As you have probably already noticed, I opted to change the name of these roundtables because 'Whatnot' was getting rather old. On top of that, I was receiving a few questions as to what it meant. I had no idea what to tell them. So from now on, we will stick with something a little more generic.
With Liriano nearing return, how would you place him on the roster, and how would you tweak the rotation?
Martin Andrade: Drop Hernandez. With no clear ace among our starters, the order of our rotation doesn't really matter. I would pit Liriano against weaker starters until the Twins are sure of his bankability.
Josh Johnson, of "Josh's Thoughts": Ya know, I've gone back and forth on this one quite a few times. If he can't get into the rotation, I'd love to see him be used as a reliever, to at least experience the big leagues again, as I think he'd have much more success the next time around.
But the team has been so concerned about his durability, and he's done so well at regaining his arm strength that I believe the Twins would be fools to mess with him at all. Especially at this point, when his strength seems to be at nearly 100 percent.
Andrew Kneeland, of "Twins Fix": It all depends on what happens with Livan Hernandez. If he stays in the rotation, which is most likely, I would hesitate to put Liriano in the rotation right off the bat. It would be hard to cut Hernandez, and the only other option to remove from the rotation would be Perkins.
I would also hesitate to put Perkins back in the 'pen because Liriano could be simply awful once faced with major-league hitters again.
Instead, I wouldn't tinker with the rotation at all if Livan stays in Minnesota. I would place Liriano in the bullpen. He would make a fine eighth-inning set-up man, and I would love to see his stuff if he pitches from a more limited role.
However, if Livan is somehow traded, it is obvious that Liriano is the next in line as his replacement. If he doesn't fit right in it would place Minnesota in a difficult situation. They would have to either bring someone up from the minors like Duensing, Humber, or even Mulvey, or acquire someone from whichever team trades for Livan.
Seth Stohs, of "Seth Speaks": I think we all know that Livan Hernandez isn't going anywhere, and if the Twins want to get anything in return for him when they do decide to trade him, they can not put him in the bullpen. So he stays.
Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn are obviously not going anywhere. Kevin Slowey has pitched well most of the time. Glen Perkins has been solid as a starter, but of the four young guys, I think he would be the guy to go to the bullpen when Liriano is recalled.
Perkins missed a lot of time last year due to injury and was in the bullpen when he was active, so there is concern in my mind about his innings count.
I have an innings concern with Nick Blackburn, too, and Baker and Slowey already missed time early in the season with injury, so I would keep Perkins in a long-relief role and ready to be back in the rotation as needed.
What is the solution to the bullpen problems Minnesota is experiencing?
Martin Andrade: There are eight pitchers in AAA right now whom I think should be given a look at major-league hitting this year.
All of who (other than Liriano, whose value as a starter is immensely higher than his value in the bullpen) should probably get their September peek at "the show" in the bullpen. This means dropping Bass for sure, and I would consider reasonable offers on everyone in the bullpen.
Outside of any trades, Korecky should be going in and Bass should be heading out.
Josh Johnson: I think the Twins need to pick up an eighth-inning set-up man that can fill the hole that still hasn't been filled since Pat Neshek went down with an injury. Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain have had decent seasons, but neither seem to be that reliable and both are very scary to see in close games.
If the Twins could trade for a dominant set-up reliever, I'd be thrilled, and I think the Twins would cure their bullpen problems.
Andrew Kneeland: Like I said above, I would love to see Liriano in the set-up role. If the current rotation is the one we stick with, I almost hope Liriano isn't the newest starting pitcher. Perkins has been inconsistent, but he has quite a few great starts this year. I would hate to rip him out only to be forced to put him back in should Liriano prove to be bad again.
If Liriano is available to pitch from the 'pen, I think our bullpen would be in much better shape.
If Hernandez is traded, however, Liriano would not be available from the bullpen. I think a trade is almost necessary if the Twins want to compete in the second half. We could always continue auditioning young talent from the minors for that eighth-inning set-up role, which is the answer for the long run.
If Minnesota is to compete this year, though, they need a more reliable set-up pitcher. The most obvious and easiest way to get one of those would be through trade.
