Wednesday, November 03, 2010

My Offseason Blueprint

This year's Offseason GM Handbook is now officially available, so if you haven't purchased your copy yet I humbly encourage you to do so. I'm confident that everyone who enjoys this blog will be very satisfied.

At the end of this year's version, like with last last year's, each of the TwinsCentric writers provided our own offseason blueprints, wherein we use the information provided by the Handbook to come up with our own suggested courses of action for the front office this winter. Last year I republished my personal blueprint on this blog, and this year I'm doing the same. Enjoy, and let me know what you'd do differently.

***

1) Let free agents Orlando Hudson, Nick Punto, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay walk.

2) Non-tender Matt Capps and Glen Perkins.
Capps was a fine addition, but due to a high save total that clearly overstates his value as a reliever, he’d receive way more than he’s worth through arbitration. Paying a premium for two closers is a misuse of limited funds. Perkins hasn’t been healthy or effective enough to merit a contract tender.

3) Reach arbitration agreements with JJ Hardy ($6.5M), Delmon Young ($5.25M), Kevin Slowey ($2.75M), Alexi Casilla ($800K), Pat Neshek ($800K) and Jason Repko ($750K).
All for just over $15 million, you lock up your starting middle infielders, your run-producing right-handed bat, a solid starting pitcher, a reliever and a fourth outfielder.

4) Offer Carl Pavano arbitration.
He’ll decline it, because he should have no trouble finding a multi-year deal on the open market as arguably the top available option past Cliff Lee. Since Pavano is a Type A free agent, you’ll get draft pick compensation when he signs elsewhere.

5) Sign Francisco Liriano to three-year, $21 million extension.
Liriano is entering his second season of arbitration eligibility and our estimates have him getting $4.5M. However, since he’s coming off a season where his numbers didn’t necessarily match his performance, this seems like the right time to lock him down. We’ll say it breaks down as $4 million the first year, $7 million the second year and $10 million the third year.

Liriano is the only player in the organization with real ace potential over the next few years, so keeping him on board is crucial. A three-year deal locks up his final two years of arbitration and his first year of free agency. Given his injury history, Liriano would likely jump at the financial security. (You can find a more detailed explanation for the contract here.)

6) Trade outfielder Michael Cuddyer to Braves for starting pitcher Derek Lowe.
In the comments section of one of my recent blog posts, a Braves fan suggested that his team could be a logical trading partner for the Twins. He’s right. Atlanta has a surplus of starting pitching and the Twins have an outfield logjam, especially if Jim Thome returns.  The Braves need right-handed power in their lineup, and if healthy Cuddyer can provide that.

In essence, this is a swap of bad contracts – Cuddyer is owed $10.5M next season after an underwhelming 2010 campaign while the 37-year-old Lowe has two years remaining on his deal at $15M apiece. You’d be gaining $4.5M in salary in the swap for next year, but in essence you’d also be shaving $7M because the addition of Lowe would enable you to comfortably let Pavano walk. The $15M commitment in 2012 is a bit trickier and you’ll have to maneuver around it then.

The aging Lowe hasn’t performed like a $15M pitcher over the first two years of his current contract, which is why the Braves might be eager to unload him, but he has been solid and he’s a workhorse, with 180+ innings pitched and double-digit wins in nine straight seasons. His ground ball tendencies should play well in Target Field.

7) Re-sign Jesse Crain for two years, $6 million.
Of all the departing free agent relievers, Crain seems like the one most worth bringing back. He was flat-out dominant for most of the 2010 season, to the point where he looked like a closing option, but his bad stretches in each of the past two years should keep his price reasonable. If he can resume his role as bullpen ace, he’ll be well worth a $3 million price tag.

8) Sign free agent reliever Grant Balfour for two years, $7.5 million.
Balfour is a Type A free agent but it seems unlikely that the Rays will offer him arbitration so losing draft picks shouldn’t be a concern here. A former Twin, Balfour has been an outstanding setup man in Tampa and has closer-type stuff. He’d serve as a strong late-inning option and further insurance for Joe Nathan.

9) Re-sign Jim Thome for one year, $4 million.
I’ve gone back and forth on this one. Is Thome worth the bump in salary now that he’s another year older? With the questions surrounding Justin Morneau, I think Thome’s power will provide necessary insurance. Plus, he’s just a joy for the fans.

2011 Opening Day 25-Man Roster:

STARTING LINEUP

C: Joe Mauer ($23M)
1B: Justin Morneau ($14M)
2B: Alexi Casilla ($800K)
3B: Danny Valencia ($450K)
SS: JJ Hardy ($6.5M)
LF: Delmon Young ($5.25M)
CF: Denard Span ($1M)
RF: Jason Kubel ($5.25M)
DH: Jim Thome ($4M)

(Approx $60.25M)

BENCH

C: Drew Butera ($450K)
IF: Matt Tolbert ($450K)
IF: Brendan Harris ($1.75M)
OF: Jason Repko ($750K)

(Approx $2.75M)

ROTATION

SP: Francisco Liriano ($4M)
SP: Derek Lowe ($15M)
SP: Kevin Slowey ($2.75M)
SP: Scott Baker ($5M)
SP: Nick Blackburn ($3M)

(Approx $29.75M)

BULLPEN

CL: Joe Nathan ($12.5M)
RP: Jesse Crain ($3M)
RP: Grant Balfour ($3.75M)
RP: Brian Duensing ($450K)
RP: Jose Mijares ($450K)
RP: Pat Neshek ($800K)
RP: Jeff Manship ($450K)

(Approx $21.5M)

TOTAL 2011 PAYROLL: $115M

SUMMARY:
The lineup is similar to last year’s, with Justin Morneau hopefully returning. Committing a full-time DH spot to a 40-year-old Thome is my greatest concern with this blueprint, so if there’s any extra money available, try and bring in an extra right-handed bat who could split time with him at DH or – better yet – play the outfield and push Kubel to the DH spot from time to time. Since you’re already paying him, give Brendan Harris another shot but there are plenty of cheap-ish infielders on the market (Felipe Lopez and David Eckstein are good examples) that could fill that bench role and compete with Alexi Casilla for the starting second base job.

