2:15 PM - Another Update:
The Twins today sent outright to Rochester Matthew LeCroy, Jason Tyner and Glenn Williams. Torii was removed from the disabled list, and Joe Maysí option was refused. For my thoughts on this topic, click here.
Update - I just got this
excellent e-mail from Mark R which read:
"Watching the Atlanta/Houston game last night the announcer mentioned that when Chipper Jones was hurt, earlier this season, he stayed with the team and worked with the younger players. Gee what did Tori (don't forget the second I) do to help the team?"
think he makes an excellent point!
I also wanted to note that this is a look at what you want for a 2006 roster. If you would still like to publish your thoughts on that topic, or any topic today, please feel free to e-mail me. I can add the to the file. For instance, 'cmathewson' e-mailed me late, but I added his comment. I really think that you will enjoy them.
Friday, October 7, 2005
NFL "Expert" Picks
Twins (and playoffs) Thoughts - a few of them, some surprising!
EMPTYING THE MAILBAG
Good morning! If you're here for the Football Panel's picks, click here. Grant Balfour is back, and that is great news!
Well, it's Friday morning, and it has been a big week here. I think it is a good way to end the week with a Mailbag issue, at least from time to time, especially if there have been some postings that caused quite a bit of discussion. The primary discussion was related to Tuesdays' "So... Now What?" posting. A number of you wrote plenty of great thoughts on what you think that the Twins should do in the offseason to improve in 2006. Wednesday, I posted a Q&A with Twins catching prospect Eli Tintor. And yesterday, I gave my September grades for the Twins players. Some even commented on my Twins Top 50 Prospects list. I want to thank everyone who took the time to share their thoughts with me on any of these topics.
So, it's your day. Here are you thoughts on a number of topics!
Playing GM - What would you do with the 2006 Twins roster?
By the way, be sure to check out Twins Killings today for his thoughts on what the team needs to do.
When it comes to assessing the Twins' 2006 roster, rather than talk about what I think will happen, I would like to talk about what I want the Twins to do. The reality is, Terry Ryan will probably not be as aggressive as I would like. So my 2006 Twins team will probably not look like the actual team. But so what? I want to have some fun here, so here goes.
The Twins have a solid core of players and especially pitchers around which to build, but they need to add some veteran hitting help to take the offense to the next level. The teams needs to upgrade the order 1-4 and only has four positions with which to do that. They have stated that the core is Mauer, Morneau, Bartlett and Hunter and I agree with them. I would also add Ford, Cuddyer and Kubel to the list of players they definitely need to keep, though Cuddyer probably has not earned the right to play every day.
After assessing positions, that leaves third base, DH, and second base for upgrades. Because the Twins don't have veteran alternatives at these positions, I think they should upgrade these three positions from outside the organization. The good news is, several teams will need a lot of work over the winter and, judging from the turmoil in Tampa, Texas, Detroit and Baltimore, Terry Ryan will have more eager trading partners this offseason with which to upgrade those positions. He also has three good expendable pitchers to trade, and GMs can usually get more value in bats in return for arms. This is especially true because there are more bats on the free agent market than arms this year.
Before getting into possible trades, it's important to note that the free agent market will not be deep at third base or second base this offseason. But DH is fairly deep. So I look for the Twins to add a power hitting DH via free agency, a la Chili Davis, who can hit clean-up. Then I would add a second baseman and third baseman via trade. My choice for DH is Larry Walker, because he has the power and veteran leadership (especially for a certain young Canadian slugger) to really make a difference in the middle of the order.
As far as trades, starting with second base, the following players might be available: Marcus Giles, Orlando Hudson, Placido Polanco, and Alfonso Soriano. Atlanta, Toronto, Detroit and Texas all need bullpen help and the Twins have two relievers who probably will be made available (Juan Rincon, JC Romero). My choice is to trade both Romero and Rincon to Detroit for Polanco. This would take care of the lead-off spot and the second base position for three years at a reasonable salary.
Third base is a little trickier. The only free agent worth considering is Bill Mueller. If Boston doesn't resign him, he could be available. But most analysts think Boston will retain him, which means Kevin Youkilis will be available for trade. However, the Twins need a veteran presence that can hit second or third in the order and Youkilis, while good for an inexperienced player, is not the answer. The third baseman who might be available and who can be that guy include Shae Hillenbrand, Melvin Mora, and Hank Blalock. Blalock is probably too expensive, considering that the Twins would only have Kyle Lohse, Shannon Stewart and pitching prospects to deal. Hillenbrand can be had for Lohse straight up. But I like Mora. With Sammy Sosa leaving, Baltimore needs a veteran outfielder and starting pitching. So I like a Lohse and Stewart for Mora deal. This would free up the salary needed to pay for the three upgrades and make room for Lew Ford every day in left.
