December 31, 2009

Josh's Thoughts Top 50 Twins Prospects: Explanation

Here was my explanation from last year, I think it's still fitting:
With the Twins currently not making any headlines these days, I've decided to start posting my top 50 prospect list. It's taken me a long time to do it, and although I will admit I am not completely 100% of the way done with it, I feel I am far enough along to begin posting it. The reason I wanted to get a jump start on posting it is because of the fact that (A) there's nothing to talk about these days and (B) it will take 50 days to complete.

This is not to say I will not be posting anything else, because if the Twins do make any headlines, I will give my thoughts. I'm just saying that each day, expect a new player to be listed.

If you find an error, please let me know. I'm sure many of you know, I make my fair share of mistakes, so if you could be kind enough to let me know of any false information, I will greatly appreciate it. Also, if you find anything that would be useful to add (such as a picture, video or information regarding the player) please feel free to email me at

Like all top prospect lists, these are all done really to just give people a better understanding of how fellow fans feel about their beloved prospects. I would like to explain that this list is nowhere near perfect and I do appreciate any constructional criticism you may have. After all, it's all for fun.

This list I feel is different than many others, and for that I am really proud of it. It is in fact a list, but instead of posting a brief paragraph on each player and posting a 5-10 player list per day, I am actually posting an individual profile report on each player, which is why it will take 50 days to complete (one per day).

So with that, the posting will begin tomorrow. Thanks for another great year.

Also, here's a new Twins blog to check out. It's called Twins #1 Fan. Hope you enjoy!

December 28, 2009

What's going on?

Happy Holidays! I decided that with not a whole lot going on last week to hold off on writing until today, even though there's still nothing going on with the Twins. I also wanted to mention that I have switched to the old commenting system (the blogger default) in the wake of HaloScan switching to ECHO (thanks to Aaron Gleeman for the heads-up). I may sometime choose to use ECHO, but at this time it just makes more sense to use the default commenting system.

On the 14th, the Twins sent two scouts to Houston to monitor Aroldis Chapman while he put together a bullpen session for potential buyers. Chapman, a 21-year-old southpaw who defected from Cuba last summer, is considered the year's best international free agent and one of the best remaining pitchers on the open market. He began drawing attention last Spring, hitting 100 mph on the radar gun, while pitching for the Cuban national team in the World Baseball Classic.

(Paul Spinelli/WBCI/MLB Photos/Getty Images)

Generally, this wouldn't be worth mentioning. In years past, the Twins have remained dormant while other teams have assertively hit the international market with force. This year, the Twins have been one of the year's biggest buyers in the international market and signing Chapman may not be out of the question.

Twins GM Bill Smith, like always, wouldn't give people much to dwell on when commenting on Chapman, "This is one of any number of these workouts we attend each year. It's as much information gathering as anything else. We've seen this guy a number of times. We've seen him in the WBC and in a number of tournaments."

It's likely that any deal for Chapman will be more than the $15.1 million deal that Stephen Strasburg, the number one overall pick in last June's draft, received from the Washington Nationals. The Red Sox have reportedly offered Chapman a contract worth around $15.5 million. If the Twins are serious about signing Chapman, which I hope that they are, they'll have to dig deep into their pockets to pick up any loose change they might have lying around. Unfortunately, I doubt they have the funds to pull off such a deal, even though I agree with Parker Hageman in thinking that it may be a very reasonable contract, if the Twins believe that all of the hype surrounding him is justified.

Mark DeRosa, who the Twins have had interest in before, may leaning toward signing with the San Francisco Giants. The deal is reportedly worth $12 million over two years, which is significantly lower than the three-year $27 million deal he was supposedly looking for heading into free agency. Despite the lowered salary, I'm still more inclined to see the Twins sign either Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez, who are both still available and (at least on the surface) don't seem to have a ton of interest at this time.

The Twins look as though they'll stick with their status quo of waiting for the market to thin out before striking a deal. But I'm fine with that. The Twins have watched players such as Pedro Feliz, Garrett Atkins and Troy Glaus go to other teams, but that's not a bad thing. Clubs are filling their vacancies at second base or third base and players like Lopez, Hudson, Adrian Beltre and Miguel Tejada sit around with no contract in hand. It does seem that the longer the Twins wait, the cheaper their options will be. Just have to hope that they strike before it's too late.

Finally, here's a new blog to check out. It's called The Willard's Twins Blog. Hope you enjoy!

December 15, 2009


It's finals time again at St. Cloud State and that's obviously prohibited me from writing or even thinking for that matter, about the Twins and baseball. I am done at the end of this week and should be back to my "normal" schedule sometime next week. If the Twins do sign someone or trade for someone, I'll surely try to post on it, but I'm doubting anything happens in the next couple of days. I'll soon be posting my 2010 Top 50 Twins Prospects list and my 2010 Top 50 MiLB Prospects list. I can't say for sure when either list will be posted, but I'm figuring sometime around Christmas.

