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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Relief Pitchers

8 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 – Now Available as an e-book for $6.99 by clicking here. You can, of course, still get the print version for $13.99 by clicking here

Today, we will conclude our Organizational Depth Chart by looking at the Relief Pitchers. Frankly, it is kind of a mess thanks to about 89 minor league veterans brought in, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. As I said on Monday, many starters will get time as a reliever, and vice versa. This is especially true in the lower levels of the minor leagues where innings limits are still so important. The Twins bullpen in 2011 was pretty much horrible. They had lost Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier, both guys who had long been in the Twins bullpen. They also let Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes, and Ron Mahay departed via free agency. Each made huge money for relievers in free agency. As I’ve said, I would have wanted to bring back Crain, but I definitely understood letting the others go. The Twins brought in some minor league free agents, but as they had done so many times before, they made the decision to build a bullpen from within. Needing two or three pitchers to step up, only Glen Perkins really stepped up throughout the season. Anthony Swarzak was a surprise success as well in long relief and as a spot starter. Joe Nathan struggled in his return. Matt Capps just struggled. Two pitchers that likely would have been counted on to perform, Jeff Manship and Anthony Slama were out most of the season with injuries. Had those two been healthy all season, it could have been a better situation. To the surprise of many, the Twins seem to have gone with much the same philosophy in 2012. Instead of going after retread relievers, they are choosing to believe in their in-house options. They brought back Capps, are taking a flyer on Joel Zumaya, and have invited a small village of minor league veteran pitchers with some big league experience. All in the attempt to hope that three or four of them step up. It’s a philosophy I completely agree with despite the fact that it went very wrong in 2011. Then again, pretty much everything went wrong for the Twins in 2011. Fortunately 2012 is a new year. You can clamor for guys like Dan Wheeler and Chad Qualls and Todd Coffey all you want. Or you can realize that they all struggled early in their careers and didn’t become big league regulars until late in their careers. They didn’t succeed in their first opportunities in the big leagues, and they have all had their struggles in the big leagues even after being given regular bullpen duties. So, although I am incredibly nervous about the Twins bullpen, and don’t have any idea how they will perform in 2012, I do think they have some talent, some young talent that should continue to get opportunities. That’s just smart.  Relievers who are good year in and year out are a rarity. Are there a dozen  in the entire big leagues that you could say have been lights out, have been difference-makers each of the past five seasons? (I’ll give you Mariano Rivera… you name another 10.) Because of that, bringing in 26-30 year olds with good arms and some measure of success makes a lot of sense to me.  

Below you will get a look at the names of many Twins minor league pitchers who will likely spend a lot of time in bullpens this upcoming season. I need to reiterate that these are just my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be playing for certain in 2012. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended spring training and more.

Minnesota Twins  

Matt Capps (RHP), Glen Perkins (LHP), Joel Zumaya (RHP), Brian Duensing (LHP), Alex Burnett (RHP), Anthony Swarzak (RHP), Jeff Gray (RHP), Terry Doyle (RHP-R5)

Some Twins fans choose to say that Matt Capps has been pretty bad in two of the last three years. Since it’s less than two weeks before spring training, so I’ll say that he’s been really good in four of his last six seasons! If healthy, he’ll be solid at the end of games. I think Glen Perkins proved himself throughout the 2011 season to believe he can be a dominant lefty reliever again in 2012. Brian Duensing likely moves to the bullpen. He is one of baseball’s best at getting left-handed hitters out, but one of the worst at getting right-handers out. Joel Zumaya hasn’t pitched since 2010, and hasn’t pitched a full season since 2006, but I guess there is a chance he could be really good for half of the season! Anthony Swarzak is out of options and he really proved himself in long-relief and spot-starting last year. He could find himself being thrown into more high leverage situations in 2012. Alex Burnett has the arguably the best stuff in the bullpen and hopefully he will be able to put it all together. He won’t turn 25 until late July. If Terry Doyle pitches fairly well in spring training, I believe that he will make the team. If a starter is hurt, he could be the guy to make some starts early in the season, or he could be a long reliever. I also believe that Jeff Gray will make this roster as well. He is on the 40 man roster and out of options.  

Rochester Red Wings

Anthony Slama (RHP), Carlos Gutierrez (RHP), Lester Oliveros (RHP), Cole DeVries (RHP), Deolis Guerra (RHP), Kyle Waldrop (RHP), Esmerling Vazquez (RHP), Tyler Robertson (LHP), Jared Burton (RHP), Jason Bulger (RHP), Samuel Deduno (RHP), Phil Dumatrait (LHP), Casey Fien (RHP), Luis Perdomo (RHP), Daryl Thompson (RHP), PJ Walters (RHP), Brendan Wise (RHP), Luke French (LHP), Brad Thompson (RHP), Matt Maloney (LHP)

