A couple quick points, I also believe another pitcher is still coming on board, whether a smart trade for someone like Anderson provided it doesn't cost dearly, or another FA. Capuano anyone? The Twins have/had roughly $36-38M to spend this offseason; $23-25 after cuts and arbitration estimates, plus 52% of $25M in new TV money, or, $13M. The Twins have only spent $20 so far. Let's say the Anderson trade takes place, that's another $8M off the books. (Other trades or signing could affect these numbers a couple million either way, but this trade is do-able, reasonable, rumored, and probably smart even with some risk attached) This still leaves another $8-10M the team is capable of spending, just this season, to further improve an already improved product.
Secondly, I also agree that signing someone, or trading for someone, for a significant cost in dollars or players or draft picks for only a year or two simply doesn't make sense. Nor would it make sense to acquire a talent to "block" a talent behind him. But none of that means the team can't make moves to help the roster and the lineup, and do it smartly. The one possible exception to some of this is a veteran C to ease Pinto's development and help nurse the staff.
1) We need someone to bring a decent LH bat off the bench with at least a little defense and versatility. For different reasons, some of the guys I like are Betemit, Chavez and Chad Tracy. All 3 have potentially decent bats off the bench as a PH, can back up Mauer, and provide some platoon with Plouffe at 3B. Plus, even should Sano prove ready early, and Plouffe move or be gone, any one of these guys still provides that useful player off the bench. A move like this should only cost $2-3M, leaving $5-7M still available for another useful addition without actually "raising payroll" per say.
2) Despite what seems on the surface to be a cluster of OFers to choose from, improving depth, defense, and offense probably requires a signing here as well. I've seen Raja Davis used here as an example, and will run with it as it makes sense, should help in the mentioned areas, and should also prove to be cost effective, if not earth-shattering.
One real key to the offense and defense this season, as I have mentioned elsewhere, is Aron Hicks in CF. Providing great defense out there, plus speed and some power and power potential, even if under-performing while learning on the job, could make him a valuable asset. I'd gladly take a BA of .230-.250 with 30 doubles, a handful of triples, double digit homers and stolen bases, possibly 20/20 at the bottom of the order this year. The talent is there, and there was a surge last year before injury setback.
Time for Willingam to move to DH on a full or nearly fully time basis. He's not much of an OFer defensively, is not getting younger, and needs to avoid injury. And Molitor may be ale to help ease his transition with his own experience.
All of this leaves, to at least begin 2014:
LF: Presley/Davis= (Mastro also available if all the way back, or insurance)
2B: Dozier= (showed excellent, continued production & consistency after slow start)
1B: Mauer=(return to health, more games played, Avg & OB machine, etc, etc)
DH: Willingham=(healthy and productive again, could see the OF a game or two)
RF: Arcia=(exciting bat, showed flashes, has some experience now, excellent winter)
3B: Plouffe/FA=(as mentioned previously, depth and some platoon)
C: Pinto/?=(FA, LH Hermann, possibly Doumit. Different reasons for each)
CF: Hicks=(as mentioned above)
SS: Floriman/Escobar=(excellent defense, versatility, some speed, platoon possibility)
That is 13 position players, a mix of youth and experience, some speed, some power, a generally quality starting defense, and some position flexibility. Now, it does leave out Parmalee and Doumit, at least for the most part. As noted, Doumit could be a backup C, giving Hermann some additional AAA time. Also, there can be injuries and perhaps the teams goes back to 14 position players.
And since it was mentioned:
SP: Nolasco, Hughes, TBD, Correia, Deduno or Gibson or Worley or Diamond.
RP: Perkins, Burton, Fien, Swarzak, Duensing, Thielbar, Tonkin or Pressly.
While Terry Ryan has surprised so far with his spending, I would be shocked to see any more big signings. I'd love to see a couple small signings that would set the Twins up to make 2014 a great transition year into playoff contention in 2015. I'd love to see them sign Corey Hart and John Buck. These two would allow them to ease Pinto into the majors and make Willingham a full-time DH. Doumit could then be a utility player and bench bat.
Opening Day 2nd Half
1. Presley CF 1. Hicks CF
2. Dozier 2B 2. Dozier 2B
3. Mauer 1B 3. Mauer 1B
4. Willingham DH 4. Arcia RF
5. Hart LF 5. Hart LF
6. Arcia RF 6. Sano 3B
7. Plouffe 3B 7. Ploufee DH
8. Buck C 8. Pinto C
9. Florimon SS 9. Florimon SS
Mid-season Trades: Willingham, Doumit, Corriea, Burton
September call-ups: Meyer, Buxton, May, Rosario
The fears projected on this thread are substantial, and given the history of baseball, likely. But the key to each of the roster projections are the "second half" or "September" lineups. While the opening day offensive roster 1-13 is not pretty, everyone's hoped-for late-season 9 looks really good.
