Monday, December 27, 2010

Twins Offseason is NOT that bad.

To all of you who are in code red mode over the Twins offseason (JACK) chill the F out. No they have not gone out an gotten an impact player or try to get a front line starter, but has their team really suffered that much of a regression? NO! Look at the projected lineup compared to last season opening day group.



No real reason to freak out over this. When you have a guy who hit .311 last year hitting 8th for you I think that is a reason to just say hey its going to be ok. And you O YEAH you have 2 MVPs hitting 3-4 for you. Relax.

As for pitching I have to admit, I was looking for the Twins to make an offer to go get Zack Grienke, but the Royals stayed true to their word and that they did not want to send their Cy Young winner to a division opponent. And that is understandable. Did the Royals get a good return? I am not sure. Did the Twins have a collection of guys to match that offer (yes but it would have crippled what is already a suspect system). Matching up the players Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jake Orodozzi, and Jeremey Jeffress, Seth Stohs said that a similar offer would have been Ben Revere(athletic toolsy outfielder), Nishioka(because the Twins have 0 infield prospects worth mentioning), Kyle Gibson(Orodozi was ranked 1st in Brewers system and is younger and has higher ceiling then Gibson) and Carlos Gutierrez(big bullpen arm but not as good as Jeffress). Looking at this, Bill Smith and many Twins fans are very high on these 4 guys. Are they worth trading? Maybe, but it would have taken a 5th player (beacuse of being in AL Central) or possibly Miguel Sano to make a 4 player deal happen. That is not worth it? Hell no.

With the bullpen seeming to be in shambles, all I have to say is it is still early. First thing is first. In no planet, galaxy, or parallel universe would I give Matt Gurrier, or Jesse Crain 5 million dollars per year and that is what they pretty much got. Guerrier is a guy that literally is a the definition of playing with a rabbits foot in his back pocket. How did that guy ever pitch so many inning without guys starting to rake on him is amazing to me. We saw at the end at the middle of last season. Bill Smith made a great point, that they basically found Matt off the side of the road and he pitched his way into being a late inning guy. It is very possible that someone like Jeff Manship (little bit better stuff) could fit right into a Matt Gurrier mold but in a different role. Moving on the Crain, we have seen him at his best and we have seen him at his worst. Might I just say the bad outweighs the good with him. When he is bad you are amazed that he even has a professional career or as Jack would say (pump my gas you bum). The White Sox are asking this guy to close which is comical to me. This is going to end very badly for Chicago and Crain. He will not be that 5 million dollar back end closer. He is blow a lot of saves and frustrate a lot of fans, and Ozzie, Hawk and Ken Williams will want to cut him outright after the first few horrific blown save.

I know I am rambling. Almost done. If there is a guy that Minensota should considering bringing back its Brian Fuentes. He is the perfect fit for Minnesota. He would like to close but he is probably not going to get the opportunity. Minnesota should be able to get him back at 2 years 12 or 13 million. Its a lot but its not out of the question for him to get some save chances with Matt Capps and Joe Nathan not being guarantees shut down guys for their own reasons.

Filling in the rest of the bullpen I am completely ok with going in house. There is a lot of talent almost major league ready. And no I am not talking about Anthony Slama. I have come to the conclusion he sucks and gets by with tricky junk and not good stuff. Guys to look out for in 2011.

Carlos Gutierrez, AAA, 24, 2008 first rounder has a heavy 95 MPH sinker and a decent enough slider to keep hitters honest. Needs to work on control but he is someone who walks people because his fastball has so much movement.

Billy Bullock AA, 23 2009 second rounder also has a huge fastball, slider combo that helped him rack up 105K in 74 innings. That is just nasty.

Alex Burnett AAA, 23, showed a lot of promise in his stint with Twins but seemed to get a little over whelmed. I still like his stuff, he has 4 good pitches and is not afraid to go right after hitters.

Jim Hoey AAA 27, main part of the JJ Hardy deal is in line to make his return to the majors. He has a good fastball and also racks up big K numbers (70 in 52 innings)

Dakota Watts AA, 23, Baseball America rated that Watts has the best fastball in the system. Sits in upper 90s. He will return to AA but has a ton of upside.

Ok so you see what I am talking about. I just named 5 guys who all have a chance to make huge additions to the Twins bullpen. And they are not the lame strike throwing weineies. They go after you with power stuff and say here is my fastball, its 95MPH if you have the testicular fortitude to hit it then fucking try.

Bill Smith is doing what I expected him to do. Harness the storm that is the Joe Mauer contract and arbitration increases. It will somewhat hinder what the Twins can do, but I still do not doubt Smith or Ron Garndehire's ability to get the best out of guys who would be bums for other teams. 2011 AL Central crown still has to run through Minnesota beacuse history says so.

I have decided to hold of on a ramble about Carl Pavano because I want to wait and see where he winds up before I draw conclusions. If he goes to a team where Twins get 2 picks then it will be Christmas part 2.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How good (or bad) are the Timberwolves?

In the wake of yet another 3 game sweep of the playoffs for the Twins my attention has been drawn yet again to Timberwolves basketball, at least until November. I was overly optimistic at the beginning of the 2009 and 2010 season when I thought the Timberwolves would win somewhere between 25 and 30 games. I thought that Kevin Love and Al Jefferson would be able to coexist. 15-67 record later I look foolish. This off season David Khan is in part 2 of his secret and puzzling master plan to return Minnesota back into at least a playoff contender. It seems so long ago (6 years) since the Wolves actually were competitive.

A new look roster (again) is leaving fans somewhat optimistic that Khan and Kurt Rambis may be able to turn this thing around. The Wolves are starting to fit the mold for Khan's vision and that is a young, athletic, quick paced and sharp shooting team. You have to admit that they are young (youngest in NBA) they are athletic, they can run and they have some really good shooters. But will it translate in the court. So far this preseason the Timbewolves are 4-1 which sounds great and all but Cleveland, Golden State and Memphis are ally playing just as good if not better. What does that say? That preseason anything is not something to look at.

So..... how good are the Wolves? They are still a mystery filled with questions?

1) Will Michael Besley be the guy?

Be Eazy Beasley is now 2 years removed from his dominant year at Kansas State and after a troubling go around with Miami, Beasley is looking for a fresh start. The good news is he still has a world of talent and seems to be motivated. He also has quickly fit in to the organization and knows that the team and management has his back. He is also twenty bleeping one years old. Beasley has cemented the small forward position and will be the go to guy. At 6 feet 9 he will be able to over power most of the guys in the league but will have to work extremely hard to guard the Carmelo Anthony's and LeBron James' of the world. I am currently optimistic.

2) How will Kevin Love do now with a starting position at the 4 spot?

With the trade of Al Jefferson to Utah, Love is now finally in the starting role that he most deserves. He is one of the hardest workers in the league and one of the more creative rebounders. Although he may not have the appeal of a Bosh or a Pau, he still can be a focal point in a playoff caliber teams offense. Love's career numbers could translate to a player who could average somewhere around 17 to 20 points and 12 to 14 rebounds per game. The main question mark is how will he be able to defend?

3) How will Johnny Flynn vs Luke Ridnour turn out?

Luke Ridnour has looked pretty good in the preseason. He also seems to have a pretty good knowledge of the offense. He can bring some veteran leadership to the Wolves. What is good about this is he can possible be a even better mentor to Ricky Rubio if he decides to come over in 2011. What is bad about this is if he shows up Johnny, then it kills Flynn's trade value. Minnesota had an opportunity to move Flynn to Indiana for the number 10 pick. If he struggles again in year 2 by not running the offense properly, taking care of the ball and at least playing average defense, then we can start talking disaster considering what he was taken ahead of at the 6th pick. I do not need to repeat but I will anyway (Stephen Currny, Brandon Jennings).

4) Is Darko worth $20 million dollars?

I still think no, along with every other human out there but for what Minnesota is asking him to do and seeing that Brendan Heywood and Ahmir Johnson got max contracts, it may not be as bad as people think? However if Darko does not at least live up to the potential that Khan thinks he has (which is a solid NBA center), and DeMarcus Cousins ends up a superstar, people will want to riot. Darko will be pushed by Nikola Pekovic for playing time, who has been at times beastly in games.

5) Can Wes Johnson live up to 4th overall pick expectations?

I actually went over what this team could have looked liked dozens of times. If Minnesota traded Johnny Flynn for Pacers for 10th pick they then could have taken DeMarcus Cousins at 4 and Paul George (similar to Wes) at 10 and then go into season with starting rotation of Cousins, Love, Beasley, Brewer, and Ridnour with potential that a 6 feet 9 George would take over at SG soon enough and then Rubio dishing to all these monster next year. But that was my mind just wandering about a team that would start 4 guys between 6-9 and 6-11.

But seriously though. Wes needs to be good. Really good. It is already expected that Cousins is going to be a 20 and 10 center with Sacramento and he will definitely pair well with Tryreke Evans. But for Wes who was taken a pick ahead to not have similar expectations is already a drag. What's good is that Johnson is already the best athlete and the best shooter on the team. He can play very good on ball defense and should at times cause match up problems. Main question mark for him is if he can handle the ball enough to create his own shot. We have seen some sloppy play from Johnson so far this preseason and for a kid who is a 23 year old rookie (same age as veteran teammate Martell Webster) there is not much more room for error. In recent drafts we have seen what can happen to Minnesota getting caught up on taking system players rather then best on board. You get Stephon Marbury over Ray Allen or Kobe Bryant or Randy Foye over Brandon Roy or even Rudy Gay or Johnny Flynn over Stephen Curry. This may be 5th on the list but in my opinion is the most important. Wes Johnson needs to live up to being a top 4 pick. And Khan and Rambis need to just let the kid play and not hold him back.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Looking Back

In an unlike Twins fashion of the past few season, Minnesota was able to lock up the AL Central title without playing 163 games. This team has had its fair share of ups and downs but are now in position to try and get healthy and set up the rotation for the playoffs. We can see how much this actually means after last season Minnesota won game 163 in a 5 hour marathon then the next night had to face CC Sabathia in game 1 of the playoffs.

We all have preseason predictions and I just want to see what I got right.

AL East: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Oriels, Toronto Blue Jays
AL West: LA Angels, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics
AL Central: Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals
AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners

I got New York and Minnesota right. But right after the first month I felt dumb giving to much into the recent history of Boston and LAA as neither team did what they set out to do.

AL MVP: Derek Jeter (writers feel bad that he still does not have one)
I picked Jeter because writers feel bad for him. Josh Hamilton will win this.
AL Cy Young: John Lester Red Sox
Lester had a solid year but Felix is the best pitcher in baseball and CC sadly will win the Cy.
AL Rookie of the Year: Neftali Feliz Rangers (as a starting pitcher) RIGHT? Closer.
Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire Twins RIGHT!
Comeback Player of the Year: Fausto Carmona Indians and Fransisco Liriano Twins
Both definitely had comeback years but what Liriano is doing is award worthy.

