Friday, November 23, 2007
I am constantly searching and thinking about and learning more about the Twins and their players. I have an opinion on everything and am always more than happy to talk Twins with anyone. I have my thoughts as a pretend Twins GM. I have my thoughts as a pretend manager. Thatís what we do as bloggers. But we also all just are big Twins and baseball fans and want to know information right away. I feel as up to the minute on Twins info as anyone.
So that is why what happened on Thursday
was really strange to me and completely through me off. I went to bed fairly
early on Wednesday night. Although I was up early Thursday morning, I was busy
packing and preparing for a trip north for Thanksgiving. And on the 2+ hour drive
to our final destination, we listened to Elmo and the
I was surprised first that Hunter had made his decision, but especially with the decision to go to the Angels. The money? Well, it actually wasnít quite as much as I had thought, and in reality, it was probably not as much as he could have got had he played the free agent game a little bit longer.
What will the Angels OF look like? I mean, they signed Gary Matthews Jr to a five year, $50 million contract to play CF just one year ago. However, they could move Matthews to left field, and they could have a pretty strong 2/3 of the outfield and RF Vlad Guerrero can make up for his lack of speed with his strong arm. Then I started thinking that in four years, they are going to have three outfielders that will be 36-38 years old and each will have likely spent plenty of time on the DL already. Then what?
That is the point in which I remembered just how happy I was that the Twins did not up their offer to the 32 year old Hunter. Should they have thrown an option year into their offer? Maybe, but that wouldnít have mattered. Five years for Hunter is just crazy! And that is why I am happy that he is now officially gone.
Now, many of you think that I have had it out for Hunter for awhile, trying to get rid of him. And that is true. I think that he had an excellent last two months in 2006, right before there was a huge decision on whether to pick up his option. He also had a very strong 2007 season when he knew he would be a free agent. Donít forget, his one other big season came in 2002, ironically, a contract year.
His leadership and team and winning attitude is touted. He certainly was the voice of the franchise and the guy the media loved, for good reason. But what happened when things went bad for the Twins the past couple of years? Well, letís see. First, he got hurt and left the team. Then he decided to show up in September only to bash the Twins top two hitting prospects. He threw a punch intended for Justin Morneau only to hit Nick Punto. Then what? Thatís right, he left again. And what about in 2007. He continually bashed Joe Mauer for not playing hurt. Well, Mauer was hurting more than people knew. And, as Aaron Gleeman has pointed out before, who has missed more games in the last two years, Hunter or Mauer? (Note Ė the answer is Hunter)
The big problem I had is the years though. And that is why it may surprise some to hear me say (or read me type?) that I do think that the Twins roster is not as good today as it was a couple of days ago. Hunter did have a very good 2007 season. He was probably the Twins most consistent (positive) performer. He did a lot of good things to help put the Twins in position to win games. Is he really still a gold glove CF? Thatís debatable but he was better in 2007 than he was in 2006 or 2005.
I am very curious to see how Torii will do out on the west coast. The Angels go into the 2008 as the likely AL West preseason pick to win the division and they have a very strong pitching staff. Hunter is likely to hit somewhere around 5th or 6th, similar to where he hit with the Twins. He will be playing on grass, which should be a very good thing for him. He will live up being in LA! It will be interesting to see what the Angels do now. Will they now be more willing to give up more to get Miguel Cabrera? Will they go after Johan Santana? We shall see.
As for the Twins, I know many casual fans seem to think that this is the beginning of the end, and I for one am not yet ready to concede that. There is just too much talent on the 2008 roster to just pack it in and completely rebuild. They still have Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and Johan Santana and Joe Nathan and Michael Cuddyer. Francisco Liriano is coming back and young, talented pitchers like Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker are around. This is in no way an indication of a team that is giving up next season.
However, the team was willing to pay Torii Hunter $15 million a year for the next three years. My big question to management would be, how are you going to use that money now? How will they replace Torii Hunter on the roster? And no, I donít want them to go out and sign another $15 million. Signing Aaron Rowand for $14-15 million a year is not the answer. However, they could get two really good players at key strategic positions for that $15 million. In reality, I would be happy if they spent $11-12 million of that Ďavailableí money on a couple of players in free agency or trades. They should then use the remaining money to take the best available players with their two first round draft choices and their supplemental draft choice and be able to sign them. Thatís what the Yankees have done the last two years with Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy!
Johan Santana didnít accept the Twins offer of 5 years and $93 million (and he probably shouldnít have), but that was also a very fair offer by the Twins. He wants $126 million. That is fair market value. The Twins can not afford to pay him fair market value, but if Santana really wants to stay with the Twins, they will still be able to meet in the middle.
However, it would also not be stupid of the Twins to consider dealing Santana, and we have been through this before. Again, if they do that, that does not mean that the team will be giving up on the 2008 season. Santana pitches one in five games, thatís it. There are still a lot of other games to be won when he isnít pitching. The return for Santana would have to be great, and it has to be more than a 1st round pick and a supplemental first rounder. Those chips can keep the Twins competitive AND competitive for years to come.
Joe Nathan was apparently offered four years and $40 million. I donít know if he would take that but it is certainly below his market value (thanks Mariano!). Very fair offer by the Twins, but if Nathan says no, that is well within his rights. Because he is making just $6 million, I would keep him until the July Trade Deadline and see where they are. He would be a lock to be a Type A free agent and getting the two draft picks for him would make a lot of sense. Again, no step backward and there are several internal options available to fill the role.
Carl Pohlad is loaded. I believe he is the richest owner in major league baseball. But he didnít get to† be rich by being stupid. He is (or at least was and his sons now are) a smart businessman. Signing Torii Hunter for more than three years makes little sense. Having Johan Santana take up 25-30% of your payroll makes little sense. Having a guy that will pitch 70 innings making $10 million does not make sense. Let the other guys do that and lets just play the games and see what happens. A lot can still be done.
This is an offseason
of change for the Twins. It will be tough for a lot of Twins fans to deal with.
But we just have to remember that the Winter Meetings havenít even started. The
Twins havenít even made a real deal yet (
I know. People want me to be more grumpy and be more negative, but you wonít find that from me here. Not yet at least.
I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this topic over the weekend or whenever. Please feel free to e-mail me and I will get back to you as I have time. I certainly hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving!