I do believe that this is my first FanPost under my new name, BCTwins. As I am sure many of you know, I am the former blogger named: 33MorneauMVP. For those rookies to this site, I have been a proud member and contributor to this site since basically its earliest stages of existence.
Alright, let me start off my 2011 plan for our favorite team.
All reports indicate that the Twins will see an increase in team salary this year, and while I doubt the reports of upwards to $125 million in salary, I would be most pleased with a figure like that.
Twins have already started off the offseason with a pretty significant move (no, not the Eric Hacker move) as they look to upgrade their team. Twins bid and received negotiating rights with the Chiba Lotte Marines for Japanese 2B/SS, Tsuyoshi Nishioka. All of a sudden, the Twins seem to be very big in the international players and are not really hesitating on signing a few (e.g. Miguel Angel Sano).
It is obvious that the Twins do not expect Orlando Hudson to accept arbitration, although they offered it to him. However, Hudson remains one of the prime 2B on the market, so the expectation for him to accept arbitration is a very low percentage. Prior to receiving the negotiating rights, the Twins appeared to be heading into next year with Alexi Casilla as their regular 2B. I hesitatingly approved of this, because I do not think Casilla has really been given a chance to show his true promise. However, with the likely upgrade of Nishioka at 2B, Casilla can move back into the role where he thrived this last season: utility.
Twins will probably offer Nishioka a $3-5 million contract - enough to lure him over the pond, but also not so much to be a drag on the salary if he turns out to be a bust. So, with 2B already appearing to be crossed off the list, the Twins should begin to focus on a couple of other areas.
Starting rotation seems to be a good spot. Lots of teams are interested in Carl Pavano, to whom the Twins offered arbitration. I will not be greatly upset if Pavano accepts arbitration - although I see that as a possible high salary road for him. However, it appears that Pavs might be looking for a 3 year, $30 million contract. Astros, Marlins, and a couple of other teams have been looking at Pavano as a solution to some of their rotation woes. In my mind, I see Pavano leaving the Twins, so I think they should start shopping around for another pitcher.
How would I prefer they solve this problem (trade or free agency)? I have mixed emotions. I, of course, would love to see the Twins trade for Zack Greinke (who incidentally I see has the greatest potential of coming to the Twins as opposed to any other team), but I am not so sure I would like to trade away so many prospects for him. I will attempt to put together a trade here for Greinke, however I do not know precisely what the Royals need. Royals trade Zack Greinke to the Twins for David Bromberg, Spencer Steedley/Nick Blackburn, Ben Revere, Jason Kubel and Anthony Slama/Burnett/Delaney. Is that enough to get Greinke from the Royals? I don't think so - but as I said, I do not know what the Royals are looking for.
I can see the Twins offering an incentive laden deal to former Cy Young award winner, Brandon Webb, who has been nagged by injuries the past two years. Twins could potentially land Webb (potential #2 pitcher in our rotation) for about $3 million plus incentives (worth up to $4 million) and a second year option. Either the Twins will go land the big fish via trade (Greinke) or sign the second potentially biggest fish of free agency (behind Cliff Lee), Brandon Webb.
Assuming the Twins either trade for Greinke or sign Webb, they persist in grooming Kyle Gibson in AAA and will possibly call him up in June, or after the All-Star Break in July, when I am sure at least one of our starters will be struggling.
Finally, I wish to address our outfield defense - which I think is a huge problem. Delmon Young, although he is finally becoming our power-hitting, clutch right handed bat, still cannot seem to track a baseball too well in the outfield (remember Chicago's Dye?) Span is an average to below average center fielder and Cuddyer/Kubel have horrible range in right field, although it is mostly disguised by the Twins limestone wall.
There are not many possible solutions to this problem unless we trade away any of Kubel/Cuddyer/Young. Revere could be our next center fielder with Span moving to right or left, or the Twins could use Revere as the 4th outfielder, defensive sub, pinch runner. Or the Twins trade both Kubel and Revere to the Royals and sign a defense oriented 4th outfielder from the free agent market (Reed Johnson, Willie Harris, DeWayne Wise, etc.)
Twins bring back Jim Thome on a one year, $3 million deal, to be our platoon DH with Young/Cuddyer against right handed pitchers. Twins tender a contract to SS, J.J. Hardy and sign a few bullpen pitchers, as well as restocking our bullpen with our minor league system (let us hope that Waldrop is passed by in the Rule V draft!)
Twins starting rotation:
- Span - CF
- Nishioka - 2B
- Mauer - C
- Morneau - 1B
- Young - LF
- Thome - DH
- Cuddyer - RF
- Valencia - 3B
- Hardy - SS
Backup: Wise/Harris/Revere - 4th outfielder, Morales/Butera - C, Casilla - utility
To recap, the Twins potential 2011 pickups:
- Nishioka - $3-5 million deal, 2-3 years
- Webb - $3 million + incentives OR Greinke - Bromberg, Steedley/Blackburn, Revere, Kubel, Slama/Delaney/Burnett
- Wise/Harris/Johnson - 4th outfielder ($1-2 million)
- Re-sign Jim Thome