Today marked the release of the 2010-11 Twins GM Offseason Handbook. If you haven't gotten your copy, I highly suggest you do here. It's a great read for any Twins fanatic and takes you through all the aspects of what GM Bill Smith has on his plate in this offseason. It lets you, the reader, play the role of GM so you can decide every move you want to see the Twins make for the 2011 roster. So here, I, Giles Ferrell will assume the role of Twins GM for the offseason. Realistically the Twins will have a slight budget increase, but not as much as last season. So one would assume the Twins salary cap comes in at $110 million, and $92 million of that is already committed for next season. So here is how I would shape the 2011 roster:
1. Let Orlando Hudson, Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, Randy Flores, Ron Mahay, and Carl Pavano walk as Free Agents: Its hard for me to let go of Matty G and the Stache, but the price would be too great to keep them around. And age and innings pitched the past few years is a concern for me as well. At least you can offer arbitration to Pavano (It's a guarantee he won't take it because he is the second best pitcher on the market behind Cliff Lee) and get something in return. As for the rest, they would be nice to retain (except for Flores), but the cost is too great. And with Hudson departing, Alexi Casilla finds himself in a starting role in what would appear to be his final shot at starting with the Twins.
2. Non Tender J.J. Hardy and let him leave via free agency: Hardy wasn't bad, but he certainly wasn't great either. Injuries limited him to just 101 games at shortstop this past season. He batted .268 with 6 HR and 38 RBI and managed to have a .394 slugging percentage. But Hardy is arbitration eligible and is expected to get around $6-6.5 million from that. The Twins could non tender him and resign him for a lesser amount, but my next move eliminates Hardy from the Twins for now at least.
3. Trade Kevin Slowey, Chris Parmalee, and Ben Revere to Florida for Dan Uggla: If needed throw in another prospect (But more of a low end one) to make this happen. Because the Twins need a right handed power hitting player. And his name is DAN UGGLA!!! As we saw in the postseason, the Twins lack power on the right side. And when lefties get thrown at them, the lineup is shaky. And with the Marlins always looking to cut payroll and Uggla wanting a long term contract, I can see Uggla in a new uniform next season. And why not the Twins. He fills a hole in the lineup and plays second (Which moves Casilla to shortstop, replacing Hardy). He is 30, so I would guess he wants a new contract with a trade, so I would give him a 3 year/$24 million deal. Kevin Slowey is the Twins most marketable pitcher between Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, and Slowey. So thats why Slowey goes in this trade. And I can imagine the Marlins don't want Scott Baker's $5 million salary back in a trade. Chris Parmalee and Ben Revere have great futures ahead of them, but with Parmalee playing first and outfield, and Revere playing OF with Aaron Hicks waiting in the wings, it makes these players expendable. Its hard for me to part with Revere, but Aaron Hicks is that much better. And the Twins seem set for the outfield in the future with Delmon Young and Denard Span so that leaves just one open spot. So Revere is the odd man out and he goes to Florida.
4. Bring in Free Agent relievers Grant Balfour and Randy Choate. Resign Jesse Crain: The Twins bullpen has some pressing issues this offesason. Of the seven pitchers in the bullpen on the postseason roster, only two (Matt Capps and Jose Mijares) are under team control for 2011. So my first move is to resign Crain at 3 years/$10.5 million. Then go out and sign Grant Balfour (A former Twin) for 2 years/$7.5 million and lefty Randy Choate at 1 year/$1 million. Balfour pitched phenomenally for tampa this past season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 53 games. And if Joe Nathan struggles in his closing duties, Balfour can step in and fill the void. (I'll talk more about this later) Choate wasn't as impressive, but he provides another lefty option in the bullpen for Ron Gardenhire.
5. Trade Matt Capps for prospects: I don't know what team or what prospects. But if the above pieces fall into place, I would be trading Matt Capps for some prospects at this point to clear some cap space. He was great for the Twins after being acquired at the trade deadline, but with Balfour and Nathan in the bullpen, Capps is no longer needed. And don't forget he is arbitration eligible and would make around $7-8 million. I love the guy, but its time to move on. I wish him well elsewhere.
6. Resign Jim Thome: Even if it costs $4 million to bring him back...BRING HIM BACK!!! No one was more glad than I to see Thome put on the Twins uniform this past season. And let's give him another shot at it in Minnesota. He became a fan favorite and provided some memorable swings for the 2010 Twins. He is chasing 600 home runs and the Twins could see some return on that $4 million in merchandise if he reaches the milestone here. Other AL teams seeking a DH (White Sox, Yankees) drive up the price. But you still pay it. Even for a bat off the bench.
7. Trade Anthony Slama and Rob Delaney to Toronto for Mark Rzepczynski: I have one available spot on my 25 man roster thats open. And its my fifth starting pitcher. Rather than trying to fill the void with a used up veteran pitcher, I was more content with trading for Rzepczysnki. If you look at his career numbers, they're not pretty. But he has not benefitted from playing in the AL East and the bandbox that is Rogers Center. So a change of scenery bodes well with him. And he is just 25 years old and has tremendous upside. (If you don't believe me watch his games against the Twins last year. He might not pan out, but for now i'll gladly take him as a fifth starter.
Well, there it is. All the moves have shaped my 2011 25 man roster for the Twins. I'll list each player by position and their 2011 salary next to them. Bold indicates starter. * indicates salary based on arbitration estimates.
C: Joe Mauer ($23M), Drew Butera(450K)
1B: Justin Morneau (14M)
2B: Dan Uggla ($8M), Matt Tolbert ($450K)
3B: Danny Valencia ($450K)
SS: Alexi Casilla ($800K*)
OF: Delmon Young ($5.25M*), Denard Span ($1M), Michael Cuddyer ($10.5M), Jason Repko ($750K)
DH: Jason Kubel ($5.25M), Jim Thome ($4M)
SP: Francisco Liriano ($4.5M*), Brian Duensing (500K), Scott Baker ($5M), Nick Blackburn ($3M), Mark Rzepczynski ($450K)
RP: Pat Neshek ($800K), Jose Mijares ($500K), Randy Choate ($1M), Jeff Manship (450K), Jesse Crain ($3.5M), Grant Balfour ($3.5M), Joe Nathan ($11.25M)
Total Salary comitted for 2011: $110.1 Million (Includes Brendan Harris' $1.75 million contract)
There it is. It wasn't pretty getting there, but I got there. I'd be worried about the lack of experience in the starting picthing, but these guys have to grow up at some point. Otherwise, I love the make up of this team. But of course, this is all fictional and will no way actually turn out to be what happens in the real offseason.
I'll be back once the World Series concludes. (Giants in 7 BTW) I'll start going more into depth on what the Twins should do in certain spots and things like that. So for now, enjoy the fall classic. Maybe one year we will be in it.