C. Joe Mauer- 23.0 When the Twins signed Joe Mauer to the massive 8 year 184 million dollar deal last March Twins fans knew there would always be a lack of flexibility in the payroll, but that is just something you just need to do. Unless your the Yankees when you have superstar players you need to cut corners in other parts of your team and it is no different for the Twins.
1b Justin Morneau- 14.0 The Twins owe Justin Morneau 3 years and 42 million left on his contract. If he is healthy that is a market level contract for someone of his skill set and maybe even a little below market value. However, the last two years Morneau has had difficulty staying healthy so this contract does not look as good as it did two years ago. Here's hoping that Morneau can stay healthy this year and make his contract look fair.
2b Tsuyoshi Nishioka 3.0 The Twins made their first foray into Japan by bringing in the talented middle infielder into the fold and signing him to a 3 year 9.25 deal with a team option for a fourth year. No one knows how good he is going to be for the Twins, but he hit .346 in Japan last season so there is some hope that he can hit close to .300 and play good defense. He is such an unknown that it is hard to say whether this was a good signing by the Twins or a mistake.
SS Alexi Casilla- 800,000* The asterisk means a arbitration estimate for Casilla. Alexi Casilla gets one last chance to prove that he can be a every day player for the Twins. If he struggles this year he likely will not come back in 2012. So there is some pressure on Casilla to show what he has shown in flashes over a full season. If he fails Trevor Plouffe will be waiting in AAA awaiting the call.
3b Danny Valencia- 500,000* There has not been a rookie with the kind of impact that Valencia made last year in a number of years for the Twins. Valencia proved he can hit for average with some occasional power along with playing great defense. The key for Valencia in 2011 is to prove that 2010 was not a fluke and he is the 3rd baseman the Twins have been waiting for.
LF Delmon Young- 5.25*- Delmon Young had a breakout season for the Twins last year and is entering his 2nd try at arbitration this winter. Young is under team control for two more years and will be a free agent after the 2012 season. With the season that Young put up in 2010 there is some thought that maybe the Twins should try to sign him long term right now. I would wait to see if 2010 was an abberation or a sign of things to come as Young is only 25 years old. Here is hoping that last year was just the beginning for Delmon and he is in a Twins uniform for many years to come.
CF Denard Span- 1.0 After signing a five year 16.5 deal last spring training there was hope that Denard would take his game to the next level and add some stolen bases to his game. However, Span had his worst season as a Twin in 2010 including getting picked off 9 times and having career lows in batting average, on base percentage, and OPS. Those are the only stats that matter for a guy like Span so this is a big year for him to show last season was a fluke and he can get back to being the player we all hope he can be.
RF Michael Cuddyer 10.5 Michael Cuddyer was another one that did not have as good of a year in 2010 as he did in 2009. After hitting 32 homeruns in 2009 Cuddyer's total dropped in 2010 to 14 homeruns. Cuddyer is in the last year of his contract so it is a big year for Cuddy as he heads towards free agency.
DH Jason Kubel- 5.25 Jason Kubel is another guy that is in the last year of his contract. Kubel saw his batting average drop from .300 in 2009 to .249 in 2010 and saw his OPS drop from .907 down to .750 so 2011 is a huge year for Kubel. With Chris Parmelee knocking on the door Kubel really needs to step it up in 2011 if he wants to remain with the Twins.
C Drew Butera- 500,000 Butera returns for a second season as the backup catcher for the Twins. Offensively he is not someone you count for much, but defensively there are not a lot better defensively behind the plate. He will be back in 2011 and the hope that he can improve a bit offensively.
Inf Matt Tolbert- 500,000 With the Twins on a tight budget the Twins will likely turn the utility role over to Matt Tolbert who is not good, but he is cheap.
OF- Jason Repko 600,000 Jason Repko returns for a second season with the Twins as he did an outstanding job as a extra outfielder in 2010 and will do another good job in 2011.
PH Luke Hughes- 400,000 if the Twins decide to turn the page on Jim Thome then Luke Hughes would likely get a chance to win a roster spot. Hughes has a injury history, but when healthy he is a very accomplished hitter and I believe could do well.
