With the Major League Baseball season around the corner, the Minnesota Twins are still staying very quiet in this year’s off season. They went into the offseason with a few places that needed upgrading. One of them is an upgrade at third base, and the other is in the bullpen.
I will start out by addressing the troubles at third base. Last year, the position was played primarily by Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris. Although these two did an adequate job at the position, there is always room for improvement, and with many of the other positions set, the Twins could afford to make an upgrade.
The Twins are loaded with outfielders at the moment with Delmon Young, Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, Michael Cuddyer, and sometimes Jason Kubel.
They originally contemplated trading either Young or Cuddyer to help out at third base, but they never pulled the trigger on either one. Delmon Young is a young player with a good bat and mediocre defense.
His arm doesn’t strike fear in the eyes of base runners by any means, and his defensive play could definitely step up. The Twins also expected him to bring some power to the club which he didn’t supply as expected.
He would still be an upgrade on many teams so he could be shopped to other teams for a reliever of some sort. Cuddyer, on the other hand, has a great arm in the field and could even possibly move to third base to help out.
His biggest problems would be his speed, his obsession with grounding out to third every at-bat, and injuries.
The third baseman that were on the market this offseason were less than impressive, some of which were Casey Blake, Adrian Beltre, Garrett Atkins, and Joe Crede. The Twins' organization got some criticism for not being able to get the first three before they signed with other teams.
To me, I believe it was a wise choice, none of them are big impact players and they would have cost the club too much money. Crede is the only one remaining and signing him would be a huge mistake, he is 30 years old and plays like a 40 year old with all the back injuries. I really hope they stay away from him.
I think if the Twins are serious about having a third baseman with better power, they should just move Cuddyer to third, and leave Young in the outfield. Keeping Cuddyer over Young would be a big mistake in my eyes.
The biggest reason for that would be age. Cuddyer will be 30 by the beginning of the season and Young is still very young at 23 and has much maturity to go through. I think if they stay patient with Young, his power will come.
If the Twins do move Cuddyer to third, and he struggles, they always have Harris or Buscher to step in. As long as they don’t try to turn garbage to gold like they attempted with Tony Batista and Mike Lamb, the Twins will be fine at that position.
Now we’ll move onto the bigger issue, the bullpen. Anyone who watched any Twins baseball knows what happened when the Twins made a call to the bullpen in a tight game.
First, you would suddenly have a bad feeling in your stomach, and then you would move to the end of your seat, next you would watch them allow the tying run to score, and then you would watch them lose the lead.
It was a very painful set of events, especially in the last two months of the season when the starters needed them the most. The Twins’ starting rotation really struggled in September as they limped towards the end of the season.
Many of those games were blown by the bullpen, and it was extremely frustrating to watch. No matter whom they called, no Twin fan felt confident about it.
The bullpen will also be without Pat Neshek for the entire 2009 season after he had Tommy John Surgery. The Twins will have to strongly consider signing or trading for a proven set up man to help out this struggling bullpen.
The majority of the offseason has been talk about upgrading at third base, the bullpen is much more important than a position that produced 91 RBI last season. Although I do not believe the starting rotation will be as good as they were the first time around as players get more at bats against the young pitchers, they should still be solid.
A healthy Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker is a very pleasant sight to see and should be a good 1-2 punch.
So assuming the stars on this team, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Joe Nathan all play up to their usual All-Star caliber form, and up and coming stars, Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, and Alexi Casilla fill in the gaps, the Minnesota Twins are looking to have a solid year of baseball.
The Twins continuing to play small ball and have many exciting games is a sure thing year in and year out, so I, along with many other fans out there, are looking forward to another exciting year of Twins baseball.