Friday, October 29, 2010

Opening Day 2011

OK, let’s put our little plan into action and see what our 2011 Twins look like:

Starting pitching:
1. Liriano ($4 million)
2. Pavano ($8 million)
3. Duensing (min)
4. Slowey ($1.5 million)
5. Gibson/Bromberg (min)

In this scenario, the Twins sign Liriano to a 3-4 year deal this offseason and officially install him as the ace of the staff.  We trade both Baker and Blackburn for prospects and use the savings to re-sign Pavano to a 3 year $25 million deal to give us a solid 1-2 punch for the foreseeable future.  Duensing has clearly earned a permanent place in the starting rotation after two solid seasons in the majors.  Slowey gets another year to find his groove and either Kyle Gibson or David Bromberg get their chance to win the final rotation spot out of spring training.  If neither top prospect seizes the opportunity, there are others in the organization that could step up to fill the role early in the year.

LF: Span ($1 million)
CF: Coco Crisp ($5 million)
RF: Young ($6 million)
DH/OF: Kubel ($5.25 million)

This assumes that Michael Cuddyer is traded and that Oakland decides not to pick up Crisp’s option for next year.  Crisp could be signed to a 1-2 year deal giving the Twins an above average defensive CF (UZR of 8.0 in 2010) without sacrificing much at the plate. (Cuddyer: .270/.342/.450 in 10 seasons / Crisp: .277/.332/.410 in 9 seasons)

Span could be moved back to left field, where he posted a 6.2 UZR in 2009, and Delmon could shift to RF, where he posted a respectable UZR of 3.5 with the Rays in 2007.   These moves would, in my opinion, improve our defense considerably and trim about $5 million from the OF payroll.  In addition, Crisp, normally a leadoff hitter, could provide a decent option in the #2 spot behind Span. He would also serve as a solid bridge to one of the organization’s young CF prospects (Aaron Hicks, Joe Benson, Angel Morales).  Looking to the future, if two of these prospects approach their potential, Delmon Young becomes a valuable luxury, and could be traded when his value is high. 

C: Mauer ($23 million)
1B: Morneau ($15 million)
2B: Casilla (~$1 million)
SS: Hardy ($7 million)
3B: Valencia (min)

While I didn’t point out the infield as a major area of focus, there are certainly tough decisions to be made here as well.  A Hudson/Hardy double play combination looked pretty good going into the year, and in 2011 both could be gone. The hope was that the pair could stabilize the middle infield for the Twins while adding a solid #2 batter (Hudson) and a power hitting shortstop (Hardy) to an already dangerous lineup.  Hudson delivered for the most part, though he only played in 126 games this year, and fought injuries even when he was in the lineup.  Hardy had a tough year, as he failed to bounce back from a tough 2009 in large part due to injuries that limited him to only 101 games.  I would be comfortable filling one of the two roles from within, while re-signing the other.  Since I’m not ready to give up on Hardy just yet, I would hold onto him and fill second base with a still intriguing Alexi Casilla.  We certainly have enough utility infielders for spot starts and filler. 

Nathan ($11.5 million)
Capps ($7 million)
Crain ($5 million)
Mijares ($.6 million)
Perkins ($.7 million)
BP: (min)
BP: (min)

A lot has been made about the bullpen.  There is no doubt that it has been a luxury the past couple of years, and that some important decisions must be made.  The team must decide whether to bring back Capps, Crain, Guerier, Fuentes, Rauch, and Flores (only kidding).  The cost of keeping both Nathan and Capps is the biggest problem.  Because of the nature of his injury, there is no way we can trade Nathan’s salary, even if we wanted to.  Capps is a decent insurance policy, but is far too expensive for what he gives us, especially if he’s not closing games.  Personally, I never liked the Capps trade, mostly because I felt giving up Ramos was too high a price.  Bill Smith has stated on multiple occasions that he never would have made the deal if it was for a ½ season rental.  That’s all fine and dandy, but I don’t like having to justify a bad trade by overpaying for a middle of the road setup guy / closer.  The best case scenario is that Nathan steps back into the closer’s spot, we re-sign Crain to join Capps and Mijares, and get some significant help from the farm system.  This could include some combination of Perkins, Slama, Delaney, Waldrop, Burnett, Gutierrez, and maybe Billy Bullock at various points during the season. It also means saying farewell to solid guys like Guerier, Rauch and Fuentes (oh, and Flores too). 

Bench: Who does that leave sitting on the pine for the 2011 Twins? 
DH/PH: Thome ($3 million)
IF: Punto ($1.5 million)
IF: Tolbert (min)
OF: Revere (min)
PH: “utility batter”

If we go with a 12 man pitching staff, the bench doesn’t look much different, assuming that we re-sign Thome.  Maybe I’m giving him too much credit, but I honestly feel that he would accept less money to finish his career in Minnesota.  I would be in favor of going with only 11 pitchers if we can sign a decent bench player who can pinch hit, and somewhat resemble a MLB defender.  I’d also be in favor of re-signing Punto, mainly because we should be able to sign him at a reasonable price, and because I just can’t picture him wearing another uniform (kind of like Denny Hocking).   

SP: $13.5 million
BP: $26 million
OF/DH: $17.25 million
IF: $46 million
Bench: $4.5 million
Total: ~$107 million

If we believe that the Twins can afford to raise the payroll a bit this year, we’re left with around $10-13 million to pay minimum salaries and sign a veteran player or two.  After 2011, Nathan’s salary comes off the books, the pressure to keep Capps goes away, and Thome likely retires, leaving some additional funds to sign replacement players. 

1 comment:

  1. Just to warn you, your bench is lacking a backup catcher.

    This looks pretty good, although I'd think that the Twins would make at least one addition from outside the organization.


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