Friday, October 3, 2008

There's Always Next Year

Ok, I'm over it. The Twins missed the playoffs - fine. I'm still not going to call the season a success, but it's true that we did get to watch meaningful baseball all season long and that's something very good. I'm done with Twins 2008, at least for now, and it's time to look at 2009.

I was discussing this with Snacks, and I don't think I can remember the Twins every being in this good of shape in the offseason. The starting rotation has five quality guys, so you don't need to look for a starter. Outfield/DH has five guys for four spots. Catcher, first base, and second base are locked in. The only weaknesses are the left side of the infield and the bullpen, and with a payroll estimated at just $61 million, they should be able to get what they need.

As for the bullpen, you know the closer position is good to go. Juan Berenguer II gives you one setup guy, and if Neshek is all the way back to form you have your second one. The rest of the pen can probably be dismantled. Guerrier is eligible for arbitration, and I don't really see any reason to bring him back at over a million unless you choose to continue to lose. Reyes and Guardado are both free agents, but with Miljares and Breslow there I can't see investing in those guys. Humber will almost certainly get every chance to pitch on the big club since he is out of options and either has to stick with the Twins or be released, and I expect Bonser to be part of the pen as well. Not really huge on that mix, and would love to see it improve somehow, whether from the farm or a free agent. There are a ton of guys out there, many of whom can be had for cheap. It's just a matter of picking the right one.

The left side is trickier, mainly because you don't know what you're going to get from Punto. I love him as a backup/defensive replacement/pinch runner/utility guy, but not super in love with him as a starter, either at third or short. Brendan Harris is kind of the same way, I really like having him on the team, but would feel better if he was backup. Buscher showed he's better than I even thought, but ON THIS TEAM I don't like him. I think the Twins really need more power coming from third, since they have so little of it. The way to shore up that left side is through free agency or a trade.

The Twins have the money (payroll of just $60 or so million, made money last season) and the trade chips to make a splash, and Bill Smith showed he will do it with the Garza/Young trade last year. With the five quality outfielders, someone is expendable. No way they trade Span, and it's highly doubtful they trade Young or Gomez unless they're blown away by an offer. If they move anyone, it will be Kubel or Cuddyer. I love Kubel and he's the second best power hitter on the team, but Cuddyer is excellent as well. Rumors of moving Cuddyer are likely just that, rumors, although I'd be ok with it. I consider it more likely one of Cuddy or Kubel is traded.

Besides Cuddyer/Kubel and Buscher, there are also a plethora of minor league arms that could be used to make a trade. Humber, Mulvey, Tyler Robertson, Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing, and several others would garner significant interest.

So who is available? At third base, this years free agent class is pretty weak - unless the Rangers don't pick up their option on Blalock. It's pretty much littered with old men like Nomar, Rich Aurilia, Casey Blake, and Craig Counsell. The one intriguing name on the list is Joe Crede of the White Sox. He's injured, so that's a concern, but he's just 32 and is an excellent hitter and fielder. Definitely a guy the Twins need to look at. Free agent shortstops are much more intriguing, with Orlando Cabrera, Rafael Furcal, and Edgar Renteria out there. Furcal would be my last choice, as the Twins have enough guys who have no idea what the strike zone is, but any of the three is a big time upgrade.

Trade wise, they might be able to pry Blalock or Adrian Beltre away from their teams as both have contracts that run out after 2009 and this time the price should be lower. A couple other interesting names are Chipper Jones and Melvin Mora. They're both old, but they are also both excellent hitters on teams with no hope whose contracts expire after 2009 and will likely both be on the market for the right package. I would love to see the Twins push to get either of these guys, preferably Jones. A couple trade possibilities at short would be Jack Wilson of the Pirates and Khalil Greene of the Padres, although if they trade for Greene I'll probably have to kill myself because I hate that son of a bitch.

Top priority is definitely a third baseman. All those shortstops are going to make way to much on the open market, so if the Twins pass on them I'm ok with that - other than if Wilson becomes available via trade, don't pass that up. First choice would be to sign Crede for whatever it takes, and you don't have to give anything. Second choice would be to trade whatever it takes to get Chipper, Blalock, Mora, or Beltre, in that order. Third choice would be to be a bunch of assholes and sign someone like Rich Aurillia and then declare the problem solved.


Bear said...

Of all the outfielders, I would move Young. I know he's 22, but I don't think he is ever going to produce power numbers, he is a complete liability in the field and is mind numbingly undisciplined at the plate. There is a reason the Rays parted with him, and it wasn't just his attitude. There has to be a sucker out there willing to take him.

We all know that Counsell will be starting at 3rd and Punto or Harris will be at short. Counsell is such a Twins player.

Just for the sake of this blog I hope they sign Greene.

The Sidler said...

Cuddyer has no trade value, there's no way the Twins move Gomez, and I'm not sure what Kubel would bring in return. Young's probably the only one that has enough potential value to bring back anyone decent...but the rest of the league probably won't be as duped as the Twins were.

Please do not sign the 33-year old Cabrera. He hit like Punto this year and his fielding is slipping. So I'm sure they'll throw the rumored 3/$30mm contract his way and be stuck with him.

I'd rather see a young pitchers for JJ Hardy trade with Milwaukee. I read the Brewers have a top-notch SS prospect ready to go so Hardy's available.

I miss Matt Garza...

snacks said...

Since they don't have many holes to fill, I don't see why they can't throw 7-10 million a year at both a SS and a 3B. The payroll is already low and they are supposedly supposed to be spending more money with the new stadium on the horizon. As for the OF surplus, that's a good problem to have, no reason a trade needs to be made (although if there's a good offer they should take it).

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