Thursday, August 9, 2007

Twins Talk: A TKOT Roundtable

In the past couple weeks there have been major swings in optimism and pessimism regarding the current Twins season, as well as the major concerns for the offseason and the future. Because of this, we here at TKOT decided to have a little discussion about what needs to be done concerning the future of the franchise, especially in the next few years as we prepare for the new ballpark and the potential of some very talented Twins teams. The following is the transcript of that discussion:

Fuzz—Here’s a list of potential players and salaries that come off the books next year: Silva- 4.3 million, Rincon- 2 million (we're trying to trade him right now, I assume he's gone), Ortiz- 3.1 million, Rondell White- 2.5 million, Castillo- 5.7 million, Cirillo- 1.5 million. If my math is right, that's 19.1 million. Let's round up to 20 million withPonson off the books as well. We have 20 million next year that will be available. We have to do something with this money. Personally, I think the decision to randomly cut Cirillo and dump Castillo was to clear room for Hunter.

Tank—I used to say cut Hunter, but I say we need him more than anything right now. I think he's our MVP this year. I think we will sign him.

Mr. Cue—As afraid as I am of Hunter getting a big deal from us and then crapping the bed, I think you have to sign him. We have no one in the minors and quality centerfielders are hard to come by. Pay him, pay Santana, pay Morneau, get in the new ballpark, and roll tide.

NBA Fan—We can't pay everybody. Pay Morneau and Santana and take your chances. I don't want to sign Hunter this offseason and then have TR come out and say we don't have the money for the other two.

Mr. Cue—Why not? Like Fuzz said, we've got around 20 million freed up for next year and Hunter is already making 12 million this year. We'd only have to bump that by about 3 million. Then you still have some extra money to finance the other two contracts. All we need is for Pohlad to open that creaky wallet a little more and we'd be fine. Plus, with a new ballpark and the World Series title we'll have in the next couple years, we have plenty of extra revenue coming in.

NBA Fan—Neither Morneau or Santana is going to sign for $5 million per year. Plus Cuddyer's salary is going to go up next year regardless of whether he signs a multi-year deal or goes through arbitration. We eventually have to pay Neshek. I worry that we pay Hunter big for 5 years, but he’s only worth it for 2 years as his body is breaking down. So his last 3 years we pay for very mediocre production. Why not just sign Morneau and Santana and sign a stop gap veteran for a year or two until somebody is ready to take over?

Mr. Cue—Don’t forget that we also have Nathan under contract for a few mil and either we trade him or his contract is up after next year. That's more money we have for guys like Cuddy and Neshek. Plus, Pat can't demand much money yet.

NBA Fan—Neshek is probably not eligible for arbitration until after the 2009 season, but if we sign Hunter to a big deal, it makes keeping other guys tougher, especially since we sign crappy players like Punto, Crain, and Rincon to multi year deals. I just don't think we can start giving big deals to aging outfielders with very average offensive production when we have younger guys who are more productive or have a higher ceiling. I do believe that we could replace .265/25 bombs/80 RBI/.750 OPS with somebody like Kubel if we would ever just play him full time. Remember that it took Cuddyer 5 years to finally play fulltime at one position. You are correct about Nathan, though. His last year as a Twin will probably be next year, and at that time we can use his money (around $6 million, I think) towards Santana, Morneua, or even Neshek.

Tank—Neshek is a set up guy. He won’t get paid that much money. If he becomes our closer, he might get paid a little more, but he’s still young. It’s called increased payroll. They need to figure it out.

Fuzz—Screw this, we're in another 1-0 barn burner as we speak. We need Hunter big time. How can you just let those stats walk and "wait" for a guy for 2-3 years? That's ludicrous. Yes, you might over pay the guy, but without him we're going to be hurting even more. That's not good, especially since we're in the bottom four in the American league in total runs. We can't afford just to let guys walk. I'm with Tank, increase the flipping payroll Carl...

NBA Fan—I would love to increase the payroll. As things stand now though, we are not in a position to pay everybody. Besides, Hunter's been in the middle of our lineup throughout our run scoring drought.

Mr. Cue—Isn’t that a reason to sign him? He’s in the middle of our lineup, hitting .280 with 22 bombs, and we’re still struggling to score. How much worse would it get with someone vastly inferior hitting in his spot?

Fuzz—Exactly! This is making no sense, Fan. Hunter is top 5 in the AL in homeruns and top 7 in the AL in RBI. How would it benefit us to get rid of that with our scoring drought? We need him like a fat kid needs cake. Isn’t that a 50 Cent song?

NBA Fan—That is my point. Why can't we pay somebody $3 million a year to score no runs? Why do we need to pay Hunter $15 million per year to score no runs? It seems to me we are farther away from World Series contention than just one player. Maybe if Liriano comes back next year like he used to be and Garza keeps pitching well, having Hunter will push us over the edge to serious contender. I would much rather pay somebody like Adam Dunn to DH and put Span in center than have Hunter in our lineup, top 5 center fielder or not. I DO NOT want to see Hunter back here next year.

And on that note, we’ll end our debate…for now. Do you have a thought on resigning Hunter (or Morneau, Santana, Cuddyer, Neshek, Nathan, etc.)? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section.

1 comment:

Kent (the little big brother) said...

Interesting conversation fellows. A few good points, and it points out some tough decisions that TR has coming up.

My thoughts: Next year is the year we HAVE to go for it. You guys say sign Santana, but that is ludicrous. He's going to get $25-$30 million a year, and I hate to break it to you fellas, we can't pay that. I don't want to pay that. You can't win when you pay one guy too much of your payroll. (i.e. A-Rod in Texas, and KG for the T-wizzles) So the bottom line is we have a two year window (I'm not counting out this year baby, we just need a little run) to win the championship with Santana.

I think this off-season, we do whatever we can to trade Nathan. I know you say it's crazy but the time for Neshek to close is now. Relievers are a funny bunch and they only have a 3-5 year window to be as dominant as he is before hitters start to figure them out. Matty G can set up as he has been filthy this year. Glen Perkins can be long inning relief and the bullpen will still be pretty damn good.

Trade Nathan for prospects. Use that freed up cash to a) sign Hunter. b) find a leadoff hitter. It doesn't have to be a Jose Reyes type but it would be good to have a serviceable leadoff hitter. Maybe a Scott Podsednik type. That way we can move Mauer to the two-hole (right now in his career he is a perfect 2 hitter with his bat control and lack of power) and use Cuddy/Morneau/Hunter at 3-4-5.

Unless you think Casilla is the answer at leadoff ( I think he can be a poor man's Robinson Cano) then I would love to see the Twins sign a Mike Piazza, Frank Thomas, Nomar type, that we have passed on the last 2 years. Let's be realistic the Twins aren't going to go sign a slugger in their prime (i.e. Adam Dunn), but if we could get an aging Piazza to DH and hit 6 for us, I would be happy with .275/25/80 at the 6 hole.

The rotation will be ridiculous with Santana, Liriano, Garza, Boof, and Baker. And the Twins will have a legit shot at the title!

Those are my thoughts and I guess to tie into your discussion, trade Nathan and sign Hunter. And if we aren't within 5 games at the break next year trade Santana for as many prospects as you can get. Cause reality sucks but he isn't going to be a Twin pass '08. Like the blog though, love the name...