Now, I'm all in favor of moving Hunter down in the lineup, if only because he is much better suited for the sixth spot. However, for one, its important to split up the bats of our righties and lefties, something we couldn't do last year. And of course, what is Batista doing in the clean-up spot? Tell me that's a mistake....
Of the hitters on that list, White is the only candidate that makes sense. If only to keep things consistent, and get pitches for both Mauer and Morneau (and if we must have Batista in the lineup), it makes much more sense to have this lineup:
Kubel (if he plays, another left-handed bat)/Cuddyer
That seems to be the most optimal lineup, though you could move Morneau since we can't really predict what will happen next year, though he should improve with Castillo, Mauer, and White ahead of him and hopefully a better Stewart in the one spot. Otherwise, expect Gardy to drop Stewart to the third spot, and put Castillo and Mauer on top. Either way, he should improve.
I say this now, because it appears that Gleeman was correct in his post on the Koskie trade. ESPN.com reports it dead as well, saying that Toronto did offer Koskie back for cheap but that the Twins did not want to move him for fear of having to trade Kyle Lohse and start the season with two rookies in the rotation. This feels problematic to me as well.
The issue is that going with two rookies, most like Scott Baker and Fransisco Liriano, should not be viewed as a poor baseball decision, especially for a small-market team. I don't want feign love for Billy Beane here, but look at what Oakland did last year to compete on a small budget. They traded away Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder and started the year with rookies Dan Haren and Joe Blanton in the rotation. Haren won 14 games and struck out 163, while Blanton won 12 with a 3.53 and competed for rookie of the year.
Now, I'm not suggesting Baker or Liriano will do this. But consider a standard season from Lohse (about 190 innings, a losing record, a 4.72 ERA, opponent batting averages of .305 and .299 the last two years) and the potential from these two starters. Baker has already shown himself to be a strong pitcher in the big leagues and Liriano is the top-rated pitching prospect in the game right now. Neither Blanton nor Haren could claim any of that before last year. Even if Lohse has an ERA close to last year's at 4.18, he'll be getting $4.5 to do it with a lot of complaining. And that's not something a small-market club should be doing or putting up with.
Baker and Liriano in the rotation is a better option, much the same way Koskie is over Batista or White is over Batista in the clean-up spot. (Though, that seems kind of obvious to me, unless you vastly overrate his RBI/HR stats) Even if one of them doesn't pan out (both of them burning out seems highly unlikely), its not like the Twins don't have options. They are knee deep in pitching. They have Boof Bonser, Willie Eyre, and J.D. Durbin waiting at Triple-A and many others working through the system.
Why Ryan refused this trade is confusing to me, because its a good move for a small-market club. A team like the Twins needs to sell tickets and get support. A guy like Koskie can do that, and not just because he's a big promoter of the Twin Cities, but because this team will be better with him. If we are serious about saving money, losing Lohse shouldn't be that bad. And I seriously hope that Batista isn't sitting in the 4th spot next year or I may have to skip town.