Hi, my name's Dallin Burgener, baseball enthusiast and lifelong fan of the Minnesota Twins. I'm compiling below a team-by-team list of five "musts"--must-do transactions--for the upcoming 2010 offseason that will put each team into a better spot for playoff competition in 2010 and beyond. First on the list, of course, are the Minnesota Twins.
5 MORE MUSTS FOR THE MINNESOTA TWINS
1. Sign C Joe Mauer to an extension. Begin now if necessary, but get it done before Spring Training 2010. The Twins' front office doesn't want the same mess surrounding Johan Santana's final year as a Twin haunting the team and the grand opening of a new ballpark. They were willing to give Johan $20 mil for 5, and judging by recent contracts and Joe's performance so far this year, their All-Star catcher deserves at least $25 mil for 5 or 6 years. If the Minnesota Twins hope to regain their dominance in a tight AL Central and win a World Series in this upcoming decade, they will and must find a way to afford this.
2. Sign Freddy Sanchez to play third base. The Pirates aren't too excited to sign him to any long-term deal, despite him leading their team in batting average yet again. His 2009 OBP and SLG stats are so far very similar to his 2006 batting title stats (.356 OBP compared to .378 in '06; and .481 SLG compared to .473 in '06). Sanchez plays a below-average second base and would be suited better for the hot corner. Joe Crede has obviously shown he's a one-year stopgap for the Twins, so giving Sanchez the years (3-4) they wouldn't give to Casey Blake would save the Twins some dollars and give them a third baseman they can rely on for years, something they haven't had since Corey Koskie. Denard Span, Sanchez, Mauer, and Justin Morneau would be the most dangerous 1-4 hitters in the division and perhaps the whole league.
3. Keep the surplus and use the options. Many criticized the Twins' approach to overstocking on major-league OFs (Span, Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez, Michael Cuddyer, and Jason Kubel), but their injuries have proven this was a wise decision. With power increases from Cuddyer and Kubel, the Twins must continue to rotate these five players through the three outfield slots and the designated hitter role. If Young or Gomez continue to show some struggles, use an option, get them some time in the minors to brush up, and avoid any holes in the lineup following any such move. The same situation has surfaced in the rotation with the emergence of Anthony Swarzak: If Francisco Liriano show struggles next spring, Swarzak will be ready to slide into the rotation if Liriano would also benefit from some time in AAA.
4. Find a power arm and potential setup man for cheap. The Twins' bullpen is taking some shape finally, but Jesse Crain is an enigma, Luis Ayala will be gone and Juan Morillo proved to be wild, so GM Bill Smith needs to find an inexpensive arm that could pay big dividends. Free agent candidates include Chad Cordero, Jorge Julio, and Guillermo Mota. The Twins could also look into bringing back Juan Rincon or, for a more money, dependable LaTroy Hawkins.
5. Judge wisely with C Mike Redmond. Redmond is still a borderline B-type free agent for 2010, but if he ends up being granted the B status, the Twins must be careful how they proceed. C Jose Morales has shown his ability to back up Mauer, but if Redmond decides he wants to continue to play (that being most likely outside of Minnesota), the Twins could benefit from picking up a compensation draft pick if he signs elsewhere. That is quite conceivable, but that would require the Twins offering arbitration to Redmond, thus giving him a chance to return and the Twins a possibility of having to pay him a million or so and ending up with a logjam at catcher. Tread lightly here Mr. Smith as you make these seemingly small, minor decisions, which can in time help or hurt your ballclub in 2010 and beyond.
Suggested 2010 batting order...
1. Span LF
2. Sanchez 3B
3. Mauer C
4. Morneau 1B
5. Cuddyer RF
6. Kubel DH
7. Brendan Harris SS
8. Gomez CF
9. Nick Punto 2B
...and 2010 rotation
1. Nick Blackburn
2. Kevin Slowey
3. Scott Baker
4. Glen Perkins
5. Liriano / Swarzak