Once again, in the spirit of the Pioneer Press' Tom Powers' idea that the "Minnesota Twins need more useful players, not stars" if the Twins want to make substantial improvement next year, I present an article addressing the Twins' two biggest needs this offseason: starting pitching and middle infielders.
Having one of the worst starting rotations in MLB this season and the most inconsistent middle infields, the Twins need to pick up a few quality free agents this winter. The following article reviews five useful starting pitchers and middle infielders who the Twins should consider signing for 2013.
Note: All players were listed as Free Agents when this article was written, via BaseballReference.com and MLBTradeRumors.com.
2012 Stats: 10-13, 4.71 ERA, .273 BAA, 30 GS through 191.0 IP.
Career Stats: 83-75, 4.37 ERA, .274 BAA, 228 GS through 1434.2 IP
Overview: With the Twins biggest need this offseason being pitching, Joe Blanton would be a solid choice. Though Blanton can give up a higher number of home runs, though Target Field is a larger park and might just suit him.
The 31-year-old does log around 190 IP a season and the Twins definitely could use someone consistent. Blanton earned $8.5 million last season, so the Twins definitely could afford him.
2012 Stats .223/.309/.348, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 38 R, 9 GP/E at SS
Career: .265/.326/.382, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 83 R, 11 GP/E at 3B
Overview: The 29-year-old SS is one of the more solid middle infielders in the free agent pool this offseason. In the past two years, Drew averages just 83 games played in a season, with marginal hitting production per season (.238/.313/.373, 3 3B, 6 HR, 36 RBI, and 41 R). However, in the four previous seasons, Drew averaged 147 games played and had much better offensive production numbers per season (.268/.330/.442., 10 3B, 15 HR, 63 RBI, and 76 R).
Drew earned $7.75 million in 2012. Though probably not worth that last season, a healthy Drew might be. Regardless, the Twins still can afford a contract to Drew's liking.
2012 Stats: 9-13, 3.86 ERA, .273 BAA, 34 GS through 195.2 IP.
Career Stats: 48-51, 3.75 ERA, .274 BAA, 144 GS through 869.0 IP
Overview: Once again, the Twins' biggest need is starting pitching. Anibal Sanchez might be another solid candidate to add to the depleted starting rotation. At just 28 years old, Sanchez has logged 195 IP and played seven seasons at the major league level. In his first three years as a full-time starter, Sanchez logged 195+ IP, 150+ SO, and an ERA under 4.00.
Sanchez earned $8 million in 2012 from the Miami Marlins/Detroit Tigers. Since Sanchez is not an complete ace, he would be an ideal candidate for the Twins if they can give him some run support.
2012 Stats: 7-7, 4.16 ERA, .248 BAA, 16 GS through 125.1 IP.
Career Stats: 33-35, 4.25 ERA, .242 BAA, 56 GS through 657.1 IP
Overview: Carlos Villanueva has yet to be starting pitcher through a full year, spending much of his career as relief pitcher. However, over the course the last two years, Villanueva has started 26 games, going 10-10, 4.79 ERA, .267 BAA through 165.1 IP.
Villanueva earned $2.2775 million in 2012. The Blue Jays thought enough of him to pay him over $2 million and allow him to start in about 40 percent of the time in the last two seasons. Why not give the 28-year-old a shot at a starting rotation spot?
2012 Stats: 12-11, 4.21 ERA, .267 BAA, 28 GS through 171.0 IP.
Career Stats: 60-65, 4.54 ERA, .272 BAA, 159 GS through 1,066.0 IP
Overview: Kevin Correia would add a younger veteran presence to the Twins rotation.
The 32-year-old has been a full-time starter for the past four seasons at the major league level, going 46-43 with a 4.51 ERA. Correia will not be a Cy Young winner for the Twins, but he would bring a consistency similar to Nick Blackburn had in 2008 and 2009 (a .500ish record with 4.00ish ERA).
Correia's 2012 price tag of $3 million is quite cheap for a pitcher who actually can last an entire season with a decent record and solid ERA.