Monday, December 30, 2013

Three Make HOF Cut in BBA Voting


The Baseball Bloggers Alliance today recommends three players from the official Hall of Fame ballot to be inducted into Cooperstown this summer.  Pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, most closely associated with the Atlanta Braves, and long-time Chicago White Sox first baseman/designated hitter Frank Thomas reached the 75% threshold when BBA members cast their ballots.
Maddux, a four-time Cy Young Award winner for the Braves, pitched from 1986 to 2008 and won 355 games while posting a 3.16 ERA and striking out over 3,300 batters.  He had a career WHIP of 1.143 in just over 5,000 innings and an ERA+ of 132 over that span.  His best season was 1995, when he fashioned a 19-2 record with a 1.63 ERA, good for a bWAR of 9.7 that year.
Thomas played from 1990 to 2008, all but the last three season on the south side of Chicago.  He has a career slash line of .301/.419/.555 and fashioned an OPS+ of 156 during his playing days.  He put up his highest single-season bWAR in 1997, when his 1.067 OPS and 35 home runs played a large role in his mark of 7.3.
Glavine’s career spanned roughly the same time frame as Maddux’s, with Glavine starting in 1987.  He won the Cy Young in 1991 and 1998 and finished runner-up two other times.  His career ERA was 3.54 and he won 305 games during his tenure with the Braves and the New York Mets.  Glavine had a 1.314 WHIP for his career and an ERA+ of 118.
The voting of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has often been close to what the baseball writers eventually decide, though the correlation is stronger with the year-end awards.  A quick look at the past few years:
In 2010, no player reached the 75% mark in BBA voting, while the writers inducted only Andre Dawson.
In 2011, the BBA selected Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven and both were inducted into Cooperstown that summer.
In 2012, Barry Larkin and Jeff Bagwell were selected by the BBA, but the writers only took Larkin.
Last year, the bloggers again picked Bagwell, while the writers could not agree on anyone to honor.
Bagwell lost support in this year’s voting, coming up roughly 10% shy of recommendation.  The final vote totals are as follows:
Greg Maddux 94.51% Frank Thomas 80.22%
Tom Glavine 75.82%
Mike Piazza 72.53% Craig Biggio 70.33% Jeff Bagwell 64.84% Barry Bonds 60.44% Roger Clemens 59.34% Tim Raines 54.95% Edgar Martinez 41.76% Curt Schilling 39.56% Mike Mussina 32.97% Alan Trammell 30.77% Jack Morris 25.27% Mark McGwire 21.98% Larry Walker 17.58% Jeff Kent 15.38% Lee Smith 14.29% Don Mattingly 9.89% Fred McGriff 8.79% Rafael Palmeiro 7.69% Sammy Sosa 4.40% Moises Alou 3.30% Eric Gagne 2.20% Luis Gonzalez 2.20% Sean Casey 1.10% Kenny Rogers 1.10% Richie Sexson 1.10% J.T. Snow 1.10%
Armando Benitez 0.00%
Ray Durham 0.00%
Jacque Jones 0.00%
Todd Jones 0.00%
Paul Lo Duca 0.00%
Hideo Nomo 0.00%
Mike Timlin 0.00%
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was established in the fall of 2009 for the purpose of fostering collaboration and communication among bloggers from across baseball.  The BBA currently has approximately 240 blogs in its membership, including some of the most prominent blogs on the Internet, spanning all major league teams and various other general aspects of the game.
More information about the BBA can be found at their website, baseballbloggersalliance.wordpress.com, or by contacting the founder and administrator of the organization, Daniel Shoptaw, at baseballbloggersalliance@gmail.com.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Talk to Contact: Episode 64

Episode 64 of the Twins baseball podcast, Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.
Paul is away celebrating his birthday but this week on the podcast, Cody and Eric spend 60+ minutes talking about the Ryan Doumit trade, if Josmil Pinto needs a real backup, what to do with all of the Twins’ mediocre pitching, and the awful All-Star Game Logos that the Twins are putting all over everything.


Down on the Pond we take a look at the 2014 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook and the profile of Bryan Haar. They also talk beer, and baseball news.
A fun podcast from two 29-year-old morons.
Enjoy the show.

