Premature Rosterbation

The Twins had their lack of depth exposed with all the injuries last year, so to avoid bringing up AAA players before they’re ready (if they would ever be ML-ready), I’ve mostly gone outside of the organization to plug the holes. Due to how early it is, this could end up becoming obsolete pretty quickly. A lot depends on decisions the Twins make about their own players and payroll.  However, I've gone ahead and made my own decisions.

The Ones Who Leave:
As much as I love them, Cuddyer and Kubel will more than likely be more expensive than the Twins can afford.  Kubel would be almost affordable, but the Twins need RH power more than LH power.  Slowey, Mijares, Dumatrait, Tolbert, and Repko get non-tendered. Butera and Rivera are released or stashed in AAA.  Parmelee, Dinkelman, Benson, Hughes, and Tosoni all start the year in AAA.

The Infield:
Mauer and Morneau are, if healthy, entrenched at C and 1B, respectively.  Valencia may be in Gardy’s doghouse, but I like him at 3B for now.  Casilla has shown improvement enough to make me comfortable with him at 2B.  The only position left to fill is SS, which I do by offering a 3yr/$10mil contract to Clint Barmes.  Barmes brings excellent defense at a premium position while not being entirely devoid of offense.  Considering the “pitch-to-contact” mentality of most of the pitching staff, getting a defense first SS seems to be relatively important.  

The Outfield/DH:
Assuming Span is healthy, he is firmly entrenched as the Twins CF.  Cuddyer and Kubel are likely to be too expensive, so no matter how much I like them, I look to other options.  LF goes to Ben Revere, whose defense (noodle arm, not included) and speed should make up for his lack of power and relatively low ability to get on base.  Plus, he’s cheap.  As for RF, I sign David DeJesus to a 1yr/$6mil contract.  DeJesus had somewhat of a down year and would probably love the chance to have a redemption season in order to drive up his value.  We have Benson (plus a slew of other OF prospects) waiting in the wings, so there really isn’t a need to sign DeJesus long term.  This would also give the Twins one of the rangiest outfields in the majors.  Replacing Kubel as the DH, I have Vladimir Guerrero on 1yr/$7mil contract.  He may be getting older, but he can still hit and provides the RH power threat the Twins lose with Cuddyer leaving.

The Bench:
Replacing the overmatched Butera is Ramon Hernandez on a 1yr/$3mil contract.  The Twins have already committed $6.25mil over the next two years to Nishioka, and I’m not ready to give up on him yet.  I almost wonder if he might benefit from starting the year in AAA, but for now, I left him in the majors.  Trevor Plouffe has nothing left to prove in AAA, but his success has yet to translate to the majors.  The Twins have been trying him as somewhat of a utility player, which gives him a little more value.  This leaves one spot remaining on the bench.  I decided to go with Jonny Gomes on a 1yr/$1mil.  He’s cheap and he just destroys LHP. Seriously, he has a .282/.375/.501 career line against lefties including .311/.407/.456 last year, as opposed to a .224/.306/.427 career line against righties.  

The Starters:
With limited funds, starting pitching gets little upgrading.  Baker and Liriano still have great stuff, though both have suffered through injury and inconsistency.  Pavano is consistent, though expensive.  Blackburn never should have been given his contract, but since it’s there, he gets a spot.  He actually pitched extremely well in May (6 starts, 3-0 42.2 IP, 24K/12BB, 2.53 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) and though I don’t expect him to pitch anywhere close to that level year-round, with what I hope is an improved defense, he could actually pitch close to Pavano-like numbers.  The last starting spot is tricky, since there’s no money left to pursue a FA starter.  I wanted Gibson to be ready to take this spot, but since that can’t happen, I had to look elsewhere.  Most likely, I would hold auditions for the final spot during spring training.  Candidates would be Anthony Swarzak, who pitched somewhat effectively both as a starter and out of the bullpen this season; Chuck James, who pitched well at AAA and in 9.1 relief innings for the Twins before giving up 4ER in his last appearance (at Texas in a 20-6 loss, so it almost doesn’t count); Scott Diamond, who did not look impressive in a 7-game stint with the Twins late in the season; and Jeff Manship.  Initially, we’ll give the edge to Swarzak.

The Relievers:
The bullpen was a mess last year, but with so much money tied up in Mauer, Morneau, and the starters, I had to get a little creative.  After Nathan’s buyout, I resign him to a 1yr/$6mil deal.  Don’t look at the overall numbers.  Look at his numbers after he came back from his midseason DL trip.  I love Glen Perkins, but I’d prefer to keep him as a setup guy.  Duensing moves back to the bullpen to provide more of a lefty specialist.  Here’s where it gets interesting.  I give Dan Wheeler a 2yr/$4mil deal as a right-handed reliever to pair with Duensing.  I bring back Jon Rauch after a down year in Toronto on another 2yr/$4mil deal.  Then the remaining 2 spots go to in house options.  Candidates would include any of the SP candidates who don’t win the starting spot; Anthony Slama, who has had great success at every level, somehow without sparking the Twins’ interest, Lester Oliveros; Kyle Waldrop; Carlos Gutierrez; and Cole Devries.  My picks at this time would be Slama and James.

This would yield a payroll around right around $105mil.  If the Twins were willing to increase that number a little, they could go after a starting pitcher, or pay to keep Cuddyer, pushing Revere to the bench.   Assuming neither of those happen, our lineup would look something like:

CF – Span
RF – DeJesus
C – Mauer
DH – Guerrero
1B – Morneau
3B – Valencia
SS – Barmes
2B – Casilla
LF – Revere

Be – Ramon Hernandez
Be – Trevor Plouffe
Be – Tsuyoshi Nishioka
Be – Jonny Gomes

The pitching staff would look like:

SP – Scott Baker
SP – Francisco Liriano
SP – Carl Pavano
SP – Nick Blackburn
SP – Anthony Swarzak

CP – Joe Nathan
SU – Glen Perkins
RP – Brian Duensing
RP – Dan Wheeler
RP – Jon Rauch
RP – Anthony Slama
LR – Chuck James
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