Monday, October 31, 2011

Hope For The Best: Giles' 2011-12 Twins Offseason Blueprint

For those who have read your copy of the 2011-12 Twins offseason handbook, this is the fun part. At the end, the guys all take the role of the GM chair and piece together a team for the next season. So, after reading the book, I am all filled up with some ideas as to how the Twins should go about filling up the roster for the 2012 season. So here, I will assume the role of GM and put together a team for the 2012 season.

Here I will start with the players under contract or team control for 2012:


CF: Span ($3M)
SS: Casilla (ARB)
C: Mauer ($23M)
1B: Morneau ($14M)
RF: Empty
3B: Valencia ($500K)
DH: Empty
2B: Nishioka ($3M)
LF: Revere ($500K)

BN: Empty
BN: Butera ($500K)
BN: Luke Hughes ($500K)
BN: Plouffe ($500K)


SP: Baker-RH ($6.5M)
SP: Pavano-RH ($8.5M)
SP: Liriano-LH (ARB)
SP: Blackburn-RH ($4.75M)
SP: Duensing ($500K)

RP: Swarzak-RH ($500K)
RP: Oliveros-RH ($500K)
RP: Mijares-LH (ARB)
RP: Slowey-RH (ARB)
RP: Burnett-RH ($500K)
RP: Perkins-LH (ARB)
CP: Empty

Now that we see where the empty slots and the arbitration players are, here are the moves I would make this offseason:

1. Offer salary arbitration to free agent OFs Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel. This is a relatively easy move. Both will take on multi year contract offers this offseason, so they both will almost certainly decline them. Why you do this is to ensure you receive draft pick compensation if both players sign with other teams.

2.Non Tender arbitration eligible players Jose Mijares, Alexi Casilla, and Kevin Slowey. Kevin Slowey is a no brainer. He would make somewhere in the $3 million range next year. It was tough to let Casilla go, but he would make somewhere in the area of $2.5 million, and I simply felt that was too much at this time. Mijares would of been cheap, but I felt it was just time to let him go. He had been terrible in 2011, posting career lows in multiple stats. I felt I could fill his spot with a different option.

3.Buyout Joe Nathan’s contract (2M cap hit) and resign him to a 2 year, $14 million contract. The Twins of real life already bought out the closer's 2012 contract. So now hopefully they can follow suit, and resign the franchise's all time saves leader. His stats from 2011 are very misleading. he returned from TJ surgery and them battled elbow problems in June. But upon his return, he took the closer job back, and showed signs of being the Nathan of old.

4. Move Brian Duensing to the bullpen. Duesning simply was awful as a starter in 2011. So the logical move should be to move him back to the bullpen, where he enjoyed success as a left handed specialist in 2010, before moving to the rotation. Hopefully, he can return to that success moving forward.

5. Resign Michael Cuddyer to a 3 year, $33 million contract. I was really torn on bringing Cuddy back at a high price, or letting him go. The first option won. Cuddyer proved to be too valuable to the Twins in 2011, to simply let him walk away. He can play numerous positions, and when healthy, he can be a very good hitter. He finally got his first all star appearance last year, while leading the team in many offensive categories. The years on the deal is less than what the market will probably be giving Cuddy, but I think he takes the deal simply out of respect to the only team he has ever played for.

6. Sign Glen Perkins to a 3 year, $7.5 million contract. This deal isn't a necessary task, but, I wanted to lock up my best reliever past his final arbitration year. Perkins came out of nowhere last year and started blowing hitters away with his mid to high 90s fastball, and electric changeup. Locking up Perkins through 2014, gives the Twins a solid arm at a very good price.

7. Sign OF Rick Ankiel to a 1 year, $750,000 contract. The Twins need a fourth outfielder. One who can hit decently and play a good defense in the outfield while being relatively cheap. And I found Rick Ankiel. He has decent pop in his bat (career .423 slugging percentage) and is a very solid defender in the outfield (1.7 dWAR in 2011). Ankiel should have no problem playing in the spacious outfield of Target Field, with his defensive skills. And for $750,000, Ankiel comes at a very good price.

