A mailbag on a Tuesday? Now I've heard of everything! Remember that song "December" by Collective Soul? This mailbag is dedicated to that song. As is typical, these are actual questions that will be actually answered by me. This month, I even have some questions written by others! Fame! FAME!
The Twins have been surprisingly active this Fall, adding two starting pitchers and cutting one Australian. What do you think the Twins' next move will be? Also, what do you hope the Twins' next move will be? Thanks, I am an avid scanner of your work.
Brad S., St. Paul, MN
What an intelligent question-set! I think the Twins will make their next move this week and I think it will be something relatively minor. I could see the Twins adding a veteran backup catcher like John Buck or Kurt Suzuki, but no one overly sexy. If not a catcher, I'll bet that the next move will be for one more starting pitcher. The Twins have watched injuries and suckiness decimate their rotation for three years now. I'd guess that adding one more arm to the rotation will be a priority.
My hope is that the next move the Twins make is really smart. As opposed to a dumb move, of course. I'd like to see the Twins target a starting pitching reclamation project to use in the rotation until Alex Meyer is ready, hopefully in July or August. I think there are three interesting names: Shaun Marcum, Johan Santana and Scott Baker. Each has talent and each has major injury issues. When Colby Lewis signed a minor league deal, I was slightly surprised. I'd say each of these three are in the Colby Lewis range of talent/injury concern. I'd like to see the Twins land one on either an MiLB deal or a deal in the one year, $1-3 million range. Seems like a decent investment.
Real Questions! - Thanks to Paul and Eric Pleiss of the always entertaining Talk to Contact podcast and Puckett's Pond and Knuckleballs, respectively. Check out their work on the internet.
Do you think the Twins will sign a 1B/DH type guy, or even a 3B or middle infielder off the of free agent market? Essentially what I want to know is, will Nick Punto or Mark Reynolds be a Twin in 2014?
The greatest flaw in a fake mailbag is that while you wait for questions to answer, things actually happen. Thus, Nick Punto signed a very fair contract to hustle for the As in 2014 and probably 2015 because they will fall in love with him like everyone else does.
Reynolds is still a free agent and I don't hate the idea of bringing him in on a small deal. Reynolds mostly sucks, but he does have massive power. He has 20 or more home runs in each of the last six seasons. Sure his career batting average is .233 and he strikes out more than I fail to come up with analogies, but his awesome right-handed power could play well at Target Field.
That said, I think that Jason Bartlett will be the only Twins' infield signing this off-season. Joe Mauer moving to first closed off that position for the next half-decade, Brian Dozier is entrenched at second and the left side can be cobbled together with Trevor Plouffe, Pedro Florimon, Eduardo Escobar and possibly Bartlett.
Twins HOF voting is open on Facebook (Facebook voting is, obviously, the best way to make any decision), who are you voting for besides Chuck Knoblauch?
Don't forget about Twitter! I remember when everyone thought that Thomas Dewey beat Harry Truman in the 1948 presidential election, but everyone forgot about the Twitter results. I actually wrote an entire post about my Twins Hall of Fame ballot. If you missed it, you can find it here. If you don't like reading, I would vote for Knoblauch, Shane Mack, Tom Brunansky, Brian Harper and Corey Koskie. I would not vote for Dazzle. I have standards.
What does the former Minnesota Twin Matt Fox say?
Ok, I did not get this reference. I listen to "The Starters," a truly glorious NBA podcast. One of their promos has Rick Fox (former NBA player and "actor") saying, "The dog says woof, the cat says meow, but what does the Fox say?" He laughs like a total knob after he says it too. Real creepy laugh, like he's going to try to steal your significant other. Anyway, the reference comes from a viral video seen by literally millions of people and not by me. I prefer this video, with just over 17,000 views, mostly from me. I have every intention of re-casting this video with current Twins players. Just be patient.
That said, I am guessing Matt Fox would say "thanks for giving me one start, Twins." Or, he might say, "why couldn't I have been born just three years later when the Twins really sucked and could have used a random AAA starter for a few months." It just depends on how negative he is.
The Twins missed out on Jarrod Saltinecracker and I am bummed out. I am not ready for the Josmil Pinto era and I think the Twins need Salty or the veteran presence/punch-ability of A.J. Pierzynski. What do you think?
Brad S., St. Paul, MN
Not to go all meta and disagree with mysel...I mean a reader, but I am glad the Twins didn't land Saltalamacchia. I outlined five very reasonable reasons why in a post here. More self-promotion! Basically, I don't think Saltalamacchia is that great and much of his success in the past has a flukiness to it that scares me away from a three-year deal when Pinto could end up being a better offensive player as early as 2014. I'm sure he'll enjoy his two months with the Marlins.
Ok hotshot, you always think you're so smart. I have report cards that say otherwise. How many games do the Twins win in 2014? Don't be gutless like you usually are and give a range. Pick a number. Put your name on it.
Brad S's Mom, St. Paul, MN
First off, most of my teachers were out to get me. Second, I'm going to be brave and say 74 wins. The additions of Nolasco and Hughes might be somewhat overrated for 2014. My opinion is that each pitcher is pretty good and could be better than that if things break correctly. I am more excited about their signings as a symbol of a potential shift in thinking within the Front Office. The Twins either see that free agency is an important component in building a team or they feel the team is close to contending and need to fill remaining holes quickly. Either way, I prefer that to treading water.
Back to 2014. The Twins won 66 games in 2013, but their Pythagorean record gave them 63 wins. Those figures are pretty close, so I don't put too much stock in the difference. Replacing Mike Pelfrey and Vance Worley/Scott Diamond/Pedro Hernandez with Hughes and Nolasco has to add a few wins to the total. It just has to. I mean, look at those names. Gross.
In addition, the Twins played all of September without their best player (Mr. Charisma himself, Joe Mauer!). The Twins were 8-20 in September. Mauer last played on August 19. The Twins were 54-69 on that day, good for a 71-win pace. I don't really think Mauer was the reason why the team fell off that pace, but he was likely part of the reason. In addition, a bad team is likely to use a lot of odd pieces in September, which could explain why guys like Doug Bernier, Eric Fryer, Cole De Vries, Pedro Hernandez, Shairon Martis and Liam Hendriks were playing in September.
The team I watched in 2013 was more competitive than the team I watched in 2012. Both teams won 66 games. I believe the Twins were better in 2013 and could have won more games if the needed/wanted to. I think that the team will be trying a bit harder to win in September of 2014 and I think the roster will be more talented as well. 74 wins seems reasonable.
Both the real and fake mailbags have been emptied and I feel very satisfied. If you want to contribute a question to a future mailbag, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, you can find me on Twitter - @bridman77. Or, you can come to my house. It's a little messy right now. Have fun, everyone!