The Twins have made a splash early in this offseason by addressing needs at catcher and shortstop. Adding Jamey Carroll and Ryan Doumit into the fold at very reasonable prices has me a little more optimistic about the 2012 Twins. I think Minnesota is only a few moves away from building a contender next season. Of course, most of that depends on M+Ms health and how their starting pitching performs. Here is my hopes and plans for acquisitions and roster moves from this point on until Spring Training.
1. Bullpen/Closer Role
2. The Outfield situation (Kubel and Cuddyer)
3. Starting Pitching
4. Designated Hitter
Acquire RHP Andrew Bailey via trade.
This provides the Twins their closer for the 2012 Inaugural Season. Bailey fits the Twins liking for a "proven" closer and is set to make a mere 465K in 2011. He's a very inexpensive option and is only 27 years old. At 27, Bailey has plenty of arbitration eligible years left making it slightly more likely that he'd resign next Winter/Spring. He could become a long term solution if the Twins are willing, or a trade piece next deadline if they continue to struggle. Andrew has very good career numbers at the Major League level posting a 2.07 ERA, a .954 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9. In the Athletics organization, he has been a frequent flyer on the DL. The saying is "you are only injury prone until you are not." You never know what will happen with players tagged injury prone. ex: J.J. Hardy, Carl Pavano (pre-Twins) Andrew Bailey is also "100% likely to be traded this offseason" according to Buster Olney of ESPN. The move is risky, but the reward could be phenomenal.
By letting Cuddyer sign elsewhere, the Twins receive compensation in the draft and avoid a costly contract. I expect Cuddyer to be signed for around $12 Million a year. Michael just had one of the best seasons of his career and I'd be more than surprised if he could repeat his 2011 season stats. Jason Kubel and Josh Willingham are both cheaper options available in free agency. Kubel is still in his prime and effectively solves the designated hitter situation. Kubel would DH against RHP. The newest Twin, Ryan Doumit has better splits vs. LHP and could DH against southpaws. Jason got off to a great start this year, but was hampered with injuries. I believe he will produce more next year if the Twins give him the chance. Josh Willingham has already been linked to the Twins and looks like a perfect fit. He is a solid right handed replacement for Cuddyer with more pop. He hit .249 with 29 HRs for Oakland while being above average defensively. I love the power the Twins would add to the lineup through this tandem.
Resign RHP Matt Capps 1/2 Million and Sign RHP Octavio Dotel 1/3 Million
Capps is a familiar face in the organization who gets a negative response from fans. Matt Capps is a much better pitcher than we all saw last year and could flourish in a reduced role in Minnesota. His career ERA is 3.51 and Twins blogger Nick Nelson says he may have pitched through pain in 2011. (http://www.nickstwinsblog.com/2011/11/pitching-through-pain.html) Another beneficial addition to the bullpen is Octavio Dotel. He is a journeyman reliever who could probably be trusted in a pitcher's park like Target Field.
When the dust settles the 25 man roster looks like this:
1. Denard Span RF L
2. Jamey Carroll SS R
3. Joe Mauer C L
4. Justin Morneau 1B L
5. Josh Willingham LF R
6. Jason Kubel DH L
7. Alexi Casilla 2B S
8. Ben Revere CF L
9. Danny Valencia 3B R
S Ryan Doumit C/1B (DH vs. LH Starting Pitching)
RH Trevor Plouffe INF/OF
RH Luke Hughes INF
RH Jason Repko OF
LH Rene Tosoni OF
(Tsuyoshi Nishioka Demoted to AAA)
Rotation (Spring Training Pending):
1. Scott Baker
2. Carl Pavano
4. Kevin Slowey
RHP Matt Capps
RHP Anthony Swarzak (Spot Starter)
LHP Brian Duensing
RHP/SU Octavio Dotel
LHP/SU Glen Perkins
C Andrew Bailey
2011 Payroll: $115 Million
Factoring in Doumit, Carroll, all lost contracts and new contracts...
2012 Payroll: $110.8 Million
The Payroll cut may not be as steep as the Pohlads would like, but I think it's reasonable enough. Thoughts?