In the bullpen, Brian Duensing opens the season as the team’s top lefty reliever, filling a role he excelled in over the first half last year, and is available to take a rotation spot should any of the starters falter or get hurt. If Pat Neshek doesn’t show much improvement over his rough 2010 campaign, look to other cheap young internal relievers such as Anthony Slama and Alex Burnett.

55 comments:

Corey said...

I think we need to make sure Morneau can actually return healthy before shipping Cuddyer. Derek Lowe is one of those pitchers where you're just waiting for something bad to happen.

Anonymous said...

Cuddyer for Lowe doesn't sound good. He's been bad pitching in the NL, I don't think he gets better moving to the AL. This seems like Washburn all over again but at 3x the price (plus Cuddyer who should have a bounceback season).

Laches said...

I like you're general thinking here. The concerns I have with this plan are 1) letting Capps go - I don't think it's likely that the Twins are able to get Balfour, who will be in demand, or that Nathan returns to form. So that leaves Crain as our closer. I agree that closers are often overvalued, but they can make a big difference in a tight division race, which the Twins are likely to be in next year
2) Kubel and Thome - great guys, came up with some big hits, but both basically one-dimensional players. Do we really want 2 of our starting 9 to be guys who can hit righties, but not lefties, and don't really give you anything in terms of speed or defense.
3)I'm all for trading hitting for pitching, but Cuddyer for D-Lowe? I don't see how it makes much sense to take on that much salary for a 37-year old pitcher who has been pretty unremarkable the last couple of years.

USAFChief said...

Taking on $30M for Lowe's age 38 and 39 seasons, as opposed to one year of Cuddyer at $10.5M, is a really terrible idea. Just awful.

Ed Bast said...

While this is a very reasonable roster, within the theoretical payroll, etc., I'll offer the following:

1. It's a worse team than last year.
2. You don't really address any of the issues this latest pathetic playoff showing raised, particularly starting pitching and the need for a RH bat. In fact you are removing one of the only RH bats we do have.

If I had to do this I'd focus on starting pitching first and go from there. Derek Lowe isn't going to make this a better playoff team.

Anonymous said...

How is Thome insurance for Morneau if Cuddyer isn't on the roster?

And Duensing has earned a starting job.

And who is your insurance for Thome? He can't play every day.

Kubel can't be your starting right fielder. He's a DH who can play defense occasionally.

The outfield defense is overall worse (because Kubel is worse than Cuddyer), you have less depth for injury concerns at 1st, OF, and DH, the infield is worse, the starting pitching is worse, and the starting lineup is worse.

Roster construction can't be based on who you want to make funny shirts about.

Nick N. said...

I tend to think you guys are underrating Lowe's value. His 2009 season was the only one in the past six that could really be considered below average; he's been very steady and reliable and that's something the Twins could definitely use with half of their rotation coming off injuries.

I don't see how it makes much sense to take on that much salary for a 37-year old pitcher who has been pretty unremarkable the last couple of years.

One of my goals with this blueprint (even though it's not going to happen realistically) was to dump Cuddyer's salary. If you want someone to take on that contract, you're likely going to have to take on a big one yourself. That's why this deal struck me as plausible. I'd much rather pay $15M for a starting pitcher who's been a solid contributor and a workhorse year in and year out than $10.5M for a poor defensive right fielder whose offense just doesn't show up half the time.

letting Capps go - I don't think it's likely that the Twins are able to get Balfour, who will be in demand, or that Nathan returns to form.

If you don't think you can get Balfour, there are plenty of other relievers on the market who are superior to Capps and likely to come cheaper. It's the deepest part of the market this season.

1. It's a worse team than last year.

It's not a whole lot different, but one thing I'd like to point out is that nearly every player on the roster either had a down year or battled injuries this past season. My plan was to reload a bit and hope Mauer/Hardy/Span/Kubel etc make marked improvements over their 2010 campaigns.

And who is your insurance for Thome? He can't play every day. ... Kubel can't be your starting right fielder. He's a DH who can play defense occasionally.

Absolutely. This was my main concern, as I stated in the summary, and I think the need to add another outfielder who can play superior defense to Kubel and bat from the right side is imperative. Melky Cabrera is a name I'd consider.

Anonymous said...

Joe Mauer will win this year's "Turkey of the Year" award.

Kopy said...

I realize that Cuddyer may not be the best fielder, but have you looked into the Sabermetrics of his arm strength/accuracy? I feel like too often people refer to Young, Cuddyer, and Kubel has having poor defense, when what they mean to say is they have poor fielding.

The Hardball Times has done annual research that has revealed Young and Cuddyer as having great arms in the outfield (with Cuddyer being the best RF arm in MLB in 2007). I haven't looked into Kubel at all, but it wouldn't surprise me if his arm strength measured well too.

Obviously it's better for a fielder to catch a ball instead of letting it drop for a hit, but arms are incredibly important for limiting base-runners on sac flies and balls that that drop for hits whether another fielder could've gotten to it or not.

rghrbek said...

Nick,

I tend to agree with Ed's comments. And as much as I dislike Cuddyer's salary for his average to below average skill sets, that trade does not make sense to me.

