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  • Kubel, Doumit and Designating a DH

    The more I think about the swap that the Twins have made at the designated hitter position, the more I like it. By signing Jason Kubel to a non-guaranteed, incentive-laden contract and trading away Ryan Doumit's guaranteed $3.5 million salary, they have made a sound financial decision that could pay dividends on the field.

    But in doing so, they're also committing to a plan at the DH position that is shaky at best. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.

    While Kubel has never been able to replicate the offensive dominance he displayed in 2009, his career year, he has generally been a decent hitter since, with numbers that closely mirror Doumit's:

    Doumit (32), last four seasons: .264/.326/.429, 53 HR
    Kubel (31), last four seasons: .250/.322/.435, 68 HR

    Ostensibly Doumit gains an advantage because he is a switch-hitter and can serve as a backup catcher, but Kubel is younger and has shown the greater power potential. Besides, Doumit's ability to competently serve as a part-time catcher was in doubt even before this year's concussion issues further clouded matters.

    Both players are coming off down seasons at the plate, but Kubel's was unequivocally much worse. Therein lies the greatest concern. He batted .216/.293/.317 in stints with the Diamondbacks and Indians, and looked especially bad late in the year. His ability to make contact has rapidly deteriorated as he's aged:

    Year | K %
    -----------------------------
    2009 | 18%
    2010 | 20%
    2011 | 21%
    2012 | 26%
    2013 | 32%

    Kubel has proven to be a very good hitter at times, but he's an iffy gamble at this point, which is why the Twins have hedged their bets in his contract. He'll earn a guaranteed $2 million by joining the club out of spring training, and can add an additional $1 million through very reachable incentives. That means he stands to make $3 million -- virtually identical to Doumit's 2014 salary.

    This substitution wasn't about saving money. It was about mitigating risk and adding some intriguing upside to the DH mix.

    Clearly the Twins have given Kubel a strong indication he'll make the team -- he reportedly may have passed up a major-league deal to sign here -- but his contract is non-guaranteed for a reason. With his awful recent play and his ascending K-rates, it's difficult to have faith in a major turnaround.

    So what happens then? Well, even if Kubel is on the roster, he'll be sharing time at DH with a group of questionable fielders that could include Josh Willingham, Trevor Plouffe, Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Parmelee, Chris Colabello and others. If Kubel doesn't shake out, those guys would be in line for more starts at DH, potentially improving the defense by keeping them off the field.

    Of course, in that scenario, the Twins need to have backups who can not only provide a defensive upgrade but also hit enough to warrant semi-regular playing time.

    Unless they're sold on the likes of Darin Mastroianni, Alex Presley, Eduardo Escobar and Danny Santana as players who can hold their own in somewhat prominent roles, the Twins should be scouring for backups and utility types who can offer some offensive value.

    But to even consider surrendering the money (and draft pick) that would be required to land a high-caliber bat like Kendrys Morales or Nelson Cruz would be silly. There's a sensible plan in place to start the season and if it doesn't work out players who can hit but have no defensive position are easy enough to find on the trade market or even the waiver wire.
    This article was originally published in blog: Kubel, Doumit and Designating a DH started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 22 Comments
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      I read somewhere when the deal was signed that Kubel was confident he would make the roster. I think the Twins had something worked out with him to sign a minor league deal keeping him off the 40 man roster to give them time to make moves. Kubel should also be a better corner outfielder than Doumit. Rotating Willingham, Kubel, and Arcia between the corners and DH spots.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      I know draft picks are valuable especially the first round draft picks but if you can get a serious upgrade for your team and you have the money to do it we should. If we signed Cruz and Drew we would probably be contenders next year if not in 2015 when the last 2 offensive holes get filled by Buxton and Sano.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Kubel expects to make this team, but do not think that is a sure thing. If he makes the team Parmelee is gone. You need to give at bats to Arcia and hopefully Willingham at DH. Anyother plan makes no sense.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      I always thought Kubel was at least an average fielder as well; better than Doumit in the OF at least, and Willingham as well.
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      Money should be the least of the Twins concern. At the moment, the Twins are at least 20 million under their 50% of revenue. In the last 20 years, only five 2nd round picks have made it to opening day rosters. Slowey, Swarzak, Baker, Crain, Jones
      Are these good enough reasons to block improvements to the Twins lineup?
    1. ND-Fan's Avatar
      ND-Fan -
      I think Kubel's numbers are going to go up returning to American league in the designated hitter roll. With Kubel national league to get his at bats he had to play everyday and with poor knee I believe it took a toll on his batting. He can play outfield but is below average although much better than Doumit can play outfield. He's one of few left hand bats that has hit for power in Target field. I think this is much up grade for Twins and it appears he's left Ryan time to adjust his 40 man roster before spring training.
    1. ltwedt's Avatar
      ltwedt -
      Twins next move should be to move Willingham; then make the decision that your DH is going to be Colobello/Kubel. That being done - task #2 should be to sign Cruz - now you have room for him in the everyday lineup. Outfield would be Arcia-Hicks-Cruz. Now you can dump Mastro and Parms - keep Kepler and Pressley. Bat Hicks 7th, - Nice power potential in the outfield.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Unless they're sold on the likes of Darin Mastroianni, Alex Presley, Eduardo Escobar and Danny Santana as players who can hold their own in somewhat prominent roles, the Twins should be scouring for backups and utility types who can offer some offensive value.