My starting lineup, then looks like this:
1. Placido Polanco (2b)
2. Joe Mauer (c)
3. Melvin Mora (3B)
4. Larry Walker (DH)
5. Torii Hunter (CF)
6. Justin Morneau (1B)
7. Lew Ford (LF)
8. Jason Kubel/Michael Cuddyer platoon (RF)
9. Jason Bartlett (SS)
As for the bench, the Twins need to squeeze the best combination of versatility and offense they can out of the the four positions (not counting Cuddyer) left. Redmond will be the backup catcher, which is great. I like Glenn Williams for one backup infielder positions. I like Luis Rodriguez for the other one. And I think Jason Tyner would make a great extra outfielder and occasional substitute for Ford and Hunter. Thus my bench would look like this:
Mike Redmond (c)
Glenn Williams (3B/1B)
Luis Rodriguez (SS/2B/3B)
Jason Tyner (OF)
Note that this is what I would want. Ron Gardenhire will probably keep two pesky veteran infielders (Punto and Castro) and Fatthew LeCroy instead of Williams, Rodriguez and Tyner. But again, I'm just having fun here.
Other players that could help as depth during the season include Luis Maza, Terry Tiffee, Chris Heintz, Alex Romero, Kevin West, and Garrett Jones.
Most of the pitchers will be back, but the Twins do need to upgrade the bullpen from the left side. Fortunately, the free agent market is always good for this type of reliever. And the Twins might be able to pull a trade during spring training if one of their internal candidates or a rule 5 draftee doesn't work out for the second lefty reliever spot. The best news is the Twins are stocked with good right handed relievers and starters. Here's how I look at the pitching staff for next year:
1. Brad Radke
2. Johan Santana
3. Carlos Silva
4. Scott Baker
5. Francisco (Cisco Kid) Liriano
Closer: Joe Nathan
Eighth Righty: Jesse Crain
Eighth Lefty: Ray King
Seventh Righty: Willie Eyre
Seventh Lefty: Scott Eyre
Long: Matt Guerrier
Under this scenario, the Twins acquire King in free agency and trade Juan Castro to San Fran for Scott Eyre in spring training. Some readers probably wonder why I chose Willie Eyre (Scott's brother) over Travis Bowyer. Looking at Bowyer this September, I think he has a lot of work to do before he can be consistently effective at the major league level. He needs a better slider and hopefully between the AFL, Spring Training and a few more months in Rochester, he can develop one. Eyre has all the pitches right now and quietly put up excellent numbers at AAA and in spring training this year. I was surprised he did not receive a September call-up. Another guy I thought would get the call, especially considering the questionable health of the Twins starters, is Boof Bonser, whom I expect to make a contribution at some point in 2006. Other guys who could help include JD Durbin (if he gets his control back), Ricky Barrett, Jason Miller, Beau Kemp, and Pat Neshek.
That's about it. It's going to be an exciting offseason. I'll have a guest column or two on this site this winter. Until then, see you in March for those glorious words: "Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training."
Just one question about 2006. Glenn Williams? Is he going to spend more time in the minors?
And while I believe Santana is the ace of the staff, I would rearrange the pitching order to have Bradke-Santana-Silva-Baker-Liriano. This is partially to show respect for Bradke's years of dedication to the team, but mostly to prevent Santana and Liriano from pitching back-to-back. I also like the idea of having Silva pitch behind Santana, because they're so vastly different as pitchers: one doesn't allow many hits and strikes batters out, the other *wants* batters to hit the ball--just on the ground to an infielder.
I can't wait to see the roster when we head into March! ;)
Let me kibitz on your roster. I'll get back to you with mine.
Kubel's recovery is a key question. So is Hunter's recovery and Radke's suspect shoulder.
Mauer needs to learn to pull the ball if he is going to progress.
Good call on "releasing" Heintz.
Youkalis for Lohse wasn't on my radar. I wonder what Theo and Terry Ryan think of the idea. To think the Twins could have had the Romanian Jewish deity of OBP for Romero.
Unless he is a World Series hero, 2006 will be LeCroy's last year as a Twin.
I don't like Soriano's OBP or Away split, but I'd take him to be rid of Hunter. Be warned: Hunter will hit like Soriano in Coors South. That should be a straight-up exchange. I would throw in Guerrier or Blackburn if I had to - not Swarzak, Rainville, or Waldrop.
I don't like having two futility IF's on the bench. Of course there were times it seemed the Twins had 6 on the 25-man roster: Rivas, Punto, Castro, L-Rod, Williams, Abernathy, Tiffee (he hit like one). I am so very glad to see you dump Castro.
Shannon Stewart. Uggh!
I have wanted to play JJ in CF since 2002. A smart GM with $6 million to spend would give him a chance next year. But if Torii is gone, JJ is gone.
I hate to see Cuddyer in RF because I don't think the position affects his offense and because he is more likely to be above average at 3B or 2B. He doesn't deserve it but he is worth investing another year.
I love LEW, but he appears to be either a major league average CF or a champagne quality 4th OF.
FWIW: You don't have a LHB for the bench when a RHP starts unless you count L-Rod.
I am cool with Miller as LOOGY. I do think effectiveness is more important than balance and that a LOOGY is inefficient use of roster. However Gardy (and Ryan) will insist and Miller appears capable, maybe even against RHB's.
If you trade Lohse, all you have in reserve are Durbin and Bonser (who you didn't name). Is that enough? Can you risk trading one or two of them also? That is especially critical since Radke appears to be gone in 2007.
Another good discussion question: What do you think Ryan will do? Or: What will be the Twins 2006 Opening Day roster?