8. Sign P Kerry Wood to a 1 year, $2 million contract. Wood had a decent season in Chicago last year (51.0 IP, 3.35 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 57 K). But his age (34) and his injury list (Too long to list here) will keep his contract offers low. So you Wood comes at a good price, and he should be a solid back end reliever to help bridge the gap to Nathan in the 9th.

9. Sign C Jose Molina to a 1 year, $1 million contract. Signing Jose Molina wasn't the best move for backup catcher. But, he can hit decently (.241 career hitter, .281 avg last year) and is very solid behind the plate, as any Molina is. He also can play first base if needed (Anyone who can play first is appreciated given the injury history to Morneau). Molina is 36, but should do just fine as a back up to Joe Mauer.

10. Sign INF Nick Punto to a 1 year, $1 million contract. Last season should simply be dubbed "The Curse of Nick Punto". For the previous 7 seasons Punto was with MIN, the team won 4 divisonal titles and only had one season where the finished below .500. Then last year Punto signed on with the Cardinals. The Twins lost 99 games (2nd worst in team history) and the Cardinals won the World Series. Punto, doesn't hit for a great average, but makes up for it with gold glove caliber defense from second base, shortstop, or third base. I overpaid for him just a bit to make sure he returns to the Twins.

11. Sign P Mike Gonzalez to a 1 year, $2 million contract. Before his awful two year stint in Baltimore, Gonzalez was one of the best left handed relievers in the game. He still holds a career 2.94 ERA a 1.24 WHIP, and a 10.3 K/9 average. But his past two seasons in Baltimore will scare people away and will drive his asking price way down. I bring in Gonzalez as a third lefty in Ron Gardenhire's bullpen, giving him the advantage of being able to matchup with lefties more than once in a game.

12. Keep 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 1B Chris Parmelee, SS Trevor Plouffe, and SP Liam Hendriks on the big league roster. This is where I will differ from most people's offseason plans. I keep Tsuyoshi Nishioka in the big leagues (But this time he bats at the bottom of the order) and at second base, and I leave Trevor Plouffe at shortstop. I know Plouffe was a defensive mess at the position, but if he can even halfway clean it up, you can have him hit for 7-8 innings and use Punto for the 8th and 9th inning as the defensive specialist. I'm also keeping Chris Parmelee as the DH/First baseman to help keep Justin Morneau off the disabled list (And if he can hit like he did in September, he should do just fine). Hendriks was a tough call. But, the starting pitching market isn't that great, so why not continue to fill some spots from within your own organization. He didn't exactly put up the best line last year with the big club (0-2 6.17 ERA in 4 starts), but he won the Twins minor league pitcher of the year. If he can't make the adjustments, you can always go get someone during the year, but for now, I fill the last starting slot with Liam Hendriks.

So after the 12 moves, here is what my 2012 Opening Day Roster would look like with the players salary next to them.

CF: Span ($3M)
SS: Plouffe ($500K)
C: Mauer ($23M)
1B/DH: Morneau ($14M)
RF: Cuddyer ($11M)
3B: Valencia ($500K)
DH/1B: Parmelee ($500K)
2B: Nishioka ($3M)
LF: Revere ($500K)

BN: Punto ($1M)
BN: Molina ($1M)
BN: Luke Hughes ($500K)
BN: Ankiel ($750K)


SP: Baker-RH ($6.5M)
SP: Pavano-RH ($8.5M)
SP: Liriano-LH ($6M)*
SP: Blackburn-RH ($4.75M)
SP: Hendriks ($500K)

RP: Swarzak-RH ($500K)
RP: Oliveros-RH ($500K)
RP: M. Gonzalez-LH($2M)
RP: Duensing-LH ($500K)
RP: Wood-RH ($2M)
RP: Perkins-LH ($2.5M)
CP: Nathan-RH ($7M+$2M buyout)
(*-notes arbitration estimate)

