  • Loek Van Mil – He’s 7-1, and he throws 95-97. He should probably be in the obvious category too. His strikeout numbers don’t shout out at you, but the stuff does. Tall pitchers take a little longer to develop because they need to find their release point. As an international player, you can assume a longer learning curve too. Adding him to the 40 man roster gives three more years to develop. But again, his pitching angle and the velocity make Van Mil a likely choice.
  • Rob Delaney – since being signed as a non-drafted free agent out of college in 2006, Delaney has dominated the minor leagues. He gets strikeouts and he walks very few. He struggled some in Rochester, but I think his track record makes him an easy choice. The fact that he could help a big league bullpen today makes him an easy choice. How many bullpen guys will they put on the roster? That’s the only question.
  • Steve Singleton – Good glove. Can play 2B, 3B and SS. Can hit 2nd in a batting order, or at the bottom of the order. Can hit for average. Is best when he is patient. Has good power for a middle infielder. Lots of doubles and triples. Can play very good defense.
  • Brian Dinkelman – Put up terrific numbers in New Britain. Doubles machine. He is two years older than Singleton. Played a lot of LF once Singleton promoted to AA. That gives him a better chance of being added. Defense is not spectacular either place, but he does make almost all the plays.

Should at least think about:

  • Santos Arias – The Dominican righty had a very good year in 2009 in Ft. Myers. Good fastball. Durable. Very good changeup. Has a lot of room to grow.
  • Winston Marquez – Left-handed. Young. Throws hard. Good slider. Missed 2008 with injury and Twins were patient with him in 2009.
  • Matt Fox – Again, he could pitch in the big leagues, in the back of a bullpen. He could handle it well mentally. And the former #1 pick has been able to get stronger and better each year since coming back from Tommy John surgery. Also, his cutter is very tough on lefties.

Others that are eligible include Juan Portes, Kyle Waldrop, Estarlin de Los Santos, Dustin Martin, Whit Robbins, Ramon Santana, Matt Williams, Brandon Roberts, Ryan Mullins, Frank Mata, Mark Dolenc, Rene Leveret, Jair Fernandez, and Alexander Soto.

Also, Rene Tosoni, David Bromberg and Anthony Slama do not need to be added to the 40 man roster at this time, so they will not be added.

Again, you’re starting at 35 players. You can take a few more off of the 40 man roster. You could quickly sign some of your internal free agents. You will want to add a bunch. Do you want to fill all 40 roster spots, or do you keep one or two open so that you can take a pick or two in the Rule 5 draft. What do you think? What would you do? Send me an e-mail, or leave your Comments here.

SethSpeaks.net Top 50 Twins Prospects: Part 2 (21-35)

21 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

On Monday, I posted my choices for Twins Prospects 36-50. Today, I’m back with my choices for Twins prospects 21-35. I welcome your comments. I hope you enjoy this and again, please feel free to comment.

 (For a reminder of #s 36-50, and for much more detail on 21-35, please go to www.SethSpeaks.net)  

#35 – David Winfree – OF – 24 (8/5/85)

 

#34 – Andrei Lobanov – LHP – 19 (1/25/90)

 

#33 – Michael Tonkin – RHP – 20 (11/19/89) 

#32 – Santos Arias – RHP – 22 (3/17/87)

 

#31 – Steve Tolleson – IF/OF – 26 (11/1/83)

 

#30 – Billy Bullock – RH RP – 21 (2/27/88)

 

#29 – Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – 21 (9/26/88)

#28 – Max Kepler-Rozycki – C/OF – 16 (2/10/93)

 

#27 – Brian Dinkelman – 2B – 26 (11/10/83)

 

#26 – Oswaldo Arcia – OF – 18 (5/1/91)

 

#25 – Josmil Pinto – C/DH – 20 (3/31/89)

 

#24 – Michael McCardell – RHP – 24 (4/13/85)

 

#23 – Steve Singleton – 2B – 24 (9/12/85)

#22 – Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – 22 (9/22/86)

#21 – Anthony Slama – RH RP – 25 (1/6/84)

So there you have it, my selections for Twins prospects 21-35. Be sure to check back tomorrow for my choices for #11-20, and later in the week, you will also get my Top 10. If you have any feedback, comments, opinions or suggestions, please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

Minor League Update

21 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

  • As I mentioned last night, I spent some time chatting with Twins 3B prospect Danny Valencia last night and he agreed to doing an interactive Q&A with SethSpeaks.net readers. So, if you would like to ask the future Twin a question (or two, or up to 3), please e-mail me and I will send him the questions. I will accept questions until Wednesday night (around 10:00 p.m.).
  • And, of course, as the Trade Deadline is fast approaching, please consider picking up a copy of the TwinsCentric 2009 Trade Deadline Primer for just $9.95.

Rain and a scheduled off day limited the Twins minor league action on Tuesday, and with the Twins game just starting in Oakland, I figured a separate posting for the Twins minor league report made sense. Hopefully tonight’s game won’t be quite as exciting… or at least quite as long! I have learned that sleep is good!

But I thought I would throw in a few (OK, five) Twins minor league topics for you to discuss in the comments section while watching the Twins game. 

Untouchable? – In my Star Tribune blog yesterday (Twins Need to Deal), I wrote that the only two Twins minor leaguers that should be untouchable in nearly any trade would be Aaron Hicks and Danny Valencia. Would you add anyone else to that list?

Shut Down? – Since being promoted to AA New Britain, Carlos Gutierrez has thrown 36.1 innings. He has given up 51 hits (including six home runs). He was walked 18 and struck out just 17. He didn’t throw much last season between the University of Miami and Ft. Myers. This year, he did alright at Ft. Myers before struggling with the Rockcats. Since moving to the bullpen, he has given up 15 runs on 19 hits in just 8.1 innings while walking seven and striking out just five. Should he be shut down at this point, maybe given a couple of weeks off, or just keep throwing him out there and working through it? 

