Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Twins Who Deserve A Look At A Long Term Deal

A look at five Twins who the team should consider giving a long term deal. They all have their own speerate reasons for why they are in the discussion, from lack of better options to actually deserving the deal.

Jared Burton
     After signing with the Minnesota Twins in the offseason as a minor league free agent, Jared Burton quickly worked his way onto the big club, and almost as quickly worked his way into the right handed set-up role. Since Matt Capps became injured, Jared Burton has been splitting time between closer and main set-up man with Glen Perkins. The arguement could be made of Jared Burton being the Twins best relief option this year, but he is definitely in the top two. With the Twins having a lot of medicore right handed options in the bullpen, the Twins would probably be helped by locking Burton up to a decent length contract. Since he is a reliever they shouldn't go with too long of a deal, but a deal similar to the one Glen Perkins signed would be a good starting block.

Scott Diamond
      Scott Diamond maybe the Twins best pitcher this year, and has been by far the Twins best starting pitcher. With the starting rotation appearing to have no "for sure" internal options for next season besides Scott Diamond, and the options internally for future years still looking pretty thin, the Twins maybe should try to lock Scott Diamond up as soon as possible. The Twins do have a little more time to think about Scott Diamond, but if they want to keep the payroll down, they are going to have to take some risks on longer term deals when players are young.

Brian Duensing
     Brian Duensing has been thrown back and forth between the starting rotation and a guy brought out of the bullpen to get lefties out. He has done well at starting at times, but his best value is as the lefty specialist, as he really excels in this role. If Brian Duensing is moved back to the bullpen it will allow for Glen Perkins to be the closer, and set up a nice end of the game trio with Perkins, Burton, and Duensing. Brian Duensing's deal would be worth slightly less money, but as a guy to come in a pitch against lefties he can be devastating.

Trevor Plouffe
      Although his recent struggle are a great example of the risks which come along with giving out a long term deal, the Minnesota Twins should still have talks about giving Trevor Plouffe a long term deal. The Twins could use another player in their line-up besides just Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau who could put the ball in the seats at any time, especially one who could do it from the right side of the plate. Also, even though his defense hasn't been great, he has shown he has the tools to be a good third baseman, if given time and taking his at-bats out to the field a little less. The Twins should not get crazy in any deal given to Plouffe at this time, but if the price and the years are right, the Twins should consider a longer term deal.

Ben Revere
       Ben Revere is a player the Twins should wait and see on, especially with the outfield prospects and possible surplus the Twins are going to have in future years. The reason he is included on this list is because if the Twins trade Denard Span and/or Josh Willingham it means the Twins are committing more to Ben Revere. Another reason to consider him is because he is in the top ten in the American League for Batting Average. Ben Revere likely will not see a long term deal coming his way, but the Twins have always seemed to like him more than most other people, and it has paid off so far, so don't be surprised to see him get one.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Which Pitchers On The Twins Roster Deserve A Chance Next Year

      The Twins obviously need to do something with their starting rotation next year, and maybe need to make a few adjustments to their bullpen too. Here is a look at which pitchers the Twins should have on their big club next year for sure, who should get a look at the big club or be on the radar in the minors, who should be evaluated after they recover from injury, and who the Twins should just let go. Keep in mind this is for the start of 2013, there maybe some pitchers in lower levels of the minors right now who could work their way up toward the middle or end of the 2013 season.

The pitchers would the Twins should have penciled into their 25 man roster for 2013

Jared Burton
    Terry Ryan worked his bullpen magic in his first year back, finding multiple pitchers who have been a surprise, but none have been as good as Jared Burton. He has been a great right handed set up man and at times and has closed games out. Luckily he is under team control for at least another year.

Scott Diamond
    There have been many plays off of his last name, my favorite being a Diamond in the rough, but regardless of which you like he has been truly impressive this year. He should come into next season with a starting spot locked down, and he should be the only Twin starting pitcher on the current roster who should have a guaranteed spot.

Brian Duensing
    The Twins have had him roam back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen, and part of the problem is the Twins starters have been bad enough they have needed to move Duensing into the rotation, but to use the Duensing most effectively the Twins should put him in the bullpen and leave him in the bullpen, especially if Perkins is going to become the closer.