2012 Team Payroll: $102.5 million

Following a 99 loss season, the payroll is going down. Last year I believe the payroll was in the 110-115 million range (They picked up most of Jim Thome's and Delmon Young's salaries), so you cut 8-13 million from last year's payroll. I know there wasn't great change to the Lineup or Starting rotation. But, injuries really limited key players in both areas last year. And this is a contract year for P's Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano, and Scott Baker has a team option for 2013. So if all goes bad in 2012 pitching wise again, the team should have some more change with big name pitchers such as Greinke, Cain, and Hamels on the market, and the team could go out and get themselves an ace. So all we can do is hope the injuries are kept down, and players perform up to the levels they are capable of.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Get To Know Zach

Hello! My name is Zach. As mentioned before, I have known Giles for a long time. Anyways, the first Twins game I remember ever attending was o August 5, 2001 with my neighborhood friends. You may remember that was the day that Kirby Puckett was inducted into the Hall of Fame. It was also the day the Metrodome a/c broke down. But, that day prepared me for outdoor baseball at Target Field, when the weather can get as hot as that day.

Favorite Current Twin: As of this moment, Jason Kubel is my favorite player. But he will soon be a free agent and could likely leave the Twins, so I may need to find a new favorite player.
Favorite All Time Twin: Of all the players I have remembered getting to watch, I like Brad Radke the best.
Favorite Non Twin Baseball Player: Josh Hamilton. Such a great story
Best Twins Memory: Game 163 is probably the best of my memory.
Best Twins Game I Have Attended: I'd have to go with game 163 in 2009, but the final day of the 2006 season comes in a fairly close second, and Opening Day of 2010 is up there too.
Number of Twins Road Trips I Have Taken: 4 (New York Yankees, St. Louis & Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Chicago White Sox)
Favorite Baseball Movie: Field of Dreams and *61 are among my favorites.

I look forward to Blogging about my favorite team in the world, the Twins. Please give me a follow on twitter @zachb89. Thanks!

Welcome To Twin Minds

As you can already tell, Giles Talks Twins is no more. The blog is now officially called Twin Minds. It changed because there will be a second person now contributing to the site. And that person is my partner in crime, Zach Binning. Zach will be posting a little bit later so everyone can get to know him, but I will tell you this about him: We have been friends for 17 years now, we have shared Twins season tickets since 2007 (We saw our fair share of games in that magical run of 2006 too), and he is by far a bigger Twins fan than myself (He kept me from straying away from the team during their offseason between 07 and 08 when cornerstone players such as Torii Hunter and Johan Santana left the team). For the most part, we think alike when it comes to the Twins, but, we will have our disagreements as well. So hopefully, everyone will enjoy the posts we put up on here.

Win Twins!

P.S. Yesterday, we saw the conclusion of a pretty solid World Series. And following the game, the TwinsCentric gang has now released their 2011-12 offseason handbook. It literally covers everything you need to know about the upcoming offseason. I highly recommend this to any Twins fan out there. You can buy it, by clicking the link on the right hand side.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some Things Never Get Old

Every time I watch Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, it ends with the same result: A hanging changeup from the crafty veteran Charlie Liebrandt, that Kirby Puckett deposited in the left center field seats to win the game. Still, to this day, I get shivers every time I watch it. It, plain and simple, never gets old to watch.

Today, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of arguably the greatest game in the history of the Minnesota Twins. Many others in the Twins Blogosphere have paid tribute to this game today, so I thought I may as well too (To see their posts, check out the blog roll down the right hand side).

I won't say much more here, I'll just leave you with some photos and videos of that infamous game.

Monday, October 24, 2011

2013 Sounds Better

Somehow, in the span of one season, a 96 win team fell apart and became a 63 win ball club. Especially a team that had not won so few games since the previous decade began. So, as the World Series heads into his final games, we begin to speculate about what the 2012 Minnesota Twins should/will look like. But, as I mentioned in my previous post, it may be until 2013 before we get a glimpse of that 96 win team again.

