Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Reading Smith's Tea Leaves

There have been some reports on Twin's GM Bill Smith's comments to season ticket holders. Here are a few things that seem to come out of that and a discussion of their apparent implications

Bullpen - Smith mentioned that the Twins were interested in moving a couple of starters into the bullpen. Gardy raised that possibility for Duensing and Blackburn. Smith also said the Twins wanted to bring Nathan back.

With those moves, the Twins apparently would have four spots in the bullpen set. There would be a competition for the final three spots between Swarzak, Burnett, Mijares, Dumatrait and whatever AAA players and prospects you want to add to that list. While I can't say I am excited about that solution, it has a chance to work.

- The Twins still have the same six starters they started last year with. But if Duensing and Blackburn are moved to the bullpen there are, tentatively, four left - Pavano, Liriano, Baker and Slowey. They have Swarzak and Diamond as candidates for the 5th spot. But under this scenario, its likely the Twins would be looking to pick up a quality starter either in trade or as a free agent.

Infield - Smith mentioned the Twins have three possible shortstops, Plouffe, Nishioka and Casilla. He also said they needed someone with enough range to help Valencia at third base. Smith seemed to suggest Nishioka and Plouffe would have he chance to win playing time. If they bring in a quality veteran at shortstop, there is no room for competition. So they may be thinking adding a slick fielding guy to the competition.

Catcher - Smith said they couldn't have their backup catcher's hit .150 if they were playing 100 games per year. With the questions about Mauer's health it appears they are going to be looking for an offense oriented catcher. One suggestion was a guy who could DH when not catching. They might also end up with a DH who can catch and carry three catchers on the roster, at least until they know how much Mauer can play there.

First base - Smith sounded like he was worried about health issues with both Morneau and Mauer. He mentioned that if Morneau had to move to DH, they might move Mauer to first base. That just adds to the idea of a DH/C as a target in the off-season.

Outfield - It sounds like they really want to bring Cuddyer back.


This sounds like Smith's current off-season priorities:

Catcher/DH who can allow Mauer and Morneau to play first or DH according to their health needs.

A starting pitcher to allow existing starters to be moved to the bullpen

A shortstop with plus range to add to the shortstop mix.

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