Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Talk to Contact: Episode 61

Episode 61 of the Twins baseball podcast, Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.
No news is good news. Not a lot of Twins news coming out this week, lots of rumors and rumblings about free agent starting pitchers and catchers, but nothing concrete. This week Paul and Eric are joined by Twins Geek, John Bonnes (@TwinsGeek) from Twins Daily to discuss the origins of both the site and the Gleeman and the Geek podcast, more of look into "how the sausage is made" so to speak. We take a close look at the Twins top pitching prospect, Alex Meyer, and we get into a heated discussion about the possibility (or lack there-of) of Jarrod Saltalamacchia joining the Twins. 

You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at Puckett's Pond, and you can find Eric on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read his writing at Knuckleballs!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which helps Terry Ryan sign top tier pitching talent in Free Agency.
__________________
Follow me, @NoDakTwinsFan, on Twitter. Check out the Talk to Contact Podcast (@TalkToContact) or email the show: talktocontact@gmail.com

Monday, November 25, 2013

2014 Minnesota Twins Top 20 Prospects: 11-20

One of the benefits of being a bad team for multiple seasons is the fact the Twins have been able to replenish some of their farm system with high draft picks the last two years. Add these players into a group that already included some top-notch talent and the future of the Twins organization continues to look bright.

Throughout the offseason there will be plenty of prospect lists released by a variety of media outlets. There are always differences between how people view the particular talent in an organization. Does a pitcher with more upside in the lower levels of the minors rate higher than someone at Double-A? Should a slugger with terrible defense rate higher than a light-hitting middle infielder?

Those questions and more are all things to consider compiling a list like the one you see below. This is just the first grouping in my top prospect list for this offseason. Check back next week to see how I rank the players near the top of the list.
LHP Lewis Thorpe, GCL Twins

11. Lewis Thorpe- LHP
2013 Team(s): GCL Twins
2013 Stats: 4-1, 2.05 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 44.0 IP, 6 BB, 64 K
The 17-year old burst onto the scene this year and surprised many with his performance in the GCL. He was wiping out batters left and right and he never faced a batter that was younger than him. Left-handed hitters struggled by hitting .071/.093/.119 against Thorpe. He might be the biggest surprise from last season and he is definitely a name to watch.

12. Travis Harrison- 3B
2013 Team(s): Cedar Rapids Kernels
2013 Stats: .253/.366/.416, 28-2B, 0-3B, 15 HR, 59 RBI
Harrison continues to show the power potential the Twins saw in him when they drafted him in the supplemental first round. There are still questions about whether or not he will be able to stay at third base but his power potential still projects him as a middle of the order bat. He got walked a ton this year and the Twins hope he can continue to improve at the plate.

13. Trevor May- RHP 
2013 Team(s): New Britain Rock Cats 
2013 Stats: 9-9, 4.51 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 151.2 IP, 67 BB, 159 K
May joined the Twins last offseason in the Ben Revere trade. Minnesota had May repeat the Double-A level and he would lead the Rock Cats in many statistical categories. He is an innings eating pitcher as he threw 135 innings or more for the fourth consecutive season. There have been inconstancies throughout his minor league career and this makes it tough to put him in the top 10 at this point. If he can make some adjustments at Triple-A, he could be one piece of the Twins starting rotation puzzle. 

14. Danny Santana- SS 
2013 Team(s): New Britain Rock Cats 
2013 Stats: .297/.333/.386, 22-2B, 10-3B, 2 HR, 45 RBI, 30 SB
Santana continues to be one of the best hitting middle infield prospects in the organization. The Twins continue to trot him out at shortstop to see if he can work through some of his defensive flaws. With Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario locked in at second base, Santana is going to need to improve defensively so he can stay at shortstop. His batting average was almost 20 points higher than his career mark so the kid can hit.