You can follow Eric on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) or read his writing at Knuckleballs Blog, and you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) and read his writing at PuckettsPond.com!
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 are probably useless.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What's the Pinto Back-Up Plan?

Josmil Pinto is one of the top prospects in the Twins organization. Make sure to order the 2014 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook to learn more about the Twins minor league system. Click here to see more of what's in the book. 
After the Twins and Joe Mauer announced the All-Star Catcher wouldn't be playing catcher moving forward, Minnesota's name was rumored to be involved with many of the top catchers on the free agent market. AJ Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia were two of the most talked about names but both of these player decided to sign with other clubs.

This leaves Minnesota in a bit of a pickle. The club was impressed with rookie Josmil Pinto and his strong September performance. He hit .342/.398/.963 with four home runs and five doubles in 76 at-bats. This came on the heels of possibly his best minor league campaign as he slugged over .880 at Double-A and Triple-A.

Minnesota might be fine with heading into next season with Pinto as the primary catcher. He will turn 25 at the end of March and the team could be ready for him to take over a full-time role. It would be nice for him to have more than 75 plate appearances at Triple-A but the club might be out of other options.

Many fans will remember the poor start to last season by Aaron Hicks, another top prospect in the organization. Hicks was coming off a break-out season at Double-A and the team handed him the starting center field job after a strong spring. He would struggle through his rookie season and the team might now be questioning what his long-term value is to the organization.

One of the advantages for Pinto is he already has some major league experience under his belt. His success at the end of last year is something he can build off moving forward. There could still be some struggles at the start of next season so what will be the back-up plan if Pinto needs some time at Triple-A?

The Twins currently have two other catchers on the 40-man roster after the recent trade of Ryan Doumit to the Atlanta Braves. This leaves the Twins with little experience behind the plate. Chris Herrmann and Eric Fryer could also see some time at catcher. Herrmann offers some versatility as a corner outfielder while Fryer got a brief call-up at the end of last year.

Some veteran catchers are still available on the free agent market even with bigger names already under contract for next year. The Twins have checked in on Kurt Suzuki, who hit .232/.290/.337 in 94 games with the Nationals and Athletics last year. Minnesota has also shown interest in John Buck. Last season, Buck played for the Mets and the Pirates and he has averaged 16 home runs the past four seasons. He has also worked a lot with newly signed pitcher Ricky Nolasco so that could give the Twins a reason to sign him.

Before the Doumit trade, it seemed like Minnesota was comfortable heading into spring training with Pinto being Plan A with a veteran catcher not being part of the picture. The team will want Pinto to be an everyday player and adding a veteran back up might not be the best for Pinto's growth. The back-up plan at backstop seems to be one of the men on the 40-man roster but a veteran could be added in the coming days.

This leaves the Twins hoping Pinto can continue his offensive success from the end of last year.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

NOW AVAILABLE: 2014 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook

For the third year in a row, Seth Stohs of TwinsDaily.com asked myself and Jeremy Nygaard to help him put together the annual offseason handbook that looks deep into one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball. Several other writers helped to write articles for the book and this only adds to the 188 pages of content.


The other electronic versions of the book will be made available in the coming days. It was our goal to get the paperback version out to the public before Christmas and we met our goal this year. This also allows fans to have the book in hand for TwinsFest later next month.

As Seth wrote over at TwinsDaily, "Though we tried to be more concise and efficient in our profiles, we ended up with about 188 pages of minor league content." Here's a brief rundown of what's included in the book:
  • Stories on my minor league award winners: Miguel Sano (hitter), Taylor Rogers (starting pitcher), Tyler Jones (relief pitcher) and Jake Mauer (manager).
  • A Foreword by Twins Daily's John Bonnes.
  • I wrote an article on The Anatomy of a 5-Tool Player.
  • Jeremy wrote articles reviewing the 2013 Twins draft, and another looking forward to the 2014 draft.
  • Jeremy also conducted an interview with Twins scout Freddie Thon.
  • Season Reviews from each of the four Twins minor league affiliates. Twins Daily contributors Chris Fee (Rochester), Andrew Walter (New Britain) and Steve Buhr (Cedar Rapids) along with Miracle play-by-play guy Adam MacDonald penned these articles.
  • The Top prospect lists for myself, Seth and Jeremy.

