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  • 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. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      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.
      I agree, if there is any doubt at all, Ryan will sign a second FA. Who knows, he may have already decided to. I do know he was personally and professionally embarrassed at what he sent out there this season, and he will do anything this side of 6 years for 147M to fix it.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      You know Ryan personally?
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      I don't know Ryan but having watched his work if he signs any above mediocre free agent I'll be very surprised and if the payroll doesn't drop by around 10% maybe hitting 70 I'll be even more surprised. Hope I'm wrong.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      I don't know Ryan but having watched his work if he signs any above mediocre free agent I'll be very surprised and if the payroll doesn't drop by around 10% maybe hitting 70 I'll be even more surprised. Hope I'm wrong.
      I'd be shocked if payroll was at 70 or above next year with all the money coming off this offseason. It's going to drop big time.

      Edit: Though I suppose Ryan could sign 4 or 5 players to divide 20M next year and we'd be in the mid 70s...
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by S. View Post
      How does a rotation of Correia, Gibson, two other pitchers we already have, and one second tier FA make for 5 stable arms?
      Voodoo math.

      Whats funny is that some of the 2014 rotation talk all but echoes last offseason. How'd that turn out?
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Voodoo math.

      Whats funny is that some of the 2014 rotation talk all but echoes last offseason. How'd that turn out?
      Its like the same thing, except different.....
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post

      It's not perfect, but out of Correia, Worley, Gibson, Diamond, Deduno, Albers, Hendriks the Twins should be able to scrap three starters...
      Totally agree with this. Well, two at least.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      The Twins already look like they have four impact relievers Ė Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Caleb Thielbar and Casey Fien.
      From that list I see:

      one impact reliever (Perkins)
      two very lucky relievers (with BABIPs in the .1xxs at some point) who are returning to earth (Fien and Thielbar)
      and one hit and miss guy (Burton)

      Duensing is better than Thielbar. Thielbar is a mirage. Soft tossing lefties are a dime a dozen. Duensing can hit 94-95...
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      From that list I see:

      one impact reliever (Perkins)
      two very lucky relievers (with BABIPs in the .1xxs at some point) who are returning to earth (Fien and Thielbar)
      and one hit and miss guy (Burton)

      Duensing is better than Thielbar. Thielbar is a mirage. Soft tossing lefties are a dime a dozen. Duensing can hit 94-95...
      I agree with the analysis, but Burton is probably slightly better than "hit and miss". Any reliever can have a rough couple of outings, I still trust his stuff. Fien and Thielbar, not so much.
    1. Snortwood's Avatar
      Snortwood -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      The verdict is in on Parmelee and Colabello, then?
      Neither can turn on a fastball. Hard in soft away - easy out. Yes, the verdict is in on these two.
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