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Minnesota Twins: Player Grades for Mauer, Morneau and Crew in 2012

Tom SchreierCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2016

Minnesota Twins: Player Grades for Mauer, Morneau and Crew in 2012

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    The winds of change are blowing in Minnesota (and damn are they cold!).

    After losing 195 games in the last two seasons, Minnesota Twins GM Terry Ryan has made sweeping changes in the coaching staff.

    Out are bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, third base coach Steve Liddle, first base coach Jerry White and head trainer Rick McWane.

    Reassigned are hitting coach Joe Vavra and bench coach Scott Ullger will oversee infield and outfield instruction, respectively.

    In is Terry Ryan as a permanent GM, for the time being, and manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson on one-year deals.

    Ostensibly Ryan will not renew either of their contracts at the end of the season if this team loses 90-plus games in 2013.

    Heads will roll when a team sits in the cellar of their division for two years in a row—especially a division as weak as the AL Central—and there’s that old adage that says you can’t fire all the players, but you can always can a coach.

    Having said that, the Twins management has to find a balance between bestirring complacency and creating chaos.

    Successful teams are loyal to their coaches. Overwhelming change hampers the development of players due to changes in philosophy and style. Player development is paramount for a team like the Twins that has relied on drafted-and-developing players to win five division championships since Gardenhire took over for Tom Kelly in 2002.

    At the same time, a coach’s job is to win and if they aren’t winning they are going to be shown the door sooner or later.

    The argument for keeping Gardenhire was that he couldn’t have won with the players he had so let’s shift our focus from the coaching staff to the people playing the game.

    The following are grades for all notable players that wore a Twins uniform this year.

Pitchers

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    Let’s be honest, the Twins played with half a team this year—only the Cleveland Indians and Colorado had a worse team ERA.

    Nobody from the original starting rotation pitched at the end of the year and only a few guys look like legitimate mainstays on the roster for years to come.

    Scott Diamond immediately comes to mind. He earned a spot in the rotation next season.

    If Sam Deduno can control that wacky fastball of his, he’s the second most likely candidate to crack the rotation.

    Scott Baker’s multimillion-dollar option should not be picked up, but Minnesota would be wise to sign him to a team-friendly deal if he’s willing to do so. After that it’s a dogfight between local boy Cole De Vries, southerner PJ Walters and Liam Hendriks from Down Under.

    Although it’s unlikely that Ryan signs Zack Greinke in the offseason, he would be smart to spend a little money on some placeholders in the roster until players from the minor leagues can fill out the rotation and pitch well enough to allow the offense to win games.

    Right now, Kyle Gibson looks like the only viable candidate to step in from the minors and make an impact next season.

Scott Baker

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    Notable stats: Umm… he didn’t play.

    Grade: Incomplete

    This is what the Twins should do with Baker…

    Ryan: Do you want to play here?

    Baker: Yes.

    Ryan: Well I paid you about $6.5 mil to not play last season so how about you come back and play on a $1.2 million deal and consider the money I’ve already paid you part of your salary for this season.

    Baker: Okay.

    If only it were that easy.

    If Baker demands more than $2 million, or wants to play elsewhere, I’d say let the man go.

Nick Blackburn

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    Notable stats: 4-9, 7.39 ERA

    Grade: F

    You can read myriad articles on how bad Blackburn was this year.

    The fact of the matter is that the 29th rounder out of Seminole State College looked like a bargain at the beginning of his 4-year, $14 million contract and he’s signed through next year.

    He’ll get one more shot and then he’s done.

Alex Burnett

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    Notable stats: 4-4, 3.52 ERA

    Grade: B

    As a reliever, Burnett faced a lot of situations that were nastier than a sewage leak and did a decent job of cleaning up.

    He had 4.5 SO/9 and 3.3 BB/9 and walks got him in trouble from time to time. His positive WAR (0.3) and low salary ($490k) mean he’ll probably remain on the big league roster next season.