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, Washington Nationals, New York Mets; solid battle out in the NL East but the Phillies have taken over.
NL Central: St Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates (Cardinals might be the biggest bust of 2010 with that pitching and that lineup. But good for the Reds)
NL West: Colorado Rockies, LA Dodgers, San Fransisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres (The Rockies are still in it in what is the funnest division race but my last place team San Diego has played terrific in 2010.)
NL Wild Card: Atlanta Braves, LA Dodgers, Florida Marlins, San Fransisco Giants RIGHT!

NL MVP: Ryan Braun Brewers (Will go to Joey Votto)
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay Phillies (over under for Halladay wins will be set at 22)RIGTH and Halladay has 20 wins with 2 starts left.
NL Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward Braves (edges out Stephen Strasburg Nationals)Strasburg had it until that terrible injury, but Heyward will be in a dog race with Jamie Garcia. If you are wondering as I was, Mat Latos did not qualify because he had 50.2 innings last year. 2 effing outs away. Sheesh.
NL Manager of the Year: Bobby Cox Braves (go out into the sunset) Sorda right but it will go to Padres manager Bud Black for making something out of nothing.
NL Comeback Player of the Year: Manny Ramirez Dodgers (also go out into the sunset lol) More of a joke on me for thinking this. Award will go to idk?

Twins beat Red Sox 3-2
Yankees beat Angels 3-1
Cardinals beat Braves 3-1
Phillies beat Rockies 3-2
Yankees beat Twins 4-2, MVP CC Sabathia
Phillies beat Cardinals 4-3, MVP Chase Utley
World Series
Phillies beat Yankees 4-2, MVP Roy Halladay (all TBD but lets hope its different)

Other Twins predictions
90+ wins will be enough to win AL Central (RIGHT and counting)
93+ wins will be enough to not have to play New York in ALDS (RIGHT because we will host Tampa)
Twins have just as good of team as the Red Sox or the Angels (They were better)
Joe Mauer will not have a decrease in power this year 25+ home runs is a lock. (Target Field is fucking HUGE! So I was bloody wrong)
Denard Span will steal 30 bases (currently at 23 projected for 25 so wrong)
Delmon Young will play at least 140 games and set career highs in HR and steals (career year with HR slugging and RBI)
John Rauch will have at least 20 saves. RIGHT
Pat Neshek will have 0 saves. RIGHT
The Twins Closer of the future is not on the opening day roster (RIGHT sorda)
The Twins closer of the future in not on the Twins AAA team (RIGHT)
the Twins closer of the future is on the AA team. (Bullock is in AA now)
Brett Favre will announce he will not play for the Twins but return to the Vikings for 1 more year (Given and RIGHT)
Jim Thome will have at least 1 walk off home run this year (Matt Thorton wishes it was not true and I was RIGHT)
Fransisco Liriano will have an ERA under 4.00 and will make 30 starts (RIGTH)
Twins will make a hard run at Heath Bell with trying to use one of two packages
package 1 will include Ben Revere or (wrong but they discussed it)
package 2 will include Angel Morales (same goes but wrong)
Wilson Ramos will be called up in September and will make the playoff roster (called up before and traded)
Twins will have 3 starters pitch 200 innings (very wrong, with only Carl Pavano. I though Baker and Blackburn would do the same. Was not the case as they sucked)
Their will be 0 snow outs at Target Field until October (so far so good)
If Danny Valencia is called up, Alexi Casilla might be DFA (Not true)
Twins minor league player of the year will be Wilson Ramos (False this goes to Joe Benson)
Twins minor league pitcher of the year will be Kyle Gibson (TRUE)
Twins MVP will be Denard Span (so very wrong. This could go to many different guys like Delmon, Liriano or Mauer but I think it should go to Jim Thome)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gardy for Manager of the Year!

As fans we tend to over criticize. And for a group of people who feel passionately about one certain thing, they tend to start making rash opinions based on certain observations. As Twins fans its hard not to admit that our opinions constantly change about manager Ron Gardenhire. The man; whether we think so or not is pretty damn good at what he does and the 2010 season is a perfect example why.

I am only doing this because a couple weeks ago I asked the simple question to ESPN's Howard Bryant why he though Texas Rangers' manager Ron Washington deserved the Manager of the Year award over Gardy. He literally laughed the question and now with 2 weeks left in the season he is the one looking more like a joke.

It is a legitimate question. What has Ron Washington done this year that Ron Gardenhire hasn't? Sure he has taken a team that has not been to the playoffs since 1996 but then again he is managing a superbly talented team (Cliff Lee, Josh Hamilton, etc) in a division where every other team is below .500. So I ask again. What did Washington do? The answer is what he is supposed to do. He managed what was already a talented team from 2nd place in 2009 to 1st in 2010 while the other 3 teams in the division got progressively worse. The Angels lost a ton of talent from 2010 and were expected to fall, and the Mariners were a complete bust and are now the worst team in all of baseball and A's have not tried to win a division title since they had their big three together. Texas has mastered this division but has been sitting on the chance to seal up the division for the past 2 weeks and it has caused them to now put the season on cruise control.

What Ron Gardenhire has done is take a team just as talented in a more competitive division and dominated. The Twins have absolutely smothered the AL Central in route to an 11 game lead with less then 2 weeks left in the year. The Twins have played so well that they are within one game of the best record in all of baseball. This after the Twins were 3 back of Chicago at the All Star Break. After ending the first half of the season 46-42. Minnesota has bulldozed at a 44-18 pace to eclipse the 90 win mark.

What about injuries? Yes Washington has dealt with some blows this season. All Star 2nd baseman Ian Kinsler has been on and off the shelf and MVP candidate Josh Hamilton looks like he will be scratched for the remaining of the season with broken ribs to prepare for October. But is this worse then what Gardy has gone through? Lets see it all started in March remember? When one of the top 2 closers in baseball (Joe Nathan) had his season ended with Tommy John. Then came Joe Mauer's heel bruise that landed him on the DL. And oh fuckin yeah; first half MVP Justin Morneau has not played since before the All Star break with a concussion, not to mention he was having the best season of his career. Then came a slew of other injures that has not allowed this team to play a full healthy game together since what seems like May. Gardy has been able to work with what he has and when I say work with I mean guys like Jeff Manship, Matt Tolbert, Alexi Casilla, Jason Repko, among others to come up in big spots for the team to win. And doing it with the 2nd best record in baseball.

What about head to head? The Twins went undefeated at home against Texas this year while racking up a 7-3 record overall against the eventual AL West champs. That has put Texas in a hole which will allow Minnesota to open the playoffs at home against what is most likley Wild Card; Tampa Bay, while Texas will have to travel to defending champion; New York.

So... you can tell me what Ron Washington has done well enough this year to be on conversation to win Manager of the Year, but really? What has he done that should put him ahead of Ron Gardenhire? The answer is nothing and if Gardy does not win this award in a landslide I will give up on writers because most of them obviously don't give a damn about baseball. They are too busy criticizing Brett Favre, LeBron James and Roger Clemens.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Prospect Round Up; Top 5

5.) Ben Revere, 22, AA Eastern League, MLB:
As I predicted Ben Revere would be a September call up. But it did not come at a price for the 22 year old. Revere went through a number of injuries most notably broken facial bones when he was struck in the orbital by a 95 MPH fastball. Brings back memories to the end of Kirby Puckett's career. Revere did what he always does by hitting .305 and stealing 36 bases. Still remains to be seen what the Twins will do with the 2007 first round pick but it will be exciting to see what he will do in the Arizona Fall League against other top competition.

4.) Wilson Ramos, 23, AAA International League, MLB:
Wilson Ramos had an incredible streak while taking Joe Mauer's place racking up hits in bunches. But his stay in AAA Rochester was a gloomy one where he failed to produce. The Twins later as expected used Ramos to bring in an arm to help with their post season run. Initially the trade (for Matt Capps) seemed poor for the Twins but in my opinion this trade can not be judged until we see how the season ends. If Minnesota wins then the trade is a success. If not then we will have to wait and see what Wilson Ramos becomes. If he is what some scouts think and that is a plus defensive catcher with .300, 20+ home run hitting ability then yes it is bad for Minnesota. If he is just another solid big league guy then it will be looked at as an even swap. Ramos should put up good long term numbers in the National League but it remains to be seen if he will ever be an All Star.

3.) Miguel Sano, 17, Rookie Gulf Coast League;
I called Miguel Sano the most hyped player in the GCL since Miguel Cabrera. I believe in his talent so much that I would say that he may be a better long term player then 1st overall pick Bryce Harper. He showed glimpses of his raw and rare talent this year in the DSL and GCL hitting 7 home runs while batting .307 in just 61 games. Sano struck out at more then a 2 to 1 ratio but nothing too drastic especially for a 17 year old. I still believe in Sano as a future MVP and you have to love the goals he set out for himself. He wants to be in the Majors in 3 years. If you calculate that it will be sometime in 2012. We know the Twins won't let that happen but if Sano dominates the way I think he can, management will have no choice but to continue to promote him. Performance should be rewarded. Sano will perform.

2.) Kyle Gibson, 22, A+ Florida State League, AA Eastern League, AAA International League;
Say hello to what will be the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Gibson did exactly what I thought he was going to do and that was make it to AAA while baffling hitters. He ended this season hitting very good marks of 152 innings, 2.96 ERA, 11 wins, and got more then double ground outs to fly outs. Gibson drew comparisons from Carl Pavano all the way to Brandon Webb throughout the season. His low 90's sinker and knockout slider will be good enough for number 3 type starter stuff and long term he should be the Twins number 2 guy behind Fransisco Liriano. He will start 2011 in AAA Rochester but will not be there for long. To avoid super 2 status expect a June call up at the earliest.

1.) Aaron Hicks, 20, A Midwest League:
When you hit .279/.401/.428 and are said to have a disappointing season, you can understand why scouts love Aaron Hicks so much. Hicks spent the whole year in Beloit while watching he fellow OF mate Angel Morales get promoted. He still has the best set of pure tools in the system. Hicks got off to a horrific start by going 1 for 31 in April but hit .298 from there on out. We have still yet to see the best from Hicks and when it gets put together we are looking at a special outfielder. Guys like Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Jones and Andrew McCutchen are going to be guys who you can compare Hicks to. He will start 2011 in Fort Myers as a 21 year old and hopefully will start to turn some of those tools into performance this upcoming season. I have said it before and I will say it again. Unlike other outfielders in this system, Aaron Hicks is the only one who is NOT blocked and will have room made for.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Prospect Round Up 10-6

10.) Adrian Salcedo, 19, A+ Florida State League, Rookie Appalachian League
It is obvious by the leagues he pitched in that Adrian Salcedo was slightly mishandled this year. But a mass of injuries in in all 4 of Minnesota's full season clubs forced the Twins to have to plug some guys into holes before they were ready. Salcedo did no fare well against FSL hitters but reports about his stuff were legit which was a low to mid 90's fastball that he could locate very well along with a spike curve ball and a solid change up. Salcedo when being sent back to rookie ball showed the same dominance he did last season with a 3.16 ERA as a starter and a ridiculous 55K to 6BB in 56 innings. Salcedo has been relieving to end the year to limit innings and should top out somewhere near 100 compared to the 61 he threw last year. Its obvious the Twins will take it slow with Salcedo so either he will start full season ball last next year or be shut down early. But expect a total inning count of around 130 in 2011 mixed between Beloit and if he performs Fort Myers as well. Salcedo might have the best raw stuff in the system as a teenager so you could understand why the Twins want to be careful.