15. Kennys Vargas- 1B 
2013 Team(s): Ft. Myers Miracle 
2013 Stats: .267/.344/.468, 33-2B, 1-3B, 11 HR, 93 RBI
The Florida State League is suppose to be a tough hitters environment and Vargas did his best to make that look like a myth. His 33 doubles were near the top of the leader board and his 93 RBI were tops in the league. About a third of his time was spent at DH since he accumulated 11 errors over 758 chances at first. With previous concerns about his weight, it was good to see him play a career high 125 games in 2013. He's got a powerful swing and he should be making his mark on New Britain next year.

16. Niko Goodrum- SS 
2013 Team(s): Cedar Rapids Kernels 
2013 Stats: .260/.364/.369, 22-2B, 4-3B, 4 HR, 45 RBI, 20 SB
Much like Santana, the Twins want Goodrum to try and work out his defensive kinks at shortstop. He played a career high 81 games at the positions this year and had 24 errors in 404 chances. In his first year in a full season league, there were some up and down moments. In June, he hit over .315 with a .875 OPS but he followed that with a dismal July where he hit under .200 with a .539 OPS.

17. Jorge Felix-RHP 
2013 Team(s): Elizabethton Twins 
2013 Stats: 2-2, 2.95 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 61.0 IP, 18 BB, 72 K
After brief stints in the DOSL and the GCL, Felix made a strong impression in the Appalachian League this year. He raised his SO/9 rate from 8.7 in 2011 to 10.6 in 2013. His 2.7 BB/9 rate was the lowest of his career and he ranked third in the league for strikeouts in less innings than both the players in front of him. He's only made it through the rookie leagues but there is plenty of potential in Felix's right arm.

18. Ryan Eades- RHP  
2013 Team(s): Elizabethton Twins 
2013 Stats: 0-0, 4.60 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 15.2 IP, 12 BB, 13 K 
This year's second round pick didn't get a lot of time to make his mark as he pitched 15.2 innings over 10 games for the E-Twins. He boasts an impressive college resume at LSU which plays in the tough SEC. He isn't going to strikeout a ton of batters (78 K in 100 collegiate innings this spring) but his college experience could make him a fast mover in the years to come.

19. Stephen Gonsalves- LHP 
2013 Team(s): GCL Twins, Elizabethton Twins 
2013 Stats: 2-1, 0.95 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 28.1 IP, 11 BB, 39 K
Minnesota's fourth round pick from this past June made appearances with both rookie league squads while starting five games out of his eight appearances. In limited action, he compiled some very impressive numbers including a 12.4 SO/9 rate. At 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds, there is a little room to add some weight and this could make him an even more effective pitcher in the future.

20. Michael Tonkin- RHP 
2013 Team(s): New Britain Rock Cats, Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins 
2013 MILB Stats: 2-4, 21 S, 3.47 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 57.0 IP, 16 BB, 66 K 
2013 MLB Stats: 0-0, 0 S, 0.79 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 11.1 IP, 3 BB, 10 K
Since switching to being a full-time bullpen arm in 2012, Tonkin has worked his way from Low-A to the MLB level. He's shown the ability to be a powerful strikeout arm and this could translate to him being an important part of the Twins bullpen of the future. Glen Perkins seems to have the closer role locked up at this point so Tonkin could turn into the set-up man of the future. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Episode 60: Talk to Contact

Episode 60 of the Twins baseball podcast, Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.
60 is a number worn my several Twins throughout the years, including current "closer" Glen Perkins from 2006-2007, and most recently by Pedro Hernandez (2013) and Jeff Gray (2012), but most notably by Jon Rauch and his terrible neck tattoo in back to back seasons (2009-2010). This week on the podcast we discuss a plethora of minor league happenings, including the pending 50-game suspension of Eddie Rosario and recent 40-man roster moves. The debate wages on over which starting pitchers make sense for the Twins to sign, as Eric, Cody and Jay each make their cases of Ricky NolascoBronson Arroyo and Matt Garza. Who would you take? 

