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  • Why Not? Here's my Blueprint

    I’ve never told anyone this story…

    Mostly because I just made it up...

    And also because if I didn’t make it up, you still wouldn’t believe it…


    I had never been more excited to attend a baseball game than I was to attend Game 1 of the 2010 American League Division Series against the Yankees. It was the first playoff game to ever happen at Target Field and my seats were great.

    I remember that funny feeling – nothing like Game 163 – when things were happening, either good or bad, and the crowd just seemed disinterested. It was really weird… and part of me figured it was a lot of people that were there because it was the first playoff game, not because they really wanted to be there. Corporate big-wigs sitting in their over-priced padded seats for the first time since April, probably.

    As I took the walk back to my car, knowing that a three-game sweep was inevitable, I noticed a glimmer in the parking ramp stairwell. It was a lamp. Not a lamp that the Amish use to guide their buggies around my neighborhood; no, it was a lamp that looked a lot like the one in Aladdin.

    So I picked it up and rubbed it.

    And sure enough, out came a genie. It wasn’t the blue genie that you’re all picturing. It wasn’t like that at all. The genie was darker, pudgier and had a funny eye. “Holy smokes! You’re Kirby Puckett!” I was sure of it.

    The genie replied that he wasn’t, he was just a genie… but he talked real fast and laughed real deep and we both knew: he was Kirby Puckett.

    He told me he was going to grant me three wishes, but he needed to warn me: No matter what I wished for, the next three seasons were going end with 90 or more losses.

    I immediately realized that prolonged losing might mean trading away Joe Mauer. So without thinking, I used my first wish. “I wish for Joe Mauer to spend his entire career with the Twins.”

    Kirby the Genie shook his head, “Alright.”

    I thought more about the upcoming seasons. How hard was it going to be to make it through the next three years? “I wish that the Twins will have a Top 3 farm system going into 2014.”

    I knew that couldn’t happen overnight and, even with three great drafts that alone wouldn’t lead to a contending team in 2014. So I used wish number three.

    “I wish the Twins would have the space and the willingness to spend big when they get back to the point where they can compete.”

    Kirby winked, laughed and told me he’d grant my wishes. And with that, he was gone.

    Well, here we are. We’ve suffered through the three straight losing seasons. We’ve got Baby Jesus for life. We’ve got a Top 3 if not the Top 1 farm system. And we’ve got the means to spend now, adding pieces for 2014, but keeping our eyes on 2015 and 2016.

    I’m going to make five moves this offseason:

    1) Sign Phil Hughes. While he’s not the #1 fans are hoping for (who is?), leaving Yankee Stadium and coming to Target Field is going to steer his career down a whole different path. Plus, he’s on the right side of 30. I’ll give him 3 years and up to $33 million. I’m going to give him $3 million just for signing, $9 million per year and have a buyout of $3 million on a fourth year at $13 million. I agree, it’s excessive… but it’s a willingness to spend, just like I wished.

    2) Trade for Chad Billingsley. This is another move that comes with risk. Billingsley did, in fact, miss 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery and there is no guarantee that he’ll even be ready when April rolls around. Oh, and he is the final year of a 3-yr/$35 million contract. But here’s the deal: The Twins have shown interest in Billingsley before and, even though they’re strapped with cash, Billingsley is on the outside-looking-in when it comes to L.A.’s rotation. And the kicker, there is some belief the Dodgers weren’t happy when Billingsley decided to try the rehab and PRP therapy in lieu of surgery, which happened anyway. I’ll offer a mid-level prospect (Matt Summers, maybe?) and in return the Dodgers pick up $6 million of this year’s contract, that leaves the Twins paying the other $6 million and the last $1 million installment of the buyout. They also get the chance to pay him $11 million for 2015 or cut him loose. (That’s the $14 million minus the $3 million of the buyout that was paid already.) A risky move for 2014 that could potentially be a huge steal for 2015.

    3) Trade Oswaldo Arcia to the Rangers. With Nelson Cruz on his way out and David Murphy a free agent, there is a corner outfield spot available. The Rangers have also said they’ll explore moving Elvis Andrus or Ian Kinsler to make room for Jurickson Profar. If the Twins could package Arcia in a deal to get Andrus without giving up the farm, I’d do it… I just don’t see that happening. More likely, I see the Twins sending Arcia to the Rangers in exchange for a couple minor-league arms: RHP Luke Jackson, who would start in AA, and Victor Payano, a 6-6 lefty who was in high-A last year but is still very projectable. Jackson is a hard-thrower who misses bats but walks a bunch, too. There might have to be a little more going back to Texas, but that’s the price of business.

