So that's what I'll do. And just note, these are my opinion but I do encourage people to disagree with me.
What should be done with the rotation?
Right now, I think that both Nick Blackburn and Anthony Swarzak need to be taken out of the rotation in favor of Jeff Manship and Brian Duensing. And I also think that Francisco Liriano's spot is also in limbo, but I have no idea who should replace him. Kevin Mulvey? Armando Gabino? I have no idea. I just know that both Blackburn and Swarzak need to be replaced immediately.
Blackburn has been getting annihilated out there lately and Swarzak is definitely showing his rookie stripes. While I don't know either Manship or Duensing being long term answers to the rotational woes, I just think that it's gotten to the point (if not past it) that something needs to be done and I really don't see how either Duensing or Manship will be worse than either Swarzak or Blackburn right now. Both have been terrible as of late.
There are players going through waivers. Should the Twins take a chance at a guy like Aaron Harang? I think so, but only if we pull within reach of the division. If not, while I like him, his salary doesn't make much sense to the Twins.
What's the latest with Kyle Gibson? Should they even waste their time with him?
Kyle Gibson remains unsigned and the Twins have until 11:00 PM (CST) tonight to get a deal done otherwise he'll likely be returning to the University of Missouri for his senior season. He'd then reenter the draft next June. By all accounts, it sounds like both sides want a deal to get done, but it's also being reported that they remained about $1 million apart. Gibson is looking for something around $2.5 million, double of what the Twins could be doubling if they try to adhere to the suggested slot-suggestion of $1.287 million.
Parker Hageman wrote a good post last week regarding Gibson and thinks the Twins should stick to their guns with their proposal as Gibson still has some worrisome mechanical flaws that stem beyond his fractured forearm. While it's easy to agree with him, I personally would still like to see the Twins sign him. He's a high-upside pitcher and with the current state of the Twins' rotation, I think the Twins need a top prospect like Gibson.
I also think the Twins should have been prepared for this to happen when drafting him and if they weren't prepared then quite frankly I'm a little disappointed. As soon as his arm was healthy and he began throwing, the Twins should have known that he'd be asking for above what MLB recommends at the 22nd pick. The Twins probably tried signing him immediately but I'm sure Gibson wanted to wait. The Twins probably should have been prepared for that when drafting him.
But honestly, I don't entirely blame either side if a deal doesn't get done. If he's signed for $2.5 million, that'd be tied for the third largest signing bonus in Twins history. But the Twins have gone above the recommendations before and I'd like to see them get a deal done. But I do think that $2.5 is a bit high and if that's what he's demanding - and not backing down from - then I won't be upset if the Twins don't sign him.
I know many will whine about them failing to sign a Type-A free agent last off-season, like Orlando Cabrera or Orlando Hudson, and that they should reward fans with signing the player they drafted, but I don't think that's that big of a deal. The Twins took a chance but if the player's demands are outrageous, which I think Gibson's could be considered borderline, then you can't fault them for not meeting them.
We'll see what happens. While I'd like to see a deal get worked out, I can't say I'm entirely optimistic and I also would like to see the Twins and Gibson meet in the middle.
Also, make sure to check out Alex Halsted's interview with Gibson that he posted last week at his brand new blog, A Voice From Twins Territory.
Who should the Twins target this off-season? Both in free agency and/or via trades.
Peter, you must know how much I love to speculate. I will have to take longer to think about this but expect something up this week. But be advised, I'll be speculating on this from about the middle of September through December/January so you'll definitely get a lot of 'who should the Twins go after' talk in the next few months. And really, it's one of my favorite things to do. I know the possibility of any of it happening is minimal (if even that's an understatement), but it's still fun to be GM in your own mind.
***When will you be doing your next Top 50 Twins Prospects list?
This winter. I'd like to do them multiple times a year but I think at that point they're just power rankings (which I guess the same case could be made for any prospect list, and) which are always fun to read but it takes too much time and I like that 'element of surprise' as to who my top prospect is going to be. But mostly just because I don't have enough time to do them.
Is Joe Mauer the MVP?
Up to this point, absolutely. But for more on this, I'd just advise you to read these three columns:
Mauer Power - By Joe Posnanski
Has Tex locked up MVP already? - By Rob Neyer
Dear AL East Fans: Don't Kid Yourselves, Joe Mauer is the AL MVP - By Dan Wade
All three of these pieces basically describe exactly how I feel about it.
Speaking of Mauer, will the Twins re-sign him this this off-season?
I'd like to think so. The Twins know his value and know that if they wait until next year to try and re-sign him right before he's about to test free agency, the 'big fish' (Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, Cubs, etc.) will definitely contend with whatever offer the Twins try to give him. And really, I wouldn't blame him if he chose to go to a team that is more committed to winning than what the Twins might be. The Twins seem committed to winning, but I don't know if they're fully committed to winning a championship. I know some would think, "that's ridiculous to say" which may be true, but I've yet to be proven otherwise. The team knew heading into this season that they had a great foundation and were close to making the playoffs the previous season, but they made little improvements and the ball club ultimately took a step back. I'm not blaming the front office for the team (in short) sucking this year, but I don't think they really were committed to winning a championship with what they did last off-season.
It'll cost a lot, but the Twins need to re-sign Mauer. And that should be the most important thing on their agenda this off-season. I think that re-signing Mauer will immediately make the off-season a success. I just hope they get it done early and don't give the fans yet another excuse to why they don't go out and make a big acquisition. But I'm sure that's what will happen.
Finally, (the million dollar question) are the Twins done?
That's a tough question for some. Is there a possibility? Absolutely. But will they? Now, before I answer that, I want to stress that I'm pretty optimistic by default and always try to see things from both sides of the fence. I've learned over the years that baseball can take many unprecedented twists and turns throughout the season and anything can happen. But like Aaron Gleeman said today on his blog, it's really hard to envision the Twins doing anything (regardless of past success and an easy schedule) with the way this team is playing right now. The pitching sucks, really bad right now and there's really not enough in-house options to right the ship at this point. The offense has been about the same as last year (averaging around 5 runs per game) but if the offense and pitching aren't in sync, it's hard to believe they'll be able to make up six games right now. So to answer your question, I believe that they are done.
I know the players still want the organization to do anything/everything possible to let them win this season, but if you've seen this team in the last month, do you really envision them as a playoff team let alone as a World Series contender? I don't see them as either and I woudn't mind seeing them play some of their September call-ups more than usual to prepare for next season (i.e. Danny Valencia).
I will note, one bright spot about finishing low in the standings is that if they're in the bottom 15, they won't have to give up their top pick in next year's draft to sign a Type-A free agent. Right now, the Twins would have the 12th pick in the draft . And if they are within the protected top 15 picks, they really have no reason to not sign anyone they want this off-season.
I want to thank Peter for sending me these questions and I'd also like to encourage readers to send in questions at any time. I might not dedicate an entire post to them, but sometimes they'll spark interest and could give me an idea on what to write about as the dog days of August and a frustrating team are certainly making it hard to write constructive posts every day.