9.) Angel Morales, 20, A Midwest League, A+ Flordia State League.
Another toolsy kid who started to put some things together this year. Morales his over .290 for Beloit which earned him a promotion to Fort Myers. On the season his power from the past has since disappeared now turning into more of a free swinging singles guy. Morales only tallied up 5 home runs and 24 doubles this year. But he did show some crazy speed with 10 triples and 29 steals which are both career highs. I like Morales' tools overall. As I said before he strikes out way too much and will be exposed in higher leagues. Twins let Morales play nearly 170 games in low A ball before a true call up so don't be surprised to see Morales return to the Miracle next season to start. He will most likley be reunited with Aaron Hicks.

8.) Carlos Gutierrez, 23, AA Eastern League, AAA International League.
We had some questions answered about the 2008 first round pick. His long term role will in fact be in the bullpen. Gutierrez simply does not have the secondary pitches or the stamina to go deep into games or a season. But that is not a bad thing. Because his stuff may be better suited for the pen anyway. We know he brings that bowling ball sinker clocked anywhere from 93 to 97 and now that he has limited innings to throw it it could be clocked more often then not to the top of that scale. Gutierrez was promoted to AAA Rochester because the MLB team is decimated by injuries, but Carlos should start next year in Rochester anyway. I need to see what Gutierrez can do as a full time bullpen arm before I make a projection of what he can do because at this moment I beleive Billy Bullock is the closer of the future just because of his ability to rack up strikeouts.

7.) David Bromberg, 22, AA Eastern League, AAA International League.
Bromberg may have took a step back from what he did in 2009 as the organizations best pitcher but that does not mean that he did not have a solid year. He is showing durability by cracking the 150 inning mark for the 3rd straight season and still has a season ERA of 3.75 (3.98 in AAA). What seemed to be the problem for Bromberg this year was the thing that I wanted him to improve on from last year and that was control. His strikeouts have dropped from 177 to 148 now to 112 since 2008 and his walks were up while he was in AA. He has seemed to harness that since the promotion to AAA but he is leaving more pitches of the plate. Bromberg has given up twice as many homeruns in Rochester as he did in New Britain but with half the innings. Bromberg still has potential to be a back of the rotation starter. But my Kevin Millwood suggestion may be quite off. I still might think because of his size and stuff he could resemble Tommy Hunter.

6.) Danny Valencia, 25, AAA International League, MLB.
It is safe to say the Danny Valencia has locked up the full time 3B job for the Twins. I was a little nervous when he was called up that he would not get much playing time but the kid has started the past 26 games and for lack of a better word has raked. Valencia's power does not translate well to Target Field but neither does Joe Mauer's. What we have seen is a patient hitter who stings the ball to all fields and is not afraid of Major League pitching (.343/.382/.454). He in my opinion has also played very good defense showing off that cannon arm (which Nick Punto does not have). Valencia has been up since June 2 and may be under consideration for AL Rookie of the Year surprisingly. When looking around the league the award might go to either him, Austin Jackson, Brendan Boesh, Wade Davis or my preseason pick Neftali Feliz.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Prospect Round Up 15-11

15.) Billy Bullock, 22, A+ Florida State League, AA Eastern League
Kyle Gibson is obviously the crown jewel from the 2009 draft. But Billy Bullock (2nd round) might be a more dominant force for the Twins in the near future. Bullock has been able to use his mid to upper 90s fastball with a power slider to post up fantastic strikeouts rates (102K in 72 innings). For all of you keeping track that is almost 13K per 9 innings. He will begin next year in AAA Rochester and should be contending for a September call up in 2011.

14.) Tyler Robertson, 22, AA Eastern League
It has been a disappointing year from all of the pitchers in New Britain and Robertson headed the bunch with a 4-13 record and a 5.39 ERA. There is no getting around what the issue was. Since his arm injury a couple years ago the stuff has simply vanished. And since he has moved up into a tougher league, AA hitters will not fall for change ups, slow curves and a high 80's fastball. Robertson will probably return to AA next year and could be stuck for a long time if he does not decide to change up his mechanics.

13.) Rene Tosoni, 24, AA Eastern League
I was kind of puzzled when the Twins decided to keep Tosoni back. But in the long run it never really hurt because Tosoni was never going to get through the first couple months anyway. Tosoni's had season ending shoulder surgery that limited him to only DHing while playing. The surgery was the right move. But has I said before, Tosoni is a guy with limited tools in a system loaded with talented outfielders. And he is much older then the others. He may be a guy who disappears over time.

12.) Joe Benson, 22, A+ Florida State League, AA Eastern League.
Joe Benson's tools seemed to catch up with him finally. Benson has always been known as a big bodied, athletic specimen and he put together a lot of his tools this year. Minus the one that actually gets you to the big leagues. Benson set a career high with 23 home runs and counting on the season which lead the organization. The power is legit but the bat is behind again. He only hit .240 in AA ball while striking out more then once a game. The kid plays great defense at all 3 positions and has a cannon arm. His speed is good enough to steal 20 bags in a 162 game schedule. He has the major league set of tools but unless his bat can make consistent contact he will be another Carlos Gomez.

11.) Max Kepler, 17, Rookie Gulf Coast League
I am a huge Kepler fan. Although he is only 17 and has a ton to learn about the game and American society, Max Kepler has the look of a future All Star. He showed glimpses of it this year in the GCL .286/.346/.343. The numbers may indicate that the power is not there but it will come. Remember this kid is just 17 years old! And he stands a very thin 6 feet 4, 180 pounds. Let him grow into his body and we will be looking at a very exciting player.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Prospect Round Up

I am going to break this down into 4 parts and go over my top 21 Twins prospects from 2010. Just a quick briefing this season was a little of a disappointment on some levels for some players. A lot of guys who we expected big things from this year regressed and the pitching as a whole went through a world of injuries. I still think the Twins have a solid system but not as high as I thought at beginning of season.

21.) BJ Hersmen, 20, Rookie Appalachian League, A Midwest League: I was not as high as other Twins bloggers on Hermsen, mainly because of his lack of stuff. Hermsen as reported features a high 80's fastball and not much for a plus breaking ball. I beleive there is a guy similar to this in the system and his name is Nick Blackburn. ERA hovering over 6 as we speak. After racking up over 100 innings after extended spring training this year, expect Hermsen to be ready for full season ball next year with the Beloit Snappers as a 21 year old.

20.) Matt Bashore, 22, did not play: Twins supplemental first round pick of 2009 had his season cut short before it even got a chance to start. It is unfortunate because I was pretty high on Bashore. He should be ready to pitch next year after Tommy John surgery. Expect Minnesota to take it slowly with him (see Matt Fox).

19.)Deolis Guerra, 21, AAA International League, AA Eastern League: The final piece remaining for the Johan Santana deal played with us this year. He got off to a terrific start for New Britain that earned him a promotion to Rochester during this first half. Seemed to be too much too soon for Guerra and he was sent back down to New Britain where he has been rocked ever since. His ERA has now climbed to over 6 in both leagues. Guerra simply just is not what the Twins thought he was. His velocity comes and goes and when I say goes it sometimes dips down into the 70's and his only real pitch is his change up. Guerra will return to New Britain next year but expect the Twins to have little patience with him.

18.) Chris Parmelee, 22, AA Eastern League, A+ Florida State League: Parmelee has had what I call an interesting year. I projected him to be the best power hitter in the system and to at least hit 20 home runs. Right now he is on 8 and slugging .407 between 2 leagues. However after a early season demotion his contact rate has shot up to where he is now hitting .287 on the year (career high). Parmelee was regarded as one of the best prep bats in his draft class but has come along extremely slowly. The power was there last year with out the contact rate. This year its the opposite. If he can piece them together next year in Rochester we might have a guy who can succeed Jason Kubel for the DH spot and who can play some occasional outfield and first base.

17.) Anthony Slama, 26, AAA International League, MLB: The 26 year old continued to do what he always does and that is rack up saves and strike guys who in the minors. He has made a couple stints with the big club but has showed iffy control thus far. Listen I know everybody loves Slama but people also need to understand what he really is. He tops out at 92 on the gun, and strikes guys out with deception not stuff. Long term Slama may be a nice middle end bullpen guy but not a big league closer. The Twins have as many as 5 guys on this current roster headed to free agency next year (Gurrier, Crain, Rauch, Fuentes, Mahay). I expect the majority to leave which will give Slama a chance to lock down a full time Major League job in spring training.

16.) Alex Burnett, 23, MLB, AAA International League: Only 3 guys since the Terry Ryan ERA have jumped from AA to the Majors and those guys were Brad Radke, Joe Mauer and Jose Mijares. Alex Burnett was able to add his name to that list and performed admirably, after a case of what I thought dead arm set in, Burnett's ERA dropped to 4.11 and has not been much better in Rochester. Long term though I really like this kid. He got more and more comfortable as the season went on and I think he can be a very valuable commodity. If I had a choice to move forward with Burnett or Matt Guerrier, I would take Alex in a second.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Twins In 1st But Can Still Do More

Today is August 17th and the Minnesota Twins are a first place baseball team. I am not surprised at all, mainly because this is what happens when a bunch of teams play a bunch of games. Usually the one with the most talent ends up on the high side of things. Minnesota has a 3 game lead on Chicago going into a huge 3 game series with the White Sox. Both teams have their top 3 pitchers going so we are going to get a good idea of who is the better team. At this pace (68-50), the Twins are projected to finish with 93 wins. Right around the number I put them at for the beginning of the season.

What is also a key note is what Minnesota is trying to do here. All I have heard as of recent is now that the Twins have taken over first place, can they hold off the White Sox. That is not the right question. For the Twins to remain hungry the need to set a goal and put a target on another team's back. That team is the Texas Rangers. As of right now it is pretty obvious that the Wild Card will be coming out of the Al East and whether that team is New York or Tampa Bay should concern you. Minnesota and Texas are currently battling out for the number 2 seed on the playoffs, winner will get home field advantage against the Wild Card team in the ALDS. Just imagine games 1 and 2 in rocking Target Field rather then game 3 of what could be a game clincher.