    So why trade Arcia, you wonder? Well, I’ll start the year with an outfield of Willingham-Presley-Parmelee/Doumit, which, admittedly, isn’t pretty. (Would it be that much prettier with Arcia out there?) But eventually Hicks comes back up and isn’t terrible. And after the All-Star break, Buxton comes up. I’d also move Eddie Rosario back to the OF and picture late 2014 with an outfield of Rosario-Buxton-Hicks.

    4) Sign A.J. Pierzynski. I want to let Pinto get some more AAA at-bats under his belt. I don’t know what it will cost to get A.J., but if I could get him for a year at $8 million, I could handle that.

    5) Get lucky on the scrap heap. I’m looking at you, Johan. Maybe it’s a $3 million, incentive-laiden deal with a team option of 2015. Even if Santana passes, there are a number of names that could be interesting as reclamation projects: Roberto Hernandez/Fausto Carmona, Ryan Vogelsong and Edinson Volquez are just a few names that could fit with small guarantees and big incentives.

    This puts the Opening Day payroll at a very manageable $92,805,000. It also puts the team in position to spend going into 2015 as well, with less than $37 million committed to Mauer, Perkins and Hughes, the only three guys under contract.
    This article was originally published in blog: Why Not? Here's my Blueprint started by Jeremy Nygaard
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. the_youngster's Avatar
      the_youngster -
      I like these ideas. I truly feel as if the Rangers would love Arcia (he just seems like their kind of player), and who knows, perhaps thats helps for a good return. I forgot about Billingsley, but I like the idea. It is important to pay attention towards the attitudes teams have towards their own players, and it could be the perfect concoction for a steal. And based on the recent history of American pitchers coming back from Japan, I would really like one of Lewis, vogelsong, or Messenger (I would rank them Messenger, Vogelsong, Lewis). It's not a rule that they play well upon return, but it has been a good trend recently nonetheless. Hughes just makes too much sense. The pitchers to target (realistically) IMO have to be Hughes, the Santanas, the aforementioned trio, Kazmir, and perhaps Haren. A lot of injury and ineffectiveness in the past from those arms, but we do have to look towards the future of the team while thinking of the future of these players. There are quite a few more elderly pitchers who might have one last burst left in their careers (Carpenter, Hudson, Halladay, and of course Johan). As a faithful Minnesotan, I do want a flier to be taken on Johnson, not a guaranteed spot in the rotation, but a look nonetheless (perhaps he becomes a reliever to protect his body). He could be a nice story, which fan bases love to have (although winning comes first of course). There are pitchers out there, high risk ones, but they're out there.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Arcia and the rangers does seem like a good match. But...I think you are undervaluing him. I would say he is a better prospect/player than Revere was and twins got a what looked to be a decent return at the time for Revere. So I think they could get more than some AA pitcher.

      Billingsley I am against. I would rather they wait for his recovery year and go after him next year.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Not bad other than Arcia is the only LH power hitter the Twins have (sad times) and people seem to forget what kind of (expletive deleted) A.J. Pierzynski was to his former teammates, while the White Sox and want to bring him back. Not the first time that I've heard his name this off-season. Not happening with the Twins.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Not bad other than Arcia is the only LH power hitter the Twins have (sad times) and people seem to forget what kind of (expletive deleted) A.J. Pierzynski was to his former teammates, while the White Sox and want to bring him back. Not the first time that I've heard his name this off-season. Not happening with the Twins.
      I'm not going to disagree about Arcia, other than that, besides Jim Thome, LH hitters have come to Target Field to die. Would it be wrong to build a lineup that consisted of a RH power and LH slap? Probably a little...

      I hated AJ. I'd really be happy with any catcher at a decent rate that is dependable and good at the defensive part.
    1. Craig in MN's Avatar
      Craig in MN -
      I like the Billingsley trade idea. Bringing in a pitcher with a history of excellence is a good idea if you can afford it. It's a short commitment and they've got more money than they can spend, so why not? If he is close to the pitcher he was, then they can keep him for 2015 as well. I've been in favor of trading for Wandy Rodriguez, but I like the Billingsley option better.

      The Dodgers don't have many holes, but the do have some spots open in their bullpen. I wonder if they would be interested in Duensing, Swarzak, etc, as part of the return for Billingsley. It's not going to "wow" them, but it fills some holes for them and makes some sense. I can't say that the Twins have a surplus in the bullpen but there's a lot of guys that deserve a shot that might not be getting them without making some room.

