Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dark Times, Dark Moves, What Will Bill Smith Do?

Somewhere right now, Bill Smith has to be thinking of ways to make his team better. And I'm sure most of those ways involve players coming off the disabled list and staying healthy. Maybe he is working the phones trying to work out a trade. Who knows? But somewhere, he also has to be thinking about what to do in case his team can't turn that corner and continues to be the AL Central cellar dwellers.

The plan I am about to propose is very similar to the one that Emperor Palpatine carried out in Star Wars III called "order 66". It was a dark, horrible plan (I know, I'm a nerd). It rid his Empire of all unwanted people (In his case, the Jedi). Now take Bill Smith and his team. If they can't get it together, its time he considered a same plan. It would rid his team of unwanted players and/or contracts while bringing in players to help the team in 2012 and beyond.

So lets elaborate on this plan a bit. There will be untouchable players, tradeable players who should bring in good prospects, players who are so bad you can't trade them (so waivers or minor leagues are in their future), and the in-between players (meaning you don't know what to do with them). Then of course, you have some players in the minor leagues who will be ready to get a shot at the big club too, so they will factor in to these decisions as well. So lets dive in to this one:

The Untouchable Players
Joe Mauer C: Face of the Franchise. $23 mil/yr makes him untouchable
Justin Morneau 1B: Despite bad stats, still is a franchise cornerstone
Denard Span CF: Solid leadoff hitter. Good speed. Plays well in CF
Tsuyoshi Nishioka 2B/SS: Twins have a lot invested in him.
Joe Nathan RP: Still recovering from TJ surgery. Don't bail on him yet.

The Tradeable Players
Jason Kubel OF/DH: Very good hitter with good power. Could bring nice return.
Matt Capps RP: If given a 9th inning lead. He gets the job done.
Michael Cuddyer RF/INF: Twins might have to eat some money to move him.
Scott Baker SP: Pitching great this year. Trade him while value is high and contract is low.
Francisco Liriano SP: When healthy, he is nasty. Twins don't seem committed to him.
Jim Thome DH: Could be a nice bat off the bench for a contending team.
Kevin Slowey SP: Under team control through 2014. Great command pitcher.
Carl Pavano SP: Innings eater. Twins might have to eat money if they wish to move him.

In-Between Players
Danny Valencia 3B: Not hitting as well in 2011. Should pan out well.
Delmon Young OF: Lets see what he does when he returns from the DL
Brian Duensing SP: Has hit or miss starts. Needs more consistency.
Nick Blackburn SP: When sinker sinks, he's good. When sinker is flat, he stinks.

The Players You Can't Trade

Alexi Casilla 2B/SS: Don't know where to start with him.
Drew Butera C: Makes Tim Laudner look like a saint
Matt Tolbert 2B/SS: Comparable to Nick Punto, only his defense isn't as good.
Jason Repko OF: Plays a decent OF, but can't hit well

Minor Leaguers For 2012
Kyle Gibson SP: Groundball pitcher with electric stuff.
Trevor Plouffe 2B/SS: Decent hitter. Should get a shot at short
Ben Revere OF: Good average hitter. Great speed. Defense is ok.
Rene Tosoni OF: Could be a decent hitter/4th OF option

The 8 players in the tradeable category contribute $45.9 million to the Twins $110+ million payroll this season. Kubel, Capps, Cuddyer, and Thome are free agents after this season so that does give them a little more trade value. Baker, Slowey, Liriano, and Pavano are under team control through either 2012 or 2013 and they combine for an estimated $24 million on the 2012 payroll (Slowey and Liriano are arbitration eligible and their 2012 salaries were estimated).

So Bill Smith has plenty of options if his team can't get it together in 2011. If he did decide to trade some players, he could fill some holes on this team going into 2012 (middle infield, bullpen, right handed power bat, an ace). I don't want to see that happen. But, I would like to see the Twins have continued success in the future years rather then see them go through some rebuilding years. The Twins like to promote from within, which is why I mentioned some minor leaguers who could be regular starters in 2012. It's how they've operated before and that's how they will operate going forward too.

Again, this is what I believe should happen IF the Twins can't turn it around. This is in no way a concession on my behalf on the Twins season. There is still much baseball left to be played. But we have to be prepared for the worst in case it can't come together.

I pity Bill Smith in these dark times. Because he has some dark decisions to make. Lets hope he makes the right ones...

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