Jared Burton

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    Notable stats: 3-2, 2.18 ERA (41

    Grade: A

    Ryan gets a lot of credit for the Willingham and Doumit pickups, but Burton was also a nice find.

    After five years in Cincinnati, Burton came over and played pretty well considering that he had only played 10 games in the past two seasons.

    In fact, Burton is likely to be Glen Perkin’s setup man for the foreseeable future.

Matt Capps

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    Notable stats: 1-4, 3.68 ERA (14 saves)

    Grade: F

    Ask any Twins fan and they’ll tell you that the Wilson Ramos for Capps trade didn’t work out.

    Supposedly Joe Nathan’s (Texas) predecessor, Capps made $12 million-plus and only had 29 saves for the club.

    Perkins took over the closer role at the end of this season.

Samuel Deduno

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    Notable stats: 6-5, 4.44 ERA (1.08 SO/BB)

    Grade: B

    After a season in Colorado and San Diego where he did not make a start, Deduno was able to produce six wins in 15 starts with his crazy fastball that tails left or right unpredictably before crossing the plate.

    His season ended unceremoniously with an eye irritation problem following a couple bad stars, but don’t count this guy out next season.

    If he can figure out how to master that pitch he’ll be unhittable next season.

    That’s a big if though.

Scott Diamond

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    Notable stats: 12-9, 3.54 ERA

    Grade: A

    It might be a little assuming to call Diamond an ace (and a little hackneyed to call him a diamond in the rough), but the undrafted Canadian earned a roster spot next year.

    A Rule 5 pick from the Atlanta Braves system, went undrafted in the regular selection after three years at SUNY-Binghamton and could become one of the greatest underdog stories for a franchise that has loads of them.

Brian Duensing

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    Notable stats: 4-12, 5.12 ERA

    Grade: B

    Maybe I’m going a little too easy on Duensing. The University of Nebraska product went 10-3 in 13 starts two years ago and 9-14 in 28 stars last season, so it’s not unreasonable that Minnesota gave him second (and third…and forth…) chances this season.

    The discovery that they made was that he doesn’t pitch well out of the windup and, therefore, probably shouldn’t start.

    Having said that, the lefty could make a great long reliever next year.

Casey Fien

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    Notable stats: 2-1, 2.06 ERA

    Grade: A

    Fien was another great pickup in the offseason.

    The former Detroit Tiger had only 11 games played in two season and was cut by the A-A-Astros last year

    The Astros.

    This year he played 35 games and is a reliable guy to bridge the gap between a start that goes six and the Burton-Perkins tandem at the end of the game.

Liam Hendriks

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    Notable stats: 1-8, 5.59 ERA

    Grade: C

    He only got one lousy win this season, but went toe-to-toe with Felix Hernandez in the Seattle game and had a great performance in his last outing.

    One win in 16 outings won’t cut it in the bigs—we wear caps and sleeves at this level, son—but let’s not stamp him with the Quadruple A label yet.

    He’s only 23.

Francisco Liriano

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    Notable stats: 3-10, 5.31 ERA (with Twins)

    Grade: C-

    Yeah, he was sick in 2006 and 2010, but let’s get over that.

    This guy’s given Rick Anderson more grey hairs than a Siberian husky.

    The Twins never got as much value as they could have for him, but if his unpredictable ways end up blowing up in the White Sox’s face, everyone will be fine with that trade.

Jason Marquis

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    Notable stats: 2-4, 8.47 ERA

    Grade: F

    I’ll be honest: I liked this pickup at the beginning of the year. Marquis was a veteran guy to plug a hole in the lineup.

    He ended up going 6-7 with a 4.04 ERA for the Padres to finish out the year, an indication that Minnesota may have been better off giving him a little more time. Then again, it’s hard to blame them for letting him and his eight-plus ERA go.

    The lesson learned is that the Twins have to spend a little more than they did ($3 million) to get a quality free agent in the offseason.

    That’s a bit of a scary thought.