      I don't see the point of trading Arcia, unless you are getting a shortstop in return and I don't expect to get that from Texas.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Maybe if Billingsley was a 3rd addition. I would like to see a synopsis of SP performance the 1st year after TJ relative to their performance prior to TJ. We just made this mistake with Pelfrey. I realize he is a better pitcher than Pelfrey and you are advocating an option year but Hughes / Billingsley sounds like a slightly upgraded version of Pelfrey/Correia. Why would this be preferable to 3 year deals with two of Feldman / Nolasco / Kazmir? Maybe add Johnson to the mix as a 3rd option providing high upside.

      I would even prefer Burnett and Hughes.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      I generally like the plan, but I don't see Hughes signing a multi-year deal when his value is so low. MLB Trade Rumors predicts a 1 year, $8 million contract for him. If Hughes doesn't want a longer term than that, do you go after anyone else this offseason? I guess any rotation additions are good right now, but it would be nice to add one beyond one or two years.

      I like the Billingsley idea. I have no clue what the Dodgers are doing, but I think I'd be willing to eat the whole salary too, if we're not giving up anything more than a marginal prospect or two. Billy Smith might have made that trade.

      Elvis Andrus? I want no part of that contract. And while flipping Arcia for young pitchers sounds like a decent play, I'd rather hang on to him and take more risks on free agent pitchers. Trading a cheap young guy instead of paying older guys would fall under "shortcuts" for me.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      FWIW, MLB Trade Rumors predicts Kazmir goes 2/16 to the Twins -- I would take that in a heartbeat, I think.

      They also are linking the Twins with Bronson Arroyo, who they previously pegged at 2/24. I don't think I'd mind that one either as a secondary move.

      Also linked us to Jason Vargas, and predicted his deal would be 3/28.5. I think I'd prefer to stay away from him, if we can land one of the other guys.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Doogie reported that the Giants are leaders for Arroyo. I'd not be against Kazmir, if that's the way they went.

      You're all selling Victor Payano short. He's a year - maybe two - behind Meyer, but has that type of ceiling, just not as high of floor. Plus he's left-handed.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      Doogie reported that the Giants are leaders for Arroyo. I'd not be against Kazmir, if that's the way they went.

      You're all selling Victor Payano short. He's a year - maybe two - behind Meyer, but has that type of ceiling, just not as high of floor. Plus he's left-handed.
      I'm really warming up to the idea of signing Kazmir. Lefty with upside that won't require anything more than a 2 year deal. If he busts it won't hurt the franchise. Also, I really like the outside the box thinking on Billingsly. Personally, I kind of want the Twins to trade for Dempster. Should be cheap (prospect wise), has some upside, and if he is pitching well at the deadline could bring back a few assets.
    1. jjp2299's Avatar
      jjp2299 -
      I disagree with many things he says. First Arcia for Elvis A and a prospect is a terrible idea. Arcia is a big power threat and could easily hit 30 HRs a year. And the biggest reason is that he can do this while being only 23. Plus we will be fine with a middle infield of Danny Santana/ Pedro Florimon at short and Dozier at 2nd. I do agree with him in moving Rosario back to the outfield but I have him in RF. With the Alighment from left to right of Hicks, Buxton and Rosario. While having Arcia split time in the corner outfield spots and DH. But I don't see this until 2015. Because I dont believe Buxton will be in majors until then. 2nd NO on the Hughes. For the same price you could get A Ricky Nolasco And Bronson Arroyo. Both will have better numbers all around. The only one I would take a flyer on that is a Yankee is Jaba. He might be able to become a Long Relieve or 7th inning guy. 3rd Billingsley is a bad idea. He is basically the same as Pelfrey was last year. Except he cost more. Billingsley would be atleast 6 million while Pelfrey was only 3 million. If we are looking for a guy who could mentor and have a bounce back year after an injury give me Roy Halladay, Johan Santana or Scott Baker. 4th While I would like to see A.J. back with the Twins he isnt worth the money. I would rather take Jarrod Saltawhateveritis. He would come cheaper. And has stated that he will take the option with the most security. I would give him 4 years at 20 million. with a player option for a 5th year. Or go and trade for Miguel Montero he had a terrible year but has a history of being a above average catcher all around. And finally 5th for the scrap heap there are a few. First solve the problem at first by signing and bringing back Jason Kubel. And for the rotation the only ones I would take a chance on are Roy Oswalt and Brett Myers. Both would come very cheap and could have good years.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I like the Billingsly idea but, unless they want to cut payroll, they'd be selling low on him. Doesn't make much sense for them. (Or, we could overpay).
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Welcome to the party JJP.