There's a considerably lengthy discussion about the true value of the Metrodome baggie and who the real winner is in the Prince Fielder Ian Kinsler trade. Also, if you are a Leinenkugel Beer affectionado, you may want to stick around for the "Beers from Around the World" segment. This episode also features an interview with noted sabermatrician, FanGraphs writer/editor and BBWAA member, Carson Cistulli (@cistulli). This is a long episode, almost 2 hours, but it's pure gold from beginning to end.


You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at Puckett's Pond, and you can find Eric on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read his writing at Knuckleballs!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which helps Terry Ryan sign top tier pitching talent in Free Agency.
__________________
Follow me, @NoDakTwinsFan, on Twitter. Check out the Talk to Contact Podcast (@TalkToContact) or email the show: talktocontact@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Passing the Blame for Eddie Rosario's Suspension

Word is slowly starting to trickle out about a 50-game suspension that will be handed down to Twins second base prospect Eddie Rosario. He apparently told the manager of his winter league squad that he wouldn't be able to play because of his pending suspension. The official suspension won't be announced until the league can resolve an issue on their end.

Rosario is a converted outfield who by most accounts is top ten prospect in the organization. His quick wrists have helped him to become one of the best hitting prospects in the organization. In a recent poll I took of seven different Twins bloggers for the Twin Minor League Handbook, he ranked as the second best hitting talent in the team's farm system.

This past season Rosario encountered some rough patches at Double-A while dealing with some injury related concerns. According to the reports, he took some pills during his rehab that lead to his positive test. If this is the case, it is a tough pill to swallow for the organization.

Rosario positioned himself to make his big league debut in 2014. With a pending 50-game suspension, there is a good chance this won't happen next year. It's certainly a tough blow for a player on the rise.

When it comes down to it, there is going to be some finger pointing that occurs in the next couple of weeks. Who is to blame for the suspension of one of the team's best prospects? Here are some of the men that should shoulder the load.

The Player
Word of Advice: "Don't put anything in your body. Especially strange pills."
Most of the blame should be put here. There can be a lot of pressure on athletes to perform at the highest level. This can be especially tough when minor league players are trying to return from injury and make their way towards the big leagues. Unfortunately, this can mean taking some shortcuts and it sounds like Rosario made a mistake. At this point in his career, it's a big mistake because it will impact his debut and the point when he will be eligible for arbitration. Don't do drugs, kids.

The Training Staff
Word of Advice: "Keep a close eye on the organization's star prospects."
Obviously, the training staff can't watch over a player 24-hours a day but it sounds like Rosario's incident happened while he was trying to recover from injury. Maybe it's a case where the training staff can continue to remind players of what they can and can't put into their bodies. Team's put a lot of money into their younger players and it's important to keep these men on the field and working towards the big leagues.

The Coaching Staff
Word of Advice: "Continue to monitor players as they come back from injury"
As outsiders, we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. New Britain wasn't in the playoff hunt so there wouldn't have been pressure to get back on the field to help the team. There can be a lot of pressure on managers to take care of the day-to-day on-field tasks. Even Ron Gardenhire gave up on giving injury up-dates this past season and he left this to the men in the front office. With everything on the plate of the coaching staff, it would be easy to delegate one of the coaches to be in-charge of checking in with injured players.

The Front Office
Word of Advice: "Makes plans to stop this sort of thing from happening in the future"
Accidents are going to happen and the world of drug testing is far from a perfect science. There can still be things done within the farm system of an organization to teach players about the right way to take care of their bodies. The overall theme should be to not ingest any unknown substance. Posters should be hung up in locker rooms and lectures should be given to players throughout the season. By having an organization take the right approach, this sort of thing doesn't have to happen again.

Monday, November 18, 2013

When Could Alex Meyer Boost the Rotation?

There are plenty of questions for the Twins to find answers to in the coming months. One of the biggest conundrums swirling around the team is trying to figure out who will make up the starting rotation. Kevin Correia seems like the only lock for a starting job but the Twins don't really want him as the staff ace. So what direction should the team go?

