It’s no secret that the Minnesota Twins’ pitching staff is having a horrendous season. Their 4.69 FIP is last in the American League and is only ahead of the Colorado Rockies 4.70 FIP. Overall there isn’t much to be excited about when a Twins pitcher takes the mound. Recently that has changed though. In 2010 the Twins selected starting pitcher, Scott Diamond. Diamond was with the Braves at the time of his selection. As spring training was coming to a close the Twins traded relief pitcher Billy Bullock to Atlanta, and that allowed them to send Diamond to the minors. Diamond struggled in the seven games he started last year, but this year has been a whole different story. (more…)
In the summer of 2010 Justin Morneau was on his way to another MVP season, posting 5 WAR by July. During a game against the Blue Jays that all changed, when he got kneed in the head by Toronto infielder John McDonald. He didn’t play again that season, and hadn’t been the same since. This year it looks as if that maybe has changed.
The Minnesota Twins are coming off one of their worst seasons in franchise history. They had problems everywhere, whether it be the horrid pitching staff or the atrocious batting. Mauer and Morneau struggled with injuries for most of, if not all of the season. They had some of their minor league talent give a glimpse of the future towards the end of the season, though.
Joe Mauer is widely regarded as one of the games best catcher in all of baseball. Just how good is he though? In this post I am going to see how Mauer stacks up against some of the greatest catchers to ever play the game.
When Joe Mauer attended Cretin Derham High School in St. Paul, Minnesota he was widely regarded as a three sport star. He was the quarterback for the varsity team, played varsity basketball as a sophomore and was also a pretty good baseball player. During the 2001 draft the Twins had the first pick and were debating between hometown hero Joe Mauer and a pitcher out of USC named Mark Prior. Prior told the Twins he didn’t want to sign with them and the rest is history.
One of the most enigmatic pitchers in the game had a season he’d like to forget in 2011. Francisco Liriano posted an ugly 5.09 ERA, and his 4.54 FIP and 4.53 SIERA showed the ERA was fairly deserved. He had one shining moment, a no-hitter on May 3. However, his 6 BB, 2 K performance was good for a 6.12 xFIP, one of, if not, the worst no-hitters of all-time. Nearly every statistic declined for Liriano last year, so I hope you have some time on your hands. (more…)
The Minnesota Twins finalized a 3 year, $21 million dollar deal with outfielder Josh Willingham today, meaning that the Michael Cuddyer era is all but over in Minnesota. The Twins offer to Willingham was roughly $3 million dollars cheaper overall than the offer the Twins submitted to Cuddyer. Cuddyer was the longest tenured Twin but baseball is a business and in the end Willingham was the cheaper (and better) option. During the past three season Willingham has actually been the better player as well as the more valuable player even though he has roughly 400 less at-bats since 2009.
As you can see, Willingham has the advantage in every one of these statistical categories. He has much more power than Cuddyer while getting on-base at an impressive .360 clip. According to park factors the Coliseum makes it 20% harder for right handed hitters to hit home runs compared to league average, making Willingham’s power numbers even more impressive last year. Willingham is also producing offensively 11% better than Cuddyer over that span. Both of them are ok defenders, slightly below league average but not much. If anything Cuddyer might have the stronger arm.
Willingham’s contract on the other hand is pretty team friendly. For $7 million dollars a year he needs to average less than 2 WAR, that shouldn’t be a problem given his past success. If he can average between 2.5 and 1.5 WAR during his contract he should be able to give the Twins roughly $28.14 million dollars in value. Moving from Oakland to Minnesota should be a big help in achieving that goal.
By not signing Cuddyer and signing Willingham the Twins also got two compensation picks when Cuddyer signed a 3 year deal with the Colorado Rockies. The Twins aren’t really in re-build mode but when you can get two picks you take it.
Overall, I like this deal a lot for the Twins. They get a power hitting right-handed bat to hit behind Mauer and Morneau and they get him at the right price. If he can stay healthy and produce some pop than the Twins should be very pleased with this deal.
Today it was announced that the Minnesota Twins and free agent Ryan Doumit came to terms to a one year, three million dollar deal. Doumit can play a variety of positions. He can catch, play first, play the outfield and DH. Doumit will be able to give Morneau and Mauer days off during the the season or fill be able to fill in for someone if an injury occurs.
Doumit is known more for his offense rather then his defense. The Twins didn’t sign him for his defense but going to the AL which has the DH should help give him a little boost in the offensive category. The Twins will take all of the offensive help they can get. Besides Joe Mauer the Twins got awful production from their catchers last year.
