• 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. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      The time to figure out the players who will fill in around Sano, Rosario, and Buxton started awhile ago, and yet the Twins have done little to figure it out. Willingham, Doumit, and Morneau do nothing for the future and I cringe when I think about all of them being with the team next year. Arcia and Dozier have made it, though Arcia is a borderline DH and Dozier at second base is a problem given Rosario. It would seem to me that Parmelee and Colabello need a full tryout, and it might eventually be a good idea for Plouffe and Parmelee to form a platoon (look at those L/R splits) together at first or in right. I would think that Escobar is going to simply replace Carroll for awhile in 2014.

      The pitching situation cannot be remedied by bringing in another Correia or Pelfrey type. Spending on Johnson, E. Santana or someone like that and then figuring something out around that FA signing is what I would do. Meyer and May need to arrive sometime next year. Hendriks needs to be pitching for the Twins the remainder of the year.
      Actually I think the Twins figured out exactly who will help going forward. This season was very instructional.
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      2014 Starting Staff:
      Correira
      Deduno
      Gibson
      Worley
      Diamond

      Meyer and May in AAA
      If they don't sign at least one decent pitcher this offseason they're fooling themselves. That starting rotation screams 100 losses.

      How about this?

      Josh Johnson
      Dan Haren
      Kevin Correia
      Scott Diamond
      Kyle Gibson

      Deduno, Meyer, Worley and May in AAA.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Actually I think the Twins figured out exactly who will help going forward. This season was very instructional.
      How did they do that, I ask? The verdict is in on Parmelee and Colabello, then?
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      How did they do that, I ask? The verdict is in on Parmelee and Colabello, then?
      The verdict is getting closer on both. Bench guys, occasional starters, to me.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      How did they do that, I ask?
      Yeah, I have absolutely no idea how that conclusion could be reached either.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Would people give up Rosario for Gallardo? If not, how do you propose the Twins acquire him?
      Keep in mind that there is value in taking the salary from Milwaukee. I would start with Travis Harrison, DJ Baxendale, and Luke Bard.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Ed View Post
      The verdict is getting closer on both. Bench guys, occasional starters, to me.
      Well someone has to play RF on a regular basis, or LF post Buxton-Hicks being together (unless Arcia improves significantly). I do think that Parmelee and Colabello are going to be bench guys, but I would still like to see them playing for the Twins on a regular basis. Somehow the Twins weren't willing to just pay Morneau's damn contract and trade him (no excuse for this).
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Would people give up Rosario for Gallardo? If not, how do you propose the Twins acquire him?
      Haha, maybe the Twins can ship them Correia and offer to pay the rest of his contract! Milwaukee gets a 5th starter for free!
    1. whosafraidofluigirussolo's Avatar
      whosafraidofluigirussolo -
      (unless Arcia improves significantly).

      Is there some hope for him to improve on defense, though? I don't get to watch many games living where I live, so I'm not sure how his arm is, but I'd think his speed and mobility in the field would be an OK base to build from, considering his age and that he was playing CF a few years ago.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Arcia's arm is strong. Haven't seen a lot of chances to throw out runners yet so I'm not sure how the accuracy is. Mobility is Delmonesque
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      How did they do that, I ask? The verdict is in on Parmelee and Colabello, then?
      It seemed like they were focused on getting a verdict primarily on Dozier, Florimon and strangely enough (and specifically relating to Parm and Cola), Doumit.

      Drjim is wildly overstating his case if he really believes that the Twins have "exactly figured out" who will help going forward. "Exactly"? Really? For every question answered (MI), it seems many more are still unanswered (corner IF, corner OF and CF, Starting Rotation).
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Double post.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Keep in mind that there is value in taking the salary from Milwaukee. I would start with Travis Harrison, DJ Baxendale, and Luke Bard.
      Those would be players to start with. Perhaps Levi Michael, Summers as well.

      Agreed, taking on salary has a pretty big value these days in trades.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Well someone has to play RF on a regular basis, or LF post Buxton-Hicks being together (unless Arcia improves significantly). I do think that Parmelee and Colabello are going to be bench guys, but I would still like to see them playing for the Twins on a regular basis. Somehow the Twins weren't willing to just pay Morneau's damn contract and trade him (no excuse for this).
      I didn't get that either. Pay the salary anyway. Get something back.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      It seemed like they were focused on getting a verdict primarily on Dozier, Florimon and strangely enough (and specifically relating to Parm and Cola), Doumit.

      Drjim is wildly overstating his case if he really believes that the Twins have "exactly figured out" who will help going forward. "Exactly"? Really? For every question answered (MI), it seems many more are still unanswered (corner IF, corner OF and CF, Starting Rotation).
      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.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by whosafraidofluigirussolo View Post
      (unless Arcia improves significantly).

      Is there some hope for him to improve on defense, though? I don't get to watch many games living where I live, so I'm not sure how his arm is, but I'd think his speed and mobility in the field would be an OK base to build from, considering his age and that he was playing CF a few years ago.
      Any description concerning Arcia's mobility (and to a lesser extent, speed) must include the qualifier, "or lack thereof". It's hard to believe he ever played CF except in an emergency, he is very poor at judging, or getting a good jump on, fly balls. His arm is plenty solid enough, though.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      It seemed like they were focused on getting a verdict primarily on Dozier, Florimon and strangely enough (and specifically relating to Parm and Cola), Doumit.

      Drjim is wildly overstating his case if he really believes that the Twins have "exactly figured out" who will help going forward. "Exactly"? Really? For every question answered (MI), it seems many more are still unanswered (corner IF, corner OF and CF, Starting Rotation).
      Colabello and Parmelee are not solutions. Neither is Plouffe. Maybe bench players. This is clearly answered.

      I agree the Twins still have long term holes in the positions you suggested. This season was useful for finding out who won't be part of that solution.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Keep in mind that there is value in taking the salary from Milwaukee. I would start with Travis Harrison, DJ Baxendale, and Luke Bard.
      Can we add Duensing and Adam Walker?
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Colabello and Parmelee are not solutions. Neither is Plouffe. Maybe bench players. This is clearly answered.

      I agree the Twins still have long term holes in the positions you suggested. This season was useful for finding out who won't be part of that solution.
      Well they messed around significantly with Parmelee pre-2013 and then gave up on him in favor of players like DOUMIT this year. Also, I do think that it is quite possible that a Parmelee/Plouffe platoon in RF or at 1B next year could be part of the solution. Plouffe hits lefties exceptionally well, and Parmelee hits righties acceptably at the moment. It's feasible that they combine for an .780-.800 OPS next year in a platoon.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      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.

      I'd add another name to this list: Brian Duensing. In fact, I'd move him to the front of the list of trade candidates in the bullpen. Thielbar's emergence essentially makes him expendable, and Duensing has really revived his value with an unbelievable month of August (11.1 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 16/0 K/BB).
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