Last Thursday we went over the rather obvious fact that in recent seasons, Minnesota Twins pitching hasn't been missing many bats. It should be understood that while you don't need a staff of strikeout pitchers and can be successful without them, a philosophy of filling out a staff with contact pitchers is a flawed one. Twins pitching has a fundamental lack of dynamics, but more importantly if you're not striking out many players then you're putting more pressure on the defense (and the pitchers themselves).
It's this simple: if you rely on the batter making contact to get an out, it's not always going to happen. It's playing with fire. When a player can't hit the ball, however, he can't do any damage.
Today's philosophy is also going to be another obvious one, but it's laying the foundation for what we'll be talking about in the coming weeks. After the jump, the last five World Series winners and their best hitters (by OPS+). Are these lineups balanced?
|06 Cardinals||07 Red Sox||08 Phillies||09 Yankees||10 Giants|
Most of us aren't quite at the point where we expect the Twins to make a run at the World Series in 2012, but with the right pieces (and without a second year of terrible luck) this is still a team that could compete. Good teams should retain a sense of balance in the lineup, and this list illustrates perfectly my point: the best teams have good hitters from both sides of the plate.
In 2010, Delmon Young's OPS+ was 123; Cuddyer's 106. Two months ago, Minnesota dealt Young. If somebody offers Michael Cuddyer a three-year, $33 million dollar contract, he should take it. Minnesota won't (and shouldn't) compete with that, because it's not a responsible investment.
If Cuddyer walks, as he probably will barring something unforeseen (i.e. he accepts arbitration or signs for two years), the Twins will try to retain Jason Kubel instead. For those of you calculating in your mind, that means the 2012 Twins' best batters will be Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, and Denard Span. They're all left-handed hitters.
But with the departure of Delmon Young, and the impending free agency of Michael Cuddyer, the Twins are once again looking for good right-handed hitting. On our current 36-man roster, your right-handed bats are:
That's an issue. The good news is that the Twins have a couple of positions they can play with this winter, in terms of finding a place for that quality right-handed bat (or two).
Right field is unsettled, assuming the Twins lose Cuddyer. Both shortstop and second base are free for an upgrade if the right fit comes along. There will also be room to play with at designated hitter, depending on whether Kubel sticks around. (It will also depend on the health of Mauer and Morneau, but they're both here to stay and we won't really know how healthy they are until the season gets underway. Still, it would behoove the Twins to find backup options.)
Now we turn to you, Twins Territory. Which free agent right-handed hitters would be fits in Minnesota? Forget about Albert Pujols, we all know it's not going to happen. Here's a list of upcoming free agents. Tell us who you like, and later today I'll introduce Twinkie Town's top ten right-handed free agent targets.