Make-Your-Own Adventure: A Twins Offseason Primer

Winning is fun, you guys. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

You remember reading those silly books that would say "if this, jump to page 20" or "if not, turn the book upside down and light it on fire?" I do. The Goosebumps ones were the best.

But anyway, today's post is sort of going to read like that. Except I won't have any concrete answers because I'm still the same half-wit who predicted the Twins would win 80-plus games this season.

If you've stopped reading, TwinkieTown still thanks you for your click-through.

But I thought today it could be sort of fun to look at who the Twins might target this offseason to get a possible look at how the team will be constructed next season. Additionally, I thought it could be sort of an interactive way to get the TwinkieTown fanbase energized about a team that -- last night excepted -- looks like it has been chugging Five-Hour Lethargy.

Let's assume the following format, with the following players tentatively penciled in. Questions to follow:

C-Joe Mauer
1B- Justin Morneau
2B- Thing 1
3B- Trevor Plouffe
SS- Thing 2
LF- Josh Willingham
CF- Denard Span
RF- Ben Revere
DH- Ryan Doumit

C- Drew Butera
IF- Thing 1a.
IF- Thing 2a.
OF- Darin Mastroianni

SP- Scott Diamond
SP- Thing 3
SP- Thing 3a.
SP- Thing 3b.
SP- Thing 3c.

RP- Glen Perkins
RP- Jared Burton
RP- Thing 4.
RP- Thing 4a.
RP- Thing 4b.
RP- Thing 4c.
RP- Thing 4d.

So, by my count, that's 12 givens on a roster of 25. Yikes. But nonetheless, let's move onto who we think will fill certain positions. I'll add my two cents. Use this link for free agents.

Thing 1, Second Base (vote in comments section for optimal discussion/vote twice, second vote for UTIL IF):

A. Jamey Carroll
B. Alexi Casilla
C. Pedro Florimon
D. Eduardo Escobar
E. Brian Dozier
F. Other inside organization (Ray Chang/Michael Hollimon/Brian Dinkelman/please specify below)
G. Go outside the organization via FA (Kelly Johnson/Jeff Keppinger/Ryan Theriot/please specify below)
H. Go outside the organization via Trade, Rule-5, etc. (please specify below)

I think there's almost no chance the Twins go outside of the organization for much this upcoming season. The team will likely be in transition for at least one more season, meaning it won't make much sense to pump much more into a middle infield that a. has too many unknowns and b. wouldn't be greatly improved by very many of the free agent options. Essentially, Johnson is about the sole huge upgrade here, and I'm sure he'll get a fair chunk of cash in that respect. I vote E. for the starter, and D. for the backup. (Dozier-Escobar)

Thing 2, Shortstop (vote in comments section/vote twice, second vote for UTIL IF):

A. Jamey Carroll
B. Alexi Casilla
C. Pedro Florimon
D. Eduardo Escobar
E. Brian Dozier
F. Other inside organization (Ray Chang/Michael Hollimon/Brian Dinkelman/please specify below)
G. Go outside the organization via FA (Marco Scutaro/Jason Bartlett/please specify below)
H. Go outside the organization via Trade, Rule-5, etc. (please specify below)

Similarly, it doesn't make a ton of sense for the Twins to invest too richly in the shortstop position, with only Scutaro providing much of an improvement and I think he'll probably stay put. J.J. Hardy could be on the trade block in Baltimore; Manny Machado is a stud, and I don't think they'll want him or Hardy at third base long-term. His contract is still somewhat reasonable, and buying low isn't usually a bad idea. Still, I don't see it happening. There was more than just smoke when Hardy was dispatched, I fear. I vote A. for starting and C. for the backup. (Carroll-Florimon)

Thing 3, Starting Pitcher (vote in comments section/vote four times to fill in the rotation):
A. Scott Baker
B. Cole De Vries
C. Samuel Deduno
D. Brian Duensing
E. Liam Hendriks
F. Jeff Manship
G. Carl Pavano
H. Nick Blackburn
I. Anthony Swarzak
J. P.J. Walters
K. Esmerling Vasquez
L. Kyle Gibson
M. David Bromberg
N. Other inside organization (Luke French/Caleb Thielbar/B.J. Hermsen/Pedro Hernandez/please specify below)
O. Go outside the organization via FA/pick as many as apply (Anibal Sanchez/Joe Blanton/Erik Bedard/please specify below)
P. Go outside the organization via Trade, Rule-5, etc. (please specify below)

