Friday, November 30, 2012

Denard Span's Top 5 Games

On Thursday afternoon, it was announced that the Twins had traded Denard Span to the Washington Nationals for Alex Meyer, a 2011 first round draft pick. Span had been rumored in deals to the Nats for multiple seasons and the Twins were finally able to work out a deal to their liking. It will be tough to see Span leave but there was a logjam in the Twins outfield and he was one of their most valuable trade chips.

Meyers has plenty of potential as a starting pitcher with a fastball that can hit the upper 90's and a very good slider. If I was placing him in my top prospect list from earlier this offseason, he would most certainly crack the top 10 and he will likely fall in the top 5 before all things are said and done.

When Scott Baker signed with the Cubs earlier this offseason, I put together a list of his top five games in a Twins uniform. It seems fitting to do the same for Mr. Span since he was a fan favorite during his time in the Twin Cities. Good luck to Span with his new team and this gives fans another reason to cheer for the Nationals.

5. Five hit performance helps Twins in blowout win
Stat Summary: 5-5, 2B, 3 R, RBI
Game Summary: Twins win 11-0 vs Tigers at Comerica Park (8-8-2009)

The Twins wouldn't need all of Span's five hits in this game but it was the most hits he ever accumulated in one contest for the Twins. He would match this mark in other games but this was the one time he was a perfect five for five. His three runs in the game would be the most on the team and his double to start the game would set the tone. Joe Mauer hit a home run later that inning and the best part about this blowout win was that Justin Verlander was on the mound.

4. Span's perfect day at the plate helps Twins win in extras
Stat Summary: 4-4, 3B, 2 R, RBI
Game Summary: Twins win 7-6 vs Tigers at Comerica Park (7-10-2008)

In this back and forth game between the Twins and the Tigers, Span tried to prove he belonged permanently at the big league level. His triple in the top of the third would give the Twins their first run of the game and he would score later in the inning. Span would be involved in the comeback for the Twins as he cracked a single in the top of the ninth. A run was scored on the play after an error by the right fielder and Span would score the tying run in his next at-bat. In the tenth inning, Span helped to keep the rally going with a single that pushed the winning run to third base. Span was proving his value to the Twins and it didn't look like he would be heading back to the minor leagues anytime soon.

3. Rookie Span helps Twins sneak past the White Sox
Stat Summary: 3-4, 3B, 2B, R, 3 RBI
Game Summary: Twins win 7-6 vs White Sox at Metrodome (9-25-2008)

The Twins had to play catch-up after the White Sox put six runs on the board in the top of the fourth inning. Span would help the Twins on their bid to make a comeback. His single in the first inning would put Minnesota in place to score their first run of the game on a Mauer ground rule double. In the fourth inning, Span would cut the Chicago lead to one with a run scoring double but the Twins still had some work to do. After a Carlos Gomez triple, Span was asked to lay down a suicide squeeze and it worked as the Twins cut the lead to two. The biggest hit for Span would come in the bottom of the eighth against Bobby Jenks, the closer for Chicago. His triple would tie the game and put the Twins in position to win in extra-innings.

2. Career high 6 RBI helps Span lead Twins past Royals
Stat Summary: 4-5, 3B, R, 6 RBI
Game Summary: Twins win 11-6 vs Royals at Kauffman Stadium (9-26-2009)

The Royals took the lead in the bottom of the second inning and it took awhile for the Twins to wake up their bats against Lenny DiNardo. In the top of the fourth inning, the Twins finally started to make their move. Span would have one of the biggest at-bats with the score tied and the bases load. He knocked a triple to deep center field to clear the bases. Minnesota would be in control of the game from that point forward and Span would help the club to add to their lead with some well timed hits in the late innings. RBI totals are all about having the opportunity and Span made the most of his opportunities in this game.

1. Span ties team record with three triples
Stat Summary: 4-4, 3 3B, 2 R, 5 RBI
Game Summary: Twins win 11-4 vs Tigers at Target Field (6-29-2010)

Span started this game with a triple and he never looked back. By the end of the contest, he would tie the team record for triples in a game and he would also drive in five runs in the process. His triple in the bottom of the fourth inning can be seen as the turning point in the game. Until that point, it had been a back and forth game with the Tigers leading after the top of the fourth. Span cracked a triple with two men on base to tie the game. The Twins never trail from that point forward and Span helped them to add to their lead later in the game. One triple is hard enough to get in a game and three triples is something special that doesn't happen very often.

There you go with some of the best performances from Span during his Twins career. Apparently he was a Tiger killer during his career in the AL Central. What was your favorite Span moment and what will you miss most about the center fielder?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tracking 8 Twins Off-Season Stories

Here are a few of the offseason stories swirling as the Winter Meetings approach. Get yourself caught up on all the happenings from the rumor mill. Step up to the table because there are plenty of Twins tidbits to go around. Starting the countdown at number 8:

8. Pat Neshek avoids arbitration with Oakland, signs a one-year deal
Neshek has always been a fan favorite in Minnesota and he had a rebirth with the resurgent A's in 2012. He had plenty to deal with in the past year with the tragedy that struck his family. It is good that he has something positive happen to him and he can hope to improve himself for next season. He is an easy person to root for and I hope he finds continued success in Oakland.

7. Carl Pavano might be looking to return to the Marlins
Pavano pitched in Florida before signing his big deal with the Yankees and reports are that he wouldn't mind a Miami reunion. He has plenty to prove after a rough year in 2012. The big ballpark in Miami might help him to have another productive season but his results from last year make it seem like he is on the downward slide.

6. Denard Span doesn't look like he will be going to Atlanta
The Braves signed BJ Upton to a 5-year, $75 million contract to fill-up one of their outfield spots. Reports say the Braves were discussing signing Upton and trading for Denard Span. Unfortunately, trade talks have stalled with the Twins. It would have been nice for Minnesota to get a pitcher or two back from the Braves but it doesn't sound like it will happen at this point. He could still be on the move to another team during the Winter Meetings.

5. Twins haven't approached Justin Morneau about a contract extension
Morneau's deal is up at the end of the coming season and the club hasn't sat down to discuss the possibility of an extension with their Canadian slugger. There could be a chance the club is looking to deal him this winter and that might be one of the reasons these talks haven't taken place. He made it clear that he loves playing in Minnesota but he knows his recent injury history will play a role in getting a deal done.

