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Article: Only One Spot to Address for 2015?

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 08:10 PM

At a glance, the title of this article might seem a little outrageous. How could one suggest that a team on track for 90 losses needs so little retooling?

Well, when you look at the lineup that the Twins fielded on Tuesday night -- one which is very similar to those they've been trotting out regularly in recent weeks -- it's hard to find more than one spot that is going to need to be addressed externally this offseason.Here's the lineup that Ron Gardenhire has written out for each of the last three games:

Danny Santana, CF
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Kennys Vargas, DH
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Eduardo Escobar, SS
Jordan Schafer, LF

Each of those players remains under team control for 2015 and, with the exception of Schafer, each has a strong case to deservingly remain a starter going forward.

There are a few positions that carry some uncertainty, most notably third base and center field (I continue to believe Santana should go to short with Escobar sliding into a utility role), but Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton figure to come along and entrench themselves at some point during the season.

The only position where the Twins clearly need some help is left field. One possibility is that Aaron Hicks will end up there, but it's a bit hard to count on him at this point. Eddie Rosario is another candidate but he's probably still a ways off.

So the Twins would be smart to pursue an impact outfielder during the offseason, but the rest of the starting lineup appears to be pretty much locked in. And, similarly, there isn't much room for additions on the pitching staff.

Sure, preventing runs has once again been an issue for the Twins this year. But are they really going to spend big money on bringing in another starting pitcher when they've already got Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco, Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone, Trevor May, Alex Meyer and Mike Pelfrey all set to return to the mix (and Jose Berrios potentially emerging as an option midseason)? At most, I could see the team taking a couple low-cost gambles, but it doesn't make much sense to keep adding guaranteed contracts to that group.

Ditto for the bullpen. This unit will be bringing back some core members -- Glen Perkins, Casey Fien, Caleb Thielbar, Anthony Swarzak, possibly Brian Duensing -- and they've got a handful of options currently in Triple-A that are at least as appealing as the majority of arms that will be available in free agency.

With an $85 million payroll this year, the Twins are well below their spending limit, even by their own admission. That means they will have money available to spend this offseason, but as long as there aren't any major changes in the final month, and as long as no one is traded, there will be few places to spend it.

The takeaways from this overview?

1) Don't freak out if the Twins don't throw money around this offseason. For the first time in several years, a quiet winter would actually be quite justifiable, because...

2) The rebuild is finally coming together. Capable young players are starting to fill every position, and that's why -- despite the lack of on-field success -- the final months of this season are proving much more satisfying than years past.

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#2 Otwins

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 10:06 PM

I wouldn't even pursue a left fielder that hard. I could see Plouffe, Santana, Hicks all looking for playing time. They should still pursue another starting pitcher. A very good one. We don't need quantity but could use quality.

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#3 Seth Stohs

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 10:10 PM

Wonderful report! I really like how you lay it out and come to the final summary at the end. I completely agree with this assessment!

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#4 Paul Pleiss

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 11:07 PM

One spot to address? Until the Twins have a starting rotation that looks like Detroit (when healthy), Oakland or Los Angeles, there are more spots to address. I understand there are guys under contract and guys moving up the system, but front of the rotation talent is what this team truly needs, and right now, that help is a long way off.

 

As far as upgrading LF? I'm not sure that makes sense. The Twins have plenty of big boppers, 1B/DH types who can provide this team offense, I'd be more than happy with them putting AAAA guys out there, or having two speedy CF types to give the OF some added range (which will help the staff immensely).

 

Rick Anderson is not a complete failure, he's a terrible pitching coach as far as I'm concerned, but he (or maybe indirectly the Twins front office) has been able to find reliable relievers to fill the bullpen. No need to upgrade with plenty of arms in the upper levels of the system who can fill those rolls. lots of failed starters who could move there too. I'm looking forward for some of the college power arms the Twins have drafted the last couple seasons finally making an impact with that big velo Twins fans have been clammoring for.

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#5 James Richter

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 12:00 AM

I think the Twins can definitely afford to be patient with this year's FA market. By year's end they might find that Hicks and Schafer both finished the year strongly, Buxton and Rosario kicked ass in the AFL, and Sano picked up right where he left off in winter ball. If 2 or more of those things come to pass, there's probably no need to even worry about LF. The FO can sit back with all their chips and wait for a Jim Thome/Orlando Hudson-type bargain to materialize in the final weeks before spring training.

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#6 Shane Wahl

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 12:44 AM

Yes, exactly. I would like the following to happen: the Twins refrain from spending big this offseason unless it is on one of the top 5 pitching free agents. So, no spending to replace LF. Wait and save. That means that money should be SAVED now in order to be spent when NEEDED when the team is competitive for real. Just finally, finally, go with the youth movement.