As of right now the Twins hold a half game lead for that spot over Texas and the teams play a huge 4 game series in Arlington next week and another series first weekend of September that will take place in Target Field.

But, back to now Minnesota is trying to do big things now and that is bury the hatchet for the White Sox. If the Twins can take 1 game in this series they are still in pretty good shape with a 2 game lead. If they can take 2 games this week from Chicago they will be up 4 games and if they can really lay down the hammer with a sweep they will be up 6 games with 40 to go. Scott Baker will take the hill tonight against Chicago's ace Jon Danks. Fransisco Liriano will face off against Gavin Floyd on Wendesday and Carl Pavano will look for win number 16 against Mark Buehrle.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Twins Swap Ramos for Capps

Late last night Rochester Red Wings catcher Wilson Ramos was a late scratch before the game. News and rumors quickly began to emerge that the 22 year old was part of a trade and that was exactly the case. The Twins were able to make a deal that sent Ramos and A+ pitcher Joe Testa to the Washington Nationals organization for 26 year old closer Matt Capps and cash. This was not the kind of return that I was hoping for at the beginning of the year. I was hoping that Ramos could center a deal that would bring more just a reliever, however because of his atrocious season he has lost a lot of his value that he had going into 2010.

A lot of you may question this deal and I am part of that bandwagon who is not too too excited about it, however you have to look at it for what it is. The Twins need a closer. It has been apparent that Jon Rauch is not a guy you should rely on in the playoffs if the Twins make it. His fastball is fringe average for a closer (90 to 93, usually sits in the 91, 92 range), his curve ball is plus and you can not deny that, his change up is a show me pitch and a pitch you can see has got hit hard a lot. Overall Rauch is a solid reliever in the 7th and sometimes 8th inning. Not a guy you can rely on in the 9th though. What you get in Capps is a guy who has closed for pretty much his entire career. He throws harder then any guy on the Twins roster other then Jesse Crain (Capps is usually 93-94 touching 95 with 2 seem movement) and a good change up. Like most Twins pitchers he does a good job limiting walks and throwing strikes.

They got a player they needed but most will complain that it was a high price tag. Wilson Ramos was rated at the number 2 prospect in the Twins system (I had him 4th). But what has he shown us this year? Although he is a very good fastball hitter he may be worse at hitting breaking balls then Pedro Cerano from the movie Major League. He also has shown that he likes to swing the bat (12 walks on season) and thus he has also put a lot of bad contact on balls in play. Ramos has picked it up in June and July getting the average up to .241 (shows you had bad he was to start year) but he has hit 5 home runs all year (rated top power hitter in system) and is is slugging under .350. Did the Twins sell low on Ramos? Maybe. But this is a guy who did not have a future on the Twins big league team. They are playing very well right now and need to sure some things up on the pitching staff and Capps was the best guy available to them. As we have seen with trading for closers in the past (George Sherrill for 3B prospect Josh Bell, Eric Gange for OF prospect Engel Beltre and others) teams have been willing to overpay to get a guy they need and Bill Smith followed that suit.

I wish Wilson Ramos the best in Washington and congratulate him for being on the same team as Stephen Strasburg. It will be nice not to have to get blown away by his stuff. Also want to welcome Mr. Capps to Minnesota and hope he does well down the stretch.

Final note. I hope the Twins are not done. The first place White Sox have been aggressive. They made a move to get Edwin Jackson (although this does not help them in my opinion) and are working hard to get Adam Dunn so the Twins need to plan accordingly. They still have a couple more trade chips left in my opinion (Ben Revere or Angel Morales) who could be used to haul in a starting pitcher. Only thing I hope is that they stay away from Ted Lilly and Aaron Cook.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jack Zduriencik Can Drop Dead

It is no secret what the situation is right now. The Seattle Mariners are a last place but have the best pitcher in the American League in the last year of his deal. Cliff Lee has made is quite clear that he is going into free agency and is looking to hit the bank. Although recent contract history has said that Cliff Lee might be looking at offers ranging from 5 years 80 to 90 million dollars, the 2008 Cy Young award winner is looking for Johan Santana and CC Sabathia type money.

The other part of this situation is the Minnesota Twins and the rest of Major League baseball. If you are within 5 games of a playoff spot it may be wise to make a run at the Seattle All Star. This is where it gets tricky. There are a lot of teams in competition right now. Most notably; Minnesota, Texas, New York Mets, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York Yankees among 3 or 4 others. Each one of these teams can create a hefty package to send to the Mariners. In fact if you have a subscription to Baseball Prospectus, Kevin Goldstein wrote a great article of every team in the hunt and what prospects could be up for grabs in a trade .

But it gets tricky after that. I have made it clear since spring training that I thought the Mariners were not going to be good and that the Twins should do whats necessary to acquire Lee. And if the current rumors are true they have done that. So far rumors have floated that Minnesota has made 3 separate offers over the course of the month all build around blocked catching prospect Wilson Ramos:

*Wilson Ramos, Brian Duenseng, Low Level Player to be Named
*Wilson Ramos, Aaron Hicks
*Wilson Ramos, Kevin Slowey

All three of these deals are quite hefty so there is no sense in bashing Bill Smith right now because he is doing his job. Jack Zduriencik is like Dr. Evin from Austin Powers. He has been frozen away for so many years that he thinks that 1 million dollars is enough money to take over the world. Just not going to happen Rumors have said that he is looking for deals bigger then the ones that the Twins have already offered which is just ridiculous.

If that is the case teams like the Reds and Rays who build their teams around their farm will quickly back out of the running. The Yankees would be willing to overpay but they would much rather go after an outfielder. The Phillies will absolutely not part with Dominic Brown so they will be out. The Tigers and White Sox who now lead the division would still be interested, but I am not sure if their farm systems are loaded enough to spawn a deal that Seattle is looking for. That leaves 3 teams. The Mets, Twins and Rangers.

The Mets desperately need pitching help and have the money to resign Lee once the season is over. But they have grown quite attached with their 20 year old phenom Jenry Mejia. Wilmer Flores would also be a great piece to start something with, but at the rate Jack Zduriencik is going he will want both of them. Tough to see that happening. Texas has a loaded farm system (pre ranked number 1 by Baseball America). And they know they will not keep Lee after the season so they already know what the risk is. They have big prospects and players such as Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez, Derek Holland, Blake Beavan, Chris Davis, Justin Smoak, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Texas desperately wants Lee but how would they feel giving up the farm with in the division. May be weird to see if Seattle has a good team in 2 years built around a rotation that includes Martin Perez who is regarded as the next Johan Santana. Or a lineup with Justin Smoak who is compared to Justin Morneau and Mark Teixera.

I still think the Twins are the front runner. They have reportedly already made offers which other teams have not rumored to do. Bill Smith and Terry Ryan have had histories playing pickle to the last second and still getting things done so I am still confident that it will at a reasonable price. Like this article is titled, if Jack Zduriencik thinks he is going to get 2 top prospects or more for a 2 month rental he can lack for a better word "drop dead". All in all its not worth it to to trade future stars for a rental, not matter how good that rental is. The price for Cliff Lee is much higher then I anticipated at the beginning of the season all the way up until now. As every day goes by in theory the price should go down because a trade partner will be getting less and less days in the season with Lee on their roster. So lets see how how it plays out. There is roughly 3 weeks left until the deadline.

The Twins are sadly a 3rd place team because they are doing a great job playing down to their competition. A spark of Cliff Lee may rejuvenation the team to make a playoff run similar to what the Brewers did with CC Sabathia 2 years ago.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Quick Evaluation of 2010 Draft

It may be tough for the Twins to live up to what they did in the 2009 draft. Among their first 4 picks they took at least 2 guys who are going to be major contributors to the Major League team within the next 1 to 2 years. Obviously Kyle Gibson has established himself quickly as the best pitching prospect in the system and 2nd rounder Billy Bullock is also quickly building up a resume as a future power reliever. Although 3rd rounder Ben Tootle and supplemental pick Matt Bashore have had their seasons cut short due to elbow injuries, I am still high on these two guys.

As for 2010, we all know the Twins had 0 compensation picks. I am going to not go too crazy about some of the picks the Twins made. But their are some points where I feel they could have made a better selection.

1st Rd, 21st Selection; RHP, Alex Wimmers, Ohio State: Wimmers was at the top of the Twins draft board and it seems like they were happy that the Co Big 10 pitcher of the year fell to them. Like most Minnesota prospects they usually get the comparison to Brad Radke. To be honest I think Wimmers draws the biggest comparison. He has a some what wild delivery, but still only runs his velocity to 89 to 92 MPH, but he has 2 off speed pitches; a curve and a change up that are both above average and close to plus pitches. Rumors said that Wimmers can be a quick sign and a fast riser to the majors. If that is the case then great. It would be nice to see him either sent to the Appalachian League or Midwest league to get is pro career kicked off.

Who They Might Have Missed: Zack Cox was a projected top 10 pick. Cox (3B or 2B) was there for the Twins at pick 21. His bat will hit for average and decent power. Has a cannon arm but overall defense may not be good for hot corner.

2nd Rd, 71st selection; Cartier "Niko" Goodrum, SS, Fayette County High School, Fayetteville, GA: High risk high reward is an under statement for Goodrum. It should be super high risk, high reward. Goodrum has some super tools. Plus speed, very good defensively, and bat has some raw, raw power. Goodrum is not a great, maybe not even a good hitter. He has trouble making contact which will be a process in his development. He has played most of his high school career as a shortstop. Minnesota drafted him as a shortstop. But all sings are pointing to center field which just confuses me why the Twins would even bother. But hey. This is the Twins strategy. Take the toolsy kid and develop him. Its brought out guys like Kirby Puckett, Torii Hunter and Denard Span. And the last time we doubted a Twins pick it turned into Ben Revere.

Rd 3, 102n selection: Pat Dean, LHP, Boston College: Dean was a solid lefty in a very good ACC conference. Dean has similar size and stuff to guys like Brian Duenseng and Glen Perkins. Dean may has seemed like a safe pick at the time following up the high risk pick of Goodrum and that may be true. His fastball is 89 to 90 with a sweeping slider in low 80s and slow curve ball 73 to 75 MPH.

Guys who were still on the board at 71 and 102:

AJ Cole, RHP Oviedo High School, Florida: Some scouts had AJ Cole as one of the top 2 or 3 high school arms behind number 2 overall pick Jameson Taillon. Cole is very projectable at 6 feet 4 with a low 90s fastball and wipe out curve ball. Cole fell to the Nationals at pick 116 but their are high odds he will not sign because of the record setting contract Bryce Harper will get from Washington.

