Hey guys, great to be back here after a long baseball season at AAA. CMath, Roger, Jesse, and many others; will be good to read your insight again more often. Always appreciate all your work. Anyway, I just wanted to look to 2009 for a minute (not giving up on this season yet, just always fun to look). Personally, I would look at a few things:
1) Trade Delmon Young in a package for Adrian Beltre. Now this isn't a move I'd "love" to make, but I do think it's not such a bad idea considering the rumblings of the Twins' unhappiness with Young as well as their love for players like Beltre, not to mention the fact that our OF is going to be quite crowded next season. I would offer something like this:
Beltre plus a MI prospect for Young plus Guerrier. Our bullpen is going to be decent next year; bear with me.
Beltre does make a hefty $12 Million next year, but he's a RH power bat, he brings a great glove, and he'd be in a contract push. And we all saw what happened last time that was the case for him. Plus, he bides the Twins time for one of Valencia/Hughes to step up this year at 3b as a longterm option. And lastly, he is likely to be a Type A FA after 2009, so the Twins would reap 2 top 40 picks simply by letting him sign elsewhere. Makes; all the sense in the world to me, as much as I hate to give up on a 22-year old with great talent in Young. And we do have more stellar OF's on the way in the next few years in Hicks/Revere/Morales, plus a stable of young guys with high ceilings in the majors currently.
2) Sign Mark Ellis. He's had a really unlucky year but he could capably solve our other INF problem and I expect a bounceback year from him in 2009; most stats would indicate that. He's a Type B FA, which works, and Dennys Reyes should be a Type B as well that we could easily let walk, negating that anyway. Plus, Ellis is from the area, and also shouldn't cost much, nor a longterm committment. I was thinking something in the range of $6 Million per year over 2-3 years. I think that would get it done. That drastically improves the INF offense and also makes our overall defense simply nasty. You'd have the following:
C-Mauer-best in the league
1b-Morneau-top 4 in the league, at worst
2b-Ellis-top 2 in the league
SS-Casilla-top 3 in the league
3b-Beltre-top 3 in the league
RF-Cuddyer (our one bad spot)
CF-Gomez-best in the league
LF-Span-best in the league (should be at least, in LF)
3) Sign longterm contract extensions for Joe Mauer, Francisco Liriano, and Scott Baker. They are the rest of the core of this franchise, and it's a good time to do it in each of their cases.
Mauer's current contract is up after 2010. He's the heart of this team and it's MVP in my opinion. Following the model of Morneau and Cuddyer, give him a bonus this season, and then give him an annual salary in line with Morneau's longterm contract, at around $14 million per year. I bet he'd go for that.
Liriano, if he has the year I expect in 2009, is going to see his arbitration figure go through the roof. Let's beat him to the punch in offering him some security this year. Give him an early bonus and get a 5 year deal done at a relatively bargain rate, taking out a year of FA if possible.
Baker; ditto from Liriano. The guy seems to be a horse and doesn't really have an injury history, but really provides a Radke-like presence on the team as a stabilizer. Let's get it done.
I think these need to be priorities on this team this offseason and I think we can get all 3 done. If we do, I will be quite happy, and quite happy with the direction of this team. In my next post, tacking on to this, I'll look at salary going into 2009 and 2010. I think you'll like what you see, or at least I hope you do. Did I mention it's great to be back on here? Go Twins!