December 18, 2007

What's next? Center field...

Well, first and foremost I want to apologize for my lack of posting these last few days. I finished up my last final yesterday morning, so I am hoping to be able to post more consistently from here on out.

But back to baseball...

Last week, the Twins signed two former Houston Astros infielders. On Thursday, the Twins added shortstop Adam Everett. Everett is a defensive specialist who doesn't have a great side to his game offensively, but he is considered one of (if not the) best defensive shortstops in the game. Then on Friday, the Twins added corner infielder Mike Lamb, to hopefully become the Twins everyday third baseman.

Right now, the Twins depth chart would have every position filled, except for center field, which still doesn't have an "ideal" player. The center fielder also has another choir for the Twins, to bat lead-off. Currently, the Twins don't have a good fit to take over the number one spot in the lineup.

There haven't been many thoughts of the Twins adding a center fielder from free agency, but there are a few guys out there who could be good fits.
Kenny Lofton - probably has at least one more "decent" year left in him, and he can still cover the field well despite the fact that he's going to be 41 years old this season. He could be just a one-year signing with an option for '09.

Corey Patterson - he isn't a great fit, but he is younger and could probably offer a little more power. He does concern me as he has just a career .298 on-base percentage, which doesn't seem like an ideal fit for a lead-off hitter.

Scott Podsednik - he has lost a step and he hasn't played much center field since he was with the Brewers in 2004, but nonetheless he is an option for both center field and lead-off.
The Twins may not see any of them as suitable fits (which I wouldn't doubt) and they may inquire about a few other options via trades:
Reggie Willits - he has a great on-base percentage and he's under team control until 2013, which is definitely appealing. He probably wouldn't cost a lot with the current outfield situation in Los Angeles, but I see the Twins only acquiring Willits if they don't trade Johan Santana, which is probably our most likely of ways of acquiring a center fielder.

Juan Pierre - talk about no power, Pierre has only 12 home runs through 4,778 career at bats. Although, he has stolen 45+ bases in each of his last 7 years. He is likely going to be pushed to the bench after the teams acquisition of Andruw Jones. Pierre could be a low-cost trade possibility.

Randy Winn - the Giants made an interesting move last week as they signed free agent center fielder Aaron Rowand to a 5-year $60 million deal. The reason being is the Giants aren't going anywhere fast. The team also has Nate Schierholtz, who looks ready to take over everyday duties. The team may choose to trade him for some pitching, perhaps Juan Rincon could do the trick, although I don't see any team really wanting him after the fallout with the Twins-Rays trade last month.

Jeremy Reed - another low cost option. He'd likely only require a 3rd-tier prospect, although he himself has gone from prospect to suspect after a few poor seasons in the majors. Although, 775 at bats is not enough to accurately assess his ceiling in the majors. He could be a low-risk/high reward kind of guy, although I'm not sure I feel comfortable with him as our only real option in center.

Austin Kearns - despite what the club may say, I still think that they'd consider trading Austin Kearns if they were given the opportunity. He's not really an ideal lead-off hitter, although he probably would be fine in that role. Jim Bowden will probably want way more than he's worth, so he may not be the best fit for the Twins (They'd probably demand Kevin Slowey and then some, which is way too high of an asking price).

Coco Crisp - and no, I'm not talking about a deal involving Johan Santana. The Red Sox look pretty set to move forward with Jacoby Ellsbury in center field (if they don't acquire Santana) which would push Crisp to the bench. I don't see them pushing him to the bench, which means he'd likely be traded. The Twins could explore a deal with the Red Sox that doesn't involve Santana if they choose to keep him, or if they choose to trade him to a different club.

Willy Taveras/Ryan Spilborghs - both are starter worthy, yet there aren't enough spots in the outfield for both of them. Both could net fairly good returns for the Rockies, and both would fit in the Twins offense for next season. Spilborghs isn't as ideal of a lead-off batter as Taveras is, but he does have a good average and a good on-base percentage which wouldn't make me all that nervous in that role.

Josh Hamilton - he's the feel good story of '06, and he's also a possibility to not be back in Cincinnati. Why? I don't know. The team is in the middle of a rebuilding, or so you'd think, but they've got some pretty high-priced players who should either be traded (Ken Griffey Jr.), or not signed at all (Francisco Cordero), which puts this team in a little bit of a bind. It's no surprise that the Red have a high-number of outfielders which makes one of them likely to be moved, but I don't think Hamilton should. With that said, if he is available, I'd love to see the Twins go after him. He'd probably cost us one of our ML ready pitchers and a mid-level prospect.

David DeJesus - the Royals are also in the middle of a rebuilding, and they too have signed some fairly questionable players (Jose Guillen), however they don't really have a need to move anybody. But they could choose to trade DeJesus for a player who could help in a few years, opposed to holding onto a player who probably doesn't fit into your plans long-term. The biggest problem with DeJesus is that the Royals are in the same division, although he's not a great player, the Twins may be reluctant to trade a prospect for him.
Those are just a few options the Twins could pursue. But as of right now, the Twins would likely go into the season with one of Jason Pridie, Craig Monroe, or Denard Span as their starting center fielder, with Pridie or Span leading off (if they won the spot), or if Monroe won the spot, the Twins may be more apt to start Alexi Casilla in order to fill the lead-off role.

We'll see, I'm not expecting this spot to be filled until after we learn about Santana's future with the club, which could come sometime in the next week (which some feel it will happen by Christmas).

Stay tuned...