Earlier this week, I joined Jeremy and Seth for a Google Hangout to discuss the book and some of the work that went into creating this year's version.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Twins Rotation Starting To Look Crowded

Over the weekend, word came out that the Twins would sign Mike Pelfrey to a two-year $11 million deal. This is the third free agent starter the Twins have added this season as the team already agreed to terms with Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. With Kevin Corriea under contract for another year, Minnesota's starting rotation is filling up rather quickly but there are still some questions to about the final rotation spot.

The Twins had one of the worst starting rotations in all of baseball last year. In order to remedy the problem, the team has done their best to be aggressive on the open market. There was even word over the weekend that the Twins were still aggressively chasing veteran starter Bronson Arroyo. If the Twins were successful in signing Arroyo, this would leave a packed rotation for the start of spring training.

Minnesota has a handful of players under team control for next season and they have to be wondering what happened. Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno, Kyle Gibson, and Vance Worley were all part of the rotation at different points last season and it's looking more like a few of these players won't be with the organization when the team leaves Fort Myers.

Scott Diamond, LHP
After a rookie campaign where Diamond was the best starter for the Twins, his sophomore season was met with a slump. He walked more batters in fewer innings and struggled to keep the ball in the park. He looked better in his time at Rochester but he is out of minor league options. This could mean the Twins would have to try and sneak him through waivers and there is a chance another club would be interested in his services.

Sam Deduno, RHP
Deduno surprised a lot of people in his first year with the Twins as he tended to give up walks and hits but he found a way to get out of some jams. His second season with the Twins was even better as he lowered his ERA by half a run per game and his WHIP dropped from 1.54 to 1.35 over close to 30 more innings. Like Diamond, Deduno is out of options but it seems like Deduno would have the inside track for the fifth starter spot.

Kyle Gibson, RHP
There were high hopes for Gibson entering the 2012 season. The former first round pick had looked good in last year's Arizona Fall League and the club was hoping he could make an impact during his rookie season. Gibson struggled throughout his rookie campaign. He still has options remaining so it's looking like a lock for him to start the year in Rochester. His performance there will dictate when the Twins bring him back to the big leagues.

Alex Meyer, RHP
Considered by many to be the top rated pitching prospect in the Twins organization, Meyer will be knocking on the door to the majors next season. He pitched all of last season at Double-A and he culminated his year with a strong showing in the AFL. There is no need to rush him at this point but it could be hard to find a rotation spot for him unless a rash of injuries hit the guys in front of him. He has options left so the Twins will send him to Rochester for the start of the year.

Vance Worley, RHP
Last season's Opening Day starter struggled throughout his first season in a Twins uniform. His WHIP was almost 2.00 and his 7.21 ERA was tough to swallow. When Minnesota traded Ben Revere, Worley was supposed to add some depth to a struggling pitching staff. A year later and it is looking more like Worley might not be part of the organization. He's out of options and the Twins will likely put some of the names on this list ahead of him for the fifth starter spot.

Put yourself in Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire's shoes. Who gets the fifth starter spot? Is the player currently on the roster? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Talk to Contact: Episode 63

Episode 63 of the Twins baseball podcast, Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.
This week we delve into the winter meetings, or rather, we get together and speculate wildly about things that may or may not happen. Will Bronson Arroyo or Mike Pelfrey end up in a Twins uniform in 2014? What about Stephen Drew? We also attempt to discuss the moves other teams are making around the league. Later on we attempt to give Joe Mauer a nickname, but despite many great submissions we never settle on something we can all agree on. Finally we take an in depth look at Twins prospect Lewis Thorpe.


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 F-Town grow in pop-culture and notoriety. 
__________________
Follow me, @NoDakTwinsFan, on Twitter. Check out the Talk to Contact Podcast (@TalkToContact) or email the show: talktocontact@gmail.com

Monday, December 9, 2013

2014 Minnesota Twins Rule 5 Draft Primer

There are some benefits to Minnesota's finish near the bottom of the AL for the third straight year. Later this week, the Twins will have a top five pick in this year's Rule 5 Draft. For those not familiar, the Rule 5 Draft allows MLB teams to claim players not protected by their parent club on the team's 40-man roster. There obviously some rules to this process.

Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 Draft process. Players signed at 19 years or older must be protected within four seasons. A team that selects a player pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season or offer him back to his original club for $25,000.