Wow. Quite a few options for next season's rotation. Personally, I think Hendriks has to be included, so you can count on one E. vote from me. The only other incumbent I'm hoping the club chooses is Baker, so you can put me down for an A. I'd hedge against Baker being ready for the beginning of the season -- pitchers with arm injuries rarely seem to be -- so I'd probably pair him with Deduno in my final rotation, as Deduno would lose out otherwise. I desperately want to plug Gibson into my rotation, but think he'll probably need half of next season to prepare himself mentally before he's ready to go in the majors, so I can't do that just yet. I would absolutely love the Twins to pursue Sanchez, but I think the price will be too steep on a guy the Tigers paid Jacob Turner for to acquire. So my free agency wish-list -- adjusted for expectation -- includes Blanton and Carlos Villanueva of the Blue Jays. Blanton has gotten bombed since moving to the Dodgers, but he's a durable righty with pretty good whiff rates who should be able to shore up the rotation. As for Villanueva, he's sort of had a coming-of-age season in Toronto, with a 3.42 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and a very fancy 9.1 K/9. He's 29 with a limited track record, so his price shouldn't be as steep as it could be, and SP is sort of a deep crew this year, so I think he could be a steal. (Hendriks-Baker/Deduno-Blanton-Villanueva)

Thing 4, Relief Pitcher (vote in comments section/vote four times to fill in the rotation):
A. Samuel Deduno
B. Brian Duensing
C. Jeff Manship
D. Nick Blackburn
E. Anthony Swarzak
F. Esmerling Vasquez
G. Matt Capps
H. Alex Burnett
I. Casey Fien
J. Deolis Guerra
K. Carlos Gutierrez
L. Tyler Robertson
M. Luis Perdomo
N. Kyle Waldrop
O. Anthony Slama
P. Other inside organization (Lester Oliveros/Bruce Pugh/Daniel Turpen/Caleb Thielbar/please specify below)
Q. Go outside the organization via FA/pick as many as apply (too many to type/please specify below)
R. Go outside the organization via Trade, Rule-5, etc. (please specify below)

This one is tough. There are a ton of arms in the lower levels that have high ceilings and may get a look next spring, but there are obviously too many to mention. As far as the guys listed, I think Burnett gets a free pass despite bad peripherals, and I think Fien also deserves a second look. Beyond that, I think Blackburn gets one last shot in either the pen or the rotation -- I think the pen would be a better fit for him, to be honest -- and I think Duensing is a slam dunk too. So I guess that'd mean my choices are I., H., B., and D. I'd love to see Guerra get a shot -- same with Slama -- but I don't know that it'll occur right out of the chute. I also don't think they'll give up on Swarzak yet, so he gets the last slot. (Blackburn-Fien-Duensing-Burnett-Swarzak)

So by logical deduction, I suppose my roster would look like this:

C-Joe Mauer
1B- Justin Morneau
2B- Brian Dozier
3B- Trevor Plouffe
SS- Jamey Carroll
LF- Josh Willingham
CF- Denard Span
RF- Ben Revere
DH- Ryan Doumit

C- Drew Butera
IF- Eduardo Escobar
IF- Pedro Florimon
OF- Darin Mastroianni

SP- Scott Diamond
SP- Liam Hendriks
SP- Scott Baker/Samuel Deduno
SP- Joe Blanton
SP- Carlos Villanueva

RP- Glen Perkins
RP- Jared Burton
RP- Nick Blackburn
RP- Anthony Swarzak
RP- Casey Fien
RP- Brian Duensing
RP- Alex Burnett

A couple passing remarks:

Still no room for Chris Parmelee, which sort of stinks. I could see the Twins shoving aside one of the utility infielders to make room for him, but it still makes no sense to have him sit on a regular basis. The rotation -- which is in no means in order there -- is better equipped to shoulder the load, but is still nothing to write home about. Keep in mind, this is from a logical standpoint; this is what I could see the Twins doing. I'd probably blow up the rotation and add Sanchez, Villanueva, Blanton, and one more arm if I could.

I'm not particularly smitten with the bullpen -- I'd prefer to see Guerra, Robertson, and any other hard-throwing, whiff types -- but I think that its limitations won't hamstring the Twins in any meaningful way.

This looks like about a .500 team to me. Thoughts?

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