4. Francisco Liriano could be back in Minnesota
Sources from the Twins have told the Star Tribune that the left-handed pitcher and his representation have been in contact with the Twins. There are plenty of openings in Minnesota's starting rotation so a player like Liriano might be necessary. It can be assumed that he is looking for a mulit-year contract and that might not be something the Twins are willing to do. Never say never though....

3. Could Joe Mauer be traded to Boston?
The Red Sox dumped a lot of salary at the end of last year and they could be looking to add some pieces this offseason. One of those pieces could be Joe Mauer but as their first baseman since the team is going hard after Mike Napoli. This is complete speculation at this point since there probably isn't much of a chance of the Twins dealing the face of their franchise. If Boston came calling with a good deal, it might be hard for the Twins to ignore. Clearing all of that salary space would be nice for the future.

2. Danny Valencia on the move again
The Red Sox sold Valencia to the Orioles for cash considerations on Wednesday. The 28-year old infielder seemed to be locked in for the Twins at third base after a good rookie season. His bat never looked the same after his first year and the Twins parted ways with him after the emergence of Trevor Plouffe. Maybe Valencia and former infielder Alexi Casilla can start a reunion tour in Baltimore's infield.

1. Friday is deadline day for Duensing, Burton, and Butera
Minnesota has three players eligible for arbitration this year and the deadline to tender them a contract is Friday. Most likely the Twins will certainly want to keep Duensing and Burton around for next year so the only question mark could be Butera. If the Twins want a spot open on the 40-man roster for the Rule 5 Draft, Butera might be the odd man out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rule 5 Draft Preview: Diamond Hunting

The Rule 5 Draft can be an interesting test of an organization because of all of the rules and regulations involved in selecting a player. To understand the Twins mindset for the draft, it is important to know the rules involved in selecting a player and the purpose of the Rule 5 Draft. All of these things can go a long way into a team's decision to pick a player or to let their pick go to the wayside.

When MLB instituted the Rule 5 Draft, the purpose was to keep teams from stockpiling MLB ready talent in their organization. This draft gives players that are ready the opportunity to sink or swim at the big league level. If a player has been with a team for an allotted amount of time and hasn't been added to the 40-man roster, he is exposed to the Rule 5 Draft.

Rule 5 players must stay with their new big league club or be offered back to their old team. This means a club can't pick up a Rule 5 player and stash him away in the minor leagues. The order of the draft is based on the win-loss record of the team's from the previous season. For the Twins, this means the club has the fourth pick after having the second pick last season.

Here is a look at the Twins last five Rule 5 drafts:

None of the above listed Rule 5 picks were strong enough to stay on the 25-man roster for the entire season. Scott Diamond has been the only player in the last half decade to make an impact on the Twins from their Rule 5 selections. Even he had to be sent to the minors for a little more seasoning before making his mark with the big league team. The Rule 5 Draft can be full of disappointments but there can be some "Diamonds" in the rough.

One of the sticking points for the Twins at this point is they have no space available on their 40-man roster. For the team to use their fourth pick in the Rule 5 Draft, they would need to clear room on the roster. The organization just added eight players to the 40-man so there is a chance the team might not be looking to making any additions at this point.

There are a few names left off of other team's 40-man rosters and this could be good news for the Twins. The club is in desperate need of adding some pitching and the Rule 5 Draft could help in this search. Below you will find three names of pitchers that could be available for the Twins to select with their fourth pick but they still need to make room on the 40-man roster.

Josh Fields, RHP, Red Sox (Age 27)
Fields is a former first round pick that has spent the last two seasons bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A with the Red Sox and the Mariners. He has been used entirely as a relief pitcher but he has posted good ERA marks on his way up the ladder. He can strike batters out with a SO/9 of 12 last year and he doesn't walk a lot of batters. Fields is a flyball pitcher but he does a good job of keeping the ball in the park and this would suit him well at Target Field. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and he has a very good curveball. Fields seems like a player that could slide into a bullpen role with the Twins next year.

Kyle Kaminska, RHP, Pirates (Age 24)
The Twins love control pitchers and Kaminska might just be the pitcher they are looking at. He worked his way up to Triple-A last season in a primary relief role. His low walk rate of 1.2 BB/9 sure sounds like it is right up the Twins alley. His fastball sits right around 90 mph and he breaking pitch isn't anything to write home about. Kaminska could fit into the middle of a bullpen and eat up some innings for a club. The Twins seem to need starting pitching at this point so Kaminska might be overlooked for a pitcher with more experience in that role.

JC Sulbaran, RHP, Royals (Age 23)
Sulbaran is a new member of the Royals organization as he was just traded to the team last season. This still didn't mean they wanted to protect him on their 40-man roster. At 23-years old, he is still young and there is plenty of potential in his right arm. His control has been an issue during his time in the minors and this might make the Twins look the other direction. He averaged 5.2 BB/9 last year but he had 9.3 SO/9. Sulbaran has a low-90s fastball and a decent breaking pitch that could make him useful in the future. If the Twins want to take a flyer on a player, he could turn into a back of the rotation starter.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Twins must end revolving door at shortstop

It has been a continuous quest for the Twins to solidify their options up the middle. In recent seasons, it has seemed like a revolving door at some key positions on the field and this hasn't been beneficial to the club. One of the most problematic areas for the Twins in recent memory has been their search for a shortstop that could fit into their long-term plans. This search continues and it's hard to see an end in sight.

In the last decade, the Twins have used eight different Opening Day starters at shortstop. The only men to make the list twice in the last decade were Cristian Guzman and Jason Bartlett. Otherwise, it has been a continuous revolving door. In four of the last five seasons, the man to earn the job for Opening Day has failed to start the most games at shortstop over the course of the season.

When the Twins traded away Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza to get Delmon Young and Brendan Harris, it ended a nice run of consistency at shortstop. For the early part of the 2000s, the Twins had Cristian Guzman consistently leading the team at the shortstop position. Bartlett was there to take over after the team parted ways with Guzman. Since that point, it has been a hodgepodge of players at one of the most important positions on the field.