Doumit out produced Drew Butera and Rene Rivera in K%, BB/K, OBP, SLG, OPS, ISO, BABIP, wRAA, wOBA and wRC+. If you look at this table you’ll be able to see that Doumit destroyed those categories. Rivera and Butera were really pathetic.
|Ryan Doumit||Pirates||236||6.8 %||14.8 %||0.46||.303||.353||.477||.830||.174||.331||8.3||.360||129|
|Drew Butera||Twins||254||4.3 %||16.5 %||0.26||.167||.210||.239||.449||.073||.194||-23.0||.202||20|
|Rene Rivera||Twins||114||7.0 %||28.1 %||0.25||.144||.211||.202||.412||.058||.194||-11.2||.192||13|
For his career Doumit has been a solid player when healthy. He has decent power, posting a .174 ISO. He does a good job at getting on base, his career OBP is .334. His 104 wRC+ is slightly above league average but Doumit is a slightly above league average player. Like I stated earlier he isn’t a good defensive player but makes up for it offensively. Doumit should be able to put up at least 2 WAR this season giving the Twins $10 million dollars of value. If Doumit can come into Minnesota and do what he’s good at which is getting on base, hitting for some power and being a versatile player then Minnesota got a good deal.
So far I’ve liked what the Twins have done this off-season. They got a quality shortstop in Jamey Carroll and a solid versatile offensive player in Ryan Doumit. With about $20 million dollars left to spend they should be able to at least get an outfielder and a decent pitcher.
After signing SS/2B Jeremy Carroll to a two year deal the Twins now need to make a trade for Atlanta Braves 2B/3B Martin Prado. The Twins were decimated with injuries last season and suffered from poor play in the infield, particularly the middle infield. He may not be the prototypical Minnesota infielder but he can make the team much better by being put into their offense.
Last year the Twins got horrible production from second base. From second base they got a .287 OBP and a total of 1.3 WAR which is pretty pathetic. Prado would add a nice right handed bat to the line-up sliding either behind Justin Morneau or behind Denard Span, he wouldn’t contribute much defensively though. Before last year Prado put up WARs of 4.4 and 3.2 showing that last year was most likely a fluke. Prado did have a down year but that was mainly due to a case of bad luck. His slash line last year was .260/.302/.385 and his power seemingly went away, he only had a .125 ISO compared to his .141 career ISO. His .296 wOBA was also well below his .337 career wOBA. Compared to his career BABIP of .315 last year’s .266 was a dissapointment. The .049 differential is pretty significant and he should see that climb.
Normally Prado is a pretty good line drive hitter but last year he really struggled with hitting line drives. His career LD% is 18.9% and last year it was only 14.6%. Those line drives turned into ground balls and flyballs. His GB% increased 2.3%, going from 48.5% to 50.8% and his FB% went from 30.5 % to 34.6%.
Let’s take a look at what Prado could do next season assuming his BABIP returns to his career average or close to it with this spreadsheet that I made.
xBABIP has him returning to his normal BABIP of .315 making a bounce back season all the more likely. xAVG, xOBP and xSLG have him at .303/.343/.428 putting him at the production he was giving in 2010.
Financially Prado is projected to make $4.4 million dollars next season and for what he can do that’s not very expensive at all. The next two seasons Prado should be able to produce WARs of 3 and 3.5 respectively making him worth $32.5 million dollars in value. For what he’s getting paid he’d be a steal. Prado wouldn’t be too expensive, probably costing a tier two prospect and possibly a tier three. With only $7.9 million tied up with Carroll and Prado Minnesota would still have a little over $20 million dollars to sign a back-up catcher, outfielder and possibly two pitchers.
In the end, if Minnesota can get Martin Prado, possibly with a package involving one of their outfield prospects they should pull the trigger. xBABIP shows that Prado should make a comeback and if Minnesota can get him when his value is low they need to do it.
The Minnesota Twins and Jamey Carroll are close to agreeing to a multi-year deal. Full details haven’t been given yet but I imagine it won’t be more then $2-4 million annually. If/when the deal happens I actually like this for Minnesota. Carroll would start at shortstop right away and with Nishioka’a struggles last year it would be a nice upgrade. Jamey Carroll doesn’t have any power, totaling 12 home runs in 11 years but does other things very well.
Carroll is a better ball player then he gets credit for. Last year he posted 2.2 WAR. He does have a 3.1 WAR season to his credit as well a 2.5 WAR season which he posted in 2010. Carroll does a good job on getting on base, last season he posted a .359 OBP and a .321 wOBA. For his career he has a .356 OBP and .318 wOBA. He has a good eye at the plate, walking 9.9% of the time for his career and striking out only 13.9% of the time. He even has some speed, stealing 10 bases last year.
Last season his BABIP was .332 in comparison to his career BABIP is .325 so it wasn’t too far off his career average. xBABIP says that Carroll will post a .331 xBABIP next season meaning he should have a pretty similar season.
He’s also a solid defender, he has a career total 16.4 UZR. If he can be a slightly above average defender for Minnesota they can easily get their money’s worth throughout the life of the deal.