What a mess spring training will be? The Twins will have to play a few split-squad games to get all of these guys innings. Inexplicably, Anthony Slama has never been given a shot by the Twins despite 10.3 K/9 and a 2.59 ERA in 92 AAA appearances. I think Lester Oliveros has a chance to be pretty good but he needs more time. The Twins don’t need to rush him (like they did with Alex Burnett). The Twins claimed Vazquez from the Diamondbacks on the last day of the 2011 season. He’s a hard-thrower with control issues. The same can be said for Deduno and Perdomo. Kyle Waldrop finally got a shot with the Twins in September and he should be given a very legitimate opportunity to make the Twins opening day roster and get time throughout the season with the Twins. The two non-roster invites that have a legitimate chance of making the big league roster early in the season are Jared Burton and Jason Bulger. Each has had quite a bit of big league success. Burton has been hurt much of the past two seasons. Bulger spent a long time with the Angels. Phil Dumatrait got way too much time with the Twins last year. Carlos Gutierrez and Tyler Robertson were added to the 40 man roster this offseason. Gutierrez made the move to the bullpen last year and pitched pretty well until shoulder issues. Still walks too many though. Robertson was terrific in the second half of last season as the New Britain closer. The lefty may not throw hard, but he was quite successful in his first season in the bullpen. Cole DeVries had a tremendous 2011 including a very good performance in the hitting Arizona Fall League. Matt Maloney is on the 40 man roster. The left-hander was brought in before Terry Ryan was named GM, but as a former Reds pitcher, it is likely that he was recommended by Wayne Krivsky, which makes him intriguing. He is on the 40 man roster and out of options, but there is a chance he could go unclaimed. Non-roster invites Burton, Bulger, Deduno, Dumatrait, Fien, Perdomo, Walters, French and the two Thompsons all have spent some time in the big leagues. Liam Hendriks said in a recent podcast that Brendan Wise is similar to Kyle Waldrop in terms of ability to get a lot of ground balls. The Aussie has been very good in AAA the last two years. Finally, it is a huge year for Deolis Guerra. After being really bad as a starting pitcher, he moved to the New Britain bullpen last year and was incredible. Suddenly he had better control, gave up less hits and struck out more than a batter an inning. How will he perform in AAA in 2012? It will be interesting to watch. I suspect we will see him by season’s end. He has one option left.  

New Britain Rock Cats

Matt Hauser (RHP), Andrew Albers (LHP), Brett Jacobson (RHP), Daniel Turpen (RHP), Tony Davis (LHP), Blake Martin (LHP), Cole Nelson (LHP), Spencer Steedley (LHP), Ricky Bowen (RHP), Jhon Garcia (RHP), Bruce Pugh (RHP), Dakota Watts (RHP), Steve Hirschfeld (RHP)

Will any of the leftovers from the Twins minor league signings move down to AA? We shall see. Matt Hauser ended the 2011 season with one appearance with the Rock Cats. He is a hard-throwing right hander who I think will be a big breakout candidate in 2012. Andrew Albers was the story of the year in the Twins system last year and my choice for Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Brett Jacobson, Blake Martin and Spencer Steedley spent 2011 in New Britain, each splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. Turpen came over from Colorado in the Kevin Slowey deal. He throws hard and side-arm but gets no strikeouts. Bruce Pugh and Dakota Watts both had disappointing 2011 seasons between Ft. Myers and New Britain. Each struggled in the Arizona Fall League. But each throws really hard and if they can find any measure of control, they are legit prospects. Hirschfeld was my choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month in both April and May. He struggled in June and moved to the bullpen, which is likely where he’ll wind up. Tony Davis is not a big guy, but he throws left-handed and touches 94-95 mph. He missed about half of last season with a shoulder surgery. He will be ready for spring training. Cole Nelson is a Minnesota native who came over from Detroit in the Delmon Young trade. Ricky Bowen signed with the Twins in May and did a nice job pitching out of the Ft. Myers bullpen. Jhon Garcia throws hard and can pitch in any role in the bullpen and spot start.

Ft. Myers Miracle

Jose Gonzalez (LHP), Michael Tonkin (RHP), Clinton Dempster (RHP), Bart Carter (LHP), Nelvin Fuentes (LHP), Edgar Ibarra (LHP), Kane Holbrooks (RHP), Matt Schuld (RHP), Brad Stillings (RHP), Caleb Thielbar (LHP), Blayne Weller (RHP), Miguel Munoz (RHP)

Jose Gonzalez was the closer in Beloit last year. He’ll likely continue in that role with the Miracle. He’s not tall and resembles Jose Mijares, but he throws hard and has a terrific slider. Michael Tonkin moved to the bullpen in 2011 and pitched very well. Dempster was terrific in the bullpen for Beloit but struggled upon his promotion to Ft. Myers. Carter dominated in Elizabethton and then pitched very well for the Snappers. A four year college guy, he should be pushed. Nelvin Fuentes has been pitching well for Puerto Rico in international competition. He has also steadily moved up the Twins system. The lefty works slow but he gets hitters out. Edgar Ibarra struggled in the Miracle rotation last year but finished strong in the bullpen. Kane Holbrooks had a tremendous 2010 season that saw him pitch well in Beloit, Ft. Myers and New Britain. 2011 was disappointing. He pitched well with no run support in April, but then he really struggled. He then missed the last couple of months. St. Thomas alum Matt Schuld pitched very well in Ft. Myers and then threw pretty well in New Britain. I only have him in Ft. Myers because of the numbers crunch at the higher levels. Caleb Thielbar became the first player the Twins signed from the St. Paul Saints and pitched in a few games for the Miracle. Blayne Weller pitched in the bullpen in Beloit although he ended the season pitching well as a starter. Miguel Munoz made his first start last year with the Miracle, hurt his elbow and then didn’t pitch again until late in the season. In his return to the Miracle, he re-aggravated the elbow injury and was shut down. Reports indicate that he did not have elbow surgery and rehabbed throughout the offseason.

Beloit Snappers

Corey Williams (LHP), Steve Evans (LHP), Steven Gruver (LHP), Jason Wheeler (LHP), David Hurlbut (LHP), Corey Kimes (LHP), Garrett Jewell (RHP), Cole Johnson (RHP), Tobias Streich (RHP), Jhonatan Arias (RHP).

Corey Williams was the Twins 3rd round pick just a year ago. The lefty signed for nearly double the slot recommendation. But the Twins are quite excited about him. He’s another hard thrower, said to have nasty stuff and a strong mentality. Evans, Gruver, Hurlbut and Johnson were all 2011 draft picks out of college that pitched well at Elizabethton during the summer. Kimes pitched in just a couple of games before suffering from mono. Jason Wheeler was the team’s 8th round pick and signed at the deadline. He will debut in 2012. Tobias Streich and Jhonatan Arias were both strong-armed catchers without much bat. Last year at Instructs, the two were moved from behind the plate to the mound. The Twins have done this in the past with mixed results. Tim Lahey was drafted as a catcher, but a year later he moved to the mound, and although he didn’t get to the big leagues, he spent 3 years in AAA as a reliever. Danny Santiesteban was an outfielder with a bunch of tools in the lower levels of the Twins system for a few years. He was moved to the mound but was released soon after. (By the way, Santiesteban has been a hitting star for the Newark Bears of the independent leagues the last couple of years.)

