FanPost

2009 Twins...

Now this post is concerned with the players who will be coming back next year and some hopeful trades and signings that might be pulled off.  Now, I have posted about two of these posts so far this year much to the chagrin of all Twins posters here (at least most).  Some blamed me of writing the Twins off as having lost the crown already (which I never did!)...I merely wanted to express my opinion on how I saw the Twins and how I thought they could improve in 2009, but unfortunately for me, I had several writers on here not believe me.  Now, with the season being over, I trust I will be able to post this without any negative comments about how I should focus on the season and not next season.

First off, I would like to start with the pitching staff.  This year, we saw 7 starting pitchers: Blackburn, Slowey, Hernandez, Liriano, Baker, Bonser, Perkins.  At the end of the year, we had regressed that total down to five: Baker, Blackburn, Perkins, Slowey, and Liriano.  Those pitcher exceeded expectations in their rookie and sophmore years.  Those five pitcher managed to hurl the Twins into contention for first and the crown, getting 52 of the Twins 88 wins!  Add Hernandez, who was traded at the deadline to that group and you have 62 of the 88 wins, won by our starters.  5 pitchers (Big Man, Blacky, Slow-Man, Baker, Perk) had more than 10 wins for the Twins!  No other Twins starting pitching staff (at least this young) had managed to get more than 10 wins a piece!

So now, let us focus on those starting five once again, and let us determine who will stay and who will go (if any).  Baker and Liriano will remain, as those are the two aces on this now very young staff.  Slowey will also remain with the Twins (he is a Radke, of course he would remain!).  Blackburn and Perkins are the only two who I can foresee being traded, and of course it would only be one of those two.  Seattle expressed interest in Blackburn/Perkins, +1 for Beltre (as I believe).  Beltre now appears to be on the trading block once again.  It will be interesting to see if the Twins once again will pursue the big bat and gold gloved Beltre, although he has undergone shoulder surgery.  However, if they do trade one of our young pitchers, I would hope to see Perkins be the one.  Blackburn, as I believe, has the better career ahead of him.  I like Perkins (except for in the final months of the season) but I would much rather see him (who doesnt have AS much upside) go than Blacky.  So, lets say we trade Perkins (for whoever)...who takes his spot?!  Here is my rotation with Perkins and without Perkins.

1.  Baker

2.  Liriano

3.  Slowey

4.  Blackburn

5.  Perkins

Without:

1.  Baker

2.  Liriano

3.  Slowey

4.  Blackburn

5.  Humber/Swarzak

I believe that Humber, who is out of options, would be the better long time pitcher than Perkins.  Swarzak also could get a look at, especially since he had a 1.80 ERA in his 7 AAA starts (winning 5 of those).  My vote goes to Perkins to be traded and letting Humber and Swarzak compete for the final spot!  Definitely I would not sign a "veteran" pitcher...I would leave it to the young guys!

Now, I turn my attention to the bullpen!  The bullpen let the Twins down more than several times this season.  They were in anguish without Neshek and with Guerrier suffering.  I could see the Twins sign a good RP only if it is for sure that Neshek wont be coming back next year.  We are still hanging on that thread; however, if Neshek can return, I dont see the Twins doing anything but promoting from within.  If we do lose Neshek for next season, here are his possible replacements among the FA class for the 8th inning role: David Weathers, Kerry Wood, Brandon Lyon, and Chan Ho Park.  Those are the only FA that stand out to me.  Of course, the Twins could go with Mijares and a possible trade for Heath Bell or some other.  Also, I think the Twins might bring back Guerrier, as he probably wont cost much (especially after this season) in arbitration.  I see Bonser getting traded with or separate from Perkins.

Revised Bullpen:

Closer - Nathan

8th inning - Neshek/other

7th inning - Mijares, Guerrier, Breslow

Long Man - Swarzak/Humber/Mulvey

Having settled the bullpen, I will now move onto the outfield.  We will have a surplus of outfielders in 2009 with Gomez, Span, Young, Cuddyer, and Kubel.  We will have to probably trade one of those players, and if it is any of them, it is looking like it will probably be Young or Cuddyer.  I would prefer to see Cuddyer go, despite his value after his injuries, but with Young, he still is young and has a lot of upside.  If Cuddyer gets traded, I see Young moving in RF and Span taking over LF, since LF is bigger at the Metrodome and also at Target Field, and of the 3 outfielders, his arm is the weakest.  Young has a cannon and fields pretty well, despite the criticism of Twins fans, and RF is his natural position, so he might be able to relax if moved back there.  Kubel, of course, maintains DH although occasionally he could spell either Span or Young.  So now, we have traded Cuddyer (and his contract) and now have brought the outfielders down to 4 very good players with lots of upside!

