If The Twins Become Sellers

Baseball Prospectus' postseason odds report gives the Twins a 7.6% chance of making the playoffs.  They're currently 11 games out in the AL Central; no team is further from first place.  I'm not counting them out – Joe Mauer, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Delmon Young, and Jim Thome will come off the DL at some point, and I don't think the Twins truly have the worst rotation in the American League.  Still, this is a club no one considered a possible seller before the season.  What could they offer a few months from now?

  • Relievers Joe Nathan and Matt Capps make more than $20MM combined this year, so trading them at the deadline would save the Twins nearly $7MM.  Problem is, Nathan has been used in mop-up situations lately and he'll need to string together a few good months to have trade value.  Even then, most teams will not be able to take on his entire contract.  It's been an odd year for Capps, who's allowing a lot of flyballs, no walks, few hits, and few strikeouts.  Still, he's five for six in save opportunities and someone might overpay for him again.
  • The Twins exercised a pretty steep $10.5MM option on Michael Cuddyer in November, and so far the decision has not paid off.  He will also need to build up trade value.
  • Carl Pavano's strikeout rate continued to slip this year, but maybe he can right the ship and pitch to a low 4.00s ERA from here on out.  Plenty of teams would like to acquire an innings guy, but would the Twins prefer to keep Pavano at $8.5MM for 2012?
  • Outfielder/DH Jason Kubel won't keep hitting .347, but he's having a great year and is only earning $5.25MM.  Maybe the Twins want to re-sign him, but he could fetch something nice on the trade market.  Assuming his back is OK, plenty of teams will be interested in renting Jim Thome as well.
  • The no-hitter notwithstanding, trading Francisco Liriano anytime soon would be selling low.  When he's right he's what every contender craves: a front-end starter who is more than a rental.  A few months ago trading Liriano seemed crazy, and it's possible the Twins still consider him integral for 2012.
  • Kevin Slowey recently recovered from a shoulder strain, but he's still mired in long relief for the Twins after making 28 starts in 2010.  He's more affordable than Pavano and is under team control through 2013.

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24 Comments on "If The Twins Become Sellers"

4 years 3 months ago

While all the points made are viable and have some validity, it’s way too early to see the Twins as giving up on the season. The AL Central has bunched up in terms of competitive balance and no one is going to run away and hide, so no one is out of running. Certainly not with over 125 games left in the season. As the season progresses, expect those 7.6% odds to increase in the Twins favor.

4 years 3 months ago

They’ve played a large share of the early season on the road and against the AL East, which means there’s less of each in the next four and a half months. They’ve had a biblical plague of injury and illness over the past month. (Last night was hail and the frogs are scheduled as post-game entertainment this Sunday.) It’s a testament to the organization’s depth that they’ve managed to only be *this* bad. The SS was a wash-out talent-wise, but injuries took the 2b, the catcher, the LF, the DH, a swingman, the third string SS, the 4th OF and that really doesn’t address the flu thing that swept through the lockerroom moving starts by Pavano and Liriano and shuffling around the bullpen. Blackburn has made seven starts to four different catchers so far.

No one in the AL Central is playing their game right now. CLE and KC might be this good, but an honest evaluation says a bunch of guys are playing out of their minds. MIN and CHW and DET might not be as good as expected, but an honest evaluation says that a bunch of guys are having ridiculously bad starts. Even if it’s only a few guys playing miles above/below their level on each team it’d be plenty to move around the standings in such an odd, low run environment as 2011.

June should be fun to watch.

4 years 3 months ago

Some perspective on the injury/illness…

The Twins have lost their #2 through #4 hitters at some point this season (Nishioka, Mauer, Morneau, Young).

For the Yankees that is Jeter, Teixeira, A-Rod and Cano.
For the Red Sox that is Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youkilis and Ortiz.
For the Tigers that includes Ordonez, Cabrera and V-Mart
For the White Sox that is Ramirez, Konerko, Dunn and Quentin

Those teams would play pretty bad without those players. All things considered, the Twins are playing about as well as they can with that type of loss.

4 years 3 months ago

Maybe someone will overpay for Capps…like the Twins did last year.

4 years 3 months ago

Tiger fans know better than to count the Twinkies out so early, but they do have serious issues to address. Those ten arbitration cases last winter, plus a number of key free agents led to an exodus from the bullpen and questions around the infield. They also have little to no flexibility to change on the fly, with long term big financial commitments, and more pending arby and free agent decisions on the horizon. I’m betting that they’ll do more of an overhaul than the Tigers chose to do last winter, when DD brought back Inge, Peralta, and Ordonez. I’m biased, but I like the Tigers’ rotation, lineup, and bullpen just a bit better than the Twins this season.

