Friday, December 16, 2011

What Next for Twins

With Michael Cuddyer gone and Josh Willingham signed, the Twins still have three potential areas to add players before spring training. They need outfield depth, a starting pitcher and multiple openings in the bullpen.

According to current news reports, they are now making a renewed effort to sign Jason Kubel. Willingham is currently slotted as the Twins right fielder, but he has very limited experience there. His range is not good to begin with and a less than stellar arm will be exposed in right field. That was probably at least part of the reason the Twins kept their offer to Cuddyer active after signing Willingham. Kubel could fit into that spot along with some DH duties.

Right now, Ben Revere is slated to be the Twins left fielder. But, while Revere likely has a bright future, he may or may not be ready to play every day. With Kubel in the outfield, Revere's playing time can match his performance with Kubel, Willingham and Doumit sharing the DH duties when Revere is in the outfield.

The most obvious need the Twins have is for another starting pitcher. With Slowey gone and Duensing slated for the bullpen, Pavano, Baker, Liriano and Blackburn are the only experienced starters. Swarzak is a potential 5th starter and there are some minor league players who will get a look. But that really isn't how you want to start spring training. The problem is that starting pitchers are not cheap. They may be able to grab someone who was non-tendered, but more likely a quality starter is going to require giving up some value in a trade.

They have a LOT of players signed who can fill out the bullpen. But the top three spots right now are Capps, Perkins and Duensing. They really need a right handed setup guy to pair with Perkins in the 8th inning. With Swarzak and Duensing working the 7th then the bullpen could be a team strength. But without another solid pitcher to get to Capps, the bullpen looks very weak. Its going to be a very long season if we see Capps warming up again in the 8th inning the way we did last spring.


Anonymous said...

I think that in addition to Span and Willingham, Doumit, Revere, Plouffe are enough OF depth in the majors (about as much as they had last season: Span, Cuddyer, Delmon, Kubel, Repko in the 25 to start.) Plus a few more in the minors (Benson & Tosoni to start)

Pitching is a need

TT said...

That's two every day major league outfielders to start next year, compared with four to start last year. They still ended up using a lot of minor league players to fill gaps last year.

Doumit is a C/DH who can play the outfield in a pinch. He didn't play there at all last year and has 60 games in his career. An every day outfield of Doumit in right, Span in center and Willingham in left is a pitcher's nightmare.

Plouffe is a failed infielder. He may or may not hit enough for the outfield and, if he does, his best position may be DH. His OF defense will clearly be a work in progress at best.

Revere was fine as a defender in center fielder, but his offense is still highly suspect for a corner outfielder. That may work fine as long as the rest of the lineup is healthy.

If Span, Revere or Willingham are hurt for any length of time, Tosoni is probably the only player they have who might realistically be ready for every day duty in the outfield.

Benson is a long way away, you might as well add Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia to the list. Any of those guys could break out next year, but I wouldn't count on it.

Unknown said...

I think that no matter how much smoke the front office is blowing about Cuddy still being an option (before the Rockies deal was final) or Kubel still being a possibility the Twins are done with the outfield and only have budget for 1 or 2 low cost relievers (~$1 million contract each). Remember that they have not even committed to reaching $100 million:

"Whether the number is $95 [million] to 100 or 105 to 100, that payroll, in and or itself, is not going to be an impediment to us winning next year," Twins President Dave St. Peter said

My prediction is they are going to come in at about $98 million.

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