Glen Perkins
    He has been probably the Twins best bullpen pitcher throughout the year, and has done well when he has been asked to close games out. The Twins should have Perkins named written down in the bullpen for next year, the only question is whether it is as the closer or set-up man.

The pitchers who the Twins would be best parting ways with

Nick Blackburn
     If it was as easy as saying goodbye Blackburn would have been gone a long time ago, but with his contract he just keeps looming around. The Twins need to decide even though they will be paying him not to pitch, it is still better than having him pitch. He has struggled mightily and the Twins need to move in a different direction. It is sad because when Blackburn is on he can be very fun to watch. The problem is with Blackburn the explosion could happen at anytime of the game to any part of the order.

Jeff Gray
     Although he is 6-1 on the season, he has pitched a lot worse than his record shows. He has been one of the worst pitchers coming out of the Twins bullpen, and it is surprising the Twins have kept him around all of this season. He has never posted a WHIP under 1.5, his K/BB ratio is about 1, and he has a ERA 5.20. The Twins have better and younger options with more potential who could probably put up just as good of numbers.

The pitchers who the Twins need to re-evaluate after they recover from injury

Scott Baker
     If this was purely a talent decision the Twins would clearly want to bring Baker back, but since he is on an option and will not be ready by the beginning of the year, the Twins will need to decide to take one of three routes: 1 pick up his option, 2 decline his option and let him walk, 3 work out a settlement for a new deal with incentives and less of a base salary. It will come down to what the Twins think he can produce once he can come back and where they expect the team to be when he is able to come back.

Matt Capps
     Matt Capps also has a 2013 option, and if he had been healthy most of the year, the Twins would probably have picked it up. Although he is not a fan favorite, the Twins need to first decide if they do bring him back if he would be the closer or set-up man, and then decide if he is worth the salary of his option. If the Twins think he can stay healthy they should bring him back.

Kyle Gibson
     Kyle Gibson was touted as a potential ace and savior by some people before his injury, even though it was a little too much hype, he does have the potential to be a front of the line starter. If he can recover from the Tommy John, which it has looked as if he is doing well in the rehab process, the Twins should have a starter by mid summer, if not by opening day.

Carlos Gutierrez
      Although he would not answer the starting pitcher problems, if he could come back from injury and be effective, he maybe a candidate for the bullpen next year. Expect the Twins to at least give him some looks in spring training next year.

Lester Oliveros
      The return in the Delmon Young trade is a hard thrower who had looked good until he got hurt. Lester Oliveros is also a reliever, but he should also get some look from the Twins in spring training if he returns to action healthy.

Carl Pavano
       Although many people would say he should be in the get rid of category, if the Twins are not going to throw around big money at starting pitchers, they are going to need to piece together a rotation somehow, and before this season Carl Pavano has been reliable. Hopefully the Twins step up to the plate and spend some money on starting pitchers, but if they don't, don't be surprised to see ol' Carl back on the mound.

Anthony Swarzak
        He has returned from injury and pitched for the Twins, but the Twins should given him the rest of the season as a tryout to figure out what exactly Swarzak is. He could be the long guy with the occasional spot start, a starting pitchers, or can he move into a set-up role. It doesn't appear the Twins are overly sure in what they have with Swarzak, so they need to figure out the rest of this season so they know where to slate him next year, if anywhere.

PJ Walters
       PJ Walters tried to follow Scott Diamond in the path of being a fill-in call up, but doing good enough to stick around, and he looked as if he was going to do just that, until injury also struck him. The injury came at probably the worst time, as the Twins would likely want someone better than Walters to start next season, but they will give him a chance due to the success he did have this year.

The pitchers the Twins should give a look

Alex Burnett
     It seems as if Alex Burnett has been around forever, but he is only 25 years old. The problem is he doesn't seem like he has gotten any better in his times in the major leagues, and even though at times he has been used as a set-up man, he is best served in earlier innings or not in the majors.

Cole De Vries
      When he first came up it did not seem as if Cole De Vries had much of a chance of sticking around for very long, but he has been the Twins best starting pitcher besides Scott Diamond. The question is with how bad the Twins starting pitching has been, does the second best starter on the staff even deserve to be a Major League pitcher.

