• Thoughts And Players to Watch

    The Twins have played the fewest games in the AL (along with the White Sox) and after 66 games they are about what I thought they would be at this point: fourth in their division and are within sight of everyone but Detroit. Big picture: fine with me. I want to see this team sell at the trade deadline, but I don't want them to be dreadful.

    What is not fine with me is that the players I want the Twins to sell just aren't performing that well. Ryan Doumit (.288/.405/.692), Justin Morneau (.341/.379/.720) and Josh Willingham (.352/.411/.763) are all well below last year's results which implies their value has also diminished. It has been discussed all over Twins Daily, but Morneau's lack of power has lowered his OPS from last year, even though his BA is up.

    On the pitching side, I think the Twins need to hold on to whatever effective arms they have. Perkins has done well and has a nice team-friendly contract. Despite a couple hiccups lately, Burton is a good late-inning arm. I suppose the club could deal one of those guys while they have good value.

    Starters Correia and Pelfrey might have some value. Correia has been the Twins most consistent starter but he epitomizes the mostly discredited "Pitch to Contact" approach and his innings could go to somebody currently toiling in Rochester. If the Twins can get anything of value for him, I say sell. Pelfrey, on the other hand, seems to be getting stronger. He's throwing harder, getting more Ks, and pitching deeper into games. Perhaps the Twins could sign him for another year at a bargain rate rather than selling and seeing him thrive for someone else.

    There are several players whose box scores I check no matter what. Mostly I'm looking at players who can help the Twins in the next year or two. That includes some on the major league roster and some in the minors. Also included: any left-hander who can get batters out - there never are enough lefties!

    Here's a list of possible keepers, with a thumbnail of their seasons so far and the reasoning why they might stick around:
    • Chris Parmelee--could/should be Morneau's successor at first base. Young enough to be a key player when the next wave arrives. Parm is hitting .223 with a .648 OPS. He failed to secure a position last year and is on his way to ceding a spot in the Twins future. The bright spot has been surprisingly good defense in right field. He might be slotted as a bench player (RF/1B/DH) despite his poor hitting.
    • Brian Dozier--for a franchise with so few good middle infielder options, having a potentially capable middle infielder is important. Dozier had a good game today and currently is hitting .230 with a .624 OPS. Dozier has fielded his new position surprisingly well, but he has to hit more to secure a spot for 2014 and beyond. Dozier's June numbers are encouraging: a .297 BA and an OPS over .800.
    • Pedro Florimon--he is important for the same reasons as Dozier. The bar for Florimon was set very low going into the season and he hit surprisingly well early on. His overall offensive numbers mirror Dozier's--.227 BA with a .632 OPS, but June has not been kind to Florimon. For June, entering today's play, he's hitting .119 with a puny .388 OPS. His defense has slipped as well, so that I don't think Pedro is guaranteed anything more than continued play into next month.
    • Finally on, Trevor Plouffe. Plouffe has had injury issues, but his numbers are ....well, good! Plouffe has an obvious successor playing in the Twins' system, but if he can hit to an .800 OPS, he'll have a job with the Twins, or with someone else. Plouffe has the necessary skills to be a decent 3B and enough hitting prowess to be a regular somewhere in the Twins' lineup. Good health, Trevor!


    In the Twins' top two minor league teams, I watch the catchers because I believe it is in the Twins' best interest to have Joe Mauer catch less. Very encouraging numbers from Josmil Pinto give me hope the Twins can have a young receiver splitting time with Mauer behind the plate. Pinto's offensive numbers at New Britain are outstanding: .321 BA and .957 OPS and reports have him being capable as a defender.

    "Utility catchers" Chris Herrmann and Dan Rohlfing look like guys who could fill a third catcher role, play in the outfield and perhaps field an infield corner. Herrmann did very well for the Twins in 16 plate appearances and Rohlfing has been outstanding as a C/OF for the Red Wings after putting up OK numbers in New Britain.

    Beyond the catchers, I look at AA-New Britain shortstop Danny Santana, who is hitting a low-power low-OBP .280 and has 20 errors at shortstop. Daniel Ortiz, who was a consistent performer early, has also slipped a bit. He's a corner outfielder with a .769 OPS. Finally, right-handed reliever Michael Tonkin has impressed. He started in New Britain, and has moved to Rochester. He has a good WHIP, opponent's BA and strikes out more than one per inning. I think Tonkin will fit in as a late inning option for the Twins as soon as this year.
    This article was originally published in blog: Thoughts and Players to Watch started by stringer bell
    Comments 22 Comments
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      ok seriously, we need to stop thinking that having a 3rd catcher is normal.... especially when looking at guys like Herrman who don't exactly hit well either.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Morneau's power will come around. Parm has had the second half of last year, and the first half of this year to support a .300 OBP. Morneau's OBP, over the same time, is almost forty points higher. I say sign Morneau for two or three years, to support a team with veteran leadership, while other corner outfielders and 1st base prospects mature. Morneau is a superior ballplayer, he is a team leader, and the Twins can afford him. Parm has peaked. He's just not that good.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Why would they pay Morneau $10-13MM a year, for being worse than the median 1B? They could use that money on a pitcher/SS/whatever instead......