Jeff Manship

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    Notable stats: 0-0, 7.89 ERA

    Grade: C

    All you really need to know about Manship is that the Twins have an option for long relief if Anthony Swarzak and Brian Duensing go down for a period of time.

Lester Oliveros

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    Notable stats: 0-0, 5.40 ERA

    Grade: Incomplete

    The only reason why Oliveros is in this slideshow is because he was in the Delmon Young deal.

    While Young probably isn’t missed too badly, keep an eye on Oliveros to see if the Twins got their money’s worth in the deal.

    Right now it isn’t looking great.

Carl Pavano

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    Notable stats: 2-5, 6.00 ERA

    Grade: D

    Carl Pavano is so old that he played for the Montreal Expos.

    Carl Pavano is so old that he won a world series with the Florida Marlins.

    Carl Pavano is so old that he’s going to injuries that end his season.

    The 36 year old was the Twins Opening Day starter this season, but managed only 11 starts before his season ended with shoulder surgery.

    He is a free agent next season.

Luis Perdomo

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    Notable stats: 0-0, 3.18 ERA

    Grade: C

    Perdomo was another player that the Twins snagged from the Padres. In his first year back since the 2010 season, the diminutive pitcher was unspectacular in 15 appearances.

Glen Perkins

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    Notable stats: 3-1, 2.56 ERA (16 saves)

    Grade: A

    The Twins have found their closer in Perkins.

    The Stillwater native and University of Minnesota product took over the vacancy left by Joe Nathan. He’s got a club friendly 4-year, $11.85 million deal so the Minnesota kid won’t be going anywhere soon.

    For those of you interested, the great Joe Posnanski did a pitch-by-pitch walkthrough with Perkins after the closer’s save against the Yankees this season. It’s worth a read.

Tyler Robertson

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    Notable stats: 2-2, 5.40 ERA

    Grade: B

    The 24 year old Southern Californian made a nice rookie debut, appearing in 40 games.

    For more information, click here.

Anthony Swarzak

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    Notable stats: 3-6, 5.03 ERA

    Grade: B

    Like Duensing, Minnesota found that Anthony Swarzak is better suited in the bullpen than as a starter.

    After making 23 starts in 2009 and 2011 (he spent 2010 in Triple A), Swarzak spent most of this season in the bullpen.

    His five starts were unspectacular, but as a long reliever he was called upon often and got the job done more frequently than he didn’t.

Esmerling Vasquez

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    Notable stats: 0-2, 5.68 ERA

    Grade: D

    Picked up off waivers from Arizona, Vasquez was unspectacular in his six starts.

    A reliever that played 141 games without making a start with the Diamondbacks, the Dominican starter walked (19) more he struck out (14) and only threw 31.2 innings for the Twins.

Kyle Waldrop

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    Notable stats: 0-1, 2.53 ERA

    Grade: B

    A first round pick in 2004, Waldrop saw limited time (17 games) in the bigs this season, but played well when given an opportunity. His development was hindered by Tommy John surgery in 2008.

    He should see more playing time next season.

PJ Walters

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    Notable stats: 2-5, 5.69

    Grade: B-

    The former Blue Jay made 12 starts for the Twins this season, tripling his career total.

    Before his shoulder problems, Walters looked like he may become a staple in the rotation.

    After it things didn’t look so good.

    He’ll be considered for a roster spot next year.

Catchers

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    Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit both had strong years.

    Mauer looked like his old self, batting over .300 and leading the AL in OBP.

    Doumit was a strong pickup from Pittsburgh.

    Drew Butera took a step backwards, however.

Drew Butera

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    Notable stats: 6 doubles, 0 triples, 1 home run (.198/.270/.279)

    Grade: C

    After playing 93 games in 2011, Butera only took the diamond 42 times this season.

    Butera had a strong report with Liriano, but didn’t see much playing time after the mercurial lefty was dealt to Chicago at the deadline.

Ryan Doumit

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    Notable stats: 34 doubles, 1 triple, 18 home runs (.275/.320/.461)

    Grade: B+

    Doumit was a solid pickup.