      A few things... I don't think Arcia plus would net Andrus. I want pitching anyway.

      We can disagree on the OF, that's fine.

      I think you'll see that Hughes, Nolasco and Arroyo aren't in the same range. But sure, I'll take any of the three. I just would take them in that order.

      You're right on the Pelf/Billingsley comp, but there is a lot more money in the market this year. Plus Pelf made over $4m, which, with inflation, is the new $6m, IMO.

      Lastly, your Salty prediction is way off. Law had him at 4/36. No way he's signing for 4/20. If you wanna spend big on a catcher, go McCann or go home... And get a guy for a year.

      Kubel, eh? He's not gonna solve any problems. And, while I'm not opposed to scrap heap pitchers, I am opposed to Myers and Oswalt.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I don't like any of these moves, really.

      1. While I don't mind Phil Hughes, giving 11 million/yr to a guy who's had a 4.85 ERA over the past 3 years is pretty irresponsible. You're completely banking on his potential and asking the Twins to improve a pitcher is too much for them.

      2. I like Chad Billingsley, but I don't like signing pitchers who just had major surgery. Especially after seeing what happened to Marcum last season.

      3. Trading Arcia seems a little raw to me. We haven't even seen what we've got with him and prospect for prospect deals are very, very risky. I think Arcia will be an offensive weapon and his first year shows a lot of promise.

      4. If you want Pinto to get more AAA at bats, make Doumit catch. He's supposed to do something for this team, so minus well make use of him. It's not like it's killing our likely dead 2014 playoff bid.

      5. I don't like scrap heap projects if they are going to cost more than 2 million. I feel like some of the names you listed will get more than that and to me, not worth it. Maybe there's a savvy move to be made here. It's tough to know who it is, however.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      Lame.... here is my blueprint. It is probably as lame, but then I have not run the Twins to 3 consecutive 95+ loss seasons with very little to show for it.

      Lets start with about the only solid position on the team, catching. Joe Mauer is still a quality player, but injury concerns and career longetvity are a factor. Mauer is going to play 50% of the games at catcher, with Josimil Pinto playing the other 50%. Mauer will play catcher 100% of the time against LHP with Pinto being the DH in those situations. Mauer will then play another 55 games at DH and 1B.

      Outfield. Arcia is about the only young player that has been "developed" in this gloomy three year stretch. It is highly doubtful that hte Twins will trade him and he is penciled in as the everyday RF.

      Aaron Hicks needs to start the season in the majors as the starting CF. THey need to take this season to prove if he can make it in the majors. When you rebuild a team, some of the options work and some fail. BUT YOU HAVE TO PUT EFFORT INTO THE FAILURE. The Twins 1980's rebuilding process did not find a solution to CF until midway in 1984 with Kirby Puckett. But Hicks needs to prove he belongs or not by playing in the majors, not being evaluated in the minors.

      Josh WIllingham is penciled in as the starting LF. Obviously he is not part of the rebuilding program, but what he is auditioning for is a spot on anotehr team. Hopefully a healthy Willingham will hit the ball and we can move him before the trade deadline.

      Alex Presley should be the 4th OF.

      In the infield, unfortunately the Twins are set at all four positions. Brian Dozier is at second hoping to prove that last year's season wasn't a fluke. If he can continue to hit at that pace he will have a solid MLB career. WIthout any other options, Pedro Florimon is the SS. In a team without many other options he is the least of their problems because he is a reasonable fielder and has a little pop in his bat. At 3B the Twins will stick with Trevor Plouffe at least for a half a season. But if Sano has any early success in the minors he is being brought up. Development can and should happen at the major league level and this is an opportunity to get a jump start on Sano's career.

      At the utility infield positon the Twins really do not have many options. Over the long run I think that the utility guy should be Brian Dozier and I would give him 16 games over the first half of the year playing 3B platooning with Plouffe at the position. I doubt the Twins will promote Santana or Rosario in 2014, and they will most likely find some low end veteran like Jamey Carroll or stick with Escobar or Bernier as the extra infielder.

      At 1B the Twins really have few options. Ryan Doumit would be the player that is penciled in from the group of players already on the roster. This is the place were they go find a low end free agent of dubious quality to demonstrate more futile play in a major losing season. In the 2nd half, I can see Plouffe and Mauer/Doumit platooning at the position.

      The starting pitching is even more of a problem. Kevin Correia will be the "ace". If he remains injury free he should be good for 185 innings at 4.00-4.75 ERA. Not a bad 4th starter but we just have him at the top of the pile.

