• Looking For Clues In September

    This season was supposed to answer some questions about the makeup of the next winning Minnesota Twins team. It has largely failed to do so. But there is still some time and some September callups which might provide some clues as to the proper moves to make this offseason.

    The Starting Rotation (recall Scott Diamond)
    I just deleted an introductory paragraph with a lot of stats because it showed you something you already know: the Twins starting rotation is very bad. It was very bad last year, too. And with no immediate help on the horizon, the question is whether the Twins can somehow avoid ďvery badĒ again next year.

    Ideally, the answer would involve giving time to younger pitchers with limited experience and some upside, like Scott Diamond, Liam Hendriks, Vance Worley and Kyle Gibson. However, Hendriks is here and Worley and Gibson are likely done for the year. That leaves Diamond, who has posted a 1.91 ERA since his demotion. In an ideal world, he would replace Mike Pelfrey, who would be traded for a Buterrific prospect from a contending team. Otherwise, shouldnít Pelfrey have an innings limit after coming back from Tommy John? Isnít he nearing it? Please?

    (Donít get me started on giving Kevin Correia a two-year deal. No. Donít. Iím not kidding. Be still.)

    The Bullpen (recall Michael Tonkin)
    The Twins one area of strength is the bullpen, so recalling Tonkin isnít absolutely necessary. Tonkin was hit pretty hard on Sunday, and has already passed his career high for games this season. It would be understandable if he was just shut him down when Rochesterís season ends, especially if they rely on him down the stretch.

    But one way the Twins could continue to build for the future would be to trade some relievers. The Twins already look like they have four impact relievers Ė Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Caleb Thielbar and Casey Fien. Seeing Tonkin in the majors could make them more comfortable shopping one of these guys, though trading relievers in the offseason (when there are so many free agent arms available) doesnít seem especially profitable.

    Catcher (recall Josmil Pinto)
    This is maybe the least likely callup, but there is a good reason to consider it. Just like re-signing Justin Morneau adds to the glut of corner fielding types, so does Ryan Doumitís guaranteed deal next year. The Twins have any number of players that could use at-bats from the DH or right field spots, which makes Doumitís primary value that of a catcher who can step in 70 games per year without embarrassing himself defensively.

    In some ways, Josmil Pinto looks like a similar player. He has shown he can hit at each level but, like Doumit, his defense is questionable. Playing him (and Chris Herrmann) in September might give a hint as to how aggressively the Twins could shop Doumit, who isnít particularly valuable, but can fill a valuable niche for some teams. It would also give the Twins some sense of their backup options if Mauerís concussion doesnít clear up immediately (and maybe give Mauer some extra rest).

    Center Field (recall Darin Mastroianni)
    We all wish Aaron Hicks was ready for the majors. Indeed, we all hoped he was. He wasnít, and after some initial struggles in Rochester and then some injuries, heís far from having mastered AAA. In fact, there is less evidence that Hicks belongs in the majors on Opening Day than there was at this time last year.

    So the Twins need to figure out what their center field options are. Playing Mastroiann and Clete Thomas as a platoon in September might hint as to whether the Twins need to spackle over that centerfield spot until Hicks is ready. (So might calling up Antoan Richardson and his.393 OBP, but Iím not holding my breath.)

    First Base/DH/Right Field/Left Field (recall Chris Parmelee)
    Iím also not holding my breath for this move, either. Three of these four spots are regularly tied up by veterans Ė Doumit, Morneau and Josh Willingham - and the leftover spot needs to be dedicated to Oswaldo Arcia as often as possible. That has left Chris Colabello on the bench a little too often - check that - a LOT too often considering he seems to be behind Wilkin Ramirrez and Chris Herrmann on the depth chart. Donít get me wrong Ė Ramirez and Herrmann both should be evaluated as bench players, but Iíd much rather evaluate next yearís possible first baseman.

