Thursday, October 13, 2011

2011-2012 offseason outlook Part 2_ Starting Pitcher

The Twins rotation was an inconsistent mess this past year for a myriad of reasons. The most glaring where injuries, lack of ability to miss bats, and improper usage. The full rotation remains under contract for next year so there may not be a lot of turnover at the position but if the possibility arises the Twins could look to add a high upside arm or two and move a couple of starters to the bullpen.

What the current rotation will be: (in my opinion)
Carl Pavano
Scott Baker
Francisco Liriano
Nick Blackburn
Kevin Slowey

This looks like a thoroughly mediocre bunch of starters, but there is some upside in there. Baker looked like he finally turned a corner and was having a very solid season that was cut short with an elbow injury. I know everyone was fed up with Liriano this past season but he still can be a dominant pitcher if the Twins can get him to maintain his shoulder strength this offseason. He came to camp out of shape and was behind the 8 ball from the beginning which I think is the main reason he did not repeat his numbers from the previous season. Pavano's peripheral stats where nearly identical to his very solid 2010 season but was hurt by the horrendous infield defense playing behind him. Blackburn is under contract for the next 2 years for around 10 million and I am convinced Punto passed on his envelope of compromising photos of Gardy so will probably be in the rotation much to our dismay. Slowey spent the entire season in the doghouse with the manager, his teammates, and the local media. I think there is a better chance of him ending up being non-tendered then actually pitching for us next season.

Internal solutions:

Kyle Gibson having TJ surgery was a major blow as I felt he probably could have stepped in this year and held his own in the back end of the rotation and been an upgrade over both Blacky and Slowey. Liam Hendriks looked a little overwhelmed in his September call up but also show some promise as well and he could step into the 5th slot if the Twins do release Slowey and do not bring in anyone else to fill out the rotation.

Free Agent Options:
Name (Age)

Erik Bedard (33)

Because of his injury history I believe it would be hard for him to get more than a one year deal. He is coming off another injury shortened season in which he threw just 129 innings, but pitched well with a 3.56 xFIP and 125 k's. He would be an upgrade over most of the rotation when healthy and I think if he is on the market we should offer him a one year deal at 5 million with incentives up to 8 million. He will probably have a lot of competition on the market and we would probably get out bid but that’s the most I would offer him considering his injury history.

Mark Buehrle (33)

I have long loathed him while playing for the pale house and have a hard time picturing him playing for the Twins, but he is a solid pitcher who has been remarkably consistent throughout his career. He is probably the 2nd best starter on the market behind C.J. Wilson and therefore will probably price himself out of the Twins market as I expect him to get a deal worth over 35 million over 3 years. He will probably be worth that contract due to his consistency but counting on him into his mid-thirties at 10 figures is daunting and I would have to think hard about offering him that kind of deal.

Hisashi Iwakuma (31)

I’ll admit I do not know much about him other then he turned down 4 years and 15m from the A's last year. Per his numbers on ( he seems to be in the mold of the Twins pitch to contact type giving up the 1st and 2nd most hits in Japan while striking out 150 over 200 innings. The Twins finished 2nd in the bidding for him last year and may be interested in bringing in another Japanese import in the hopes that it helps Nishioka but at what he turned down last year it would be hard to imagine paying him what he wants.

C.J. Wilson (31)

Wilson is coming off of back to back solids seasons and no doubt will be overpaid by some east coast team desperate for pitching. I have read 5 years and 90m+ as a starting point and think it would be nearly impossible for the Twins to afford that and think they should and will wisely pass.

Via Trade:

Ricky Nolasco (29)

The Marlins have seemingly grown disgruntled with Nolasco and his average performance ( and I think he would be an ideal fit for the Twins especially if they improve the middle infield defense as well this offseason as that is the main culprit behind Nolasco's seemingly average numbers. He has posted strong K rates and GB rates the last 3 years and would instantly slide into the top of our rotation.

What would it take to get Nolasco?

Since he is still owed around $20m over the next two years and he is coming off his worst season in the last three years, as long as we were to take on the full contract, the cost for him would not be astronomical. Using the Edwin Jackson trades as models (almost identical WAR the last three years) we can get an idea of what it would cost to acquire him. I think that it would take a major league ready piece plus a b level prospect to acquire him as that’s the price the White Sox paid to get Jackson with roughly a year and half of control left. Looking at the Marlins roster I can identify a couple of options they would ask for in a trade.

The first proposal I would offer would be:

Ben Revere + mid-level SP (Bromberg or Pat Dean possibly) for Nolasco.