Lefties kill the twins and your proposal, leaves a glaring weakness.

I think I like Seth's blueprint a little more (which is crazy cause I think you always are based more in reality than Seth).

Plus Gardy would cry at the thought of getting rid of his MVP.

Kopy...you are looking at stats from 2007? Cuddy had a nice year throwing the ball. He has been terrible the last 2 years though. Completely inaccurate.

Kopy said...

2007 just happened to be the year Cuddyer was king. He and Young were still great in 2008, but I can't find any MLB ARM ratings for 2009. Cuddyer spent way too much time in the infield this year to accurately judge his arm IMO, but if you want to find some actual evidence that shows Cuddyer was inaccurate the past two years I would welcome it.

Anonymous said...

"His ground ball tendencies should play well in Target Field." Ground ball tendencies play well everywhere. Theres only a few ballparks in baseball more where fly ball tendencies play better than target field, but that doesnt account for the twins defense of course.

"one thing I'd like to point out is that nearly every player on the roster either had a down year or battled injuries this past season. " This is a good point. I think a lot of people gloss over the issue that cuddyer, kubel, mauer, span all had bad years compared to their 09 efforts. Its debatable which year was the fluke.

"ne thing I'd like to point out is that nearly every player on the roster either had a down year or battled injuries this past season. " I think that michael cuddyer hasnt gotten way too much credit for his arm. I think arm strength is pretty overrated because having a range 10% bigger is way more important than holding guys to singles and preventing guys from going first to third.

Anonymous said...

"One of my goals with this blueprint (even though it's not going to happen realistically) was to dump Cuddyer's salary. If you want someone to take on that contract, you're likely going to have to take on a big one yourself. That's why this deal struck me as plausible. I'd much rather pay $15M for a starting pitcher who's been a solid contributor and a workhorse year in and year out than $10.5M for a poor defensive right fielder whose offense just doesn't show up half the time."

Please don't forget about the 2nd year of $15M for a 39 year old Lowe. That makes my stomach turn. I can't believe you'd rather sink $30M into a fading old pitcher than hold your nose and pay Cuddy $10M for one last season and hope for something closer to 2007. You are not dumping dead salary with this trade; you are doing just the opposite. However. since the franchise can't possibly afford such a move anyway, I guess we can all stop worrying about it.

Ed Bast said...

"I think a lot of people gloss over the issue that cuddyer, kubel, mauer, span all had bad years compared to their 09 efforts."

Or else people realize that Mauer had a historically great season unlike any he put up before or since, Cuddy and Kubel had career years, and Span drastically outperformed him minor league numbers in '09. Plus the fact that these guys have been at the heart of 12 straight playoff losses.

It's fine to cross your fingers and hope they'll put up career years again, we're stuck with most of these guys anyhow. But the safe money says that's probably a lot to ask for. And as these playoffs have yet again proved, good starting pitching can more than make up for a mediocre offense.

Matt said...

1) Totally agree, those guys have to go. Hudson was a showboat and faded miserably down the stretch and Guerrier is used up.
2) Yes, Capps and Perkins add little overall value.
3) Hardy seems a little pricey considering his injury risk, but I'd still pull the trigger. Casilla is inconsistent; I'd like to see him win the job in the spring, rather than getting it handed to him.
4) If offering arbitration gets us a draft pick as opposed to non-tender, I'd say go with it. No sense having a guy his age in the rotation at a high price.
5) Worth the risk. With proper rest, he could have a very nice year. But no more about "luck" he either produces or he doesn't.
6) Lowe is way too pricey. Back in the AL he could fizzle out yet we'll be forced to watch him start every 5th game because of his $15M per year. I could see if he was signed for one year, but for two at that price? Too big of a risk. Plus, since Cuddy seems to alternate good years with bad, he's due for a good one, right (just kidding)? I don't see how swapping one mediocre player with a bad contract for another makes us better. If you want to stabilize a rotation with a veteran, Lowe isn't the answer at that price.
7) Another risk due to inconsistency but it's worth taking.
8) Should not have let him go in the first place. Get him back if possible, he adds desparately needed bullpen power.
9) It's always nice to have him around. $4M seems steep for a one dimensional player aged 41 years, but everyone seems to like him and he can produce if he stays healthy and rested.

Only thing I would think about is adding a RH bat with a little speed to bolster the overall speed of the team. We need a little more of a threat to run and do those types of things. With a little more speed and assuming Morneau comes back healthy, the lineup could give opposing teams real fits! You mentioned Melky but I don't know if he can steal or not...

Anonymous said...

"I think a lot of people gloss over the issue that cuddyer, kubel, mauer, span all had bad years compared to their 09 efforts. Its debatable which year was the fluke."

I didnt say it was likely they would revert to their 09 lines, just that if you are looking for a reason why the 2010 team didnt meet expectations thats a big one.

Dave said...

I really want to see Jorge De La Rosa on the twins roster next year. He seems like a much better option then Lowe. Nick, any thoughts? Any idea on what kind of contract he will demand?

Nick N. said...

I really want to see Jorge De La Rosa on the twins roster next year. He seems like a much better option then Lowe. Nick, any thoughts? Any idea on what kind of contract he will demand?

I think we predicted 4 years/$40M in the Handbook. I like him, but he's kind of redundant with Liriano and his poor control scares me more than a little bit.

rghrbek said...

Nick,

I also think, in your model, having Blackburn in the starting rotation over Duensing is a disaster. Duensing has done everything to earn that spot.

Blackburn has been figured out by the league, and although we are into him for next 3 years, he should be in the bullpen. I'd say trade him but nobody would want him.

Anonymous said...

Lowe for Cuddy is a bad idea...

Duensing should be a starter...

I'd rather see Revere over Repko...

Send Harris far far away....

Bring Capps back cuz we won't get Balfour....

Casilla will have to step it up...

I could go on....

Good Luck Twins!

Anonymous said...

"I like him, but he's kind of redundant with Liriano" Yeah that would be terrible. We should avoid left handed power hitters too because theyll be redundant to morneau.

Dave said...

Not to get too much out of the handbook for free, but do you have a projection for S. Downs and J. Frasor contracts? Those two are also high on my list for acquisition.

O.H. Lee said...

If Morneau doesn't return healthy by spring training he's never going to play again. Isn't that a reasonable assumption? Their priorities would have to shift massively in that event. I'm not a cuddy guy but I would hate seeing this lineup vs left handed pitching with one less right handed bat? I'm not sure I'd be comfortable going into a season that left handed dominant. Knowing that Kubel, Thome, and Mauer(last year) cant hit lefties. I like Lowe too, but not for that kind of cheese! That's 30 million to another pitch to contact guy. They would be much better off signing a couple top flight relievers and having a power pen.

Nick N. said...

I also think, in your model, having Blackburn in the starting rotation over Duensing is a disaster. Duensing has done everything to earn that spot.

If Blackburn struggles, Duensing is right there ready to step in. That method worked fine this year -- you'd just need to be a little quicker with the trigger on Blackburn. Given that the Twins are locked into paying Blacky $3 million this year, they might as well try using him in the only role he can be successful in: starter. If he puts together another season like '08 or '09, he'll be a valuable piece.

Yeah that would be terrible. We should avoid left handed power hitters too because theyll be redundant to morneau.

Well, let me rephrase. He's basically just a worse version of Liriano that will cost twice as much. Not a logical investment.

Not to get too much out of the handbook for free, but do you have a projection for S. Downs and J. Frasor contracts?

It's all in the booook! :)

If Morneau doesn't return healthy by spring training he's never going to play again. Isn't that a reasonable assumption?

It is reasonable. And scary as hell.

Anonymous said...

so your saying we keep the same roster that has continued to fail in the postseason year after year?

Nick N. said...

so your saying we keep the same roster that has continued to fail in the postseason year after year?

Well, it's really only the same roster they took into the postseason this past year, and even a somewhat altered version of that. But yes, I would feel comfortable going into the playoffs with the exact same roster they had this year, albeit hopefully a little healthier.

Ed Bast said...

"But yes, I would feel comfortable going into the playoffs with the exact same roster they had this year, albeit hopefully a little healthier."

It's this sort of attitude that's gotten the Twins in their current hole - "hey, let's reward our mediocre players who don't know how to win in the playoffs with long term/expensive deals and just see what happens. They're real nice guys, and we should be competitive in the Central for at least couple more years!"

Look, the window for this team to make a legitimate run at the WS is closing fast. Their players aren't getting any younger, we've got a lot of bad contracts, and absolutely nothing in the minor leagues. We can keep deluding ourselves that 12 straight postseason losses was just "bad luck", or we can realize the current organizational model ain't working and shake things up a bit.

Sadly, I get the feeling the organization shares Nick's satisfaction with the status quo.

I just don't understand how anyone, much less a guy as generally astute as Nick, can sit and watch these guys painfully fail time and time again in October and want to do it all again the next year with the same group of guys.

Nick N. said...

I just don't understand how anyone, much less a guy as generally astute as Nick, can sit and watch these guys painfully fail time and time again in October and want to do it all again the next year with the same group of guys.

Which guys? It's not the same guys, Ed. This was Liriano's first postseason start. Pavano was excellent in the playoffs last year. The Twins brought in veteran players with no history here like Hardy, Thome, Hudson to mix things up. This was a very different team than past clubs that have failed in the playoffs but it got the same result.

Is this the result of some organizational allergy to winning in the postseason? Is their current 12-game postseason losing streak any sort of guarantee that they won't succeed next time around? Or is it just that the Twins lost three games -- two of them close -- against a good team?

The Twins won 94 games this season, went 7-3 against the eventual AL Champ -- they were obviously a good team. Overhauling the entire roster because of three losses in the postseason is insanely short-sighted and not a plan rooted in common sense.

Matt said...

What happens if you re-tool the roster with the notion that you will win in the playoffs, but then fail to make the playoffs in the first place?
I understand Ed's frustration, but a team still has to make the playoffs in order to get swept out of them. I'd take our current situation over the situation 10 years ago...

Ed Bast said...

Nick, I'm not even talking about overhauling the entire roster. We can't. But you don't even mention the playoffs in your blueprint. If the Twins are equally as ignorant, I'm sorry, we're doomed to fail again.

If these playoffs taught us anything, it's the importance of starting pitching. Our starters are not good enough, period.

And get a RH bat. Assume we play the Yanks again. They'll probably get Cliff Lee. If Pettitte comes back, that's 3 lefties in a 3 man rotation.

And Matt, a team good enough to win in the postseason is probably going to be good enough to win in the regular season too.

"Or is it just that the Twins lost three games -- two of them close -- against a good team?"

And 3 last year against a good team? And 3 in 06 against a very average team who lost in the next round? And 3 in 04 against a good team who lost in the next round? And 3 in 03 against a good team who lost in the next round?

When does this start to get old for you, I want to know. 2 more sweeps? 3 in 5 years, like the current pace?

During Gardy's tenure the Yanks have won 4 playoff series vs. the Twins, and 3 vs. the rest of the league. Quit making them out to be something special. Guess what? Every team you play in the playoffs is going to be "good".

Nick, do you think "your" team can win a World Series?

Doc said...

Ed, I'd be very interested in hearing your offseason blueprint. But it has to be atleast semi-realistic

Nick N. said...

