Wednesday, June 11, 2008
IF I WAS GM...
Good morning everyone! I had some time last night, so I thought it would be fun for me to write up a posting on what I would do if I was GM. Certain names come up frequently and there is plenty of discussion on them, so I thought I would officially give my opinions on what I think that the Twins should do.
Let me start by saying that I did not envy the job that Bill Smith walked into last offseason. He had to make a bunch of moves that we all knew would not be popular with the team's fans. He let Carlos Silva sign with the Mariners for four years and $48 million (Sorry, had to include that first to get a laugh). He also offered Torii Hunter $15 million a year for three years, which is probably more than I would have done, but certainly a fair offer for a guy who hit well for a year and a half, and whose defense is nowhere near what it was earlier in his career and certainly will not get better. Hunter went to the Angels for five years and $90 million (also very funny when you think about it). Finally, he had to trade away the best pitcher in baseball over the last four or five years, Johan Santana. That was really a no-brainer, as much as we all would love to have seen Johan stay with the Twins. But just think about this... name one starting pitcher who has signed a $100 million contract that has gone well? Kevin Brown? Mike Hampton? Barry Zito? Getting your starting CF and three pitching prospects for him was great, regardless of what other offers were out there. Trading Johan Santana, rather than signing him (although they did offer him $91 million), was just such as easy decision. He did what Twins fans have been clamoring for for awhile. He traded from the Twins rich pitching pipeline to add hitting. That trade with Tampa has not worked out well for the Twins yet, but in the long run, I still believe it will. I applauded the Mike Lamb signing at the time and still believe it will be a good signing. Adam Everett made a lot of sense, he just has not been at all healthy. Really, the only mistake, in my mind, was the arbitration offer to Juan Rincon, but we have discussed that too much already, so no more need to dwell on that.
In summary, I am simply doing this for fun. Admit it, bloggers and blog commenters all want to be GM and feel that we would do a better job. I just feel the need to say that I think that Bill Smith was put in a tough position and he has done a lot of good things.
Now, the first thing you have to do is determine what the goal of the 2008 season is. While the Twins were still in contention, and I'm not saying that they aren't any more, the goal had to be to remain in contention. If the Twins are out of contention and do not feel that they can compete for a division title or Wild Card spot, then the goal has to be twofold. First, to compete within a time frame, and second, to develop as many high level prospects within the system in order to supplement the current regulars that will be around when the time frame gets here.
In my opinion, this Twins team is not really a contender, but I do think that it is far too soon to make too many big moves right now. That's not to say that there are not several moves that could be made. The unpopular, daring move is sometimes the best thing for a team. So, let's talk players:
BIG LEAGUE HITTERS
Joe Mauer - building block, catcher for next 3 years or more.
Justin Morneau - building block, 1B for the next 5 years or more.
Delmon Young - building block, LF for the next 5 years or more.
Carlos Gomez - building block, CF for the next five years or more.
Michael Cuddyer - proven production, actual leader, he'll be around through the 2011 season.
Jason Kubel - it is a huge year for him. He has proven he can hit for some power, but he must be more consistent. If he has another second half like he had last year, I think you count on him as the team's DH for the next two or three years or more.
Alexi Casilla - Clearly he has been playing great since his recall. He has to continue to show that this is not a fluke. That said, he does have another option in 2009, but I think the goal should be for him to be the every day 2B for the next four to five years, maybe longer.
Adam Everett - we won't see much more of him on the active list. If he can come back, he will be on a short leash. I think he may be most valuable to the Twins as a coach on the Disabled List.
Mike Lamb - like it or not, he is signed through the 2009 season with an option for 2010. He has been disappointing to this point. No question. But he's got a big league track record. I'd keep him playing four or five times a week, and platoon someone else against lefties. If it just doesn't work out, he provides value as a bench player.
Brendan Harris - I think he has value as a utility player, and for a middle infield type, he has some pop in his bat. Just has a lot of holes in his swing.
Matt Macri - I like the idea of him being that right handed platoon. I need to see what he can do over time.
Mike Redmond - Still a very solid backup catcher. If I had to decide today, I think I would pick up his option for 2009, but since I don't, he'll have to stay healthy and stay productive.
Jose Morales - he is the team's emergency or third catcher. He would be up within a day if the Twins needed him. He is in just his first option year, so he can fill that role for a couple of years. There really isn't anyone pushing him, although the team is high on Drew Butera, who would at least be a righty to mix and match with Mauer.