I suspect Carroll will post WARs of 2.0 and 1.5 assuming it’s a 2 year deal. That means Carroll should be worth roughly $17.5 million dollars. Not bad for a deal that shouldn’t be more then $6 million. Carroll does turn 38 in February but he’s still a nice player to have.
It’s that time of year again. Teams lose guys to free agency, sign guys to fill holes and trade for players. The Minnesota Twins could be doing all of that. The three main players the Twins are losing in free agency are Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Joe Nathan. All together the Twins will have roughly $35 million dollars to spend this off-season. That money needs to be spent on at least one starting pitcher, a catcher, a reliever or two and an outfielder. If there is money left over it could go to a third basemen.
Minnesota’s pitching this past season was abysmal. As a staff they had a 4.30 FIP and a 4.33 xFIP. They only struck out 5.95 K/9 but only walked 3.04, which isn’t awful. Their 1.02 HR/9 was the sixth worst in baseball. Target Field is regarded as a pitcher’s park making 1.02 HR/9 all the more worse. Brian Duensing doesn’t cut it as a starter. He’s much better used when coming out of the bull-pen and when used as a spot starter. After having such a good 2010 season Liriano struggled mightily during the 2011 campaign.
As you can see his BB/9 increased almost three walks which is a big problem. His K/9 went down two which is another problem. In 2010 Liriano was getting a lot of ground balls, this past season that went down 5%. His decrease in ground balls lead to more fly balls, something that contributes to more home runs. Two seasons ago Liriano was doing a terrific job at getting first pitch strikes but really struggled with that this past season. Liriano needs to get back to his ’10 performance if the Twins’ want to have a much better rotation.
The rest of the Twins’ rotation is decent at best. Blackburn is inconsistent, Pavano is a solid number 3 as is Baker. The Twins won’t be signing C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish but three pitchers that they could possibly take a look at are Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland or Edwin Jackson. None of these are number one guys but all are solid. Edwin Jackson may be inconsistent at times but he started doing much better when he got dealt to St. Louis. He ended the season with a 3.73 xFIP. Buehrle is a guy I’d like to see come to Minnesota but I’m not sure if he’ll leave Chicago. Jon Garland is another solid pitcher but he isn’t a number one or two or three. He had his struggles in the National League but was much better when he was with the Chicago White Sox. Ideally it’d be nice if the Twins made a splash by signing C.J. Wilson or making a trade but that most likely won’t happen. On the bright side they have the number two pick in the draft so maybe they can find a nice pitcher.
The bull-pen was awful. Just awful. Guys were either hurt or underperforming. Some guys they could possibly look at are Joel Zumaya, LaTroy Hawkins, Jon Rauch (if he get’s bought out) and Darren Oliver. All of those guys are solid when healthy and shouldn’t cost too much if Minnesota wanted to take a bargain on one or two.
With Mauer not playing catcher as much Minnesota will need to sign one since Butera is awful. Ramon Hernandez wouldn’t be a bad catcher to look at, he can hit for power (.164 ISO) and had a .339 wOBA. His WAR was right at 2.0 making him a league average catcher. For the right price he could be a nice catcher for a season or so.
The Twins also need at least one outfielder. Ben Revere really isn’t that good, Joe Benson should get playing time and Aaron Hicks is a year or so away. I don’t think Cuddyer or Kubel come back simply because they will cost more than they are worth. Cuddyer in particular. He isn’t worth a 3 year $36 million dollar deal that I’ve been hearing he could get. In the meantime here are a few guys they could look at. Josh Willingham, Cody Ross and Ryan Ludwick are all solid outfielders who wouldn’t cost too much. Willingham and Ludwick in particular would give Minnesota some added pop to the line-up. If I was Minnesota I would strongly look at Willingham. This past season he had a .232 ISO and .350 wOBA. He’s someone who could slide in the middle of the lineup and have the potential to do some good things.
Finally, if there was any money left I would take a look at Wilson Betemit or Jose Lopez. Betemit also has some pop in his bat but he can play a variety of positions. Lopez also is a decent player and with what the Twins have he could step it at 2B/SS and get some good playing time and show the Twins what he has. Nishioka is an unknown and Casilla isn’t that good, Lopez could step in and start right away and Betemit could come off the bench or play 3B if Valencia continues his struggles.
Finally, Minnesota could look into some trades. Guys like James Shields and Gio Gonzalez should be on the market but won’t be cheap. The Twins might be able to get Stephen Lombardozzi from the Nationals but he would cost Denard Span and that wouldn’t be worth it.
With that my off-season plans for what the Minnesota Twins should do comes to an end. Stay tuned for other teams as the off-season goes on as well as analysis when free agents sign, players get traded and other baseball news.