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Pretenders or Contenders?

Posted by mike8791 , 28 August 2018 · 800 views

Thought I might add my two cents as to what is needed in the offseason to vault the Twins into playoff contention. It should be clear by now that there are simply too many holes on this current group to seriously believe they would be strong contenders next year without significant additions(we'll leave the Manager position to others for now).

Here are my top three priorities for the FO to consider in the off season:

1. A #1 Starter

-Yes, I know the starting rotation has been one of the stronger points of the team this year, which tells you all you need to know about the quality of the roster. While Berrios has taken a step forward, he simply is not the stopper you're looking for. Perhaps he'll develop into one but for now he is far too erratic to be counted on in big game situations,e.g., starting a playoff series. I've seen him against a full house here in Wrigley Field - he was awful! He has also been spotty against other top teams especially in the second half of the season. Gibson/Odorizzi are possibly adequate #3/#4 starters but again, on a playoff team, they have to rev it up a notch to give this team a more competitive rotation. While Romero gave us cause for optimism early, he simply was unable to sustain his run for long periods, either in the AL or AAA, and thus, while a favorite for next year's staff, is hardly a sure thing.

-So easy to say we need a #1 starter but how to add one is a much more difficult proposition. First, Free Agency has to be viewed as far-fetched. Maybe a couple of big names available but what are the chances the Twins would land one of the few? Much better chance of trading for one, say Baumgartner, de Grom, Snydergaard, or Snell. It will be difficult, no doubt, but if the FO feels this team should be ready to compete in 2019, they must use their newly found minor league depth to trade for one. No, Gordon or Gonzales is not going to do it, but Rooker, Romero and one or two of our better single A players might get it done. The point is: the FO must be bold and sacrifice some of this accumulated minor league depth to roll the dice to get a #1 starter. Unlike Ryan, who could never bring himself to give up his prized prospects, I think Falvey is made of sterner stuff and will seize the opportunity(at least he should!).

2. A cleanup hitter - one good for 30-40HRs/100+ rbis. Counting on Sano to fill this position is a fool's errand at this point. If he regains his batting touch, great, but to count on such a recovery would doom us to a repeat of 2018. Just as hoping one of Rosario, Kepler, Austin, Cave will step up and fill the big bopper role is a sure bet to wreck contending chances for next year. Finding a free agent cleanup hitter in the AL is made easier with the DH and the cost would not be nearly as prohibitive as finding a #1 starter. There must be some veterans who will be available at a reasonable cost who can fill the DH/1B position and provide far more punch than our 2018 "cleanup" hitters have done.

3. A true Closer. Our bullpen is a mess right now and to count on any reliever on the current roster to fill the closer role, not to mention the 7th or 8th inning roles, would represent a clear dereliction of duties. But a true closer, not 41 year old, must be added. The Twins will have plenty of money to go out and buy a legitimate closer without another dumpster dive. A second top reliever should also be signed, thereby relieving the pressure on those lower down on the totem pole, e.g., Rodgers, Hildenberg and May - who all belong on a major league roster so long as they are not relied upon for late inning work. The rest of the current bullpen is highly suspect, as are the farm's AAAA relievers. Let's just chalk up the previous FO's attempts to expend high draft choices on relievers as an abject failure and move on under the new regime.

All of these moves can and should be done. All it takes is money, courage and persistence. This offseason is the ultimate test for Falvey and Company. Their end of July dump was a very good start but it must be continued in the offseason, starting with Mauer, Santana, Morrison, Belisle, Grossman, and even next spring, Buxton and Sano if they haven't turned things around yet. Canning Molitor would be icing on the cake, but that can await next year's early season performance, assuming the FO has made the recommended moves.

If the new FO is capable of building a championship, this offseason will be critical. The old regime's mistakes must now be recognized and moved away from. No more free rides!!