The only year in recent memory with a semblance of consistency at shortstop was in 2010 after the Twins traded for JJ Hardy. He was the Opening Day starter and he led the team in games played at the position. There were still injury concerns with Hardy as he only played in 101 games but it was still more consistent than the last two years.

In 2011, the Twins put a lot of stock into Tsuyoshi Nishioka and this plan failed miserably. He didn't work out at second base and he was even more of a disaster when they moved him to shortstop. After spending almost all of last season being less than mediocre at Triple-A, he went back to Japan. One of the biggest regrets besides Nishioka being horrible might be the fact that the team parted ways with Hardy to make room for their Japanese import.

Last season, the Twins started the year with newly signed free agent Jamey Carroll at shortstop. Brian Dozier was coming off a very good season in the minor leagues after being named the team's minor league player of the year. Carroll didn't exactly hit the cover off the ball so the Twins handed the reigns to Dozier. It wasn't pretty for Dozier either and he ended the year in the minor leagues.

The future of the shortstop position doesn't look to be getting any better in Minnesota. Pedro Florimon looks to have the upper hand at the Opening Day start in 2013 but there is still plenty of time before the Twins face the Tigers. Carroll, Dozier, and others might be in the mix for the starting role but the long-term solution doesn't seem like it will be in camp when the Twins head to Fort Myers.

As far as prospects go, Daniel Santana looks like the next best potential shortstop in the organization. He spent all of last season at High-A with the Fort Myers Miracle. He put together the best season of his professional career by batting .286/.329/.410 with 38 extra-base hits. Levi Michael, the 2011 First Round Draft pick, split time at both middle infield positions for Fort Myers. Baseball America also named him the best defensive infielder in the Twins system.

If Santana or Michael is the long-term solution at shortstop, they are still multiple levels away from cracking into the line-up for the Twins. There is always a chance the Twins could get a shortstop back in a trade this offseason but starting pitching is most likely the priority. At this point, the hope of 2013 looks to be a little bleak.

The revolving door at shortstop needs to stop or the rest of Twins Territory is going to continue to have a sick feeling in their stomach.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Posey could be looking for Mauer-type contract

Following the 2009 season, Joe Mauer was sitting pretty when it came to his contract negotiations with the Minnesota Twins. He was coming off the best season of his career and he was only one full season away from hitting the free agent market. The Baseball Writers Association named him the American League Most Valuable Player and it looked like Mauer could ask for any amount of money that he wanted from his hometown team.

Flash-forward a couple of seasons and a similar situation is beginning to play itself out in San Francisco. A young catcher is coming off of a MVP season and Buster Posey could be looking to cash-in with a long-term deal. Lucky enough for the Giants, Posey will be under their control from 2013-2016 but this could come at a steep cost. It might be a better deal for the club to work on a contract extension this offseason before Posey's value goes any higher.

Will the Giants wait to see what Posey can do for an encore? The Twins were in a tough spot when Mauer was a year away from free agency. If the team didn't get something done before the start of 2010, they risked the chance of losing him as a free agent. For a team starting their first year in a new multi-million dollar stadium, it wouldn't have been good press to let their hometown star test the free agent waters.

The Giants have the opportunity to wait and see if Posey will be able to match his numbers in 2013. He will get a raise as part of the arbitration process but he will still be relatively cheap compared to his value on the field. If the team goes year to year with Posey, there is a chance he will make close to $20 million for the 2016 campaign.

Should Posey get more money than Mauer? When Mauer signed his deal, he would be turning 27 before the start of the next season. This meant his 8-year, $184 million contract would keep him in a Twins uniform through the 2018 season. He will be 35-years old by the end of the deal and he should be on the downside of his career. Mauer's deal ranks him as the highest paid catcher in history but Posey might be in position to break that mark.

Unlike Mauer, Posey went to college before starting his pro career. This put him in a little bit of a hole when getting going in the big leagues. He is now 25-years old and the team can control his rights until he is 29-years old. If the Giants want to avoid some of the costs of the arbitration process, they could look to ink Posey to a deal but it's hard to imagine him getting more than Mauer at this point. One more MVP like season and this could be a different story.

Does less time catching mean less value? As Twins fans saw in 2012, the team was going to try their best to keep Mauer on the field. This meant less time at the catching position after a dreadful 2011 season where he played less than 100 games for the first time since his rookie season. The Twins want to keep Mauer's bat in the line-up on a regular basis and it looks like he will be playing less time at catcher as his career progresses.

Posey also missed a chunk of time in 2011 due to injury after a gruesome collision at home plate broke his leg. This past season he still started over 110 games behind the plate but he did start to rack up some innings at first base. Without a DH in the National League, it looks like the Giants will be forced to continue to use Posey as their primary backstop. This can only help his value when it comes to contract negotiation time.

In the end, Mauer is on pace to be one of the best hitting catchers of all-time. It looks like Posey will be following in Mauer's footsteps as their careers progress. For Posey, he might want to get the type of contract Mauer got from the Twins but he is already beating Mauer in the most important category of all... he has two championship rings.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Twins still have things to be thankful for

It's the day before Thanksgiving and the beginning of next baseball season still seems far away. The offseason hasn't really gotten off to a thrilling start for the Twins. This means that fans will continue to wait for the club to make some kind of move to improve this team.

When families gather around their table tomorrow, some will spend time discussing the things they are thankful for in the past year. This could include being thankful for good health, a new baby, or a marriage in the past year. You get the idea.

If the Twins were gathering around a table at Target Field, here are some of the things they might say they are thankful for.
1. Target Field: It's one of the finest facilities in baseball to watch a game. Also, the overall experience of going to a game at Target Field is amazing. There are so many different food choices, there are beautiful views of downtown Minneapolis, and there is so much to do besides watching a game. It truly is one of the best sporting experiences for Minnesota fans.

The product on the field hasn't been the greatest the last two seasons but there were still other reasons to head to Target Field. Anyone that has taken the opportunity to go on a tour of Target Field knows what a first class facility the Twins have. After years of watching baseball under the Teflon roof of the Metrodome, it was nice to back to where baseball should be played under the bright blue sky.