From Terry S
I like your assessment of next year. I especially like the Kevin Youklis idea. If the twins could trade J.C. for him I would be happy. I also believe that Matt Guerrier should get a legit shot at starting especially if Lohse is lost (he should have got the start over Mays). This would put Baker and Guerrier in the starting line-up and put Lirano (aka Santana early in his career) as the lefthander in the bullpen.
(SETH NOTE - Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike the idea of putting Liriano in the bullpen!?)
From Andrew Hanson
Only six months away! I have been pondering what the Twins should do for some time now, and it really does look like a mess. At first, I wasn't keen on the idea of trading Hunter, but the more I think about it, his antics this year coupled with the fact he will be gone after next year make me believe he should be sent packing. To be honest, I never thought of Soriano as a trade candidate, but I do like the idea. I wouldn't offer the Rangers Durbin or Glen Perkins though. I'm thinking maybe Torii and Lohse or Torii and JC for Soriano, provided that hard-ass John Hart would go along with it. Another possibility I was pondering was trading Lohse, Torii, and a pitching prospect to Toronto for Shea Hillenbrand and possibly Vernon Wells. I don't know Wells' contract situation but I do know he is a far superior hitter to Torii. Toronto doesn't need Hillenbrand because they already have three other third basemen (Aaron Hill, Hinske, and of course, Koskie). I also like the Reds as a trading partner, as their pitching staff resembles the local legion team. Names like Willy Mo Pena, Felipe Lopez, and Austin Kearns come to mind. It would be nice to have Adam Dunn but I'm sure he is untouchable.
For my lineup, I am assuming a trade with Toronto. I will leave Wells out because I am not familiar with his contract.
C - Joe Mauer- Requires zero explanation. I expect a .315 average with 20 HR, 75-80 RBI, and 10-15 SB. Get this guy some protection and its going to be scary.
1B - Morneau - Hopefully he doesn't contract a Petri dish worth of sickness and disease this off-season. Hopefully he recognizes the fact that everybody and their brother were pitching him outside, and he was flailing miserably at the outside fastball, trying to turn everything. To be realistic, I do expect an improvement, somewhere in the .260, 25-30 HR range, with 85-90 RBI.
2B - Cuddyer - I think its time for the Twins to quite jerking Cuddyer around, and to jettison the ridiculously ineffective Nick Punto to utility status. 2B is an easier position than 3rd, and I think Cuddyer would perform better here if he knew he was playing every day. I do like L-Rod, but he is by no means a starter as well. Let L-Rod be utility, and put Punto at the end of the pine, only to be used in pinch-run situations. I think a reasonable expectation for Cuddy would be somewhere around .270, 15 HR, 60 RBI.
SS - Bartlett - Another player who they should stop pulling in ten thousand different directions. Let him start every day at SS, without the fear that he will be pulled the second he makes a mistake. I like his plate presence and I flat out love the speed. Let him play, massage his ego, and watch him shine. I expect .280 average, with a potential for 30 plus steals.
3B - Shea Hillenbrand - A total assumption. I love Hillenbrand as a right-handed bat. Granted his defense leaves a little to be desired, but so did Cuddyer's. Hillenbrand is a professional hitter with decent power. He hits lefties and righties well. He seems to always rake when Toronto comes to the Dome. I believe he is expendable in Toronto, and could potentially hit .300 with 20 HR for the Twins.
LF - Stewart - As much as some may want to trade him, I don't think he's going anywhere. I do agree with Seth that Stewart should not be leading off. I think he would be absolutely perfect in the 2-hole. He's not fast enough to steal bases anymore, but he is disciplined enough to put the ball where it needs to be almost every time, something that our 2 hitter this year, Punto, failed miserably to do. I think batting Punto second was one of the key factors in the Twins offensive incompetence this year. In my mind, Stewart is a quintessential 2 hitter; he hits for average, and has the professional plate discipline to place the ball where it needs to be.
CF - Lew Ford - This is under the assumption that Torri is gone. Lew sometimes drives me up the wall with his space-headedness. Regardless of his lack of power, if he stays with the Twins, I would bat him lead-off. His OBP was higher than Stewarts, plus he has more speed. As Seth mentioned, Lew is an excellent two-strike hitter. While there are better options out there, the Twins really don't have one without pulling off a trade.
RF - Kubel - This is assuming he will be ready to go. We all know his potential, and I've heard that he has a killer arm. I doubt he would play every day, but it would be nice to see another hitter with the potential to go yard at least 20 times a season. Assuming Kubel comes back healthy, and assuming he gets 400 plus at bats, I don't see how .290, with 20 HR is out of the question. I know Seth predicts Jacque will be back, and while I would like to see it, some team out there will out-bid the Twins for his services.
Lecroy - love the power potential against lefties
Tyner - Played extremely well when called up, speed is ridiculous
Redmond- I never get upset when he's in the game.
L-Rod - Worlds better than Punto in my opinion
Castro - I'd keep him around for the D and the potential to play any position.
Punto - As much as I would like to see him gone, Gardy loves him. I am hoping he is a permanent pinch runner
1. Santana - When he doesn't win the Cy Young this year, it will be flat out robbery.
2. Silva - Unbelievable season. Would like to see an off-speed pitch and maybe 20-30 more strikeouts over the course of the season.
