Wednesday, December 15, 2004
I Have a Dream: 2005
Last year before the Winter Meetings, I asked you to Dream a Little Dream With Me. In that entry, I discussed a way that the Twins could afford to sign free agent Vladmir Guerrero to be the teamís right fielder for five years. Interestingly enough, the contract I suggested was within just a few million dollars of what the Angels ended up giving Guerrero who went on to lead Anaheim into the playoffs and was named AL MVP.
This year, I would like to post my annual I Have a Dream edition. This year, I will pick one player that I would like to see the Twins acquire this offseason that I think would be best for this team. Of course, I have to make it make sense to myself, to you, and put it in a way that should Terry Ryan or anyone with the Twins read it, they will agree with me.
As a Twins fan, I do understand a few things. The most important factor, obviously based on their decision to not bring back Corey Koskie, is financial. The Twins have to fit any player into their salary capped budget. In other words, I canít say, letís take on the contract of free agent Adrian Beltre and not explaining where the $12 million dollars a year would come from.
There are a number of free agents that we could all dream about donning a Twins uniform in 2005. Carlos Beltran could play RF, right? Adrian Beltre could take over at 3B. Edgar Renterria or Orlando Cabrera could be the Twins SS. Eric Milton could come back. Maybe the Twins could talk Pedro Martinez into not signing with the Mets to have the opportunity to pitch for the Twins.
There is also Randy Johnson, who will be a free agent in a year and could be traded, but he will only go to Anaheim, New York or Boston (likely) and will ask for a contract extension. I really like Tim Hudson and at $6.75 million he would even be worth considering. But the Aís want young pitching and a 2B. The Twins could offer JD Durbin, Scott Baker or Francisco Liriano along with Michael Cuddyer, and the Aís would probably jump at the deal. But first, the Twins wouldnít give up that much. And second, Hudson would likely want an extension at really big money as well and with Johan Santana also needing to be signed long-term, I canít see the Twins doing that.
But there is one guy that I definitely think that the Twins should go after right now! Last year, I picked Guerrero who was a free agent and had to remove salary in other ways. This year, I am going to suggest a trade for a player that I think would best fit in with the Twins in 2005. So, who is the player?
The Milwaukee Brewers have been very busy this last week. The traded closer Danny Kolb to Atlanta for starting pitcher Jose Capellan. Then Monday, they announced that they traded CF Scott Podsednik, reliever Luis Vizcaino and a player to be named later to the White Sox for LF Carlos Lee. The Brewers are still a year away from being competitive in the bottom half of the NL Central and at least two more years before they could be considered a legitimate contender in the National Leagueís toughest division. The Brewers have an incredible stash of prospects! Prince Fielder at 1B. Rickie Weeks at 2B. JJ Hardy at SS. Corey Hart at 3B or OF. David Krynzel in the OF. Tony Gwynn Jr in the OF. Grabbing Capellan from the Braves was a coup. I think that these guys will all come to the big leagues over the next two season to combine with the likes of Geoff Jenkins, Carlos Lee and Lyle Overbay to form a very potent offense. What they need is to get more and more pitching to compete with the likes of the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs.
I think that the Twins can help them in that category! Like Randy Johnson and Tim Hudson, Brewers ace Ben Sheets will become a free agent following the 2005 season. According to Al Bethke of Alís Ramblings, Sheets made $2.425 million in 2004, and in arbitration, he could make between $4.5 and $6 million in 2005. He will then command a huge free agent deal following the season.
I want the Twins to go after Milwaukee's Ben Sheets!
Why Ben Sheets? We havenít heard his name discussed this offseason the way others have been. Letís take a look at his 2004 numbers. A couple of things... Sheets was the Brewers first round pick out of Northeast Louisiana in 1998. He was the pitching hero of Gold Medal-winning Team USA in the 2000 Olympics. First thing that most people will notice is that Sheets was 12-14 last year. He played for the Brewers, so, that number means absolutely nothing. Looking at some of his other numbers will better explain why I would like to see him in a Twins uniform. His 2004 ERA was a minuscule 2.70. Rather than type out all of his numbers in sentence form, letís compare him to someone that Twins fans KNOW is a GREAT pitcher, AL Cy Young winner Johan Santana, in some important areas.
