What Do We Do Now? / Twins Trade Jose Morales

Within the past few days, the Twins have been dealt two blows when it was announced that Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain respectively signed 3-year contracts with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. The consensus among fans was that at least one of these pitchers would have to be re-signed to fill the large opening in the bullpen, but now the Twins have lost two prime targets.

Many people are concerned that the Twins do not have a plan to fill the bullpen now, and that they will end up with something that resembles DisasterPen ’11. However, I’m not that concerned, because there are still plenty of options available. They may not instill confidence at first glance, but they can still be solid options.

For one, there are the pitchers that I mentioned when I reviewed some non-tendered players the Twins may consider acquiring. Second, there are still these players available that I think may appeal to the Twins: Jon Rauch, Chad Qualls, Octavio Dotel, Dan Wheeler, Joe Beimel, Arthur Rhodes, and Bobby Seay. Of course, these are not the only options in the free agent market, but just the ones I think the Twins would consider first.

Also, we shouldn’t doubt that all of the Twins internal options will struggle. Pat Neshek has another year under his belt after Tommy John surgery. Alex Burnett pitched well for the first half of 2010. Anthony Slama didn’t impress us very much, but he only accumulated 4.2 major league innings last season. Jim Hoey will most likely get a shot to join the bullpen. Scott Diamond will get a chance to show he deserves to stay on the roster. At least one or two of these guys should be able to put together a good season as a reliever.

Another thing we need to remember is the trade market. The Twins don’t have anyone that jumps out as trade bait right now, but if they happen to re-sign Jim Thome, then the outfield will become quite crowded. Delmon Young may have just turned a corner and Michael Cuddyer should be considered untradeable due to his contract, so Jason Kubel may become the most attractive option.

It’s easy to get worked up about the uncertainty surrounding the bullpen, but I think it will be fine. It may be concerning to see this lack of activity, but the Twins will find a way. As Hip Hop Yoda would say, “Practices patience, the smart one does, yo.”

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In very slightly related news, the Twins announced that they traded C Jose Morales to the Colorado Rockies for Single-A LHP Paul Bargas. Over a year ago, I stated that I liked Drew Butera more than Jose Morales as the backup for Joe Mauer, and as if giving Butera a full year on the 25-man roster wasn’t enough evidence, this trade certainly confirms it. It also presumably clears a roster spot for Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who reportedly signed with the Twins today. The only negative I see from this trade is that the Twins now have only 2 catchers on the 40-man roster, so I imagine that either someone will be signed or they will just add a minor league catcher to the roster.

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