3. Radke - A consummate professional, I hope he ends his career with a 15 win season, something he should have had in 2004/2005.
4. Liriano - Once that fast ball is under control, its lights out time. 33k's in 23 innings is phenomenal stat. That slider is simply brutal. I would place him at this spot in the rotation rather than fifth, as we don't want him and Santana to throw back-to-back, if nothing other than their similarity.
5. Baker - Who didn't like what they saw from him this year? Love the speed changes on the fast ball and has complete command of his breaking pitches.
Nathan - Lights out for the second straight year. Take away his horrendous performances in non-save situations, and the stats look dominant.
Crain - For God's sake, gets some K's
Rincon- Some say he struggled but his ERA was under 3.00 and his K's were greater than 9 per 9 innings.
Guerrier- Solid long relief
Bowyer - How can you argue with 97mph heat? I think Gardy taught him a lesson during that three home-run inning. Develop a breaking pitch, and he could dominate.
Muhlholland - If, and only if, he can be had on the league minimum. Somebody has to pitch the meaningless innings, and Terry is the only guy in the league who wouldn't complain about doing it.
The "Don't let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you" list:
Twins prediction for 2006: 89-73
I think the Indians will win the division, and obviously the Pale Hose will contend. If the Twins can make it to the Wild Card, and if Liriano develops as planned, I don't think anybody would want to play them in a short series. Maybe this is too optimistic, but the Twins played close to .700 ball this year when they scored 4 runs or more. Take the weak link of the pitching staff (Mays) away from the equation, and add a few more runs here and there, and this team could be dangerous. For now, my optimism is guarded, but there is absolutely no reason the 2006 Twins won't out-perform the 2005 under-achievers.
Mr. Ryan will begin by analyzing the current team and what needs improvement. The obvious is better hitting. Other areas of concern are team speed, base running and defense.
The first step will be a review of the 40 man roster to remove those players that don't have a role for the 2006 Twins. This process began yesterday with the release of Rivas, Abernathy and Ryan so that the roster now has 39 players including Balfour who doesn't count as he will remain on the 60-day disabled list. Additional players will need to be removed to make room for young players that need to be added. Those likely to be removed or lost through free agency include Dave Gassner, Terry Mullholland, Joe Mays, Scott Tyler, Jacque Jones, Terry Tiffee, and either Chris Heintz or Rob Bowen. This would get the roster down to 32 or so which is necessary as lots of players need to be added such as Denard Span, Alex Romero, etc.
The next step will be to take a look at what players within the system can help in 2006. It is assumed that Baker and Liriano will be with the club in 2006, but there aren't many others as most of the top talent in the system won't be ready until at least 2007. Other players that could see some playing time next year include Jason Tyner, Luis Maza, Boof Bonser, JD Durbin and possibly Alex Romero late in the year. Tyner has a chance for a 4th or 5th outfield spot, Maza will compete for the second base job and Bonser and Durbin would be in the hunt for a callup if a starting pitcher goes on the DL during the season.
It is likely that Jacque Jones is gone, therefore, the Twins need to find someone for second base, third base, right field and DH. Michael Cuddyer will likely be either the right fielder or third baseman. The team has many candidates for second base including Maza, Punto, Rodriguez and Cuddyer. Matt LeCroy can be a DH against lefties and Jason Kubel, if healthy, can be either a right fielder or DH. Therefore, the team needs at least 2 players that must provide the added offense to give the team an extra run a game to get back to 93-95 wins.
The bullpen is solid with one spot open (Mulholland) and perhaps a second if Romero is dealt. Travis Bowyer will fill one role and T.Ryan will sign at least one veteran lefty reliever, that has had a little major league experience, to compete with several candidates from the minors that are not quite ready (Barrett and J. Miller). One of the top assets T.Ryan has for a trade is Kyle Lohse. If the staff feels that Liriano can be an everyday starter, Lohse will be dealt with one or two prospects for an everyday player to fill one of the two holes in the order. The second player will be obtained by signing a mid level free agent (provided the payroll is allowed to go over $60mm) or completing another trade for a younger player that has minimal major league experience because he is blocked in his organization by a top player at his position.
In summary, 1) Lohse will be part of a trade opening two spots in the rotation that will be filled by Baker and Liriano; 2) The Lohse deal will include a prospect such as Durbin or Bonser to obtain a right handed hitting player who will bat cleanup and either DH or play 3B; 3) T.Ryan will sign a left handed reliever and starter who will be at Rochester for depth, players similar to two years ago when he signed Douglass, Guerrier and others; 4) JC Romero will be dealt for an older (25-26) minor league prospect who will DH or play 3B; 5) Jason Kubel will have a fine spring and will begin the season alternating with LeCroy at DH as well as playing about 25% of the games in right field in place of Cuddyer; and 6) Luis Maza or Luis Rodriguez will win the second base job in spring training to form a solid double play combo with Jason Bartlett.
From Bill J
I just wanted to pass along a couple quick ideas for the offseason. For the most part, I agree with your assessment, although I was not in favor of trading Hunter. I still believe he is the leader of the team and provides a positive example for the younger players. Personally, I chalk up his late season behavior to frustration with the team's performance and his injury.
