If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed that I did not make an offseason blueprint this year for the Twins. This was not because I didn’t have any clues as to what I wanted, but rather that I just didn’t have the time. Regardless, I was in favor of the Twins signing Josh Willingham over re-signing Michael Cuddyer, a fact that I had made known a couple times here and countless times elsewhere.
In doing so, the Twins ended up getting a comparable player to Cuddyer while saving roughly $10 million in the process, if Cuddyer’s 3 year, $31.5 million contract with the Colorado Rockies is true. Some people may argue that Cuddyer’s versatility is what makes him worth more, but honestly, he was a bad fielder no matter where he played. His “versatility” was just a byproduct of his unselfishness and Ron Gardenhire’s willingness to move him around the field. You want to call someone versatile? Nick Punto is versatile. Cuddyer is not. (On a related note, neither is Ryan Doumit, even though he can play catcher, 1st base, and right field).
I was going to point out how Willingham’s pull-happy approach might actually help him avoid the power woes that many hitters have seen at Target Field, but Parker Hageman beat me to the punch. However, it’s very possible that Michael Cuddyer could end the 2012 season with better numbers than Willingham. Well, present and future critics, think of each ballplayer’s new home field. Willingham will be playing in Target Field, which typically suppressed home runs (unless your name was Jim Thome). Cuddyer is calling Coors Field his new home, a launching pad of a ballpark. I could easily see Willingham hitting only 20 HR, Cuddyer getting 30+, and Twins fans complaining that signing Willingham was a terrible decision. If you foresee yourself being one of these people, please use your best judgment and think of context before you call out Terry Ryan at the end of the season. If Willingham actually hits better than Cuddyer, well then my whole argument is moot.
As of right now, it appears as though the Twins would have an outfield of Ben Revere in left field, Denard Span in center, and Willingham in right. Willingham isn’t exactly fleet-of-foot in the outfield, and it sounds like his arm is a little worse than Cuddyer’s, but he’s going to be in the lineup because of his bat, much like Ryan Doumit. For a team that was terrible in the defense and pitching departments last year, signing Willingham doesn’t help much, but it does help out the offense. Hey, when the Twins barely hit over 100 HR last year, I’m okay with improving the offense while sacrificing a little defense.
Now that I can cross off the top 2 names on my Twins wish list (Willingham and Doumit), it’s time to focus on the pitching staff. Edwin Jackson is a dream but I can see him commanding a deal similar to what Cuddyer got with the Rockies, i.e. too expensive for the Twins. I don’t know what Hisashi Iwakuma wants, but supposedly the Twins were interested in him last year and maybe he could be a good starter. There’s also guys like Jeff Francis and Paul Maholm. Basically, the Twins can make the rotation better for next season, but the names (short of Jackson, who is still a bit of a reach) aren’t going to be very noteworthy.
If the Twins still have some trouble with the rotation, then they could just move on to the bullpen. At the very least, they could start working on getting some arms with more promise than touching 95 MPH on the radar gun.