If the season started today, the Twins would likely enter the year with a rotation composed of Kevin Correia, Kyle Gibson, Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, and Sam Deduno. This isn't exactly the most exciting group of players and it would seem like the team would be destined for another less than mediocre year.

Luckily, the team does have some money to spend. If the Twins are allowed to get back to their 2012 payroll level of $100 million, the club has around $30-40 million in annual value to spend. This could leave the team will the allotted money to go after a couple big name free agents. It certainly doesn't mean the club has to give away money but they have some flexibility.

Another solution to add depth to the Twins rotation might be an in house option. Alex Meyer, the man most likely to get a chance in next year's rotation, just finished pitching in the Arizona Fall League. Last offseason, Meyer joined the Twins organization after being traded from Washington for Denard Span. Only one year later and he could be ready to make an impact at the big league level.

Meyer pitched most of last year for New Britain in the Eastern League. He was limited to 78.1 innings because of an issue with his shoulder and that was one of the main reasons the club wanted him to build up some innings in the AFL. His 11.5 SO/9 rate was the highest of his career and he recorded 100 strikeouts or more for the second consecutive season.

The Twins were looking for a few things from Meyer in his time in the AFL. His secondary pitches needed some work and the team wanted to see some better command from a pitcher they feel is a front of the rotation arm. He would end up finishing second in the AFL in strikeouts but he did this in three fewer innings than the league leader.

Reports on his fastball were good but his command and secondary pitches still don't sound like he is ready to make the jump to the big leagues. This likely means Meyer is headed to Rochester to start next season with the potential to make his debut at some point in the second half of 2014. There are some kinks that still need to be worked out and the Twins don't need to rush Meyer.

Minnesota hopes Meyer will be a boost to the rotation at some point in the near future but he needs to continue to work on command and his secondary pitches. This will help him to be a more successful pitcher at the big league level and the Twins need as much help as they can possibly get in the starting rotation.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Span and Revere Could Be Moved Again

Last offseason, the Minnesota Twins traded two of their most important outfield pieces, Denard Span and Ben Revere. There were plenty of reasons for doing this but the main reason was the team needed to add some pitching prospects to their minor league system. The club also felt Aaron Hicks was close to being ready to take over the everyday center field job.

It's nearly a year later and things might already be falling apart for both of these players in their new organizations. Reports have begun to surface that the Nationals and the Phillies might be willing to part ways with the center fielders they've had for all of one season. There are a variety reasons each team wants to go in a new direction.

Denard Span- Washington Nationals
2013 Stat Pack: .279/.327/.380, 4 HR, 11 3B, 28 2B, 20 SB
Last Season: In his first season with the Nationals, Span played over 150 games for the first time since 2010. He was a National League Gold Glove nominee for his continued strong defense in center field. His shift to Nationals Park helped him to collect a league high 11 triples. Span also stole 20 bases for the first time in three seasons.

Trade Talk: The Nationals are now interested in signing free agent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and this could make a deal for Span imminent. Ellsbury is a Scott Boras client and the Nationals have been a landing spot for some of his free agents in the past. It will be interesting to see if the Nats are able to sign Ellsbury before they trade Span or they could end up with multiple lead-off men on their team for next year.

Contract Situation: There is some value left in Span as he as a couple years remaining on his current contract. In 2014, the 29-year old will be owed $6.5 million with a $9 million club option for the following season. Span also played very well in the second half of the season and this could make other teams very interested in his services.

Ben Revere- Philadelphia Phillies
2013 Stat Pack: .305/.338/.352, 0 HR, 3 3B, 9 2B, 22 SB
Last Season: A broken foot just before the All-Star break cost Revere a big chunk of his season. He was on fire before the injury as he hit .407 with a .909 OPS in the 29 games. It looked like the Phillies might have finally unlocked the Revere puzzle and he could provide some solid value for the club in the years moving forward.