For the offseason moves, I agree that 2nd and 3rd are the two positions that need to be addressed.
First, I would like to see the Twins try and swing a deal with the D-Rays, which might be impossible is Lamar is still in charge, for Jorge Cantu and Casey Fossum. Cantu would slide to 3rd, where he played some this season. Like Soriano, he is not known for his defensive prowess, but Cantu swings a big stick and should be more reasonably priced. Fossum would serve as a swing man out of the pen that could step into the rotation if Liriano struggles. TB would definitely be looking for some pitching in return, but that is a system strength. How about Lohse, Romero, Durbin, Simonitsch and Garcia (Drafted 1st in the Rule 5 Draft by TB).
Second, I'd like to see the Twins may a play for O. Hudson, as the Jays are looking to open up a position for A. Hill. I am thinking Bonser, Scott Tyler, who might not be included on the 40 man roster, and another mid-level position player that meets the Moneyball criteria (Deeds, Oetljen).
I know this looks like the Twins are giving up a lot of the young talent, but very quickly some of these players will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft and could be lost for nothing, just like Pittsburgh a few years back.
The one thing I do not like is the fact that there are no LH bats in the outfield, if Kubel is relegated to DH, because of his knee.
Finally, I can't envision the Twins finding a taker for Castro and his guaranteed contract, so he gets the roster spot over Rodriguez.
From Paul W
Hello fellow Twins fan,
I do enjoy reading your web site whenever I can, some good stuff here! I really like the report cards!
But this morning as I was reading back to what was posted a couple of days ago your pick for second base and center field caught my eye. Is Alfonso Soriano really the best player to play second base for the Twins? The offense he brings to the team would be great, its what we need. But what he brings to the team ends there.
Soriano isn't that great in the field, he made 21 errors in the field this year. His offense cant make up for giving the other teams extra outs. He is also lazy. Something that doesn't sit well with this team. When the Twins were in Texas there was at least one play that stuck out, where he hit a ground ball to short, that was bobbled by Punto or Bartlett. They were still able to make the play because Soriano stopped running. When the Rangers were here in May there was a foul ball by the visitors dugout, everyone but him was running over to catch the ball that landed in play!
Minor things, probably, but I pay to see these guys play, and appreciate the effort that is put forth by most. I don't think he fits on the team.
Jacque Jones in center? Even if he does face just right handed pitchers I am not sure he is worth the money (which I think will be more than $5 million a year - he wants a multi year contract and I am guessing a pay increase, maybe $6.5-$7 million a year?) He still has no idea where the strike zone is half the time. I was impressed early on with the number of walks he was taking, but some swings have me shaking my head...how can he swing at some of those pitches? A high fastball or low and away braking ball will get him just about every time...
Not to mention this years fielding woes. Losing a ball in the lights 3 or 4 times this year? For a guy that has played his entire professional career at the Dome, that seems to be inexcusable.
I do give you a lot of credit on these moves though, as they seem to work for what the Twins would do, unlike some of the ideas I have read in the Star Tribune - i.e. Paul Konerko - it would be nice, but wouldn't it be more likely for pigs to fly before that happens? Thinking of realistic moves that can improve the team are very hard, at least for me to come up with.
From Todd from Uptown
I'm Todd. I'm the one you may remember long ago as hating Jacque Jones and wanting him to be dealt after 2002, hating Gardenhire, and mostly (meaning not fully) hating Terry Ryan--hating him for his major league decisions. I want to start by saying you do a wonderful job and congratulations on what I've watched (a little bit anyway) become a successful venture.
I probably am the biggest Twins fan in existence (the world revolves around me, of course), and it's great to know there is such passion out there from the likes of you and John, etc.
I'm only really writing to miserate (my word) on the apparent fact that the Twins have zero interest in conserving outs, probably the most important part of winning ballgames. They display this continually through their constant use of the majors' biggest out machine, Jacque Jones, a player the scouts figured out back in 2002 (it was obvious) and who can't adjust. They displayed this by signing Jones, Rivas, and Castro (and the supp 1st and the 2nd rounder) for more than it would have cost to sign Take a Walk, Hit the Ding, Lead the Team, Play the Defense Koskie (9 mil, two years, no-trade). They display this by bunting the ball in any situation where in the history of baseball, somebody else once called for the bunt. They display this by showing no interest in developing or acquiring on-base percentage.
Now Cuddyer is not a 2Bman or a 3Bman, really, but unfortunately Rivas is no better at playing the 2B (except for the turn). Jones is just horrible. I screamed to all who'd listen how stupid the Koskie/Jones/Rivas decision was. Am I really that smart? Gardenhire is simply overmatched when it comes to game strategy and decisions (thankfully, he does appear to have learned from Kelly not to overpitch his pitchers). And Ryan couldn't possible win at any fantasy baseball game, especially the more realistic ones, like Scoresheet and
So this brings us to a pretty bleak picture. We have decent pitching. We have a 1Bman who is probably mirroring Thome's early career, but the Twins seem down on him, and it wouldn't shock me to see him moved for nothing, relatively (Toronto is speculating Morneau for Koskie). We have mediocre hitters (combined) in left and center and the 4th OF spot. We have a utility corner guy playing everyday. And we have no DH. Worst of all, there is no one on the way to help. Span, Moses, Romero, and G. Jones are certainly not going to help next year, if they do ever. We have rookies, basically, at SS and RF, if in fact the Twins can keep themselves from signing Jones.
