The Annual Winter Meetings are held this week for general managers and other baseball personnel. The Twins usually take a quiet approach at the meetings but these meeting can lay the foundations for all of the moves that the Twins will make this offseason.
Here is my checklist for the things that I feel the Twins need to accomplish this week at the Winter Meetings. There are things on this list that might not be accomplished this week but the groundwork of some of these moves needs to be in place by the end of the week.
1. Decide on a starting infield: Twins players and their fans are anxious to know who will be playing up the middle for the Twins in 2011. There has been a buzz about Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Will he be part of this infield plan? The Twins have 20 days left to work out a contract with the Japanese sensation. Another piece in the infield puzzle is JJ Hardy. Will he be back with the Twins? Bill Smith will be, at the very least, shopping Hardy around to see what the market is for a very solid SS. There aren't that many available this offseason so if the offer is right Hardy could be playing for his third team in three years.
2. Solidify the bullpen: As the roster currently sits there would be a lot of question marks in the Twins bullpen for the 2011 season. Both Joe Nathan and Pat Neshek are on the rebound from elbow surgery. Matt Capps will be back as an insurance blanket for Nathan but there are a lot of other innings that need to be eaten by a bullpen. The Twins need one more veteran pitcher to help to solidify the late innings of games. This could be a familiar face in the form of Matt Guerrier or Jesse Crain. There are also other veteran bullpen arms that are available to assist the Twins next season.
3. Add a quality starting pitcher: This might be more of a wish than actual reality. It would be nice for the Twins to find another starting pitcher fill the hole that will be left by Carl Pavano. The Twins do have many candidates in their organization but none of them have stepped up to the challenge in the past. Could Zach Greinke become a member of the Twins? That was part of my offseason blueprint but it sounds like the Royals don't want to trade him in the division. Is there another pitcher the Twins could go after? The other scenario would be to use the pitchers that the Twins have and then call-up Kyle Gibson at the beginning of July. The Twins star prospect could be a shot in the arm for team in the second half of the season.
It's going to be a fun week with the Winter Meetings...