Ed, I'd be very interested in hearing your offseason blueprint. But it has to be atleast semi-realistic

Ditto. And ultimately I'd just like you to admit that finding success in the postseason is going to be more a matter of the current core players stepping up and performing than a bunch of new guys coming in and carrying the load.

Josh said...

Interesting thoughts.

1) Have to agree, much as I liked having the O-Dog this season.

2) Agree completely.

3) Yes, except for Hardy, whom I would like the team to sign to a 3 year deal. I think they could get him at a reasonable price and above average SS are hard to find.

4) Yep, gpod call here too.

5) Absolutely. this would be good value and keeps the best pitcher we have under control.

6) No, no and no. Lowe's contract is significantly worse than Cuddyer's, especially for the Twins. Pitching depth is still something the organization has, and RH hitters are something still lacking. While I can respect moving a bad contract, taking on a worse contract for a player who has less utility for the team is a bad call. We'd need to get a RH hitting prospect as well, and even then I still don't think it's a good call.

7) Agree. Crain looks to be all the way back from surgery now and will be a good set-up man who could also close in a pinch if Nathan needs more time. His price should be reasonable for now.

8) Not sure about this one. I like his stuff, but I think his price tag might be higher and if he's more than $4M per, it's too much. Relief arms can be found on the cheap and I think this is where the team needs to find savings either by mining the farm system or trading for a prospect elsewhere.

9) I agree with re-signing Thome, but I think he can be had for less than $4M. $2.5M, maybe plus incentives is actually going to be where his price ends up: he was great this year, but mostly because he was limited in his role for much of the season and even then he had nagging injuries. Let's not overpay.

Regarding the roster: I'd keep Cuddyer in RF, which has Kubel spelling him and splitting time with Thome.

Butera should not be on this roster. He's a useless hitter and the D does not make up for having such an auto-out in the lineup when Mauer is getting a day off. Morales is a better bet, and he can also backup at 1B. I'm not expecting him to be a great hitter, but he can swing the bat a little and would be an asset at the bottom of the order.

Same for Harris: they blew it on his contract extension, time to eat it and move on. Tolbert can be the utility guy. Repko is ok, but I'm ready to look at Revere, who I think is ready to get a shot. He'll be even cheaper, much faster, and a great late inning defensive replacement in CF, letting Span slide over to one of the corners.

I would look for Duensing to stick in the rotation, and if relief needed to go find it in the minors (we have guys who are going to be ready for MLB action) rather than spend on a veteran pitcher just to have a veteran. This leaves us about $5M or so in Nick's proposed budget to get a RH bat for the bench with a little pop. This should be a straight platoon kind of guy, someone to just CRANK on lefties, even if he can't hit righties at all.

Ed Bast said...

Well, my ideas won't be completely realistic, because I'll focus on making a run for the Series, and the Twins don't seem terribly interested in this. But anyway...

1. Trade Slowey & Hicks & another minor leaguer for Zack Greinke. Need starting pitching. To answer your question, Nick, I don't think the Twins will have much of any postseason success with this starting staff.
2. Sign Derrick Lee. Need a RH bat, insurance for Morneau, full time DH. He does all of this.
3. Resign Hardy.
4. Resign Rauch and sign one of the many FA relievers out there, Balfour, whoever. Fill the rest of the bullpen with Mijares, Neshek, any number of guys from AAA. It's the one position we have some minor league depth. Get rid of Capps, we don't need to spend $20 mil on "closers".
5. Trade Delmon + prospects for Dan Uggla. I know, it's a stretch. But you can sell high on Delmon.
6. Trade Cuddy for prospects. Yes, his contract is terrible. But he's the most versatile player in the history of baseball, and a really nice guy, so someone will want him.

So...
C Mauer, Morales/Butera ($23.5)
1B Morneau ($14)
2B Uggla, Casila ($8.6)
SS Hardy, Tolbert/Plouffe ($7)
3B Valencia (.5)
LF Kubel($5.25)
CF Revere (.5)
RF Span/Repko($1.75)
DH Lee ($7)

RP
Nathan ($12.5)
Rauch ($2.5)
Others ($6)

SP
Greinke ($13.5)
Liriano ($4)
Baker ($5)
Duensing ($.5)
Blacky ($3)

$115 mil payroll.

I understand this is wild, so go ahead and rip away. Again, though, if you feel the WS window is shrinking for this club, you need to shake things up.

Oh, and 6. Fire Mother Gardy. Send a message throughout the organization that postseason sweeps aren't good enough. Replace him with Paul Molitor.

Hey, it's my blueprint, I can dream.

Man you guys are going to let me have it. Oh well, I deserve it.

Al D. said...

This is on a minnesotatwins.com site? This just goes to show that bloggers have no more sense, and in some cases, less sense than the average fan. GRANT BALFOUR? You think that signing a marginal closer/set up type for over $3M a year is a good way to spend money? Especially a former Twins farm hand? No chance that even crosses Billy Smith's mind. In fact, if he wasted his time reading this article as I did he would have nearly fallen out of his chair in laughter. One of the other major flaws in this article is Derek Lowe for Cuddy. You think it is wise to move one of Gardy's clubhouse gang who Gardy rely's on so much for a pitcher who is overpaid by at least $8M... for the next 2 years? How does that make sense even in your crazy world? Finally, Duensing in the bullpen will never - ever happen again. This is a guy that Gardy relied on so much the first part of the year in relief to bail out dismall pitching performances & when he rewarded BD with a starting spot he came through with flying colors. This is also the guy who started game 1 of the ALDS in 2009 at NY and game 3 of the ALDS in NY last year. This is the Twins #3 starter behind Baker and Liriano next year. Blackburn and Slowey should round out the rotation. If Kyle Gibson looks ready to go in Spring Training there could be a minor Slowey deal - possibly to San Diego who has had an odd affection for him for 3 years.