 

2015 opening day roster barring trades and injuries but dealing/releasing where noted (and I don't care about my consistency over the past month!):

 

C: Suzuki, Pinto, Herrmann

1B: Mauer, Vargas

2B: Dozier (Escobar, Santana, Beresford)

SS: Escobar (Santana, Beresford)

3B: Plouffe (Escobar, Beresford)
LF: Hicks (yes, Hicks), (Ortiz, Herrmann)

CF: Santana (until Buxton, then decisions need to be made), (Hicks)

RF: Arcia (Ortiz, Herrmann, Hicks)

DH: Vargas, (Pinto)

 

Bench (generally): Pinto, Herrmann, Beresford, Ortiz

 

Yep. Gone from this are Parmelee, Nunez, and Schafer. Trade for C level prospects who are under 22 and that is a win. All three of those guys could serve as major league bench players, but not for the Twins now.

 

Starting rotation:

 

Hughes

Gibson

Nolasco

Meyer (or Milone)

May (or Milone)

 

Bullpen:

 

I still would like some trading to be done as there is just no reason to pay Swarzak and Duensing any more money, for instance. Also, I am surprised Fien wasn't dealt, but for these purposes we will keep him.

Perkins

Fien

C. Johnson

Oliveros

Tonkin

Thielbar

Deduno/Darnell/K. Johnson

 

I also think Guerra and Achter could compete here. The big question is going to be: when do Burdi and Z. Jones arrive? Those two will serve as dominant setup men (and there needs to be another dominant lefty somewhere).

 

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#7 The Wise One

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 01:01 AM

When you have a top 5 player at a position, you can say it is set. When you are only above average at a position you still need t look to see how you can get better. There are more than enough poitions manned by players that could be replaced if the price was right. You may be correct on the line up, by no means should they not look to upgrade positions that they can.

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#8 Paul Pleiss

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 02:03 AM

You can stop upgrading the day after you win the World Series. Take two weeks off, then start trying to get better for next season.

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#9 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 05:49 AM

I would argue that they need a 1 year CF stop gap.I'd probably let Parmelee audition for LF and move Plouffe there if he fails and Sano is ready.


#10 Platoon

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 06:00 AM

Yes, exactly. I would like the following to happen: the Twins refrain from spending big this offseason unless it is on one of the top 5 pitching free agents. So, no spending to replace LF. Wait and save. That means that money should be SAVED now in order to be spent when NEEDED when the team is competitive for real. Just finally, finally, go with the youth movement.
 
2015 opening day roster barring trades and injuries but dealing/releasing where noted (and I don't care about my consistency over the past month!):
 
C: Suzuki, Pinto, Herrmann
1B: Mauer, Vargas
2B: Dozier (Escobar, Santana, Beresford)
SS: Escobar (Santana, Beresford)
3B: Plouffe (Escobar, Beresford)
LF: Hicks (yes, Hicks), (Ortiz, Herrmann)
CF: Santana (until Buxton, then decisions need to be made), (Hicks)
RF: Arcia (Ortiz, Herrmann, Hicks)
DH: Vargas, (Pinto)
 
Bench (generally): Pinto, Herrmann, Beresford, Ortiz
 
Yep. Gone from this are Parmelee, Nunez, and Schafer. Trade for C level prospects who are under 22 and that is a win. All three of those guys could serve as major league bench players, but not for the Twins now.
 
Starting rotation:
 
Hughes
Gibson
Nolasco
Meyer (or Milone)
May (or Milone)
 
Bullpen:
 
I still would like some trading to be done as there is just no reason to pay Swarzak and Duensing any more money, for instance. Also, I am surprised Fien wasn't dealt, but for these purposes we will keep him.
Perkins
Fien
C. Johnson
Oliveros
Tonkin
Thielbar
Deduno/Darnell/K. Johnson
 
I also think Guerra and Achter could compete here. The big question is going to be: when do Burdi and Z. Jones arrive? Those two will serve as dominant setup men (and there needs to be another dominant lefty somewhere).

I don't have a problem with the names as much as the philosophy. I read somewhere, and it seems to be, that TR has nixed the 3 headed catcher? If that is true, it is not good for either Pinto, or Hermann, depending on the ability of Vargas to hold the DH spot. And while Escobar is "stable" at short, he is not the shortstop you will find on a low strikeout, but hopefully winning team. I admit he has hit far better, for far longer than I expected. But for all the talk of the lack of outfield coverage hurting the pitchers, the left side of the infield with him and Plouffe leaves a lot of ground balls to be returned to the infield by the left fielder!

#11 twinssouth

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 06:02 AM

I just don't see anyone in the minors, Hicks included, that can make an impact in left field, offensively and defensively. I say make a trade or sign an impact free agent (any out there next year)
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#12 birdwatcher

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 06:22 AM

I think the Twins can definitely afford to be patient with this year's FA market. By year's end they might find that Hicks and Schafer both finished the year strongly, Buxton and Rosario kicked ass in the AFL, and Sano picked up right where he left off in winter ball. If 2 or more of those things come to pass, there's probably no need to even worry about LF. The FO can sit back with all their chips and wait for a Jim Thome/Orlando Hudson-type bargain to materialize in the final weeks before spring training.


