Friday, December 18, 2009

2010 Projected Rochester Roster

The Twins may not be adding any six-year free agents this year. That is hard to believe, but those deals have usually gotten done by now and the Twins have a lot of their own organization players who need spots to play. So where does that leave Rochester if they don't add any veterans to fill out the roster? Obviously some of those decisions will depend on who wins jobs at the major league level. The other issue, aside from the players themselves, is moving up to New Britain from Fort Myers. This assumes that Morales and Pridie are on the major league roster. It also assumes Tolbert, Harris and Casilla are either on the roster or elsewhere if the Twins add another infielder.

Butera/ Lehman
Ramos could by move up to Rochester, but I think they will want both he and Butera to play regularly. Lehman is an organization guy.

First Base
Erik Lis and Whitney Robbins will move up from New Britain, in part because Parmelee and Leveret are both ready to move up to New Britain.

Second Base

Trevor Plouffe

Third Base
Danny Valencia


Macri (ss, 2b, 3b)
Hughes (3b, of, dh)
Portes (of,3b)

The pitching staff will likely be decided by playing musical chairs in spring training. The losers of that competition at the major league level will fill out the roster in Rochester. This assumes that Liriano is the fifth starter and that Nesheck, Keppel and/or Perkins take the last two spots in the bullpen.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Santana versus Halladay

Some Twins fans are looking longingly at the haul Toronto got for Roy Halladay compared to the Twins haul from Johan Santana. There are some differences in the two pitchers and the development cycle of the two teams, but lets ignore those and just look at the differences in what each team got in return.

There are two ways to look at such deals. One is to evaluate them at the time of the trade, the other is to look back and ask who ended up coming out ahead. In this case, we can look back on the Twins deal and see some actual outcomes, as well as future projections, but we are comparing them entirely to projected outcomes for Toronto. The Jays got three prospects in return for Halladay - Kyle Drabek, Travis d'Arnaud and Michael Taylor. It appears that Taylor will be moved to Oakland in a pre-arranged deal for Brett Wallace.

The Twins got Carlos Gomez, Mulvey, Phil Humber and Delios Guerra. They have since dealt Gomez for JD Hardy and Mulvey for Jon Rauch. So Guerra is the only player in the trade still with the Twins. Humber and Mulvey did not produce much before being moved. At the time of the trade, Gomez was the center fielder of the future and he did contribute some over the last couple years. But the emergence of Denard Span made him superfluous by the end of last season.  

So the way things stand now, the Twins got Hardy/Gomez, Rauch and Guerra versus the Jays Drabek, Wallace and d'Arnaud.

Guerra and Drabek both reached AA this year after starting the year in A-ball  Drabek pitched considerably better at that level, but he is also a couple years older. This is a pure projection issue. Guerra is 6'5 and projects as a potential ace, Drabek is 6' tall and projects as a number two starter at best.  Drabek looks like he is further along in the development curve, but my guess is neither team would make a deal straight up for these two guys,

Wallace and Hardy are interesting comparisons. If Hardy returns to his form of two years ago, this is hands down a winner for the Twins. He was a major league quality defensive shortstop with pop in his bat. Lets hope that wasn't one of those performance enhanced illusions. Hardy never had great range and there are reports that he may have lost a step last year.  If true, he may end up at third base where his arm and range would be a plus. Wallace, by contrast, will have to live by his bat. He projects as a challenged third baseman and will likely end up playing first or DH'ing. His bat may be good enough to carry him.

Comparing the third pieces remaining is much harder. d'Arnaud is a young A-ball catching prospect whose defensive tools are there but their development is still pretty raw.  He is still a project, who is going to need to develop both offensively and defensively to play at the major league level. Rauch is an established major league reliever who played a key role for the Twins last fall and will likely be an important piece of the bullpen next year. It is almost easier to compare d'Arnaud to Mulvey and d'Araud wns that comparison hands down. If you assume Mulvey is equivalent to Rauch, then d'Arnaud is a better deal.

Right now it looks like the Jays got a better deal. But with three prospects who have yet to put on a major league uniform, it is plausible that the Jays will end up empty handed. By contrast the Twins have already had the benefits of two years from Gomez, a few innings from Humber and Mulvey and a guy who made the difference in whether they reached the playoffs last year in Rauch. That is not a lot, but its more than nothing. If Hardy and Guerra play up to their potential the Twins will not be worrying about comparisons to the Jays, regardless of how well those three prospects do.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Estarlin de los Santos

A lot of people, including me, were surprised by the Twins decision to add Estarlin de los Santos to the major league roster. From the description, de los Santos is a slick fielding shorstop with some bat. His numbers at Fort Myers certainly indicate that. He hit .290/.330/.397 with 11 SB and 4 CS in 262 at bats. That may not sound impressive, but that gave him the second highest batting average on the team after Ben Revere and 24th in the FSL. He is no Revere with the bat, but if he is a plus major league shortstop defensively, his bat looks like it will also be a plus at shortstop.

Of course de los Santos hasn't played above A-ball so he has a long way to go. He hit better than Steve Singleton at Fort Myers despited being a couple years younger. Singleton was promoted to New Britain during the 2009 season in order to make room for de los Santos at Fort Myers. Singleton's  offensive production there caught the attention of a lot of folks in the blogsphere, but apparently not the major league scouts as he was left unprotected and unclaimed in December Rule 5 draft.

Here is a link to an article in the New Britain paper with Jim Rantz discussing the players New Britain will see in 2010, including de los Santos.

New Britain 2010 Preview

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Second or Third?

The Twins appear to have two openings in the infield and are likely to fill one while letting Nick Punto take the other. At least it looks that way to a lot of fans, bloggers and other sports writers.  But if there is a choice, which should have priority, a second baseman or a third baseman. The decision depends on two factors, who is available outside the organization and who is available for each position internally. Here are the internal candidates:

Second Base:
Punto, Casilla, Tolbert, Harris, Tolleson?

Third Base:
Punto, Tolbert, Harris, Valencia?, Plouffe?

I think Punto is probably a better second baseman than at third. His bat certainly fits there better at second, but that isn't really relevant since he will be hitting in the same spot in the batting order in either case. On defense, it probably doesn't make much difference.

Gardy obviously doesn't think Harris is a second baseman, and I think the same thing is probably true of Tolbert who has limited experience turning the double play. Given a choice, Harris and Tolbert are probably going to be at third.

That leaves the prospects, suspects etc. The real question may be who is more likely to contribute to the Twins this year, Valencia or Casilla. A lot of people have given up on Casilla, but I doubt the Twins have from the comments made by Bill Smith that Casilla is a better player than he showed this year.  One thing that is a pattern is that fans, bloggers and sports writers all get excited about young players much too early and then give up on them just as quickly when they don't produce immediately. I question whether Valencia will ever be a major league regular, but it is highly doubtful he will take the third base job out of spring training. On the other hand, it's not impossible that Casilla will finally be ready to put all that talent to use this year.

If the choice is third or second, I think the Twins ought to be looking at adding a third baseman. While it is not at all certain Casilla will come through, I don't think its time to give up on him by signing a veteran player to a long term contract at second. Especially with Punto set to play there unless Casilla develops to the point that he takes the job away from him.  

MLB Twins Updates