Craig Monroe - he has exceeded my expectations to this point. He is capable of coming off of the bench and doing well. However, if he plays more than a game or two in a row, he gets exposed.
Brian Buscher - he's essentially the same as Mike Lamb, just not as good with the glove. He's a pinch hitter, in my mind.
BIG LEAGUE PITCHERS
Livan Hernandez - He has been better than I, and most, Twins fans could have hoped for, in terms of W-L record. However, he is what he is, a guy who will give up a lot of hits and a lot of runs.
Scott Baker - he's very important to this pitching staff. He throws strikes and has very good stuff despite not being overpowering. Also very poised.
Nick Blackburn - he has exceeded all expectations and probably been the Twins best starter to this point. I'm still not 100% buying it, but I obviously hope he can keep it up. He needs to be a little more wild to stay successful, and it would be good if he could miss some more bats.
Kevin Slowey - he's had downs and ups and now has had two rough starts in a row, but he is a big league pitcher. AAA would do him no good, the team just needs to stick by him. He's smart and poised and has the stuff to be very good for a long time.
Glen Perkins - he has pitched well for the Twins, which is really surprising because he did not pitch well in Rochester. I have been impressed to this point. I still feel like his future is in the bullpen, but obviously starters are far more valuable, and Perkins deserves to keep starting.
Boof Bonser - too young and too talented to give up on, so he has to remain with the team as he is out of options. The move to the bullpen only makes sense. That said, he was also removed from the rotation last September, so a career in long relief might be in his cards.
Francisco Liriano - he has had two good starts in his last four, five good starts in his last seven. He is getting better. He should stay down in AAA for a bit and have several really good, semi-dominating starts before he comes back up. But don't take that wrong, Liriano remains The Franchise and is a major part of the future of this team.
Joe Nathan - although I'm not a fan of giving a guy who throws 60-70 innings a year over $10 million, Nathan is the best in the game. He will be old at the end of the deal, but hopefully he stays healthy and effective.
Pat Neshek - obviously he's hurt and we have learned just how valuable he has been to the Twins as the 8th inning guy.
Matt Guerrier - He's done a lot for the team over the last three-plus years. He's definitely had more struggles this year than in past years, but he's still got the good fastball and very good curveball.
Jesse Crain - as you would expect from a guy who had major shoulder surgery about a year ago, he has had his struggles, but I see the fastball, slider and curveball and have complete confidence that he can be an 8th inning guy again.
Dennys Reyes - his numbers are certainly better than he is pitching, but he has definitely been much better than he was in 2007.
Brian Bass - certainly expendable, but when pitching in long relief, his original role this year, he has been adequate. But if you have to choose between Bonser and Bass, that choice is easy (Bonser should stay). Bass has been solid, but he's not a prominent guy.
Craig Breslow - He has been very good in a short period with the Twins. It will be good to see him maintain consistency over a longer period of time, but I think he has some value to the Twins.
Bobby Korecky - It was great to see him make his debut with the Twins. He was actually solid out of the Twins bullpen. He won't hurt the Twins in the bullpen. That said, he is what he is. He's an older minor leaguer, known for giving up a lot of base runners in AAA, but somehow getting the job done. That doesn't bode well for long-term success, but he's OK.
Juan Rincon - again, we have been over this so many times. You know my thoughts. No need to dwell on it.
UNTOUCHABLES - In my mind, there are certain guys you build around. You don't trade them unless you are absolutely overwhelmed. They are:
Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez, Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey
NEARLY UNTOUCHABLE - There are several others in which you better get a lot for them, or you might as well keep them. (obviously even within this list, there are various levels of untouchability.) They aren't the stars (Ok, Nathan is), so aren't considered building blocks and yet, you have to have a good reason if you're going to trade them. Also, you likely would not get as much for them as you'd like, so might as well keep them. They would be:
Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Alexi Casilla, Pat Neshek (who can't be traded while injured anyway), Jesse Crain.
VERY TOUCHABLE - And then there are guys that, as soon as you are out of contention, you should look to let go of because if you can get any minor leaguers for them, it will help in the long run.
Livan Hernandez - If the Twins are not any closer than seven games by the first of July, Livan should be dealt. Hopefully he puts together a couple of solid starts before then so that the Twins can try to get two B-Level prospects for him.