I want Ryan to be aggressive yet selective. Now he has trade ammo, he has a boatload of cash and an owner telling him he can spend it, and we're at the right stage in this three-year rebuild to go for quality.

In past years, he's made his moves and banked on unproven or comeback players to come through. Hicks being the poster child of this. My wish list is a corner OF with two-way skills, hopefully more promising than say Victorino. If Hicks gets his act together, fine, you have a "surplus". Second, a frontline starter. A proven guy, not a projection like Meyer. In my mind, Hughes is a 2-3 guy, Gibson a 3-4 guy right now, Nolasco a 4-5 guy. Everyone else a 5-6 guy for now. Harsh grades, yes, but we have the money and the trade surplus to get another 2-3 guy or better ans slough off our back end surplus for low level prospects. Last, find me a catcher with at least Suzuki's offensive profile and better defense. Suzuki might regress, and would fetch something at the trade deadline.
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#13 beckmt

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 06:49 AM

Nice assessment, very close to what I feel will happen.I expect Schafer to still be here as the fourth outfielder, but there is no reason to keep Parmelee and Nunez.Some of the relief staff will also be changed(good bye to Burton and Deduno).I think if you want to spend big money, spend on a frontline pitcher, otherwise save the money until you see what holes need to be filled after next year(when you have a much better idea of which young players are working out.If you want to make a move package Dozier, Nolasco, and maybe more for a real front line pitcher.Otherwise take some low risk flyers on rebound/reclaim starting pitchers.If you can, deal some bullpen arms(you look to have plenty in Rochester to fill the gap).


#14 hybridbear

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:05 AM

I support the idea of trying to sign a big name free agent pitcher. The Twins still don't have a good #1 starter. They need to find another Johan or else pay big bucks for a proven starter.


#15 Seth Stohs

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:39 AM

The Twins have put in the time and developed a terrific core of prospects. We saw Santana, Vargas, and now May. Arcia's had more time to go through some ups and downs. Next year, with health, we could see another wave in Meyer, Sano, possibly Buxton and even Berrios, along with Burdi, Jones, etc. 

 

I'm of the opinion that you let these guys play and see what you have, what sticks. Hopefully a nice, solid core of players will come out of that. If you noticed one thing about those 87 and 91 teams, the key players were the guys who came up together and developed that core. When they were ready, they complemented the roster with pieces. When the Yankees won 4 WS in a row, it was because of their core four (remember they have only one once since they started spending in free agency). 

 

For me, I want to see which of these guys turn into that next core. 

 

And, the idea of signing a 30+ year old #1 starter should be about 20 times more scary than the Nolasco signing has been.

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#16 USAFChief

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:50 AM

I clicked into this thread expecting to read about managerial candidates.
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Go Twins!


#17 JB_Iowa

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:52 AM

In the somewhat bizarre world of the Twins of recent years, I find this article both encouraging and depressing.

 

Encouraging because we are seeing some of the prospects mature and it will be interesting to see how they play together.

 

Depressing because this really isn't a good team and basically seeing a clone next year makes me want to kick something.  It may turn out that the young players mature and next year is easier to watch.  Or it may turn out that there is a lot of regression and next year is as depressing as the last few years.

 

Only time will tell.  (But I still think I'd like to see some changes -- one that I mentioned elsewhere is a Spanish-speaking veteran to help mentor the younger players.)

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#18 mike wants wins

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 08:16 AM

Mind.

boggling.

 

They are on pace to lose 88+ games again, and there is only 1 hole to fill? I don't even know how to respond to that........

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What I just typed is probably an opinion, not a fact. I mean, I'm usually right, so you should maybe assume it is or will be a fact soon, but that's up to you. :) Also, I am NOT trying to convince anyone I am correct, I'm just talking here, not arguing.


#19 tobi0040

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 08:20 AM

I think SS is a place that needs more attention than it appears.I think you have a risk of the Twins viewing Santana's defense at SS like Pinto catching.They don't really come out and say it, but actions speak louder than anything else.The excuse was that we needed a CF and we had no options.Schafer has been here 19 games and Santana has played SS in two of those, giving him a total of 19 starts on the year at short.They could roll with Schafter in CF, Arcia and some combo of Nunez/Parmelee in the OF.The situation is not dire anymore, especially on a team that is 15 games out. 

 

Then you have the fact that both Santana and Escobar are playing way above their minor numbers.

Edited by tobi0040, 27 August 2014 - 08:22 AM.


#20 Kirby_waved_at_me

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 08:38 AM

I see a contradiction in these two statements:

 

"some combo of Nunez/Parmelee in the OF. "

 

"The situation is not dire anymore,"

 

Santana should get more reps at SS, but LF is a glaring problem with no satisfactory in-house solution. 

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