4 years 3 months ago

Delmon should be mentioned as a trade candidate. He’s going to make too much in his final arb season next year, and the Twins will want to get something for him.

4 years 3 months ago

That is a good point…I thought about it. Does seem worthy of a mention.

4 years 3 months ago

How much is too much?? if he produces anywhere within the stratosphere of 2010, a raise to, say, 7-7.5mil would be too much for the Twins to keep on?? I’m just looking at the fact that Cuddyer and Kubel are both going to FA this season, so if Delmon comes back from injury and starts mashin’ baseballs, it might be something the Twins would want to keep around…but by the same token, I do agree that because of his recent production and young age he would likely have the greatest trade value among the position players in this article….Anyway, this article caught my eye instantly because I would love for the Phillies to put together a great package to bring him to Citizens Bank park for a year and a half (at least). I know its very very early, and the AL central is a complete toss-up, but I want this guy. His career .305 vs Lefties and .341 RISP are tantalizing little numbers for a lefty-dominated lineup and a recently suffocated offense. I know the phils were looking at Carlos Quentin last winter, which will be revisited this summer if the White Sox are out of contention I’m sure, but personally I would rather have Delmon..

4 years 3 months ago


4 years 3 months ago

I am still hopeful that the Twins can figure it out, but that won’t happen until Mauer, Young and Nishioka return. They can’t continue to roll out there roster of have MLB and half AAA and expect to win.

Should the Twins not pull it together I really hope they explore trading a few guys, with the main trade value coming from Kubel, Capps and Thome. Cuddyer is too much of a “clubhouse player” that trading him would have a negative impact, plus he wouldn’t get much and the Twins would have to take on some of his salary.

We also have an excess of starting pitchers, so it would be nice to trade someone and loosen the log-jam that is keeping Slowey out of the rotation and Kyle Gibson in AAA. I doubt the return would be great, but trading Blackburn or Pavano makes the most sense.

4 years 3 months ago

I agree… The Twins strength in the Minors is Outfield, making him more expendable. Revere and Tosoni can fill-in until Aaron Hicks is ready.

The problem is that Young has to get healthy and produce again.

4 years 3 months ago

One correction, the Twins actually had to pick up Cuddyer’s option for 2011 after 2009. That kind of explains a lot.

4 years 3 months ago

Young, Thome, Pavano … trade them all. Twins general management didn’t figure this roster right this year – mainly the bullpen turnover and back end of rotation …. get some young arms to re-stock. The season isn’t lost but if still 10 back at the break and Mauer still not back to full-strength, time to plan for 2012. Sell high on Young at first opportunity….not sure he can be counted on to be the kind of consistent force they need him to be.

4 years 3 months ago

Pavano got all he wanted.. Another guaranteed income this year and next. Write off this one and probably half of the next one at the very least.

Next team that gives him more than 1 year will get another rude awakening of the real Pavano as well.

4 years 3 months ago

I’m just waiting to see how the Twins do in the division. If they dominate it like usual they’re not done yet.

4 years 3 months ago

The Twins are 12-22. What are the chances of a 22-12 run at some point this season? I’d say it’s almost a certainty. They have a ton of games at home in June, July, and August to make for the many road games in the potentially cold months of April, May, and September.

The Twins are not as bad as their record suggests, so it’s a little premature to count them out. Here’s why:

They are on one of the best, if not the best home team in baseball, and they played the most road games of any major league team through the first month of the season.

Plus, they played a bunch of games against AL East teams that already have their number, like the Yankees, Blue Jays, the surging Rays, and Red Sox.

On top of that, key players are injured(Mauer, Young, Thome) and other key players are drastically underachieving(Morneau, Cuddyer, Nathan).

Even after sitting through the rain and hail during that piece of crap game last night, I’m still not too worried. It’s a LONG summer folks, and the Twinkies own the AL Central.

4 years 3 months ago

The Twins have a 9-25 Pythagorean record. They’ve scored the fewest runs in the league, AND allowed the most. So, to say “they’re not as bad as their record suggests” is a little bit misleading. Maybe they have more talent than a 12-22 team, but their performance on the field has been right in line with a team that’s the worst in baseball.

