The Twins knew coming into this season that they had major question marks in the bullpen, the middle infield and at the backup catching position. This is admittedly a hindsight's 20/20 post but these moves aren't that far fetched and the weaknesses they address were known before the year started and pointed out by many of us during the off season.
1. Offer Jon Rauch arbitration. I do this assuming he accepts or the Twins work out a deal similar to his deal with Toronto. So basically the Twins sign Jon Rauch for 1 year 3.75 Million. It's amazing how one more good arm can improve a bullpen drastically just by putting guys that have no business in high leverage roles out of them.
2. Go after either Mike Napoli or Russell Martin via trade. The Twins knew Mauer was coming off of knee surgery and should have known that Butera is not an answer long term at Catcher if Mauer misses time. It's almost a given that at some point Mauer will miss a few weeks as a Catcher and having a better option than Butera is a must for a team with Championship aspirations.
Both Martin and Napoli are right handed which makes them a nice complement to our 3 best hitters in any platoon type of situation. Napoli especially is capable of being a DH and playing 1B. Martin has played a handful of games at 3B over his career which makes me think he could've been given reps and assumed a position to backup 1B as well. I was hoping for the Twins to pick up Martin before his resurgence so this is in no way a reaction to his strong start to 2011. The Twins likely wouldn't have gotten him in FA as he was getting a shot at a starting gig in New York and was smart to take it. However, he could have likely been had for a marginal to non-prospect as he was DFA'd by the Dodger. The negative is that the Twins would have had to pay him more via arbitration than the 4 million he got from the Yanks. I'd guess that he'd be getting paid 5.5 million had this scenario played out.
Mike Napoli was acquired for Frank Francisco. The Twins really don't have a comparable guy to trade and if the Blue Jays were intent on getting a strikeout veteran reliever the Twins didn't really have anyone to offer. I have to believe they could have worked something out though. Napoli would have cost more in prospects but was less of a risk as he was coming off of good seasons where Martin had two rough ones prior to 2011. Napoli also has recent experience playing 1B which gave the Twins a nice backup plan for Morneau and a good guy to give him days off. Napoli ended up getting 5.8 million via arbitration this past off season.
Martin is younger with generally better OBP and defense at the Catcher postion where as Napoli brings a guy with more power that can also play 1B adequately. Martin also costs less in prospects. It's kind of a toss up, I would have rather had Martin because of his upside and I like buying low.
3. Carl Pavano gets swept off his feet by another team. This also isn't a knee jerk reaction to his rough start to the season. I along with pretty much everyone else was happy with Pavano's contract and to be honest still believe it will be a positive signing when all's said and done. I don't regret it based on an up and down first 6 weeks. However this is the only place I could see the money coming from to sign the two aforementioned players. It also would have given the Twins two more picks in what is being touted as a very good draft. Slowey could have stepped up in a starters role and Gibson/Swarzak/Manship all were capable of being spot starters if someone went down injured.
4. The MI: Really, I have no answer, this team has too much money tied up to fill all the holes and this was one area where they had to trust some combo of Nishioka, Casilla, Plouffe, Hughes, Tolbert to figure it out. The Nishioka injury has highlighted how bad this unit is, had he stayed healthy it might not be as big of a concern as it is today. The JJ Hardy trade had to happen for the other moves I mentioned to happen as it also got rid of Harris's contract.
I realize these moves wouldn't have saved the season. They likely would have given the Twins a better record at this point and put them in a much better position to take the division back as the rest of the team gets healthy.
Lastly here's a poll for backup catching options if we lived in a world where we could go back in time.