It's ugly, and I cannot for the life of me trust Terry Ryan to see this. Any of it, other than "oh, we need hitting." I think one response he once had to getting a hitter was to sign Jerald Clark. Or trade for Ron Coomer.
This was a AAA team at bat this year. You really have to be a bad GM to have that as your final product when you're supposedly in contention. Ok, I've vented, time to get to work.
Thoughts on my Top 50 Twins Prospects
From Brad from LaCrosse
Even though I don't follow the minors as closely as I used to it is still fun watching these guys grow up and realize their potential. Here is my shot at our Top 10 and my definition is the players in our system that will do the best in the majors.
1. Liriano, the kid should be a stud. The only thing holding him back is his control of the fastball.
2. Rainville, maybe not another Clemons but this kid is built like a linebacker and can really hurl the ball. Hopefully he continues to develop his other pitches.
3. Baker, has proven himself against some good teams the past month. He will get knocked around some day (ala Radke) but overall he will be a solid #2 or #3 starter.
4. Swarzak (sp?), the kid knows how to pitch. Hopefully the trifecta of 2004 draft will be ready by 2008 when we will need some replacements.
5. Moses, BIG TIME power potential. Kid, grab a glove and go field 1000 grounders every day over the winter. His glove is the only thing holding him back.
6. Plouffe, his position may not be SS because of a bad D but I believe his bat will come around and he will develop into a .285/35HR/100+RBI guy.
7. Bowyer, he scares me a bit but his fastball get him on my list. If he can develop at least one more out pitch he could be another stud in the pen.
8. Span, hurry up kid we might need you next year if we trade Torii. Glove & speed are fine, but the bat is a definite question mark. If he could hit .280 with a .380 OPS I would be happy as heck.
9. Romero, puts up solid #'s every year and I believe he will only get better. I see him as a replacement for Stewart in 1-2 yrs.
10. Harben, tall, rangy guy with a great arm. Needs a bit better control to be truly dominant.
OK so I couldn't stop at 10
11. Doug Deeds, a bit overlooked but something about the kid impresses me. Should be a better version of Lew Ford
12. Henry Sanchez, saw him play in HS and he has Ryan Howard type power.
13. Deacon Burns, many have him higher, but I think he is a hit or miss type player. I hope I am wrong b/c we desperately need bats.
14. Jon Martinez, should be in Rochester by the end of next year. The kid has an awesome arm.
15. Perkins, something scares me with Glen, I guess it is seeing to many soft tossing lefties without control get wiped out as they move up the system. Hopefully he gets his control back and can develop into a #3 or #4 starter. Worst case scenario: long reliever.
16. Alexander Smit, got his confidence back this year and you will really see him blossom next year. He has the potential to be a very good #2 starter.
Seth; this is the first time that I've written to you. I have to say that I love your work and look forward to reading your blog every day. I am a long time Twins fan, going back to the days of Tovar, Carew, and Killebrew. It seems that part of being a Twins fan is always looking to the future through the minor league system--and the future looks very bright! The pitching depth is truly remarkable. Before you ran your top 50 I jotted down who I think the starting rotations for the affiliates will be next year. There will be a log jam of quality starters at all levels.
Waldrop (needs more time in Beloit, besides no room for him at Ft. Meyers)
Smit (too early for him to be a full time reliever. He's only 19 and needs innings)
Morlan (all indications are that he has a high ceiling arm)
that leaves the 5th spot to be chosen from Duensing, Pino, and Hawes (I'm not sold on him given his age-22-at rookie ball)
Swarzak (might be the best arm in the system after Liriano)
Rainville (why don't more people like him, he's only 19!)
Garza (in the past Garza and Slowey would have started the season at Beloit, but as you can see there is no room. They have to move to high A)
what then happens to Mijares, a favorite of John Sickels?
Jones (I agree with you. A lot of talent given his age)
Tyler (lets see what he can do at AA)
what about Colby Miller?
Bonser (don't trade him, we'll need him if someone goes down next year)
Blackburn (the only one in your top 20 I didn't agree with. His numbers are good, but I've heard nothing about his measurable--fastball, etc.)
this is a loaded system. It has youth, talent, and a number of electric arms (unlike the soft tossing control types of the past). If only 1/3 of the guys listed above make it to the big leagues we will be set for the next decade.
Thoughts on Torii Hunter
From Steven K, New York City
Hi Seth, thanks for the top 50 prospects and the grades.
I don't think Hunter gets off the hook with an INC just for getting injured. The self-proclaimed "leader" abandoned the team, only to return to mock the slugger of the future, try to punch the slugger of the future (unprovoked), and then stomp off back to Texas early, but not before dogging the team in the press. This certainly hurt the team and hurt Morneau, in some way.
I give him an F for September in terms of contribution to the team.