2. Joe Mauer: He got some criticism when he missed a big chunk of the 2011 season with multiple injuries. This didn't stop Mauer from having a bounce-back year in 2012. His batting average was back over .300 and he led the American League in on-base percentage. He was forced to spend less time behind the plate but this could be better for the longevity of his career.

Mauer has proven that he is one of the best hitters of this generation and he is in the discussion for best hitting catcher of all-time. He has three batting titles to his name, an MVP award, and he still hasn't turned 30-years old. Twins fans have been lucky to have some great players in the past but they are lucky enough to watch something special every night with Mauer on the field.

3. Rising prospects: While the current roster of Twins has fallen on hard times, there is plenty to be thankful for in the minor league system. The top prospects are all coming off of very good seasons and a couple look ready to break into the major leagues in the near future. This influx of young talent could help to put the franchise back on the winning path.

Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia put together very strong seasons at the Double-A level and this should have them ready to emerge for Rochester. The lower levels of the system are also rich with talent like Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, and Byron Buxton. Obviously, not all of these prospects might succeed but there is a strong chance for a few of these players to be making an impact on the Twins in the next couple of years.

4. Terry Ryan: His approach to rebuilding a team helped to get the Twins to the top of the ladder in the AL Central for most of the 2000's. He might not want to spend a ton of money on the open market but this isn't always a bad thing. Bad, long-term contracts can haunt a team just as much as not signing players.

Free agents Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit, and Jamey Carroll all played significant roles on the 2012 version of the Twins. Willingham had a career year at the plate and Doumit turned his one-year deal into a multi-year contract with the club. There are going to be some hiccups like Joel Zumaya and Jason Marquis but it's important to take some chances. Restoring this team to it's former glory is his job and most fans are comfortable with him at the helm.

5. Hope for the future: After watching team's like the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics shock the baseball world, it's hard not to think that the Twins can do the same. They aren't that far removed from being at the top of the division and it seems like there are only a couple of pieces missing. All of these pieces are in the starting rotation but those are still holes that can be filled in one offseason.

With the rising prospects talked about above and some of the current roster pieces, it can be hard not to have hope for the team to turn it around. There are new voices in the clubhouse and this might be the perfect time to make some noise again in the AL Central.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Travel Safe!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Trading with Tampa Bay makes sense

It would be nice to be in the position of the Rays during this offseason. They seem to be in the opposite boat of the Twins in the fact that they have seven potential starting pitchers and only five available rotation spots. The Twins have one starter penciled in for the spring, Scott Diamond, and a whole lot of question marks for spots two through five. This inequality in resources seems to make the Twins and the Rays likely trade partners before the offseason is complete.

There are three big names in the rotation for the Rays and it would take a lot to get one of those arms. Some of the other outlying men are still attractive for the Twins since they have so little when it comes to starting pitching. Plenty of other teams will be calling the Rays about their stockpile of arms so it's up to Terry Ryan and the Twins to make a deal that works out for both clubs.

Here is a look at the seven potential starters from Tampa Bay

James Shields: W-L (15-10), 3.52 ERA, 227.2 IP, 223 SO, 58 BB, 1.168 WHIP
His club options over the next two seasons will only call for him to make a total of $24 million. That's a steal considering how much he could make on the free agent market. He has been a workhorse over the last six seasons by tossing over 215 innings and he has averaged 238 innings pitched in the last two years. Shields has held up so far but he will be 31-years old for all of next season and it's tough not to wonder if he will break down at some point in the near future.

David Price: W-L (20-5), 2.56 ERA, 211 IP, 205 SO, 59 BB, 1.100 WHIP
He is entering his first year of arbitration so he is under team control for multiple seasons and that will be a bonus to potential trade partners. It also helps that Price has been one of the top pitchers in the American League since he broke into the league a few seasons ago. Since he is four years younger than Shields, there is less wear and tear on his arm but that means it will cost more to get him. He will most likely cost more than the Twins are willing to pay with all the holes they have to fill.

Matt Moore: W-L (11-11), 3.81 ERA, 177.1 IP, 175 SO, 81 BB, 1.348 WHIP
Moore was supposed to be lined up for an outstanding rookie season after the way he pitched in the 2011 postseason. He wasn't terrible but the numbers don't exactly jump off the page at a person. Moore signed a team friendly deal to buy out his arbitration years so he can be under team control until 2019. This makes Moore one of the more attractive arms for the Rays but there's a good chance they hold on to him this offseason. He will only cost the team a total of $5 million for the next three seasons and there is plenty of potential is his left arm.

Jeremy Hellickson: W-L (10-11), 3.10 ERA, 177 IP, 124 SO, 59 BB, 1.254 WHIP
The 2011 American League Rookie of the Year put together similar numbers in 2012. He hasn't been signed to a long-term deal like Moore but he hasn't even hit his arbitration years. The earliest he could reach free agency is 2017 and this is something other teams will take into consideration. Hellickson isn't going to blow people away but he saw an increase in his strikeouts and a decrease in his walks last season. He hasn't pitched over 200 innings in a season but he is only 25.

Alex Cobb: W-L (11-9), 4.03 ERA, 136.1 IP, 106 SO, 40 BB, 1.247 WHIP
Cobb didn't start the year in the big leagues but he made a surprise impact on a team pushing for a playoff spot. There were some rough outings along the way but he was a very good pitcher from the end of July to the beginning of October. He is still pre-arbitration eligible so this adds to his value on the trade market and he could be a target for multiple teams.

Jeff Niemann: W-L (2-3), 3.08 ERA, 38 IP, 34 SO, 12 BB, 1.105 WHIP
After Niemann took a line drive off of his leg, he missed most of last season recovering from the injury. The 29-year old pitcher is entering his first year of arbitration so the earliest he can be a free agent is in 2015. In the two seasons before last year, he had an ERA of over 4.00 with other lackluster numbers. He would be fine as a back of the rotation guy and the Twins will take almost anyone at this point.

Chris Archer: W-L (1-3), 4.60 ERA, 29.1 IP, 36 SO, 13 BB, 1.227 WHIP
He was one of the players received by the Rays in the deal that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs. Archer made his MLB debut last season after spending the last two seasons in the upper levels of the Rays minor league system. He is the youngest pitcher in this group besides Moore and he showed some positive signs in the lower levels of the minor leagues.

