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  • Why Not? Here's my Blueprint

    I’ve never told anyone this story…

    Mostly because I just made it up...

    And also because if I didn’t make it up, you still wouldn’t believe it…


    I had never been more excited to attend a baseball game than I was to attend Game 1 of the 2010 American League Division Series against the Yankees. It was the first playoff game to ever happen at Target Field and my seats were great.

    I remember that funny feeling – nothing like Game 163 – when things were happening, either good or bad, and the crowd just seemed disinterested. It was really weird… and part of me figured it was a lot of people that were there because it was the first playoff game, not because they really wanted to be there. Corporate big-wigs sitting in their over-priced padded seats for the first time since April, probably.

    As I took the walk back to my car, knowing that a three-game sweep was inevitable, I noticed a glimmer in the parking ramp stairwell. It was a lamp. Not a lamp that the Amish use to guide their buggies around my neighborhood; no, it was a lamp that looked a lot like the one in Aladdin.

    So I picked it up and rubbed it.

    And sure enough, out came a genie. It wasn’t the blue genie that you’re all picturing. It wasn’t like that at all. The genie was darker, pudgier and had a funny eye. “Holy smokes! You’re Kirby Puckett!” I was sure of it.

    The genie replied that he wasn’t, he was just a genie… but he talked real fast and laughed real deep and we both knew: he was Kirby Puckett.

    He told me he was going to grant me three wishes, but he needed to warn me: No matter what I wished for, the next three seasons were going end with 90 or more losses.

    I immediately realized that prolonged losing might mean trading away Joe Mauer. So without thinking, I used my first wish. “I wish for Joe Mauer to spend his entire career with the Twins.”

    Kirby the Genie shook his head, “Alright.”

    I thought more about the upcoming seasons. How hard was it going to be to make it through the next three years? “I wish that the Twins will have a Top 3 farm system going into 2014.”

    I knew that couldn’t happen overnight and, even with three great drafts that alone wouldn’t lead to a contending team in 2014. So I used wish number three.

    “I wish the Twins would have the space and the willingness to spend big when they get back to the point where they can compete.”

    Kirby winked, laughed and told me he’d grant my wishes. And with that, he was gone.

    Well, here we are. We’ve suffered through the three straight losing seasons. We’ve got Baby Jesus for life. We’ve got a Top 3 if not the Top 1 farm system. And we’ve got the means to spend now, adding pieces for 2014, but keeping our eyes on 2015 and 2016.

    I’m going to make five moves this offseason:

    1) Sign Phil Hughes. While he’s not the #1 fans are hoping for (who is?), leaving Yankee Stadium and coming to Target Field is going to steer his career down a whole different path. Plus, he’s on the right side of 30. I’ll give him 3 years and up to $33 million. I’m going to give him $3 million just for signing, $9 million per year and have a buyout of $3 million on a fourth year at $13 million. I agree, it’s excessive… but it’s a willingness to spend, just like I wished.

    2) Trade for Chad Billingsley. This is another move that comes with risk. Billingsley did, in fact, miss 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery and there is no guarantee that he’ll even be ready when April rolls around. Oh, and he is the final year of a 3-yr/$35 million contract. But here’s the deal: The Twins have shown interest in Billingsley before and, even though they’re strapped with cash, Billingsley is on the outside-looking-in when it comes to L.A.’s rotation. And the kicker, there is some belief the Dodgers weren’t happy when Billingsley decided to try the rehab and PRP therapy in lieu of surgery, which happened anyway. I’ll offer a mid-level prospect (Matt Summers, maybe?) and in return the Dodgers pick up $6 million of this year’s contract, that leaves the Twins paying the other $6 million and the last $1 million installment of the buyout. They also get the chance to pay him $11 million for 2015 or cut him loose. (That’s the $14 million minus the $3 million of the buyout that was paid already.) A risky move for 2014 that could potentially be a huge steal for 2015.

