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Smackdown: 2012 Twins vs Remaining Free Agents

We know that our Twins haven't done a great deal over the winter. They've plugged some holes with relatively little money, and they've made a couple of shrewd if unpopular business decisions (my dad will be in mourning over Cuddyer's departure for at least the next six months). It's also that time of year where, for the most part, the free agent market starts to look pretty picked over.

But we know there are still some intriguing names out there. Prince Fielder has yet to find a home, so he'll be our first baseman. Our center fielder will be one of the most talented Cuban athletes the sports has ever seen, if you believe the hype. We already know there are still plenty of relief options on the market.

With that in mind, after the jump I present you with the 25-man roster for my free agent squad.

Let's be honest: even with Fielder, Navarro, Cedeno, Jackson and Cespedes under 30, this isn't going to be a young team. All the same, the top-level talent on this team has the potential to match the top-level talent within the current Twins MLB roster. Where the free agent team may have an advantage is in its depth. But does age catch up to them?

Starting Lineup (2012 age)

LF - Johnny Damon (38) - Shouldn't be an everday fielder and posted his lowest OBP (.326) since '01, but I'm hoping to get 110 games out of him while handing the remaining games to my fourth outfielder. Defensively the dude throws pies and may have a worse arm than Shannon Stewart. If I ever wanted to say I could do something as well as a Major Leaguer, I'd say I had Damon-esque arm strength.

3B - Wilson Betemit (30) - Vulnerable against lefties. Played for the Royals.

CF - Yoennis Cespedes (26) - This guy has all the tools and is "arguably the best all-around player to come out of Cuba in a generation." He's always posted great numbers, but over his last three seasons has posted batting averages well over .300, on-base percentages well over .400, and slugged over .600. He won't hit like that in Major League Baseball, but my team still needs him to hit well.

1B - Prince Fielder (28) - PRINCE SMASH!

DH - Vladimir Guerrero (37) - He can't run, field, or run, but he doesn't need to. I should mention he doesn't have to run, either. But can his bat give my team a dead cat bounce? Once more into the breach, dear Impaler.

RF - Cody Ross (31) - Stronger against lefties and can get hot at times. Really improved his walk rate last year. Remember the Cody Ross of the '08 and '09 Marlins? I want THAT Ross.

2B - Jeff Keppinger (32) - Not a good bet to post the solid .355 OBP that he did in 2010, but he has good plate discipline and can play anywhere on the left side of the infield. I'm a Twins fan. I've been indoctrinated to believe in defensive versatility.

SS - Ronny Cedeno (29) - Once a top 100 prospect for Baseball America. He's never lived up to that promise. But he's generally been a decent shortstop, and he's young enough that he probably won't break down. If I need to stop playing him, it's just because he's terrible.

C - Dioner Navarro (28) - Remember in '08, when we thought that Navarro had finally put it all together and was going to become the catcher he was always destined to be? Turns out that was the alternate universe Navarro. He didn't post an abnormally high BABIP that year, and has posted very low BABIPs the last three years, so if he just makes better contact he could hit better once again. Not counting on it, though. He'll hit below .200 again, but at least he's young enough that his knees won't fall off.


1B/3B/DH - Russell Branyan (36) - He's always destroyed right handed pitchers, kind of like David Wells destroying every bottle of PBR that passed through his field of vision. But last year he didn't even do that. Based on his lack of work in his career though, I'm thinking that was an aberration and that he's still fresh enough to pick up 300-350 PAs against righties. If Vlad struggles, half the time I could plug in Branyan.

C - Ivan Rodriguez (40) - A terrible hitter since 2004, the man is a mountain of baseball knowledge. He'll still call a good strategic game for his pitchers, even if that's the only thing he can do. And between him and Jason Varitek, who would you choose?

2B/SS - Ryan Theriot (32) - A career .282 hitter with a career .344 OBP, you could do worse for a backup infielder. He won't win this team any games, but I'm hoping he won't lose them many either.

OF - Jonny Gomes (31) - Unlike Betemit and Branyan, but like Ross, Gomes can tee off on a southpaw. I think he'd get a lot of starts in left over Damon.

Starting Rotation

Roy Oswalt (34), Edwin Jackson (28), Hisashi Iwakuma (31), Javier Vazquez (35), Rich Harden (30) - You can call this the "If Rotation". If Oswalt and Harden can stay healthy, if Vasquez doesn't officially retire, if Iwakuma can pitch like people think he can, and if Jackson can turn his ace stuff from a #3 starter to a #2 or #1, then this rotation could kick a lot of ass. Good names. A lot of question marks.


Ryan Madson (31) - Better than our closer. Whoever that ends up being. Unless our closer ends up being Ryan Madson.


Mike Gonzalez (LHP, 34), Arthur Rhodes (LHP, 42), Dan Wheeler (RHP, 34), Michael Wuertz (RHP, 33), Peter Moylan (RHP, 33), Juan Cruz (RHP, 33) - There's no doubt in my mind that this part of the team is, top to bottom, superior to what the Twins have in place. A couple guys may go through bouts of suspect command, but they'll also strike out a lot of batters and should be, in general, very reliable in terms of keeping games close and preserving leads.