  • iremember91 and 3balls2strikes like this



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iremember91
Aug 28 2018 05:31 PM

 I absolutely agree with your article!Yes, a number one starter, and I agree FA is not the way.Do not go near a 4 year $100 mill. contract for anyone without a perfect bill of health, ever. I've been sizing up other teams rotations and bullpens this past few days, might be better to go after two number 2 or 3 starters, and I don't mean cast-offs, legitimate 2 or 3 starters, and the market may have caved last off season, so I wouldn't go past 3 years, 15 mill for anyone. 

 Right now there is a potential 2 (Berrios), an over achieving but very important 3 (Gibson) and an underachieving 4 (Odorizzi).That's the rotation I see going into 19.

 Same with the bullpen.You are right, no closer.I count Hildengerger, Taylor, Reed (a major disappointment) and May going into 19.They need to be careful with May too, keep the innings down while he heals and he can certainly be an asset.

 For the every day line-up: Rosario in Left, keep Kepler in cf the rest of the year and let him and Buxton (and a prayer) fight it out for cf in spring training 19, the loser can possibly be the 4th OF.Find someone with punch for RF.Spend $$$ here, but not crazy $$$ (2 years 20 mill, 3 yrs 25 mil).

 The infield is a whole other story.Not because I'm a huge fan but sign Mauer for a 10 mill one year, 12 mill. at 2 years if he insists.Only for fan appreciation, he won't achieve most of it but he will get on base at a good clip and his defense is acceptable.Move Polanco to second, find a glove shortstop if possible but give up some D for power/rbi's/obp (his name is Escobar!).Ah 3b, Sano's until spring training 19, either he gets it or the search goes on (I suggest the FO start asking about possible replacements ASAP so a fall back plan is available.

 Keep an eye on catcher too.Castro good D but coming off injury, push Garver to take the job in 20, I like his bat.

 With the players I mentioned they have a payroll close to 60 mill next year (only the players I have coming back, 17 warm bodies). 

 25 mill for the rotation, 15 for the closer (1 year), 15 mill for a rf/dh with pop, give Escobar 12 mill a year to play SS.That's 127 mill for 2019 with my Monopoly money, less than the current 18 cast and castaways are getting.

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iremember91
Aug 28 2018 05:53 PM

One added comment.The division is winnable by 20.Tigrs and Royals going nowhere next 2 years.Watch out for Chicago, these runs cycle and Cleveland is the 19 favorite but at their $$$ level, a 2020 downturn likely, probably back to 81 to 85 wins in 2020, maybe 19.

Appreciate your comments.Here are a few more of my own:

 

1.Agree that 2020 looks like better chance to compete vs. Cleveland than 2019, primarily because their big three of of Kluber, Carrasco and Bauer are clearly superior to our top three, even should we acquire an ace this offseason.However, the FO would be making a mistake by conceding 19 to Cleveland.Just as 18 provided some major disappointments, with the right additions, 19 could prove better than it looks now by some marked improvements in the core(I'm looking at you - Sano, Buxton and Kepler) plus the additions mentioned above.To not make significant additions this offseason would be a dereliction of duties to both the fan base and the team.At the very least the FO must start narrowing the considerable gap that is so apparent, even if they fall a bit short in 19.

2. Have to disagree on keeping Mauer.His ceiling is pretty well established and it is not nearly sufficient for a power position.The FO cannot be bothered by adverse fan rx if they are going to build this team back to contention.It didn't stop them from trading Dozier and Escobar - why should it with Mauer?

3. We both agree that FA is by no means the complete answer to contention.But nor should we fall in love with our prized prospects if the right trade opportunities arise.This means all but Lewis and Kiriloff be on the trade table and for a clear #1 like DeGrom who is young and controllable, yes, I would put one of these two in a trade package.That is how valuable a stopper is to a team seeking to go deep into the playoffs.Falvey must pull the trigger if such an opportunity presents itself; otherwise, his "success" will be little different from TR's.