Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Master Plans

Bob Collins on the Boone acquisition:

It is low risk from an on-field perspective and especially from a front-office perspective.

And if staying about the same, perhaps a slight (fingers crossed) improvement was all the Twins needed, it'd be even a better deal.

Too bad it's not.

That's about the size of it.

There are three pick-ups the Twins really could use if the front office is serious about making a pennant drive, now or next year:

  • An infielder who really can mash the ball, rather than one who use-ta-could a couple years back.
  • A corner outfielder who can hit better than Jacque Jones or Shannon Stewart.
  • A #2 pitcher better than Brad Radke.
A real commitment to a pennant drive this year requires Terry Ryan to go get at least one of those pieces in the next few weeks. Anything less is just shuffling feet, wishin' and a-hopin'.

But maybe this isn't the year Terry Ryan really wants to make a push, anyway. Should he just mark time and set his sights on 2006, instead?

Next year, the club has Santana and Radke signed for a combined $16.75m. Another $6.95m is dedicated to Nathan and Silva. Hunter will enter the last guaranteed year of his contract, at $10.75m. That brings the committed payroll to $34.45 million.

Jacque Jones' $5m can come off the books; $7.25m of this year's budget is gone if the club exercises its $500k buyout of Joe Mays; and $2.4m of the current budget (plus whatever raise he might get in arbitration next winter) can be cleared by trading Lohse. Shannon Stewart will enter the final year of his deal at $6.5m; Romero is set to make $2.2m; Castro is guaranteed $1 million. Let's set those last three aside as possibly expendible players who could be dealt to clear $9.7m of payroll.

Everybody else still under contract is due to make a relatively small amount. For less than $40 million, the Twins have their front 3 starting pitchers and at least one spot open for someone like Scott Baker, the core of a strong bullpen, Hunter in CF, Morneau at 1B, Mauer at Catcher, Ford at a corner OF spot or DH, probably Bartlett at SS, and maybe Cuddyer will be around to play 3B or 2B. Plus the cheap utility guys and Redmond will be back. And LeCroy could be back for around $1.5 million.

That's most of the essential parts of the current roster, returning for duty next year. Mauer and Morneau will have a full season of experience under their belts. Hunter should be motivated to play in what is essentially his contract year. The core of the pitching staff is intact. The GM just needs to find a corner outfielder (assuming Kubel is not ready to start every day), possibly a 3rd baseman and/or a 2nd baseman, and one starting pitcher. And he could have somewhere between $15-20 million to fill those spots.

Ponder the thought: on top of an already solid roster core, Terry Ryan really could have the budget to go get at least one premium batter or pitcher next winter. A real impact player.

And maybe that's the team, Your 2006 Minnesota Twins, which really stands the best chance of going back to the World Series in the near future. Maybe TR should be saving his trading chips for the winter and next July, rather than spending them now.

What do you think?


At 7/13/2005 3:44 AM, Anonymous Bremerton mom said...

Who do you think we'll get for Boonie? Lots of people aren't too happy with letting him go. His "rookie" replacement is just that and hitting not much better than he did. Willy even played at second this past SWEEP of the Angels!

At 7/13/2005 3:46 AM, Anonymous Kristi said...

p.s. I reposted that comment from mom, I talked to her on the phone last night and she wondered why her comment disappeared so I logged in to play internet detective -- she accidently posted it under the cellar kitty picture post.

At 7/13/2005 4:04 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

I guess all the time spent with Agatha Christie and Encyclopedia Brown wasn't entirely wasted, eh?

Mom, I thought it was callous of the club to designate Boone for assignment, after all he'd done for the team, but people are upset that he's gone? Have they been watching him try to hit the last year and a half? The M's aren't going to the playoffs this year. They might as well give Lopez a chance to show whether he'll be ready for next season, I think.

At 7/13/2005 9:44 PM, Blogger Lichty said...

I think that Mays and Lohse can be moved for something. I agree in the long run that looking to next year is tempting, but if the season were to end today the Twins would win the AL WC - the WS champ for the last several years was the WC.

It is hard to not try to do something this year given the Twins are not out of it by any stretch of the imagination.

Yes, I would like to see them cash in all of the next year goners Lohse, Mays, Jones, Rivas and get something servicable, but that is not likely.

I do not think that the market is such that dealing top prospects right now is a great idea. Who is really available that is a long term solution at any of those spots that you mentioned?

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