Thursday, February 14, 2008
How Did They Do?
Hey everyone! I thought it would be good to look back to the end of last season. Before the GM Meetings, I jotted down what the Twins needed to do in the offseason. Then, before the GM Meetings, I updated that list. I think that, as the Twins head to spring training this weekend, it would be good to look back at what needed to be done and how they did.
Here is what I wrote before the GM Meetings:
A month ago, the 30 GMs met in Florida for the GM Meetings. At that time, I jotted down the Twins needs this offseason and said that they wouldn’t all be taken care of in the past month, or at the Winter Meetings. But it will be interesting to see what it looks like in February. Here are those areas, with any updates:
So as this week begins, I thought it would be good to formalize the Twins needs and other things that need some resolution this offseason:
· Torii Hunter – Should the team go beyond their current 3 year, $45 million contract offer? Joe Christensen wrote a really good article about this very issue. It is likely that Hunter will receive an offer from someone for 5 years and $90 million. Again, Mr. Smith… Just Say No! UPDATE – the Twins didn’t increase their offer, wisely, and Hunter signed with the Angels last month for 5 years and $90 million.
· CF – And, if the Twins are smart and don’t offer Hunter that kind of money, then they need to figure out centerfield as well. I am a fan of Coco Crisp. Would up to 137 games of Mike Cameron be worthwhile? How long before Denard Span is ready? Is Kenny Lofton a one year option? UPDATE – This is still a question mark, but a Santana trade should clear this up. If he goes to the Red Sox, it will be Crisp or Jacoby Ellsbury. If it is the Yankees, Melky Cabrera will play CF.
· Johan Santana – To Trade, or Not To Trade… That is the question! Can they get a long-term deal worked out? Should they give him a deal that will likely pay him about 25-30% of the team’s budget? How much could the team get for Santana!? UPDATE – The Twins offered five years and $93 million. Santana’s side said they wanted $126. It is quite clear that Santana needs to be traded. It will likely happen on Monday, and if so, it could answer several other of these questions for the next five or six years.
· Carlos Silva – According to this La Velle story, Bill Smith is saying that he wants to keep Carlos Silva. However, he is arguably the #1 pitcher on the free agent market meaning a four year, $40-44 million deal is not out of the question. For a guy who is really a #3 or #4 type of starter, that’s far too much. I hope Bill Smith knows that! Update – Silva’s name has not been mentioned as an option for the Twins in a long time, and that is a good thing. Most recent rumors I have heard are that St. Louis is interested in Silva or Lohse and it is likely they will each get 3-5 year deals for at least $10 million a year. The Twins are wise not to be involved in that!
· 3B – Is a platoon of Brian Buscher and Matt Macri good enough, or will the Twins make a deal. After Alex Rodriguez and Mike Lowell, the free agent market for 3B is pretty weak, so a trade is hopefully going to happen. Garrett Atkins? Akinori Iwamura?
· 2B – Are the Twins really comfortable with going into Spring Training with Nick Punto as their opening day 2B? No way. But are they comfortable with Alexi Casilla or Matt Tolbert? Probably not. So, what do they do? Sounds like Luis Castillo will become an Astro, rather than stay with the Mets. Who else is even available?
· LF/DH – I lump these two together because Jason Kubel should be one of them, or really both if possible. The Twins could use another solid left field type. I’ve mentioned Jason Bay, but I am sure there are several options out there. Carl Crawford?
· Long-term contracts – Obviously the Twins need to talk about this with Johan Santana, but I already mentioned that above. The other obvious long-term contract discussions should be with Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer. These both need to happen this offseason if the Twins want to survive the next couple of seasons financially. But does it end there? Should the Twins be a little more proactive? Should they consider long-term deals with arbitration-eligible players like Jason Kubel and/or Matt Guerrier? How about deals for Pat Neshek and even Francisco Liriano?
· Joe Nathan – picking up his option was easy. I don’t think that the Twins should look to deal him just yet, but again, it would be interesting to find out what the market for one of baseball’s top closers would be.
· Precious Arms – The Twins have a lot of young, quality pitching prospects. Are they willing to part with any of them for bats? Which arms, and how much can they get in return?
You notice that the "Updates" in red were written before the Winter Meetings. Let's review:
Torii Hunter - The Twins were wise to let him go to the Angels who are likely to regret that contract within two years.
CF - The Twins now have Carlos Gomez who has a tremendous future ahead of him. They also added Jason Pridie who will certainly be involved in the fight for the opening day CF job. But clearly the CF of the future is now Carlos Gomez, and I for one am excited about that.
Johan Santana - Well, it took until February, and then three full days + two hours for the Mets to reach a contract agreement with the lefty. The Twins got Carlos Gomez and three high quality pitching prospects for Santana. Many don't like the deal because there isn't necessarily an immediate return, but the Twins got what they could.
Carlos Silva - four years and $48 million from the Seattle Mariners. That is absolutely crazy, but that is the market, so good for him. I hope he does well.
3B - The Twins did a great job in getting Mike Lamb as a free agent to a two year deal. He will greatly improve the Twins offense at 3B (likely a 200+ increase in OPS).
2B - Brendan Harris should be able to take over the 2B job, with Nick Punto (HOPEFULLY) relegated to bench duties! That is another nice improvement.
LF/DH - When the Twins traded Matt Garza, Eduardo Morlan and Jason Bartlett to Tampa Bay for Delmon Young, Jason Pridie and Brendan Harris, they filled their LF job for the next half-decade. Delmon Young is going to be a star and his bat will make people forget about Torii Hunter. The trade also cleared the DH job for Jason Kubel who is primed for that breakout year I've been promising for a couple of years now!
Long-term contracts - The Twins got long term deals worked out with Justin Morneau (6 years and $80 million) and Michael Cuddyer (3 years and $23 million + fourth year option). Both were obviously needed, so neither should really surprise. I would still like to see a couple of the others worked on.
Joe Nathan - He's still with the Twins and he should remain with the team through at least the trade deadline. I wouldn't pay him the four to five years at $15-16 million that he probably deserves, but I could argue for that rumored five year, $60 million deal (although it goes against my fundamental beliefs about closers).
Precious Arms - The Twins were able to deal Garza and Morlan to add the bats of Delmon Young, Jason Pridie and Brendan Harris. Other than that, the rest of the Twins young arms are still with the organization. And they also added Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra to add more depth.
The moves created one more hole, at SS, when Jason Bartlett was traded. However, within two days, the team had signed Adam Everett and his glove to the roster on a one year deal.
So, what do you think? Was it a successful offseason for the Twins? I really believe that it was. Sure, they lost several veterans, but they replaced many of them. They now have a much improved offense and still solid defense. The bullpen is intact and hopefully stronger with a couple guys returning from injury. The question marks are in the starting rotation where there are a lot of young players who have a lot of talent and just need an opportunity. Hopefully the Twins will allow them to do that.
Overall, I give Bill Smith a solid B+ for his first offseason. It was a tough offseason for him because of some tough decisions that had to be made. I thought he did well in each case. Maybe it is the 'administrator' in him? But it gives me a lot of hope in the future of the Twins being in good hands.
Feel free to agree or disagree with me. Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here.