Offseason In Review: Minnesota Twins

Terry Ryan returned as Twins GM, attempting to keep his team afloat by dabbling in the middle of the free agent pool.

Major League Signings

Draft picks gained: #32 and #72 for Michael Cuddyer, #42 for Jason Kubel

International Signings

  • P Mauricio Silva ($370K)

Notable Minor League Signings

Extensions

Trades and Claims

Notable Losses

Bill Smith's Twins teams had success in 2009-10, winning two division titles.  However, Smith's 2011 club produced disastrous results, and the Twins decided to reinstate longtime GM Terry Ryan to clean up the mess.  Ryan had a decent amount of money to spend on a team with many needs, and his solution was to sign veteran free agents.

Re-signing Cuddyer was the Twins' number one offseason priority, assistant GM Rob Antony told Jesse Lund in February.  The Twins appeared to top out around three years and $25MM, but the Rockies went $5MM beyond that.  The Twins also failed to find common ground with Kubel, who seemed to prefer a more hitter-friendly ballpark.  Ultimately, Ryan was able to sign Willingham for less than he offered Cuddyer.  Both 33-year-olds have defensive shortcomings, and Willingham is the better hitter.  He's also, however, more prone to injury.

The Twins ranked Delmon Young below Cuddyer and Kubel, so they traded him to the Tigers in August rather than non-tender him.  Perhaps the range of right field contributor Ben Revere and center fielder Denard Span will limit the damage caused by Willingham's defense in left. 

The signing of Doumit generally compensates for the loss of Kubel, at a lower salary.  Like Willingham, Doumit has durability and defense issues.  Doumit will spend time at right field, catcher, designated hitter, and first base.  He's best-served as a designated hitter, but with Justin Morneau now set to spend more of his time at DH than first, the Twins will deal with more Doumit defense.  Another part of the domino effect of Morneau at DH means semi-regular at-bats for former first-rounder Chris Parmelee, which is not justified by his work last year in the 24-year-old's second try at Double-A.

Patching a team through free agency is always difficult, but Ryan was at least able to keep the offense in a similar place for less money by replacing Cuddyer and Kubel with Willingham and Doumit.  Carroll could add an OBP boost from shortstop, a position for which Twins hitters posted a .292 OBP in 2011.  Tsuyoshi Nishioka's role with the 2012 Twins will be eliminated or greatly reduced, and their middle infield will be better for it.  The best hope for the Twins' offense lies in incumbents, as Joe Mauer and Morneau must stay healthy and productive to compensate for below-average hitting at left field and third base.

If you think the three new Twins position players are solid but unspectacular, the pitching additions are something less than that.  The Twins had the league's worst bullpen in 2011, and Ryan remedied that by retaining Capps at an above-market price.  Joel Zumaya was a decent bullpen flyer, but he went down for Tommy John surgery in March and has been released.  Capps has always had a low strikeout rate for a late-inning reliever, and that dipped to just 4.66 per nine in 2011.  It was time for a change, especially with Capps wanting $4.75MM.  Capps being the team's only real bullpen signing is particularly baffling, especially with Nathan leaving.  Ryan did sign Perkins for the long-term, potentially securing three free agent seasons on the hope that last year's breakout was legitimate.

The Twins were unable to put aside their differences with Slowey, trading him to the Rockies prior to the non-tender deadline.  Marquis was the team's sole rotation addition.  An NL lifer, Marquis is a back-end innings guy in the best case.  The team will pray that Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker can stay healthy and pitch at the front end.

Ryan's first offseason back was a safe one, in that the Twins didn't make any aggressive signings or trades.  Once again, the team's fortunes will rest on a handful of key players who have had trouble staying on the field in recent years. 


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18 Comments on "Offseason In Review: Minnesota Twins"


thrylos98
3 years 3 months ago

Ok. Sorry to say but methinks you need a refresher on the changes that have happened with the Twins recently:

– Willingham will be their starting LF
– Morneau will be their starting DH
– Doumit will be backup C/PT RF
– Nishioka is in AAA

would help to research teams before you write for them…

Rashomon
3 years 3 months ago

What Thrylos said and…

– Chris Parmalee will be the starting 1B
– Ben Revere is now the 4th Outfielder
– Jim Hoey was a notable signing the previous offseason. He was a notable bust for us this offseason.

Thanks Tim! Lots of changes have happened this spring. Should make for an interesting season for the Twins…I hope.

inleylandwetrust
3 years 3 months ago

Jamey Carroll was one of my favorite under the radar moves this offseason. Solid OBP, good speed, good defensive player. Was hoping Detroit could have scooped him up to play 2nd base and leadoff.

Rashomon
3 years 3 months ago

Are you not jazzed about Raburn at 2B?

inleylandwetrust
3 years 3 months ago

I like Raburn better than Carroll, but Carroll at 2nd, Raburn in LF, and Young DH would be nicer.