Prospects that fit a certain type of mold in the Rule 5 Draft are more likely to stick with an organization. Power arms that have above-average velocity so they can slide into a bullpen role. Teams are always looking for left-handed pitchers. Speedy middle infielders and center fielders can be used as defensive replacements and pinch runners. Corner outfielders and first basemen could provide power off the bench.

In recent years, the Twins have used Rule 5 Draft picks on Ryan Pressly, Terry Doyle, and Scott Diamond. Pressly stuck with the Twins for all of last season and proved himself to be a valuable piece of the bullpen. Doyle didn't pan out with the Twins and he was offered back to the White Sox before he headed over to Japan. The Twins worked out a trade with the Braves to keep Diamond in the organization and this way he didn't have to stay on the 25-man roster for the entire season.
Here's a look a few of the players the Twins could be targeting on December 12th:

Junior Arias, OF, Reds: He doesn't have a lot of experience in the higher levels of the minor leagues as he finished last year at High-A. He would turn 22-years old before the start of next season and he offers a unique skill set. He hit 15 home runs last year and stole 60 bases. This combination of speed and power could be valuable to multiple clubs.

Fit with Minnesota: He could be used as a defensive replacement in the outfield, a late-inning pinch runner, and he has enough power to be a threat off the bench.

Danny Burawa, RHP, Yankees: Control is the biggest issue for Burawa but he definitely fits the mold of a power arm. He missed all of 2012 due to injury and pitched fairly successfully out of the bullpen at Double-A last year. He has a three-pitch offering but his secondary pitches need some work. Burawa had a great second half of last season and his mid-90s fastball could be enough for a team to take a chance.

Fit With Minnesota: He could slide into the bullpen much like Pressly did in 2013. The Twins relief pitching is strong but another power arm could always help.

Marcus Hatley, RHP, Cubs: Hatley has already made it to the Triple-A level with some success out of the bullpen. He's a monster on the mound at 6-foot-5 and his fastball can hit into the mid-90s. There are some issues with his command as he walked 35 batters in 60.2 innings this season. Although, the 25-year old did have a 11.0 SO/9 rate to cancel out some of his control issues.

Fit With Minnesota: His advanced experience in the minors makes him intriguing. His strikeout ability could be added to the bullpen and become a valuable piece moving forward.

Stephen Kohlscheen, RHP, Mariners: Kohlscheen seems to fit the mold of pitchers the Twins have looked for in the past. He has a low-90s fastball but he was dominant at Double-A last year. Over 66.2 innings, the 24-year old struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings. His 6-foot-6 frame is opposing on the mound and he could fit into a rebuilding team's bullpen. One would have to wonder if he would be able to strikeout batters as consistently at the big league level.

Fit With Minnesota: His success last year in his first full season at Double-A could signal a sign of bigger things to come. Minnesota could add him to the bullpen and hope his success continues.

Fred Lewis, LHP, Yankees: He's left-handed and he throws in the low-90s so this should be more than enough to get a team interested in his services. Lewis has been used as a reliever and a starter but his path to the big leagues is likely out of the bullpen. The Yankees sent him to the Arizona Fall League this year but it still wasn't enough to protect the 26-year old. Most of his innings this past year were at Double-A Trenton.

Fit With Minnesota: The Twins have other left-handed arms in the bullpen so he might not be the perfect fit. The potential is there so it might be worth taking a chance just because he is left-handed.

Who would be the best fit for the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Talk to Contact: Episode 62

Episode 62 of the Twins baseball podcast, Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.
This week on the podcast we have a full slate of beers and a full tray of Twins news. Christmas comes early this season for Twins fans as Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes are Minnesota Twins; what does it all mean? Seth Stohs joins us to break down Rule-5 Draft possibilities and to talk minor league ball. The Hot Stove is on fire this seasons, listen in for analysis of Twins moves, roster transactions and more.

It's another long episode this week, but with so much news, and so many beers, it was impossible to keep it any shorter. Thanks for the download.