Trade Talk: It can be tough for a player that relies on speed to make it make all the way from a broken foot. This could mean some tough decisions ahead for the Phillies front office. Revere likely won't have a ton of trade value in the coming months as teams try and see if he is healthy. Philadelphia might try and add another outfielder to the mix for next year and this could mean a Revere trade.

Contract Situation: Revere earned Super 2 status under the arbitration system and this makes him eligible for arbitration for the first time. He will likely get a slight bump in pay but he is still very affordable for the next handful of seasons. The first year Revere will be eligible for free agency is 2018 so it seems likely for the Phillies to hang on to him for right now.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Talk to Contact: Episode 59

Episode 59 of the Twins baseball podcast, Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.
This week's episode is a bit lonely as Eric is stuck in the backwoods of Minnesota deer hunting and dealing with a septic situation. Paul and Cody go it alone and discuss the Twins news, most notably the announcement that Twins uber-star Joe Mauer will transition to first base for the 2014 season and beyond. Later in the podcast Paul is joined by the radio voice of the Minnesota Twins, Cory Provus (@CoryProvus). We also discuss the news that the Braves are looking to move out of Turner Field, and Cody actually participates in an interview this week while we're chatting with Twins double-A shortstop AJ Pettersen (@apettersen1), so be sure to give us a listen.

Thanks for listening!

You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at Puckett's Pond, and you can find Eric on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read his writing at Knuckleballs!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which helps Terry Ryan sign top tier pitching talent in Free Agency.
__________________
Follow me, @NoDakTwinsFan, on Twitter. Check out the Talk to Contact Podcast (@TalkToContact) or email the show: talktocontact@gmail.com

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Ripple Effect of Mauer's Move to First

The Twins made it official on Monday... Joe Mauer's days behind the plate are over.

After consulting with doctors at Mayo Clinic, it was felt that Mauer needed to avoid the chance of re-injuring himself at the roughest position on the baseball field. Even though Mauer is now symptom free and able to go about his regular offseason routine, the club felt this was in the best interest of the team and their star player.

The move away from catcher has been something Mauer has tried to avoid in the past. Even after missing most of the 2011 season because of leg issues, Mauer wanted to prove he could handle the rigors of being a full-time catcher again. The seriousness of his concussion in 2013 must have been enough to convince him the time was right for a move.

In my offseason blueprint, I listed Mauer as the primary first baseman for the 2014 Minnesota Twins. It seemed likely for the club to give him more time at first base especially with the exit of Justin Morneau and the rise of Josmil Pinto. These two players are just part of the ripple effect of Mauer's move to first.

Pinto's Chance to Start
The Twins were impressed with the performance of Pinto in the final month of the season. Over 21 games, the rookie backstop batted .342/.398/.566 with four home runs and five doubles. His defensive skills might not be as good as Mauer but he did throw out 33% of base runners with a .982 fielding percentage in his eight seasons in the minor leagues. Minnesota could always add a veteran catcher but Pinto deserves a chance at some point next year.

Morneau Won't Return
Within the inner circle of Twins Territory, there might have been the hopes of a return of their former MVP. As Mauer shifts to first base, it seems as if there is no spot for Morneau on the roster. It probably didn't make sense for the Twins to spend money on Morneau with other first base options currently under contract. This allows Morneau to try and find a spot on a team that can contend before his career is complete.

Parmelee and Colabello Left Searching for ABs
Both Parmelee and Colabello have put together impressive numbers at Triple-A in the last two seasons. These performances haven't translated to the big leagues and this leaves question marks about them moving forward. Parmelee got some time in the outfield last year and this might be his best chance at sticking with the team long-term. Colabello's independent baseball story was great but he might be more of a organizational player.

Sano's the Future at Third
With a full offseason to prepare, Minnesota could have moved Mauer to third base. They didn't because Miguel Sano is making his way to Target Field. There is a small chance of Sano starting the year with the club so Trevor Plouffe will keep his place warm at the hot corner. It seems a waste to use Mauer's athletic ability at a lowly position like first base but Sano has one of the best arms in the Twins system and the spot should be saved for him.

