The Twins Have Found a Diamond In The Rough

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. Continue reading

Could Justin Morneau Finally be Healthy?

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.

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2012 Outlook: Minnesota Twins

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.
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Twins Replace Cuddyer With Willingham

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.

Cuddyer:

ISO: .189

OBP: .341

wOBA: .351

wRC+: 117

WAR: 6.8

Willingham:

ISO: .222

OBP: .360

wOBA: .366

wRC+: 128

WAR: 7.7

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.

Twins Sign Ryan Doumit

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.

Name Team PA BB% K% BB/K AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO   BABIP   wRAA wOBA wRC+
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.

The Twins Should Trade for Martin Prado

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.

Twins, Jamey Carroll Closing in on Deal

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.