Sorry this took so long. Had some other tasks pop up on me in recent days.
Here’s the first part. I’ll try to have Part II ready to go on Monday – in time for you to get to work and continue to be unproductive while reading this blog.
Looking ahead to 2009,(although 08′ isn’t over yet!) what are the key areas the Twins front office needs to address?
Obviously, the FO needs to identify who should be part of the bullpen next year. You can’t just say, `these guys stink and let’s dump them all.”
It’s not unreasonable to think that Pat Neshek comes back in good shape, Jesse Crain is sharper the second season after surgery and Matt Guerrier settles back in his old role. Dennys Reyes is a free agent and is due a huge raise. Don’t laugh – Ron Mahay is making $4 million this year. Will the Twins bring Big Sweat back? Craig Breslow seems like a good second lefty to have around. And I really like what I’ve seen from Jose Mijares. But I think they need one new arm in the bullpen.
The Twins also need to figure out who should be in their outfield in 2009. The emergence of Denard Span has raised the stakes. Michael Cuddyer is a core player and a clubhouse leader. Carlos Gomez has truckloads of talent. Delmon Young will hit a lot of homers in the league, he just needs to refine his approach some.
There’s not enough room for all of them.
Finally, they need to figure out if they want to have a jump ball between Brian Buscher, Luke Hughes and Danny Valencia next year for third base – or swing a deal for an established third baseman (if one is available).
To compliment Milldog’s post above, Howard mentioned in his post that the Twins absolutely need to make a move for a 3rd base power hitter. The money is there and the talent is available. If you agree with this La Velle, who do you think the Twins should be looking at this off-season?
The three names that jump out are Adrian Beltre, Kevin Kouzmanoff and GarretAtkins.
Beltre is the best of the group, and the target of various overtures from the Twins during the season. He’s headed into the final year of his contract – and will be coming off of left shoulder and thumb surgery (the thumb is the worst of the two – a ligament is being replaced). Beltre should be good to go by spring training. But what if he isn’t?
Kouzmanoff has upside, but his strikeouts and walks are ugly. Still, the Pods may try to move him so Chase Headley can play third. Atkins was believed to be a core player, but a recent report suggested that the Rocks may move him during the offseason. His home-road splits scare me. But the Twins have asked about him before.
The Twins would be wise to check in on all three of these players. And while it’s hard to part with a starter during the season, if one of the current starters – maybe not Franchise – have to be part of the package to land one of these players – especially if Beltre is healthy.
Is the bullpen and rotation just worn out? Are they not used to pitching so many innings? And how much do we miss Neshek right now?
Actually, Aaron Gleeman pointed out recently that the starting rotation has averaged about 6 innings an outing, which is better than 2006 and 2007. So the bullpen hasn’t been worn out that much. I think the problem with bullpen has been Matt Guerrier in a tougher role, Pat Neshek being hurt and Jesse Crain in the first year following surgery. I’d still look into getting a proven right-handed set-up man – but it wouldn’t surprise me if the FO stands pat here.
Would you consider voting for Cliff Lee for MVP in a year where the best candidates (Morneau, Hamilton) are on non-playoff teams, and there is no offensive player really having a monster year?
Heh. I think everyone knows how I feel about pitchers winning MVP awards. I could always change my mind…but I haven’t yet. And how far has Lee gotten the Tribe this year?
Read my baseball insider on Sunday for thoughts on the MVP race.
With Yost getting the boot in Milwaukee – should Gardy be a little nervous? *-).
I expect Bill Smith to sit down with Gardy after the season and hammer out a contract extension. Gardy’s moves can be questioned, but I don’t know of a manager who doesn’t have moves questioned.
Rondell White had a couple good months with the Twins before chronic injury. And I remember the confidence Don Baylor gave the Twins. I was hoping that Ruiz would play that kind of role.Why are the Twins reluctant to use him much? He was doing pretty well for a while. He’s just not that good? Hard to believe that since he’s the AAA batting champion.
I’d like to see more of Ruiz. What’s unfortunate is that there was a rush to get Cuddy back on-line once he got healthy, which killed Ruiz’s chances of getting in the lineup during the recent run vs lefties.
Ruiz deserves to be on a major league roster. He’s paid his dues. I just don’t know if this is the right situation. Kubel should DH vs lefties and righties. Ruiz is very bad at first base. I don’t see how he can get 300 at-bats next season. And if he can’t, will he get dull on the bench?
Honestly, what do you think of Gardenhire’s managing late in ballgames, late in the season, or in the playoffs? Basically in any “must win” situations? 5-9 record in September this year, and 6-15 lifetime in the post season… I understand all the cookie cutter answers of how he gets his guys ready to play, knows how to manage these kids, is a players manager, does the best he can with what he’s given, but in all honesty, his teams have had talent and have won 4 division titles, yet have been embarrassed in the playoffs. Does this not point back to the fact that his over matched with his “we’ll get ‘em tomorrow” attitude?
