Twins have many questions to address in upcoming off-season
October 15, 2009
After an early exit from the playoffs, the Minnesota Twins have many off-season moves to address. The biggest move and the one gettng the most attention is giving the face of the franchise, Joe Mauer, a new contract. But there are many other needs besides that for the Twins to go from a one and done playoff team to a championship contender team.
I have compiled the five biggest headlines the franchise needs to address this upcoming offseason.
Re-signing Joe Mauer to a new contract
He is the face of the Twins, should win his third batting title in four years and should be the 2009 AL MVP, and clearly puts fans in the seats. He has one more year left on his contract, but it will be a lot easier and cheaper to sign him to another contract this offseason than next year.
Re-sign Orlando Cabrera and Carl Pavano
Yes, Cabrera will turn 35 before the season starts next year. But he was a huge asset to the team at the trade deadline and does give the Twins an everyday shortstop and a consistent number two hitter in front of Mauer. Pavano pitched in some big games for the Twins this year, like game three of the ALDS against the Yankees. He gave up two runs, five hits, striking out nine hitters over seven innings. Yes, the two runs were home runs and they did give the Yankees the lead, but the Twins struggled to find a pitcher that consistently pitched into the late innings of the game this year and he really only had struggled in two, maybe three games he pitched for the Twins this year.
Find an everyday second baseman
One of the Twins glaring holes this year was at second base. The Twins thought they had the answer with Alexi Casilla but he struggled in the beginning of the year and was sent down to the Triple-A minor league team. He was called back up in September when the MLB allows teams to expand their roster for the postseason. Nick Punto replaced Casilla when he was sent down to Triple-A. But for most of the year, Punto showed he is not an everyday type of baseball player, and both Punto and Casilla showed they are better in back-up duty than as starters.
Find an everyday third baseman and re-sign Joe Crede
Along with the need for a second basemen, the Twins need to find an everyday third basemen as well. The Twins signed Joe Crede for this year but he was hampered by injuries for most of the season. One way the Twins can do this (and it is cheap) is to sign Crede again for a one-year deal and have him be a backup and help mentor Danny Valencia, the young third basemen that played in Triple-A all year. Scouts have said he has all the tools to be an everyday third baseman in the majors and he looks to be about ready to take over the role. Having Crede there to help him out will be very beneficial for Valencia because Crede was an All-Star third basemen earlier in his career before all of his injuries. It will be beneficial for both Crede and the Twins because in the late months of the season Crede could be healthy and contribute if the Twins are in contention for the playoffs.
Do not trade closer Joe Nathan
The last few days after the Twins were eliminated from the playoffs, sports columnists from the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, and even ESPN thought the Twins should try to trade Joe Nathan for maybe a starting pitcher or top position player. They thought this because he will make roughly 22 million dollars over the next two years. It is part of a four-year contract he signed two years ago. Analysts believe this is way too much money for a closer on a smallmarket team. And also, because he has poor postseason numbers and blew game two of the ALDS this year they think he is on the decline of his career. I disagree with them on two points. The first is it is hard to find a top-notch closer in the MLB, and the Twins are fortunate enough to have one. Mauer said he would only sign with the Twins if he thought the Twins management was trying to make the team competitive and not just “building for the future” all the time, and that money wasn’t an issue for him. Trading Nathan will only show Mauer the Twins still won’t keep their superstars and will make Mauer less likely to sign another contract with the Twins.
Derek Johnson is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.