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 ESPN.com 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.