    The former Pittsburgh Pirate became Joe Mauer’s de facto backup at catcher and played a little outfield as well.

    The two-time .300 hitter set a career mark for home runs and showed he was versatile in the field.

    That three-error night kept him from getting an A, however, and indicates that his time in left may be limited next season.

Joe Mauer

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    Notable stats: 31 doubles, 4 triples, 10 home runs (.319/.416/.446)

    Grade: A

    After an injury-riddled season last year that limited him to 82 games played, Mauer set a career mark with 147 games split between first and catcher.

    He was in the batting race until the end and led the league in on-base percentage—doing everything the team could ask of him.

    Now it’s time for Minnesota to build a team around him.

Infielders

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    The infield saw a lot of change this season, but still was able to lead the league in double plays.

    They are pretty set at first, a position that Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Chris Parmelee can field proficiently.

    Trevor Plouffe can hit at third, but also makes a lot of errors.

    Brian Dozier has range at short, but also has trouble staying out of the error column.

    Pedro Florimon and Alexi Casilla are sound defensively, but offer nothing in terms of power.

    And Jamey Carroll cannot be considered in the long-term plans.

    There are a lot of people in the mix, making pretty much everything but first a battle in Spring Training.

Jamey Carroll

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    Notable stats: 18 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run (.268/.343/.317)

    Grade: A

    Carroll get’s the A because, well, at 38 he’s old enough to be the teacher ergo he’s got access to the grade book.

    Originally drafted by the Montreal Expos, Carroll came over from the Dodgers on a two-year deal and has helped young players on the left side of the diamond, like Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier, get accustomed to defense in the big leagues.

    At this point in his career, Carroll’s value must be valued in the clubhouse as much as it is out of it.

Alexi Casilla

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    Notable stats: 17 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run (.241/.282/.321)

    Grade: C

    Casilla’s played 106 games, a career high, this season.

    It was the second baseman’s defense that kept him on the field. Profiled as a hard-hitting infielder, Casilla has yet to demonstrate consistent hitting in the big leagues.

Brian Dozier

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    Notable stats: 11 doubles, 1 triple, 6 home runs (.234/.271/.332)

    Grade: C+

    An affable shortstop that hails from the same hometown as Elvis Presley, Dozier got the call up early in the season and played 84 games for the Twins.

    Look all over the Internet and you’ll see people talking about how poor his rookie campaign was. In all fairness, the Fulton, Miss. native has incredible range and showed a little bit of power.

    If he can reduce the errors (15) and get his bat on more balls the 8th rounder out of the University of Southern Mississippi could be the biggest heist since Elvis stole black music.

    Long live the King!

Eduardo Escobar

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    Notable stats: 0 doubles, 0 triples, 0 home runs (.227/.271/.227) with Minnesota

    Grade: C

    Escobar is worth noting because he is essentially the guy the Twins traded Liriano for.

    So far he hasn’t done too much.

Pedro Florimon

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    Notable stats: 5 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run (.219/.272/.307)

    Grade: C+

    Minnesota called up this former Baltimore Oriole when they sent down Brian Dozier.

    Florimon had 7 errors in 43 games, but looked decent in the field and showed a little prowess at the plate as well.

    He’ll be in the infield mix next year.

Justin Morneau

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    Notable stats: 26 doubles, 2 triples, 19 home runs (.267/.333/.440)

    Grade: B+

    As time went on and Morneau recovered he started to show that power that allowed him to hit 30-plus homers from 2006-09.

    He continued to struggle against lefties, however, and with his contract up at the end of next season and with Chris Parmelee sitting in the shadows, there is some question as to whether or not the Twins will deal their 31 year old franchise player at the deadline next season.

Chris Parmelee

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    Notable stats: 10 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs (.229/.290/.380)

    Grade: B

    Parmelee had a rough start to the season, but after the call up he showed that power that reminded fans why Minnesota took the Southern Californian in the 1st round in 2006.

    He is primed for a big step forward next season and should be a cornerstone player in years to come.