Samuel Deduno
      How Samuel Deduno has been effective is anyone's guess, but he has been. The high number of walks issued, and the fact he is rather old for how much experience he has points to a decline coming soon. If the Twins could figure out how to get him to throw some more strikes with his stuff, they may have found a gem, but it is unlikely and Deduno will probably not last very long.

Casey Fien
      Thrown into the bullpen because of injuries and relievers getting stretched out into starters, Casey Fien has gotten a chance with the Twins this year. He will probably never be very good in the Majors, but he could hold his own as a early innings pitcher. The problem is the Twins already have quite a few of these.

Deolis Guerra
       Deolis Guerra has always had an okay WHIP and about two strikeouts to walks in the minor leagues, but he has always seemed to have a high ERA in comparison. He will probably get a look from the Minnesota Twins, but don't expect much out of him.

Liam Hendriks
        Liam Hendriks is rather interesting in terms of how extreme the differences his numbers in the Minor Leagues compared to how how he has done in the Major Leagues are. The Twins will probably call him up at some point this year, and he should get a chance and maybe even a spot in the rotation. If he can start to pitch in the big leagues like he has in the minors, the Twins starters are already in a better position than they were this year.

Jeff Manship
      He is another pitcher who the Twins have had go up and down many times the last couple of years and has just never seemed to find his spot on the big club. He has done okay with the Twins, but he also had many chances to stick around and has not really taken advantage of any.

Luis Perdomo
     He got six innings for the Twins this year, and did not do much to impress. He will never be great, and in the ideal world, the Twins would probably never have him pitch again, but he is good enough to be a fringe Major Leaguer so don't be surprised if the Twins lose more pitchers to injury that you see Perdomo back again.

Tyler Robertson
      When Tyler Robertson stand on the mound he looks a lot more intimidating than when his stats are shown. He is a perfect example of a pitcher making the Major Leagues because they throw with their left hand. He could work his way to a decent Lefty Specialist.

Anthony Slama
      One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Twins is Anthony Slama. He has been very good in the Minor Leagues, and even at times he has been dominant. Despite his dominance the Twins have never really given Slama a chance in the Major Leagues.

Kyle Waldrop
      A true sinker baller, Kyle Waldrop looks like he is on the verge of getting a Major League chance, and possibly even could turn into a setup role. He could strikeout a few more batters if he was going to be a dominant pitcher, but he looks as if he is ready to get the job done.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Which Positions Need An Upgrade Next Year

For most Major League baseball teams the way to evaluate which positions need an upgrade would probably be to look at the nine positions individually, but with the Minnesota Twins grouping a couple positions together will be necessary, due to the versatility of Ryan Doumit, the need to give Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham rest at DH, Joe Mauer's inability to be a full time catcher, and middle infielders who can play multiple positions.

The positions the Twins are solid at: C/1B/LF/CF/DH

The only position in this group consistently played by one person is CF, which is of course played by Denard Span. Since returning from his concussion and being able to play everyday this year he has shown why the Twins gave him the contract they did. He plays great defense, due to being very good at reading the ball off the bat, and a very good lead off hitter due to his ability to get on base and steal a few bases. At an affordable contract, and the fact they did not trade him at the deadline it looks as if the Twins might have center field locked down for next year. The other four positions will probably be played by only four players on a consistent basis, it is just those four players will rotate around between the four positions. The four players are Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Josh Willingham, and Ryan Doumit. Joe Mauer will play catcher, first base, and DH. Justin Morneau will play first base and DH. Josh Willingham will play left field and DH. Ryan Doumit will possibly play all four, but likely not much first base. These four players will also be the heart of the batting order. The only possible problem to this scenario is if the Twins look to trade Justin Morneau, but if they do this, then Chris Parmelee steps into his spot.

The positions the Twins look solid at, but probably need a little more time to decide: 3B/RF

This season it looks as if the Twins have possibly found long term solutions at both right field and third base, with Ben Revere and Trevor Plouffe, but both still have questions marks. Plouffe has made a nice adjustment to playing third, and not bringing his throwing problems from shortstop over to third. The question surrounding Plouffe is whether he can keep up his hot hitting, or whether he will hit more like he did at the beginning of the season. Ben Revere is not the prototypical right fielder, but he has covered more ground than probably any other right fielder in the league. His arm is still going to hurt, but his range makes up for it. The questions surrounding Revere is of course his arm, but also whether or not he will be able to keep hitting for such an high average, since he does not draw many walks. If Plouffe can keep driving the ball and have an average around .270 and Revere can either maintain his high average or find a way to draw a few more walks, the Twins should be fine at right field and third base also.