James Paxton, LHP, No School: Paxton was a supplemental first rounder out of Kentucky did not sign with the Blue Jays in '09. He was also not invited back to college. He had to take some time off and has pitched some in the independent league but not enough for talent observers to be fully convinced he was the same guy in 2009. The one who was able to throw mid 90s from the left side. Paxton fell to Seattle at pick 132. Their will be extra time for him to sign because he is not coming out of college or high school.

If there is one guy who is expected not to sign it is DeAndre Smelter. A very raw high school pitcher from Macon, George and is committed to Georgia Tech. His mechanics need a lot of work but he features a 95 MPH fastball as well as a slider and a change up. Again, Smelter fell the the 14th round so unless the Twins are willing to pay way above slot, there is little chance we will be seeing Smelter in the Twins system.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Minnesota Twins Draft Options Part 2

In part 2 of this I thought I would touch on some of the dos and don'ts in Monday's draft. As everyone knows the Twins only have one pick (21st overall) on day one and in the top 70 picks. This puts more pressure on Bill Smith and the talent evaluators to get this pick right. It is important that Minnesota does not pay attention to the helium balloons on certain prospects as well as needs and make sure they get the best player available. Also in my opinion I think the Twins should try to ignore the signability of the high prices guys. The Twins have tended to stick by their guy with slot money, mainly because they usually have multiple picks in the first couple rounds and they need to allocate their money up for each of them. They do not have this problem with the one pick. In addition to that the Twins have spent more money now due to the addition to Target Field so the approaching $100 million dollar pay roll should be an indacation that more money can be spent through talent development. Case in point the roughly $5 million dollars given to Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco.

Players To Be High On:

*Dylan Covey RHP, Maranatha HS, Pasadena, Calif.: High school arms are not usually in the Twins mold but but very few fit the Twins strategy as much as Covey at the top of the board. Its rare to see an 18 year old who already has a good feel for pitching. At 6'2", 200 pounds Covey does not have much more projection in terms of size but he already has a 3 pitch mix that makes him the most polished of the high school arms and some of the college guys. I have seen some drafts where Covey falls and others where he goes as high as 9th. Either way this is a guy the Twins should keep an eye on because he has Tim Hudson potential.

*Brandon Workman RHP, Texas: Workman is a perfect name for a bull dog pitcher. He brings a low to mid 90s fastball with a lot of late life as well as a good curve ball. Workman is 6'5" and has number 2 starter potential. Most drafts have him going at the end of round one and sources have said that Workman is a candidate to be selected by Minnesota.

Guys I Am On the Border With:

*Alex Wimmers RHP Ohio State: Wimmers has been on the Twins draft minds all season. He pitches in the Big 10, has great control and has potential to be the next Mike Leake as some scouts have said. But I have also read conflicting reports about Wimmers, mainly the one about his velocity. Some have him as a guy in the low to mid 90s, other have him as a guy who sits 88 to 92 and that will drop as he gets to an every 5th day schedule. All I am saying is Wimmers may be a guy who might now transition well the the pro game.

Just Does Not Make Sense:

*Mike Kvasnicka, OF/C, Minnesota: I am sure why people like the idea of this pick. Taking the local kid who has some very good potential and the switch hitting ability. But if Kvasnicka was not from Minnesota would you really be this high on him. He is on helium watch right now because and is soaring up draft boards. Mainly because if his future ability to catch. But the Twins do not need a catcher or an outfielder and if they were interested in one they are better off taking one out of high school so they do not have to be pressured in development. If the Twins take Kvasnicka they will go through a process that could take 3 to 4 years by which he could be 25 years old before being Major League ready.

*Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, Ball State: I was a fan of Vitek a couple weeks ago, but now I am backing off. Mainly because it sounds like he will not be able to stay at 2B. He has a very good bat, but hits for average with little power and the move for him immanently seems to be to center field. The Twins have a 1st rounder with that mold that they took in 2007 who is doing quit well.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Minnesota Twins Draft Options

The draft may be the greatest thing about sports. The NFL and NBA have pretty much made national holidays out of their draft days. Over the past couple years Bud Selig and Major League Baseball have made steps to bring the MLB draft from a radio podcast to television event. In further expansion of the game, fans get an opportunity to see the players their team selects and what that player might turn into in the future.

This is great for Twins fans because they are a team known for their drafting skills. If you look at the current 25 man roster for Minnesota, 11 of them were drafted by the Twins. Notable MVP's Joe Mauer (1 overall) and Justin Morneau (3rd round), former first round picks Michael Cuddyer and Denard Span, starting pitchers Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker, and lets not forget Jason Kubel. Baseball America said the Twins had one of the top 3 draft classes in 2009 by addressing the depth of the pitching. They selected Kyle Gibson at 22 who looks like he is going to be a steal. Second rounder Billy Bullock has some of the best stuff in the system and had makeup the be the Twins future closer.

It is pretty obvious that 17 year old Bryce Harper is going to go number 1 overall. He seems like the greatest hitting prospect after. This coming after Stephen Strasburg was the greatest pitching prospect ever. Good for Washington. The Twins only have 1 pick in the first round in 2010 and 2 picks in the first 71 selections. Their have been a few players that have jumped out to me and I will evaluate some of the other talent that could be available for when Minnesota is on the clock.

*RHP Anthony Ranaudo, LSU, 6 feet 7 231 pounds
As a Sophomore last season Ranaudo was looked at as possibly the best college arm going into the 2010 draft. But stress injury in his elbow cut his season short and some red flags to go up. The injury is different to Kyle Gibson's but reports have said that it is not going to effect him long term. Ranaudo is very big with 3 above average pitches (90-93 MPH fastball, spike curve ball and changeup.) I don't think he has the upside Gibson did and it is also a negative that Scott Boras will be his agent.

*RHP Dylan Covey, Maranatha High School (CA), 6 feet 2 200 pounds
The Twins have not had great luck with their high school pitchers in early rounds however if their is a group where they do like to pick talent out of it is California. Prime examples are Alex Burnett and Tyler Robertson. Covey has above average control for a kid his age and already provides the potential for 2 plus pitches (90-93 MPH fastball with great movement and a spike curve ball). Minnesota usually does not like to go with the high school pitchers because of their price tags however because the Twins only have 1 first round pick they might be able to allocate their funds to this pick.

*2B Kolbrin Vitek, Ball State, 6 feet 3 195 pounds
In a draft deep with infielders Vitek might be one on the Twins Radar. Vitek projects as a plus hitter with developing power and has solid enough base running ability to get double digit steals. Although Vitek plays second base right now, it may not be his home for long. Some scouts like him for the outfield others for 3rd base. Either way his bat will be good enough at any level is his at.

*SS Christin Colon, Cal State Fullerton, 6 feet 185 pounds
Colon is a guy who does not bring one specific tool to the game, rather is such a smooth and efficient player, that he is not a weakness either. Colon is a plus defender with soft hands a solid arm. He has a very relaxed swing and solid plate discipline. Colon began to rise up draft boards after a terrific showing for Team USA last summer when he hit .362 with 5 home runs and 37 RBI in just 23 games.

*LHP James Paxton, Kentucky, 6 feet 4 215 pounds
Paxton is a supreme talent but definitely comes with some baggage. He was the number 37 pick in 2009 by the Blue Jays but did not sign. When he tried to return to school for his senior season he was denied by Kentucky. A law suit to the NCAA lead to a $750,000 settlement for damages received by not being able to pitch his senior year. If you look past this Paxton is a power lefty with plus stuff. He features a 92 to 98 MPH fastball that sits in the 95 range. A plus plus slider and the feel for a changeup. Paxton struck out 13.2 batters per 9 innings his Junior year at Kentucky. Other then Fransisco Liriano, the Twins do not have a left handed starter in their system that you can say jumps out at you. If Paxton is still on the board at pick 21 it would be a shame for the Twins to pass.

Although the Twins took 4 pitchers with their first 4 selections last year, I expect them to continue that trend. Although I think they got a future front line guy in Gibson, they are still lacking premium arms in their system. This is evident with the struggles of David Bromberg, Carlos Gutierrez and Tyler Robertson in AA New Britain. The Twins do have some high upside guys in the lower levels such as Adrian Salcedo, but in my opinion you can never have too much pitching.

MLB First Year Player Draft
Round 1 begins on June 7th and draft continues through June 9th.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Twins Trade Options?

FOX Sports just came out with a list of 10 players that need to be traded. Considering that the Twins have a very deep team and deep farm system I was very interested to see if it was possible for Minnesota to make a run at any of these guys.

Guys of a 0% chance of trade

Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers, age 25
Brewers are going to do everything to keep Prince. He wants more money then Joe Mauer and Mark Texiera got. Twins don't have a place for him anyway with Morneau and Kubel. But it would be really cool to go into a game with Mauer, Morneau and Fielder hitting 3,4,5 to scare the hell out of New York pitching. But again, NO CHANCE.

Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals, age 26
I am going to shoot this down right away. Not for the Twins. They would love to get Soria. But their is no way the Royals would trade this guy in the division. The Royals still believe they will be competitive with in 2 years. Especially with prospects like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Motgomrey a year or less away.

Heath Bell, San Diego Padres, Age 32
At the beginning of the year I was all about Health Bell. However I did not expect the Padres to play this well. And their pitching is good enough to keep it up all year which means Bell or even Adrian Gonzalez are not going anywhere.

Kevin Millwood, Baltimore Oriels, Age 35
Twins have an over the hill guy going for one last run in Carl Pavano. Millwood is a nice player but is not the type of guy the Twins need to get over the top.

Mike Lowell, Boston Red Sox, Age 36
Lowell has no place on Boston anymore. He still has the bat but the range is pretty much gone at 3rd base. The Twins really need some defense to come out of that 3rd base hole and Lowell can not provide it.

Small chance but will never work.

Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros, age 32.
Oswalt recently said that he wanted out of Houston. For a guy who has been the ace of a mediocre team for the past 10 years and has only been to the post season twice, I can understand his frustration. Just to be quick, I do not think it work out for the Twins. The 2 biggest trade chips the Twins would move would not work in Houston. Wilson Ramos is a great prospect but the Astros have Jason Castro close and ready. Twins could use Ben Revere but Astros already have Michael Bourn, a speedy gold glove outfielder. To be honest I am not too high on Oswalt anyway. He is having a great year this season but before that has regressed every season since 2006. I also do not think he will cut it in the AL. See "Sheets, Ben". Finally, money. Twins are pushing their budget to record highs and Oswalt has over $30 million dollars left on his deal through 2012. If and that is a big if a deal were to be worked out it would work one of two ways. Twins take a large portion of the remaining contract and give less prospects. Or Astros pay a lot of the money left on the deal and Twins dish out higher echelon prospects.