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 F-Town grow in pop-culture and notoriety. 
__________________
Follow me, @NoDakTwinsFan, on Twitter. Check out the Talk to Contact Podcast (@TalkToContact) or email the show: talktocontact@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2014 Minnesota Twins Top 20 Prospects: 1-10

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. At the beginning of last week, I released the first portion of my top 20 list so make sure and check those out.
1. Byron Buxton- OF
2013 Team(s):  Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle
2013 Stats: .334/.424/.520, 19-2B, 18-3B, 12 HR, 77 RBI, 55 SB
There were questions and doubts about Buxton as the season started. Could he consistently hit? Would he be able to generate enough power? How good was his defense? All of those doubts and more were taken care of in his first full professional season. He is widely regarded as the best prospect in the game and the sky seems like it's the limit for this young man. There are other hurdles to jump before he gets to Target Field but Twins fans have to be excited about his promise moving forward.

2. Miguel Sano- 3B
2013 Team(s): Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats
2013 Stats: .280/.382/.610, 30-2B, 5-3B, 30 HR, 103 RBI, 11 SB
For the first time since the inception of this blog, Miguel Sano's name isn't at the top of my offseason top 20 prospects list. He didn't do anything negative to move down a spot but Buxton was just that good. Sano's defense continues to improve at third base and he might be the best power-hitting prospect in the minor leagues. Fans will likely see Sano at Target Field in the next year and the hope is that he can stay there for a long time.

3. Kohl Stewart- RHP
2013 Team(s): GCL Twins, Elizabethton Twins
2013 Stats: 0-0, 1.35 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 20.0 IP, 4 BB, 24 K
Minnesota entered the 2013 Draft looking for a starting pitcher who could change the course of the franchise. This is a lot of pressure to toss on an 18-year old kid from Texas. There were some impressive signs from Stewart in his professional debut and there is a long road ahead for this young man. He has all the tools and ability to be the ace fans have craved since Johan Santana was traded away. The only question remaining could be, "How fast can he get up to Minnesota?"

4. Alex Meyer- RHP
2013 Team(s): New Britain Rock Cats, GCL Twins (Rehab)
2013 Stats: 4-3, 2.99 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 78.1 IP, 32 BB, 100 K
When the Twins traded away two-thirds of their starting outfield last offseason, the acquisition of Meyer signaled a shift in the Twins system. The team needed talented arms to rebuild a franchise coming off of some terrible seasons. Meyer missed a little time in 2013 with a shoulder issue but he built up some innings in the Arizona Fall League. He will likely start the year in Rochester but this means he is one injury away from making his big league debut.

5. Eddie Rosario- 2B/OF
2013 Team(s): Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats
2013 Stats: .302/.350/.460, 32-2B, 8-3B, 10 HR, 73 RBI, 10 SB
Rosario has been in the news lately but for all the wrong reasons. He will be suspended 50 games at the start of next season for taking a painkiller while he was recovering from an injury. This is a tough blow for one of the best hitting prospects in the organization. Rosario was on pace to make his debut in 2014 but this could get pushed back because of his suspension. His defensive transition to second base continues to take form and the club will need to decide if Brian Dozier or Rosario is the future at that position.

6. Jose Berrios- RHP
2013 Team(s): Cedar Rapids Kernels
2013 Stats: 7-7, 3.99 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 103.2 IP, 40 BB, 100 K
The small stature of Berrios doesn't fit the normal profile of a starting pitcher but that doesn't take anything away from what he has done since being drafted by the Twins. He continues to prove he could team with Meyer and Stewart to form a formidable top of the rotation trio. Berrios will likely spend most of 2014 in Fort Myers and it will be interesting to see how he fares in a league that is considered tough for hitters.

7. Jorge Polanco- SS/2B
2013 Team(s): Cedar Rapids Kernels
2013 Stats: .308/.362/.452, 32-2B, 10-3B, 5 HR, 78 RBI
Minnesota is desperate to develop some middle infielders in the organization. Polanco fits this mold and he is slowly working his way into the organization's long-term thoughts. He continues to improve on the offensive side of the ball but there are still a few wrinkles to iron out defensively. This was one of the main reasons he continues to see time at both middle infield positions. His bat is for real and he was able to prove this in a full season league for the first time this year.