      If I am the Twins and he is healthy, Alex Meyer is my 2nd starter. There is no reason why (again, if healthy) for him to pitch in the minor leagues. He will be 24 years old next season. He is either ready or he is not. By comparison, when Frank Viola was the age of Alex Meyer he had already pitched 593 major league innings and as a 24 year old had a 18-12 year with a 3.21 ERA. What are they waiting for? But then, this is the Twins so Meyer will probably start the season in AA, then move to AAA and at best a late September callup that really means nothing. This isn't rushing some high school guy, this is a college drafted pitcher. My guess is the Twins will attempt to find another Kevin Correia here, but the problem for them is that in their perrenial search for Kevin Correia they have struck out 5 times for every Keving Correia they have found and their biggest target is probably bringing back Mike Pelfrey.

      The 3rd, 4th, and 5th starters will probably be an up and down escalator that features the names of Scott Diamond, Samuel Deduno, Andrew Albers, Liam Hendricks, Kyle Gibson, and Vance Worley. But, in my opinion, the 3rd starter on this existing staff should be handed to Anthony Swarzak. For some reason, this guy pitched 96 innings in last seasons debacle at a 2.91 ERA. It is baffling that they gave the ball in the first inning to start the game to Hendricks (8 starts), PJ Walters (8), Cole DeVries (2), and Pedro Hernandez (12) without ever once putting Anthony Swarzak in the rotation to see what he can do. Stupid is, as stupid does. THis was stupid.

      Kyle Gibson is my 4th starter, sinkerball or swim. In a way, Gibson reminds me of Scott Erickson. Erickson had such a tremendous start to his career with his sinking fastball. As a 22 year old he went 8-4 with a 2.87 ERA in the latter part of the 1990 season, then went 20-8 in the World Series 1991 season as a 23 year old (again, why are we moving these top prospects along so slowly???). But, after that, Erickson was not as successful and one reason for that is hitters learned not to chase the sinking fastball. Gibson needs to incorporate his sinker with his other pitches, including a 4-seamer that he can throw to get ahead of the hitters. If he can do that, he could develop into a very nasty pitcher. THIS IS THE YEAR TO SEE IF HE CAN. Give him the ball and let him throw innings.

      As far as the relief crew, that is the 2nd strength of the team. The entire bullpen should be brought back. In my blueprint we need a replacement long reliever for Swarzak, but that is not a difficult player to replace.

      The real work starts after this season. Sano might make his MLB debut in 2014 (probably not knowing the Twins) and Rosario, and maybe even Buxton might get a cup of coffee. But in 2015 almost all of these prospects shoudl be at the major league level. That year might be a bad season, just as 2014 projects to be. But by then we should have most of the pieces put together for a true contending team.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
      I don't like any of these moves, really.

      1. While I don't mind Phil Hughes, giving 11 million/yr to a guy who's had a 4.85 ERA over the past 3 years is pretty irresponsible. You're completely banking on his potential and asking the Twins to improve a pitcher is too much for them..
      So what do you call the Blackburn, Pavano and Capps contracts?

      And check his splits. Yankee stadium has been his problem. In 2013, he had a 3.88 ERA in away games...
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      Lame.... here is my blueprint. It is probably as lame
      Moderator's note: Folks, let's avoid this kind of thing. I realize the last part of it is intended to lighten it a little, but really this otherwise acceptable post would have said the same thing without the intro at all.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      So what do you call the Blackburn, Pavano and Capps contracts?
      Water under the bridge? (Or a couple of bridges ago?)
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      Moderator's note: Folks, let's avoid this kind of thing. I realize the last part of it is intended to lighten it a little, but really this otherwise acceptable post would have said the same thing without the intro at all.
      I can handle having my blueprint called lame. It got me to read the next 1200 words he wrote that only suggested playing Ryan Doumit at first (failed thought) and having Meyer back up a 78-inning year by being the Opening Day #2 starter.
    1. Trevor0333's Avatar
      Trevor0333 -
      You lost me at Arcyalater...

      Some good points & he is one of the few legitimate trade chips the team has but he is just scratching the surface. With Buxton coming sooner than later I think Hicks would be a better option to move over Arcia.

      I'e always thought Billingsly was under rated but Im leary on taking chances on playes the year removed from TJ. A guy like Colby Lewis who is 2 years removed from major arm issues now would be better bets IMO.

      There were the reports that the Rangers were very happy with the way Cruz handled the whole suspension sitaution. Even sticking around the clubhouse to support the team while he was out. I'd imagine a resigning with a lil hometown discount is inevitable.
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