I think the shuffling of roles in the bullpen put Gardy in a no-win situation this season. Honestly, everyone in the bullpen has given up big hits. He gave relievers chances to get hot, and they never did. The FO deserves the blame for not addressing the situation properly.
And, while no one will admit it, they are mentally wrecked. Matt Guerrier has tried so hard to be accountable after outings, but has struggled to put his thoughts into words. I could tell it was eating him up. I was told Joe Nathan sat in the dugout for 45 minutes after Tuesday’s loss to Cleveland. Does the coaching staff deserve blame for not coming up with the right words to straighten them out? The coaches seemed to say a lot of the right things the previous six years, so I don’t know….
As for the postseason, they ran into the Yankees twice, a red hot Angels team once. The second time they faced Oakland, they didn’t have Liriano and sent the skeletal remains of Brad Radke to the mound. When were the Twins the favored team in any of those series?
And do you think our pitching philosophy of pitching to contact is our ndoing at this point?
NOTE: over the course of under four games, we gave up 17 consecutive runs via the home run (on 10 homers). And the only thing that managed to finally endthe long ball pain was the Twins’ other major weakness — defense. (Team defensive efficiency of .694, 20th in baseball.)
I think the undoing was a developing rotation learning tough lessons, a bullpen that became a playpen and offseason acquisitions that led to poor infield defense. The Twins had Brendan Harris at second and Mike Lamb at third to open the season – and Adam Everett had a bad shoulder for most of the season. Some of the pitching problems are understandable. The bullpen needs tweaking. The defense was unacceptable.
Fortunately, there is evidence that the rotation will continue to improve. Slowey, Baker and Franchise look to be the big three of the group. The bullpen needs at least one new arm in addition to Mijares becoming the primary lefty. The Twins need to identify a shortstop. I vote for Casilla at short and Matt Tolbert at second next year, with Nick Punto as a super sub.
Is it just me, or has Joe Nathan gotten a little “Boofy” around the mid section (and neck, and face, and legs…)? Maybe that is why he has sucked for the final push. He is now fat and has no endurance for the end of the season…???
It’s just you. No doubt, it’s just you.
from Fry Dog:
LEN3 – Toronto has a good bullpen and word has it they want to dump BJ Ryan’s salary. Since the Twins are down on payroll, any chance we might trade for BJ as the 8th inning guy? Or, do you think the Jay’s would consider parting with Brandon League? We could use a guy like him that throws mid-upper 90’s for the set up role.
If not Ryan, League…who else is touted as a top-notch 8th inning guy that we might consider trading for?
Fat chance with Ryan. While I think Brandon League has a heck of an arm. He’s had some health issues and his slinging motion suggests more to come.
As for other options, the cost of middle relief has gone up so much that teams are holding onto their good ones as long as they can.
My complaint is that the Twins should have moved Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama through the system quicker. But I think Delaney could be a factor next year.
Why the hell are so many people giving up on the Twins? Are you assuming we’re going to let the Sox walk over us in the Dome next week? I’ll admit things don’t look good right now especially after how we used up our bullpenlast night. But still, making up 2.5 games is still possible. If we beat Lee today we’ll have some momentum going into Tampa Bay, which will be a tough series but I can see the Twins taking 3 out of 4 and then ready to demolish the White Sox. Wishful thinking? Probably. It’s just too soon to give up.
I was ready to throw dirt on the season too, then Alexi Casilla hit that improbable homer last night. Seriously, I was screaming at the TV on that one.
Can’t wait for the White Sox series. The Twins already are getting loads of national media requests for credentials.
Is jedidiah your real name?
a clusterbomb from Dawgzilla:
1) Why don’t we EVER win championships in Minnesota?
Um, the Thunder won it all a few years ago.
2) Why is it that all (exception for Ziggy, new owner of Wild given a pass, being he just bought team) Minnesota owners are tight!
Um, Glen Taylor has tried to spend, just not wisely. And you have to respect the regional economics that are in play.
3) Are you sick of the excuse “small market team”?
It is what it is. But you don’t have to outspend to win. Front offices need to be held accountable for bad moves, like the Ryan Mills- B.J. Garbe -Adam Johnson draft run the Twins went on, or the countless cheap free agents that have flopped – going back to Sean Bergman and Butch Huskey.
4) Will there ever be an athletic administration that cares about athletics at the U., namely the big revenue making football team?
Um, the Gophs cared enough to try to admit a borderline academic case in Marqueis Gray and import JUCO players. Give Dinkytown Tim a couple more years.
5) What are the chances that Brad, I love my West Coast offense and have a man crush on T. Joke., “Chilly” Childress fails to blow up a dynamite/gun powder factory with all the oil from the Middle East and a flamethrower?
I can’t relate to this concept….and T-Jax is now T-Backup.
Could you step into the batter’s box against Mike Herman and get a hit?
Me? The worst athlete EVER from Chicago? I couldn’t hit Molly Gallatin.