      Just as an addendum, to that end, it sounds like the Twins have some interest in Justin Turner, who would fit the bill pretty nicely.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      I like the Kubel signing and the moving of Doumit. If Kubel hits, great, if not. I'm still happy with the risk/reward and the moving of Doumit. The Twins are trying to move Colabello too, which is more for the roster spot/playing time rather than his cost (x<$590k) to the team.



      Cruz and Drew are not good investments of WAR to value to players we already have. $13-$14M per season for 1 more WIN at SS (Drew 3.1, Florimon 2.1) and Cruz is one more suspension away from being suspended for an entire season. He's also only played more than 128 games once in 8 seasons. He's also a defensive liability in the OF, even cost the Rangers a World Series.

      Cruz
      2009 - 128g 33HR 2.6 Def (Fangraphs) 3.0 WAR
      2010 - 108g 22HR 5.3 Def 4.9 WAR
      2011 - 124g 29HR -12.2 Def 1.3 WAR
      2012 - 159g 24HR -11.2 Def 1.1 WAR
      2013 - 109g 27HR - 9.7 Def 1.5 WAR

      Honestly, if Josh Willingham is healthy, he's going to give you about equal production at half ($7M) the cost, without any sort of commitment beyond 2014.

      Willingham
      2008 - 102g 15HR 3.4 Def (Fangraphs) 2.7 WAR
      2009 - 133g 24HR -10.2 Def (Fangraphs) 2.4 WAR
      2010 - 114g 16HR - 7.1 Def 2.6 WAR
      2011 - 136g 29HR -12.8 Def 1.8 WAR
      2012 - 145g 33HR -17.0 Def 3.6 WAR
      2013 - 111g 14HR -13.2 Def 0.0 WAR


      Next Summer's SS Free Agent Class includes:
      Asdrubal Cabrera (29)
      J.J. Hardy (32)
      Jed Lowrie (31)
      Hanley Ramirez (31)

      I'd rather pay any of them the $10-14M per year that it would take have Drew under contract at least through 2014. Drew isn't a moron though, he'll look for a 3 year deal, as no telling if he'll be able to complete it with his injury history.

      I'd have no problem paying any of those 4 guys $14M per season, in 2015, when Buxton, Sano, Arcia, and Rosario are ready to contribute to a competitive team.

      The depth all across the board is better, from 3B to OF to SS to starting pitching.

      http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1...ee-agent-class

      Don't get into bad contracts that will hurt signing Free Agents in 2015, when the Twins will actually be looking to be competitive.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Yes, the Twins could use a utility guy like Turner who can play all four infield positions if push comes to shove thus making Parmalee useless. And you would probably still keep two of the Bartlett/Escobar/Florimon team.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Unless they're sold on the likes of Darin Mastroianni, Alex Presley, Eduardo Escobar and Danny Santana as players who can hold their own in somewhat prominent roles, the Twins should be scouring for backups and utility types who can offer some offensive value.