    3) Trade Oswaldo Arcia to the Rangers. With Nelson Cruz on his way out and David Murphy a free agent, there is a corner outfield spot available. The Rangers have also said they’ll explore moving Elvis Andrus or Ian Kinsler to make room for Jurickson Profar. If the Twins could package Arcia in a deal to get Andrus without giving up the farm, I’d do it… I just don’t see that happening. More likely, I see the Twins sending Arcia to the Rangers in exchange for a couple minor-league arms: RHP Luke Jackson, who would start in AA, and Victor Payano, a 6-6 lefty who was in high-A last year but is still very projectable. Jackson is a hard-thrower who misses bats but walks a bunch, too. There might have to be a little more going back to Texas, but that’s the price of business.

    So why trade Arcia, you wonder? Well, I’ll start the year with an outfield of Willingham-Presley-Parmelee/Doumit, which, admittedly, isn’t pretty. (Would it be that much prettier with Arcia out there?) But eventually Hicks comes back up and isn’t terrible. And after the All-Star break, Buxton comes up. I’d also move Eddie Rosario back to the OF and picture late 2014 with an outfield of Rosario-Buxton-Hicks.

    4) Sign A.J. Pierzynski. I want to let Pinto get some more AAA at-bats under his belt. I don’t know what it will cost to get A.J., but if I could get him for a year at $8 million, I could handle that.

    5) Get lucky on the scrap heap. I’m looking at you, Johan. Maybe it’s a $3 million, incentive-laiden deal with a team option of 2015. Even if Santana passes, there are a number of names that could be interesting as reclamation projects: Roberto Hernandez/Fausto Carmona, Ryan Vogelsong and Edinson Volquez are just a few names that could fit with small guarantees and big incentives.

    This puts the Opening Day payroll at a very manageable $92,805,000. It also puts the team in position to spend going into 2015 as well, with less than $37 million committed to Mauer, Perkins and Hughes, the only three guys under contract.
    This article was originally published in blog: Why Not? Here's my Blueprint started by Jeremy Nygaard
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. Trevor0333's Avatar
      Trevor0333 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      I can handle having my blueprint called lame. It got me to read the next 1200 words he wrote that only suggested playing Ryan Doumit at first (failed thought) and having Meyer back up a 78-inning year by being the Opening Day #2 starter.

      Good point on the innings pitched, that isnt counting the Arizona fall league innings or the rehab similated games etc innings either. Although that probably only amounts to another 20-30 innings pitched.
    1. Matt The Rat Williams's Avatar
      Matt The Rat Williams -
      First of all no matter what the Twins do they are not really going anywhere in the short term. With that being said I really like the idea of bringing in Hughes, but can't get on board with trading Arcia. He was one of the only reasons I paid attention to what is now the perpetual suckfest at Target Field. Instead of trading a promising slugger like Arcia, I say shop The Hammer around. I am sure there are several fringe contenders looking for a veteran slugger at an affordable price. Take what you can get for him and move on to what we all know is a full blown rebuild in Minneapolis even if management refuses to publicly acknowledge the obvious.

      When we inevitably hit the scrap heap in search of veteran pitchers with a pulse, Santana is the one everyone wants to see come home and recapture the magic. I also wouldn't mind taking a look at Barry Zito, Jeff Karstens ,Edinson Volquez, and/or Gavin Floyd. Karstens, Volquez, and Floyd are not done yet and are capable of reclaiming some of their past glory and I have always had a soft spot for that curveball of Zito's.

      Trying to put together a decent lineup with what's on the roster and the available bodies in the free agent market at Twins prices isn't going to be easy. I would make the obvious move and put Mauer at first. Doumit then becomes the catcher in the short term. I keep Florimon at short, keep Dozier around but bring in Mark Ellis or Brian Roberts to compete. Keep Plouffe at 3rd until Sano is ready to go. The outfield is Arcia, Hicks, and take a flyer on Grady Sizemore. You still have Presley and Mastroianni to fill the bench until Hicks can go. Whatever they do I do NOT want to see Parmelee out there. I don't get it. He SUCKS! Now I know the squad I put together isn't going anywhere, but honestly if anyone out there thinks the Twins are contenders for anything other than the cellar, they are out of their mind.