Trevor Plouffe

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    Notable stats: 19 doubles, 1 triple, 24 home runs (.235/.301/.455)

    Grade: B+

    During that streak where he hit 19 home runs, Plouffe was hitting at a rate of one home run per nine at bats. At that rate, he would have hit 67 home runs over the course of a year.

    Although he’s capable of playing all over the field (short, third and right), Plouffe has struggled to find a spot where he feels comfortable.

    He made 95 starts at third this season and put about as many balls in the seats from that base (17 errors) as he did in the batter’s box.

    If he can work out his kinks in the hot corner and continue to put balls in the seats (the outfield seats, that is), Plouffe could become a franchise player in Minnesota.

Danny Valencia

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    Notable stats: 6 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs (.198/.212/.310)

    Grade: D

    The. Swag. Is… probably going to be relegated to the minors next season.

    Danny V got an A in the swag category, but didn’t perform all too well anywhere else.

    The third baseman had a hot start in 2010 and put jerseys on the backs of fans, but could not replicate his .311/.351/.448 line from that season or the 15 home runs he hit in 2011.

    He was dealt to Boston when the team traveled there near the trade deadline and ultimately third base became Plouffe’s to lose.

Outfielders

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    Both Ben Revere and Denard Span handle centerfield well.

    Right field will either be Revere, when Span’s around, or a hard-hitting guy like Chris Parmelee or Trevor Plouffe with the possibility of Mastroianni as a defensive backup.

    Left is in question. Willingham’s power puts him there. Doumit’s mobility should, but he’s struggled there.

    That’s the only position that’s really up for grabs.

Joe Benson

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    Notable stats: Umm… ahh… this is awkward.

    Grade: Incomplete

    Benson is worth mentioning because a) he has a Joe Dirt mullet and b) he was brought up for 21 games straight out of Double A as a 23 year old in 2011.

    He struggled this season, however, and never played a game for the Twins. His progress was hampered by injury.

    The Joliet, Ill. native hit .202/.288/.336 in 76 minor league games this year.

Matt Carson

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    Notable stats: 1 double, 0 triples, 0 home runs (.227/.246/.242)

    Grade: C

    Carson played 26 games for the Twins and made minimal impact.

    He does not figure into their plans next season.

Darin Mastroianni

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    Notable stats: 3 doubles, 2 triples, 3 home runs (.252/.328/.350)

    Grade: B

    Mastaroni…Mastadon…Master…

    Ahh… never mind.

    Darin played 77 games this season after coming over from Toronto (where he played exactly one game).

    The former Blue Jay proved that he could make plays in the field, but will have to hit better to become a full-time player with the Twins next season.

Ben Revere

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    Notable stats: 13 doubles, 6 triples, 0 home runs (.294/.333/.342)

    Grade: A

    The 2007 first round pick played 124 games this season, a career high.

    He showed he could make highlight reel plays in the outfield and sustain an average around .300 all season. The Atlanta native still hacks at too many pitches early in counts, making him a liability in the leadoff spot, but is an outstanding No. 2 hitter and is capable of making web gems at both center and right field.

Denard Span

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    Notable stats: 38 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs (.283/.342/.395)

    Grade: A

    We’re used to .300 seasons out of Span, a patient leadoff hitter.

    Although it was a bit of a down year for the Span Man, he is still a stronger leadoff hitter than Revere and, at 28, is in the middle of his prime—meaning he’s got plenty of good seasons left in him.

    He could be flipped for pitching if Revere develops into a solid leadoff guy in years to come.

Josh Willingham

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    Notable stats: 30 doubles, 1 triples, 35 home runs (.260/.366/.524)

    Grade: A

    Willingham had an outstanding season this year.

    The former Oakland A is living proof that Ryan still has his touch when it comes to free agency.

    The question is if he will remain on the team or be dealt for pitching.

    At 33 he’s aging and is in Year 2 of a three-year deal.

     

    Tom Schreier writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com and contributes to Hockey’s Future and Stadium Journey.

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