December 11, 2009

Twins looking at Mark DeRosa, again

The Twins have been interested in acquiring Mark DeRosa quite a few times in recent years. He possess a lot of qualities that the Twins look for in players. He also plays a position that the Twins are trying to fill. So it really comes to no surprise that the Twins met with DeRosa's agent at this week's Winter Meetings in Indianapolis.

With holes at both second and third base, the Twins are expected to find a replacement for at least one of them by Spring Training. Other than DeRosa, the Twins have been linked to Adrian Beltre, Joe Crede, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Placido Polanco, Juan Uribe and Pedro Feliz. Both Polanco and Feliz have signed with other clubs, but there is enough depth in the free agent pool of infielders to make the Twins feel comfortable enough to let the market unfold around them.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

For DeRosa, I understand why the Twins are interested in him. He's a good clubhouse presence, plays hard and has played multiple positions throughout his career. Last year, the Twins were drawn to Casey Blake not only because of the position he plays, but also because he's a veteran leader. The Twins field one of the youngest teams in Major League Baseball and some of the players seem to show improvements from having a veteran player to look up to.

On top of finding a second or third baseman, the Twins also need to find a player that is capable of hitting in the two hole. If the season started today, JJ Hardy would likely be that guy, but the Twins would be better off finding someone with a higher on-base percentage to put between Denard Span and Joe Mauer. DeRosa, in comparison to the other players being linked to the team or that the Twins already have, is a good choice to hit second. But be advised, that's not saying a lot as the players previously mentioned all have terrible on-base skills. DeRosa's bat is capable of being great at times and does have a fair amount of power, but he's coming off a terrible half-season in St. Louis where he hit .228/.291/.405 in 68 games. That line is far lower than what he's done over the course of his career, or even in recent years, but he's going to be 35-years-old next season, so it's worth noting.

DeRosa has always been known as being "durable" and has played every position - except for pitcher, catcher and center field - on the field. But it's one thing to say someone is durable and actually being durable. To me, being durable is having the ability to play several positions well. DeRosa does not have that ability. At second and third base, the positions he's spent the majority of his time playing, he hurts his team by playing poor defense. His career URZ/150 at second base is -7.5 runs and his UZR/150 at third base is -6.5 runs. He's much better in the outfield, posting a URZ/150 of +21.6 runs through 1,600 innings. Admittedly, it's hard to really make a great assessment of his defensive abilities since he's never spent an entire season at one position, but at least it's somewhat accurate. DeRosa's been labeled "durable" throughout his career, but I find that misleading. Does he play several positions? Yes. Does he play them well? No. But I guess each person has their own interpretation of what they being "durable" is.

The Twins do have two positions they need to fill, but Nick Punto does figure to have a chance at grabbing one of the positions. If the Twins were to sign DeRosa, he'd most certainly be signed as the third baseman, which would leave second base to Punto. Danny Valencia is thought to be the third baseman of the future, but the Twins seem uncertain on whether he's close to being ready for the Majors. Valencia seems to have the skills to be at least a league average third baseman on both sides of the ball, but like with any prospect, it's a risk to put any stock into him before he's reached the Majors. That's why the Twins are looking at adding a third baseman right now.

Regardless of whether or not he'd be blocking Valencia from reaching the Majors, the problem I'm having most with adding DeRosa is his cost. DeRosa is reportedly looking for a three-year $27 million deal. $9 million per season annually is far too much for a player like DeRosa and if the Twins come close to matching it, I'd be very disappointed. At that price, I'd much rather run the risk of having Valencia being our opening day third baseman or see Crede back.

December 9, 2009

What else could the Twins possibly have up their sleeves?

Bob Nightingale of USA Today reported that the Twins and Padres have discussed a trade that would send Glen Perkins to San Diego in exchange for Kevin Kouzmanoff. In the same report, Nightingale said that the Twins would need to include more to complete a deal. How much more remains to be the question.

Perkins is believed to be expendable with Carl Pavano returning to the rotation, and given that the organization and Perkins haven't exactly seen eye-to-eye in recent months, it makes sense that the Twins would look into trading him. As for Kouzmanoff, the Padres are looking to trim payroll any way that they can. Kouzmanoff plays a good third base, but Chase Headley is still believed to be the third baseman of the future and is much cheaper. Kouzmanoff is heading into his first year of arbitration, where he'll could receive upwards of $3 million.

(Getty Images)

Personally, I wouldn't mind the trade as long as the "more" that Nightingale mentioned wasn't in the form of a top prospect. As many know, I'm a big supporter of Danny Valencia, who would be affected most by this move. The Twins seem pretty apprehensive about handing the reigns of third base to Valencia, but at the same time, they still make it known that he's likely the future third baseman.