Johan Santana - 26 years old, 6-0, 206, left-handed
Ben Sheets - 26 years old, 6-1, 218, right-handed
W L ERA IP K BB HR
Johan Santana 20 6 2.61 228 265 54 24
Ben Sheets 12 14 2.70 237 264 32 25
WHIP BAA K/9 K/BB
Johan Santana 0.92 .192 10.5 4.9
Ben Sheets 0.98 .226 10.0 8.3
So, as good as Johan was in 2004, Ben Sheets was almost his equal. He was just overshadowed in the NL Cy Young Award race by Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Roy Oswalt, Jason Schmidt and Jake Peavy. But, the ERA is close. Sheets gives up more hits but walks fewer so their WHIPs are similar. Both struck out more than a batter an inning. Bethke reminds us that Sheets did have back surgery a couple of months ago, which is always a scary thing. But this would be a one-year deal, so at worst, it would cost the Twins part of their salary with him. But Sheets is young and very talented, and in my mind, worth the risk.
So, clearly Ben Sheets is a guy the Twins would want. Twins fans should be salivating at a starting rotation that would include Santana, Sheets and Brad Radke. That is a group that you would love to head into the playoffs with!
So, now the question that comes into play is: How much would it take for the Twins to acquire Sheets from the Brewers? Well first, I believe that it would cost them more to make this trade at this point than it would in July, near the trade deadline. But, I also believe that it would be good to have him all season. Both teams act as "small market" teams, so salaries would need to be the same in the deal. So, what do the Brewers need? I mentioned above that they could really just use more pitching. As far as position players, they are solid or have prospects at all positions except 3B where Wes Helms and Russell Branyan will likely split time. The recently signed Damian Miller to be their catcher with another former Twin, Chad Moeller as his backup.
To the Twins -
Ben Sheets - $5.5 million
To the Brewers -
Luis Rivas - $2 million
Kyle Lohse - $1.5 million
Player to be Named Later
Luis Rivasís defense may make him a viable one-year 2B until they feel Rickie Weeks is ready to play every day. Should Weeks start the season with the Brew Crew, Rivas could also be a utility player with the ability to play SS as well. No, he canít hit at all. But the other options the Brewers would have is to chose to non-tender Rivas and save the money that would have gone to him.
Kyle Lohse had a rough 2004! But he still made 34 starts for the Twins and threw just under 200 innings. He throws 93-95 mph with a good curveball. I really think that with a change of scenery, Lohse could become a better than average pitcher.
Scott Baker would be a top pitching prospect in most organizations. With the Twins, he falls behind JD Durbin, Jesse Crain, Francisco Liriano and others. The 22 year old 2nd round pick in 2002 climbed the Twins organizational ladder in 2003 with success at each stop. Combined with Jose Capellan, the Brewers have a future #1/#2 combo for years to come.
Finally, I add the Player to be Named Later. Since draft picks can not be traded for one year after they are drafted, I would give the Brewers one of Matt Fox, Anthony Swarzak or Jay Rainville, three of the Twins top picks in Juneís draft. I would let the Brewers pick one of them on June 30.
If this package doesn't work, they could alter it to make it work! To me, Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, JD Durbin, Francisco Liriano and Jesse Crain should be the Twins minor leaguers (rookies) that should be untouchable.
Now, as you can see, the Twins would have to drop $3 million in salary to keep their payroll at the same level. Well, again, by trading Jacque Jones, the Twins would save about $5 million alone, meaning that with this trade and a Jacque Jones trade, the Twins would be $2 million below their budget number. The $2 million could be used to sign Joe Randa, even though I like the idea of giving the 3B job to Terry Tiffee.
How about a Twins starting rotation of Johan Santana, Brad Radke, Ben Sheets, Carlos Silva and JD Durbin? Again, with those top 3, I would take my chances against anyone in the regular season, or in the playoffs.
And with the starting lineup of Shannon Stewart, Lew Ford, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Restovich/Rusty Greer, Terry Tiffee and Jason Bartlett, I think the Twins will score more runs than they did a year ago.