      Yes Jerm, this is your old buddy Matt the Rat Williams from BW. Now that I know you are an aspiring writer, I will be reading every article you got. Peace
    1. #24 Sano's Avatar
      #24 Sano -
      I feel like the only person who thinks we should pick up Ervin Santana and then add Phil Hughes. 2 guys that need a big ball park (target field). Hughes plays in a left handed loving ballpark and Santana plays in Kansas City, there ball park is decently sized but you still give up big flys. Get those guys out of those ball parks and bring them into pitcher friendly target field. Then later next off season pick up Max Scherzer and then you have a really good rotation.
      2014 vs. 2015 rotation
      Santana Scherzer
      Hughes Santana
      Deduno Hughes
      Corriea Deduno
      ??????? Meyer
      I think Worley, Diamond, and Hendriks have there last chance showing they can pitch in the bigs. I don't really want to give Kyle Gibson the spot right away I think he would have to earn it through spring training. I don't think any one was impressed with Gibson but he can prove that was just a bad rookie season if he has success in spring. Well I hope for the best, cannot wait till next spring.
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      Great story and blueprint. While I may not agree with all of it, I like that it went a little out of the box. Hadn't thought about Billingsley and the fact that he has an option year is key. Hughes could be very good in years 2 and 3 with that outfield.
    1. lee_the_twins_fan's Avatar
      lee_the_twins_fan -
      Good analysis. I am beginning to like signing Hughes. Two years seems reasonable, but maybe even three.

      IMO what the Twins need to do in the short term (for 2014):
      • Sign three bonafide starting pitchers. This is where the Twins should spend their offseason money. Hughes would be one, but Scott Kazmir, Josh Johnson and Hughes would make a great starting three. I'm not sure we could get all three, but think about this; If the Twins signed Hughes, it would add credibility to the belief they are turning the franchise around. Then you sign Johnson and Kazmir.

      • Trade Trevor Plouffe this offseason. Get a young A level starter in return. Plouffe is a disappointment to me offensively and defensively. Too many people seem willing to keep him until Sano is ready to take over at 3rd base.

      • Use Escobar and Santana at 3rd base until Sano is ready.

      • Give Colabello another shot. This guy can hit. I would make him our starting first baseman – tell him that this offseason, and tell him to get ready.

      • Use Willingham, Presley and Arcia as the main outfielders until Hicks can prove he is again ready to start. Then put him in center and let Presley be the fourth OF. Keep Mastroianni in reserve and Parmelee on the bench.

      • Keep the existing relief corps, except make Swarzak the fifth starter. Call up Edgar Iberra to add to the relief corps.

      • As for catcher, I'd keep Mauer and Pinto there, 50/50 each, with the other DHing and Doumit on the bench.

      • Keep Dozier and Florimon as the middle infielders, at least until Rosario is ready. Once Rosario is ready, I'd put Rosario at 2B, move Dozier to 3B and keep Florimon as a late-inning replacement.

      I am crazy, I know. But if the Twins could sign three really good pitchers, they could turn this thing around – even in 2014, which most people seem to have already written-off.

      As for Ervin and Johan, it might be nice, albeit a bit confusing, to have three Santanas on the same team (with Danny as well). I just don't see Ervin signing with the Twins. Johan might, but he's a long shot to make a strong contribution this season.
    1. lee_the_twins_fan's Avatar
      lee_the_twins_fan -
      Sorry - I meant move Dozier to SS, not to 3B.
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      Pitchers Kazmir (2/$24M), Hughes and Johnson on 1 yr deals for $9 and $8, respectively. Gibson is the #4 and Correia the #5. Correia doesn't have his usual quick start and is replaced mid-May by Deduno, who was in extended ST getting as healthy as possible. MMeyer is called up in June after a dominant ST and first two months at AAA. Deduno is booted to bullpen even though he had been pitching adequately. Deduno walks a lot of guys in his bullpen role and Gardy's head explodes.

      I would not spend money in FA this offseason. Except in this case:

      Plouffe, Colabello, Parmalee and FA signing Mark Reynolds (3B/1B/DH) all provide some versatility. The three best of these 4 earn the 3B, 1B and RF or possibly the DH job.

      Plouffe vs Reynolds for 3B. If Plouffe has a great spring and has turned a corner then great, as he is still a placeholder till Sano is ready. IF Reynolds does, he too is only a placeholder for Sano.

