January 31, 2008

Where are we at?

Good morning. Yesterday was a pretty depressing day. I've kept my optimism, but it's never easy to lose a player like Johan Santana. That's the second big sports star the great state of Minnesota has lost in the last 6 months (Kevin Garnett the other) and I just can't say that I'm happy, regardless to the fact that I see everything working out in the long run.

The Twins have gotten a completely new look this off-season.

Loses Additions
Johan Santana, LHP Delmon Young, OF
Carlos Silva, RHP Carlos Gomez, OF
Matt Garza, RHP Deolis Guerra, RHP
Torii Hunter, OF Adam Everett, SS
Jason Bartlett, SS Phillip Humber, RHP
Eduardo Morlan, RHP Kevin Mulvey, RHP
Jason Tyner, OF Jason Pridie, OF
Lew Ford, OF Brendan Harris, 2B
Luis Rodriguez, 3B Craig Monroe, OF
Chris Heintz, C Mike Lamb, 3B

And you could even argue that Francisco Liriano could be under "Additions" as he missed all of the 2007 season due to his recovery from Tommy John surgery. However under "Loses" that list may soon have another prominent Twin player on that list. The team now has to make a decision on Joe Nathan. They can trade him to a contender for maybe one or two high-end prospects, you can try to re-sign him (imagine the uproar from fans if we re-signed Nathan over Santana), or they could just simply let him walk at the end of the season and receive two high draft choices in return. I doubt Bill Smith will trade him now, but if they do attempt to re-sign him and it fails, I hope they choose to trade him instead of just letting him walk. As nice as it is to get multiple high-end draft picks, I'd rather get guys who are closer to the majors who can help us out in '09 or '10 when we begin to regain our "swagger" in the tough A.L. Central.

But back to 2008, here is what this seasons payroll looks like after the trade of Johan Santana:

Starting Lineup

Pos. Player Type Salary (Approx.)
C Joe Mauer C $6,250,000
1B Justin Morneau C $7,400,000
2B Brendan Harris S $460,000
3B Mike Lamb C $3,200,000
SS Adam Everett C $2,800,000
LF Delmon Young C $700,000
CF Carlos Gomez S $460,000
RF Michael Cuddyer C $5,000,000
DH Jason Kubel A $1,300,000

Total $27,570,000


Pos. Player Type Salary (Approx.)
C Mike Redmond C $950,000
2B Nick Punto C $2,400,000
3B Brian Buscher S $460,000
OF Jason Pridie S $460,000
OF Craig Monroe A $3,820,000

Total $8,090,000

Starting Rotation

Pos. Player Type Salary (Approx.)
S1 Scott Baker S $460,000
S2 Boof Bonser S $460,000
S3 Francisco Liriano S $460,000
S4 Kevin Slowey S $460,000
S5 Nick Blackburn S $460,000

Total $2,300,000


Pos. Player Type Salary (Approx.)
CL Joe Nathan C $6,000,000
SU Matt Guerrier A $950,000
SU Pat Neshek S $460,000
LO Dennys Reyes C $1,000,000
MR Juan Rincon A $2,480,000
MR Jesse Crain C $1,050,000

Total $11,940,000

2008 Total: Contracts

2008 Total: Arbitration

2008 Total: Serf

2008 Totals:

And remember, in terms of competition at starting pitching, you also have to include: Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, Zach Day (gag me), Brian Bass, Phil Humber and even Kevin Mulvey could all be in competition for a spot in spring training. I list Day for obvious reasons that he's a veteran and Ron Gardenhire is our manager.

Right now, the Twins definitely have a weakness in starting pitching, but they have so much depth that they'll be able to correct any problems they may have from within. At least I think that's what management is going to be hoping. But it would not surprise me to see the Twins go look at a veteran pitcher or two who could come in here and "mentor" some of our young arms. Now, that's not what I'd like to see, but it's what Gardenhire likes to do and I see the team looking into free agency to see if there's anyone worth their time. But remember that they did sign both Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson last year, so anyone is probably "worth their time". I don't see the team signing a pitcher who's looking for $10 million per season like Kyle Lohse or Livan Hernandez (although Hernandez wouldn't be horrible, but I think signing Lohse is at -100%... if that's at all possible), and I'm praying that they don't try and sign a rehab experiment in either Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon. I actually wasn't against signing Garcia to a low-cost deal, but many don't feel he'll be ready to pitch until mid-season and that's still being optimistic. Anyways, I think signing a guy like Josh Fogg wouldn't be a horrible addition. We also have the possiblity of trading one or two of our young pitching prospects for a solid veteran who could eat innings for us. However, I think I'd rather just see what the young arms have got. (Edit: Looks like Charley Walters also thinks Fogg might be a good fit.)

Another thing this team could still potentially do is sign a free agent center fielder such as Kenny Lofton or Corey Patterson. Now, I don't expect this as much as I'd expect them looking for an arm, but many don't feel that Gomez is ready to play everyday in the majors. I personally would not like to see him platoon in center field with either Jason Pridie or Denard Span. If we give him the reigns at all, I'd like to see him out there everyday without having to share at bats.

Obviously the Twins are well below the project payroll for 2008 which was thought to be close to $80 million. At the Twins current prices, the team looks like they're going to be sitting in a great place when the 2009 free agents come out which is thought to have a strong offensive group of players like Adam Dunn, Mark Teixeira and possibly even Carl Crawford (although I doubt it). The team could also look at a few intriguing pitchers, however I'd rather just let our young pitchers go at it for a couple years. I just like that if the team wants to make a splash in free agency, they could. It's a nice feeling to have.

This team is almost unrecognizable and I think that's not a horrible thing. Obviously we had success with a small payroll for the last few years, but those players who had significant roles in those years are gone and it's the beginning of new Twins baseball!