8. Josmil Pinto- C
2013 Team(s): New Britain Rock Cats, Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins
2013 MILB Stats: .309/.400/.482, 32-2B, 1-3B, 15 HR, 74 RBI
2013 MLB Stats: .342/.398/.566, 5-2B, 0-3B, 4 HR, 12 RBI
This is the name on the lips of many fans as the organization has decided to move Joe Mauer to first base. His outstanding offensive numbers in the month of September make it easy to get excited about his future. He put together some very good numbers in the minor leagues as well and this has helped him move up prospect lists. His defense continues to improve but the Twins will likely want him to get more seasoning at Rochester before they will hand over the starting catching spot.

9. Max Kepler- OF/1B
2013 Team(s): Cedar Rapids Kernels
2013 Stats: .237/.312/.424, 11-2B, 3-3B, 9 HR, 40 RBI
An arm injury cost Kepler part of this season but he still showed some promise in 61 games. His batting average wasn't the greatest but power is still part of his game. He was used primarily as an outfielder in his first three years in the organization but the club shifted him to spending more time at first base. Wirh a healthier 2014 and some graduations off the top of this list, he could see his stock rise in the coming years.

10. Adam Walker- OF
2013 Team(s): Cedar Rapids Kernels
2013 Stats: .278/.319/.526, 31-2B, 7-3B, 27 HR, 109 RBI, 10 SB
Walker burst onto the scene with a power-packed performance in 2013. He led the Midwest League in home runs and he made improvements to most other offensive areas. If he can continue to improve, Walker could turn out to be a steal as a third round pick. He'll jump to Fort Myers next year and the Florida State League will test his offensive chops. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Free Agent Feast: Nolasco, Hughes Stuffed Into Rotation

The Twins were doing their own shopping over the busy Thanksgiving weekend.

According to multiple reports, starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco will sign a four-year, $49 million contract. When this deal is finalized, it will be the largest free agent contract in the organization's history. Minnesota had been rumored to be pushing hard for Nolasco and they were able to land their man.

The Twins didn't stop there as reports surfaced on Sunday night of the Twins agreeing to terms with Phil Hughes. Reports have Hughes signing a three-year, $24 million contract. Starting pitching was the Twins biggest offseason need and adding Hughes and Nolasco was a fast paced start.

As the old Twins campaign slogan stated, "Get to Know 'Em"
Ricky Nolasco- RHP
Last Season: 3.70 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 165 SO, 46 BB, 199.1 IP
Last 3 Seasons: 4.29 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 438 SO, 137 BB, 596.1 IP

His Story: Nolasco pitched his entire big league career in Marlins organization until a trade in the middle of last season sent him to the Dodgers. According to Baseball Reference's version of WAR, Nolasco was good for a 1.8 WAR in 2013, the second highest mark of his career. His best season by this metric was in 2008 when he pitched 212.1 innings with a 3.52 ERA. Since that season, he's averaged 192 innings a year with 161 strikeouts and 43 walks. 

The Contract: In a market with pitchers like Ervin Santana and Matt Garza, Nolasco's signing was a big step for the Twins. This is a deal unlike any other in the history of the club because of the value and the fact the Twins haven't signed a free agent starter like this before. He can be in the middle of their rotation for the life of the deal as the club waits for younger organizational talent to mature. He won't be a Johan Santana but his career numbers are similar to Brad Radke and that's an improvement to next year's starting rotation.

Phil Hughes- RHP
Last Season: 5.19 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 121 SO, 42 BB, 145.1 IP
Last 3 Seasons: 4.85 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 333 SO, 115 BB, 411.2 IP

His Story: Hughes was supposed to be a budding prospect in the Yankees organization but things didn't work out that way. His fastball doesn't have a ton of movement and he keeps it high in the zone. At home run prone Yankee Stadium, this can be a recipe for disaster. According to Baseball Reference's WAR, he was worth a -0.7 WAR last year. His best season in relation to WAR was 2009 when he was worth 2.6 WAR and he pitched 86.0 innings with a 3.03 ERA. New York can be a tough pitching environment and a move to the Midwest could be good for Hughes.

The Contract: In my offseason blueprint, I had the Twins signing Hughes for two-years and $16 million. His actual contract will be for one more year and $24 million so around the same amount per year. It's tough to know where the Twins and Hughes will be at the end of this deal. Minnesota hopes to be contenders by 2015 or 2016 and Hughes might not be able to be in the rotation of a contending team. That being said, there can be some value in switching organizations and he is only 27-years old so fingers are crossed that he will be able to figure it out with the Twins.