Thursday, November 29, 2007

Checking out the Sense of It

Hey, if it doesn't need to make sense for them to publish it, then it sure as heck doesn't need to make sense for us to talk about it.

Some local and national sources reported yesterday that the Twins were talking to the Red Sox about a package of players and prospects for Johan Santana. The lists were remarkably consistent, with both of them reporting that Coco Crisp, Jon Lester and Jed Lowrie were included. They differed in the fourth player, though it hardly matters since they seem to basically be the same guy.

From a Twins fan's perspective, they were also consistent in that neither was nearly a good enough offer. Both substituted quantity for quality. Both plugged holes instead of provided championship caliber players, and they didn't even do that great of a job at plugging holes.

Or at least that was my impression at first glance. But it's fun to get acquainted with these guys, and it might be downright valuable in the near future. So let's get started:

Coco Crisp – Two years ago he was a cheap, 26-year-old center fielder with over 1500 major league at-bats with an above average bat. Now he’s a somewhat fragile 28-year-old center fielder with a below average bat and a two-year, $10.5 million contract.

So what will he be over the next two years? Well, he’s always had speed, providing around 20 stolen bases. He has some power, and can probably be penciled in for at least 10 home runs. His batting eye is pretty good, and the key is for him to hit around .300 like he did in 2004-2005 instead of the .260 he hit in 2006-2007.

To me that adds up to be a hole-filler, not a difference-maker. That’s not terribly unappealing when your other options are Denard Span or Jason Pridie. But nobody should be excited about getting Crisp.

Jon Lester – Well, we know he’s a cancer survivor. That’s important, because he’s quite a bit more valuable to the Twins than if he wasn’t. But other than being a young pitcher (he’s 23), I don’t know that much more about him, other than he’s not Clay Buchholz.

Turns out he’s left-handed, which is awfully nice, and he’s struck out 110 batter in his 144.1 innings in the majors so far, but that’s only been good for a 4.68 ERA. He put up some absolutely obscene numbers in AA-Portland a couple of years ago and has spent a little time in two season in the majors despite his bout with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

He looks like a good young pitcher, possibly as high as a #2 guy. He’s not dissimilar to the cadre of young pitchers the Twins already have.

Jed Lowrie – The hidden player that the Twins are likely quietly lusting for. He’s 23 years old, but he’s also a Stanford alum who exploded through AA-Portland and AAA-Pawtucket last year. He moved from second to shortstop last year, though I haven’t seen any reviews of his defense.

But we know that he can hit. At both levels he hit about .300 and slugged about .500 (though it looks to be mostly doubles). His plate discipline slipped a bit at AAA, but it was still good for a .356 OBP. He only had 160 at-bats at AAA, so he would likely start the year in Rochester and be promoted in mid-June, like the Twins love to do.

Michael Bowden and Justin Masterson – We’ll put these guys together since they’re both pitchers who show promise but haven’t advanced beyond AA. They’re both right-handed, both have high strikeout rates (around 1 per IP) and were both born about the time I was losing my virginity. Hmmm. You know, that's not as depressing a thought as I thought it would be.

So the package includes a not inexpensive plug-in center fielder, a young #2 starter, a middle infielder who could be somewhere between above average and very special in a year, and starting pitcher who will find himself towards the middle of the Twins minor league depth chart.

That's better than I thought, mostly because of Lowrie. But it still means 2008 looks pretty ugly. The offense isn't much different, the pitching is likely worse, and the holes left to fill (particularly third base) can't be easily fixed.

We're beyond the point where where the Twins just need to get talent back. That talent needs to fit together like a big jigsaw puzzle. These rumored deals with the Red Sox doesn't get them there.

BTW, make sure you check out GameDay's Writers' Blog today. We have a special guest. And I don't know if you know it or not, but she's kind of a big deal.

Also, if you think you're getting all the info on the Delmon Young trade or the latest rumors/info about moving Johan, and you're not checking out, I think you're a sad little person. Seriously, I posted the above story last night at 9:00 PM, and I now count twelve posts since then. And it's the middle of the night.

I mean, honestly, you have some certifiable Twins writers out there, some of whom are super-talented like Nick Nelson, and all they ask for is a click or two. What else are you doing exactly?


SoCalTwinsfan said...

I agree. This is not a good deal for the Twins. I wouldn't like it unless Buchholz or Ellsbury was in there instead of Lester or Crisp. I would prefer going to the Angels and asking for Brandon Wood, Reggie Willits and Joe Saunders along with a low-minors guy. Heck, if they could get Ervin Santana or Jered Weaver instead of Saunders, I wouldn't even ask for the fourth guy.

Nick N. said...

some of whom are super-talented like Nick Nelson

Haha, thanks John. You're so sweet.