Matt said...

Al, how did Duensing do in those playoff starts? I love the guy, but only for his ability to spot start and play the loogey role. If anything, he's proven that good hitters pound him, and average ones hit him well once they've seen him a few times. To protect his bullpen value, he has to stay there.
Cuddy as a valueable guy? I just don't see how an underperforming $10M man merits any kind of praise, whether he's one of "Gardy's guys" or not. If you can get something for him, deal him now!
If Baker is a top two starter, the Twins might not even make the playoffs, much less get swept out. We NEED more pitching. One smart thing Tom Kelly said was "you can't have enough pitching." Blacky, Slowey, Baker, Duensing... yawn. Those guys just won't cut it against better teams.
The clubhouse chemistry stuff is tired and old. I don't give a rip if players don't like each other if they're winning. These guys play for themselves, not managers or teammates, despite their saying so...

Anonymous said...

I don't see why the Twins would want Lowe a average National League pitcher at best. They would have to pay him 30 million over the next two years! It was a mistake to pick up Cuddys option last year at 10.5 but it's off the books after this year along with Nathan's 11.5. You can get a pitcher on the open market with ability close to Lowe for less. But I don't think that improves the team. I think you make a all-in move for Zack Grienke and if possible Joakim Soria. Soria is probably off limits and has a great contract but Grienke seems to be available. I'd trade Aaron Hicks, Kevin Slowey, David Bromberg and another prospect for him. If Soria is available you add Joe Benson, Liam Hendricks and Billy Bullock. The Twins should also get better in the outfield. Another Twin blogger brought up Coco Crisp for Ben Revere. An excellent idea.
Back to Grienke you have him for 2 years and 13.5 million. I'd try and extend him as well. You have Soria for the next 4 years at least and all under 10 million a year. Jessie Crain is probably going to get a 3 year contact around 12-14 million total. I'd let him lose. I'd try and re-sign Brian Fuentes, obviously you aren't going to have him at the 9mil though. Matt Capps is going to stay because of management so you have to live with him as well.
Liriano doesn't need to be extended until after this year. If he is solid again you give him a contract.
Span-Casilla-Mauer-Morneau-Young-Kubel-Cuddyer-Valencia-Hardy
Crisp-Thome-Butera-Tolbert (Harris Conract)
Grienke-Liriano-Baker-Blackburn-Duensing
Nathan-Soria-Capps-Fuentes-Mijares-Manship-Slama
Soria makes about 4 million this year, Capps you sign for 2 years and a lower amt than he might get with a 1 year deal. Same with Fuentes. Crisp is 5.5 mil. Thome 4mil. I get around 134 million. After this season though you can take 22 million right off the books with Nathan and Cuddyer and you don't need to replace it from the outside.
Sean

AL D said...

Classic reply Matt... Solid Fantasy Baseball take. Building a team isn't just about stats. It is about being able to be there when your teammates can't be. Cuddy, for all his shortcomings was hugely valuable for the 2009 and 2010 teams even though he probably was available in 35% of the leagues you were in. If you really have the take that team chemistry stuff is 'tired and old' then you have no idea what it means to be on a sports team... or have forgotten what it was like. Save that take for your fantasy baseball chat forums..

You are right about Duensing's post-season success... it hasn't been there. But it does show that the organization trusts him to be the guy on the hill every 5 days. He has a solid 2 seamer with late movement and he has been one of the few Twins starters to control the ball down in the zone for strikes and have enough movement on his 2 seam and off speed stuff to create problems out of the zone.
Derek Lowe's fastball is 85-88 with erratic location and movement qualities that come and go. He is a pure National League pitcher at this point who would get beaten up pretty bad by most AL teams. Baker is a #2 starter for the Twins... has been for a few years. He definitely struggled at times this year I get that but he is a guy with a career sub 1.29 WHIP and when on his game is a reliable sub 1.19 WHIP guy and has been for nearly 4 years. The Twins have done pretty well over the last 4 years with Baker as their #2. Pavano became the Twins' #2 (sometimes #1) guy this year but Baker and Pavano are pretty similar in their approach. Baker is more of a fly ball pitcher but both attack the strike zone and when on can be very effective pitchers. As far as the 'Twins need more pitching' take, the Twins have plenty of pitchers. They might not be the type of pitchers you want. None of them are Johan that is for sure. But I would say that Liriano has the stuff to become a #1 or at least close enough to a #1 to get by. Blackburn, Slowey, Gibson, Swarzak, Perkins, Manship & Mullins are the same guy; they attack the strike zone, get late movement on pitches and let their defense make outs for them. The Twins aren't into developing hard-throwing, limited control pitchers. They have found pretty solid success on the pitching formula they use and I don't see them changing that now.

The 25 man roster will be:
C Mauer
1B Morneau
2B Casilla
3B Valencia
SS Hardy
LF Delmon
CF Denard
RF Cuddyer
DH Kubel

Bench
- Butera
- Harris
- Repko (or a Repko type 4th OF)
- A Thome type... Lance Berkman makes sense too if the money isn't too high... at least it is an actual back-up for Morneau if needed - unlike Thome.
- Morales mike make some sense as the 13th offensive player on the 25... if we can get enough AB's for him. If not... Matt Tolbert or a discounted Nick Punto could work.

Rotation
Liriano
Baker
Duensing
Blackburn
Slowey or Gibson

Bullpen
Nathan
Neshek
Mijares
Crain
Burnett
Slama
Delaney

Bottom line, in my opinion, the Twins won't do much this off-season.