Chances of a Trade for Roy Oswalt: Less then 5%

Dan Haren, Arizona Diamondbacks, age 29
Dan Haren would be a dream for the Twins. He has had success in the AL with the A's in the past. Arizona has said on a number of occasions that Haren is not for sale. But after a second consecutive season of disappointment in Arizona, the DBacks may want to consider what they can get for the still 29 year old. He is still under contract through 2012 at a little over $11 million per season. What would the Twins have to give up. Because Arizona would be trading their ace, they would probably want a pitcher in return. First name that comes to mind is Kyle Gibson. This I would say no to. Gibson has potential to be Haren and for 6 years at rookie and arbitration money. Other names out there are Wilson Ramos, Carlos Gutierrez, and Adrian Salcedo.

Chance of a Trade for Haren: Less then 10%
Best Deal for Twins: Wilson Ramos, David Bromberg, Adrian Sacledo
Best Deal for DBacks: Kyle Gibson, Adrian Salcedo, Anthony Slama

These packages sound like a lot but remember Haren is a proven ace pitcher and Arizona does not want to get rid of their guy. They can ask for whatever they want. A guy like this requires 3 top 10 guys in return.

Cliff Lee, Seattle Mariners, age 31
Cliff Lee is in the final year of his deal and will in fact enter free agency. A guy who won the Cy Young in 2008 and then took a team within 2 wins of a World Championship in 2009 will get big money. Lee could get something in the range of 5 years at $90+ million, better then AJ Burnett, John Lackey and Josh Beckett. Twins could go after Lee now and RENT him for 2010 season. It would only take one top player. Similar trade to this would be what Oakland and St. Louis did last year with Matt Holliday for top prospect Brett Wallace. Mariners need a catcher and a power bat. Wilson Ramos provides both of those things. Cliff Lee would leave in free agency but would get 2 first round picks in return after Lee scores big in free agency.

Possibility of Trade : Now Less then 20% but that can grow as season goes along.
Best Trade Scenario: Wilson Ramos straight for Cliff Lee

Reaching for the Stars:
David Wright, New York Mets, age 27
This was the biggest fish in the list I saw for Fox Sports. With good 3B hard to come by Wright might be one of the 4 best in all of baseball. He is definitely on a down year and his numbers have shot down since the move to Citi Field. I still think the Mets would be crazy to trade Wright but the return they could get for him would but huge. In 2006 Wright signed a 6 year $55 million dollar deal that will be up in 2013. This is the face of the franchise. The Mets fan base would never forgive Omar Minaya for doing this and the odds of it happening are minuscule. What the Twins would have to give up would be huge. Mets need pitching and outfield help. They also have a 3B they could move to take Wright's spot until super prosepct Wilmer Flores is ready 2 or 3 years down the road.

Possibilty of trade: Less the 1%

Trade scenarios:
Package 1: Aaron Hicks, David Bromberg, Wilson Ramos, Danny Valencia
Package 2: Kyle Gibson, Ben Revere, Wilson Ramos, Danny Valencia

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NBA Draft Lottery: Is it Corrupt?

In the spirit of drafting I will do a quick breakdown and prediction of how tonight might go. Although we are in the conference finals for the NBA, tonight is the biggest night of the off season for the 14 teams that did not make the playoffs. If you have not had the opportunity to play the Draft Lottery Machine on I suggest you do. It is the closest thing to online drugs you can get as a sports fan.

After clicking the "Play Lottery" button about 500 times over the past month or 2 I have come to the conclusion this is how the lottery will shake out in reverse order.

No Shot in Hell: Even the lottery machine gives no respect to the teams that have less then a 1% chance. Which does not go well for these 4 teams and it shouldn't. They are on the cusp of making the playoffs and do not deserve the likes of a John Wall or Evan Turner. We have seen crazy things happen but the two teams with the best record to win the weighted lottery systems were the Orlando Magic (1.52%) in 1993 and the Chicago Bulls (1.70%) in 2008. Orlando took Chris Webber but later traded for my favorite player as a child Penny Hardaway and the Bulls recently took Derick Rose.

14. Houston Rockets 0.5%
13. Toronto Raptors 0.6%
12. Memphis Grizzlies 0.7%
11. New Orleans Hornets 0.8%

In Purgatory: Like I said before, only 2 teams have won the lottery less then a 2% chance but there have been 4 teams to win the weighted lottery with less then a 6% chance. Those teams in addition to the 2 listed above are the 2000 New Jersey Nets (4.4%) and the 2007 Portland Trail Blazers (5.3%). Both of these teams were really competitive after their top picks, the Nets even making it to the NBA Finals however the case can be drawn that it was not due to their potential super stars they thought they were getting (Kenyon Martin and Greg Oden). In 2010 I do not see any team jumping from this percentage.

10. Indiana Pacers 1.1%
09. Utah Jazz 2.2% From the New York Knicks unprotected because Isiah Thomas sucks.
08. Los Angeles Clippers 2.3%

Luck Is On Your Side: Any one of the next 7 teams have at least a 5% shot which in my opinion is pretty good odds. Especially when you see that 4 of the past 5 winners of the lottery had less then a 9% chance and 3 of those were under 7%. I can easily see one of the three larger market cities, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. or Detroit jumping into that top spot. Which is why the first scare team jumps up into the top 3 is coming from this group. (Wizards)

07. Detroit Pistons 5.2%
06. Philadelphia 76ers 5.3%

Big Markets Have Power: Ever since the Knicks got the top pick and Patrick Ewing their has been a lot of belief that their is some type of corruption involved in the Draft Lottery. However we have seen the Bucks, Warriors and Cavs all win the chance to pick 1. Minnesota has never won a lottery but they have never really had a great opportunity to win one either. I am now going by what I think may happen if the league was in fact rigged. Would I want to give another superstar to a team that had the 2 best rookies from last year (Warriors with Curry, Kings with Evans)? Not intriguing markets so probably not.

05. Golden State Warriors 10.4%
04. Sacramento Kings 15.6%

Top 3: This is the promise land but the hardest part to win. What we have seen in the past is not only can a team jump into the top 3 from no where, but they somehow win the whole damn thing which is screwy. Right now we have the Wizards, Nets and Timberwovles all still left. Minnesota being the only one to not win the lottery. Again I go back to the hint of corruption; if it was who do you think the NBA would favor. Washington is appealing and has won a lottery in the past but the Nets are moving to Brooklyn and have a ton of cap room, enough to land 2 max players. The NBA could form a champion over night and move them to Brooklyn. Just think of Brook Lopez, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Devin Harris and John Wall. With Jay Z for marketability as part owner with Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov spending money left and right to build a state of the art arena in Brooklyn and the cash to lure a head coach like John Calipari, Phil Jackson or even Mike Krzyzewski at $15 million dollars per year. Very intriguing.

The Timberwolves have never won a lottery. Are they due? Or does the curse continue for what I thought was the worst franchise in the NBA in 2009. Does the David Stern trust David Khan to know what to do with the pick if he got it. After all this is a guy who took 3 point guards with his first 3 picks last year. One of which (Ricky Rubio) may not come to America at all. So here you go with the top 3 picks. And if you are wondering I have no idea who Minnesota would take at 3. I like Derrick Favors but they would have to trade Al Jefferson somehow.

03. Minnesota Timberwolves 19.9%
02. Washington Wizards 10.3%
01. New Jersey Nets 25%

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quick Evaluation of 2009 Draft

2010 draft is coming June 7th. That is three weeks away. Just wanted to look back on what the Twins accomplished in the first round of the 2009 draft. Minnesota picked 22 and 31 and took two college pitchers. One was Kyle Gibson who has not disappointed and the other was Matt Bashore who is still recovering from an arm injury. Going into the draft it was pretty safe to assume the Twins were going to address their pitching. They also had a history of taking the more polished college arm to the upside and projection of a high school kid. Here I am evaluating some of the college pitchers that went in that first round in 2009 and how they are doing so far this year. Remember Gibson was as high as 4 on some mock drafts but his stress fracture in the arm caused him to fall to 22. You will see its a steal.

1) Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg; Strasburg was indeed a can't miss prospect. I do not need to say much more about the phenom. He is dominating the minor leagues and in 7 starts scattered around AA and AAA he has a 1.06 ERA and 40K in 34 innings. His other numbers are just unreal. He could have started opening day this year and dominated the majors. But Washington is being cost efficient with Strasburg and not letting him be a super 2. This is no joke, Strasburg is my pick for 2011 Cy Young. He reminds me of Twins pitcher with plus control of all sides of the plate and with all of his pitches. Except he throws the ball 97 to 100 MPH. Wow.

7) Atlanta Braves: Mike Minor; Tall lefty from Vanderbilt did not have the stuff of former number 1 pick David Price but has held his own. Atlanta started him in AA and he has had incredible strikeout numbers (65K in 44 innings). He has some control issues to work out but he is already looking like the left handed front line starter that will go next to Tommy Hanson for the future.

8) Cincinnati Reds: Mike Leake; The Reds acquired some great young pitching in 2009 in addition to Leake, the Reds go Cuban ace Aroldis Chapman. I was amazed that the Reds let Leake skip the minors all together but then I thought, wait its Dusty Baker he loves to run young pitchers into the ground. However Leake has looked great. He has been the best Reds starter as a 22 year old has a 4-0 record and a 3.09 ERA. He has not dazzled but has kept the now first place Reds in position to win games where he starts.

10) Washington Nationals: Drew Storen; Nationals had 2 picks in top 10 after not signings Aaron Crow in '08. Storen was seen as the best reliever in the draft and he has been fast tracked to the Majors, expected to be in Washington this week. Storen signed quick in 2009 and had a 1.95 ERA at 3 levels last year. In AA and AAA Storen has a combined 1.08 ERA in 2009. Safe to say he is ready and will contribute to a very improving Nationals team.

12) Kansas City Royals: Aaron Crow; At the beginning of the year I said the 23 year old Crow would be put on a fast track. So far Crow has disappointed me and the Royals. His ERA is 4.75 and in 47 innings has only 25K and 20 walks. At this point Crow looks like he will spend all of 2010 in AA and maybe he should have began the year in A ball.

15) Cleveland Indian: Alex White; Scouts were undecided whether White would start or close at the professional level. The Indians decided to begin this season with White in the rotation. In A+ ball Alex White 3.08 ERA in 38 innings with 35K and .212 BAA.

18) Toronto Blue Jays: Chad Jenkins; Jenkins may have been a guy who was on the Twins board. Reason why I say this is because he throws strikes and trusts his defense. The big right hander is showing very good control in the Midwest league only walking 8 in 42.2 innings. With ERA of 3.59, Jenkins may get the move to A+ ball pretty soon. I think Toronto has done great since trading Roy Halladay to address their pitching. Jenkins is sure to be part of a young deep pitching staff for years to come.

22) Minnesota Twins: Kyle Gibson; Gibson has flat out baffled hitters so far. He leads this group with 50 innings pitched in mid May already which is incredible. After dominating the FSL with 1.87 ERA and a 3 to 1 GB rate, Gibson went 7.1 shutout innings in his AA debut and struck out a career high 10. Twins tend to move their young players along slowly but if Gibson continues to pitch like this they will have no choice but to keep moving him along.