      Reynolds vs Colabello vs Parmalee for 1B. Let the best bat win. If Colabello and Parmalee come out on top, Colabello is the 1B and Parmalee the RF. If its Reynolds and Colabello, then Reynolds goes to DH and Willingham is the LF.
      C - Joe Mauer
      1B - Colabello wins the job
      2B - Dozier
      3B - Reynolds (provides a poor average but some RH power)
      SS - Florimon
      RF - Parmalee or Plouffe (platoon???)
      CF - Hicks (hopefully he can win the job in ST)
      LF - Arcia (too young to DH fulltime)
      DH - Willingham (rotation with Reynolds and Arcia)

      Ryan Doumit will strictly be the backup catcher and Mauer will DH more often, but not be forced to play 1B more than 15 games in 2014.

      SP - Kazmir gets the Opening Day nod
      SP - Johnson the #2
      SP - Gibson out performs Hughes and is the #3
      SP - Hughes
      SP - Correia (he implodes by mid-May)
      SP - Deduno (replaces Correia and performs ok)
      SP - Alex Meyer (replaces an "ok" Deduno and perfroms VERY WELL!)

      Bullpen? Who cares cuz our starters are cruising!!!
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      I can handle having my blueprint called lame. It got me to read the next 1200 words he wrote that only suggested playing Ryan Doumit at first (failed thought) and having Meyer back up a 78-inning year by being the Opening Day #2 starter.

      Like I said, mine is lame too.

      The problem is that the Twins management has not created many opportunities for themselves. Despite losing 95+ games for 3 consecutive seasons we really have not been in any type of rebuild mode. ANd the other part is just pure realism. IT is highly doubtful that the Twins are going to suddenly open up their pocketbook. Decades of history have set their course.

      I think you missed the fact that I project the Twins signing some low end free agent to play first. Doumit is only "penciled" in from what is on the roster now.

      And, in the case of Alex Meyer, again, if he is not ready now, when will he be ready? Seriously, Meyer will turn 24 in Jan 2014. When Frank Viola was 24 he pitched 257 innings, went 18-12, and had a 3.21 ERA. The fact is, even Frank Viola was not ready for the major leagues when he first came up. But, they let him develop even though that meant he got battered around a bit. Viola's first two seasons with the big league team he had an ERA above 5. But, he took his lumps and it paid off.

      THe point with Meyer is put him on the mound. Get him major league innings. Let him take his beatings and probably, like Viola, occasionally show glimpses of his upside. His ERA will probably be 5+, but we might as well get these development years out of the way NOW. He is already two years behind Viola in development which means Meyer will lose two years of his baseball prime.

      What does this team have to lose? The Twins world series core was brought up together in 1982 (including Viola) with several of these guys getting their first taste of big league action in 1981. Unfortunately for Twins fans, I think we are in the 1981 year and that will be another losing season. I believe 2015 will be equivalent to the 1982 season with most of our new rebuilding prospects making their full season MLB debut. That year could be another 95+ loss year but just like in 1982 it might be somewhat entertaining because we will be able to see what these guys are capable of.

      It is a long road back. It took the Twins 5 years to put together a team that could contend. But the sooner we get it started, the better.
    1. ND-Fan's Avatar
      ND-Fan -
      The Twins should also look hard at signing Stephen Drew from Red Sox if he becomes a free agent. He would immediately secure the middle of infield with Dozier or Rosario who's pushing on making it to major league level. He young enough to still be effective with young kids coming up in next few years and he wouldn't be blocking anyone because the twins prospects for SS are few years away. This would put strong up middle defense for Twins with Mauer at catcher, Dozier at 2, Drew at SS, and Hicks or /Buxton on verge making the Twins.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      I'm not going to disagree about Arcia, other than that, besides Jim Thome, LH hitters have come to Target Field to die. Would it be wrong to build a lineup that consisted of a RH power and LH slap? Probably a little...
      Which LHB have come to die at Target Field?
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
      Which LHB have come to die at Target Field?
      Kubel: 28 HRs in his last year at the Dome; 21 at his first at TF and 12 (in less ABs) in his second year at TF.

      Morneau: Obviously has worse power numbers because he, well, almost literally died.

      Mauer: 28 to 9 (I know... I know...)

      Span: 14 HRs in a year and a half at the Dome; 9 HRs in two and a half years at TF.

      That's all the left-handed hitters that played both at the Dome and at Target Field.

      Is there any left-handed batter that has done equally well or better at Target Field than he does at the other stadiums, besides Jim Thome?
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