Kouzmanoff is under team control through 2012, which is great, but not for Valencia. I personally think that Valencia could be every bit as good as Kouzmanoff if given the opportunity, but like every prospect, there's always the risk factor. But blocking Valencia isn't why I think this deal won't get done. Instead, it's something that Twins fans have had to put up with for years, and that they probably won't be willing to pay his salary. But at least this time, it's much more understandable.

The Twins, at this moment, have a projected payroll of just under $90 million for 2010, according to Joe Christensen. And lets not forget that Joe Mauer still hasn't been re-signed, which could easily add an additional $8-10 million to the payroll alone. As Nick Nelson of Nick's Twins Blog points out, the Twins payroll is already up around $25 million since Opening Day 2009, which is pretty remarkable.

Unless the Twins are looking to have a payroll of over $100 million, which would surprise...well... just about everyone, there's probably not much more that they'll do. The only logical salary-dump player would be Jesse Crain who may get close to $3 million through arbitration. If the Twins intend on keeping Crain on the roster, they'll likely be looking at either going with Brendan Harris at third base, as Ron Gardenhire mentioned yesterday, or signing someone like Joe Crede, who won't break the bank by any means.

The Twins could trade either Joe Nathan or Michael Cuddyer to free up cap space, but at this time, that doesn't appear to be likely. Nathan is due $35 million over the next three years and would fetch a good return if he is traded. Cuddyer is due $19 million over the next two seasons but probably won't give the Twins much more than another high salary player.

So as it stands, I'm not sure what else the Twins will be doing this off-season. Obviously I expect them to do something, but I really have no clue as to what direction they'll go. It appears that they're looking at adding a third baseman, but I just don't know how they'll do so with the payroll already near $90 million. Unless the Twins are willing to allow their payroll to exceed $100 million, I don't see how they can do much more.

Forgive me for being a bit skeptical of the Twins trading for a player like Kouzmanoff or adding any second-tier free agents for that matter. I would love to see the Twins look into adding either Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez to play second base, but both of those players seem very unlikely at this point. I just don't see how them going above $100 million next season which obviously would limit any moves from here on out. But as I said, they'll do something, I just don't have the slightest clue what.

December 8, 2009

Boof Bonser DFA'd

Last night, I predicted that Boof Bonser wouldn't be with the Twins next season. And this afternoon, the Twins made that a likely possibility by designating him for assignment. The move is related to Carl Pavano accepting arbitration. Minnesota's 40-man roster was full, which meant that in order to add Pavano, someone had to go.

(Mike Carlson/Associated Press)

Most people are irritated that the Twins would designate Bonser for assignment before guys like Bobby Keppel or Drew Butera, but this move was most likely driven by salary. Bonser is arbitration eligable and missed all of the 2009 seaseon after undergoing shoulder surgery. Bonser could command seven-figures in arbitration, which the Twins felt that it was too big of a risk for a player in Bonser's shoes. Keppel will probably be the next player taken off if the Twins add another free agent.

The Twins acquired Bonser from the Giants over six years ago. The Twins sent catcher A.J. Pierzynski to San Francisco in exchange for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Bonser. Bonser had a successful Minor League career but couldn't stay consistent in the Majors. Bonser appeared in 96 games (including 60 starts) over three seasons and posted an 18-25 record with a 5.12 ERA. Many believe that Bosner is best-suited for a job in the bullpen, but unless he accepts an assignment to Triple-A, he'll be trying to prove that on another team.

December 7, 2009

Pavano officially accepts arbitration

It's official. Carl Pavano has accepted the Twins' offer of arbitration, meaning he will be with the Twins for at least one more season. The Twins and Pavano may try to continue working on a two-year contract, but it's more likely that Pavano will be go in with the Twins next season before testing the market again next winter. Pavano must not have been able to generate much interest of a multi-year deal from other teams, which is the most likely reasoning for accepting the offer.

The Twins already had a plethora of arms that will be competing for the last spot in the rotation (and the bullpen), but this is great news. Right now, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Pavano are locks for the rotation. Kevin Slowey will be a lock if he returns healthy, which nothing up to this point has made me think otherwise. That means that the Twins could have up to six in-house players competing for the last spot in the rotation.

Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing are both vying for the last spot in the rotation, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Perkins traded at some point during the off-season. The bullpen is already packed, and Perkins might not be in Minnesota's long-term plans, which could give the Twins an incentive to trade him. That would leave Duensing as the odds-on-favorite to claim the fifth spot in the rotation. I'd be fine with that, but I'd still like to see the Twins sign a low risk, high reward starter. I also expect to see Boof Bonser non-tendered, which should help give a better assessment as to where the rotation/bullpen stand heading into next season.