      Put Plouffe at 1B when Sano comes up, before that, who cares? They don't look much better next year than this year, unless Sano/Rosario skip AAA. Otherwise, it looks like the same team as this year. There is no OF/1B/DH/C ready to come up next year, is there? Mauer will play half of his games at 1B in the coming years, platoon him with Plouffe, with Mauer catching and DHing, with Plouffe DHing when Mauer plays 1B.

      The future (like 2 years out) is not that hard to imagine w/o Morneau. Heck, you can sign median 1B for less money to fill in the gap until you are ready to move Plouffe.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      The Twins have to pretty much move anyone on their current roster if they increase in value during the season. Pelfry and Correia especially. Morneau...trade him for something. Then you can renegotiate with him as a free agent. Trade him to a team that might get a ring this year. Willingham...grab the first taker that offers anything breathing. He's slowing down. He is replacable over time, or by just trolling the free agent market for a single year signee. The middle infield is a mess -- all three are average players. I don't want Carroll back at all. Plouffe is showing some signs of stability and is worth a keep. Herrmann can replace Doumit down the line, leaving the backup catcher position open for Lehman or Rohfling next year and Pinto thereafter. I don't know what to say about Diamond. Going into 2014 with Deduno and Walters heading your staff with Worley, Hendriks, Gibson, May, Meyer as backups means we are still rebuilding. Oh, Parmelee CAN replace Morneau for the moment. But unless the Twins go big in the free agent market, 2014 will continue to be a rebuilding year. Arcia is the real deal. I will give Hicks lots of rope (but I want him at AAA for the rest of the summer if Clete Thomas continues to breathe). The bullpen appears strong and we have arms in the system.
    1. AnotherTwinsFan's Avatar
      AnotherTwinsFan -
      I think that with Hicks improving he should be kept on the MLB roster. He has been hitting better and makes some exciting catches. Clete Thomas does little for me....
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      The Twins may (should??) be sellers this year...the problem is the Twins have nothing to sell that will bring anything in return...had a discussion with my son (a Nats fan) yesterday...we agreed that maybe 5 Twins would make the Nats roster...one (Mauer) would start...other 4 (Parmalee, Hicks, Arcia--Nats could use 2) and maybe a bullpen guy (Perkins). The Nats would give up nothing to get any one of those guys...and the Twins are not trading Mauer. Morneau (injury prone basically average 1B) gets $14 million and is a free agent--no team will give up a top prospect or MLB IF or SP for him. Willingham and Doumit--the same on lesser contracts. Our pitchers are worthless...our best trade values (besides Sano and Buxton) are guys like Hicks and Arcia and Parmalee...we shouldn't be trading them.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I think Plouffe may have the most trade value for the Twins besides Perkins. Yet, I think it would be wise to keep him because he's a great offensive asset and has the right handed power we need. Trevor is starting to validate his breakout 2012 and it wouldn't surprise me if he heats up late this June or in July like last year. He'll have to move away from 3B in the future though. I'm on board with 1B and maybe *gulp* SS on occasion.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Why would they pay Morneau $10-13MM a year, for being worse than the median 1B? They could use that money on a pitcher/SS/whatever instead......

      The future (like 2 years out) is not that hard to imagine w/o Morneau.
      Unless Morneau starts hitting for more power no one is going to pay him $13 million to play first base for them. That's fine, but remember he is still a good 1B.
      I like Prince Fielder as a person, but think of how many errors our infield would have if he were our 1B.
      How much WOULD you pay for Morneau?

      And finally, They could use the money on a pitcher/SS/whatever...

      Starting season payroll was over $30 million less than it was at the beginning of 2011 season. Morneau, Pelfrey and Blackburn are coming off the payroll at the end of this season.
      They have money. Lots of it.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Parmelee needs to step up. If he does not hit the last half of this year, he could be gone in 2 years. Like Morneau, would resign if the price is right. Too many young players = a lot of growing pains without leadership. Then one bad apple, could be a big problem
    1. EternalOptimist's Avatar
      EternalOptimist -
      I'm with Oldgoat on this one. I would think that you could sign Morneau for somewhere in the $8-10 million range. If it's for 3 years or less, it won't keep you from doing anything else. Parmalee continues to be underwhelming, especially in high pressure situations. We've been hoping to see the return of the good 6 weeks he had in 2011 for too long.