Craig Monroe - He may have value to a team contending down the stretch, looking for a solid, veteran, right-handed, power bat off the bench. He could bring a low level prospect.
Juan Rincon - I can't imagine a team willing to give up even a C-level prospect for Rincon, knowing that he will be available in the near future for league minimum. No team would be willing to pick up the remainder of his contract. Who knows, maybe if the Twins eat all of his remaining salary, they could get a Low A middle reliever for him!
Dennys Reyes - there are teams in desperate need of a quality lefty reliever, the biggest of which would wear pinstripes. Reyes could probably bring the Twins a B level prospect, maybe a B and a C level prospect. Do you think that the Yankees could consider dealing J.B. Cox for Reyes?
Mike Redmond - he does a lot for the Twins and their pitchers even if he doesn't play a lot. There may be a team out there looking for a quality veteran backup catcher.
WATCH AND SEE - There are other guys that just need an opportunity and to play and see what they have for an extended period. These are generally young guys or guys who have come over from another team. This could include the likes of Kubel, Casilla and Crain, but really, I am thinking more about guys like Breslow, Korecky, Macri, Bass, Blackburn, Perkins, Bonser (in the bullpen), Slowey, Harris, soon Liriano, and maybe even Morales (if there is a trade of Redmond). These players all need to be evaluated. They need to learn their strengths and weaknesses. They need to better understand how they handle the mental side of the game. They really need to learn what they do or how they approach the constant adjustments that need to be made.
As you can see, I happen to think that this is a developmental year for the Twins. And yet, I don't think team is necessarily far off. There is a lot of talent that just needs to come together and play together and get more experience, and we just have to let that happen and be patient. I think there are a few veterans that really will help the Twins by being traded, even if only for some mid-level prospects because, if we've learned anything, it's not always the top prospects who make it.
MINOR LEAGUE MOVES
Sure, Director of Minor Leagues (Jim Rantz) makes these decisions, but in my role as GM, I am going to take this over for the day too. There are some moves that simply need to be made. Here are things that I would like to see happen. Not all at once, but over the next couple of weeks. Some moves can be made now, and unless there is a need, I think that a player who makes his league's All-Star team deserves to play in it. So, I'm not saying all of these moves need to be made overnight, or at one time, but over the course of a couple of weeks.
Steve Tolleson promoted from New Britain to Rochester. Chris Basak released.
Luke Hughes needs to get healthy from his groin injury. Hopefully this happens in the next 2-3 weeks. He needs to stay with New Britain for a week and prove his health before he moves up to Rochester and then he should take the roster spot of Howie Clark.
Danny Valencia promoted to New Britain. Takes Tolleson's roster spot.
Brian Dinkelman promoted to New Britain. Hughes put on the DL.
Juan Portes promoted to New Britain. Felix Molina released.
Jeff Manship promoted to New Britain. Oswaldo Sosa (temporarily) moved to bullpen. Jay Sawatski released.
Robert Delaney promoted to New Britain. Release Errol Simonitsch or Kyle Aselton.
Anthony Slama should be the closer in Ft. Myers for a few weeks after Delaney leaves, but then he should move up to New Britain with Simonitsch, Aselton, Jason Miller or Ben Julianel released. (Note - remember that Yohan Pino needs to come off of the DL, so that is another guy who potentially is released.)
Danny Lehmann promoted to Ft. Myers. Allan de San Miguel released.
Mike McCardell promoted to Ft. Myers, to take Manship's spot.
Spencer Steedley and Matt Williams promoted to Ft. Myers bullpen to replace Delaney and Slama.
Henry Reyes and Michael Allen back to Beloit. Loek Van Mil and Charles Nolte promoted to Ft. Myers.
Steve Singleton promoted to Ft. Myers. Replaces Dinkelman.
Garrett Olson promoted to Ft. Myers. Replaces Valencia.
Ramon Santana, who was just put on the DL when Estarlin de Los Santos was added to the Beloit roster, can be activated. Also, Deibinson Romero is now working in EST and could start playing soon. And, we keep hearing that Paul Kelly is nearing a return.
Carlos Gutierrez signs and reports to Beloit where he should work out of the bullpen for the remainder of 2008. Transition to starting rotation begins in the offseason.
Danny Rondon moves from EST to Beloit. Brian Kirwan to the bullpen.
I would really like to hear your thoughts on any of this, from my thoughts on the big leaguers to my minor league transactions.