At this time, the Twins can at least move their attention strictly to improving second base or third base (of course, besides re-signing Joe Mauer). There are plenty of options available and the Twins should be able to find the deal they want. I'd personally like to see the Twins sign either Felipe Lopez or Orlando Hudson, leaving third base to Nick Punto. In that scenario, Punto would be holding down third base until the Twins deem Danny Valencia ready. And it'd also fulfill my dream (ok, hope) of also signing Joe Crede (or perhaps Adrian Beltre or Pedro Feliz) to a one-year contract at some point (probably a month or so) before Spring Training, thus relegating Punto to the bench.

But we'll just take it one step at a time...

6:00 PM:
Neal is now reporting that Pavano will in fact accept arbitration from the Twins.

1:00 PM:
According to Ken Rosenthal of, it appears more and more likely that Twins starter Carl Pavano will accept arbitration, keeping him in Minnesota for at least one more season (thoughts below).

11:00 AM: La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Twins General Manager Bill Smith and Pavano's agent, Tom O'Connell, last night and have until 11 PM tonight to decide whether or not to accept the Twins' offer of arbitration. Pavano's camp wants at least a two-year deal and at this moment, it doesn't seem like there's any team willing to give that to him.

As I've said in the past, Pavano alone likely won't give the Twins a great rotation, but he'll definitely add some stability. At this point, only Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn are set as "locks" for next year's rotation. Both Kevin Slowey and Brian Duensing will also have good opportunities in Spring Training to claim a spot, but hopefully the Twins can find at least one or two additional pickups to fill out the starting five. Slowey will be returning from wrist surgery, but should be ready to go, likely making him another "lock."

If Pavano is one of them, I'd still like to see the team go after guys like Erik Bedard, Ben Sheets or Rich Harden. The three of them (among others) are looking to prove themselves and are likely be receiving one or two year contracts, which is just what the Twins need.

Stay tuned. We'll find out sometime today/tonight what Pavano's decision is.

Winter Meetings

One of the best times during the off-season is the Winter Meetings. Every year, each team sends representatives (owners, front office members, coaches, etc.). During the week-long meetings, there is generally more rumors and speculation than at any other point during the season. So obviously, this is my favorite point during the off-season.

But unfortunately, my finals are right around the corner and it just happens to be "hell week" for me due to presentations, projects and papers all needing to be done. But rest assure, if the Twins do make noise with a move, I will write about it. I will also try to discuss some of the rumors that come up. So make sure to check back throughout the week.

Also feel free to follow me on Twitter, where I'll likely be discussing rumors as well. But for more Twins news, check out the links on the side of the page.

December 2, 2009

Twins offer Pavano arbitration

The deadline to offer potential free agents arbitration was last night and as expected, the Twins offered arbitration to Carl Pavano. Pavano gained Type-B status which, if he signs with another team, means that he'll fetch the Twins a second round draft pick in next June's draft. There has been interest from both Pavano's camp and the Twins' front office to keep Pavano in Minnesota. I've mentioned here that while he's not my first choice, I certainly wouldn't mind seeing him come back.

Twins shortstop Orlando Cabrera cannot be offered arbitration due to it being written in his contract. Cabrera qualified as a Type-A free agent, but since the Twins cannot offer him arbitration, any team looking to sign him won't have to surrender their first round pick to the Twins. There have been rumblings about bringing Cabrera back as a second baseman, but that's about all there's been.

Several players the Twins may show interest in this off-season weren't offered arbitration. Second basemen Orlando Hudson and Placido Polanco are two players the Twins will likely discuss bringing to Minnesota and neither were offered arbitration by their former teams. Both players would fit into Minnesota's lineup well.

Other players that weren't offered arbitration and which the Twins could target:
  • Randy Wolf
  • Ronnie Beliard
  • Erik Bedard
  • Felipe Lopez
  • Rich Harden
  • Jon Garland
  • Miguel Tejada
  • Melvin Mora
All of these players could be discussed by the Twins and now that none will cost a draft pick, their chances of signing greatly increase.


There are reports that the Red Sox are "serious" about signing Rich Harden which could very well take the Twins out of the running to sign him. But, as with every free agent, anything can happen.

And the reports of Joe Mauer's supposed "deadline" has been refuted by, whoelse?, Joe Mauer himself. It's funny how quickly some things can be squashed.

Seth Stohs reported yesterday that Twins prospect Danny Valencia is heading to Puerto Rico to play Winter Ball. The Twins have expressed their desire for Valencia to play over the Winter in order to give himself a legitimate shot at making the Opening Day roster. While that could be true, the liklihood that Valencia will make the Opening Day roster even after playing Winter Ball is small. That's not because he's not ready, it's because the Twins will most likely find a second baseman or third baseman (making Nick Punto the other starter) by that time. If it were up to me, I'd want Valencia to rest over the Winter to prepare as well as he can for the upcoming season.