Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Grading last season's free agent signings

The end of the 2012 season is closely approaching and this leaves time to reflect back on the season when the hometown team isn't going to be in the playoffs. For the Twins, 2012 was another season to forget but there were some bright spots amidst all of the dullness of the past few months. Some of the brightest stars for 2012 came from the crop of free agents the Twins signed during last winter. These players might not have turned the team around from the dismal 2011 campaign but there were some pieces to fit into the plans for the next few seasons.

So how did the free agent crop for the Twins fair after signing on the dotted line to play in the Twin Cities? It's the end of the season so it's time to send out report cards to the front office of the Twins. Here are the final grades for the free agent signings that made an appearance with the Twins in 2012 (Author's note: The grades are for their time with the Twins even if it was a small sample size):

Grading Scale
A: Far above average player, goes above and beyond the club's dreams
B: Above average player, exceeded expectations of the club
C: Average player, met the expectations of the club
D: Below average player, below expectations (or limited playing time)
F: Far below average player, well below expectations (or cost us a draft pick)

Major League Crew
Josh Willingham: LF, DH
Stat Summary: .260/.366/.524, 35 HR, 110 RBI, 30 2B, 145 G
In a surprisingly healthy season for Willingham, he set career highs in games played, home runs, and RBI. To say the Twins were surprised by his performance would be an understatement. The 33-year old outfielder had a career year and it looks like the Twins got a steal on the free agent market. He became the first Twins player to hit 35 or more home runs in quite a long time. For the next two years, he will me making a very reasonable $7 million per season and he was worth close to $18 million in 2012 according to FanGraphs. FINAL GRADE: A

Ryan Doumit: C, DH, OF
Stat Summary: .275/.320/.461, 18 HR, 75 RBI, 34 2B, 134 G
The Twins wanted a better hitting catcher to back-up Joe Mauer and Doumit's versatility seemed to fit the needs of the club last offseason. He was originally signed to a one-year $3 million deal but his value became clear over the course of the season and the team signed him to an extension through 2014. Much like Willingham, Doumit has appeared in a career-high amount of games with other highs set for home runs and RBI. His defense behind the plate hasn't been atrocious and FanGraphs has him worth $7.2 million. FINAL GRADE: A-

Jared Burton: RHP
Stat Summary: (3-2), 2.18 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 62.0 IP, 55 SO, 16 BB
One of the biggest surprises of the season has been Burton and his shutdown ability out of the bullpen (minus this weekend versus Prince Fielder). He has been solid for most of the season and it looks like the Twins have their set-up man to pitch in front of Glen Perkins for 2013. He is still arbitration eligible so the organization has control of him for next season at a decent price. Like the men ahead of him on this list, he played in a career-high number of games since he was healthy and on the field. FanGraphs has his worth almost $4 million for this year. FINAL GRADE: B+

Jamey Carroll: SS, 2B, 3B
Stat Summary: .268/.343/.317, 1 HR, 40 RBI, 18 2B, 138 G
It was hard to get too excited about the Twins signing a 38-year old player to a multi-year contract. But that being said, Carroll turned out to be right about what the Twins expected for 2012. His batting average is a little under his career mark of .276 but he is still getting on base at a decent clip. The Twins also liked his ability to play multiple defensive positions and he has needed all of his infield gloves for the team this year. Last year was the only season he appeared in more games than this year and FanGraphs puts his value at $9.9 million for 2012. FINAL GRADE: B-

Matt Capps: RHP
Stat Summary: (1-4), 3.68 ERA, 1.091 WHIP, 29.1 IP, 18 SO, 4 BB
It was frustrating to see the Twins bring back Capps when the team could have gotten a compensatory draft pick if he left for another team. That frustration only grew with the injury plagued season put together by Capps. This season will be the least amount of innings he has thrown in any of his full seasons at the big league level. He also wasn't very effective during his time on the mound. According to FanGraphs, his value was $0.2 million and the Twins are paid him $4.5 million. FINAL GRADE: F

Jason Marquis: RHP
Stat Summary: (2-4), 8.47 ERA, 1.941 WHIP, 34.0 IP, 12 SO, 14 BB
There isn't much to add here after looking at the above stats from Marquis during his time with the Twins. When the Twins signed him, they were hoping for a veteran starter to add to their rotation. That didn't work out so well. It also might have made things worse that he looked slightly better during his time with the Padres later in the season. FINAL GRADE: F

Other Minor Deals
Sam Deduno: RHP
Stat Summary: (6-5), 4.44 ERA, 1.544 WHIP, 79.0 IP, 57 SO, 53 BB
After a few decent outings since his call-up, it looks like Deduno has a shot to make the rotation for 2013. The minor league journeyman is 29-years old and he won't cost a lot to stay with the club. It's also amazing how often he has gotten out of jams without allowing a ton of runs to score. FINAL GRADE: C+

Casey Fien: RHP
Stat Summary: (2-1), 2.08 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 34.2 IP, 32 SO, 9 BB
He was another surprise member out of a bullpen that has been very good this season. Fien has most likely pitched his way into contention for the roster in 2013. His minor league track record has been up-and-down so it will be interesting to see how next season goes for him. FINAL GRADE: C+

Luis Perdomo: RHP
Stat Summary: (0-0), 3.52 ERA, 1.696 WHIP, 15.1 IP, 8 SO, 11 BB
In his last six outings, he has only allowed a single run so he has put together a nice little stretch of baseball to end the year. Plus his beard was pretty sweet at the beginning of the year so he gets props from the facial hair department. He could fit into next year's bullpen. FINAL GRADE: D

Matt Carson: RF, DH
Stat Summary: .224/.246/.241, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1 2B, 24 G
Doesn't seem to fit into the long-term plans for the club at the big league level since the organization has outfield depth. He did put up some decent numbers during his time at Triple-A so he was worth a look in September by the club. There just hasn't been much to offer on the offensive side of the ball. FINAL GRADE: D

Sean Burroughs: 3B, DH
Stat Summary: .118/.167/.176, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 10 G
He was suppose to be the man to push Danny Valencia at third base but he couldn't really put it together in his limited time at the big league level. His numbers at Rochester were okay but he wasn't exactly a force in the line-up. FINAL GRADE: F

What kind of grades would you give these players for their 2012 season with the Twins?

The grades don't include their minor league numbers with the organization and some of them weren't suppose to contribute at the big league level in 2012 so getting a grade is plus for them. That's what happens after back-to-back poor seasons; the club has to turn to players they didn't think they would need.

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