What other ripple effects are there from Mauer's move to first? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Talk to Contact: Episode 58

Episode 58 of the Twins baseball podcast, Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.

Cody is back with Paul and Eric this week to talk Twins baseball. The off-season is in full swing with qualifying offers out to free agents, the world series parade over and the 2013 no longer visible in the rear-view mirror. We discuss which, if any, infield free agents make sense for the Twins before  we are joined by special guest, ESPN 1500 Minnesota Twins beat writer Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) to discuss what he thinks the Twins need to do this off-season, what it means to write under the ESPN banner and his experiences following the team this past season. This week we take a look at Twins minor league prospect and 2nd round 2013 draft pick Ryan Eades.

Thanks for listening!

You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at Puckett's Pond, and you can find Eric on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read his writing at Knuckleballs!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which helps Terry Ryan sign top tier pitching talent in Free Agency.
__________________
Follow me, @NoDakTwinsFan, on Twitter. Check out the Talk to Contact Podcast (@TalkToContact) or email the show: talktocontact@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2014 Minnesota Twins Offseason Blueprint

There are plenty of ways to go about trying to fix the Twins team but some patience might be required as the club waits for some younger pieces to work their way through the minor leagues. The Twins Daily crew put out some solid information in the 2014 Offseason Handbook. One of the best parts to read about this document is the blueprint plans put together by the writers.

There are plenty of options for the Twins but here is how I would go about trying to fix the team. Some of these ideas will happen and some won't but that's what makes this fun.

Starting Line-Up
C- Josmil Pinto- $0.5 million
1B- Joe Mauer- $23 million
2B- Brian Dozier- $0.5 million
3B- Miguel Sano- $0.5 million
SS- Pedro Florimon- $0.5 million
LF- Oswaldo Arcia- $0.5 million
CF- Aaron Hicks- $0.5 million
RF- Trevor Plouffe- $2.0 million
DH- Josh Willingham- $7 million
-------------------------------------------------
$35.0 million committed to nine hitters

Breakdown: Sano has an impressive spring with the major league club and earns the starting third base job. Mauer's concussion concerns are enough to make him spend more time at first base than catcher for the first time in his career. He could get some playing time behind the plate but the Twins need to protect their most important asset. Willingham's injury concerns last season make it much easier to move him to full-time DH to take some of the wear and tear off of his legs. The outfield can be a little shaky with a couple of young players. Hicks has the entire offseason to toil over his terrible 2013. This should give him the drive to earn back his starting job in center field. Plouffe has to shift to right field with the emergence of Sano.

Bench
C- Ryan Doumit-$3.5 million
IF- Eduardo Escobar- $0.5 million
1B/OF- Chris Parmelee- $0.5 million
OF- Darin Mastroianni- $0.5 million
-------------------------------------------------
$5.0 million committed to four bench positions

Breakdown: Parmelee and Mastroianni will likely get at-bats at first base and in the outfield so they will be semi-regular players. It could be a make it or break it year for Parmelee with some young prospects making their way towards Target Field. It would be nice to add some veteran catching depth but I think the Twins will use Pinto, Doumit, and a sprinkling of Mauer behind the plate. Escobar is a nice piece to have and he has the ability to fill-in at multiple positions.

Starting Pitching
1. Josh Johnson- $7 million
2. Phil Hughes- $8 million
3. Kevin Correia- $5.5 million
4. Kyle Gibson- $0.5 million
5. Johan Santana- $1.0 million (+ incentives)
Johan insurance: Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, and/or Sam Deduno ($0.5 million each)
-------------------------------------------------
$22.0 million committed to top five/ $23.5 million with Johan insurance

Breakdown: Target Field would be a perfect place for Johnson to rebuild some value on a short-term deal. Hughes signed as part of a two-year, $16 million deal to earn his place as a top of the rotation arm. Correia and Gibson can fit nicely in the middle part of the rotation with less pressure to perform as top of the rotation guys. Does it make sense to sign a guy like Santana coming off his second shoulder surgery? Probably not. It would still be fun to see him back in a Twins uniform and the team has other guys that could fit into the fifth spot if Johan doesn't work out.