Mauer and Morneau are likely to be productive *if* they are healthy (no guarantees), but the others you list are gambles. Delmon Young even last season still had too many strikeouts, not enough walks, and atrocious defense. His upside is 2006 Alfonso Soriano, but his downside is something like 2009 Alfonso Soriano. Joe Nathan is 36 and coming off Tommy John surgery – while I’d expect him to get healthier, right now his stuff is as bad as his results. His slider is flat as a pancake. Thome saved the Twins down the stretch last year, but that’s asking a lot of a 41 year old. And Cuddyer is at .266 /.331 /.405 since the start of last year. Their lack of depth has already been exposed. Sure, injuries stink, but when the backups can’t play it’s just magnified. The Rangers lost both the 2010 MVP and Rookie of the Year for stretch in April, and they’re still a respectable 19-18.

So yes, they HAVE had a particularly difficult schedule thus far, but they’ve done what bad teams do when the schedule is hard – they’ve lost a lot more than they’ve won. And they’re 1-4 against the Royals, being outscored 38-17. So this isn’t just bad luck, they’ve also played very, very badly.

4 years 3 months ago

Good points. The Twins deserve to be right where they are. They have played like the worst team in baseball, like their record suggests. Thanks for pointing out the Pythagorean record. I have to admit, I had no idea what that was. Interesting stuff.

4 years 3 months ago

Overcast you nailed it, I was going to make a post listing my thoughts but you got them all except for the fact that traditionally we also always have a better 2nd half.

Darin Clouse
4 years 3 months ago

Too bad teams can’t trade managers and coaches. The worst thing that happened to the Twins was Gardy winning manager of the year. Need to bring in a n entirely new coaching staff to get this right. No complaining about injuries quit running good players out because they are not your pet players. $115 million dollars and this is the team you get. Clean house!!! And this is from a dire-hard fan who has seen enough of Gardy and his lack of talent.

4 years 3 months ago

The Twins have consistently overachieved for a decade now. Gardenhire does some silly stuff and can be overly reliant on his guys, but that’s true of every manager. There are a lot of worse managers out there, and there are much bigger problems with the Twins right now.

Though, taking Santana out after 5 innings in the ’04 ALDS should be as heavily criticized as the Grady Little/Pedro Martinez thing. Arguably the single worst managerial decision of the ’00s.

billy f
4 years 3 months ago

It’s not just the horrible coaching – hitting coach Vavra and new third-base coach Liddle come to mind first (another great move, swapping out Ullger for Liddle, by “Gardy” – god, I hate that nickname.) GM Bill Smith is responsible for the lack of talent on the field – Gardenhire is responsible for putting together those idiotic lineups, horrible baserunning decisions, game management (yes – pinch run for Kubel – the only guy in the lineup hitting.) Before all the injuries, he was batting 3 lefties in a row against a left-handed starter. And then we have the pitching issues – I guess Rick Anderson is not the GOD everyone thought he was – it looks like losing minor league pitching coach Rick Knapp to the Tigers was a bigger loss than we thought – since none of the pitching call-ups can throw strikes.

Here is what HAS to happen this year –

1) Vavra needs to be fired IMMEDIATELY. There is no excuse for the lack of power. IT IS NOT THE STADIUM – IT IS THE WAY THEY SWING THE BATS. Look at Toronto – they swing like they WANT to hit the ball – I guarantee 6 homeruns by the Jays this weekend. The number would probably be twice that if the weather was going to be warmer.

2) Sell, sell, sell – Get whatever you can for Michael Cuddoubleplay (a broken bat would suffice in his case), Matt Capps, Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano.

3) Bring up Carlos Gutierrez immediately and make him the closer so he has experience for next year. Yes – they are only a dozen games out and it’s only May 12, but they have 4 teams in front of them. Detroit is going to win the division this year.

4) Hire a real GM. Give that GM FULL control of the team – no more “Gardy’s Guys” – if Gardenhire doesn’t like it, he can leave. Good riddance. Overrated. If he was a football coach, he would have been fired years ago.

5) Say sayonara to Joe Nathan, Jim Thome, Drew Butera, and all of those horrid 6 year minor league free agents they signed.

6) Speed up the timetable for prospects. It’s ridiculous that most Twins rookies are 26 years old in their rookie season. Either they can play, or they can’t. Make up your mind sooner. I want Aaron Hicks and Miguel Sano here by 2013.

7) Short leash for Gardenhire. Next playoff appearance needs ALCS minimum. Winning one game against the Yankees is no longer the goal.

8) For 2012 – Move Mauer to 1st base, Morneau to DH for his final year, find a catcher – too bad they wasted Wilson Ramos (again, nice move, Smith.)

I could go on and on.

4 years 3 months ago

The problem with being a seller, is that it usually means that it is going to get worse before it gets better. If they sell some of there bigger named guys, then they might have a tougher time competing for another year or two.

4 years 3 months ago

Basically, the Twins players that are underperforming have to start overachieving in order to have any trade value. If that happens, won’t we start winning more games?