I know some will say that I am jumping ship by looking forward to 2012, but we need to be realistic. Only the Twins of 2006 have come back from 10 games down and won a division title since 1917 so the odds are not very high that this team will make it back into postseason play this year. Do I think Cleveland will come down to earth some and that the Twins will play much better in the summer months well of course I do. Do I think it is possible for the Twins to make it back into postseason play yes I do, but a lot of things would have to go awful right for the Twins and a lot would have to go wrong for the rest of the divison as the Twins are in celler at 12-21 a whopping 10 games out of first. This question has to be asked whether the Twins are in the playoffs or if they aren't so I thought it would be fun to look at the decisions the Twins Front Office will have after the season barring a lockout that I think is very unlikely. I will go player to player and give his contract status and also what is status is with the team.
Joe Mauer- Their is no doubt the season may have turned out differently if Mauer had not gotten injured. He likely will be back by the first of June and hopefully puts up Joe Mauer numbers. Going forward a decision has to be made about whether to move Joe Mauer off of catcher. The Twins owe Mauer 7 years 161 million so Mauer will definately be back. My idea of what to do with him is the same thing I have heard others say and that is have him catch about 90 games with another 30 games at first base and 30 games as the DH. Whenever Mauer would play first I would have Morneau be the DH. I think a key to the Twins winning in the future is keeping Joe Mauer on the field and that is the best way to do it.
Justin Morneau- I still believe that Morneau will get it going and be the Justin Morneau Twins fans have come to expect. It is only 33 games into the season, but Morneau is only hitting .212 on the year. The bottom line is Morneau will be back no matter what because the way he is hitting right now no one would take the 28 million he has on his contract after this year. The thing about it is if Morneau comes back and hits the way he has in the past then the Twins need to seriously consider extending him. The 14 million per year is very managable on the payroll, however the injury risk with Morneau is great after missing great parts of 2009 and 2010 due to injury. With that being said if Morneau keeps hitting like this it will be a moot point.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka- Nishioka will be back in 2012 on the second year of a three year contract. We still don't know what we got in Nishioka after getting hurt so early in the season. I think with his arm strength Nishioka will be the second baseman in 2012 as he tries to build on this year.
Alexi Casilla- I think Casilla is spending his final year with the Twins if he even makes it through the year. Casilla has been given opportunity after opportunity to be a key player for the Twins, but he just has not been able to do it.
Danny Valencia- Valencia has been going through somewhat of a sophmore slump so far as has been consistantly in the .220's and .230's. He has driven in a team hight 18 runs though, but he has made some baserunning lapses and his defense has been inconsistant. However, he is the best 3rd baseman since Cory Koskie so he will definatly be back.
Delmon Young- Delmon Young has two things going against him. First he has missed quite a bit of time due to a rib injury. Second and probably most important he is making 5.4 million this year and due a jump to the 8-9 million range I look for the Twins to move him to try to acquire a shortstop and possibly bullpen help. Young's value is very high after his great season in 2010 so I look for them to captalize on it to get some good prospects especially with guys like Tosoni and Revere just about ready to start next season.
Denard Span- Denard Span has reestablished himself as a cataylst in the Twins offense at the top of the lineup. I still think he would be a better left fielder than a centerfielder, but am resigned to the fact that they will keep him in center for the next few years. The Twins have Span signed to a reasonable contract as long as he keeps his high on base percentage in 37-38 percent range. Span is owed 15 million over the next 3 years with a 9 million option for 2015 so it is very reasonable and at only 27 years old he is part of the solution in the Twins likely retooling operation.
Michael Cuddyer- This is a tough one for me as I value him as a person and he is solid, but his defense is detoriating and his price tag will likely be higher than I am willing to pay. At age 32 and making 10.5 million in the last year of his deal that is too rich for my blood. If he was willing to take half of that I would look to bring him back, but that is not going to happen. The writing is on the wall when the Twins would not talk to him about an extension in the offseason so I look for the Twins and Cuddyer to go their seperate ways this offseason.
Jason Kubel- Before the season I had my mind made up that 2011 would be Jason Kubel's final year with the Twins. However, he has looked like a different hitter this year by hitting close to .350 all year. He has not tried to hit homeruns and has got big hit after big hit. There is still 4 and a half months to go but he is starting to be in my plans. The more he has played in the outfield the more comfortable I have become with him in the outfield. At age 28 he is a younger version of Cuddyer and if he can continue to do ok against lefty's I would probably bring him back on a 2-3 year deal as a part time outfielder and part time dh.
Jim Thome- The clock seems like it is running out on Thome as a player as a 41 year old it seemed like his bat was slow even before he was injured. Here is hoping he can get the 9 more homeruns he needs to get to 600 so he can walk away into the sunset as this will be Jim Thome's last year in a Twins uniform.
Drew Butera- Drew Butera is an ok backup catcher as he is fine defensively, but he absolutely can not hit. With my plan for Joe Mauer the Twins are going to need a better hitting backup catcher. Nothing against Drew Butera, but hitting .112 is just not going to get the job done so I don't look for him to be back.
Carl Pavano- I don't know if this is a early in the season thing, but Carl Pavano has looked really old as of late. Being that they owe him 8 million next year it is going to be difficult to move him but I look for the Twins to find a taker to make room for Kyle Gibson in a Twins uniform
Nick Blackburn- That was another bad contract for the Twins as Blackburn is due 11 million the next two years after this season. His pitching has been so up and down that the Twins could not move him even if they tried.
Francisco Liriano- Liriano is such a tease as his no hitter would attest to, but he is so inconsistant you can't give him a long term contract. I would make him available and see what kind of offers you can get and if a team really values him I would jump on it. I don't think the Twins are going to get the kind of offers that they want so I look for Liriano to be back.
Brian Duensing- Duensing has been a pleasant surprise for the Twins and since he is signed so cheap he definatly will be back and possibly be signed to an extension.
Kevin Slowey- With so many other holes on the team keeping Slowey is not something that should be done. They need to move him and get the best package that they possibly can.
Joe Nathan- I feel bad for him, but Joe Nathan is not getting the job done and their can be no loyalty when it comes to business. Nathan has had a great Twins career, but it will come to an end after the season.
Matt Capps- Capps is not a dominant closer, but he does get the job done so i would give him a nice 3 year deal to continue closing for the Twins.
coming off Books
I have aproximatley 40 million coming off the books after this season in the moves that I have laid out so that should be plenty to become a better team.
Tentative 2012 lineup with additions that i am suggesting
2b- Freddy Sanchez
Dh- Mike Napoli
Let me know what you think if you disagree with me or agree with me I would love to know what you think. You can either leave a comment in the comment box or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.