In other words, I continue to believe that, even with the loss of Corey Koskie and Jacque Jones, this team will again with the American League Central Division and be set up well for a run at a World Series title.
What do you think? Does this plan make sense to the team, financially and in terms of trying to win? Tomorrow, there will be a Mailbag issue where I will use your comments on my thoughts on the Twins losing Corey Koskie and today's entry on Ben Sheets! Please participate. Send me your thoughts. E-mail me. I also want to encourage everyone to stop by this site on Friday when I have what I consider to be a very exciting Q&A scheduled! And, for those of you in the Twin Cities area, I will be on the radio on Sunday afternoon. I will try to get more specific details to you by Friday.
The Wolves had a home game last night against the talented, athletic Portland Trailblazers. After a poor first-half, the Wolves came out well in the 3rd quarter to take over the game. It was a big night for Wally Szczerbiak as he scored 28 points. In there was his 5,000th career points. Kevin Garnett had 19 points, 19 rebounds and 5 assists (he had just five points in the first half). Sam Cassell scored 19 points and dished out 13 assists. Eddie Griffin again came off the bench to score 13 points with 13 rebounds for yet another double-double.
Former Gophers quitter, I mean, center Joel Przybilla had to come through with 29 tickets for friends and family. But, he got into the game for just 8 minutes. He didn't take a shot, grabbed two rebounds and blocked two shots. It was just a really bad matchup for him, meaning fewer minutes. On the season, in 14 games, he is averaging about 9 minutes a game. He is averaging just 1.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 0.6 blocks and 2.2 fouls. The Blazers last two games were home and away against the Utah Jazz. In the first game, Przybilla played 16 minutes, didn't score and grabbed five boards. In the next game, he played 22 minutes, scored 4 points and had nine rebounds.
Darius Miles led them with 17 points last night. He also had 6 steals. Former Michigan State forward Zach Randolph scored 16 points and had 14 rebounds.
Tonight the Wolves will play Sam Mitchell's Toronto Raptors. Vince Carter will not be playing.
Any thoughts on the Wolves? E-mail me.
Now, the Gophers women's basketball team really knows how to schedule. Last night, the 13th ranked Lady Gophers hosted the #1 ranked team in the country, Louisiana State in a game televised on ESPN2. Sure, the Gophers were behind by 10-15 much of the game, and even late in the game, they were down by 17. But they didn't give up and scored 12 straight points to cut the lead to just five points. But that is as close as they got as LSU won 75-67.
Janel McCarville is one of the best players in college basketball. She can dunk, has great ball-handling and passing skills. Last night, she scored a career high 31 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, had four assists, five steals and three blocked shots. Not a bad night. During the first half, commentator Nancy Lieberman stated that McCarville should be taken with one of the first two picks in next spring's WNBA draft.
Jamie Broback, another talented forward who is just a sophomore, added 18 points and 7 boards.
Seimone Augustus, another top player in the country, led the Tigers with 22 points in 40 minutes. Temeka Johnson added 18 points and 13 assists in 40 minutes. Sylvia Fowles came off the bench to add 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Even though they lost, they played a competitive game against the #1 team in the country. I would say that is pretty impressive. The national TV audience may have included some of the top high school women's players in the country and can only help in recruiting. No bad can come from playing a high profile game like this!
Any thoughts? E-mail me.
OK, is anyone else watching The Biggest Loser? That is a great show! There are great people on the show, and they are losing a ton (ok, almost a 1/2 ton) of weight while being assisted by trainers and dietitians. However, it is also a competitive reality show, so someone is voted off each week, which makes it very intriguing. They are now down to four people, three men and a woman.
Scrubs is also one of the more underrated shows on television!
Any other TV thoughts? E-mail me.
If you're looking for a great way to organize your family's Christmas Wish Lists, be sure to go to this site, designed by a good friend of mine.
And as I mentioned last week, I got my copy of 2004 Hardball Times Baseball Annual! It is far more impressive than I ever would have thought. Great articles, get writing, and very interesting and comprehensive statistics. It is well worth picking up for yourself or as a Christmas gift for family and friends who are baseball fans! By it here.
If you have any thoughts, opinions or questions on any topic, please feel free to e-mail me. Have a great Wednesday!
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