Bullpen
Righties: Jared Burton, Casey Fien, Anthony Swarzak, Michael Tonkin- $5.5 million
Lefties: Caleb Thielbar, Brian Duensing- $2.5 million
Closer: Glen Perkins- $3.75 million
-------------------------------------------------
$11.75 million committed to seven relievers

Breakdown: The bullpen was the best part of the 2013 team so there is no reason to make any drastic changes. It could make sense for the club to non-tender Duensing but the team might like having another lefty to go along with Thielbar. Tonkin has a chance to turn into a late-inning pitcher of the future but the Twins can rely on Burton and Perkins for the time being. If Minnesota can get any trade value for one of their veteran righties, the team could let Duke Welker take over a bullpen spot.

Minnesota Twins 2014 Checkbook
Starting Line-Up: $35.0 million
Bench Players: $5.0 million
Starting Pitching: $22.0 million
Bullpen: $11.75 million
-------------------------------------------------
$73.75 million committed to Opening Day 25-man roster

Monday, November 4, 2013

Would signing Kubel make sense?

The Minnesota Twins struck out 1430 time last season, the third most strikeouts in the history of the game.  On the offensive side of the ball, the team scored the third fewest runs in the American League while the pitching staff allowed the second most runs to be scored. The club also left the third most runners on base of any team in the AL.

There needs to be some changes to the roster and the pitching staff is the biggest priority. Numbers like the ones discussed above make it clear that the offense is in need of a boost. The outfield has some open starting spots for 2014 and reuniting with a former player could solve some problems.

Jason Kubel has become a free agent after the Cleveland Indians bought out the remaining part of his contract for $1 million. The former 12th round pick by the Twins became a mainstay in the club's outfield from 2007-2011. As a free agent, he headed to Arizona in 2012 and socked 30 home runs with a 120 OPS+. The 2013 season saw him suffer a quadriceps injury and flounder to his worst professional season.

Before his injury filled 2013, Kubel had been a consistent offensive player. From 2007-2012, his OPS+ ranged from 105-137 and he averaged 21 home runs a season. Those kinds of numbers would have ranked him near the top of the Twins team in 2013.

Even though there were some concerns from hitters in the first two years of Target Field, Kubel didn't seem to mind hitting in the Twins home ballpark. In 2010, the inaugural season for Target Field, Kubel posted similar .746 and .753 OPS marks at home and on the road. Kubel slugged .377 at home and .476 on the road in 2011 but he had 63 more at-bats on the road.

While Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham should be penciled in as starters, there are some decisions to make in the outfield. Willingham was hurt for most of last season and he could probably use some more time at designated hitter. Chris Parmelee didn't impress last year and he might need to play more at first base. This leaves an opportunity for the club to add a veteran bat at a corner outfield spot.

The confetti has hardly settled from the Red Sox championship parade so the free agent hot stove has just begun to get warm. Other teams might be interested in Kubel and there could be better offers on the table than anything the Twins are willing to shell out. For now, it is interesting to think about what he could offer to the club on a short-term deal.

If Kubel's injuries are behind him, he could be poised for a bounce-back season at a discounted price. Minnesota could be just the team to offer him this possibility because of his history with the club. An incentive laden deal could help their former player to regain some value and he could help Minnesota with some of their offensive woes.

It also helps to know that he isn't opposed to a reunion tour with his original organization.

Would signing Kubel to a free agent deal make sense for the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fishing for Holes in the Roster

When a team has lost 90 games in three consecutive seasons, there can be plenty of finger pointing. For the Twins, there are questions to ask about how this current roster was created and what the team can do as they try and move forward.