First of all, the Twins have to get their middle infield straightened out. I believe the last time the starting two middle infielders were in consecutive opening day lineups were Luis Rivas and Cristian Guzman. And since then, it has been a revolving door at both positions. Perhaps none better than the 2010 tandem of Orlando Hudson and JJ Hardy. Last year, we saw Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka get the nod up the middle. Both spent time battling inconsistent play and trips to the disabled list. And heading into 2012, it would appear that the Twins will once again have a different pair up the middle. But, will they have a player, or two, that can be mainstays at those positions beyond next season?

But, the main problem with the team is pitching. And this will be perhaps the area that has minimal change going into 2012. The team has four starters (Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, and Nick Blackburn) under contract for 2012. They also have noted starters Brian Duensing and Kevin Slowey, but their future roles with the team are up in the air right now. But after 2012, Pavano ($8.5M contract in '12) and Liriano ('12 is final year of arbitration, '11 salary was $4.3M) are set to become free agents, while Baker has a $9.25M team option for '13 as well. So then the Twins could be willing to make a big free agent splash on a pitcher (Notable FA P's include Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, and Cole Hamels), while allowing young guns such as Liam Hendriks, Anthony Swarzak, and Kyle Gibson (if his recovery from TJ surgery goes well) to fill some rotation spots.

Also, the bullpen remains in big disarray, but this is an easier fix than the rotation. Heading into 2012, the Twins have Glen Perkins as the only solid returning member. Players such as Joe Nathan and Matt Capps are free agents this year. The bullpen will also feature players such as Jose Mijares, Alex Burnett, and Lester Oliveros who will still be under contract, but their status beyond 2012 should be based on their performance, given how 2011 went for them. There is no shortage of relievers out there either on the free agent market or available for trade, so this is why the bullpen should be a smaller priority right now.

It was not easy watching the Twins in 2011. And going into 2012, it may not be easy watching them again unless the front office goes crazy and somehow fills the team needs this winter. So I wouldn't expect much from the Twins in 2012. Expect good things from them in 2013...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Random Thoughts

It has been far too long since I've been on here. And I had honestly no idea what to write about. Everytime I think of something to post, I noticed someone else in my blog roll has already written on it. Maybe they're inside my head somehow (Haha j/k). So I'm going to compile a bunch of random Twins thoughts on here for this post, since I cannot for the life of me put one of those thoughts together in its own post.

  • I think the Twins would be stupid not to bring back Michael Cuddyer. Yes, he would cost in the $8-10 million range, but when he is healthy, he can hit 20-25 HRs and play literally anywhere on the field defensively. I would be very shocked if the Twins did not bring him back for 2012.
  • Congrats to P Liam Hendriks and INF Brian Dozier on being named minor league players of the year for the Twins in 2011.
  • As we read in Over The Baggy, the Twins may be one of the teams who might go after Japanese free agent pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma this offseason. I just don't like this idea. He would cost a lot, he is 30 years old, and you honestly don't know what you will get from him. The team would be better going after any other pitcher.
  • I think Chris Parmelee played well enough this September to get a good shot at making the team out of Spring next year. He could alternate time with Morneau as the first baseman and designated hitter, if he can continue to hit like he did.
  • I hope to god we don't hear those Denard Span for Drew Storen rumors again, once the offseason begins.
  • Is it a stretch to think that Glen Perkins will be the Twins closer in 2012?
  • I am all for bringing back Nick Punto next year, as a defensive specialist in the late innings.
  • I'm getting antsy waiting for the announcement of the replacement for John Gordon as the radio voice of the Twins next year. I hope its Kris Atterbury.
  • Its possible that with the major holes the Twins have moving forward (Pitching, middle infield), it may take them until 2013 to truly right the ship.
  • Despite their awful play, I still miss watching the Twins.
  • There are 127 days until Pitchers and Catchers Report
(Programming note: After quite some time of working on it, I have finished my Twins 2012 offseason blueprint. Once the TwinCentric gang has released their offseason handbook, I will post my blueprint for what I would do as the GM of the Twins. Once the handbook becomes available, I'll set up a link for it on this page.)