Torii is a great player and actually seems like a great guy, but his sense of what is "leadership" seems to me to consist solely of telling the press all the things rookies should and should not be allowed to do, and bragging about the discipline he'll impose on them. In reality, I think the guy has a great positive vibe, but, like some other Twins, he embarrassed himself in September, and certainly did not show any leadership qualities.
There is no "I" in team but there are two "I"'s in "Torii". Maybe an A- for his Twins career but he deserves an F for September '05 for based on his "contribution".
From Mike V
First - here's a comment on the Hunter situation.
It's easy to give Morneau the benefit of the doubt, but people seem to be forgetting how the press and perhaps even the organization looked to Hunter for some clubhouse leadership. In the beginning days of this mini-run of success it was often brought up that when times got tough, they didn't really have a "climb on my back" type presence in the clubhouse. Hunter was basically anointed that by default. Now, you know the beat writers are going to one of few outspoken veterans (a former all-star) for quotes. You just don't see Stewart, Jones or Radke filling this role.
It's a bit two-faced to chide Hunter for calling for management to add some offense, when the entire fan-base was screaming the same thing before the trading deadline. Yeah, Hunter was having by most accounts a lousy year, and yes, he's not become a 30/30 guy like we all want- but he's a solid player who has made some big plays for the club and seemingly exerts all he is capable of. I can also see (as a manger myself) how management might lean on a guy like Torri - a respected veteran, to help pass along the important "cultural beliefs" of management. How many times have you seem business use mentoring to develop young, fresh talent.
Imagine yourself in his shoes. You worked your way up the organizational ladder with a solid group of players/co-workers. Seemingly, you had a formula for success and the right pieces of the puzzle in place. Together you achieved a certain level of success and the ultimate goal seemed to be within your grasp and then - KABOOM. As the chosen one you got to stay, while management breaks apart what seemed to be working. Management asks you to be patient and tries to reinforce to you they are doing the right thing. The season starts to slip away, as a veteran you are trying to do anything to spark the team to playing up to it's potential, but nothing works. The new guys couldn't give a rat's a-- about what you think and you see the clubhouse start to fracture. You see the pitching staff break ranks and start pointing fingers. You get hurt. You're marginalized by the press. The team. known for a certain personality starts morphing into something different. Nerves are frayed. Tempers are short. Hunter may have made some mistakes, but in many ways his epitomized what the organization has stood for.
The whole year has basically been a mess. The entire organization was uncharacteristically bad at a lot of things, and came nowhere near their potential. I would trade him under the right circumstance, but I would rather see the organization keep Hunter around.
And there you have today's mailbag. Lots of thoughts and opinions, and many perspectives that are different (or the same) than mine. I really enjoy hearing other opinions, and again, I need to thank all who took the time to write to me. As I have said on numerous occasions, the interaction with the readers is what makes this site so enjoyable for me. So, please, if you ever read anything and want to comment, please e-mail me.
A couple of quick Twins notes heading into the weekend.
Al Newman was let go by the team. He will become an advanced scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I was a little surprised by the move, just thinking that he has been in the organization for a long time. I was more surprised to learn that he had some run-ins with other members of the coaching staff, including run-ins with Ron Gardenhire. (Odds are, this means that I am more in Newmie's corner!) It is interesting though, leading me to speculate just a little. Is it possible that the Twins could move Scott Ullger to 3B coach? If so, would the Twins make Paul Molitor the next hitting coach? That would be good in my opinion. But let me also give another game. Don Baylor was let go as hitting coach by the Seattle Mariners earlier in the week. Is he an option?
Well, Governor Tim Pawlenty said that there would be a special session which you would think would be great news for Twins fans. However, he also said that there were just a few topics that would be covered during that time. One of them was to get a new Gophers football stadium approved, but there was nothing that would be done regarding either the Twins or the Vikings stadium. I have a huge problem with this. When I heard this, I wanted to talk to all of my representatives from the governor himself to the representatives at the state level. Who do these people think that they are? Do they just not understand the positives of being a Major League city? Do they not understand the economic impact that a major league baseball team can have on a city? But the Gophers get a new stadium that will seat about 50,000 people and cost hundreds of millions. The Gophers will have no more than seven home games a season, and at least two of them will likely be against bad competition. The Twins new stadium would likely fit 35,000-40,000 and host 81 games a year. You tell me which one will bring more money back to the people! The Vikings have the land, are contributing a lot of money themselves, and have the whole thing basically set up. But the legislature won't even consider it.
Now I have said numerous times that I think that the pecking order for a new stadium should go Twins, Gophers, Vikings. The Twins absolutely deserve a new stadium first. They have been waiting the longest. They have been threatened with contraction. They have put together some good packages for the state. It makes no sense whatsoever that the Twins will just be allowed to live as is. The fact is, that playing in the Metrodome is horrible for baseball and horrible for the Twins and their fans. And believe me, Major League Baseball knows this. This may have been the legislatures last chance to help the Twins get a new stadium. But no! And you know what? As much as I love the Twins and would miss them, I would not blame Mr. Pohlad or the next Twins owner to try to relocate the team. There are cites around the country that would love to have baseball. Those cities would be happy to build the Twins a new stadium without even asking the team to contribute. The will Minnesota ever help the Twins? It is not looking good!