The positions the Twins need to look to upgrade or internal players need to step up at: 2B/SS

Take a look at the internal options for the Twins for the middle infield positions next year: Brian Dozier, Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, Eduardo Escobar, Pedro Florimon, Ray Chang, Estarlin De Los Santos and Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Do any of these players deserve to have a starting job in the Majors? The only ones who maybe deserve consideration at this point are Brian Dozier, Jamey Carroll, and Alexi Casilla. The Twins have tried again and again to give Alexi Casilla a starting job and it just hasn't worked out. The Twins probably need to move on from trying Alexi Casilla as a starter. Jamey Carroll has been a decent player for the Twins this year, but he is probably best suited as a bench player also. Brian Dozier was the Twins Minor League Player of the Year in 2011, but has struggled a lot in the Majors in 2012. He will probably be given one of the starting spots for the Minnesota Twins in 2013, but he is still a question mark. A middle infield of Brian Dozier and Jamey Carroll could work, but it is not overly promising. The Twins should look to improve at one of the two positions if not both. If they sign one infielder they should move Jamey Carroll to the bench and if they sign two they should give Brian Dozier more time in Triple A

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Friday, August 10, 2012

A Recap of Minnesota Twins Starters This Season

      The Twins have used eleven starting pitchers this year. The starting pitching has been the downfall for this team. Here is a look at how the Twins got each of their starters, why they are starting, and why they are no longer starting if they are not anymore.

Nick Blackburn(17 games started)

     Nick Blackburn was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2001 and signed with the team in 2002. He worked his way through the system, even being named the Twins number one prospect in 2007 by Baseball America. After being a succesful back of the rotation starter for a couple years the Twins signed him to a four year contract entering the 2010 season. Since then Nick Blackburn has spent time in the rotation, bullpen, and Triple A. This year has been just as unsuccessful as the previous two, with Blackburn being sent down to Triple A at one point. If the Twins had a good or healthy rotation, he may have never made it back. Since he has returned he has looked slightly better, but with his stuff he is always suspect to a big inning. His contract maybe the only thing keeping him around.

Scott Diamond(17)

     Scott Diamond has been one of the few bright spots in the Minnesota Twins rotation this year. He was drafted in the 2010 Rule 5 draft by the Twins, and later a trade being made so the Twins could keep him, but send him down to Triple A. He did not show a lot of promise in his starts in 2011, but when he got his chance in 2012 he came back throwing more strikes and being much more effective. He has already reached ten wins in just 17 starts with an ERA of 2.91.

Francisco Liriano(17)

     Francisco Liriano was acquired by the Twins in the famous AJ Pierzynski deal. His time with the Twins can be summed up by calling it frustrating. This year was no different. Being in a contract year there was some high hopes Liriano would be good this year, but those high hopes turned into a high ERA, and eventually a demotion to the bullpen. Once he was returned to the rotation, in true Liriano form, he impressed. He did well enough the Twins were able to trade him, although the return may not have been much at all. It appeared as if the Twins were just ready to turn the chapter.

Carl Pavano(11)

      Carl Pavano's year has been both frustrating and confusing. After the Twins traded for him during the 2010 season, he signed a 2 year deal to come back for 2011 and 2012. He started out this season not being overly effective, and it eventually came out he was trying to pitch through a shoulder issue. Finally the Twins decided to sit him down on June 4th. He had no surgery just rehab, but has still yet to make it back due to multiple setbacks.

Cole De Vries(11)

      Cole De Vries is a Minnesota native, and signed with the Twins as a undrafted free agent in 2006. When watching Cole De Vries pitch it makes you wonder how he gets anyone out, but somehow through eleven starts he has been able to keep his ERA under 4(3.81) and has a WHIP of 1.12. He has also led the Twins in K/9. It will be interesting to see if Cole De Vries can keep it up, as many people are skeptical of his success so far.