    I can understand keeping Parmelee in Rochester. He is hitting just .223, and that isnít the front officeís fault. But 2012's version of Chris Colabello who tore up the Eastern League had "Parmelee" stitched on his back and heís four years younger and while he didnít break through in his 242 at-bats this year, he didnít crash and burn either. A September Parmelee/Colabello platoon makes sense as an experiment at any of three roster spots Ė first base, right field or DH Ė and its not like all the high-end talent in this lineup should prove an insurmountable obstacle.

    Shortstop (recall Eduardo Escobar)
    Instead, I suspect Iím going to see this. Iíll admit a bias against Escobar: heís never hit (even in the minors), his defense looked downright crummy with the Twins and heís the ďreturnĒ we got for Francisco Liriano. On the other hand, I have become irrationally attached to Pedro Florimon; he shines defensively, teased a little with some early hitting and the Twins stole him as a waiver wire pickup. If you think that last point doesnít really matter, then you donít know me.

    But Florimon is now just 27 points of the 600 OPS I feared he would ultimately have. Escobar has been hitting in Rochester - .287/.364/.419. More encouraging is that the 24-year-old (2 years younger than Florimon) has 14 BB and 29 strikeouts, which is a bit better than the nearly 1:4 ratio he had in AAA prior to this season. Finally, Escobarís defensive reputation is much better than he demonstrated in his fairly short time with the Twins.

    It makes sense to see if Escobar can reverse first impressions this fall. The problem is that if he succeeds, the Twins are right where they were to start the season Ė without any real answer at shortstop.

    But truthfully, that can be said for any number of positions. The Twins have more questions than answers. Perhaps September and itís callups will provides some clues.
    This article was originally published in blog: Looking For Clues In September started by John Bonnes
    Comments 70 Comments
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Can we add Duensing and Adam Walker?
      The salary, Duensing, and two of the first three would likely do it.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Ellsbury, Ellsbury, Ellsbury....he is CF until Buxton, then LF with Arcia splitting time in RF, DH, 1B.....
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Parmelee and Colabello are going to be Bensoned. Hammer, Doumit, and Plouffe will be continuously on the block until traded, probably for starting pitching prospects. Arcia and Hicks are part of the core. As the OP stated, many questions have been clearly answered.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      Parmelee and Colabello are going to be Bensoned. Hammer, Doumit, and Plouffe will be continuously on the block until traded, probably for starting pitching prospects. Arcia and Hicks are part of the core. As the OP stated, many questions have been clearly answered.
      Speaking of Joe Benson, looks like another year with not much to show.

      Joe Benson Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights | MiLB.com Stats | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      so the answers we got were pretty much all bad answers, other than Arcia? I mean, there is value in eliminating options, but then you have to do something to fill those holes....
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      There you go. Doumit. What is the love affair there? I respect him and I respect that he *loves* the Twins (so does Pelfrey . . . dear god), but that OPS has dropped 80 points from last year, his catching defense is still declining, and his OF defense is Kubelesque. Not to mention that AGE thing.
      This is incredibly unfair to Kubel.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      so the answers we got were pretty much all bad answers, other than Arcia? I mean, there is value in eliminating options, but then you have to do something to fill those holes....
      Very good point mike. I knew some day we would agree on something. The position player cavalry will arrive sometime in 2014, and the starting pitching cavalry in 2015.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      Very good point mike. I knew some day we would agree on something. The position player cavalry will arrive sometime in 2014, and the starting pitching cavalry in 2015.
      Unless, of course, most of those turn out to be bad answers as well...
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      so the answers we got were pretty much all bad answers, other than Arcia? I mean, there is value in eliminating options, but then you have to do something to fill those holes....
      Dozier is a potentially good answer.

      This is what a rebuilding team has to do.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Unless, of course, most of those turn out to be bad answers as well...
      Well sure. If most of the prospects fail the Twins will most definitely have to wait on the next wave.

      The debates we have been having will be rendered moot if the team can't develop a core.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Well sure. If most of the prospects fail the Twins will most definitely have to wait on the next wave.

