Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Who's Left Out There?: Part 1

The Projected 2011 Twins Bullpen
This week has seen the end to the mass exodus of the Twins bullpen. Crain, Guerrier, Rauch, and Fuentes have all exited the Twins this offseason to find more money and bigger contracts elsewhere.

The move to Target Field has allowed the Twins to spend an increasing amount on their payroll. Even with this increase in spending the Twins are sticking with a strategy that has worked for them in the past. That strategy is turning to "in-house options." Many current Twins fit the mold of homegrown talent (just a few of the Twins drafted by the organization): Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, Span, Valencia, Baker, Duensing, Blackburn, Casilla.

With the changes in the bullpen this offseason, Spring Training is going to bring a variety of new faces to fans as they prepare for the 2011 season.  And it brings up the question, "Who's Left Out There?"

This is the first part in a two part series, Part I: The Closers and The Familiar and Part II: The Unknowns (tomorrow).

Here is a look at the players that are left in the Twins bullpen and the in-house options to fill the rest of the roles:

The Closers: Matt Capps and Joe Nathan

Matt Capps: As part of the Twins offseason plan they offered Matt Capps arbitration and that amounted to a deal worth $7.15 million. Capps is there as an insurance policy for Nathan but as soon as Nathan proves he is healthy enough the job will be his to lose. Capps was an All-Star last year and put up decent numbers over the season with the Twins and the Nationals.  Season Stats (2010)- SV: 42, K: 59, WHIP: 1.195, ERA: 2.47

Joe Nathan: The Twins also have money tied into Joe Nathan for next season in the sum of $12 million.  That is a decent chunk of the total payroll for next year tied up in two players.  Nathan is the one question mark in this equation.  It takes players time to recover from Tommy John surgery and Nathan might need that extra time at the beginning of this season. Season Stats (2010)- None (Tommy John Surgery)

The Familiar: Alex Burnett, Pat Neshek, Jose Mijares, Glen Perkins
Alex Burnett: Burnett could see an increase in his workload.  I would like to see Burnett take on some of the late-inning moments that use to be occupied by Crain and Guerrier.  This might be a stretch for the young player but it could be crucial to the Twins success in 2011. Season Stats (2010)- IP: 41, K: 37, WHIP: 1.573, ERA: 5.29

Pat Neshek: Neshek rejoined the team at the end of last season but wasn't himself yet.  A complete offseason of rest should return him closer to form that he previously had. If Burnett is unable to assume some of those late-inning situations then Neshek could be the teams next option. His ability to regain some of his velocity will be a critical part of Spring Training. Season Stats (2010)- IP: 9, K: 9, WHIP: 1.010, ERA: 5.00

Jose Mijares: Mijares will continue to be called on as the left-handed specialist.  There could be a few other players fighting for this role with him.  Hopefully there aren't any issues at the beginning of Spring Training like last season (visa issues, weight issues, etc.). Season Stats (2010)- IP: 32.2, K: 28, WHIP: 1.137, ERA: 3.31

Glen Perkins:  Perkins could find himself in a long relief role for the Twins.  If some of the starters falter early in the year, he could make the occasional spot start. One of the issues for Perkins has been his ability to retire left-handed hitters (vs. LH batters .319 BA, vs. RH batters .289 BA).  If the Twins are going to occupy a roster spot with him, it is imperative that this statistics improve. Season Stats (2010)- IP: 21.2, K: 14, WHIP: 1.441, ERA: 5.82

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