Where are the holes in this roster? What needs to be done this offseason? Are there internal options to help remedy the situation? All of these questions and more need to be answered before the team heads to Florida for spring training.

Let's take a look at each position and try to figure out how the Twins can get out of this mess. A fishing bobber ranking each position will be accompanied. One bobber means the position needs to be addressed, two bobbers means the position is steady, and three bobbers means the position is looking good going forward.

Catcher
2013 Starter: Joe Mauer
Other Options: Ryan Doumit, Josmil Pinto, Chris Herrmann
There are questions about Mauer moving forward from his concussion related issues. Doumit suffered from some concussion issues of his own. At the end of the season, Pinto looked great but can he sustain this kind of production at the big league level. This should be a position for the Twins not to worry about but Mauer's concussion issues bring down this ranking. Ranking: One Bobber

First Base
2013 Starter: Justin Morneau (Out of the Organization)
Other Options: Joe Mauer, Chris Colabello, Chris Parmelee
Mauer's head troubles could mean a change of position and first base might be his new home by the beginning of next season. Colabello and Parmelee have shown success at Triple-A but it hasn't translated to the big leagues. This could be a spot where the team looks out of the organization for help since there are three left-handed bats and plenty of question marks. Ranking: One Bobber

Second Base
2013 Starter: Brian Dozier
Other Options: Eduardo Escobar, Eddie Rosario
In a breakout season, Dozier made Twins fans forget his disastrous rookie campaign. He seems to have locked up second base going into next season but Rosario is close to knocking on the door. Rochester will be Rosario's home to start 2014 but a falter from Dozier could mean Rosario's rise to the big leagues. This position battle will be one to watch moving forward. Ranking: Three Bobbers

Third Base
2013 Starter: Trevor Plouffe
Other Options: Miguel Sano, Deibinson Romero
Plouffe struggled for most of 2013 but ended the year with a strong month of September. The Twins are going to want to see Sano at the big league level sometime in 2014. After Hicks' terrible 2013 season, the club will probably take it slow with Sano. A hot start in Triple-A from Sano could mean the end of Plouffe's tenure at third base. Ranking: Three Bobbers

Shortstop
2013 Starter: Pedro Florimon
Other Options: Danny Santana, Eduardo Escobar
Last season, Florimon showed his defensive prowess but his offense continues to be offensive. In the minor leagues, Santana continues to hit but there are giant question marks about his defense. Florimon is the likely starter but Santana's offensive ability is something to watch. Overall, shortstop is a tough spot in the higher levels of the organization. Ranking: One Bobber

Left Field
2013 Starter: Josh Willingham
Other Options: Oswaldo Arcia, Trevor Plouffe
Willingham followed his tremendous 2012 season with an injury filled 2013. Arcia had some up and down moments in his rookie year but he still showed the power stroke he had been known for in the minors. As the team looks to the future, it might make sense for Willingham spend more time at DH. Plouffe could see more time in the outfield when Sano arrives. Ranking: Two Bobbers

Center Field
2013 Starter: Aaron Hicks
Other Options: Byron Buxton, Alex Presley
When the Twins handed the starting center field job to Hicks last year, they hoped the young man would take the position and run. Lucky for Twins fans, Buxton burst onto the scene in 2013. It could still be a couple years before Buxton makes it to the big leagues and this leaves a hole in center field. The future looks bright with Buxton but there are still questions about what Hicks will be able to do in 2014. Ranking: Two Bobbers

Right Field
2013 Starter: Chris Parmelee
Other Options: Aaron Hicks, Darin Mastroianni
The Twins could be searching for options at this position moving forward. Parmelee and Hicks had disappointing seasons and Mastroianni was hurt for most of the year. Arcia could see some time at this spot if the Twins continue to use Willingham defensively. If Hicks can fix his offensive woes, this could be his spot when Buxton arrives on the scene. Ranking: One Bobber

What kind of bobber rankings would you give the Twins position players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.