With BJ Upton most likely leaving in free agency, the Rays could be looking for add some depth in the outfield. This is one area the Twins have a surplus so it might make sense for the team's to swap a starting pitcher for a starting outfielder. Denard Span is under control for the next three seasons in a very team friendly deal and he could fit in nicely at the top of the order for the Rays.

There are also a couple of younger outfielders in the Twins system ready to breakout at the big league level. If the Twins feel like they have a big enough need in the pitching department, they could trade Aaron Hicks or Oswaldo Arcia to try and land one of the more prominent names on this list.

A deal between the Rays and the Twins seems like it would make sense but there is still plenty of offseason left for the right deal to get done.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ranking the Twins AFL Performances

Over the weekend, seven members of the Twins farm system were part of a championship in the Arizona Fall League. Their team, the Peoria Javelinas, took the title in a championship contest that saw no runs scored in the final six innings. By the end of the game, the Javelinas were able to celebrate on the field and prospects for the Twins were right in the middle of all of the excitement.

The only member of the Twins to start in the game was Nate Roberts, the 2012 AFL batting champion. He was penciled into the number two spot and he served as the designated hitter. Roberts would finish the game by going 3-for-4 with a run scored which raised his average to .446 in the fall league.

Evan Bigley would be the only other Twins player to make an appearance in the game. He entered the contest after star Reds prospect Billy Hamilton crashed into the outfield wall during the bottom of the eighth inning. Since Hamilton was the last out in the top of the frame, Bigley wouldn't record an at-bat in the contest.

During the multiple week season of the AFL, there were some good performances from this batch of future Twins. Here is look at the ranking of the top 2012 AFL performances from the Twins:

1. Nate Roberts, OF: In the course of his 19 games with Peoria, Roberts seemed like he could do no wrong at the plate. He batted almost .500 and his on-base percentage was creeping closer to .600. He hit three home runs in the AFL after only hitting four during the regular season. The AFL is considered a hitter's league so it's a good thing anytime a prospect from your favorite organization can finish at the top of the batting leader board.

2. Logan Darnell, LHP: After being a starter for the entire year with the Rock Cats, Darnell split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen in the AFL. Out of the two games he started, he only allowed one earned run and he struck out seven. In fact, he never surrendered more than one run in appearance. He pitched less innings than Kyle Gibson but put together a very good 2.45 ERA. This has to be a confidence boost for Darnell as he looks towards next season with Rochester.

3. Kyle Gibson, RHP: Gibson started off on a tear in the AFL but he was tamed in his last handful of outings. In his first three trips to the mound, Gibson would pick up the win for Peoria. His first two outings were very strong as he pitched five innings in each outing and struck out eight batters per start. He would surrender 13 runs over 10.1 innings in his last three starts. He was even selected to start the AFL Rising Stars Game. Overall, the Twins were happy with his results and he made it healthy through the AFL.

4. Michael Tonkin, RHP: Tonkin had never pitched over the High-A level in the Twins system so there could have been some difficulties with the jump to the AFL. This wasn't the case as Tonkin was able to hold his own as a relief arm. Through his first eight appearances, he didn't give up a run. In his second to last outing, he gave up a home run and then his last appearance he gave up three runs. He still didn't give up more than one hit in any of his trips to the mound.

5. Evan Bigley, OF: Bigley was up and down during his time in the AFL. He hit a couple triples and four doubles but he wasn't able to get a home run. Unfortunately, he struck out at a rate of almost once a game but he did manage to knock in nine runs. Down the stretch, he put together a three game span where he went 7-for-15 with two triples, four runs scored, and four RBI.

6. Dan Rohlfing, C: Rohfling was sent to the AFL after Chris Herrmann was injured earlier in the fall season. This meant Rohlfing didn't get the entire AFL experience but he was still able to make his presence felt. He appeared in five games and hit .333 with five RBI and he started the AFL with a four game hit streak. He didn't rack up any extra-base hits but it was a small sample size and he really isn't known for his power stroke.

7. Caleb Thielbar, LHP: Thielbar was coming off quite the season where he pitched at three different levels in the Twins system. He finished the year in Rochester before being asked to head to the AFL. It was a rough time for Thielbar in Arizona. He pitched in 11 games and surrendered multiple runs in five of those appearances. His walk rate went up a little but he did strikeout batters at close to the same rate as the regular season. The AFL is supposed to be a tough environment for pitchers and this idea held true for Thielbar.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Torii Hunter's Legacy

Back in the 1993 when the Twins drafted a high school outfielder from Arkansas, there was plenty of hope surrounding his future. The greatest player in franchise history, Kirby Puckett, was manning the outfield for the current team and this new athletic young man was in line to be his heir apparent. Puckett's career would be cut short in the coming years but Torii Hunter would lead a revitalization of the Twins franchise in the 2000s.

Two decades after being drafted, Hunter has found the third team of his career. He left the Twins following the 2007 to continue his career with the Los Angeles Angels. The lore of a large contract and a bigger market was too much to turn down for Hunter at the time. As a 37-year old aging outfielder, he is still getting a big contract but this time he is searching for something more... to cement his legacy.

Hunter has found his way back to the American League Central with the Detroit Tigers. He signed a 2-year, $26 million contract so he can try and win the championship that he has searched for his entire career. Like many players approaching the end of their careers, Hunter wants to go out on top. He is coming off of a rejuvenating season with the Angels and Detroit looks to be the place where he continues his title hunt.

The Tigers are coming off of a berth in the World Series but their club was lacking some offensive punch down the stretch. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder had very good years in the middle of Detroit's line-up and Austin Jackson has turned into a very good lead-off man. There were still plenty of other holes in the back-end of the line-up and Hunter helps to solidify one spot. He will most likely slide into the number two spot in the order behind Jackson and in front of Cabrera and Fielder.

In 2012, Hunter put together one of his best offensive seasons. He finished with a batting average over .300 for the first time in his career and he still managed to put up decent power numbers in the middle of the Angels line-up. His offensive WAR was the highest of his career and he combined that with above average defense in a corner outfield spot.

