Coming into this season there was something that bothered me more than it had in the past, in terms of the Twins' off-season and what was (or wasn't) addressed. Because for the first time in as long as I can remember, while I understood that the Twins had some difficult decisions to make I found that I disagreed with almost every choice they made. Yes, it's easy to complain about those choices right now, when the team is in one of the worst funks it's been in for some time, but that doesn't make my concerns about the off-season any less accurate.
Right now the Twins are struggling offensively, but they're also dealing with depth issues in the bullpen, infield and behind the plate. Over the course of the winter we laid out blueprints, talked about buy-low options on more than one occasion, we compared backup options for Justin Morneau, we went over good free agent selections for the Twins in January, and while some suggestions were more far-fetched than others it certainly appeared that the real life Minnesota Twins had a different view of their organizational needs than most of the fanbase. All winter we were concerned about depth and backup options, while the Twins were more concerned with loyalty to some of their core players and with bringing in a plethora of career minor leaguers to flesh out Rochester's roster.Of course the number one thing moving forward is to determine what the best way to do just that. Alexi Casilla's OPS+ is 5. Drew Butera's is 9. Only Denard Span and Jason Kubel are better than league average. And of course the bullpen has already used ten pitchers, with the three most established pitchers all struggling in Joe Nathan, Matt Capps and Jose Mijares. The Twins are struggling not just to perform, but to find a balance, and right now I'm not convinced they can do that in-house.
Right now I want the Twins to make four moves. Not because I think these players will necessarily put them over the top, but because I think they can help us find that balance.
Sign Bengie Molina
Sure, he's 36. And I know, we didn't see the power typical of him last season. But this is less about bringing in a guy who can help the team offensively and more about bringing in a guy who's seen everything there is to see. In the last few years he's caught Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, and Matt Cain, but he's also caught future Hall of Famers like Troy Percival, Roy Halladay and Randy Johnson. No, you don't give credit to a catcher for the great pitchers he's caught, but you can sure as hell give him credit for the experience. Just like everyone else I love STEVE HOLM!, but for a team with so many weaknesses already a guy with Molina's experience (especially while Joe Mauer is unavailable, who knows how long that will be for) could mean a good deal.
Sign Kiko Calero
He's still sitting out there, and apparently he's healthy. Calero is a strikeout machine (which is great because the Twins pitching could probably due with missing a few bats) with health issues, which means he's available AND cheap. You could certainly argue that the Twins already have plenty of inexpensive internal options for the bullpen, but I'd argue that after making a few changes already (and Joe Nathan not exactly himself and Jose Mijares confused about where the strike zone actually is) there clearly isn't a great deal of confidence in those internal options. Go get Calero, put him in Rochester for a week or two, and see what you've got.
Trade for Brad Emaus
Recently designated for assignment by the Mets, as a rule five selection last winter there will have to be some level of compensation directed back towards the Blue Jays. Minnesota would need to keep him on the 25-man roster, which could be an issue for a guy like this, but he's a good buy-low candidate. Emaus just turned 25 and plays second base, and while he was just 6-for-37 this spring for the Mets (in his only MLB time ever) it's not like he was given an extended audition. Additionally, Emaus hit .298/.395/.495 in his first stint at triple-A last season. Overall his minor league line is .276/.364/.426 in 1810 plate appearances, including nearly a 1-to-1 walk-to-strikeout ratio (212 and 220, respectively). Of course the Twins would need to make a decision on Casilla, Matt Tolbert or Luke Hughes in this case, but it's not as though any of them are 3-win players. With Emaus you're simply taking a shot on another middle infielder, albeit one who's actually hit in the minors.
Sign Ben Sheets
This one is just a leap of faith. And I don't want Sheets as a starter, I want him out of the bullpen. C'mon back, Ben Sheets. Give this baseball thing one more try.
What about you? Is there anyone left out there that you'd be willing to take a flyer on to help this club find some balance? Maybe you're a believer in Brandon Wood, or you'd like to see Luis Castillo give it one last shot?