      The debates we have been having will be rendered moot if the team can't develop a core.
      Problem is, all of our eggs are in the prospect basket...and we have to hit big on most of them and that doesn't happen every often.
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      You can always take up playing the concertina as an alternative hobby.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Problem is, all of our eggs are in the prospect basket...and we have to hit big on most of them and that doesn't happen every often.
      Mauer? Plus a few other pieces and payroll flexibility.

      Very few teams can buy cornerstone players. They start as prospects either developed or traded.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Mauer? Plus a few other pieces and payroll flexibility.

      Very few teams can buy cornerstone players. They start as prospects either developed or traded.
      yes, of course Mauer...what else? We have Mauer now. Seems you forgot what the discussion is about.

      On top of that, payroll flexibility doesn't help if you don't use it. Oh and when did we trade prospects for proven players?
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      JMO, payroll flexibility is whatever they believe it needs to be. A payroll that was over 100 million at one point will have all kinds of flexibility next year. Had it already this year. And decide not to spend, even though the Pohlads say management can increase the payroll. Allegedly.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Dozier is a potentially good answer.

      This is what a rebuilding team has to do.
      Agreed, with the potentially word in there, agreed.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I'm fine with waiting for a couple of the top prospects in baseball to become cornerstones of the position players. However, the continual roulette of a starting rotation needs to be fixed. I was hoping the Twins would have three guys written in ink for 2014 and that simply isn't true. I hope they sign a good free agent (Hughes or better), trade for somebody else (comparable to acquiring Vanimal though that didn't work out), and see what happens with the corps of middle rotation guys. In reality, they had several guys who had succeeded for at least a half season (Diamond, Worley), plus guys who had pedigrees (Hendriks--minor league domination in '12, Gibson) and none of them have succeeded this year.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      I'm fine with waiting for a couple of the top prospects in baseball to become cornerstones of the position players. However, the continual roulette of a starting rotation needs to be fixed. I was hoping the Twins would have three guys written in ink for 2014 and that simply isn't true. I hope they sign a good free agent (Hughes or better), trade for somebody else (comparable to acquiring Vanimal though that didn't work out), and see what happens with the corps of middle rotation guys. In reality, they had several guys who had succeeded for at least a half season (Diamond, Worley), plus guys who had pedigrees (Hendriks--minor league domination in '12, Gibson) and none of them have succeeded this year.
      Completely agree. My guess is Ryan is looking for stability in the rotation for 2014 and not a whole lot more. In other words, he wants 5 starters who will take the ball every fifth day. Correia and Gibson are locks and I'm hoping September auditions yield a third. Ryan will pick up a second tier FA for the fourth and as a another posted said, a thumb wrestling contest will be held during spring training for the fifth.

      This could change obviously. Hopefully our scouts find someone they like in Japan or is Cuban etc. But I think 5 stable arms is the floor for 2014.
    1. S.'s Avatar
      S. -
      How does a rotation of Correia, Gibson, two other pitchers we already have, and one second tier FA make for 5 stable arms?
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      Completely agree. My guess is Ryan is looking for stability in the rotation for 2014 and not a whole lot more. In other words, he wants 5 starters who will take the ball every fifth day. Correia and Gibson are locks and I'm hoping September auditions yield a third. Ryan will pick up a second tier FA for the fourth and as a another posted said, a thumb wrestling contest will be held during spring training for the fifth.

      This could change obviously. Hopefully our scouts find someone they like in Japan or is Cuban etc. But I think 5 stable arms is the floor for 2014.
      Someone mentioned it before, but I imagine Worley gets a long look and he is a candidate to bounce back next year. There should be no locks next year (unless they keep Correia), and I still predict two guys are brought in.

      It's not perfect, but out of Correia, Worley, Gibson, Diamond, Deduno, Albers, Hendriks the Twins should be able to scrap three starters together to begin the season, with Meyer and May waiting in the wings and combine that with two free agents.

      I also think they sign a corner bat, and perhaps they surprise us with Guerrero.
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