This team is misfiring in all cylinders, so you gotta re-build the whole engine (think Marlins' tune ups blowing up the whole thing and winning world championships.) So (starting from the top, and these things do not have to happen stimultaneously, but they have to happen before the Winter meetings next fall: )
- Bill Smith has to go, along with the rest of the "Twins' way" (read: old school) people in the front office. This includes "special advisors", scouts in their golden years, hangovers who care more about horse racing or their personal enterprises and such (ouch). A new front office that includes a holistic player evaluation team that uses computers as well as eyes (hey, it is the 21st century, last time I checked) should be installed in place.
- (I guess that this might come as a surprise: ) Get rid of the manager and the coaches and start fresh. Everyone who ever read my opinions here knows who I feel about the love of complacency and mediocrity by the media and fans, which embrace the current Twins' field regime, even though they have fallen short since 1991, create cronyism, favoritism and schism in the clubhouse and making lineup and game decisions based on gut feelings that are in a dire need of Pepto (yes, the pink stuff.) So a new manager should be installed, someone with fire who would not take the compliments of being second-(and third- and fourth- and fifth-) best as accolades displayed in a Fargo agricultural show, but would think that an also-ran team is a failure and install this fire to his players. Someone like him (old news that I like him and he is a former Twin.) Also get at least one hispanic coach. This team is blessed to have the pitching coach who made Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Johan Santana who there are now, but he is rotting in the minors (again, old news, sue me.) and has the manager's buddies as coaches.
- The players. Sigh... I gotta get a tad financially sensitive here, since a bunch of ill-advised contracts were handed out, decisions on who stays and goes and who gets extended were made based on favoritism or the previously mentioned sorts and the like... Realistically, there are few players with any trade value right now (unless some of them would have a mirage-like performance before the trading deadline, which, under the current regime, would make it more likely to keep them long term - see how that Twins' vicious cycle works? Keep high, sell low.) Anyways... back to the business. I would try to trade (mind you not all at once, but up to the trading deadline) the following (and absorb some salary $; and this is quasi-sorted based on descending trade value, pending a miracle of the aforementioned sort):
- Cuddyer. He does have some trade value with several contenders hurting at OF, he can "play" in the IF and he is a free agent next off-season. This one is a no-brainer.
- Thome. Ok. He is a nice guy (but he buried the Twins in that single play off game), we all want to see him hit number 600 with the Twins, but the truth is that this is probably his last year in the majors. Sell (quasi) high. Done deal.
- Blackburn. Ill-advised extension, ceiling of a number 4 pitcher (and he is in his prime), favorite with the front office and some Twins' fans, based on perception of "guts" quota.
- Butera. They were some takers, allegedly. Smith traded Ramos and Morales instead. Bad move. All said.
- Duensing. This is a guy whose value drops with every start. Trade high. He is lefty and he is breathing (and he is a junkballer with the ceiling of Blackburn; and he is also in his prime years). Controversial, but... gotta do it.
- Capps. Another guy whose value is dropping by the appearance, but someone might think he is a "proven closer". Another no-brainer
- It gets tough here because of several reasons, mostly associated with a need for a miracle performance...Morneau. Hubris, fan favorite (but in the wrong side of 30,) awful contract, miniscule performance; should be sadly done.
- Pavano See the above, minus the hubris bit.
- Nathan. You need to find takers, but there might be
- Big category here: Clean house of never-had been players in their prime or past: Dusty Hughes, Jason Repko, Matt Tolbert, Phil Dumatrait et. al. Sorry
Where that leaves the Twins as far as players go? Something like this:
a hitter core of (pretty much batting order-like) Span, Nishi(when healthy) Mauer(when healthy, can't get him go or his contract), Young, Kubel (and I do not have second thoughts about keeping him or Span), Valencia, and a whole lot of young players for evaluation. Rotation (in no order) : Liriano, Baker (had some thoughts about this one two, but he probably deserves another year,) Slowey (when healthy), Gibson and Swarzak or Diamond or someone else. The pen: bring up Slama, Chuck James, Cole DeVries. Hopefully Perkins and Mijares will get healthy, and a continuing (long due) evaluation of young pitchers.
These are my thoughts. What are yours if you owned the Twins for a day (or 2?)