Roster Realities: Free Agent Starting Pitching & The 2014 Twins Offense
by, 09-23-2013 at 01:24 PM (927 Views)
Starting Pitching in 2014 - even if the Twins signed 3 Clayton Kershaw's this off-season, they're not going to be able to compete. Way too many holes. We have 2...maybe 3 serviceable pitchers. Maybe a 4th if Scott Diamond/Andrew Albers proves he can pitch something other than in game BP (e.g. x< 4.00 ERA).
It may be interesting to note if we did actually come across 3 Clayton Kershaw's, with our offense (3.84 runs per 9 innings) - assuming a PERFECT bullpen (e.g. no Runs allowed after those ershaw's leave the game) - we'd only be 69-27 in the 96 games the three Kershaw's pitched [ESPN game log]. In case you were wondering how a very good Dodgers bullpen did in games after Kershaw left, 3-5. So the reality is we could similarly tack on a 9-15 mark. So after 120 games, we're 78-42. Not too bad. Oh wait, now we get our #4 & #5 starters a shot with our current offense.
Let's assume the same W/L% outside we have now outside of that 3-headed Kershaw, that is .419 W%. For those final 42 games at that rate gives the Twins would yield another 17 Wins. So we'd only have 95 Wins WITH THREE Clayton Kershaw's. That's a borderline Division Champ/WildCard spot. Tigers are 91-65 with 6 games to go. I will grant you the fact that we'd be heavy favorites to win the World Series and Playoffs with that sort of 3-Pitcher Staff. That's the reality we have to consider concerning 'spending' a lot on pitching this upcoming off-season. This is not a band-aid fix type of problem.
We don't need to get tied up into long term contracts that hurt the team. Find the Francisco Liriano's of 2013 ($1M salary, with a team option). Hopefully find a serviceable rate on someone like a Roy Halladay who can add perspective and poise to the players we do have. Make it a point to get the Alex Meyer and Trevor May and any other solid prospects of the AA and AAA teams that are on the 40-man roster around that Roy Halladay like player. Halladay, conincidently, at 6'6" could easily speak to the command issues that Alex Meyer is having at 6'9". And because Trevor May will be entering his 2nd season on the 40-man roster, he is likely to appear on the Twins roster at some point in 2014.
But then the offense needs a marked improvement, read development versus 'buy now' types. We're not a Chili Davis and a Jack Morris away from competing in 2014.
Let's hope Josh Willingham hits like mad a la 2012 and provides a trade chip come end of July 2014. The Twins will likely weigh the trade value vs letting him walk as as a Free Agent (Draft Pick Compensation). They will also consider where they Twins are developmental wise as far as competing - Minor Leaguer would have 1-2 years ahead development wise on a Draft Pick.
Aaron Hicks will be given every shot possible to stick in CF. If he's struggling (hitting less than .260) I still can't see them giving up on him as penciled in the everyday lineup til at least end of June.
Oswaldo Arcia will hopefully be healthy, and thus, back to what we likely saw in his April-June numbers. Those numbers projected (540 AB, 20 HR, 80 RBI, .284/.348/.469). I think he'll do better than those numbers as his SLG% is better in August & September.
No Twins news can be complete without a mention of all-world prospect Byron Buxton, but that said, it's important to remember that even if Buxton is on the "Mike Trout express" to the big leagues would still be 1 year and 1.5 months away. Both had their 'breakout' years at Cedar Rapids, Trout in 2010, Buxton this past year. Trout came out in a major way in 2012 (last year). So the aggressive scenario for Buxton, if he could actually be ahead of the Trout schedule, would be to slide into the Twins outfield in August post a Josh Willingham trade.
The Twins could find out if Brian Dozier can play SS again. If so, I think Eddie Rosario could do at least as good a job hitting at 2B as Pedro Florimon and Trevor Plouffe did in 2013.
However, the Twins are likely to give every chance to Danny Santana to be the Twins everyday SS despite never having been higher than Double-A ball (New Britian).He already has one season (2013, having already spent 5 years in the Twins system) on the 40-man roster. So in affect, the Twins have 2014 and 2015 to decide if he's worth keeping.
Third base is pretty much just a holding spot until Miguel Sano is ready. Sano only has 4 years of minor league service, so he doesn't have to be added to the 40 man roster even in 2014. So the Twins will not rush him to the bigs while compromising service time. Trevor Plouffe is the default money saving option. They won't sign anyone who would potentially take away developmental playing time from Miguel Sano.
First base is somewhat dependent upon how the Twins' front office views the audition for the catcher spot by Josmil Pinto. If they feel he can catch at least 80+ games, then Joe Mauer might see a good chunk of the action at 1B. So far he's hit a ton, thrown out 44% of aspiring base stealers, and had at serviceable marks as a receiver. A real possibility is the return Justin Morneau, however, I'm not sure what that cost will be or if there's a mutual interest on the front office's part. Can Morneau get back to pre-2010 form? If the answer is yes, he doesn't provide enough pop to be considered as part of the equation for first base.