Offense Salaries: $65.3 million
1. Francisco Liriano- 4.5 After being at the lows of a 5-13 season in 2009 that led him to go to winter ball after the season to regain his confidence and having to battle for a roster spot in spring training. Liriano really took a step forward in 2010 by winning a career high 14 games and a solid 3.62 era. To be honest if not for all the innings he pitched in winter leagues he may have been better as he ran out of gas towards the end of the year. It will be interesting to see Liriano rebound in 2011.
2. Carl Pavano- 9.0 That is taking for granted that Pavano gets a 2 year deal for 18 million that is being reported. Pavano pitched 221 innings in 2010 which was the second most of his career so it will be interesting to see if he can do it again. By the Twins signing him they are gambling that he can.
3. Scott Baker 5.0 There was not a pitcher on the Twins last year that was as frustrating as Baker. Baker was one of the highest paid pitchers on the team last year and was not real good. Going 12-9 with an era of 4.49 is not what Twins fans were expecting out of their opening day starter. Baker has two years and 11.5 left on his deal along with a 9.5 club option for 2013 that the team is highly unlikely to pick up the way that he is pitching. Scott Baker will play a huge factor whether the Twins can win their third straight AL Central Title or not.
4. Brian Duensing- 500,000 Brian Duensing was outstanding once he joined the rotation last year and was a big reason the Twins were able to make the playoffs. With Carl Pavano likely returning Duensing will have to earn a rotation spot once again and that is nothing new for him. I look for him to come up big like he has every season at the major league level.
5. Nick Blackburn- 3.0 Nick Blackburn is as big as an enigma that I can find not only on the Twins, but in all of baseball. When Blackie is good he is very good, but when he is bad he is really bad. For example in May and August Blackburn went 6-1 with a 2.38 era. However, in April, June, and July he went 2-7 with an era over 8 which led to his demotion to AAA. So if the Twins can get the good Blackburn instead of the bad one then the Twins could be pretty good.
Joe Nathan- 11.25 Joe Nathan missed the entire 2010 season because of Tommy John surgery so it will be interesting to see if he is ready to start the season. Pat Neshek struggled coming back last season, but a guy like Billy Wagner came back even better. That is the biggest question mark on the Twins this year is what to expect from Nathan as that will be key in determining the AL Central race.
Matt Capps- 7.5 Matt Capps came over last season at the deadline and saved 16 games in 18 opportunities. So if Joe Nathan is not able to take back the closer's role than the Twins have a good one in Capps and even if Nathan does return to old form the Twins have a pretty good 1-2 combo at the end of games.
Jose Mijares- 500,000 Jose Mijares had a subpar 2010 season battling injuries and struggling with his weight. When he is good Mijares is a very good left handed pitcher out of the bullpen, but when he is not then he is not very good. He needs to return to the 2009 form if the Twins want to be back in postseason play.
Pat Neshek- 625,000 Pat Neshek returns to the Twins bullpen in 2011 and the hope is he can return to 2008 form. Neshek lost velocity after Tommy John surgery so the big thing is if he can get his velocity back. Another thing is his control as he was not as pinpoint as he was and that is to be expected as Liriano had the same problem.
Jim Hoey 800,000 Hoey was part of the J.J. Hardy trade and has some major league experience with the Orioles in 2006-2007 before suffering a shoulder injury. After surgery it took him a couple years to get back to possibly help at the major league level. The positive thing about him is he throws 95 and can strikeout some guys. The thing that you need to watch as he walks to many guys so he definately is a project.
Kevin Slowey- 2.75 There is some thought that the Twins might deal Slowey to get a good reliever, but with the age of Pavano and the durability issues so Slowey should stay. Slowey had a tough 2010 and the Twins really need Slowey to return to his previous form.
Scott Diamond- 400,000 The Twins selected Diamond in the first round of the rule V draft and will give him a chance to make the team out of spring training. He has a chance to be servicable for the Twins so it should be very interesting.
Pitching Payroll 43.8
Total Payroll: 109.1
- The question then has to become can the Twins afford Jim Thome or Brian Fuentes or is this the end. It really depends on what the end payroll will end up being. If the payroll is 115 million then yes they can afford one of the two, but not both. However, if the payroll is 110 the Twins are likely done. So let me put it out to you if the Twins can afford one of the two who would you sign Jim Thome or Brian Fuentes. You can leave your comments in the comment box.