Thursday, December 10, 2009
Blogging the Offseason is a 30 team series in which I ask a blogging representative from each MLB team a series of ten questions about their desires and thoughts surrounding the offseason. Check out all of them here.
Today's AL team is the Minnesota Twins and our guest is Nick from Nick's Twins Blog.
1. What are your thoughts on the big JJ Hardy for Carlos Gomez trade? I'd imagine pleased, as the Twins already have depth in the OF and could really use to Middle Infield help.
I was one of Gomez's most adamant supporters, because he's a premier defensive player and his presence in center field provided huge benefits for the Twins' extremely fly-ball heavy pitching staff. Yet, it's tough to criticize this move. The Twins have been without a legitimate shortstop for several years, and Hardy's combination of youth, power and defensive ability gives him the potential to anchor that position for years to come. While his ugly 2009 campaign certainly raises concern, this was a swap of two players with outstanding potential but relatively low current value. The Twins will take a big hit in terms of outfield defense and I'll miss Gomez for his entertainment value, but the upgrades that Hardy can potentially provide to the team's lineup and infield should make up for the loss.
2. As an outsider my opinion is that the biggest issue with the Twins this season is a lack of a dominant starter. Liriano was terrible this season and the rest of the guys just aren't scary. Do you concur? Do you think anyone can emerge as that guy in 2010?
You're absolutely right about that. The Twins don't really have the financial flexibility to go out and acquire an ace-type pitcher, so at this point their best bet is to hope that either Liriano or Kevin Slowey can step up and perform in that role. Liriano still has the stuff to dominate but needs to harness his command and stabilize mentally. Slowey's minor-league track record and peripherals suggest that he could take the next step and become an elite big-league starter, but health problems and proneness to the long ball have held him back up to this point. If neither of those two come around, the Twins might be looking at another year with a rotation full of middle-tier guys. Good enough to win a weak division, but trouble in October.
3. Do you think Joe Nathan has lost a step or was just phased by the moment? Any chance the Twins might look to trade him this offseason?
I'm not really concerned at all about Nathan. His overall numbers this year were spectacular; he set a franchise record for saves while posting a sub-1.00 WHIP and amping up his strikeout rate. His mis-steps were few, but tended to come at inopportune times. I'd say the chances of the Twins moving Nathan this winter are pretty close to zero.
4. With Gomez gone, I'd imagine Delmon Young gets a shot at being a full time starter. Will the power emerge? What do you think his final 2010 line will look like?
I have little faith in Young. Nothing about his approach suggests that he's adapting to the league, and the strides he has made during his three full years in the majors have been modest at best. He's got a prototypical slugger's body and a nice swing, but his total lack of strike zone judgment consistently causes him to hack at bad pitches and make weak contact. I'd guess that he'll take a small step forward next year -- perhaps something like .295/.330/.450 -- but I have hard time envisioning the breakout everyone's hoping for, and with his shoddy defense at a corner outfield position, that type of production leaves him a substandard player overall.
5. I've got you, your GM and your Owner locked in a dungeon and am forcing you to trade Joe Mauer. What could you possibly get in return that would leave you feeling good about the ordeal?
I don't think any return would leave me "feeling good" about dealing the league's best player and an almost surefire Hall of Famer at perhaps the start of his prime. If it came down to it, I'm sure Bill Smith could come up with a pretty good package in return for Mauer (significantly better than the strong package the Indians received in return for Victor Martinez in July, for instance) but the catcher's value both on and off the field here in Minnesota is basically irreplaceable.
6. How do you think the new stadium will affect the Twins next year? Any word on whether it will be more pitcher or hitter friendly? If they ever play in a World Series, how many layers of clothing would you need to wear to actually attend a game?
It's always tough to anticipate how a new stadium will play until the games actually begin, but based on its dimensions I'd guess that Target Field will play pretty similar to the Metrodome -- beneficial for LH power hitters, tough on RH power hitters. That works well for the Twins, whose offensive core is buoyed by Mauer, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel. Hopefully the balls don't fly out of the new park too much, though, since as I mentioned before this is a very fly-ball heavy pitching staff.
If the Twins play in a World Series, I'll go in my underwear. Book it.
7. You've gassed your owner and convinced him to spend like the Yankees, which three free agents are you bringing to the Twin Cities?
Matt Holliday, John Lackey and Adrian Beltre would be a nice start for now. If the Twins had boasted anything resembling that type of spending power over the past few years, they'd still have Johan Santana and Torii Hunter and they'd be a damn fine team.
8. Which Twins prospect are you most looking forward to in 2010?
The Twins acquired a kid named Kyle Gibson in the first round of last June's draft, and I'm pretty excited about him. He's an advanced right-handed pitcher with top-of-the-rotation potential and should rise very fast; given the aforementioned lack of a legitimate ace on the Twins' staff, his progress will be very interesting to follow. Of course, I'd be remisce not to mention Miguel Angel Sano (or Miguel Jean, as he now seemingly prefers to be called), the top Dominican prospect who the Twins surprisingly tabbed with a $3.15 million signing bonus this year. He's still only 16 (ostensibly) and will open his season in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, but his bat carries huge potential and for an organization that historically has shied away from major splashes on the international market, it's extremely refreshing to see the Twins bring a prospect of his caliber into the system.
9. I'm giving you the option to cut players without any salary repercussions, which Twins do you part way with?
Nick Punto is set to earn $4 million this year, and while I don't particularly mind him, that's just too much money for someone who best profiles as a utility man. It's money that could be better spent elsewhere.
10. Final Question, you've got a crystal ball, the Twins will defeat the Yankees in the playoffs in _______.
The world is supposed to end in 2012, so that year seems appropriate.