Elizabethton Twins

Luis Nunez (LHP), Ricardo Arevalo (RHP), Nathan Fawbush (RHP), Tyler Herr (RHP), Gonzalo Sanudo (RHP), Markus Solbach (RHP), Dallas Gallant (RHP)

Luis Nunez went 5-0 with 5 saves and a 1.67 ERA in 16 relief appearances in the GCL. The 20-year-old lefty throws gas with decent (but improving) secondary stuff. He is certainly one to watch. Tyler Herr is a tall right-hander who showed improvement in his second year in the GCL. Arevalo has gone 0-11 with a 4.37 ERA in 25 games over the past two years in the GCL. Nathan Fawbush is another tall kid with a lot of talent, but he has missed time each of the past two seasons since the Twins drafted him. Sanudo signed with the Twins in 2011 and in 20.2 innings in the GCL, he walked seven and struck out 22. He just turned 20. Markus Solbach signed about this time last year from Germany, and he went 3-3 with a 1.91 ERA in 28.1 innings in the GCL. He also pitched well in the World Cup.  Gallant had Tommy John surgery last spring and will be brought back slowly.

GCL Twins

Josh Burris (RHP), Josue Montanez (LHP), Gerardo Ramirez (RHP)

The Twins signed Ramirez last year out of Mexico and threw 17.1 innings in the GCL. He just turned 18. Montanez just turned 20 years old. He signed with the Twins last year as their 15th round pick a year after being taken in the 25th round in 2010 by the Padres. His first outing didn’t go well, and then he was really good his next seven outings. Josh Burris signed very late with the Twins last year out of LSU-Eunice. Last year, he played some 2B and some in the outfield. He hit .273 with a triple and a homer and stole 13 bases. He also was a reliever who walked too many. However, he hits 94 mph on the radar gun and is best known for his great 12-6 curveball.

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

1.)    Corey Williams, 2.) Matt Hauser, 3.) Lester Oliveros, 4.) Deolis Guerra, 5.) Carlos Gutierrez, 6.) Luis Nunez, 7.) Tyler Robertson, 8.) Dakota Watts, 9.) Bruce Pugh 10.) Steven Evans

SUMMARY

The Twins bullpen was really bad last year. I don’t think there is any way around that. Glen Perkins stepped up, and once he was called up, Anthony Swarzak pitched well. If the Twins have any hope at being successful in 2012, they are going to need a few more guys to really step up. Capps is going to have to be healthy and pitch well. Zumaya may have to be healthy and successful. Duensing will have to fill the role of lefty-reliever. They brought in a bunch of minor league veterans, and it would be great if one or two of them would step up and contribute when called upon. There are several Twins minor leaguers who deserve an opportunity to step up, guys like Waldrop, Gutierrez, DeVries and even Anthony Slama. The Twins have made an effort to bring in some strong arms, and in doing so have found guys who also walk a bunch. In recent drafts, the Twins have also added some power arms to mixed results. Guys like Matt Hauser and Tony Davis could move up. 2011 draft picks Corey Williams, Matt Summers, Madison Boer, Trent Higginbotham and Josh Burris throw hard. Oh, and remember a couple of years ago when the Twins had something like three or four left-handed relievers in their entire farm system? Now, it appears that each team may have three or four lefties! There is definitely some talent in the bullpen, some very strong arms. Of course, we also have to remember that many starting pitchers who have decent stuff and aren’t working out as starters could be moved to the bullpen as well.  

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at sethspeaksnet@hotmail.com or leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!

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Twins Add Three Players to 40 Man Roster

18 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins announced this afternoon that they have added Three players to their 40 man roster. But before I get to that, the Twins decided to remove RHP David Bromberg from their 4r0 man roster, which I have to admit disappoints me to no end. I just don’t understand it. A year ago, he was clearly someone who had to be added to the 40 man roster. Now, he is removed after a season in which he broke a bone in his forearm. It’s not an elbow or shoulder injury. It was a fluke injury. He worked like crazy to get back and is in terrific shape, ready for a second go-‘round. And he was removed from the 40 man roster. This is crazy. Then again, he cleared waivers, so he was outrighted to Rochester. I would hope (and assume) that he would get an invite to big league spring training again.  

But on to those that we can be happy for today, those added to the 40 man roster. They are:

  • RHP Carlos Gutierrez
  • OF Oswaldo Arcia
  • LHP Tyler Robertson

Going by my list yesterday, I ranked Arcia the easiest choice, followed by Gutierrez. I think ranked Tom Stuifbergen #3, Angel Morales #4 and Manuel Soliman #5 before Tyler Robertson at #6. I’ve got to admit, I am definitely surprised by the moves today, although as I pointed out, there were really only two easy choices, and they were both added.

I’m still shocked about the Bromberg news. I can’t say shocked because I had heard rumblings about it being possible awhile back. But I thought the idea was so crazy that it wouldn’t really happen.

I’m curious your thoughts and reaction. Feel free to comment.

40 Man Roster Decisions Due Soon

16 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

I expect that the Twins will announce their 40 man roster additions on Friday afternoon, but just in case they announce them a little early, I’m going to make my 40 man roster decisions. I wrote an article for the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook on this decision that the organization needs to make every year.  This will be some of the content from the handbook, but it will be updated, and since I expect the decision to be made in the next two days, I will give my final thoughts on who I think would be added. I will break it into The Givens, the Strongly Considered, the Have To Think Abouts, and the others who are eligible.