23) Milwaukee Brewers: Eric Arnett; Arnett has struggled the most of any college pitcher from this class. In low A ball his ERA is over 8 and 5 homeruns given up in just 29 innings. Arnett was a late riser on draft boards because of his size (6 feet 5, 230 pounds) and projectable stuff revolving around a mid 90s fastball. Again it is early but so far not good for Arnett and the Brewers.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Delmon Young Day!

I am going to be really quick with my speech about Delmon. I have always been a Delmon fan since he was drafted number 1 overall by the Tampa Bay DEVIL Rays. Since the trade was made to send him to Minnesota as part of a 6 player deal that included Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett, their have not been much positives to come from Young who has hit only 25 home runs in 287 games played with the Twins.

I am still optimistic mainly because of what Delmon has shown in the past and what he projects out to be. This off season Delmon dedicated himself to become a better player and a better teammate. He lost 29 pounds to get himself down to 210, the lightest weight he has been since he made his MLB debut at age 20. That already has helped his run some balls down in left field that he would of had no chance on in the past. Their have been reports from the clubhouse that he is a much better teammate and in the short time since the season begun he has played pretty well believe it or not. Because of Delmon's limited number of at bats his statistics fluctuate quite often, which you could say is a bit of Ron Gardenhire's fault. For some reason he has become infatuated with 40 year old Jim Thome and putting a slower less productive Jason Kubel out in left field.

Player A: .267/.320/.444, 3 homeruns, 14 RBI, 10K/8BB, in 90 at bats
Player B: .276/.320/.448, 5 homeruns, 23 RBI, 17K/10BB, in 134 at bats

Very similar numbers by 2 players except one of them is getting hosed in his playing time. Player A is Delmon Young and Player B is Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer has not had a day off but Ron Gardenhire needs to realize that he needs to start distributing the wealth because he is going to waste Delmon's talent and also run a 31 year old Cuddyer into the ground for when September is here.

Twins are going up a very hot Jon Danks today who has an ERA of 1.98 this year. Young is a career .263 hitter off Danks but its better then Thome's 0 career at bats off his former teammate. I am going on record saying if Delmon Young does not start today this holiday will officially go down as a bust.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Is Their A Wild Card in the 3rd Base Battle?

When the Opening Day Rosters were announced, their were not many surprises. Although Twins fans wanted to open the season without Nick Punto, there he was starting at 3rd base once again. We all know Punto is not the long term option and neither is Brendan Harris. They are glorified platoon players who should be bench guys. Sometime in 2010 a transition should be made to calling up a guy from AAA. But it may not be the guy you think who gets called up.

The idea or plan of how this season would play out would be sometime in June or July, 3rd base prospect Danny Valencia would finally get his opportunity to make his Major League Debut. Valencia known as the former 19th round pick out of U of Miami who has outplayed in draft status into the realm of prospect. So far in 2010 Valencia has not done enough to say that he was Major League ready. Valencia has been hitting pretty well in the past week to 10 days to get his average up to .274/.311/.354. Valencia has shown average to above average power in previous seasons but has yet to hit a home run this year and has a very poor OPS of .665. Also his plate recognition that he has had in the past has disappeared with 17K/6BB ratio.

What about Trevor Plouffe? Remember Trevor? He was a the first of 4 first round draft picks the Twins had in 2004 that all have not met expectations. 27 year old Glen Perkins has been sent back to AAA and is on the verge of being released. 23 year old Kyle Waldrop has been trying to rebound from shoulder injuries but is a decent bullpen option in AAA and 23 year old Jay Rainville has retired from baseball from a career ending shoulder injury that was never able to fully heal. Twins invested a total of $4.17 million dollars in these 4 guys and have clearly not gotten their moneys worth.

Trevor Plouffe went 20th overall in 2004. He is now starting his 5th year in the minors, second in AAA Rochester. Although Plouffe is a full time shortstop, his game can translate into the Twins future plans. In fact Plouffe's ability to play 2 maybe even 3 positions makes him a bit more valuable as a long term option in Minnesota. Plouffe has played 13% of his pro career somewhere other then shortstop. Plouffe has never been able to put it together in pro ball in the past. Closest he came was 2007 in New Britain when he hit .274 with 9 homeruns, 50 RBI and 12 steals in 126 games. His respectable season had him rated at the 10th best prospect in the Twins system and the shortstop of the future. In 2010 Plouffe has for lack of a better word played great. He is hitting .301/.371/.485. In 26 games Plouffe has hit 2 homeruns, 3 triples, 12 RBI, and scored 21 times.

So we always compare why Harris or Punto should play. But lets break down Danny Valencia vs Trevor Plouffe. Investment wise, the Twins have a lot more money put into Plouffe verus Valencia. Remember Plouffe got a $1.5 million dollar bonus being a first round pick when Valencia being the 576th player off the board has not really put a dent in the Twins checkbook. Age, Valencia has never had his age on his side in terms of prospect projection. Drafted late out of college, Valencia is 25 years old and will turn 26 in September. Plouffe is 23, turning 24 in June. Versatility also goes to Plouffe. He may not be a true 3rd baseman but we have seen in the past that solid shortstops have been able to translate well to playing 3rd base. They are both on the 40 man roster, so that is a wash.

It will be interesting if Trevor Plouffe might be able to play his way into Minnesota. He has momentum on his side. This may be something that the Twins will start to pay attention to as the season goes on. If Punto and Harris continue to struggle to a point where it effects wins and losses Bill Smith and Ron Gardenhire should make a move. I did not have Plouffe on my Twins prospect radar this season because of his lack of production. But because he is on the 40 man roster in Rochester, all it takes is a strong performance (like the one he is having now) to try and earn his way into the Majors. Denard Span did it 2 years ago. Plouffe's situation is a little different as he is not a true 3rd baseman, but he has experience playing 3rd base and I think would have a smooth transition process.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Wilson Ramos Debate Needs to END!

On Saturday night vs the Cleveland Indians, Joe Mauer jammed the heal of his foot on first base trying to run out a ground ball. A day later it was discovered that Mauer's injury although not significant, was still very painful and he was expected to miss the next few games and possibly be listed on a "week to week" basis. This left manager Ron Gardenhire with a decision. Start Drew Butera or call up catching prospect Wilson Ramos. Gardenhire called up Ramos and in the past 2 games Ramos has 7 hits in his first 9 at bats. Ramos is the first ever player since 1942 (Nanny Fernandez) to has 7 hits in his first 2 Major League games. When watching the 22 year old, I have to admit I am very impressed by his talent. He has a very advanced bat, calls a good game behind the plate, has a strong arm, and is a tough kid.

That being said, Ramos' success has lead to the repeat of the spring training argument that Ramos should remain with the team when Mauer is back and healthy to be the back up catcher and send Butera, not back to AAA but to AA. I am going to pull a quote from the "The Lost World, Jurassic Park" and reference that taking dinosaurs off this island is the worst idea in the long history of bad ideas. And I am going to be there for when you realize that. And making Wilson Ramos stay up with the Twins in May to to play 1 game a week and get roughly get 16 to 20 at bats a month is just as dumb if not dumber. It is the same ridiculous argument posed in spring training. And the decision was made in spring that Ramos NEEDS NEEDS NEEDS to play everyday. The only way he can do that is if he remains in AAA Rochester. The reason why Ramos has played so well is because he has 67 at bats this season and has caught 16 games. He was not going into a situation cold with little experience, like Butera would have been.

Listen, keeping Ramos up to BACK UP Joe Mauer kills his value. Because no other team in baseball would want to trade an asset of their team for a guy who has played 18 games this season and 54 games last year. In the long term people are just going to have to accept the fact that Wilson Ramos will most likley not be with the Twins organization longer then this year. He is a very coveted player around the Major Leagues and I am sure that their is one team out their who would be willing to give a nice return for Ramos.

Idea number 2 that is also dumb is keeping Ramos in Minnesota long term and try and convert Joe Mauer into a third baseman. Just let that idea really roll around in your head before actually made an assessment on it. This is what a normal persons logic would be. You want to take the BEST catcher in all of baseball, a guy who just won the MVP, 2 gold gloves (as a catcher) and 3 batting titles all from that position and convert him into a third baseman, a position he has not played maybe since high school where he only did it on the days he would not catch, just so you can prolong his career? Really? That is the idea? DUUUUMMMBBBBB!!!! The reason why the Twins gave Mauer all that money is because he is the best at what he does. If you try and introduce him to something he really has never done before on the basis that he is a good athlete and he can do anything, you basically make the worst business decision and baseball decision ever. Just think about what guys like ESPN, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB Network would say. They would crucify the Twins for being so blinded and retarded.

Just think about some of the better hitting catchers of recent time. Those being Jorge Posada and Jason Varitek. Both of them were able to catch 130+ games a year up to their age 34, 35 and even 36 season. Mauer is better then these guys. If you remember Mauer is under contract until his age 36 season. In that span of 9 years Mauer will be under contract I am sure he will have 4 or more backups. But Mauer will remain. Because he is Mauer.

Idea number 3 is not a retarded as the first 2 but is still a stretch in my mind. Is basically goes like this. The Twins have Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel under team control for the next 2 years. That is the rest of this year 2010 and all of next year in 2011. The idea is to Keep Ramos up with the big team as a back up catcher for this year and next year (waste of talent and time) and then let one or both of these guys walk in free agency after 2011. After that Joe Mauer and Wilson Ramos will form a catcher/DH platoon where Mauer will catch 100 games a year and Ramos will catch 60 and the one who does not catch will DH on that day. It does not sound like such a bad idea but their are some problems. Problem one. You are still wasting 2 years of Ramos' career by making him be a back up for the rest of 2010 and all of 2011. Ramos will not be an everyday player in the Majors until he is 25 years old when he is ready to play everyday now at age 22. Your team will have to have faith that Ramos will be ready to take over for Kubel or Cuddyer, 2 guys who have been arguably some of the better power hitters and run producers in the game. The contingency plan to this plan is to trade Cuddyer or Kubel after the 2010 season and put the catching platoon plan into effect in 2011. This is basically saying your are confident that Ramos can step in and be just as productive as a guy who hit 32 homeruns (Cuddyer) or a guy who drove in 102 RBI while hitting .300 (Kubel). If you truly think Ramos can be that productive fine, but I am not ready to make that conclusion.