Hunter's career offensive numbers continue to pile up as he will be entering his 17th big league season next year. There are a few offensive milestones for Hunter to cross in a Tigers uniform. He is only three home runs away from 300 for his career and he is only 14 hits away from the 2,000 mark. It will be nice for Hunter to reach these milestones in 2013 but the true test of his legacy might be what he can do to add to these totals, as he gets closer to 40-years old.

Defense will always be the trademark of Hunter's legacy in the major leagues. "Spider-Man" as he became known for his acrobatic feats will always be remembered by Twins fans for his ability to rob home runs over the blue plastic wall at the Metrodome. From 2001 to 2009, he won a Gold Glove and that number ranks seventh all-time among outfielders. His never-say-die attitude led to more than one injury when he was tracking down fly balls but his highlight reel catches far outweigh the times he ended up hurt.

Like Puckett before him and other aging outfielders, Hunter has been shifted from centerfield to a corner outfield spot. His defensive skills might be a little slower but he has plenty of years experience to rely on at this point. He knows the routes to the ball off of the bat and he can still provide solid defense as he finishes out his career.

For Twins fans, the charismatic Hunter will always hold a place in the heart of Twins Territory. Fans might find it a little more difficult to cheer for the outfielder now that he is on a rival AL Central team. He will be trolling the outfield on Opening Day at Target Field for the second year in a row but alas it won't be in a Twins uniform.

His legacy with the Twins doesn't seem to be in jeopardy but a title with Detroit could be the icing on the cake for his overall legacy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

BBA Announces Stan Musial Award Winners For 2012

The following is a press release from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. To see my completed ballot, click on the following link (Trout, Posey were top players in '12).
The final award given annually by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, the Stan Musial Award, is given every year to the premier player in each league.
In what proved to be the easier of the two decisions, the Alliance pulled together to award Buster Posey for his stellar season leading the San Fransisco Giants to an eventual world championship.  Posey had an amazing season for any player, let alone a catcher.  Posey’s hard fought season earned him a batting title, an impressive slashline (.336/.408/.549), 24 home runs and 103 runs batted in.  His impressive numbers earned him 70% of the BBA vote and the acknowledgment as the premier player in the National League.
The American League vote was a bit more of a debate and a fairly close one.  As the blogs weighed in, only two players received votes.  The vote split leaving Mike Trout of the Angels with a decisive 62% of the vote, edging out the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera.  Mike Trout becomes the first player to be acknowledged by the BBA with the Stan Musial and Willie Mays Awards in the same season.  As impressive as Miguel Cabrera was winning the triple crown, the bloggers of the BBA were quick to point out how impressive Trout’s all around numbers were.
Previous Stan Musial Award Winners
2011: Jose Bautista, Toronto; Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
2010: Josh Hamilton, Texas; Joey Votto, Cincinnati
2009: Joe Mauer, Minnesota; Albert Pujols, St. Louis
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 232 blogs spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.
The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Miami's loss could have been Minnesota's gain

The Marlins continued their long history of selling away star players to meet their bottom line. In a blockbuster deal that was swirling around yesterday, Miami traded away a fifth of their 25-man roster from last Opening Day. The Blue Jays were the lucky recipients of the fire sale in Miami and it now looks like Toronto will be fighting for a spot at the top of the American League.

Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle are the centerpieces of the trade. Miami did well to get some good pieces in return but most of the best pieces they got back aren't going to be MLB ready for next season. There are plenty of people mad at the ownership in Miami after opening a brand new stadium last season. New Marlins manager Mike Redmond has to be left shaking his head.

As a fan of the Twins, it's hard not to wonder what could have been. There are plenty of holes on the Twins roster for next season and the front office could have filled most of them with a deal like the one Toronto just pulled off. Minnesota needs to add multiple starting pitchers and it would help to strengthen up the middle infield.

It sounds like the Twins were in talks with the Marlins about multiple players but the details aren't exactly clear on who was involved or how deep talks got. There are obviously plenty of things that have to be considered when it comes to trade of this type. Maybe the Marlins didn't want anyone in the Twins system or the Twins might not have been offering some of their top prospects.

We may not ever know what could have been...

Here's a look at what the Twins could have looked like next season if Reyes, Buehrle, and Johnson were brought into the fold. Obviously, not all of the names listed below might have survived the offseason on the Twins roster but it's still fun to dream.

SP: Josh Johnson
SP: Mark Buehrle
SP: Scott Diamond
SP: Liam Hendriks
SP: Kyle Gibson

C: Joe Mauer
1B: Justin Morneau
2B: Jamey Carroll
3B: Trevor Plouffe
SS: Jose Reyes
LF: Josh Willingham
CF: Denard Span
RF: Ben Revere
DH: Ryan Doumit

That looks like a roster that could contend in the AL Central in 2013 but that dream won't come to fruition. Instead, we wait for the Twins to make their first offseason move and we are left to contemplate over a lost opportunity.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Scott Baker's Top 5 Games

The offseason was supposed to mark the happy reunion between the rehabbing starting pitcher and the only team he has ever known. But when Scott Baker reached the free agent market, there was plenty of interest in the right-handed hurler. The Cubs inked Baker to a one-year deal worth a base salary of $5.5 million with some incentives built into the back end. If Baker is healthy and can pitch effectively for the Cubs, it will be a steal of a deal.

A few weeks ago, the thought of Baker leaving the Twins seemed to be far from everyone's mind. In interviews, Terry Ryan sounded confident about the possibility of bringing back Baker. From the sounds of reports out of the Twin Cities, Baker's deal with the Twins fell through because Minnesota wanted an option year for 2014. It sounds like Baker and his agent wanted the pitcher to hit the open market again after what they hope will be a positive year for him in Chicago.

There is a chance for the Twins to sign Baker in the next offseason but that's a long ways away. For now, it looks like the end of his Minnesota career. Here's a look back at the top 5 games from his time with the Twins:

1. Baker tosses one-hitter, after losing perfecto
Date: 8-31-07
Location: HHH Metrodome
Opponent: Kansas City Royals
Stat Summary: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 9 SO, 1 BB
Baseball Reference Box Score

Following the birth of his son earlier in the week, Baker found himself on the brink of history. He had a perfect game into the ninth inning before surrendering a walk and hit. John Buck ended the perfect game by drawing a five pitch walk to start the ninth. Mike Sweeney, a pinch hitter that was activated off the DL prior to the game, would step to the plate and crack the only hit of the game. The pitch jammed Sweeney but he got enough of it to keep Baker from the history books. It was still his most masterful performance in a Twins uniform and it came in his first full season at the big league level.