Who Must be Added? Players who signed when they were less than 19 in 2007 must be protected or potentially lost. Players that were signed when they were 19 or older in 2008 also have to be added. Typically, this means that high school players drafted in 2007 are eligible, and college players drafted in 2007.

So here are my predictions, for your consideration. I will also put a number after the name for where I would rank their likelihood of being added, relative to the other options.

The Givens

  • Oswaldo Arcia (1) – He has the kind of bat that someone is willing to put on a big league bench even if he isn’t ready.
  • Carlos Gutierrez (2) – The former first-rounder had a tough 2011 season, but if healthy, his sinking fastball and ground ball rate make him a given.

Strongly Considered

  • Tom Stuifbergen (3) – Improved velocity, has three pitches, knows how to pitch, comes up big in big situations, incredible in international play, made one start in Rochester after spending the season in Ft. Myers.
  • Angel Morales (4) – missed most of 2011 with an elbow injury. Came back six weeks after arthroscopic elbow surgery. Although the power hasn’t shown as much, no one doubts he has it. Good speed and defense. Works counts. Can he stick on a big league roster? He is younger than Aaron Hicks.
  • Manuel Soliman (5) – Pitched in Beloit in 2011, so the question is whether or not he would be able to remain on a big league roster. He’s only pitched for 3 years. He throws hard. He could be a bullpen arm if he can develop a second pitch. He could be an impact starter if he develops a third pitch.
  • Tyler Robertson (6) – Lefty came on strong as the New Britain closer in the 2nd half of the 2011 season. 15 saves, 10 wins, and pitched well. He was the 3rd round pick out of high school in 2006 (after Parmelee and Benson were taken in the first two rounds). He’s young and left-handed and smart, but the velocity is low.
  • Andrew Albers (7) – Because he was a free agent when the Twins signed him last spring, he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Like Robertson, he doesn’t throw hard, but he is very aggressive on the mound. Already 26 years old, he was my choice as the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year this year when he pitched well in Ft. Myers and New Britain, in the bullpen and making a few starts.

Have to be Considered

  • Cole DeVries (8) – Sometimes last impressions matter, and DeVries was tremendous in the Arizona Fall League.
  • Bruce Pugh (9) – Sometimes last impressions matter, and Pugh falls down to this level from the Strongly considered due to a rough AFL.

Others Who Are Eligible

The Twins took Anthony Slama off of the 40 man roster last month. He could not become a free agent, but he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. If I’m a GM, I absolutely would take Slama with a Rule 5 pick. He’s ready for the big leagues, and he can actually pitch out of a bullpen. I can’t imagine that the Twins would add him back to the 40 man roster after taking him off last month, but maybe the change at GM will give a different thought.

Phil Dumatrait and Brian Dinkelman were also taken off the 40 man roster. Dinkelman elected to become a free agent because he had been outrighted for the second time. He resigned with the Twins on a minor league deal last week. Dumatrait is a veteran and became a free agent, but yesterday, he returned to the Twins on a minor league deal. Both of these guys are eligible.

Others: Jairo Perez, James Beresford, Anderson Hidalgo, Steve Hirschfeld, Edgar Ibarra, Danny Lehmann, Brett Jacobson, Nelvin Fuentes, Jhon Garcia, Evan Bigley, Bobby Lanigan (10), Danny Rams, Mark Dolenc, Chris Cates, Jonathan Goncalves, Josmil Pinto, Spencer Steedley, Michael Tarsi, Jairo Rodriguez, Miguel Munoz, Wang-Wei Lin, Reggie Williams, Pedro Guerra, Rory Rhodes, Shooter Hunt, Nate Hanson, Deibinson Romero, Michael Hollimon, Ray Chang.

What Will Happen?

With the signing of Jamey Carroll, the Twins now have 35 players on their 40 man roster. They could add as many as five players, assuming they don’t sign any other big league free agents before the announcement. I would think that the Twins would prefer to leave one spot open on their 40 man roster which means they would likely add four players from above. (The Twins added four players last year – David Bromberg, Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee and Rene Tosoni) Those players are required to remain on the 40 man roster until after spring training next year. So what happens if the Twins want to sign another free agent, but they are already at 40 on the roster? I think many would agree that there are several of the 35 players currently on the 40 man roster that they could take off without missing too much.

Current 40 Man Roster

Here is the 40 man roster as it sits right now:

  • Pitchers: Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, David Bromberg, Alex Burnett, Scott Diamond, Brian Duensing, Jeff Gray (out of options), Deolis Guerra, Liam Hendriks, Jim Hoey, Francisco Liriano, Matt Maloney (out of options), Jeff Manship, Jose Mijares, Lester Oliveros, Carl Pavano, Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey, Anthony Swarzak (out of options), Esmerling Vasquez (out of options), Kyle Waldrop.
  • Catchers: Drew Butera, Joe Mauer
  • Infielders: Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, Luke Hughes (out of options), Justin Morneau, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Chris Parmelee, Trevor Plouffe (out of options), Danny Valencia.
  • Outfielders: Joe Benson, Ben Revere, Denard Span, Rene Tosoni

Feel free to comment, ask questions and make your predictions.

Wednesday Game Notes

11 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins lost again on Wednesday afternoon to the Tigers. At least in this game, they showed some life. After falling behind 5-2, they fought back. With a base open in the 7th, runners on 2nd and 3rd, and two outs, the Tigers decided to have lefty Dan Schlereth pitch to Jason Kubel with Morneau on deck. Kubel responded with a 460 foot home run to give the Twins a lead. Gardy went to Jose Mijares to start the 8th, and after recording the first out, he walked a batter. Wisely, Gardy went to Matt Capps who immediately gave up a two-run homer to Jhonny Peralta. The Twins tied the game in the bottom of the 8th but then Capps gave up two more runs in the 9th. Kubel was 2-3 with two walks. Justin Morneau, Danny Valencia and Matt Tolbert each had two hits. It was actually a good baseball game. However, the wrong team one (in my humble, not-at-all biased opinion).

