Thursday, October 8, 2009

The 2009 Central Division Champions and the moves they made

The Twins have won their 5th division title since 2002!!!!

2009 was a great season. The Twins came back from 7 games out of first in September. There are many reasons why the Twins won the division. Mauer had an MVP year. Morneau had 30 HRs 100 RBIs before going down with injury. Jason Kubel and Micheal Cuddyer had good years. May players stepped up over the course of the season. The Twins also made three trades and a free agent signing in July and August. A quote from JoeC's blog by David St. Peter: “I don’t know what’ll happen [against the Yankees], but we’ve been on a roll. These guys are confident. You’ve gotta give credit to the manager and the coaching staff. I think about Bill Smith, and the moves we made. I know people were critical at times, but we’re not here without Cabrera, Rauch, Mahay and Pavano. So you’ve gotta give credit where credit’s due, and ownership stepped up on that.”

So lets look at the players:

On July 31 the team traded low A SS prospect Tyler Ladendorf for Orlando Cabrera. Ladendorf is only 21, is a SS, and has some upside but, has yet to master low A ball pitching. Cabrera is on the decline but, has been a solid contributor with a good glove in the past. Since the trade he is batting .292/.316/.424 with 2 SB. His fielding has been bad all season with a -9.9 UZR/150. He does however seem to provide leadership to the young players, especially the Latin players.

The team was 52-50 before the trade and 35-26 after the trade.

On August 8th the team traded AAA pitcher Yohan Pino for Carl Pavano. Pino is a decent pitcher that has done well at every level of the minor leagues. He is only 24 next season and has good numbers, but does not have high end stuff. Pino has a chance to be a decent major league pitcher, provided his stuff can get major leaguers out. In a system that has a glut of borderline major league starter prospects and the fact that Pavano will probably be a Type B free agent, which means a Supplemental 1st round pick, means the trade is a success even if Pavano did not perform. In 12 starts since the trade, Pavano is 5-4 4.64 ERA 73.2 IP 85 hits 59 K/16 BB.766 OPS. The team is 8-4 in his starts. He has been a very solid pitcher for the team.

The team was 53-56 before the trade and 34-20 after the trade.

On August 28th the team traded AAA RHP Kevin Mulvey for reliever John Rauch. Mulvey, like Pino, is a decent pitcher however. Mulvey will only be 25 and was a key prospect in the Johan Santana trade, but he projects to be a mediocre at best major league starter and can probably be replaced. With Rauch signed for another year at $3 million, this trade seems reasonable. In 15 innings Rauch is 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA, 13 hits allowed, 14K/6 BB, & .676 OPS. He has been outstanding. I hope the league doesn't catch up with him too much next year.

The team was 63-64 before the trade 24-12 after the trade.

The next day the team signed lefty reliever Ron Mahay. He had been designated for assignment by the Royals. In 8.2 innings, mostly vs lefties, he is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA, 7 hits allowed, 7K/3 BB, & .649 OPS. He has been very good at his role.

The team was 64-64 before the trade 23-12 after the trade.

The team didn't lose much in the way of talent. The team's record has improved since each player was brought on board but really jumped up once all 4 were in the fold.

What do you think about the four players? Were these moves the reason for the strong finish? All four players have better numbers with the Twins than they had with their previous team, so some regression to the mean should be expected next season. I'd rate Pavano and Rauch as the best grabs. Cabrera improved the team slightly with his presence mainly because Ron Gardenhire chooses to play him at SS. Brendan Harris similar numbersto Cabrera both offensively and defensively but Gardy chooses not to play him at the position. Mahay has been good in limited appearances.

Should the team keep these guys? Rauch is signed for next year. Pavano can bring a high draft pick if offered arbitration. I say offer arbitration. If he wants to take $5-7 million on a one year deal that is great, if not, the team can take the draft pick. I'd resign Mahay for 1 year at $750,000, if he wants more, let him go. The team may choose to put Liriano or Perkins in the bullpen as a 2nd lefty as well. Cabrera is the toughest decision. He will be 35 years old next season. His defense is poor at this point in his career. His offense is not great either even thought it went up slightly with MN. Can he be expected to have a plus .700 OPS next season? If the team does not sign him, who plays shortstop? Does the team make a trade? Do they move Nick Punto back to SS? Do they give Trevor Plouffe or Steven Tolleson a shot? I would try to pry JJ Hardy away from Milwaukee(Perhaps with Liriano) or sign Orlando Hudson to play 2b and move Nick Punto back to SS. As a 3rd option I'd offer Cabrera a 1 year deal at 4 million. If he doesn't take it, I'd let him walk and at the other options, as thin as they are.

What do you think the team should do?

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