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Twins: Cha-Cha-Cha-Changing

Published 12:53pm Thursday, December 22, 2011

    In my last blog I commented on what was done at the Winter Meetings by the Twins and commented on some of the Minor League signings that they have made. Since then the Twins have lost a couple of favorite players, gained one and maybe have gained another.

    The players they lost were Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel who both came up from the Twins farm system and have been very good players with their time in the big leagues with the Twins. They will both be missed a lot and I wish them nothing but the best withColoradoandArizona. Thankfully they have switched leagues so they can’t come back and haunt the Twins.

    Since the meetings they did find a replacement for Cuddyer with the 3 year signing of Josh Willingham who played forOaklandlast year. As bad as I will miss Cuddyer, the Willingham signing is a good move. First they are both similar players with Willingham having a little more power and a little better on base percentage. Cuddyer is a little better fielder and more versatile and will just be plain missed by Twins fans.

    The reports are that Willingham may be more suited for Target Field than Cuddyer who has grown up with the Twins philosophy of using the entire field when hitting. This is not a bad thing but the Twins need some home run pop in their lineup and hitting in the gaps at Target Field has proven difficult to put one out. Willingham is more of a pull hitter and for a right hander in Target Field that should be a good thing as balls seem to carry more down the left field line. Willingham, we are told, is also a good guy similar to Cuddyer so maybe it is all a wash in the switch.

    The positive thing in the switch that Terry Ryan pulled off is that the Twins got Willingham cheaper and they also will receive two draft picks to help build up their farm system. With Kubel’s departure the Twins will also receive a draft pick and he has been somewhat replaced by Ryan Doumit in the lineup.

    The money saved was supposed to go to help out the pitching staff with both the rotation and the bullpen needing help. Capps was resigned and in appears Dunesing will be going back to the pen so that has helped but they still could use more proven help out there as well. The rotation, I think, needs a lot of help. Pavano is really the ace and I love the guy but he is getting older. Liriano has the potential to be that strong power pitcher the Twins need, but we have said that for the last few years and it just hasn’t happened. I think Scott Baker is a good pitcher but he can’t seem to stay healthy all season. Nick Blackburn in my opinion is not that good. He is the best pitcher in baseball in May but then forgets how to pitch and comes up with an injury so he is not the most stable and consistent pitcher there is.

    Now, as of this writing, the Twins are close to signing pitcher Jason Marquis. I’m not overly excited about this deal but it is better than nothing and quite frankly I was beginning to think that it was going to be nothing so it is at least another body out there. He is supposed to be and innings eater so that should help the bullpen but he is not a great pitcher and he too has had some injury problems in the last couple of years.

    I know to some people Terry Ryan was born onMountOlympusnext to Zeus and that kind, but there are some things that haven’t been quite so good. For example I am just a little afraid that Marquis will be like Ramon Ortiz or Sidney Ponson and afraid Doumit will be more like Mike Lamb and Tony Bautista and afraid that Jamie Carroll will be an old Juan Castro.

    Ryan can be a very shrewd guy picking up some gem from another team, but sometimes I think some of his success has gone to his head because he is more of a gambler than he is a money ball kind of guy that some people think he is. His game is to try and win as cheaply as possible, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

    The Twins minor league system does need a lot of help and if the Twins can draft well with the choices Ryan did get by not signing Cuddyer and Kubel that would be great. Ryan has had success putting together a decent farm system so maybe in the future we may see some good players come up.

    That, however, is in the future. As the team sits now they are no better going into spring training than they were last year. Although I believe Mauer will bounce back, I do worry about Justin Morneau and not just his concussion. He had wrist problems last season and according to the reports is still having those problems. I remember a power hitter back in the 60’s who was hit in the wrist and was never the same player and his name was Roger Maris. This could be a very key injury and it appears there isn’t a very good backup plan if he can’t play. Supposedly Doumit can play a little there and Mauer did a good job there last year, but Mauer really doesn’t want to play 1st base and if he does Doumit isn’t the greatest defensively at catcher so that worries me a little.

    Denard Span is coming off a concussion of his own and when he came back late last season he was awful. Jamie Carroll may be a good guy but he is 38 years old and has never been considered a starter and he is now our starting shortstop. The bullpen needs a lot of help and the rotation is questionable. I ask you, at this point does this look like a team that can contend in the Central Division? I don’t think so and it makes me a little angry and I will tell you why.

    When the Twins wanted a new stadium they said it would generate enough income so they would be able to keep their players and that the team would be players in continually making the team stronger not just in the future but now. It was thought that the Twins now would be one of the big boys or at least a little bit of a bigger boy in the signing of proven players. I am not convinced I am seeing that right now. I know one of our readers came to Ryan’s defense in my last blog and a lot of what he said is right, but we can’t sugar coat everything Ryan has done and one thing he does is operate on the cheap which is what the team said they would not do when they got the new stadium.

    I also did not like when Ryan this week, after signing Willingham, he tells the media that he was still hoping to sign Cuddyer and Kubel. That was all crap as he was trying to take the responsibility of these two leaving off his back and put it in the lap of the players. Not real classy.

    I realize the amount of money in the payroll does not guarantee a championship but it does get a little frustrating when your team goes bargain basement hunting. Yes you can find a gem in the bargain bin but you can find a lot more crap. I do not think Willingham is crap but the jury is still out on the rest.


  • Tom Grout

    I’m going to ad to my own blog.I read a Twins blog by Aaron Gleeman and on a tweet he had he said what I was trying to say in a very simple way. Twins fans should not be mad they signed Jason Marquis, they should be mad they are dropping thier budget from $115 million to $100 million.

  • Randy Larson

    Earlier this past fall, I heard Smith make the statement on the radio that the payroll was going to stay at $120 million. I wonder if that statement helped lead to his firing. As you remember, one fo the explanations for his firing was that everyone was not on the same page in the organization.

    Ryan seems to be trying to solve the Twins problems by volume. Seems to me he has signed a lot of new ball players with the hope that a couple will be the answer. I find it to be a lot of fun trying to figure out where the new Twins will end up and how they’ll do. Didn’t like losing Kubell and Cuddyer but now that it has happened, let’s make the best of it. The keys to the next year are still the same,… how are Morneau and Mauer going to do? If they do well, the Twins will be fine. If you look at the 2011 on-base-percentages of the projected starting lineup, if Morneau and Mauer hit well, we’ll score many more runs. The Twins only scored 619 last year which is terrible. A healthy Mauer and Morneau with more people on base could raise that number to 700 plus runs. That would be enough for a major jump in wins.

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