Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A look back at some Minnesota Twins free agent targets

Free Agency is an exciting time!  There are all these players who are "free" and teams can negotiate to sign them to play for their team.  As fans, we get to speculate, generate wish lists and then generally come away disappointed with our haul. 

The Twins prolonged their free agency period by signing Kendrys Morales just a couple weeks back.  However, they also struck quickly and aggressively back in the real free agency period, landing Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey and Kurt Suzuki, to name a few.  This post isn't about those who signed in Minnesota, but those who did not.  Let's look back at some names the Twins were either linked to or who some dork (me) advocated for.

My Proposed Targets

Kazmir has continued his ridiculous and bizarre renaissance in 2014, as he's been one of the best pitchers in the American League and a huge reason why the A's are one of the best teams in baseball.  I liked Kazmir on a smallish deal although I didn't really like the deal the A's gave him.  So, I was both right and wrong about Kazmir. 

A.J. Burnett

I really liked Burnett!  I would have shelled out $16 million for him!  Remember, I am not smart.  Burnett has reverted to the command-challenged pitcher he has pretty much always been, just with fewer strikeouts.  $16 million!  Are you sure you want to continue reading?

I wanted Garza on a deal similar to the deal Ricky Nolasco received.  I still wanted Garza even after the Twins had signed Nolasco, Hughes and Pelfrey.  So far, it looks like the Twins were right to pass.  His strikeout rate is down, his walk rate is up and his fastball velocity is down.  Even so, he's still pretty good and obviously better than Nolasco has been.  I think his deal looks fine in the long run, but I'm less sad that he chose the Brewers than I was a couple months ago.

Josh Johnson

Johnson made zero starts for the Padres before succumbing to his second Tommy John surgery of his career.  He will miss all of 2014.  I still maintain, and will continue to maintain, that Johnson is from Minneapolis. 

Johan Santana

This one hurts too much to discuss in depth.  The Twins lost to out to the Orioles for Santana's services.  Then, right as he was about to make his 2014 debut, he tore his Achilles and he will miss the rest of the season.  BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, random, sucky occurrences. 

I dedicated the number one spot in my Power Rankings to Tanaka for a full month and he still decided that he would rather play for a team that doesn't let him grow facial hair below his lips.  What a dork.  Oh, he's basically been the best pitcher in baseball this year.  No beard though.

I advocated the Twins signing Cano, but I knew there was no chance.  In a way, we're all lucky the Twins were nowhere near Cano.  Brian Dozier has emerged as one of the better second basemen in baseball and actually has a higher WAR than Cano.  Cano is still a great player, but $240 million is the kind of money that you only spend on handsome, milk-drinkin', Minnesota-bred players. 

Corey Hart

Hart has been awful this season and he's currently injured.  The Twins have a surprising glut of outfielders and little need for Hart.  On a related note, can you think of a worse place for a hitter to sign a one-year deal to try raise value with an eye toward a future multi-year deal than Seattle?  It's almost like they make all their batters hit with a backpack full of sand.  Do they do that?  I'll be honest, I haven't watched a lot of Mariners games this year. 

Eric Chavez

Chavez is currently on the DL (knee, old).  Prior to his injury, he had been late-career Eric Chavez:  good power, good OBP, shockingly poor defense, and great in a platoon.  I thought he would be a perfect match for Trevor Plouffe, but that would have eaten up a valuable bench spot and I doubt Chavez can adequately play the outfield as all Twins' infielders have been required to do this season.

Dioner Navarro

I greatly preferred Navarro to Kurt Suzuki.  He's younger, plus, Navarro had actually had a decent offensive season in the last five years.  As is customary, I was wrong.  Navarro has been fine, but Suzuki has obviously been better.  To be fair, I did like Suzuki as a backup.  That's something, right?

Rafael Furcal

I often wonder if I'm thinking clearly when writing and researching.  Somehow, I looked at all the figures, all the stats, all the history and still decided that Furcal would be an "interesting" reclamation project.  He was recently activated from the DL and he's probably pulling his hamstring as we speak. 

Linked to the Twins

Arroyo was so closely linked to the Twins that I actually spent a good twenty minutes coming up with Arroyo promotional ideas that I could submit to the Twins.  Arroyo braids and cornrows, free acoustic guitar, a clock where his weird leg kick becomes the minute hand.  Alas, he went to Arizona where he's continued to be pretty good.  Signing Arroyo would have been much better than signing Mike Pelfrey, but then, could Arroyo pull off the same deranged look that Pelfrey gives in that Twins barbershop commercial?  This look:

It's unlikely.  In fact, with Arroyo on the team, it probably would have been "unplugged" and therefore "disgusting."

When I listed the pitchers I wanted the Twins to pursue, a reader commented in two words:  "Ervin Santana."  I thought he was stating his name, a custom I had hoped would catch on and create a fun sense of personal community.  In reality, I believe he was advocating the Twins signing Santana.  This is going to shock you, but Santana has been inconsistent this year.  I know, now stop crying.  He'll be great for a few starts and then brutal for a few starts.  Some may prefer inconsistent to consistently bad, but I once threw up on the Tilt-A-Whirl so you'll excuse me if I prefer someone more stable.  

Selfishly, I did not want the Twins to sign Salty because I did not want to type his name.  I also felt that he wasn't really that good and that Josmil Pinto needed to be the starter, but really, it was the typing the name thing that really bugged me.  He started strong, but he has tailed off a lot.  Plus, remember, I would have photoshopped his hair onto everything. 


He didn't even know that Bert Blyleven wasn't in the booth the other night!  I'm quite certain that Pierzynski will hit some variation of .270/.310/.400 until he is seventy, but there's no way he was coming to Minnesota when he could chase a title with the Red Sox.  Plus, Suzuki has been better. 

Other Notables

Chris Capuano

I wasn't very excited about Capuano, but I could have gotten behind a one-year deal.  The Red Sox are using him in their bullpen and he hasn't been very dominant.  It wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world to have a lefty in the Twins' rotation though.

Jimenez has been pretty awful this season, which was something I was very worried about.  I think I wrote that I would give him one year, $5 million or something like that.  He obviously did better than that.  Anyway, all these awful/disappointing starters have still performed better than Ricky Nolasco, so that's really fun. 

Haren's strikeout rate has plummeted, but his ERA is much better than last year.  Huh.  His ground ball rate is way up, so that helps.  It feels like he's 60, but he's only 33.  He's also a lot taller than I thought.  This has been "discussin' vitals." 

Stephen Drew

Drew scurried back to the Red Sox when they determined that Will Middlebrooks was awful with ten healthy fingers and certainly wouldn't be any better with 10% broken fingers.  Hey, remember when Drew nearly went 0 for the World Series?  Yeah, he's still pretty much doing that.  Plays a mean short though.

In conclusion, these are players who are not on the Twins and therefore, our mortal enemies.  If the Twins had signed the right allotment of these players, they likely would be doing better in the standings.  In fact, if you replaced Ricky Nolasco with that Salty Whip from earlier, the Twins might have a couple more wins.  Ah, such is baseball.  The Twins did completely nail the Phil Hughes signing and I'd argue he's the best performer of anyone on this list.  Well, not Tanaka.  Or Kazmir.  But everyone else.  It's still good!  

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