February 27, 2008

Too soon to look at 2009?

Hello everyone.

Last night I was shuffling through some different sites, reading up on some baseball news (as I always do) and I when I went to MLBTradeRumors.com, I saw a post that I saw a few months ago, but it got me thinking again. The post was a list of players who are scheduled to hit the free agency market in 2009. Now, before I go any further, I don't want anyone to get the impression that I am throwing in the towel already on 2008 and that I don't think we have a chance, because on the contrary I do still hold a slight ray of optimism that we'll be challenging the rest of the American League Central for the Divisional Title.

But I did have to think about where we could be next year at this time, and what players were available to perhaps improve our team. The hard part of looking at this list is that anything can happen in 2008. Nick Punto could explode back onto the scene, making people look at him locking down second base for the next 5 years, Mike Lamb could self destruct and we may have to look for a new third baseman, or we could have a very ineffective bullpen that ranks near the bottom in the league. Are these likely? Probably not, but it does make predicting something like how players will do, a lot harder.

I have to imagine that the Twins will likely be looking for a relief pitcher (not necessarily a closer) and a short stop next winter. Besides that, your guess is as good as mine. It'd probably be nice to think about an upgrade at third base, but we haven't seen Lamb play yet and he's signed for 2 years of guaranteed money. So I find it hard to imagine that the Twins would cut him or put him on the bench.

Here are a few of the noticable free agents that are set to hit the market next winter:
  • Adam Dunn
  • Carl Crawford (option)
  • Carlos Delgado (option)
  • C.C. Sabathia
  • Manny Ramirez (option)
  • Mark Teixeira
  • John Lackey (option)
  • Francisco Rodriguez
  • Vladimir Guerrero (option)
  • Chipper Jones (option)
  • Pedro Martinez
  • Ben Sheets
Obviously, it's probably unlikely that the guys with the "option" tag next to their name will even hit the market (except for maybe Ramirez & Delgado), but there is a chance. And also too, it's fairly obvious that there is a good group of players who could turn a franchise around that could possibly be available.

I think that Adam Dunn will be the main attraction, as will Sabathia, Teixeira and Rodriguez probably will follow those two. Dunn, as much as it'd be nice to see the Twins add (another) legit 40 home run threat to the lineup, but I think his price tag will be too much. Also, he plays left field and the Twins hope to have left field locked up for the next 10+ years with Delmon Young. Designated Hitter is a possibility, but his contract demands could break the bank (as could Teixeira). Neither I view as likely fits for the Twins.

Like I said before, shortstop will likely be a position that the Twins explore in free agency. Here are a few shortstop's that could be intriguing additions:
  • Orlando Cabrera
  • Rafael Furcal
  • Edgar Renteria (option)
I'm not sure if the Twins would be looking at acquiring a long-term fix at shortstop as Trevor Plouffe is expected to be starting for the Twins by the time they open the new stadium, but I think that if the team has the money (which looks likely), they'd be smart to at least consider these options as they're definitely game changers at their respected positions. I think Furcal will likely seek a deal that will give him an annual salary of over $10 million. I think that giving him a deal that large would be an irresponsible thing to do, especially since he'll likely be looking at receiving a 4-5 year deal at the same time.

Renteria could be a possible buyout, but after one of his best career year in 2007, he could be in Detroit for longer than just one year. But if he does regress, I wouldn't mind throwing a 2-year deal at him worth somewhere around $16 million.

Renteria or Cabrera would be great additions to add to our young lineup. Both are normally #2 hitters and this season, many think that Ron Gardenhire will stick Joe Mauer in the #2 spot. And I think that if he does that, and Mauer succeeds, he'll likely stay there for the foreseeable future. But both of these shortstop options would be great additions to the 7-9 spots of the lineup as well.

Of course, I may be thinking wishfully as the Twins are more likely to add a player such as David Eckstein or merely just re-sign Adam Everett. But you can't blame me for dreaming.

I think we could all agree that it'd be great to see a lineup like:

CF - Gomez
C - Mauer
LF - Young
1B - Morneau
RF - Cuddyer
DH - Kubel
SS - Renteria
3B - Lamb
2B - Casilla

Again, I don't want to jump the boat on 2007, and all of my predictions are very arguable. For all we know, Trevor Plouffe could erupt this season and be ready by the end of the season to start full-time. Anything is possible, I am just looking into the future the best way that I can.

Sorry for the rambling.