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Friday, December 16, 2011

Cautious Optimism

We have Willingham; we have Doumit; we have Carroll. Joe Mauer reported that he's happy, healthy, and is ready for a rebound season. Justin Morneau's workouts are reportedly going well (I think I've heard that before, though). Willingham effectively replaces Michael Cuddyer's offensive production (and we didn't have to pay him $10.5 million to do it), and may even be a better overall player. Doumit hits for average and some power, though he has had significant injuries. Carroll, though no spring chicken, is an on-base percentage guy with a decent bat, and should do well as a table-setter for the middle of the lineup guys. Long story short, it's feeling better as a Twins fan than it did a month ago.

If the season were to start right now, I peg the Twins as a .500 team. Yes, this could be a pretty good offense. Span/Carroll/Mauer/Willingham/Morneau/Doumit/Valencia/Casilla/Revere. I see some speed at the front and back of the lineup, some power in the middle, and a balance of lefty and righty hitters. I also note, however, that the 3-6 hitters in this projection each have significant injury risks, so who knows the likelihood of seeing this lineup intact throughout the season. In any event, though, it is a much superior lineup to the Tosoni, Parmelee, Dinkelman days of 2011. Nothing against those guys, but I do want this team to be competitive now, not in 2014.

What's left? Pitching, then a little bit more pitching. Followed by just a pinch of pitching. That's what will get this team above the .500 mark. I don't know how they are going to acquire it, but I do know that good starters are expensive. This is no time to close up the wallet, though. If the organization really was committed to spending $25 million on Cuddyer, even after landing Willingham, then logic would suggest that the roughly $8 million a year is still available -- for the right player or players. Perhaps a trade is possible? I honestly haven't spent much time analyzing the possibilities, because, frankly, it feels like an exercise in futility. Plus, many others have. As a fan I would rather just see pitching deals get done. Edwin Jackson is an option, though he reminds me of Francisco Liriano.

But I do now have reason for cautious optimism: the organization wouldn't already be pushing $100 million for 2012 payroll if it was in a rebuilding mode, and would not have handed out multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts to veterans. Hopefully Terry Ryan won't be resigned to dumpster diving for pitching. Perhaps talks for a starter that can miss opponents' bats are in the works already? Maybe I should give him a little time - - it has, after all, been a busy week in Twins Territory. Today, Friday, is a day for optimism. Things look much better than they did just weeks ago. This lineup, though perhaps not the favorite to win the Central Division, at least won't lose 99 games.

What do you think? Am I drinking too much of the Terry Ryan Kool-Aid? Am I happy because I'm taking a half-day off today? Thanks for reading.


  1. I think that's a reasonable expectation with this group. At least I hope it is, because I have similar hopes. In fact, if we see the Baker and Liriano we expected to see going in to last year, it may already be a better than .500 team. If they ARE competitive through June, there should be money available to add talent, too.

    As others have pointed out, with the Twins media contract expiring after 2012, they can't afford to put a bad product on the field this year. They need a more competitive media contract to stay competitive in the future.

  2. The Mauer and Morneau (throw in Span, too) situations make it really hard to predict what will happen next year.

    I'm withholding judgment on all of this. For the most part, I think that TR has made the right moves to try to make the Twins competitive in the short run while not hampering them for a long-term overhaul and rebuild. I have long recognized the need to put (and keep) fans in front of the TV in 2012 since the TV contract is up for renewal at the end of the season.

    But I am interested not just in competing in the A.L. Central but in being genuinely competitive in the post-season. And until I see that happen, I will not say that TR is successful. That doesn't mean winning a WS but it does mean winning some post-season games and advancing beyond the 1st round on occasion.

    I agree that they need to do something about pitching but I hope (without looking at availability) that there might be someone they could get on a one-year deal (someone with something to prove). Frankly, I don't want to see them tie up long-term resources in a SP until we know more about Mauer and Morneau's long-term status.

  3. Saw this come across Twitter last night, so now I'm pretty confused about the broadcast rights thing...

    @TwinsPrez Dave St. Peter
    FSN deal runs many more years RT @TwinsGeek Have #Twins extended deal w FSN past '12? I thought they had but can't find news.Can you tell us?

  4. Thanks for the comments, guys. JC, if it is indeed true theat the FSN deal runs "many more years," that is not a good thing. It sort of throws a pretty big wrench into longterm spending, in fact.

    JB, I definitely agree with what you are saying about the importance of being competitive past the first round of the playoffs. I was thinking about this last night - - - if someone asked me, what if the Twins had 3 or 4 miserable losing seasons in a row, in exchange for, in that 4th or 5th year, a real run in the playoffs - - - I might take it. Don't get me wrong, it's great winning the division, and some not great teams win the World Series simply by being "hot" in October, but I definitely want this team to be good enough to win playoff series.

  5. JC, I wish the Twins would make the broadcast rights thing clear.

    I have scoured the internet and could only find the 2012 end date -- and thought that played in nicely with when the "new car" smell started wearing off at TF.

    But I also knew that they added games to the schedule, took away ANY over the air broadcasts in the TC, etc. so I wondered if they had modified the contract. While the Twins are a privately held entity, they certainly have benefited from public and governmental support. A little more transparency would be a good thing.

    It is the one issue that I wish the "professional journalists" would explore. Apparently the Angels are now getting $150 million/season. While the Twins market isn't nearly that large, given how bad their last deal was, it would be nice to know if they improved that.