Option #2 would be:

Liam Hendricks + Mid-Level Outfield Prospect (Daniel Ortiz or Eddie Rosario) for Nolasco

My first choice of all the above options is I would much rather deal Revere and his limited offensive upside plus a descent upside arm to get Nolasco then pay big money for a free agent starter. Revere could slide into CF between Stanton and Morrison and his speed would play well in the NL. Nolasco would slot in with Baker and Liriano to, fingers crossed, provide a descent trio of starters at the top of the rotation.

That’s what I would do if I was running the Twins what are your thoughts?

The Armchair GM

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2011-2012 offseason outlook Part 1 -How to fix the SS

Heading into this offseason there are many questions and positions that the Twins need to fill to be competitive in 2012. In this series I want to look at what I think their most glaring needs are and how I hope they will fill them and how I think they will fill them. I happen to agree with Bill Smith who identified our biggest needs as SS, Bullpen, and Starting Pitcher in his recent call with season ticket holders recapped by Joe C here: Today I want to take a look at what I think their biggest need is... Short Stop. In my lifetime the Twins have never had an elite SS, Gagne was fine during our world series runs but I don't think anyone would call him elite, don't make me bring up the Pat Mears era, Guzman was entertaining but inconsistent, and Bartlett's time was too short lived. I was opposed to the Hardy-Hoey debacle and with hind sight being 20-20 it was obvious a mistake to deal him. So that brings us to now....

The current options:
Tsuyoshi Nishioka
Trevor Plouffe

Alexi Cassilla

Ugh...the thought of running that group out for another 162 games is downright depressing. Nishi was over matched all year and the reports that he has trouble hitting harder throwers seems to be true. His fielding was to be honest brutal and I have no faith in him as a SS. Plouffe is more suited to a utility role in my opinion as his inconsistent throwing arm and defense rule him out as a full time player up the middle though his offensive potential profiles well there. Alexi is also more suited to a utility role and has never been able to stay healthy for an entire season anyway.

So onto what is/may be available to upgrade the SS position:

Free Agent Options:
Player (age)
Clint Barmes (33)

I think he is the best option available, assuming Houston does not resign him. He just finished his first full season at SS after palying 2B and some SS in Colorado. Fangraphs rated his defense at +7.9 UZR this past season and I believe he is capable of sustaining that level for at least a couple of more seasons. As for offensively he has a career triple slash line of .252/.302/.401 which is nothing special but when you consider the average AL SS hit .258/.314/.370 his career line would be slighlty above average. I would compare Barmes to Plouffe but with above average defense. If he is available I would offer him a two year deal worth 13m and would consider adding a club option for another 7 million if that would get him to sign.

Nick Punto (34)

Who missed Little Nicky Punto?? We all know what he is about and I am sure Gardy is panting at the thought of bringing his battle his tail offness back to the club. I would not be opposed to it if no other options are available and it was a one year deal around 1m.

Jose Reyes (29)
I am not interested in him for the money and years he would require.

Jimmy Rollins (33)
See: Reyes,Jose

Marco Scutaro (36) - I do not think Boston will cut him loose but I would interested in adding Scutaro and his strong career walk rate to the club as well but he is 3 years older then Barmes and his defense is not nearly as good. Though a one year deal at 4 or 5m would probably get me to bite but he would probably be able to command more then that if he got to the open market.

Via Trade:

Jed Lowrie  (27) Boston-

If Boston where to retain Scutaro they may be willing to listen on Lowrie. He triple slash line in almost identical to Barmes but he is considerably worse on defense posting a -4.1 UZR in only 88 games. Frankly, I would rather take my chances with Plouffe turning it around on defense as I think he is capable of matching Lowries output offensively and they are similarly bad on D.

What would it take to get Lowrie?
Since he is still fairly young and cheap he might cost to much anyways for the Twins to bother but since Boston needs starting pitching in a bad way maybe they would be interested in straight up Slowey for Lowerie swap but most likely not. I would not move any of our top 10 prospects for him.

Macier Isturez (31)

I doubt the Angels would deal him but he  has shown in the past that he is capable of playing short and his good eye and OBP skills would be an ideal fit in the bottom of the order or even in the two hole.

What would it take to get Isturez?
I think it would take a descent prospect to get him put not a top 10 type maybe one of our corner OF types like Angel Morales would interest them with the aging combo of Hunter and Wells.

Welcome to The Arm Chair GM...

I love baseball..pure and simple. One of my favorite aspects of baseball  is the way a team is built and how a team is improved wheather through draft, trade, free agent signings, and international free agents. My dream for this blog would be a place why fans who want to find about whats coming up for their team in the future and what my dream for the Twins would be.