When it rains, it poors. I keep thinking it can’t get any worse, and it keeps getting worse.

Maybe an off day at home is exactly what they need. Maybe Delmon Young will come back on Friday and hit like crazy! Maybe Joe Mauer will take some batting practice and jog around the bases on Thursday and be activated on Friday too. And maybe Cleveland will have to forfeit a few games, and the Royals too!

Maybe, just maybe!

Minor League Notes

Remember when the Twins traded Mark Hamburger, a local kid signed out of a tryout camp because of a big fastball, to the Texas Rangers late in the 2008 season? At the time, Hamburger was about to start a playoff series for the Elizabethton Twins. Guardado was brought on board to be a late-inning lefty. Guardado was terrible. Hamburger has improved and continued to progress through the Rangers farm system. He began this season in Double A, and on Monday night, he was promoted to Triple A Round Rock and one step closer to the big leagues.  

Wednesday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DayChris Herrmann, New Britain Rock Cats 

Wednesday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayTyler Robertson, New Britain Rock Cats

Red Wings Ramblings

Wednesday – Red Wings 3, Louisville 7 – Eric Hacker had his first rough start of the season. He gave up five runs on eight hits (2 HR) in 6.2 innings. He walked none and struck out three.  Dusty Hughes gave up a run on two hits in 0.2 innings. He struck one out. Kyle Waldrop gave up one run on three hits and two walks in 1.2 innings. Chase Lambin went 2-4 with his fifth double. Brian Dinkelman and Aaron Bates each hit a double.  

Rock Cats Report

Wednesday – Rock Cats 10, Binghamton 8 – It was a big offensive night for the Rock Cats and the pitching found a way to hold on. Chris Herrmann went 4-6 with his third double, first triple and three RBI. Deibinson Romero went 3-5 with his fifth double. Yangervis Solarte went 3-5. Dan Rohlfing and Chris Parmelee each had two hits. Joe Benson hit his fourth home run. Liam Hendriks improved to 3-1. He went five innings and gave up three runs on seven hits. He uncharacteristically walked four and struck out two. Santos Arias gave up three runs (1 earned) on three hits and two walks in just 1.1 innings. Michael Tarsi gave up two unearned runs on two hits in 0.2 innings. Tyler Robertson recorded his fifth save. He struck out four in two scoreless innings.

Miracle Matters

Wednesday – Miracle 1, Dunedin 7 – Edgar Ibarra made the start and gave up five runs on six hits in 4.2 innings. He walked four and struck out four. Ryan Mullins threw 1.1 scoreless innings. Brad Tippett worked three innings and gave up two runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out three. The Miracle had just three hits. Josmil Pinto went 2-4 with his third double.    

Snappers Bites

Wednesday – Snappers 2, Kane County 8 – A couple of second inning errors led to six unearned runs, and that was more than enough for Kane County. Manuel Soliman started and gave up eight runs (2 earned) on seven hits and a walk in 3.1 innings. He struck out five. Ryan O’Rourke came in and threw 1.2 shutout frames despite two hits and a walk. Blayne Weller threw two scoreless innings. Jose Gonzalez got the final three outs. Lance Ray went 2-2 with two walks. Tobias Streich went 2-4. Michael Gonzalez hit his sixth home run.   

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Roster Projections: New Britain Rock Cats

30 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

  • Step 1: Finalize 2011 Minnesota Twins roster – Check.
  • Step 2: Find a way to keep Scott Diamond in the organization – Check.
  • Step 3: Configure the 2011 Triple-A Rochester Red Wings 24-man roster – In progress.
  • Step 4: Configure the 2011 Double-A New Britain Rock Cats 24-man roster – In progress.

The fun of projecting minor league rosters after major league rosters is that we don’t know what’s happening. We don’t always understand the big picture. For instance, I projected that Chris Province would be in the Triple-A bullpen. Yesterday, I found out that he, in his words on Twitter this morning, “voluntarily retired.” The Twins made 12 cuts over the past couple of days, and as I review the names of all of the players still in Twins minor league camp, it is difficult to place all of them. We don’t know injury situations. I was unaware the Bruce Pugh was set back a few days by back soreness. That will likely keep him back in Ft. Myers and in the bullpen for at least a little while. Some of the decisions on these minor league veterans brought in has kept several minor leaguers down a level. In some cases, that’s good. In other cases, it is a little surprising. For instance, I understand that Tony Davis will be heading back to Ft. Myers to start the season.

With all that in mind, I present to you my thoughts on a projected roster for the Twins Double-A affiliate, the New Britain Rock Cats. (the below roster is my opinion and my guesses, and nothing official.)

Catchers: Danny Lehmann (40 man – No) – Jair Fernandez (40 man – No) 

Lehmann was impressive this spring. He has been named the Twins minor league catcher of the year the past two years. Defensively, he is ready to be a backup catcher for the Twins. Offensively, he’s probably a notch above Drew Butera. Fernandez, like Waldrop and Portes, could have been a six-year minor league free agent after last season. He chose to stay with the Twins. He is a big guy with a little pop in his bat. Not a great catcher at all though despite a strong arm.

