Friday, September 30, 2011

Twins Off Season Priorities

My guess is this is going to be another rather quiet off-season for the Twins. Despite their terrible season, the uncertainty created by all the injuries makes major moves for next year unlikely. Here are the priorities by position:

1) Right field - The Twins are going to try to sign Cuddyer and/or Kubel to fill out the outfield. The internal options if those two leave is putting Tosoni, or maybe Plouffe, in right. I don't think Tosoni is ready for the everyday spot, so they will need to bring someone else in.

2) Closer - It seems unlikely the Twins will pick up Nathan's extension. Unless they can sign him to a multi-year extension instead, I think that is a mistake. They need a closer next year and there is no one else in the organization ready to take that role. If into the free agent market, it will use up most of the savings from Nathan.

3) Shortstop - The candidates for starting shortstop, Nishioka and Plouffe, both showed some pretty big flaws this year. The Twins, at minimum, need to find another candidate to compete with them.

4) Pitching -

The bullpen has a lot of questions. Perkins is probably the only certainty for next year. Capps is most likely gone as a free agent. Mijares and Dumatrait are both arbitration eligible. The Twins will have to decide whether they are worth paying next year. Like last off-season, this is likely to be a numbers game with the Twins trying to pick up players off the scrap heap and hoping some of their prospects develop.

Another option is to go out and get another proven starter and move Duensing and/or Blackburn to the bullpen. The problem with that approach is finding a starter who will be a certain improvement over the other candidates for the rotation. Whether a free agent or in trade, that is likely to be expensive.

The rotation is probably the biggest question mark. They have three spots to fill after Pavano and Baker. They again have Liriano, Duensing, Blackburn and Slowey competing for the remaining three spots with Diamond and Swarzak as long shots.

If they can add an "ace", that would be great. But spending much on guys who are similar to what they have makes little sense. If none of the other guys are any good, adding one more pitcher isn't going to matter.

There is a lot of expectation I think that the Twins are going to do major retooling in the off-season. I think that is unlikely. The 2011 season was a lost season except for the opportunities it gave some young players. But with all the injuries its not really clear how close the Twins are to competing.

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