We've suffered for 3 years. But we need to suffer a little longer. Even when the roster (with hope eclipsing history) looks like Buxton (CF), Dozier (2B), Mauer (1B), Arcia (DH), Sano (3B), Rosario (RF), Pinto (C), Hicks (LF) and Florimon/Escobar (SS), we are going to take our lumps watching the kids grow up. But the sooner we get to that point, the better.
We just can't sign anyone that would block 7 of the 9 spots above from happening (I would agree, however, that a stronger SS - or hoping that one of the minor-league SS candidates can rise - or signing Wieters would be a long-term solution and within the budget).
Corey Hart (or Rajai Davis) just provides one more layer of blockage, just as Parmelee, Colabello, Pressly, Mastro, Hammer, and Doumit do. The only one of those who provides a long-term solution is Parmelee, who can play 1B, RF, DH, and is a power LH bat. I see Pressly or Mastro as a classic 4th OF, but I also see that being Plouffe's role on a good team in a year. Hicks can play any OF spot (so can spot start in center to give Buxton a day off), Parmelee can play RF, Plouffe can play LF/RF/3B/1B, Rosario needs to be able to play LF/RF and 2B to maximize his flexibility.
Give me the above 9, with Wieters and adding Anderson to the rotation, trading a couple of good relief pitchers and moving Diamond and Worley into relief roles and emergency back-up, and then a bench of Pinto, Plouffe, Escobar, and Parmelee. We won't even be world-beaters in 2015, but we'll at least be moving in a direction where 40-man roster decisions between Colabello and Fryer and Hendriks are just meaningless.
The best way to improve the offense in 2014 is to make Willingham the full time DH to stay healthy. Use a Plouffe/Parmelee platoon in RF, start Sano at 3B to start the year.
Hermann can be a solid backup C, Pinto needs to be allowed to work & grow with the staff. I don't think they are putting Doumit back behind the plate because of his concussion issues as well. Maybe he asked not to too play it or just the combo of wretched D & fears about the concussions idk. He's not playing Catcher except in an emergency, that has to be the only reason Fryer is still around on the 40 man.
Buston will not be a September callup in 2014, he will play in the AFL again to gain experience. No point in starting his service clock & losing an option for a September callup when he can return to the AFL. I do think he will be given every oppertunity to win the CF spot to start 2015 in ST if he continues to rake the way he has at every level this year.
A 2015 OF of Rosario/Buxton/Hicks is nearly locked in with Arcia rotating LF/RF/DH. Sano, Pinto, & Dozier are all expected to be more than capable offensively. With Mauer at 1B, SS is really the only position that doesnt have a true elite prospect. Someone from the group of Polanco, Santana, Goodrum, & even a late charging Eduardo Escobar will need to step up.
I agree with the many that say we just roll with what we have, take our lumps. I might be ok with a couple one year deals to guys like Buck or Hart maybe but overall just let the kids play. Gotta hope some impending FA rebound and get their value so we can get something for them at the deadline.
Our chances of contending appear quite slim even with the rotation improvements, a couple middling FA bats isn't going to change that. Might as well give guys like Parmelee, Plouffe, Colabello etc. one more chance. If they click then you might have a valuable piece for the future roster or a guy who could be a legitimate piece of a trade package.
Arcia is going to be better. Almost no argument there.
I get that Pinto raked in a small sample size, but he may hit pretty well for the Twins. Seems almost no one even expects him to be very good. Hey, he crushed AA and AAA, too.
And lastly, Eduardo Escobar had an OPS of .880 in AAA last year. When he returned to the Twins in September (SSS warning) he had an OPS of .755. That would be a huge improvement for our SS position. And please remember that Escobar was the White Sox defensive player of the year twice before we got him. He may have turned a corner with his bat.
Not everything is going to magically be perfect in 2014. However, a few things go right and this offense is greatly improved.
Also while Ford was an average defensive corner OF, Escobar is a very good defensive middle infielder. A .700 OPS from Escobar would be welcome, from a corner outfielder those are demotable numbers.
That makes sense. I'd love Gardner. A shortstop who can hit would be nice. I'd put Dozier on the block and patch it together at 2nd base until Rosario's back.
It's one of the things that annoy me (even while I exploit it) when playing sim games like Out Of The Park, when I sign an unneeded FA and immediately trade him for some tasty prospects. :)
And, the door swings both ways in terms of value. What if we had signed Upton last year after trading Span and Revere. Who would give us anything to take on that contract right now. Willingham and even Doumit are examples too. You can say we could have trade high on Willingham but trading 1/2 way through the 1st of a 3 year deal would send a very bad signal to future FAs. That says we are signing you to flip you.