Okay, so the Twins have finally stepped into their own in the one place they never have: the offseason.
So far this offseason, the Twins signed and kept all eight of their arbitration-eligible players.
They also signed Jim Thome to shore up a bench with power they crave and Orlando Hudson to provide a consistent and All-Star type presence Minnesota hasn't seen at second base since Chuck Knoblauch.
With that said, Minnesota's team payroll this year is set to be over $96 million as it stands now...but is that the way it will stay? I don't think so.
First off, Minnesota has spent too much money this offseason to not commit now to the likely mission of a 2010 World Series.
The facts just keep lining up with new signings and an improvement in key areas that makes Minnesota look daring and quite possibly the favorite in the AL Central.
To say that the Twins are done is hard pressed to say the least. Especially with Jerrod Washburn still debating the big question of retirement while considering Minnesota as a possible landing spot if he returns.
Let alone, Washburn would set a rotation on the verge of going over the top into the same mode it had with its outfield in the past few years: Too many able and starter-worthy players to the limited number of positions.
The rotation looks as follows:
- Scott Baker
- Nick Blackburn
- Kevin Slowey
- Carl Pavano
The fifth spot (as of now) is still up in the air among:
- Francisco Liriano
- Glen Perkins
- Anthony Swarzak
- Brian Duensing
To add Washburn almost seems a waste to the valuable names that remain. Liriano is "throwing the fire out of the ball" in the Dominican Republic, supposedly recapturing the heat that scared hitters in his 2006 campaign.
Duensing proved late last year he can start in the majors and do it well. Swarzak is simply talking the big talk but has yet to prove he can do the big walk.
Perkins intrigues me. A lefty would be a big help to solidify a rotation dominated already by three right-handed pitchers and only one lefty. On top of that, Perkins is doing one thing that really impresses me...he's growing up.
After working in this past offseason, he knows now that his spot isn't guaranteed. True, he still has miles to go, but he knows who's in charge and is working on improving his game to "earn" a spot.
It will be interesting to see how the rotation will shape with it as is, much less with Jerrod Washburn.
There is another chore involving the signing of a player named Joe, however, he isn't already signed with the team through 2010.
Joe Crede currently is sitting ready for a pick-me-up year to prove his legitimacy as a player and to prove he still has what it takes and the ability to handle a full season. His back issues still waver, making him a liability if he's unable to make it the whole year.
However, the big picture here is that now that the Twins infield includes the likes of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Orlando Hudson and J.J. Hardy, the third base looks like more then just the hot corner, but a blaring hole.
Crede would come cheap and with although limited, proven power. A one-year, incentive-laden contract would seem rather fitting and very good for a team needing a hot bat and good glove over the likes of Brendan Harris or Nick Punto.
The point here is this: Minnesota has spent too much on other key positions to not finish the job and finish off the infield to make it a legit contender.
There is no other player left on free agency that could possibly produce at the third base position like Crede could.
The beautiful part of this is that with the likes of Harris and Punto behind him, you have a very deep bench to cover for him if he begins to feel fatigued.
Harris is also proving he can play legit in this league, but not enough to depend on him to earn the spot.
Not with this much money invested in the infield, and more importantly, especially not with the likes of the last chore Minnesota should really do before 2010, which is obviously shoring up the future of Twins baseball in 2009 AL MVP, Joe Mauer.
This deal has been an obvious need for the Twins. Even more then any other deal they make this offseason, this one will define their team for the next decade.
With the kind of offseason Minnesota has had, if they don't shore up third base, the signing of Thome and Hudson will be for naught and ultimately be just a media and fan stirring effort, nothing more.
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