AL D said...

Classic reply Matt... Solid Fantasy Baseball take. Building a team isn't just about stats. It is about being able to be there when your teammates can't be. Cuddy, for all his shortcomings was hugely valuable for the 2009 and 2010 teams even though he probably was available in 35% of the leagues you were in. If you really have the take that team chemistry stuff is 'tired and old' then you have no idea what it means to be on a sports team... or have forgotten what it was like. Save that take for your fantasy baseball chat forums..

You are right about Duensing's post-season success... it hasn't been there. But it does show that the organization trusts him to be the guy on the hill every 5 days. He has a solid 2 seamer with late movement and he has been one of the few Twins starters to control the ball down in the zone for strikes and have enough movement on his 2 seam and off speed stuff to create problems out of the zone.
Derek Lowe's fastball is 85-88 with erratic location and movement qualities that come and go. He is a pure National League pitcher at this point who would get beaten up pretty bad by most AL teams. Baker is a #2 starter for the Twins... has been for a few years. He definitely struggled at times this year I get that but he is a guy with a career sub 1.29 WHIP and when on his game is a reliable sub 1.19 WHIP guy and has been for nearly 4 years. The Twins have done pretty well over the last 4 years with Baker as their #2. Pavano became the Twins' #2 (sometimes #1) guy this year but Baker and Pavano are pretty similar in their approach. Baker is more of a fly ball pitcher but both attack the strike zone and when on can be very effective pitchers. As far as the 'Twins need more pitching' take, the Twins have plenty of pitchers. They might not be the type of pitchers you want. None of them are Johan that is for sure. But I would say that Liriano has the stuff to become a #1 or at least close enough to a #1 to get by. Blackburn, Slowey, Gibson, Swarzak, Perkins, Manship & Mullins are the same guy; they attack the strike zone, get late movement on pitches and let their defense make outs for them. The Twins aren't into developing hard-throwing, limited control pitchers. They have found pretty solid success on the pitching formula they use and I don't see them changing that now.

The 25 man roster will be:
C Mauer
1B Morneau
2B Casilla
3B Valencia
SS Hardy
LF Delmon
CF Denard
RF Cuddyer
DH Kubel

Bench
- Butera
- Harris
- Repko (or a Repko type 4th OF)
- A Thome type... Lance Berkman makes sense too if the money isn't too high... at least it is an actual back-up for Morneau if needed - unlike Thome.
- Morales mike make some sense as the 13th offensive player on the 25... if we can get enough AB's for him. If not... Matt Tolbert or a discounted Nick Punto could work.

Rotation
Liriano
Baker
Duensing
Blackburn
Slowey or Gibson

Bullpen
Nathan
Neshek
Mijares
Crain
Burnett
Slama
Delaney

Bottom line, in my opinion, the Twins won't do much this off-season.

AL D said...

sorry for the double post...

AL D said...

Holy moly NICK N... I didn't even see the Melky Cabrera take. I hope you don't watch much Atlanta Braves baseball because if you really 1. Think Melky is a defensive upgrade over Kubel you are horribly mistaken & 2. You WANT Melky's bat in your line-up??? then that makes one person. Last year was clear proof that Melky will never have the bat speed that he projected to have nor the athletic ability to make up his shortcomings in other ways... throw in a mopey attitude and you have a guy who is in your head thanks to the great guys in the Yankees Marketing Department.

Matt said...

I agree with most of your points, Al.
I don't play any fantasy sports, though, I despise fantasy sports, for the record.
However, paying $10M for Cuddy is nuts, just nuts! If he were a free agent, we'd offer him a hometown discount type of deal and I think he'd even take it!
I like your non-stat based analysis as well, but outside of Liriano, including the bullpen, there wasn't much for strikeouts this year and a team needs that; some power pitching! Bullpen or starting, there has to be more.
The Giants built thre pitching from within; they obviously took chances on guys they felt could miss bats in the bigs, where the Twins draft guys that pitch to contact. It works against the Royals, but against the Yanks? Duensing didn't get a swing and miss all game long for the most part and he got hammered. I was very much against any kind of involvement with Derek Lowe, he's more of the same, only worse.

In summary, Cuddy is not valuable enough, clubhouse Gardy guy or not, to warrant that salary. He isn't a good right fielder, he flailed away at the plate all year, and he backed up 1st in a below average way.
Baker is far from a #2 on most teams. HE leaves the ball up and gets slammed, but the stat heads seem to think he's really good b/c he can miss some bats. He's been given plenty of chances to step up and be a top of rotation guy, but has failed time and time again, or he gets hurt. He's a number four, at best.

Guys on our softball team didn't always get along, but we still won. My ultimate team has the final tournament this weekend, and our best player is pretty much an a-hole, but some of us put up with him because at 6'5", he's pretty much unstoppable.

The reason why I've disagreed with you is because the status quo isn't getting it done. The Twins have a nice core of players, but some changes simply must be made to go beyond being competitive in the central. I'm not suggesting anything as drastic as Ed (although I'd love to have Grienke), but to think the same team will produce different results seems like empty fodder to me.

AL D said...

You are very right about the $$$ issue for Cuddy. I saw an analysis of value that put Cuddyer at about $4M. That seems a bit closer to what it should be. It was a great move by Cuddy's agent to put a clause in his contract that the Twins had to exercise his 2011 option within 10 days of the 2009 World Series. That was something they should have never agreed to... and if they wouldn't have, Cuddy would be a free agent and available at probably half off... ... now, I still wouldn't trade him for Lowe. ;) Lowe and Prado... YES!

Dr. Truth said...

