Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Procrastinatory Notes

I've been procrastinating for several days, but when confronted with blogging or filing my quarterly taxes, blogging is going to come out on top. And so, fueled by the IRS[1] here are random Twins/offseason notes….

Peavish Speculation
When I posted a week ago about the Padres trading Jake Peavy, I only mentioned it as an example of how pitching could be interesting commodity this offseason. Seth took it a step further and wondered if the Twins could/should acquire Peavy, especially because they seem to be some a good fit for a trade. The Padres are looking to acquire young, cheap starting pitchers and a center fielder, and that’s precisely the chips the Twins can most likely afford to trade this winter.

Seth has his own speculation, but a trade of Carlos Gomez, Nick Blackburn, Anthony Swarzak and Trevor Plouffe would provide the Padres a package that includes two MLB player in critical positions, one player with major upside, a near MLB-ready pitcher, and a possible middle infielder for 2010. And it would give the Twins a starting rotation with a ton of upside that is locked up for the next four years. It’s not that crazy.

But it also gets rid of most of the chips that the Twins would use to upgrade their offense and specifically the left side of their infield. They can probably get by with another year or two from Nick Punto at shortstop[2], but the question is whether they want to patch 3B with Brian Buscher and Brandon Harris next year. Or whether they would feel more comfortable trading another young pitcher to help fill that, and import one veteran pitcher into the rotation.

The Minnesotan[3] in me says there is no way this happens. And to be honest, I’m not sure I want it to happen, especially given Peavy’s late-season injury. But it’s intriguing, and I’d applaud it if it does happen, just for the high-reward aspect it encompasses.

The Veteran Pitcher
So who will the veteran pitcher be, and when will they sign him? I’m going with 1/20 and Mike Hampton. You’re picks are welcome in the comments below. I’ll even give you a list, courtesy of an excellent analysis by Matthew Pouliot at Rotoworld:

Randy Wolf (Astros)
Kenny Rogers (Tigers)
Livan Hernandez (Rockies)
Orlando Hernandez (Mets)
Mark Prior (Padres)
Odalis Perez (Nationals)
Jason Jennings (Rangers)
Mark Hendrickson (Marlins)
John Patterson (FA)
Jon Lieber (Cubs)
Brett Tomko (FA)
Shawn Chacon (FA)
Josh Fogg (Reds)
Sidney Ponson (Yankees)
Claudio Vargas (Mets)
Tony Armas Jr. (Mets)
Jeff Weaver (Indians)
Shawn Estes (Padres)
Esteban Loaiza (FA)
Mark Redman (Rockies)
Josh Towers (FA)
Victor Zambrano (Yankees)
Kris Benson (FA)
Matt Clement (FA)
Glendon Rusch (Rockies)
Eric Milton (Yankees)
Justin Germano (Padres)
Steve Trachsel (FA)
Mike Maroth (FA)
Russ Ortiz (FA)
Kyle Snyder (Red Sox)
Jason Johnson (Dodgers)
Runelvys Hernandez (Astros)
Matt Ginter (Indians)
Mike Hampton (Braves)
Carl Pavano (Yankees)
John Smoltz(Braves)
Mark Mulder (Cardinals)

Ellis’ Contract
Second baseman Mark Ellis decided to stay with the Oakland A’s for at least the next two years when he signed a 2-year contract for $11 million yesterday. So what does this mean for Twins fans? It means they need to start managing their expectations.

Ellis is hurt, and he’s been battling a shoulder injury that made any multi-year deal a question mark. He’s just 31, but he had a crummy year in 2008, batting .233/.321/.373. In fact, he’s been sandwiching crummy years with very good years since 2003. And he’s been injured a lot, averaging about 130 games a season.

And yet, there is little argument that he is[4] the second best free agent second baseman on the market this year. The top guy is Orlando Hudson, and he’s hardly a premier player and he only stayed healthy for 407 at-bats last year. And you can argue that second base is a deeper position than third base.

Which is all just evidence that outside of pitching, the free agent market is very thin this year. If the Twins are going to make a big splash, it likely isn’t going to be with a free agent signing, even with all the payroll room they have. It’s going to need to be in a trade. And that likely will mean giving up one of the bats or arms we would like to have deemed “untouchable”. There just aren’t many other options.


[1] The hardest working, most patriotic agency in this great country!
[2] Though, to be honest, I’m a little worried about Punto’s defense. I know, I know – I’ve seen the highlights. I’ve also seen an awful lot of groundballs scoot between 3B and SS last year. I’m not raising a red flag, just something to collectively keep our eye on next year.
[3] As opposed to the Minnesotan on the outside of me.
[4] Er, was


Topper said...

For some reason, Kenny Rogers sticks out to me on that veteran pitcher list. Not necessarily that he'd be the best choice, but that the Twins had him once and might be willing to bring him into the fold again for a year.

Wasn't Jason Jennings a trade prospect for us at one point when he was with the Rockies before the Astros sold the farm for him in a stupid trade? I'd be interested in taking a flier on him and seeing what Andy can do with that arm.

Maybe a couple minor league deals for guys like Tomko, Maroth, Loaiza or the once promising and always disappointing Pavano. There's always a chance one of them could shine for awhile.

thrylos98 said...

This is a great post. I think that the Ellis' contract pretty much dismissed any probability for the Twins to re-sign Punto this offseason. I do like the idea of a veteran pitcher (I wrote about it last week), but my #1 and #2 targets would be 2 players not mentioned in the list: Pedro Martinez and Jamie Moyer. Pedro pitched last year better than his slash numbers indicate (hitter's hit only .176 off his curve -which is insane-) but he had location problems with his fastball, probably because of his shoulder issues early and hamstring issues late (see Liriano, Fransisco). With a good offseason and rest he would be a steal. And who would not like a first ballot HOFer in the team?

TT said...

If the Twins go after a veteran pitcher it is going to be someone who is all but certain to be as good or better than at least one of the young pitchers on the staff. I think that means a staff ace, not a back of the rotation guy. Its possible they will take a flyer on signing a high risk/ high rewards guy to compete in spring training. But we are not going to see a Livan Hernandez type signing this year.