Liam Hendriks(8)

      Liam Hendriks signed with the Minnesota Twins as an undrafted free agent in 2007, and has done very well working his way up through the Minor Leagues, even earning the honor of Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011. Liam Hendriks has had trouble translating Minor League success into Major League success though. He has allowed too many base runners, and complied a 0-5 record in only eight starts.

Brian Duensing(7)

      Brian Duensing was drafted by the Twins in 2005. In his career he has started and pitched in relief. This year he started as a relief pitcher, but was transitioned into a start when the rest of the starters were either hurt or ineffective.He has been more effective as a relief pitcher, since he often does not throw more than his fastball and slider. When he does mix up his pitches he is effective as a starter.

Jason Marquis(7)

     Jason Marquis was a big off-season signing for the Twins at 3 million for one year. To say his time with the Minnesota Twins was a train wreck might be understating how bad it actually was. He finished with a 8.47 ERA and a WHIP close to 2 before the Twins finally released him.

PJ Walters(7)

     PJ Walters was signed as a Minor League free agent before the 2012 season. He started the season in the minors for the Twins, but like so many other starters got his chance due to injury or ineffectiveness. He pitched in seven games before the injury bug also bit him, and has yet to return to the Majors yet. His numbers in his seven starts were mediocre, with a 1.53 WHIP and 5.40 ERA.

Samuel Deduno(6)

     Samuel Deduno was also signed as a Minor League free agent before the 2012 season. Samuel Deduno's pitching style appears to be to just throw the ball with no clue where it is going and live with the results. In his six starts with the Twins the approach has been successful in terms of winning, with a record of 3-0. In terms of other numbers, he has been successful but not quite as much, with a 3.27 and 1.58 WHIP.

 Anthony Swarzak(4)

     Anthony Swarzak was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2004. His time with the big club the last two years has been as a swing man. This year he had been better as a reliever, as his starts had not gone overly well. He is out with an injury now. He can be good for a spot start, but is probably better left in the bullpen.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Can Nishi be a Major League Baseball player?

       The question of whether or not Tsuyoshi Nishioka can be a Major League Baseball player is an interesting debate, with many people being on one side of the spectrum. The obvious answer is yes, because he is right now. Sorry, but someone had to make the smart remark to the question so I am just beating them to it. To answer the real question lets take a look at some numbers to support each side of the question, and add in some opinions to come up with a solid answer.

The Argument for the answer NO

      This is the easy argument, and if you want to see why go look at any message board about Tsuyoshi Nishioka. In his one year in the Major Leagues he had a triple slash of .226/.278/.249, which Joe Mauer maybe able to produced if you made him hit right-handed. On defense he looked lost at shortstop and second base, frequently having bad foot work, and when he did field the ball, not always knowing what to do with it. In the minors this year he still only produced a triple slash of .245/.309/.301, so although better than what he did in the Majors the year before it is still nothing to brag about. Also he still had nine errors in only 84 games.

The Argument for the Answer YES

      One big reason for the answer of yes, even though it is an extremely bad and unfair reason, is the money the Twins have invested into Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Another reason to believe in him is because in his final year in Japan before coming over he had a triple slash of .346/.423/.482, and if you took 50 points off of each of those he would still be a serviceable Major League player. Also a reason for hope Tsuyoshi Nishioka has turned the corner is his Triple A hitting coach Tom Brunansky has made adjustments to his swing which have seemed to help, as his numbers have steadily in the minors after a horrendous start. Finally a reason to believe in Tsuyoshi Nishioka is the confidence his Triple A manager showed in him, and the Minnesota Twins have showed in him by calling him back up.

The Final Decision

      After debating both sides of answering the question "Can Nishi be a Major League Baseball player" the answer should be yes, as a bench/role player, but with his lack of ability to show improvement in defense it is hard to keep a singles hitting, weak fielding middle infielder as a bench player. Tsuyoshi Nishioka will have to make vast improvements to both his hitting and fielding to be a Major League player, because right now he does not have a strength which can be used by a big league club. He will be a Major League player for probably most of the rest of this season since the Twins are not going to make the play-offs and they need to see if they can use him at all next, but the answer to the question should be NO.

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