2. Baker throws second career shutout
Date: 8-14-09
Location: HHH Metrodome
Opponent: Cleveland Indians
Stat Summary: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 5 SO, 0 BB
Baseball Reference Box Score

Almost two years after he flirted with perfection, Baker notched his second and his final complete game shutout for the Twins. There wasn't as much drama in this game as Baker hit the first batter of the game so there was no threat of a perfect game. The first hit of the game came in the fourth inning when Asdrubal Cabrera smacked a double to deep left-center field. He would be the only man to get into scoring position for the Indians. The only other man to reach base would be Jhonny Peralta on a single in the seventh. It turned out to be a blowout win for the Twins but it still doesn't take anything away from this masterful performance by Baker.

3. Baker strikes out career high 12 batters
Date: 6-16-10
Location: Target Field
Opponent: Colorado Rockies
Stat Summary: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 12 SO, 1 BB
Baseball Reference Box Score

In the first of a couple interleague games to make this top 5 list, Baker wasted little time attacking the hitters for the Rockies. He had five strikeouts by the end of the third inning and then he struck out the side in the top of the fourth. This included Colorado's three, four, and five hitters. At one point, he struck out five batters in a row and it looked like nothing could stop him on this night. Even though the Rockies hitters couldn't touch him, Baker's pitch count was over 100 at the end of the seventh. Since it was a close game, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire turned to the bullpen to finish off the Rockies but it's still the most strikeouts Baker has collected in his MLB career.

4. Baker throws 115 pitches, strikes out 10
Date: 6-18-11
Location: Target Field
Opponent: San Diego Padres
Stat Summary: 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 10 SO, 1 BB
Baseball Reference Box Score

Over the course of less than two and a half hours, Baker would do his best to keep the Padres off of the board. Chris Denorfia, the first batter of the game, cracked a triple on a 0-2 count to get San Diego started off on the right foot. He would be left at third after Baker struck out the next two batters and got a fly ball to end the frame. Baker would avoid trouble in the second by striking out the side. Two men reached against Baker in the top of the fifth but he coaxed a couple of deep fly balls to right field and left them were they were. With his pitch count already over 100, the Twins let Baker head out for the eighth. The first batter reached on a single but the next three men grounded out and Baker had completed a solid eight innings.

5. Baker scatters five hits over nine innings
Date: 6-11-11
Location: Target Field
Opponent: Texas Rangers
Stat Summary: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 7 SO, 0 BB
Baseball Reference Box Score

A week before the game listed above, Baker had another very strong outing against the eventual American League Champions. No player for the Rangers had more than one hit and the lone extra-base hit came off of the bat of Adrian Beltre. By the time Texas got close to scoring, the Twins and Baker were already cruising. A single by Mike Napoli with two outs in the eighth got the Rangers going. Napoli would advance to second on fielder's indifference and he would score on a single by David Murphy. Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton would reach base in the top of the ninth but a timely double play would end the inning and the game.

So what was your favorite Scott Baker moment during his tenure with the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

BBA Announces 2012 Walter Johnson Award Recipients

The following is a press release from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. To see my completed ballot, click on the following link (Verlander, Dickey ascend list of aces):
As we near the end of the award presentations for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, the award for the top pitcher in each league is awarded today.
The Walter Johnson Award honors the pitcher in each league that excelled far beyond anyone else.  This year’s vote was not unanimous like last season’s, but it was a decision that many of the group could still agree on.
Earlier this year, Craig Kimbrel became the first person to repeat in an award category for the BBA and he was closely followed by this year’s American League Walter Johnson Award winner.  Justin Verlander grabbed his second consecutive nod as the top hurler in the American League.  Verlander led his league in numerous categories including complete games (6), innings pitched (238.1), strikeouts (239), and ERA+ (160).  He continues to be the premier hurler in the American League and the bloggers acknowledged this with 67% of this year’s vote.
The bloggers recognized Mets’ knuckleballer RA Dickey’s 2012 season by awarding him the Walter Johnson Award in the National League.  After compiling 20 wins and leading the league in strikeouts (230), innings pitched (233.2), games started (33), complete games (5) and shutouts (3).  Dickey’s career revitalization in 2012 has led him to the apex of the league.
Previous Walter Johnson Award Winners
2011: Justin Verlander, Detroit; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
2010: Felix Hernadez, Seattle; Roy Halladay, Philadelphia
2009: Zack Greinke, Kansas City; Tim Lincecum, San Francisco
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 232 blogs spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.
The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.

Monday, November 12, 2012

BBA Announces Goose Gossage Award For 2012

The following is a press release from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. To see my completed ballot, click on the following link (Rodney, Kimbrel were top bullpen arms for 2012):
The third award in the five award series, the Goose Gossage Award honors the best relief pitchers in Major League Baseball.
This year’s vote was an easy decision for the members of the group and they honored a player for a second consecutive year in the same category for the first time.
In 2011, Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel was awarded both the Goose Gossage and Willie Mays awards.  This season, Kimbrel received 87% of the vote to claim his second consecutive award as the National League’s premier relief pitcher.  He would make his second consecutive All Star appearance this season while leading the Senior Circuit in saves with 42.
The American League vote was equally lopsided as Fernando Rodney of the Tampa Bay Rays received an identical 87% of the vote in his league.  Rodney would not lead his league in saves, finishing with 48 to Jim Johnson’s 51, but he would do so with a minuscule 0.60 earned run average and prove to be dominant throughout the season.
Previous Goose Gossage Award Winners
2011: Jose Valverde, Detroit; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
2010: Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay; Brian Wilson, San Francisco
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 232 blogs spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.
The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.