LF - Span

RF - Young

CF - Gomez

DH/4th outfielder - Kubel

Now, with the outfield taken care of successfully, or so it appears to me, let us move on to the infield, which as I forsee, has the most potential for change.  There are a lot of scenarios that could happen here.  Morneau, of course, stays at first, and Mauer at C; but pretty much all the other positions are up in the air.  Casilla will either take SS or 2B, most probably 2B.  Let us focus on the possibilities at SS and 3B for now.  Adding a power hitting 3B appears to be most Twins fans desire (and I cant blame them, as we have not had a legit threat over there since Koskie in 2004.)  5 years later, we are still looking for that bat that can protect Morneau in the lineup and be a power threat at 3B.  

Possible 3B on the market (FA and trades):  Beltre (trade), Blake (FA), Atkins (trade), Blalock (FA), Kouzmanoff (trade), and Crede (FA).  

Now, personally, although I know everybody will disagree with me, I would like to see the Twins pick up Atkins.  I know his home/away splits but who isnt to say that he would not like to hit in the dome or at Target field?!  As a matter of fact, I think Atkins would thrive better at either of those two parks than at Coors field.  Reason: Thunderdome and Homerdome = Metrodome; Target field will be a nice place to hit homers with the shortened fences but also, Atkins likes to hit outdoors.  And if you think about it, there is not MUCH difference in temperatures between Colorado and MN once you get outside...thus, if Atkins hits well in Coors in cold weather, who is not to say that he wont hit well at Target Field in cold weather.  This is a risk I am willing to take, and plus, he will be our only threat at 3B in 5 years!  Punto/Buscher/Batista didnt come close to what Koskie did....of course the defense of Atkins is a little risky but I am willing to take it!  

Possible SS on the market: Eckstein (FA) (another Everett anybody?), Furcal (SS), and J.J. Hardy (trade).

J.J. Hardy is the most intriguing SS on that list and it appears the Milwaukee will be looking for a suitor for him.  Lets go Twins!  Hardy has a great bat and decent glove.  I could really envision a Hardy-Casilla-Morneau DP combo in 2009 and would love to see it happen.

I am not really going to go into 2B, since I see Casilla there; however, since Casilla can be moved, I will look at one player.  Orlando Hudson.  Of course, he will be expensive but he has a GREAT bat and GREAT glove.  However, it appears that the Yanks will probably be chasing him and since they have the money, he will go there.  However, if he is willing to accept a $7 million plus bonuses and possible extension from the Twins, I would really like to see him in a blue and red uniform.  However, for now, I will not focus on him but on the others who I have mentioned.

Now, I will give the possible lineups with Hardy or Atkins stuck in there.  I certainly do not expect the Twins to get both players, although it would be beautiful!

The Hardy (pun) Lineup:

1.  Span - LF

2.  Hardy - SS

3.  Mauer - C

4.  Morneau - 1B

5.  Kubel - DH

6.  Young - RF

7.  Buscher/Harris - 3B

8.  Casilla - 2B

9.  Gomez - CF

It was tough to move Casilla out of the two hole, and if the Twins do get Hardy, it will be an interesting lineup development as both Casilla and Hardy have excelled in the 2 hole.

The Atkins (pun) Lineup:

1.  Span - LF

2.  Casilla - 2B

3.  Mauer - C

4.  Morneau - 1B

5.  Atkins - 3B

6.  Kubel - DH

7.  Young - LF

8.  Punto/Harris - SS

9.  Gomez - CF

I forgot to mention, but if the Twins do go out and get Atkins, Beltre, Blake, etc...I foresee them resigning Punto (however much I hate him) and going with the Punto/Harris combo at SS.  However, if the Twins sign Hardy, I see Punto hitting FA, and a Buscher/Harris combo at 3B.

Bench is my final stop in this long post.  I think the bench is probably the most important part of baseball.  It is the duty of those on the bench to cheer on their teammates, always be ready to go, and not whine about playing time.  Bench players scenarios:  If Twins trade for 3B, then Punto will be resigned....If Hardy is traded for, then Buscher/Harris combo will be at 3B.

3B Bench:

Redmond - backup C

Punto/Harris - backup SS

Tolbert - utility 

Ruiz - PH or DH

SS Bench:

Redmond - backup C

Harris/Buscher - backup 3B

Tolbert - utility

Ruiz  - PH or DH

As you can see, the bench doesn't change much.  Before I leave this post, I will nominate who gets traded:  Atkins - Perkins/Bonser or Perkins/Cuddyer or Cuddyer/Bonser;  Hardy - same trade scenarios as for Atkins.  I see Rockies biting on the Perkins and Bonser trade more than any other trade.  Same with Milwaukee, so we will either have to get rid of Cuddy for some prospects or maybe for Heath Bell or other bullpen help.

So now I leave it to you to decide if my team is a nice team or if you want something different.  Please leave NICE comments!!!!

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