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Catching up with the mock 2014 Twins

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Over the winter, Jesse took part in SB Nation's mock Winter Meetings in what is essentially a week of a flurry of emails regarding trade and free agent offers. How have his decisions played out so far?

Harry How

For the second year in a row, SB Nation held mock Winter Meetings just prior to baseball's actual Winter Meetings. For a full read, you can see my reviews for Day 1Day 2Day 3, and Day 4/Full recap, but I've outlined all of my moves here:

  • Twins trade Josh Willingham and $5 million to Rays for Thomas Coyle, Vince Belnome, Jacob Faria, and Jose Alvarado.
  • Twins trade Brian Dozier to Athletics for A.J. Griffin.
  • Twins sign A.J. Pierzynski to two-year, $14 million dollar contract.
  • Twins trade Ryan Pressly to White Sox for Conor Gillaspie.
  • Twins sign Dan Haren to four-year, $48 million dollar contract.
  • Twins sign Mark Ellis to two-year, $12 million dollar contract.
  • Twins trade Ryan Doumit to Blue Jays for Melky Cabrera.
  • Twins sign Jeff Baker to a one-year, $3 million dollar contract.
  • Twins sign Ervin Santana to four-year, $40 million dollar contract.
  • Twins sign Tommy Hanson to minor league contract.
  • Twins sign Johan Santana to minor league contract.
  • Twins sign Justin Morneau to minor league contract.

Quick Overview

I had the same issues that the actual Twins front office ran into: I had success rebuilding the starting rotation, but my position player moves were patches. And I essentially gutted the offense by trading Willingham and Dozier, even if I did get Cabrera in the deal - because clearly nobody expected Morneau to provide much of anything. This team does have a $95.9 million dollar payroll, however.

At the time....

Starting Rotation: E. Santana, Haren, Griffen, Gibson, Correia

Bullpen: Perkins, Fien, Burton, Thielbar, Tonkin, Swarzak, Welker (so you see how long ago this really was)

Catchers: Mauer, Pierzynski, Pinto

Infielders: Parmelee, Ellis, Plouffe, Florimon, Gillaspie, Baker

Outfielders: Arcia, Presley, Cabrera, Mastroianni

Transaction analysis

Willingham to Rays

Provided I was willing to throw in some money, I was able to choose four players from a group that I selected. Belnome was a 25-year old infielder (1B, 2B, 3B), now 26, with a .291/.404/.465 minor league line. He's having a down year (.240/.353/.391) but he's missed time due to injury. Thomas Coyle was a 22 (now 23) year old second baseman who had stolen 60 bases his first two years in the system while having more walks than strikeouts. He's in Advanced-A ball this year, stealing 19 bags in 22 attempts while hitting .252/.337/.355. Jacob Faria is a 20-year old right-hander in A ball with a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts, including 76 strikeouts and 20 walks in 86.2 innings. Wild card Jose Alvarado is 19 this season, making five starts in a rookie league, striking out 20 in 16.1 innings but walking 13.

I'm still happy with this deal, because I wasn't going to get a single quality prospect for Willingham no matter what I paid. But I was able to get some interesting talent in four players.

Dozier to A's

At the time this was wholly defensible (Griffin had multiple seasons remaining under team control), but seeing that Dozier has only gotten better and that Griffin actually needed Tommy John surgery it's safe to say this didn't work out as planned. Sorry, Brian. And you, too, Brian's hair.

Signing Pierzynski

I was clearly hedging my bets here, in case Pinto wasn't ready but also with Mauer, who hadn't yet made his decision to move to first base. Of course, if I'd have known that Pierzynski's production was just going to fall off a cliff without so much as a dead cat bounce then I'd have gone in another direction. It was a decision that I was railed for at the time, but even though my own criticism of the move has mellowed since then, there's no denying that something made sense nine months ago doesn't have to make sense now. Whoops.

Acquiring Gillaspie

I wanted to give the Twins additional platoon options. Most of the good players were in the midst of insane bidding wars, something that I clearly wasn't immune to, but I did try to make low-cost upgrades where possible and trading Pressly made sense. Gillaspie has been exactly what I wanted him to be by hitting .326/.377/.484 this year - including .365/.423/.553 versus right-handed pitching, which is what I wanted. I'm thrilled with this one.

Signing Haren

Saying that I mis-judged the market on Haren doesn't do it justice, but he's been okay so far this year with a 4.23 ERA in 19 starts and 112.2 innings. There's a good chance he'd be worth the first year of his contract, but those last three could be painful. Whoops.

Signing Ellis

I needed someone to replace Dozier until Eddie Rosario was ready. Ellis has rewarded me as Pierzynsi had - by falling off the face of the earth. He's in the midst of his worst season as a pro and it's not even close: .188/.263/.228 with a 40 OPS+. 40. Can you spell b-e-n-c-h-e-d?

Acquiring Cabrera

I thought that he'd rebound to be a guy somewhere between the greatness of 2012 and the disappointment of 2013, and I was right. Melky is hitting .299/.348/.453 for the Blue Jays, including 11 homers and 21 doubles. Doumit, meanwhile, is hitting .202/.232/.319 for the Braves. This was a great deal.

Signing Baker

Jeff Baker, like Belnome, can also play first, second, and third. His value was in being able to torch left-handed pitching, but he hasn't done that this year. Great in theory, poor payoff, but who knows - maybe he hits better in Target Field?

Signing Santana

This looked like a steal at the time, and he was my final addition to a revamped rotation. He's been good for the Braves, although perhaps not as good as they'd hoped, but a 4.01 ERA in 17 starts and 110 innings (including 96 strikeouts) is solid. I could regret the second half of this contract, but by then my Twins would have had enough pitching to cover me.

Minor league contracts

  • At just 27 in 2014, Tommy Hanson was worth a gamble. He looks cooked.
  • Johan Santana is always worth a look. What a sad second half of a career it's been for Johan.
  • Justin Morneau is hitting .312/.345/.502. So one of them worked out.

Conclusions

So far, a lot of hit-and-miss. Which is about right. The only move I wish I hadn't made was the four-year offer to Haren, but this is how I imagine the roster would shake out currently, assuming that awful performances have had their plugs pulled (Pierzynski, Ellis, Florimon) but that guys are otherwise healthy unless they're out for the year.

We'll be sure to check in on these decisions again after the season, where I can give myself a final grade before doing it all over again in November.

Catchers: Josmil Pinto, Chris Herrmann

Infielders: Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Trevor Plouffe, Conor Gillaspie, Jeff Baker, Danny Santana, Eduardo Escobar

Outfielders: Oswaldo Arcia, Alex Presley, Melky Cabrera, Darin Mastroianni

Rotation: Ervin Santana, Dan Haren, Kyle Gibson, Kevin Correia, Trevor May

Bullpen: Glen Perkins, Casey Fien, Jared Burton, Caleb Thielbar, Michael Tonkin, A.J. Achter, Anthony Swarzak

Lineup vs RHP - Gillaspie (2B), Santana (CF), Mauer (DH), Morneau (1B), Cabrera (LF), Arcia (RF), Plouffe (3B), Pinto (C), Escobar (SS)

Lineup vs LHP - Presley (CF), Cabrera (LF), Mauer (DH), Morneau (1B), Arcia (RF), Plouffe (3B), Baker (2B), Pinto (C), Escobar (SS)