Infielders: 1B – Chris Parmelee (40 man – Yes), 2B – Steve Singleton (40 man – No), 3B – Nick Romero/Deibinson Romero (40 man – No/No), SS – Estarlin de Los Santos (40 man – No), Utility – Chris Cates (40 man – No), IF/OF/DH – Yangervis Solarte – (40 man – No)

Chris Parmelee is going to be my choice for preseason Twins minor league hitter of the year. Hopefully he will be able to stick with the Rock Cats all season, as I believe that would be best for his development. Steve Singleton should be in Rochester. I know, I’m shy about expressing that, aren’t I? He should get some time at both 3B and SS as well. Estarlin de Los Santos should get a couple of months here to regain his prospect status or else Brian Dozier will be here and get the playing time. 3B is where I’m not certain. So, I can see a scenario in which Nick Romero and one-time prospect Deibinson Romero split time, or even platoon. Solarte can play anywhere on the field, kind of like Luke Hughes. He has hit when healthy and was up with the Rock Cats last year before getting hurt. The utility infield spot will be interesting. Chris Cates is the incumbent, but could Ray Chang or Matt Brown be sent to AA? Neither can play SS well, so I’m leaning toward Cates.

Outfielders: LF – Evan Bigley (40 man – No), CF – Joe Benson (40 man – Yes), RF – Rene Tosoni (40 man – Yes), 4th outfielder – Mark Dolenc (40 man – No).

At this time last year, Rene Tosoni thought he was packing to go to Rochester, but then the Twins signed Jason Repko right before Opening Day and Tosoni went back to New Britain. His shoulder was bad, and he was DHing until a midseason shoulder surgery ended his season. But he was still added to the 40 man roster, and he could move up quickly if he swing returns. Joe Benson was last year’s Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year. The sky is the limit for Benson. The only thing is his contact rate will need to improve for him to advance where we all hope he will. Again, I think the best thing for his development would be to stay in New Britain for the entire season, get comfortable, make adjustments and see what kind of numbers he can put up in a full season. Evan Bigley is an underappreciated prospect. He’s got some power, and he can hit for average. He can play solid defense. When he moved up to New Britain last year, he played better than he had with the Miracle early in the season. I mention Dolenc as the 4th outfielder, and that’s where he is always put. However, every year, he gets a lot of at bats, and he performs better than expected. He is fast and plays very good defense at all three positions.

Starting Pitchers: RHP David Bromberg (40 man – Yes), RHP Deolis Guerra (40 man – Yes), RHP Bobby Lanigan (40 man – No), Liam Hendriks (40 man – No), Dan Osterbrock (40 man – No)

I was very much surprised to learn that David Bromberg would start this season in Double-A after he made nine starts in Rochester last year. That said, I think that it can be a good thing for him to spend a couple of months. He’s seen Triple-A. He’s now been to big league spring training and likely learned a lot. It will be great for him to implement some of the things he’s learned at Double-A, perfect them and get back to Rochester. Deolis Guerra pitched well in New Britain last year before being promoted to Rochester, and from that point on he was never able to find it again. Guerra is the best example of why bringing in some minor league veterans at the upper levels can be good. Guerra should not have been rushed, but the team was forced to. Bobby Lanigan’s fastball/slider combination is tough. I think long-term he can be a terrific reliever, but might as well keep him starting as long as he keeps putting up the numbers and stays healthy. I would be surprised if both Hendriks and Osterbrock start the season with the Rock Cats, but both pitched so well at Ft. Myers last year that they could be ready for this next challenge. Pitchers often say that they experience their first struggles at AA. Osterbrock experienced some struggles with Beloit in 2009, but figured things out last year. Hendriks is a tremendous prospect, very driven and competitive, and worth watching closely.

Bullpen: RHP Carlos Gutierrez (40 man – No), RHP Brett Jacobson (40 man – No), RHP Steve Hirschfeld (40 man – No), LHP Tyler Robertson (40 man – No), RHP Dakota Watts (40 man – No), RHP Santos Arias (40 man – No), LHP Spencer Steedley (40 man – No), LHP Jake Stevens (40 man – No), LHP Paul Bargas (40 man – Yes)

I think that Gutierrez is ready for Triple-A. Some could argue he’s ready for the big leagues. But this is the first time he has gone into a season as a reliever, and I think it would be good to start him back with New Britain for a month or two, let him close and pitch in more tough situations and get comfortable. It also gives some of those AAA guys a couple of months to prove what they have. There is no rush with Gutierrez. He doesn’t need to be added to the 40 man roster until after the season, and they aren’t going to want to use an option, so patience is a good thing. Jacobson was the second piece that came over from the Orioles in the Hardy trade. He has an interesting delivery, but he does throw hard and has a good curveball. Hirschfeld is definitely an option to start. He was terrific in 2009 but missed more of 2010 with injury. Robertson struggled as a starter with the Rock Cats last year, and when he went to the Arizona Fall League, it was announced that he would be moved to the bullpen. I think he has the makeup and the stuff to be successful in the role. Dakota Watts started the 2010 season (his first full season) with Beloit and ended in New Britain, and in the middle, he was touching 98 and 99 on the radar gun in Ft. Myers. Arias really struggled with the Rock Cats last year, but he should be given another shot. Steedley had a terrific April for the Rock Cats last year, but by the end of May, he had his elbow worked on. He could start this season on the Disabled List, but if he can come back, he is a good LOOGY possibility down the road. Jake Stevens is also left-handed. He was out of baseball last year, but the Twins gave the Naples, FL, native a chance to make the team. Paul Bargas was acquired by the Twins in the trade of Jose Morales. He’s got decent numbers in his minor league career, especially against left-handers. Bargas also has meningitis, and on one of the first days of minor league camp, he collapsed on the field and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He has not yet returned to the team, but he should at some point.

Overall: This is where some really exciting Twins prospects will be. A couple of these guys would be ready to play at Rochester, but in terms of development, I think that Parmelee, Benson, Bromberg, Tosoni and Gutierrez may be best served by spending more time in AA. The first four were only added to the 40 man roster this offseason, and Gutierrez isn’t even on the 40 man yet, so time is on their side. This should be a solid team. Don’t be surprised if the likes of Ray Chang and Matt Brown end up here as well, which would make them a more veteran team. This should be a fun team to watch and several of them could be called up to the Twins at some point this season, if needed.