      I am demoralized just like everyone else about the decline in our payroll, but I'm hopeful that they will start to spend more money as the homegrown talent begins to reach the majors. The Twins are too cheap to fill 4 needs in free agency, but it's more realistic to think they'd go out and get 1 or 2 when they expect to be within shouting distance of the playoffs.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Why? Ryan did not do that before. Why is it realistic to think he would ever do it? He told us this off-season he would.......
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oldgoat_MN View Post
      How much WOULD you pay for Morneau?
      I would only pay him $3-4M on a one year contract. He is a below average 1st baseman on a team with a glut of potential 1st basemen. Of course I would also go out and spend in FA so those dollars would get used. I guess as long as it is a 1 year contract I won't be too upset what he gets paid.
    1. EternalOptimist's Avatar
      EternalOptimist -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Why? Ryan did not do that before. Why is it realistic to think he would ever do it? He told us this off-season he would.......
      Twins marketing talking points aside, why would Ryan have done that this off-season? Whatever they project publicly, they know that the team is not on the cusp of anything. They're trying to keep the revenue coming in until the feeder system catches up. I don't think any of the free agents available were worth their price to a team in our position. They would have helped move us in the right direction, but if I put myself in the Twins' shoes, I probably wouldn't have pulled the trigger either.

      Also, I find it strange that people spend all of their time ripping on Terry Ryan, when there's a decent chance that he's working with one hand tied behind his back. Am I saying he's blameless? Absolutely not. Just saying that he doesn't sign the checks.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Ryan has said over and over he is allowed to spend whatever he wants. I can only take him at his word, or assume he's lying. I choose to take him at his word, rather than believe he is a liar. Plus, come on. They are barely over dome days in salary, and they get $25MM more in free revenue next year. There is no hand tying here.....this is a choice. A false choice, imo.....that you have to only sign a FA when it gets you a championship, or that you can only either build through the draft of sign FAs.....but I've beat those comments to the level they resemble Ohco Cinco's future career in law....
    1. EternalOptimist's Avatar
      EternalOptimist -
      I agree with you that it's a bad idea to just add free agents when you're chasing a championship. I'm not saying the Twins approach is perfect by any means. Please don't interpret my comments that way. Teams only ever have a general idea of what the crop of free agents is going to be in the off-season just before their team makes its push because of re-signings, etc. If the free agents aren't stellar, you of course have to sacrifice farm talent in trades, so you should obtain quality players in free agency when you have a chance. I look to the upcoming off-season and the next to evaluate how serious the Twins are about being a contender and not just an also-ran. If they project that much of our talent will be arriving/maturing around 2015 or so, they'll need to add several solid free agents to the team instead of just fill-ins or re-treads.

      I believe (I know someone will correct me if I'm wrong) that the Twins opening day payroll in 2009 was $65 million. It didn't jump to its current level ($94-ish) until they moved to Target Field. While still not being at the level they should be, a difference of $30 million isn't tiny. When he says he's allowed to spend, I would not say that Terry Ryan is flat lying, but I would take everything with a grain of salt. He's reacting to constant badgering from the press about whether he's been giving a spending limit. I'd give them a unequivocal answer too. I highly doubt that he's allowed to build a $150 million+ payroll.

      Also, I think many people would agree that just spending money is not the answer. Would you have paid Zach Greinke that much, for instance? I don't agree with everything that Jay Jaffe says in the SI article I'm sure people have seen and discussed already (Recent results suggest free-agency is more of a sucker's bet than ever before | The Strike Zone - SI.com), but there are some interesting points.

      Is there an actual thread here where people discuss what signings/decisions they would have made over recent years to build this team? I realize that pieces of it are discussed in almost every thread, but I'd love to see different people's overall philosophy. (Sign these two free agents, then the next year I would have gone after this piece or that one, etc.). The discussion would benefit greatly from hindsight, but would still be interesting.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      I don't think Morneau will ever get a contract for > 2 years again. The concussion issue is too glaring.

      Even as a Morneau fan, I would love to have Parmelee show that he should be our future 1B. The numbers do not support this. Don'tFeedTheGreedGuy points out that Morneau has an OBP that is 40 points higher than Parmelee's.

      Tough calls. The stats at the end of the season may prove enlightening, but I'm sure there will be multiple opinions at that time as well.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Why? Ryan did not do that before. Why is it realistic to think he would ever do it? He told us this off-season he would.......
      MWM, I understand. I think that TR has let us down before.

      Consider, though, that the post was made by someone not only using sound business logic, but whose very handle is EternalOptimist.

    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      I think a 2 yr contract in the $5-7M range is a possibility. Remember, Morneau was out of baseball for nearly two years--that he is still playing is a reflection on just how good his skills are--hitting a baseball is a tremendously complicated athletic endeavor. Even the best players who go on the short term disabled list play a few games on a rehab assignment so they can get their timing down before returning to the majors. Morneau was out for NEARLY TWO YEARS! So, how is he doing? Well, he's leading the team in RBI's, hitting .288, and playing above-average defense. (see the comment about Fielder, above.) Are you sure that a minor leaguer, or a similarly-priced free agent can provide greater production? Crazy.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Current level is??? 80 million, not 94 million
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      My thoughts on justin is , bring up Colabello, and see if he can fill the spot, if not your better off offering justin a 2 year 15 million dollar deal,with maybe a 3rd year opption around 10 million
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