Arm Chair Psychologists – This is a tough situation because Shooter Hunt clearly is struggling. I have to think that he hit rock bottom with his last outing in which he faced seven batters, walked six of them and hit the other before leaving the game. Hunt as all the talent in the world. I don’t think anyone questions that, but right now, it just isn’t happening. What do you do? Keep throwing him out there? Shut him down? Is there even a right answer? 

Pecking Order – Alright, the Twins need a 2B. Alexi Casilla, Nick Punto and Matt Tolbert have all had their chances. So, I’d like to ask you how you would rank the potential Major League impact that the following Twins minor league 2B options could have. Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert, Steve Tolleson, Matt Macri, Trevor Plouffe, Brian Dinkelman, and Steve Singleton. Singleton’s .600 start since his recent promotion to New Britain certainly makes you think, doesn’t it? I can’t help but think he may be the guy in the long term.

Upcoming 40 Man Roster Decisions – Every year it is interesting to find out who the Twins add to their 40 man roster. Who needs to be added before the December Rule 5 draft? To keep it general and simple, please drafted out of college in the 2006 draft would have to be added or be potentially lost in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. High school players drafted (and many international players signed when they are 16 or 17) in 2005 would also be eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft if not protected. Here is a list of several players that will likely have to be added (or at least they will have to consider adding) after this season:

College Players Drafted in 2006:

  • 4th Round – 1B Whit Robbins
  • 6th Round – C Jeff Christy
  • 8th Round – 2B Brian Dinkelman
  • 11th Round – 2B Steve Singleton
  • 14th Round – RHP Jeff Manship
  • 15th Round – OF Mark Dolenc
  • 19th Round – 3B Danny Valencia
  • 39th Round – RHP Anthony Slama
  • Not Drafted – RHP Rob Delaney (signed as free agent right after the draft)

I would say there are a couple of very easy choices here, and a couple of possible adds, and a couple of probably not’s. Now, when you think of the 2005 draft, the Twins drafted Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey, Brian Duensing and Ryan Mullins in the first three rounds out of college. They did not have as much success (or luck, particularly injury luck) with their early high school picks. Hank Sanchez was really bad and then he served a 50 game suspension for being really bad, and then the Twins released him. Drew Thompson is having a nice comeback after missing two full seasons with injury. Paul Kelly’s knees just have not been able to keep him on the field either. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of 2005 high school draft picks that the Twins will have to strongly consider adding to the 40 man roster:

High School (and a JuCo Guy) Drafted in 2005:

  • 12th Round – RHP Alex Burnett
  • 32nd Round – RHP David Bromberg
  • 36th Round – OF Rene Tosoni (Junior College)

I think that all three of them have put themselves in a position that they will have to be added. Another player who has performed to a level that he should be considered is RHP Loek Van Mil who is doing great in his comeback from rehabbing his arm. Has David Winfree’s play this year in Rochester earned him a spot on the Twins 40 man roster? Before the season, I think we would have all assumed that Dustin Martin (another 2006 college draftee) would be a lock to be added. Do we still believe that? What about Deolis Guerra? He has struggled, but he signed in July of 2005 and still is just 20 years old and very talented and has done well in his short stint in New Britain. You would think a team like the Nationals would love to take a chance on him.

In other words, the Twins have some difficult decisions ahead of them at the end of the year. Maybe potential deadline trades will help clean up some of the questions, but it certainly is worth thinking about already. 

What do you think about any of these topics? What would you do? Leave your comments here. 

With that, I’m going to post this. I will be back later with thoughts on Game 2 of this Twins/A’s series. 

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

Tuesday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Daniel Santana, GCL Twins

Tuesday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Andrei Lobonov, GCL Twins  

ROCHESTER REPORT

Tuesday – Rochester, Pawtucket  – Postponed by Rain. 

ROCKCAT RECAP

Tuesday – New Britain, Portland – Postponed by Rain.    

MIRACLE MEMOS

Tuesday – Ft. Myers 4, Dunedin 6 Chris Parmelee homered yet again, his 14th on the season, but that was about it for the Miracle offense in this game. Evan Bigley and Nick Romero each doubles. Michael Tarsi took his first FSL loss. He went 6.2 innings and gave up three runs on eight hits. He walked four and struck out five. Henry Arias went the final 2.1 innings. He gave up three runs on four hits and a walk.     

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Tuesday – Beloit  – No Games Scheduled in the Midwest League.     

E-TWINS EXTRAS

Tuesday – Elizabethton 2, Princeton 3 Reggie Williams hit another homer, his third, but it wasn’t enough on this night. Brad Stillings started for the E-Twins and went the first six innings. He gave up two runs (1 earned) on four hits and two walks. Edgar Ibarra took the loss by giving up one run on two hits in two innings. Peter Kennelly pitched a scoreless inning. Josmil Pinto went 2-4 with his eighth double.    

GCL TWINS THOUGHTS

Tuesday –GCL Twins 10, GCL Red Sox 6 – There was plenty of offense for the GCL Twins in this game. Daniel Santana went 3-6 with his third triple and two stolen bases. Nick Lockwood went 3-5. Jhonatan Arias went 2-4 with a walk, his fourth double and four RBI. Nick Tindall went 2-4 with his third double. Nick Freitas went 2-3 with two walks. Jhon Garcia went the first five innings and gave up two runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out six. Eliecer Cardenas gave up four runs (3 earned) on five hits and two walks in 2.1 innings. He struck out three. Andrei Lobonov had quite the game to record his second save. He pitched to five batters and struck all five of them out.    

Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.