If you put this idea into place your are basically saying we are not keeping Kubel or Cuddyer after the 2011 season anyway. Remember the Twins are a very bad defensive outfield. If you trade Cuddyer you are making your defense even worse letting Kubel play right field everyday. Neither cover much ground but Kubel covers less. And Cuddyer has a much better arm. And in theory after 2011, top prospect Aaron Hicks should be close to ready to be called up which would place him in center field and move Denard Span to left field and Delmon Young to right field. If this is the real plan this is the Twins lineup in 2012 compared to now

Denard Span CF
Orlando Hudson 2B
Joe Mauer C
Justin Morneau 1B
Michael Cuddyer RF
Jason Kubel DH
Delmon Young LF
JJ Hardy SS
Nick Punto 3B

Denard Span LF
Aaron Hicks CF
Joe Mauer C
Justin Morenau 1B
Wilson Ramos DH
Delmon Young RF
JJ Hardy SS
Danny Valencia 3B
Luke Hughes 2B

If you can see this is now a very right handed heavy hitting lineup. Only lefties coming from the 1 through 4 hitters (Hicks being a switch hitter). You take away that balance that makes this years lineup so good. Also their are some major question marks with 2012. Like with Cuddyer and Kubel gone, can Ramos, Young and Valencia make up for that loss? It just seems like a high risk and a lot of maneuvering to do when this teams best opportunities are to win the whole thing might be in this 3 year window. The team should be more invested into winning this year then finding a place for Ramos.

This is my crazy idea. And it can go one of two ways. The first way is this. You send Ramos back down to AAA when Mauer is back and healthy. Let Ramos keep playing everyday, getting his at bats and being on call if Mauer is hurt again. On August 15 when their is a month and a half left in the season you call Ramos up to be Mauer's backup for the stretch run at the playoffs. Ramos will get a good amount of playing time in about 3 months of AAA so he is not cold when he is called up. When rosters expand to 40 on September 1st you say Ramos will be your backup catcher for when rosters shrink back down to 25 for the playoffs. Then you go into the playoffs with 2 guys who have had full seasons and will make your playoff roster that much more dangerous.

Crazy idea number 2. I am going to put Wilson Ramos's chances of remaining with the Twins long term at about 25%. Which means he will in fact be traded. The team that the Twins put together for this season is the best team they have had is years, maybe even decades. Their is a team out in Seattle that invested a lot into contending this year and are not. They have a former Cy Young pitcher by the name of Cliff Lee who is in the final year of his contract. Cliff Lee has said he will explore free agency after the season. Seattle might be looking to move him mid year if they are not winning. The Twins could swap Wilson Ramos straight for a Cliff Lee rental and go the final couple months with 2 left handed aces in Lee and Fransisco Liriano, forming a dynamic duo for the playoffs that will be hard to compete with. The odds of resigning Cliff Lee are in fact low, so he will probably walk in free agency. HOWEVER!, Minnesota will offer Lee arbitration and when Lee walks in free agency the Twins will collect a first round draft pick which in the long run will be of equal value to what Wilson Ramos was anyway. So to be honest how much do you really lose?

All in all I am very impressed what Ramos is doing for the club with Mauer down. But the fact of the matter is this team has Joe Mauer and there is no place for Wilson Ramos. Which means something will need to be done within the next few months. The Twins should not sit on Ramos the same way the Rangers did their trio of young catches. They missed out on trades when their values where at their highest and now they are stuck with all three. Ramos' value is sky high now and they should be listening to offers soon.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

April Review of Twins Farm

First month of the season. Lets take a look at my top 21 prospects. Rating who had a good April and who struggled.

21. (-) BJ Hermsen: BJ's 2010 season has yet to begin as he was held back in extended spring training. I got a chance to talk to him on a podcast hosted by myself and DW the Great and he said he will most likley head to the Appalachian League to start the year but hopes to get some innings at Beloit at some point.

20. (-) Matt Bashore: Bashore has also been held back in extended spring training. This mostly due to his arm injury that cut his 2009 short. Twins are trying to build his arm strength back up. He will possibly go to the Appalacian League this year. Bashore has a chance to skip Low A ball in 2011 if he pitches well because he is 22 now.

19. (Up) Deolis Guerra: It might be starting to come together for the now 21 year old. Guerra has made 3 starts this year pitching 18 innings with a 3.50 ERA. More importantly Guerra who was notoriously known for his control issues has not walked a batter this year. Minnesota's main goal for Guerra is to let him gain more confidence in his fastball. Guerra has a devastating change up but tends to throw it too much.

18. (Way Down) Chris Parmelee: In the first couple weeks of the season, nobody in the Twins system was hitting but Parmelee. Since then everybody has been hitting except for Parmelee. If that makes sense. He is hitting a very ugly .161 (.029 in past 10 games) and has struck out 20 times compared to just 4 walks. I said at the beginning of the year that is might be a make or break for the former 1st round pick. So far Parmelee is doing what he can to break it.

17. (Up) Anthony Slama: It is hard to believe that we are still waiting for Slama to be put on the 40 man roster. Once again Slama is dominating minor league hitters and is showing he really has nothing left to prove with a 1.10 ERA and 20K in 16 innings for AAA Rochester. He has .115 BAA. We are obviously going to see Slama at some point this year. Just curious what the move is going to be to get him there.

16: (Up) Alex Burnett: I was surprised and excited to see Burnett on the Opening Day roster when Clay Condrey was not ready. Since then the 22 year old is making a case that he belongs with the big team for the future. Burnett has gone from a mop up guy to someone who is getting some quality close and late innings. In 10 innings Burnett has a 3.60 ERA and 12 strikeouts. He did not look great against Cleveland walking 4 and getting his first MLB loss but he has definitely shown he belongs here. I still think Gardenhire and Anderson need to find a role for him because their have been instances where he has been under worked (loss to DET) or over worked (loss to CLE).

15. (Average) Billy Bullock: When looking at the numbers (4.76 ERA), you might say Bullock has struggled this season. However the 6 total ER given up have came in 2 outings. Other then that Bullock has had 7 appearances where he has been dominant. Bullock has 14 strikeouts in 11.1 innings and a 2.80 ground out to fly out ratio.

14. (Down) Tyler Robertson: Robertson's odd mechanics might be beginning to catch up with him. He has a 4.79 ERA through 20 innings and a 10/7 K/BB ratio. Remember in 2007 Robertson has 10K/9 and now that has decreased significantly since his 2008 arm injury.

13. (Upish) Rene Tosoni: Tosoni was surprisingly held back in AA this year. This has been in part to the Twins bringing back Jaque Jones, but it has not slowed Tosoni's bat down. He is hitting .338/.379/.500 but is striking out 4 times for every walk.

12. (Down) Joe Benson: I have always said Benson has tools, but like former Twin Carlos Gomez he has yet to put any of them together. Right now Benson is struggling along with the rest of AA New Britain (4-18) by hitting .116/.291/.258. Benson needs to start heating up before he gets passed over by the rest of the deep crop of outfielders Minnesota has.

11. (-) Max Kepler: I am very high on Kepler, but the 16 year old has not started his season yet because he was held back in extended spring. Kepler will start in the GCL and be part of a loaded team with Jorge Polanco, Wander Guillen and Miguel Sano.

10. (-) Adrian Salcedo: Salcedo was reported to look great in camp with a 94 MPH fastball and a plus curve ball, but the 19 year old will be held back one more time to no overwork his innings load for 2010.

9. (Up) Angel Morales: Morales must have been upset when he found up he was held back in Beloit. But he has been playing quite well in spite of it by hitting .274/.349/.466, tied for the lead in the organization with 3 home runs and 8 stolen bases. Morales still has some holes in his swing by striking out 22 times to just 6 walks. He will be promoted to Ft Myers sooner rather then later because that team needs some big help with a struggling line up.

8. (Average) Carlos Gutierrez: The 2008 first round pick is back in the rotation for 2010. His numbers are not great with a 5.40 ERA and a WHIP of 1.52 but Gutierrez has had better strikeouts numbers (20 in 25 innings) and he gets nearly 3 ground ball outs for 1 fly ball. Its more interesting to see what he does around the 70+ inning mark to see if he is still maintaining stamina. If not he will be a long term bull pen option if he wants to be a big league pitcher.

7. (Up) David Bromberg: The 2010 Florida State League pitcher of the year has hit the ground running in AA. In 24 innings Bromberg has a 1.13 ERA, .214 BAA, and 19 strikeouts. Bromberg threw 153 innings in 2009 and if he continues to pitch like this he could be promoted to Rochester this season and could challenge to be in the 2011 Opening Day rotation in Minnesota.

6. (Down) Danny Valencia: Valencia is still looked at as the Twins 3B of the future. He has not earned his spot in Minny just yet though hitting .264 with not much power. Of course Brendan Harris and Nick Punto have not done enough to show that they are a long term option so if Valencia can get his bat going we still could see him around the All Star break.

5. (Above Average) Ben Revere: Revere is doing what we expect. He is hitting .300 and is showcasing his plus plus speed. Revere has showed little power in 3 professional seasons, this year being no different with 2 doubles being his only extra base hits. We all know Revere does not bring much power anyway, but that means he is going to have to continue to hit for high average to keep his value.

4. (Down before May 2, Up After May 2) Wilson Ramos: Ramos has struggled in AAA, but with a foot injury to Joe Mauer, Ramos made his Major League debut and flourished. Ramos went 4 for 5 and played very well defensively. He made a nice play at the plate to stop the tying run from scoring and also showcased a rocket arm. By getting this Major League exposure, Minnesota has an opportunity to start raising the stock price on Ramos if he plays well. He is a premium long term trade chip, and we have already heard rumors that Boston might be interested, but Ramos' age (22) and upside allow Minnesota to ask for whatever they want (Clay Bucholz, Daniel Bard or Casey Kelly). Buster Onley also rumored that Minnesota could get a 3B for Ramos, but did not mention any names.

3. (-) Miguel Sano: Sano has not made his debut yet however just celebrated his 17th birthday. Sano will start his year in the GCL, but will be the most looked at prospect in the Gulf Coast League since Miguel Cabrera in 2000.

2. (Way Up) Kyle Gibson: Gibson is better then I thought simply to say. Gibson is 2-1 in 30 innings pitched and has a 1.76 ERA. Other notable stats are his 28K to 7BB and a ridiculous 5.10 ground ball outs for every fly ball. Gibson really showed his stuff this week throwing a complete game, 1 hit shutout facing the minimum 27 batters. Gibson's 1 hits was an infield single. It may be time to start mapping Gibson's path to the Majors. Just to speak of Matt Garza's 2006 where he threw 44 innings in A+, 57 innings in AA and 34 innings in AAA that ended with a call up to Minnesota. Garza finished 2006 with a 1.99 ERA and 154K in 133 total minor league innings. I still do not think Gibson will make the Majors this year, but he could challenge for a rotation spot by early next year.

1. (Rock Bottom then Sky High) Aaron Hicks: Hicks got off to a horrific 1 for 31 start. I was being harassed by one DW but Hicks is making myself and scouts look pretty smart now. The 20 year old's next at bat after the slump was a home run. After a stretch now where he is hitting well over .500 and has now run his numbers up to .316/.447/.500. Hicks is playing so good that his promotion to Fort Myers may come sooner then expected.