Friday, October 12, 2007

A Great Debate

Two weeks ago, I devised an offseason wish list with my plan for the Twins' offseason and posted it with the hope that it would generate some good conversation. Boy, did it ever. Beyond the 38 comments that people left here on that post, several other bloggers offseason blueprints of their own. A few days after I posted mine, Matthew Whipps from Twins Killings wrote up a list of moves that he would like to see, in which he suggests that the Twins deal Johan Santana to the Red Sox for Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis. Then, a few days ago, Peter Schoenke of RotoWire posted his blueprint, which he said was "kind of a rebuttal" to mine. Indeed, Schoenke has some very different views than me on how the Twins should handle the upcoming offseason, as he suggests that the Twins keep Santana, trade away four pitching prospects and let Carlos Silva walk.

The great thing about these ideas that people have concocted is that they are really never wrong. Well, OK... they can be wrong. But, for the most part, each list that I have seen has featured a lot of reasonable, defensible ideas for how to get handle some sticky situations that the Twins will face in the coming months.

One issue that I have with a lot of the lists I've read is that they don't do enough to fix the offense. I fully expect a few of the Twins' hitters to bounce back next season to some degree, but this is a team that ranked 25th in the league in runs scored over the course of the season -- a major overhaul is needed. That's why I suggested the acquisitions of Matt Kemp, Garrett Atkins and Barry Bonds... the Twins would be getting fresh starters at three positions that currently project as major weaknesses next year while adding a ton of power to their impotent lineup. Furthermore, Atkins and Kemp are potentially long-term fixes.

Unfortunately, I don't expect the offseason to play out like any of these grand plans have suggested. A realistic scenario, to me, would involve the Twins keeping Santana, signing Mike Sweeney to play DH, and bringing in a guy like Darin Erstad to replace Torii Hunter in center field. I do, however, fully believe that the Twins will make some sort of trade to bring in a third baseman. It might not be a player of Atkins's caliber, but I'm convinced that Ron Gardenhire and the front office have grown tired of the team's perpetual ineffectiveness at the hot corner, and I don't believe they view any of the internal options as potential answers to the issue.

14 comments:

Matthew said...

No matter how different our scenarios are, at least we can all agree that:

a.) the Twins can't lose Santana without something

and

b.) the Twins need offensive help

We should all revist this idea just before spring training and see how it all pans out. Hopefully, unlike many years, we won't have to shake our heads at some of the transactions.

I'm just waiting for the day when the Twins have found the answers and announce Cecil Fielder as our new DH and will be giving Darryl Strawberry a shot to win the left field slot. **shudders**

(Oh and by the way, I still love that idea about Garrett Atkins...)

SL__72 said...

I don't understand the fascination with getting mediocre hitters who are terrible fielders. First it was Ty Wigginton and now Garrett Atkins. Atkins' career hitting line away from Coors field is:
.269/.344/.437
He is also one of the worst fielding third basemen in the MLB:

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/article/best_and_worst_of_2007_uzr/

Trading any real talent for him would be a mistake imo.

Nick N. said...

I don't know if you really understand how difficult it is to find a good-fielding third baseman that can hit. Look at the names that have been tossed around as possible third base solutions for the Twins: Ty Wigginton, Garrett Atkins, Brian Buscher... all guys that don't field particularly well. Then there are guys like Nick Punto and Pedro Feliz, who are great with the glove but who can't hit a lick. Finding a player like Aramis Ramirez who can hit and field at third is difficult and expensive.

Also, I think it's a little ridiculous to call Atkins a "mediocre" hitter because he has a mediocre hitting line on the road. It's completely unfair to totally discount all of his home stats. Yes, Coors is a hitter's park, but I really don't believe that it is artificially inflating his stats to the point that he looks like a much better player than he is. It's important to note that Atkins was also a great hitter throughout the minors and in college.

I have little doubt that Atkins will perform very well wherever he winds up next year.

Matthew said...

I agree with you assesment Nick. There are so few third baseman nowadays that are solid both in the field and at the plate. Considering our biggest weakness is our offense, I would be willing to take a big bat at third vs. a gold glover.

Plus Ryan Braun was one of the worst fielding third basemen this year, would you turn him down too?

Tricia said...

Darin Erstad, really? The fact that he plays for the Bitch Sox brings him down a notch automatically, if you ask me. Not that anyone did. I don't know anything about his abilities, though. Looks like he used to be good, at least, if I can believe Wikipedia. Is he still any good?

Nick N. said...

Darin Erstad, really? The fact that he plays for the Bitch Sox brings him down a notch automatically, if you ask me. Not that anyone did. I don't know anything about his abilities, though. Looks like he used to be good, at least, if I can believe Wikipedia. Is he still any good?

Nope. He hasn't been any good for about seven years. He just seems like a Twins kind of signing to me. Nice guy, somewhat local (he's from North Dakota) and he'll probably be pretty cheap. It's not a signing I'd like one bit, but it's certainly one I could see the Twins making.

SL__72 said...

I would love to have Ryan Braun, but if we did, given our current roster he'd probably spend most of his time DHing. He is truly terrible at 3rd.

And I agree, obviously, that the offense needs help, I just don't think that is a good reason to ignore defense.

For example, this year:
Atkins:
PMLV: 15 UZR: -23 Combined: -8
Feliz:
PMLV: -20 UZR: +28 Combined: +8

I wouldn't necessarily take UZR ratings to be as accurate as their offensive numbers, but it is at least worth considering.

Also, I really like your blog. Otherwise I wouldn't bother reading/commenting on it :)

Oh, and Punto:
PMLV: -44.5 UZR: ~0? Combined: -44

fro said...

Erstad sucks, period...at least now-a-days...

I just want to play devil's advocate right now...do you guys really think that people like Kemp and Atkins will be as good next year, or even in the long term...because to be honest, i'm not buying it...

Nick N. said...

I just want to play devil's advocate right now...do you guys really think that people like Kemp and Atkins will be as good next year, or even in the long term...because to be honest, i'm not buying it...

I don't see any reason to think that either one will see much regression. There might be an argument that Atkins would see some decline outside of Coors Field, but I don't buy into that too much. He hit .352/.416/.615 in his final season at UCLA, and he hit .317/.397/.476 over six seasons in the minors. He's just a good hitter.

As for Kemp, a lot of people seem to be down on him but I can't understand why for the life of me. I am very, very high on him. He has been an absolutely spectacular hitter throughout his career thus far. He has put up a .900+ OPS at essentially every stop in the minors despite being young for each level, and this year he hit .342/.373/.521 over nearly 300 at-bats in the majors while hitting in an extremely pitcher-friendly park... as a 22-year-old! He's also right-handed, solid on defense, and he has some speed.

Matthew said...

I think we are going to see more "what if" and "we should acquire" talks than ever before here in Minnesota this winter.

With the looming sign-him/trade-him/keep-him Santana saga, the Torii "will he stay or will he go" question mark, and the horrible offensive second half this team had will all feed into this.

And I for one am loving it so far!

MagikLair said...

Why oh why do we need more pitching?? It seems every trade scenario has a pitching prospect. We need offense, offense and more offense. We have plenty pitching in the minor leagues.

Josh's Thoughts said...

I agree, Nick. I too have thought for some time that Darin Erstad would be a Twin someday. And with Torii possibly leaving, that could be as soon as next season.

Good post.

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