The minor league rosters should be announced later this week as their seasons get started next week. In fact, most of the roster spots have been determined and players are finding out. I have been quite surprised by some of the reports I have heard, but without knowing background, injuries, etc., it’s hard to determine from afar what some of the reasoning might be. Either way, it will be fun to find out and more importantly, to get this season started!

If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to comment or ask.

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  • Cody Christie, the North Dakota Twins Fan, joined me on the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast last night. Lots more Twins topics covered such as the Jim Thome/Jason Kubel playing time question, Joe Nathan and Matt Capps, food options at Target Field, and many, many more topics.
  • If you are interested in the Twins minor league system, Twins Minor League Weekly podcast will begin on Thursday night at 10:00. Travis Aune and Seth will host the 10:00 p.m. podcast each Thursday throughout the season. We will talk about what’s going on with each Twins affiliate, how the teams are doing, who is hot, who is not, transactions, and much more.

40 Man Roster Decisions

19 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins, and every other organization, have to announce their 40 man rosters by November 20th. I would guess that the Twins will make their announcement today, probably in the early afternoon.

Please note that much of today’s blog comes from the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook (which is still available and still a great resource as the Hot Stove League is just getting started). I have updated it and added to it since the Twins have made a couple of moves since this was written. For instance, Eric Hacker was added to the 40 man roster. The Twins have no signed any other free agents to 40 man roster spots. In other words, the Twins could choose to add quite a few players to their 40 man roster. Anyway, here is the updated 40 man roster decisions article:  

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By tomorrow, the Twins will need to set their 40-man roster in preparation for the Rule 5 draft. This is one of the bigger events of the offseason, at least for me. This season will be particularly interesting. Free agents, such as Orlando Hudson, Jim Thome, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch, and  Carl Pavano, have all been taken off the 40 man roster. Three players ended the season on the 60 Day Disabled List, so they needed to be included in the 40. It is possible that a player or two will be removed from the 40 man roster so that minor leaguers that will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft can be protected. You will need to factor in a couple of things when making these decisions:

1. If a player is not added to the 40 man roster, would he be lost to another team?  Along with being drafted, will the player be able to remain on his selecting team’s roster throughout the season?
2. How much depth at any particular position is there? If a player were lost, are there other options at that position?
3. Do you want to protect 40 players, or maybe 39 or even 38 players? If they are below 40, they can add free agents (without removing anyone) and/or make a Rule 5 pick.
The Twins have not had a player selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft since Jose Lugo in 2008. In 2007, Tim Lahey was the first overall pick in the Rule 5 draft. In each case, they went to the drafting team only to eventually be returned to the Twins because they could not stick with a big league club. The Twins have had some success drafting in the Rule 5. Everyone knows that the Twins acquired Johan Santana through the Rule 5 draft (and a pre-planned trade with the Marlins). The Twins acquired Shane Mack in the Rule 5 draft as well. (That Dan Uggla guy was a pretty nice Rule 5 pick for the Marlins.)

Who Must be Added? Players who signed when they were less than 19 in 2006 must be protected or potentially lost. Players that were signed when they were 19 or older in 2007 also have to be added. Typically, this means that high school players drafted in 2006 are eligible, and college players drafted in 2007. The Twins added Anthony Slama and Ben Revere to their 40 man roster during the 2010 season. They would have had to add them after the season had they not already added them. Revere was drafted out of high school in 2007, but he turned 19 before he signed.  Ben Revere and Anthony Slama would have had to be added to the 40 man roster following the season, so there are two less names to consider. 

Here are Nine to Note, players that will have to be considered for the 40 man roster, starting with the easy choices. I think it is likely that the Twins will add five or six of these players. (UPDATED NOTE – I have broken these into the Givens, and the Question Marks, and tried to explain why I think that the player may be a Question Mark.)