The perfect situation would be to unload Hernandez and pick up that eighth-inning man at the same store, but I doubt that will happen. There are numerous names that could fill the hole in Minnesota's bullpen, though.
Seth Stohs: Let me first say that I really don't see the bullpen as a problem at all for the Twins. With Joe Nathan closing, and Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain doing very well in the late innings, they are strong. Dennys Reyes and Craig Breslow have done well as the southpaws. The only issues come in the back end of the bullpen.
Calling up Liriano and moving Perkins to the bullpen would already improve the Twins' bullpen because they can lose one of the weaker bullpen guys. Boof Bonser and Brian Bass are the two weakest links in the bullpen, so one of them would have to be put on waivers (as both are out of options) and be subject to be claimed by any of the other teams in baseball.
Bonser would definitely be claimed and lost. I think he still has a chance to be a No. 4 or No. 5 starter for many big-league teams, so he might have some value.
I think Brian Bass could sneak through waivers, but if he didn't, it would not be a big deal.
Who do you expect to step up the most in the second half? Who should step up the most?
Martin Andrade: I don't really believe players can "step it up" at will. Most players keep themselves very close to the peak output of their motivation curve thanks to the strong individual motivators in baseball. Despite a poor performing team, baseball still rewards individual achievement well enough to get players on bad teams to give their best effort all the time.
What I do believe in is Karma. Or balance, Tao, what comes around goes around. Whatever. The following players have been underperforming compared to certain residual stats I like to use: Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young, and Kevin Slowey.
Two other players, Francisco Liriano and Carlos Gomez, while not under or over performing, are due for an increase in importance and productivity. These are the players I would look to for stepped up performance in the second half.
Josh Johnson: I expect a big second half from Joe Mauer. He seems to have found a power stroke as of late, and I think he may hit another 5-10 home runs before the end of the season, which would be great as he had zero home runs before June 2. I know it's not a bold prediction, but I believe he's going to have a great second half.
I think Delmon Young should step up the most. It's not like he is in danger of losing his starting job in left field anytime soon, or at least lose at-bats, but he is also starting to hit the ball better, and I think if the Twins want to contend, they need another guy besides Mauer and Morneau to carry the team. We cannot rely just on Morneau and Kubel for our power support.
Andrew Kneeland: There are quite a few young players who are tearing it up as we head into the break, such as Buscher, Span, and Punto. I doubt any of those can keep up the pace they have been, but they will be key in the run Minnesota hopes to make for the division in the second half.
I think Morneau obviously needs to step up. He isn't on his normal home run or RBI pace, and that needs to improve. Minnesota has been relying on other bats for their hits, although Morneau's average is extremely close to Mauer's.
Speaking of Mauer, he also needs to continue doing what he's doing. I would also expect Kubel to play a big role in the second half.
Seth Stohs: I expect Delmon Young to have a big second half, but I don't know if that's stepping up because he has been hitting well the last two months already. I do expect the power (at least in the form of doubles) to really pick up.
I think that Michael Cuddyer should step it up once he comes back. It's been a tough year for him because of the two injuries. The first happened in the first week, and he missed time and struggled right when he came back for a bit.
Then, just as he was really hitting well (most of June), he hurt his other hand. He needs to get back and really needs to produce right away. Clearly he is someone that should be able to do that.
If you could re-name this 'Whatnot' roundtable, what would you call it?
Martin Andrade: I am a bit floccinaucinihilipilificatious towards this question as I'm rather attached to the "Whatnot" name. However, it certainly sends a rather apathetic message.
My imagination is quite limited, so the best I could come up with was "Curius Twinsus" which is just a take on Curia Hostilia, which was the building the Roman Senate first called home during the Roman Kingdom.
From its Vulgar Latin origins, "Twinsus Curius" could loosely be translated "association of Twins peeps." It also acts as a play on words in modern English as those curious about the Twins could check the Twinsus Curius for more information.
I don't recommend my recommendation as Ryan Alberti would slay us all for such ostentatious erudition.
Josh Johnson: No idea, I'm not in a very creative mood.
Andrew Kneeland: Twins Talk, Twins Speak, Twins Jabber, Twins Powwow
Seth Stohs: I have no idea.