Here is where I have another problem with this. Think about it. Legislators make decisions daily on our behalf. They sign bills to raise taxes frequently without asking. But they won't even consider a very small tax increase for a new stadium. Remember, the tax for the Twins stadium was only going to be 3 cents on every $20. That is like nothing compared to some of the taxes that get raised.
As you can see, I am frustrated and annoyed by the Minnesota government now, and again! I can not believe how short-sited they are being. I know when there is another election, I won't forget this!
There were a couple of National League playoff games yesterday.
To no one's surprise, the Cardinals beat the Padres again. Despite getting hit by a line drive in the biceps, Mark Mulder stayed in the game and gave up just a run in 6.2 innings. Albert Pujols had two hits and Reggie Sanders had two more RBI to give him eight through two games. The Padres are just overmatched! Their Game 2 starter was Pedro Astacio. Enough said!
In the late game, the Braves jumped all over Roger Clemens and cruised to a 7-1 win to even the series at a game a piece. John Smoltz gave up just a run in seven innings for the win. The big hit for the Braves came in the second inning when rookie Brian McCann hit a three-run homer off of Clemens. I had to look it up a few places. McCann was born on February 20, 1984. Clemens made his major league debut at the age of 22 on May 15th, 2004. Jeff Francoeur had an RBI single later in the game. He was born on January 8, 2004.
The Vikings are on their bye week, but the games still go on.
NOTE - Grant Balfour is back! Less than a week after his surgery, he contacted me. I didn't know if he would want to continue making picks, but he assured me that he wanted to. He just wasn't sure how he could make up for missing last week's games. It is an interesting question. I decided to do what I thought was most fair. I suppose a '0' would have been ok, but that isn't fair. I decided that he would get credit for one less correct pick than the person who had the least number correct last week. A couple of people finished last week with an 8-6 record, so I gave Grant credit for a 7-7 week. You can see the up-to-date standings by checking out the NFL "Expert" Picks page here.
Seth Stohs Stick & Ball Guy Ben Jacobs Aaron Gleeman Grant Balfour Kevin Slowey SethSpeaks.net Stick & Ball Guy Hardball Times Aaron's BB Blog Minnesota Twins Pitcher Twins Pitching Prospect Baltimore @ Detroit Lions Lions Ravens Ravens Lions Ravens Miami @ Buffalo Bills Bills Dolphins Bills Dolphins Bills New Orleans @ Green Bay Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers Saints Tampa Bay @ NY Jets Buccs Buccs Buccs Buccs Buccs Buccs Indianapolis @ San Francisco Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Philadelphia @ Dallas Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Cincinnati @ Jacksonville Jaguars Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Chicago @ Cleveland Browns Bears Bears Browns Browns Bears New England @ Atlanta Patriots Falcons Patriots Patriots Patriots Falcons Seattle @ St. Louis Rams Rams Rams Seahawks Rams Seahawks Tennessee @ Houston Texans Titans Texans Titans Texans Titans Carolina @ Arizona Panthers Cardinals Panthers Panthers Panthers Cardinals Washington @ Denver Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Pittsburgh @ San Diego Chargers Steelers Chargers Steelers Steelers Steelers
Will Young Trevor Born Brent Hanson Cory Hepola Mike Brasel Melissa Lien Will's Twins Weblog Twins Junkie BrentNet KTVH-TV Fantasy FB Guru SethSpeaks.net Baltimore @ Detroit Lions Lions Ravens Ravens Lions Lions Miami @ Buffalo Dolphins Bills Dolphins Bills Bills Dolphins New Orleans @ Green Bay Saints Packers Packers Packers Packers Saints Tampa Bay @ NY Jets Buccs Buccs Buccs Buccs Buccs Jets Indianapolis @ San Francisco Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Philadelphia @ Dallas Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Cincinnati @ Jacksonville Bengals Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars Bengals Chicago @ Cleveland Browns Browns Browns Browns Browns Browns New England @ Atlanta Patriots Falcons Patriots Patriots Falcons Falcons Seattle @ St. Louis Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Seahawks Tennessee @ Houston Titans Texans Titans Titans Texans Texans Carolina @ Arizona Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Washington @ Denver Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Pittsburgh @ San Diego Chargers Chargers Steelers Chargers Chargers Chargers
Looking at the selections of the 12 panelists, here is who the collective "We" think will win each game:
Baltimore @ Detroit - Lions 7-4
Miami @ Buffalo - Bills 7-4
New Orleans @ Green Bay - Packers 8-3
Tampa Bay @ NY Jets - Buccs 10-1
Indianapolis @ San Francisco - 11-0
Philadelphia @ Dallas - Eagles 11-0
Cincinnati @ Jacksonville - Bengals 6-5
Chicago @ Cleveland - Browns 9-2
New England @ Atlanta - Patriots 6-5
Seattle @ St. Louis - Rams 8-3
Tennessee @ Houston - Titans 6-5
Carolina @ Arizona - Panthers 9-2
Washington @ Denver - Broncos 11-0
Pittsburgh @ San Diego - Chargers 6-5
That is it for me for today and for this week. I hope that everyone has themselves a great weekend! If you have any questions or comments, or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
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