THE GIVENS
There is no question in my mind that these guys will be added to the 40 man roster.
David Bromberg, P, 23, Throws: Right
The Twins drafted  Bromberg in the 32nd round of the 2005 draft out of high school, but instead of signing, he went to Junior College for a year and signed as a draft-and-follow in 2006. He led the Appalachian League in strikeouts in 2007. In 2008, he led all of minor league baseball in strikeouts. In 2009, he led the Florida State League in strikeouts. He began the 2010 season in New Britain, and he pitched well enough there to earn a promotion to Triple-A Rochester where he more than held his own. Bromberg has a very strong mix of pitches and throws hard enough to be a strong prospect. Adding Bromberg to the 40-man roster is an easy choice. 
Joe Benson, OF, 22, Bats: Right, Throws: Right
The Twins used their second round pick in 2006 on a toolsy catcher with great speed and a strong arm. In 2010, those tools started coming together for Joe Benson and he was named the 2010 recipient of the Sherry Robertson Twins Minor League Player of the Year. He his .259/.343/.538 with 31 doubles, eight triples and an organization-leading 27 home runs between Ft. Myers and New Britain (he hit 23 in AA). He stole 19 bases. He is a good defender with plenty of speed for center field and an arm, strong enough for right field. Adding Joe Benson is another given.
Chris Parmelee, 1B/OF, 22, Bats: Left
Parmelee was the Twins first round draft pick in 2006 out of high school in California. In his first three full seasons, he struggled to hit for average, but he did a very good job of taking walks (getting on base) and hitting home runs (slugging percentage). He began the 2010 campaign in Double-A New Britain, but like Joe Benson, he was sent back to Ft. Myers where he regained his hitting skill and his confidence. He returned to the Rockcats and after the All-Star break he hit .316/.397/.428. The power was down but he has the size and potential to become a huge power threat making him an easy choice to add to the 40 man roster.
SUMMARY/UPDATE: There isn’t much to add to this. All three would be lost if they were left unprotected. They would be selected and the drafting team would find a way to keep them on the roster.
THE QUESTION MARKS
Kyle Waldrop, RHP, 24, Throws: Right
Waldrop was the Twins third first round pick in the 2004 draft out of high school. His first year of Rule 5 eligibility was 2008, but he had just missed the entire season after arm surgery. He was able to stay healthy throughout the 2006 season and got back to Double-A where he pitched out of the bullpen. He was invited to big league spring training and made a strong impression. He pitched in the Rochester bullpen. Through June, he had an ERA of just 1.02 in 53 innings. If he were left unprotected, I believe Waldrop would be selected and be able to stay with the drafting team. Therefore, I believe that the Twins will likely add Waldrop to the roster following the World Series (because he would be a six year minor league free agent five days after the World Series ends).
Rene Tosoni, OF, 24, Bats: Left
The Twins drafted Tosoni in the 34th round of the 2004 draft, then after a year in junior college, the Twins drafted him  in the 36th round of the 2005 draft. He went back to junior college and signed before the 2006 season. Visa problems kept him from playing until the 2007 season. The Twins had to wait, but Tosoni has been a solid, all-around contributor. He can hit for average, hit for power, is a very good defender and has a very strong arm. It was the arm, however, that caused trouble in 2010. Finally, in mid-June, his season came to an end due to shoulder surgery. If not for that, Tosoni would be an automatic add to the 40 man roster.
Steve Singleton, 2B, 25, Bats: Left
Singleton was eligible for the Rule 5 draft last year and was not selected. Although he hit just .267/.325/.410, how many second baseman have the extra base hitting potential of Singleton? The 25 year old hit an organization-leading 43 doubles, added four triples and seven home runs. He is also a solid defender, capable of playing three infield positions adequately. Like a year ago, expect that Singleton not be selected, but if he were, he could contribute at the big league level.
Tyler Robertson, LHP, 22, Throws: Left
The Twins third round pick in the 2006 draft out of his California high school, Robertson was one of the Twins top prospects following a 2007 season in which he went 9-5 with a 2.29 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 102.1 innings at Beloit. He was 5-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 15 starts at Ft. Myers before being shut down with an arm injury. He remained healthy in 2009 at Ft. Myers and was moved up to New Britain for the 2010 season. A 4-13 record with a 5.41 ERA certainly does not breathe confidence, but the 22 year old still has plenty of potential. The question that must be asked is would he be able to remain on a big league roster if he was drafted?
SUMMARY/UPDATE: Despite his struggles in the Arizona Fall League, I think that Waldrop would be lost to some team. The 24 year old has been terrific the last two years, has a great sinker, is a good fielder and he is still young. He is either big league ready or close enough to big league ready, so I think there is a high likelihood that he would be lost, possibly even one of the first picks. He signed a minor league deal with the Twins a couple weeks ago, but the Twins would still have to protect him to keep him from being eligible for the draft. A year ago, Tosoni would have been a given, but his injury makes it a question mark. He can do pretty much everything, and he is clearly close to being able to play in the big leagues, at least in a platoon role where he would hit only against right-handers. Robertson is a tough one. He is left-handed. His numbers had been at least solid until this year in Double-A, but at 22, his struggles should not be unexpected. I just don’t think that a team would be willing to keep him on their big league roster the full season. I know I am higher on Singleton than most, but 43 doubles, 54 extra base hits, as many walks as strikeouts and solid defense, he could play in the big leagues now, at least in a role. That said, I thought he should have been protected last year and he wasn’t. The Twins may try to sneak him through one more time. If I had to rank them in terms of likelihood of being protected, see the above. I wouldn’t be surprised if any or all of these guys are added. I also wouldn’t be shocked if any of them is not added.  
UNLIKELY
James Beresford, SS/2B, 21, Bats: Left
The Twins signed the Australian as a 16 year old to a Kepler-esque signing bonus. He has slowly worked his way up the Twins ladder. In 2010, he hit .297/.349/.363 with 19 doubles, five triples and a home run. For the second straight year, he was named the MVP of the Beloit Snappers team. In the offseasons, he has played for Australia in international competition. Defensively, Beresford is very good, and he takes charge of the infield. He has the ability to reach the big leagues, however, he will need to gain some weight and strength. He likely would not be drafted in the Rule 5 as he would need to get bigger to last on a big league roster.
Miguel Munoz, RHP, 22, Throw: Right
There are not a lot of real hard throwers in the Twins farm system. Munoz throws a little harder than most Twins pitching prospects, up to 94 with the fastball. In 2010, he made 21 starts for Beloit before moving into the bullpen. By season’s end, he was the closer. Overall, he went 12-7 with a 4.37 ERA.
SUMMARY/UPDATE: I like these two and think each has big league potential depending upon their development (of course). I just don’t think that either would be able to remain on a 40 man roster for an entire season. I would be surprised if either is added. As for the “Others to Consider”, that is where Estarlin de Los Santos was for me last year, and he was added. So, I don’t claim to know anything, just my speculation. But it will be fun to find out who gets added.
Others To Consider – Eliecer Cardenas, Jair Fernandez, Anderson Hidalgo, Steve Hirschfeld, Edgar Ibarra, Danny Lehmann, Josmil Pinto, Chris Province, Yangervis Solarte, .

Others Who Are Eligible – Dustin Martin, Matt Williams, Brandon Roberts, Ryan Mullins, Mark Dolenc, Alexander Soto, Chris Cates, Jonathan Goncalves, Michael McCardell, Jairo Perez, Spencer Steedley, Michael Tarsi, Brad Tippett, Brian Dinkelman.

Alright, there is a lot of information there today. I’d love to hear your thoughts about who you think could or should be added to the 40 man roster today. Check back later today as I hope to be able to post who is actually added to the 40 man roster here. As always, please feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

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.