July 12, 2007

At the Break (Overall Standing)

All of the players have now been covered in the first four editions of the "At the Break" series. Now, it's time to look at the overall standing of the team and organization. What this means is that we're going to look over what the Twins need to change and do throughout the rest of this season to make the playoffs as well as what they need to do his upcoming off-season to maintain a successful team.

The next, and final edition of this series will cover the Twins minor league teams. I hope to have that up sometime tomorrow or the day after. However, I can't guarantee this because I'm getting help from someone who knows a lot about these teames, and he's very busy.

The Team:
Minnesota Twins
First Half Record: 45-43
Many people have come to know the Twins as a second half team after their awesome second half last season. That in part is a huge reason why nobody is counting the Twins out at the break this season where they sit eight games back in the American League Central Division.

Here are three things the Twins will need to do in order to make a second half run at the playoffs....

Consistent Pitching
One of the team's biggest weaknesses so far in the first half has been the inconsistent pitching. The Twins have a lot of talent on their pitching staff, but they are young and often times inconsistent. If the Twins want to be successful in the second half, it's going to have to start with the starting pitching, and Baker, Bonser, Silva and Garza all need to give them consistent performances game in and game out or this team will go nowhere.

An Everyday DH
The designated hitter spot for a couple of years now has been somewhat of a "who's hot" spot for the Twins. That however is going to be a problem in the second half. The Twins need to find a designated hitter to fill the spot for the rest of the season instead of using it as a platoon spot.

I think they have taken the right step by calling up Garrett Jones, but now they need to give him playing time. If the Twins platoon with Ford and Tyner, that spot is going to be just another weakness in the lineup.

Anyways, if this team doesn't make the playoffs, wouldn't you rather miss with your future players than with guys that don't have a lot of time left with this team?

Another Bat
Finally, the third big key to making a second half run will rely on whether or not Terry Ryan makes a move for another bat, and how soon he acts. If the Twins do go on a little slide, Ryan needs to act fast and get another bat. In fact, he should just go out and get one right now before it's to late.

I'm not sure if it's just me, but I think if this Twins team can get one more bat, they'll be one of the better lineups and it will also make them a lot more consistent in scoring runs. Also, the move would most likely be for a third baseman, and that is a spot that we really need to update with Punto hitting just .211 on the season.

In addition to this, the names that have been mentioned (Wigginton, Johnson, etc.) would all be with the team next season because they are still in arbitration or have years left on their contract.

The Off-Season
Free Agents
Number: Six
(Let me know if this number is wrong, six is the number I found on a couple sites.)

Torii Hunter
The Twins absolutely need to resign Hunter. He has had a great year so far, and is a huge leader in the clubhouse. However, the Twins will need to act before the season is over, because once he sees the money on the Free Agent market, chances are he won't be back.

Luis Castillo
This is a tough choice for me. I would obviously really like the have Castillo back for numerous reasons. However, this could come down to how much money he wants. The Twins are going to want to hopefully get Hunter, then they would like to sign Morneau, Cuddyer and Santana to new deals. So, they won't have a lot of money for Castillo, it'll all come down to how much he wants.

Rondell White
There is no debate here for me, he's been hurt in each season he's been in Minnesota, and doesn't deserve a new deal. (Unless maybe it's a minor league deal?)

Jeff Cirillo
I'm not going to say much about Cirillo right now. Word has it that he won't be playing in the MLB next season anyways because he is expected to retire.

Ramon Ortiz
No way the Twins will resign Ortiz. They have plenty of young arms, and Ortiz wouldn't be with the team right now if not for his three million dollar contract.

Carlos Silva
As of now, I'd say that Silva shouldn't be resigned. I'd think he's want a pretty decent amount of money, and the Twins have cheaper options. Unless he has a spectacular second half, there wouldn't be a huge need for him next season.

The Future
What Players Lie Ahead
The Twins future looks very bright with a bunch of great young arms and some pretty good hitters down in the farm system. It'll be very interesting to see what happens next season with who the Twins bring up, and who might fill Castillo's or possibly even Hunter's spot in the lineup (hopefully not Hunter).

Here are some names that you may hear at the end of this season and next season....

Alexi Casilla
Casilla is a very highly touted prospect who has shown a lot of good signs when he has been called up in the past. With time, he will be a good replacement for Castillo, the only question right now is if he's ready to play everyday in the MLB.

Denard Span
Denard Span will most likely be the replacement for Toii Hunter one day. We're hoping that he won't be within the next few seasons, but that doesn't mean he won't be in the majors. There is a big chance if Hunter stays, that Span could become the everyday left fielder someday with Kubel moving to designated hitter. Either way, expect him to make a debut sometime next season.

Matt Tolbert
Matt Tolbert has been a huge surprise for the Twins this season, and he was recently moved to third base. This may be an indication that the Twins want him to be their future at that position. I'd expect him to at least get called up either in September or sometime next season.

Nick Blackburn
Blackburn has been amazing at triple-A this season, and although the Twins have a lot of young arms, if people struggle, he may become an option. There is really no telling when we might see him, but it should be within the next couple years.

Julio DePaula
Finally DePaula has been pretty good in the minors, and someday will be part of this bullpen. He still has things that he needs to tune up, but he has shown a lot of signs of promise.

This concludes the fifth edition of this "At the Break" series. As I mentioned above, there will be one more edition, and that will cover the Twins minor league teams.

If you have not done so yet, make sure to check out the other editions.

Starting Pitchers
Bullpen
Lineup
Bench