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Twins Two-Way Planning

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Players with less than three years of major league service time will typically sign one year, two-way contracts. Now that spring training has started, expect many of the Twins players to sign such contracts in the next week. These two-way contracts are for a certain dollar value if the player is in the big leagues, and another (significantly smaller) dollar value if they are playing in the minor leagues.

The Two-Way Contract means that a player is EITHER making $X in the big leagues OR $(X Ė LOTS) in the minor leagues.
With Terry Ryan at the helm and so many difficult questions to be answered when the season starts, it appears that the Twins have set up a Two-Way Planning system for the 2012 season. How it plays out will be determined by a series of EITHER/OR scenarios.

The biggest EITHER/OR scenario is will the Twins be able to complete for a division title in 2012? We can all make assumptions, but we donít know, and there are so many factors.

FACTORS

  • The health of Joe Mauer
  • The health of Justin Morneau
  • The health of Denard Span
  • The elbow of Scott Baker
  • The durability of Carl Pavano
  • The mindset and performance of Francisco Liriano
  • The improvements of Danny Valencia, Ben Revere and other young players
  • Matt Capps ability to get outs in the 9th
  • 2-5 bullpen arms need to step up and contribute consistently well.
  • Minor Leaguers coming up and contributing when needed throughout the season (Hendriks, Diamond, Gutierrez, Guerra, Waldrop, Oliveros, Benson, Parmelee, Dozier, etc.)

Each one of those ten Factors was a factor whether or not the Twins brought in any free agents. If seven or eight of those factors wind up positive for the Twins, they have a chance to compete.

NEW VARIABLES
  • Josh Willingham Ė The outfielder will likely replace the offensive production of Michael Cuddyer and play about as well defensively. He has a career track record of walking a lot, striking out a lot and hitting a bunch of home runs.
  • Jamey Carroll Ė the middle infielder should help solidify an infield defense that was pretty atrocious last year. He also perfectly profiles as a #2 hitter due to a very good on-base percentage.
  • Ryan Doumit Ė Likely becomes the teamís #2 starting catcher meaning he should start most of the games that Joe Mauer doesnít behind the plate. On other days, he should get a lot of time as a DH, at 1B and even in RF. Offensively, he should add plenty of extra base hits.
  • Jason Marquis Ė Although many Twins fans did not like this acquisition (and Iím not wild about it myself), Marquis has put together a pretty solid career. He was even pretty good last year in Washington (9-5, 3.95 ERA) before being traded to Arizona where he hurt his leg. He strikes out about as many Pavano. Letís hope that he can eat that many innings!
  • Joel Zumaya - The ultimate in Ďinjury risk,í Zumaya hasnít pitched in nearly two years. However, he had a good throwing session in front of a lot of scouts. He still throws pretty hard. It will be very interesting to see how the Twins use him and how much he has to contribute.

Although none of the above are All-Stars (with the possible exception of Willingham), they are the types of players that will compliment the roster well.

The Two-Way Plan


All of that background gets us to The Two-Way Plan for July. Because we donít know for sure how it will play out, they will need to be written as IF/THEN statements.

Scenario One


IF seven or eight of the factors listed above are going positively, AND the Twins are getting positive performances from their minor leaguers and these new players, AND the team is in contention in mid-July, THEN they will have plenty of payroll flexibility to add a significant piece or two at the deadline, if they choose.

Scenario Two


However, IF things are not going well, AND they are enduring another year of injuries to key players, AND players are not stepping up as needed, AND the Twins find themselves well out of contention in July, THEN they have accumulated a lot of trade pieces to start a more rapid rebuilding plan.

Carl Pavano, Jason Marquis and Francisco Liriano are all free agents at the end of the season. They could be traded. Scott Baker has an option at just over $9 million. He could be traded. Alexi Casilla, Ryan Doumit and Jamey Carroll could both be traded to a contender needing to fill a role. If the Twins sour on any of their players that are out of options, they could be traded.

The Twins have a $100 million payroll, so they are saying the right things, saying that they believe that with accountability, healthy and performance, they can compete. They have done so while also being in a position to go to a full-blown rebuild if the situation presents itself. I donít know if that strategy is intentional, but the roster sets up to accommodate either option.

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