3 years 3 months ago

Thanks for the notes, I did write the post before a few of the recent developments.  I’m going to update it to reflect that.  I don’t think any of the notes change the evaluation of the team’s offseason, however.

Rashomon
3 years 3 months ago

Sorry Tim, we’re a bit jaded after years and years of being disrespected in pre-season rankings. (The Indians? Oh c’mon!) I think it’s all going to hinge on a return to 2010 performances from everybody.  That and the Tigers completely blowing their chances. 

Runtime
3 years 3 months ago

Uhhh… 
Hoey plays for… the… Blue… Jays?

MLBrainmaker
3 years 3 months ago

To cut to the heart of it, Bill Smith left Terry Ryan a mess to clean up, and this is the best Ryan could piece together before he figures out what sort of team he’s got.

I’m pretty sure my comments get deleted when I include links, but if you google Smith’s trade history, there’s great article about how the Garza, Hardy, and Ramos trades cost the Twins close to 10 WAR/season over the last 3 years.  Its water under the bridge but still hard to think about a Twins team with Garza, Hardy and possibly a better haul for Ramos. Offhand, I think only Reagins and Ricciardi did a worse job.

That said, I think all but the Willingham deal is terrible, but still necessary to have any chance to hit .500 this season. Ryan’s only goal is to break .500, keep fans in the seats and bide time until he can get Hicks, Sano and Gibson up and producing in 2013. As a fan it sucks, but thats where we’re at.

Not to beat a dead horse, but you NEVER trade young pitching.

TwinsSufferer
3 years 3 months ago

2014 for Sano and Hicks, and Gibson is still a crap shoot

Bernaldo
3 years 3 months ago

The Twins elevation of Chris Parmelee to starting at 1B is based on his performance last September and his very impressive play this Spring.  Tim Dierkes knows a lot about baseball but for him to claim that “semi-regular at-bats for former first-rounder Chris Parmelee, which is not justified by his work last year in the 24-year-old’s second try at Double-A” is just silly. 
 
Parmelee was called up last September because the Twins needed bodies; it was September and he was on the 40-man roster.  They were out of the playoff race, and they wanted to how a 1st round pick handled playing in the big leagues. MLB teams have used the same criteria as this for years.   Futhermore, they relied on their own major and minor league staff evaluations of Parmelee – which successful organizations place a great of confidence in – and not an anlysis of his minor league statistics by FanGraphs. 
 
Parmlee has continued to hit for average and power this Spring just as he did in September.  He is adequate defensively and, like every other organization does with their young hitters, the Twins will continue to work with him to improve his defensive play.
 
The Twins don’t give a rip about his minor league numbers if he continues to hit MLB pitching and provides the power thay they need at 1B. He may succeed, he may fail, but right now his big league performance to date completely justifies giving him continued big league at-bats – no matter what his AA numbers were.

3 years 3 months ago

Brett Jacobson (24 years old and still in AA last year) better do something for the Twins in the future or we gave up J.J. Hardy for 24.2 innings of 5.47 era ball from Jim Hoey.  Anyone else missing Bill Smith after moves like this?

inleylandwetrust
3 years 3 months ago

I think they’ll have an underrated lineup but not enough pitching.

3 years 3 months ago

 What does this change about their offseason?  In a general sense, reliance on Parmelee probably makes them worse, but some not necessarily permanent role shifting doesn’t have much to do with the evaluation of the guys they did or didn’t sign. 

Rashomon
3 years 3 months ago

It was a terrible trade, but remember the halycon days of when we acquired Hardy for Gomez straight up? We just need to let certain guys be themselves. Hardy and probably Delmon would still be in Twins uniforms if the coaching staff didn’t try and change their swings so much to suit our style of ball. Is that Bill Smith’s fault? I think some criticism is warranted (Ramos for Capps?) but how often do we have to tar and feather the guy, really?

Rashomon
3 years 3 months ago

I think they will trade for pitching if they’re contending. No reason to get it in the offseason when you don’t know who will still be on the field by next July. I can’t blame the Pohlads for not wanting to invest in a commodity with a lot of question marks after last year.

3 years 3 months ago

I agree.  the team has had success with a lot of players coming up through the system by teaching them the “Twins Way” and it has gotten a lot of praise from people. However, they sometimes take it way to far by forcing it on to players who do not fit that model.  Everyone always points out David Ortiz who in the “Twins Way” was taught to hit the ball the other way and slap at it.  If the Twins had just said “hey David look at the big ugly baggy in right field and punish the heck out of it” He could of been a monster with the Twins, but unfortunately that would never be allowed in the Twins system.  Just thinking about this for a moment, what type of player would Harmon Killebrew of been playing the “Twins Way”

Rashomon
3 years 3 months ago

Yep. There is something to be admired about an organization where there is such consistency in message, and where former managers and players pour into the younger players each spring. But your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness and you see that in the inability to adapt the gameplan to fit the players personalities. If you’re an individual, maybe immature in some areas, they’re not putting up with it. They’d rather have a replacement player who’s got a lot of hustle and grit.