      Just as an addendum, to that end, it sounds like the Twins have some interest in Justin Turner, who would fit the bill pretty nicely.
      While Turner has a positive career War .09 he carries a neg.-1.7 in D-WAR, but this late in the game maybe the best bet for adding to the team
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Unless they're sold on the likes of Darin Mastroianni, Alex Presley, Eduardo Escobar and Danny Santana as players who can hold their own in somewhat prominent roles, the Twins should be scouring for backups and utility types who can offer some offensive value.

      Just as an addendum, to that end, it sounds like the Twins have some interest in Justin Turner, who would fit the bill pretty nicely.
      Of that list the only one I want on the roster at this point is Pressly, who I think is perfectly fine as a 4th OF.

      Turner would be a nice get, I would also try to get DeRosa out of retirement to provide UTIL and a bench bat.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Of that list the only one I want on the roster at this point is Pressly, who I think is perfectly fine as a 4th OF.

      Turner would be a nice get, I would also try to get DeRosa out of retirement to provide UTIL and a bench bat.
      Shocking.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Kubel qualifies as an Article XX(B) signing (a major league FA signing a minor league deal).

      If Kubel fails to make the major league roster out of spring training and accepts a Rochester assignment, he'll automatically be given a $100K "retention bonus" and be eligible for a 6/1 opt-out.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Thanks Jeremy. Good info.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Nick suggests the Twins have a sensible plan in place to start the season. I am not sure that the "plan" is in place, yet. They seem to be still looking around for some more help, if the interest in Davis was genuine. In any case, I am not sure what the plan is for Kubel. Is he to be the primary DH? Perhaps a platoon OF, or some complicated arrangement involving both corner positions and DH? Or maybe he is more of a hedge against the likiehood that both Arcia and Hicks may not be ready for the majors to start the season?

      Personally, I can't imagine that at this point of his career, Kubel would block full time playing time for Arcia or Hicks either for that matter, when the Twins decide they are ready for that. So I expect that there should be a move or two before ST starts and quite likely another move or so to begin the season, if the Twins decide to roll the dice and play both Arcia and Hicks full time right out of ST.

      The situation is complicated by the status of Plouffe, who is likely an outfielder when Sano arrives, if Plouffe shows he can hit enough to warrant a corner spot. I am not sure the Twins are quite ready to give up on Parmelee yet, either. He is clearly direct competition for whatever role Kubel might get.

      I appreciate the fact that the Twins don't want to be caught short in the outfield, and end playing the likes of Clete Thomas or the Rene Tosoni's of the AAAA world for extended periods. But, at this point I don't see a clear plan.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Honestly, I have to think the next stage is executing some trades. The roster is crowed right now, and other than a short stop, there really isn't a glaring position of need that won't be upgraded from the farm in the near future.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Kubel's injury history is not encouraging.

      Kubel was OPSing .928 through July 2012. On July 13, he pulled his (left) hamstring on against the Cubs, left the game. He OPSed .624 in August, Sept and October.

      In spring 2013 his left knee - the one he tore up in 2004, was bothering him again. He had it drained twice. And in compensating for the knee, he strained his left quad.

      http://arizona.sbnation.com/arizona-...ntasy-baseball
      “I think what really might have (hurt) was that I got into a lot of bad habits in the spring because of my knee,” Kubel said, “so I was swinging different. And then in the last month or so I’ve been working on it pretty hard and finally got back to using the legs, and I think that kind of flared it up again.”
      I still like Kubel's ability to produce when healthy, he's only 31. But realistically, any production out of him next year should be considered a bonus. He had all winter 2012-2013 to heal and still came into ST and his knee was bothering him. Its been and will continue to be a chronic problem. Jason Kubel is "injury prone."
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Willingham as DH is better, with a real OF in the field, given the pitching staff. I don't get how that isn't clearly the plan.....As for money.....the obsession with "bad" vs "good" contracts continues to baffle me.....as long as they have tens of millions sitting around, there is no bad contract other than 1 that incents them to block a good young player (like, you know, Pelfrey....).
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      there is no bad contract other than 1 that incents them to block a good young player (like, you know, Pelfrey....).
      I understand not being a fan of the Pelfrey contract but Pelfrey is blocking no one. There is still one rotation spot up for grabs and sooner rather than later, a second will open up from injury.
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