Sunday, December 2, 2007
Hello again everyone! If you haven’t checked ou the blog all weekend, you have missed a lot. There were several more questions and answers with other Twins bloggers. I also posted a Saturday night update. So, take a couple of minutes and scroll down and read some of those entries.
I’ll start the weekend update with a little football, since baseball will encompass the majority of today and well, this site in general. I was asked on Saturday night if I was interested in going to the Vikings/Lions game on Sunday. Because of the massive amounts of snow and sleet and generally bad weather, there was an extra ticket. So, I said sure. I personally think that watching football, especially NFL games, is better on TV. However, the seats we had were seven rows up in the upper deck, in the corner of one of the end zones. That is actually where I prefer to watch football games at the Dome because you can see everything developing. For instance, on Adrian Peterson’s second touchdown, we could see that AP had a hole about 12 yards wide to run through. Because of that, you could see the triple move that he put on the one defender that really didn’t have a chance. Passing games and routes and such are much easier to see develop. Those things you can’t see on TV. Then again, you can sit on your couch, go to the bathroom without lines, snack when you want and keep updated on other games around the league, which is important to a fantasy football player.
For a noon game, we arrived to the parking lot about a block behind the Star-Tribune at about 9:00. We set up a propane heater and had two small grills. We played several games of holey board. We then had some chili and some steak. It was enjoyable although it was also very cold. At about 11:40, we walked into the Dome to find our seats. The game was terrific! The Vikings went down and scored, and then they maintained and added to the lead scoring 28 points in the second quarter. They added a touchdown in the third quarter. Adrian Peterson was healthy and ran just like he did before the knee injury. Chester Taylor was again terrific. But to me the most interesting and important thing was how well Tavaris Jackson played again. Just watching the game, he just appeared much more poised, calm and relaxed. Even just the way he delivered his passes, it was as if you could see his confidence. He was efficient and accurate. Secondly, I’ve been touting Sidney Rice a lot all season, but he is definitely coming through. I’ve liked the speed of Aundre Allison and it showed itself on the 103 yard kickoff return and his ability to gain 52 yards on two short passes. Again, the defense came up big by putting a lot of pressure on Jon Kitna, not allowing much yardage after catches and creating a turnover. The team’s defense is a given at this point.
The team is now 6-6 and holding a legitimate shot at a playoff spot. IT is actually quite exciting to watch. There were two things tha I thought that the Vikings did that were dumb. First, up 42-10 in the late third quarter, they ran a fake on a field goal. I guess they had worked on it all week and wanted to use it, but why then? With a big lead, it comes across as running up the score. Secondly, now they have given away a play in their playbook that they could have used in upcoming weeks, in closer, more important times. Once they were near the goal line, they had Chester Taylor throw a pass that was incomplete in the end zone. That really was only about running up the score.
Is anyone else really sick and tired of the ongoing Johan Santana trade rumors? I really am, and I want it to be over. I want the Twins to either sign him or trade him and soon. It is a very interesting time to be a Twins fan. This is a major transition period. This team that has been very good the last six years has to make a bunch of moves to try to be contenders the next six years. That requires major transactions and an understanding that that means some player changes. The Twins really do have to trade Johan Santana for all they can get for him in order to give themselves a chance for long-term success. I think we have all come to that conclusion. Now, there are several factors coming into play: The biggest question is who do the Twins want? Do they want the cornerstone of a deal to be Phil Hughes, Clay Buccholz or Jacoby Ellsbury? My gut tells me that the team wants Ellsbury. Discuss which one you would want.
I know that they want bats, and I think that is the right thing to thing. However, I also believe that if you can get an Ace-type pitcher who will be with your team for the next five or six years, that is very important too. The Twins have Francisco Liriano who could be an ace. They then have several guys with the potential to be good #2s and #3s. Having a second Ace would only be a good thing. Especially in this case. The Twins appear to be able to get Clay Buccholz and Coco Crisp for Santana. Along with that deal, they could acquire Jed Lowrie and either Justin Masterson or Michael Bowden. That is the deal that I think I would prefer. To me, that is a deal that would be impossible to turn down. First, Buccholz is a future Ace. Jed Lowrie can be very similar to Dustin Pedroia, with maybe even a little more home run pop. Coco Crisp is excellent defensively and adequate defensively. Masterson and Bowden also have the potential to be 2s and 3s, which as Twins fans should know and appreciate, you can never have enough of. Buccholz and Lowrie would not be free agents for six years. Masterson or Bowden could be in the organization for the next nine years. Crisp is signed reasonably for the next two years, which gives enough time for the likes of Jason Pridie, Denard Span or Brandon Roberts to be ready, or for the Twins to come up with another option. Lowrie projects to be a perfect #2 hitter option. Crisp could leadoff or hit ninth and should win Gold Gloves. Buccholz already has a no-hitter. Maybe Cy Youngs are in his future? I just can’t think of a negative to the deal.
It sounds like the Twins have had discussions with the Dodgers again regarding Santana. They have the prospects to meet all of the Twins needs. How about a deal to include 1.) A future ace, 2.) a 3B, 3.) a CF, 4.) a SS, 5.) a relief pitcher. How about a deal including 1.) Chad Billingsley (23) or Clayton Kershaw (19), 2.) Andy LaRoche, 3.) Matt Kemp or Delwyn Young, 4.) Chin-Lung Hu and 5.) Jonathan Broxton or Jonathan Meloan? What if the Dodgers would offer a package of four of those players? Johan Santana and his representation have implied that they may not void their no-trade clause to the West Coast. But I would think that a player would have interest in playing for Joe Torre. But there are question marks here. 1.) Why are the Dodgers so adamant about needing a 3B? LaRoche has great upside and power potential, right? 2.) Matt Kemp seems to be compared a lot of late to Delmon Young, and not for their offensive potential. Can they mesh? 4.) Hu can hit a bit, but he also would give the Twins the type of defense at short that they would want. 5.) Adding a reliever would be nice, in my mind, since it is also likely that Joe Nathan would be traded next.
I want Bill Smith to get everything that he can for Johan Santana. But with the note that the Yankees have given the Twins until the end of Monday to agree to a deal for Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera and some mid-level prospect, the deal also needs some resolution quickly. The Twins have to realize that the likes of Erik Bedard, Dan Haren and others also appear to be available. In other words, those teams could just get tired of the Twins trying to get a little bit more and move on. If that were to happen, it is also possible that the Twins could end up with even less.
If you would like to, please got back into the Archives about three weeks and see my What Would It Take article for some trade ideas I could come up with.
WINTER MEETINGS THOUGHTS
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?
If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.