Yo Al, for all the yelling your doing your roster is a slight downgrade from a team who got swept in the 1st round of the playoffs for the 2nd yr in a row. I hope it wasnt your intention to actually improve the roster, or offer up a legit playoff contender because it sure seems like you are happy with competing only in the division yet again. are you really bill smith, be honest. actually maybe you'r gardy, with all the weird cuddy/baker love. and you slipped in puntos name again, brilliant. yeah Al = gardy.

AL D said...

MATT - FYI, this is a classic... I have to give you a shout out on Twitter -
"Guys on our softball team didn't always get along, but we still won."
http://twitter.com/Al_Damlo

AL D said...

Didn't know I was yelling Dr. Truth... I will keep it down. Go back to your world where unicorns exist, there is a Santa & the Twins make BIG off-season moves. Keep those Grienke for 4 mediocre prospect posts coming too... I am sure the Royals are drooling over such offers.

The Twins are a pretty dang good team that had very little chance to win in 2010 without Morneau. If he is back & actually plays a full season the 2011 Twins team is pretty scary. The team I posted is much much better overall team. The players haven't changed but you have a team that now has actual veteran bats in the lineup (Except Casilla and Valencia). You have a rotation that has been through a MLB season a few times and has tasted the post-season a few times now too. That experience is invaluable. I expect the Twins will be in contention for a World Series title again too.

Ed Bast said...

"The Twins are a pretty dang good team that had very little chance to win in 2010 without Morneau." The Twins were hovering around .500 with him. Best record in the league without him. With Morneau in the lineup, Thome doesn't have a monster 2nd half. Blah blah blah. This is a "unicorns" and "happy little engine that could," "aw shucks we're just the lil ol Twins, at least we tried" excuse. The Giants have no one resembling Morneau in their lineup and did just fine.

If you insist on making excuses for the team, fine, just understand you'll be making excuses every year until there aren't any playoffs to excuse and you start talking about "rebuilding".

AL D said...

ED, are you talking about the same 94 win team I am? I am talking about the Minnesota Twins... maybe that is where the confusion lies.

I don't need to make any excuse for any team that wins 94 games. Nor a franchise that has won 6 Division Championships in 9 years. I want them to win just as badly as any other Twins fan but some of the stuff I am reading just doesn't make any sense.

It is really easy to say - 'Go get Grienke', 'Sign Cliff Lee', 'Sign Beltre', etc. but what the Twins just don't operate that way... never have.

The Twins still have one of the youngest teams in baseball and their lineup has thousands of MLB at bats.

Tom Kelly used to say a hitter isn't a MLB hitter until he has over 2000 MLB at bats. We now have a lineup that is full of those guys... you couldn't say that the last 4 years. Why blow it up now and risk stunting a players growth at a time when it should be growing exponentially instead of incrementally? And on top of that paying excessive amounts to do it? It just doesn't make any sense.

Ed Bast said...

"ED, are you talking about the same 94 win team I am?"

Yep, we're talking about the same 12-straight-postseason-loss team.

Fun fact: During Gardy's tenure, every AL team except Seattle, Baltimore, Toronto, and KC have won more playoff games than the Twins. What those teams accomplished in 0 playoff trips, we accomplished in 6.

"I don't need to make any excuse for any team that wins 94 games."

You did, though. You said they had very little chance to win without Morneau. They lost yet again in the playoffs, and you are neatly attributing this to the injury of 1 player. That's an excuse.

AL D said...

Fair enough... but I put my thoughts on the 2011 team with the point that 'If Morneau actually stays healthy'. That wasn't the case in the 2009 or 2010 playoffs. I don't think the Twins will succeed in the playoffs without a healthy Mauer or Morneau. If they are healthy my thought is the team will again contend.

FYI:
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20101105&content_id=16008174&vkey=news_min&c_id=min&partnerId=rss_min

Ed Bast said...

I hear ya Al. I think the playoff losses are pretty inexplicable - it's more than just Morneau's health (I will point out that the M&M boys were both healthy for the '06 sweep). But of course, it would be great if everyone was healthy.

Matt said...

Yeah, not on twitter.
Combine that with no fantasy teams, and I pretty much live in 1990, not 2010.

I'm somewhere between you and Ed, Al. You brought up an interesting point on the 2000 ABs. Everyone is so high on Valencia, let's wait and toke up after 2000 or so ABs (I tend to think 1000 is a good start to evaluate a player). It wouldn't surprise me at all if he fails to produce and the Twins are forced to scramble at 3B. For the love of your chosen diety, PLEASE don't let Cuddy play 3rd again!

AL D said...

No doubt... honestly... don't let Cuddy play anywhere but RF... his infield range is sooo very limited and I really missed Morneau's pick on short hop throws to first. If the throw from an infielder was not right on the mark to Cuddy... it was going to be an error.

I will tell you what the Twins desperately need though... Joe Mauer to become the leader of that clubhouse. It is great to have Cuddy and Punto rah rah rahhing the club to Division Titles but until Joe gets it that he can't be 'AWE SHUCKS, JOE' inside the clubhouse, this team won't win. He can be AWE SHUCK JOE to us but not to the other 24 in the locker room. Great example of that is Kirby. What made him great was his talent... what made him a 2 time World Champion and Hall of Famer was his leadership quailities. He helped management get everything they could out of every player on those teams...

Josh said...

If we do ship off Cuddyer, maybe we could sign Jeff Francoeur to platoon with Jason Kubel in right field? As long as the Twins never let him bat against a right handed pitcher, he's still a decent hitter. And his defense, while not spectacular, is an improvement over Kubel's.

Jeff said...

I like signing Liriano. Injury concerns aside, I think his upside is potential.