BBA Announces Willie Mays Award For Top Rookies

The following is a press release from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. To see my completed ballot, click on the following link (Trout, Harper are best from great rookie crop):
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance continues their announcement of award winners for the 2012 season, naming the top rookies in both leagues by awarding the Willie Mays Award.
This year’s vote yielded the only unanimous decision in all five categories for the group.
In the American League, Mike Trout was awarded the honors by every voting member of the BBA.  Trout, who maintained his rookie status in Major League Baseball for 2012, led the league in runs (129), stolen bases (49) and OPS+ (171).  In addition, his slash line of .326/.399/.564 kept him among league leaders.  Trout caps an all star season with recognition from the group as the top youngster in the American League.
Searching for a counterpart in the National League led to some discussion.  When the dust settled, however, it was Washington National’s phenom Bryce Harper that walked away with 66% of the vote and the recognition of the largest collection of bloggers online. Harper’s season was impressive, with a slash line of .270/.340/.477 and an All Star appearance of his own.  His 22 home runs and 59 runs batted in were impressive for the 19 year old outfielder, despite being overshadowed by Trout’s impressive rookie campaign.
Previous Willie Mays Award Winners
2011: Eric Hosmer, Kansas City/Jeremy Hellickson Tampa Bay (tie); Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
2010: Neftali Feliz, Texas; Buster Posey, San Francisco
2009: Andrew Bailey, Oakland; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 232 blogs spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.
The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

BBA Announces Connie Mack Award Winners For 2012

The following is a press release from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. To see my completed ballot, click on the following link (Melvin, Johnson were top skippers in '12):
As we begin award season around baseball, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance unveils the first award for the 2012 season.
The Connie Mack Award is given annually by the alliance to the top managers in each league.  This year’s vote was a landslide in the National League and the closest of all the award votes in the American League.
Davey Johnson, who led the Washington Nationals into the post-season for the first time in the past 31 years as a franchise, was acknowledged by the group as the premier skipper of the Senior Circuit.  The Nationals franchise, then known as the Montreal Expos, last appeared in the playoffs in 1981.  Johnson led an exciting group of young players to the best record in Major League Baseball this season, winning 98 games and a division title in a highly competitive National League East division.
Davey Johnson received 71% of the vote throughout the BBA.
In the closest vote out of all five awards to be given by the BBA this season, Bob Melvin of the Oakland A’s took the victory over his counterpart, Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles, by a narrow 2% margin.
Two of the most surprising teams in all of baseball earned their managers plenty of votes before the Oakland skipper emerged as the victor.  Melvin would lead the A’s to the second best record in the American League, winning 94 games and holding the defending American League champion Texas Rangers off, forcing the Rangers to qualify for the postseason as a wild card.
The ballots for the BBA Awards are completed prior to the end of the regular season annually.  While both managers found regular season success and led their teams forward into the postseason, both teams would be eliminated in their respective Division Series appearances to Detroit and St. Louis.
Previous Connie Mack Award Winners
2011: Joe Maddon, Tampa; Kirk Gibson, Arizona
2010: Ron Washington, Texas; Bud Black, San Diego
2009: Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Jim Tracy, Colorado

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 232 blogs spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.
The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Twins should target Trevor Bauer

It's no secret that the Twins are looking for starting pitching this offseason. The free agent market looks like it is filled with plenty of intriguing arms but there could be other ways of acquiring hurlers. Another way of accomplishing this task could be to trade away current MLB players or minor league prospects for the services of a starting pitcher. There have been rumors of the Twins inquiring about a couple of different starting pitchers but a new name has emerged on the market. 

Word leaked out earlier this week about the Arizona Diamondbacks possibly being ready to shop top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer. It sounds like there is a division between Bauer and the D-Backs over his future with the club. Of course, it would take a lot to acquire a 21-year old pitcher with a ton of upside. If they are truly willing to shop Bauer, there will be plenty of interest from multiple clubs.

Bauer was the third pick of the 2011 amateur draft out of UCLA. During this past season, he made his debut with Arizona and he got roughed up in his four appearances before being sent back to Triple-A. His numbers in the higher levels of the minor leagues have very good as he has a low 2.42 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 130 innings pitched. Bauer made it to the big leagues in less than a year and he still has plenty of potential.

The one downside to Bauer looks like his command of the strike zone because he gave up 61 walks over his 130 minor league innings in 2011. During his small sample size in the major leagues, he averaged almost a walk an inning. This doesn't sound like the type of pitcher Terry Ryan and the Twins would target. It doesn't fit the mold of soft throwing strike throwers but it could be time for Minnesota to go in a different direction.

For Minnesota and Arizona, finding trade pieces could be tough for a couple of different reasons. The one area of surplus for the Twins is in the outfield and Arizona has so many outfielder that they are trying to trade away Justin Upton after already parting ways with Chris Young. This means the Twins could save their surplus in the outfield for a different trade but it also means the Twins would have to part with some of their top prospects.

The results were not so good the last time the Twins traded a top prospect for pitching. Wilson Ramos looked to be ready to break-out at the major league level but the Twins sent him to Washington for Matt Capps. A trade with the D-Backs would take on a different light because Minnesota would be trading for a rising star in the pitching ranks and not a closer with mediocre stuff. This still leaves questions about what the Twins could send away from their prospect ranks.

In my preliminary Twins prospect list for this offseason, there are some very good players at the top of the list. Would the Twins be willing to part with a couple of their top 10 prospects to get Bauer? How about a couple of players in the top 5? Which players would you say are untouchable?

1. Miguel Sano, 3B (Age 19)
2. Byron Buxton, OF (Age 18)
3. Aaron Hicks, OF (Age 23)
4. Oswaldo Arcia, OF (Age 21)
5. Eddie Rosario, OF/2B (Age 21)
6. Kyle Gibson, RHP (Age 25)
7. Jose Berrios, RHP (Age 18)
8. Travis Harrison, 3B (Age 20)
9. Max Kepler, OF (Age 19)
10. Joe Benson, OF (Age 24)

It could take quite the haul to bring in Bauer so it doesn't seem likely for the Twins to empty out their farm system for the chance to acquire a young starting pitcher. The upside of Bauer is enough to get fans excited about the chance of him joining their organization this offseason. A deal might not be likely at this point but the right combination of prospects could make this trade a reality.

If you were in Terry Ryan's GM chair, what would you offer? And would it be enough? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.