December 19, 2011
Where do we go from here? Where do we go?
And is it real or just something we think we know?
Where are we going now? Where do we go?
Cause if it's the same as yesterday you know I'm out, just so you know
I examined the Twins' roster in early October to see which holes needed filling and how much money was available to fill them, but in the two-and-a-half months since then they've filled out the lineup with Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit, and Jamey Carroll, dumped Kevin Slowey and Jose Mijares, and indicated that the payroll will drop from $115 million to $100 million or so. With all that in mind, here's an updated look at where the Twins' roster and payroll stand:
LINEUP BENCH C: Joe Mauer - $23.00 million C: Drew Butera - $0.48 million 1B: Justin Morneau - $15.00 million IF: Tsuyoshi Nishioka - $3.00 million 2B: Alexi Casilla - $1.50 million IF: Luke Hughes - $0.48 million SS: Jamey Carroll - $2.75 million OF: Trevor Plouffe - $0.48 million 3B: Danny Valencia - $0.48 million LF: Ben Revere - $0.48 million CF: Denard Span - $3.00 million RF: Josh Willingham - $7.00 million DH: Ryan Doumit - $3.00 million
There's still some talk of the Twins re-signing Jason Kubel and I'm sure they haven't ruled out acquiring various other position players via free agency or trade, but it shouldn't shock anyone if the Opening Day roster includes the above nine starters and four bench players. Their three lineup holes back in October were shortstop, right field, and designated hitter, and those were filled by Carroll, Willingham, and Doumit for $12.75 million. Here's my projected batting order:
1. Denard Span, L 2. Jamey Carroll, R 3. Joe Mauer, L 4. Josh Willingham, R 5. Justin Morneau, L 6. Ryan Doumit, S 7. Danny Valencia, R 8. Alexi Casilla, S 9. Ben Revere, L
Terry Ryan also revealed that the Twins no longer plan to use Trevor Plouffe as an infielder and his switch to the outfield clears up the bench picture somewhat. Ben Revere can serve as the backup center fielder while starting in left field and Doumit is capable of playing an outfield corner, leaving Plouffe as the bench's lone outfielder. Tsuyoshi Nishioka sounds likely to get a second chance as utility man, Luke Hughes is out of options, and they still love Drew Butera.
If those are the 13 position players on the Opening Day roster they'll combine to earn around $60.5 million, depending on Alexi Casilla's raise in arbitration. That would leave approximately $40 million to spend on what is all but guaranteed to be a 12-man pitching staff, which at the moment still has at least a couple holes to fill (and makes it tough to envision Kubel returning unless his price really drops). Here's how the rotation and bullpen look right now:
ROTATION BULLPEN SP: Carl Pavano - $8.50 million RH: Matt Capps - $4.75 million SP: Scott Baker - $6.00 million LH: Glen Perkins - $2.00 million SP: Francisco Liriano - $5.50 million LH: Brian Duensing - $0.48 million SP: Nick Blackburn - $4.75 million RH: Alex Burnett - $0.48 million SP: [UNKNOWN] RH: Anthony Swarzak - $0.48 million RH: Terry Doyle - $0.48 million RP: [UNKNOWN]
As the No. 2 pick in the Rule 5 draft I'm assuming that Terry Doyle will make the Opening Day roster, in which case they'd have 10 of the 12 spots filled for around $33.5 million. They also bought out Joe Nathan for $2 million, which leaves just $4.5 million or so for a fifth starter and a seventh reliever. Brian Duensing and Anthony Swarzak are options to start, but Duensing is needed in the bullpen and the Twins have been linked to moderately priced free agents.
Presumably signing a starter like Jeff Francis or Paul Maholm to an inexpensive one-year deal would leave enough payroll space to add some right-handed bullpen help. Duensing and Glen Perkins are a solid duo from the left side, but relying on Swarzak and Alex Burnett to get key outs from the right side seems crazy. And the Twins had MLB's worst bullpen ERA in 2011, so merely losing Nathan and re-signing Matt Capps doesn't exactly address that huge weakness.