Full 2014 Minnesota Twins Spring Training Schedule

Today the Twins have released their 2014 Spring Training Schedule.  Individual game tickets go on sale on January 11th.

Here is the schedule:

February 16 Catchers and Pitchers Reporting
February 17 Cs and Ps first workout
February 21 Team Reporting
February 22 Full Squad workout
February 28 @ Red Sox 1:05 PM
March 1 Red Sox 1:05 PM
March 2 @ Rays 1:05 PM
March 3 Blue Jays (ss) 1:05 PM
March 3 @ Orioles (ss) 1:05 PM
March 4 @ Miami 1:05 PM
March 5 Orioles 7:05 PM
March 6 Cardinals 1:05 PM
March 7 @ Pirates 1:05 PM
March 8 @ Blue Jays 1:05 PM
March 9 Phillies 1:05 PM
March 10: OFF
March 11: @ Rays 1:05 PM
March 12 Pirates 1:05 PM
March 13 Red Sox 1:05 PM
March 14 Orioles (ss) 1:05 PM
March 14 @ Yankees (ss) 1:05 PM
March 15 @ Mets 1:10 PM
March 16 Marlins 1:05 PM
March 17 @ Orioles 7:05 PM
March 18 Rays 7:05 PM
March 19 @ Cardinals 1:05 PM
March 20 @ Rays 7:05 PM
March 21 Mets 1:05 PM
March 22 Yankees 1:05 PM
March 23 @ Phillies 1:05 PM
March 24 Rays 1:05 PM
March 25 Orioles 1:05 PM
March 26 Pirates 1:05 PM
March 27 @ Red Sox 1:05 PM
March 28 Red Sox 1:05 PM
March 29 @ Red Sox 1:05 PM

So about 100 days for Catchers and Pitchers reporting....

Spring is about here.

List of Former Minnesota Twins who are Minor League Free Agents with other teams

Most Twins' fans know that Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Matt Garza and others, are major league free agents this off-season.   However the list of former Twins' players who are minor league free agents is a bit more obscure, probably because not many people pay much attention to the minor leagues of other teams and where former Twins are.

Without further ado, here is the list of the 25 former Twins' players who are minor league free agents with other teams, by team:

Arizona Diamondbacks: Dustin Martin OF
Atlanta Braves: Joe Beimel LHP
Baltimore Orioles: Allan de San Miguel C
Boston Red Sox: Matt Maloney LHP, Bobby Lanigan RHP
Chicago Cubs: Alex Burnett RHP
Chicago White Sox: Steve Tolleson IF
Cincinnati Reds: Loek Van Mil RHP, Yohan Pino RHP
Cleveland Indians: JC Romero LHP
Los Angeles Angels: Rob Delaney RHP
Los Angeles Dodgers: Sean Burroughs 1B, J.R. Towles C
Milwaukee Brewers: Rene Tosoni OF
New York Mets: Matt Fox RHP, Daryl Thompson RHP
New York Yankees: Randy Ruiz 1B
Philadelphia Philies: Matt Tolbert IF
Pittsburgh Pirates: David Bromberg RHP, Kyle Waldrop RHP
St. Louis Cardinals: Brock Peterson 1B
Texas Rangers: Joe Benson OF, Brendan Harris IF, Nate Robertson LHP, Yangervis Solarte IF


2013-2014 Off-season Calendar

It has been officially the Hot Stove season, or the off-season, and here is a list of important dates to keep in mind, including the annual award announcements that take place next week:

November 10
Outright waivers secured on or after September 1 expire at 5 p.m. ET

November 11
BBWAA Jackie Robinson Rookies of the Year
Last date for XX(B) players to accept qualifying offer from former club
New waiver period begins
Sporting News Executive of the Year named

November 11-13
GM and Owners Meetings, Orlando, FL.

November 12
BBWAA Managers of the Year

November 13
BBWAA Cy Young Awards

November 14
BBWAA Most Valuable Player Awards

November 18
Last date to ask outright waivers on an injured player

November 20
Last date to outright an injured player to the Minor Leagues
Reserve lists for all Major and Minor League levels filed

December 2
Tender deadline for arbitration-eligible players

December 5
Last date to request outright waivers to assign player prior to Rule 5 Draft

December 9
Last date to outright a player prior to Rule 5 Draft

December 9-12
Winter Meetings (Orlando, FL)
GIBBY (Greatness in Baseball Yearly) Awards

December 12
Rule 5 Draft

March 22-23
Opening Series in Sydney, Australia: Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks

January 14 
Salary arbitration filing.

January 17
Salary arbitration figures exchanged.

February 1-21 
Salary arbitration hearings - St. Petersburg, Florida.

February 13 
Voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players.

February 18 
Voluntary reporting date for other players.

February 25 
Mandatory reporting date.

March 12 
Last day to place a player on unconditional release waivers and pay thirty
days termination pay instead of forty-five days.

March 22-23 
Los Angeles Dodgers versus Arizona Diamondbacks - Sydney, Australia.

March 26 
Last day to request unconditional release waivers on a player without
having to pay the full salary for the 2014 season.

March 30
Opening Night

March 31
Opening Day


Naming names: The three starting pitchers the Minnesota Twins should sign in free agency

It is not a secret, that the biggest problem the Minnesota Twins had in the past few woeful season, as far as players are concerned, is the lack of a reliable rotation.   While a lot of fans are looking at 2015 or 2016 as the potential contenting point for the Twins, when Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton "come to age", the dirty secret is that there are not (other than Alex Meyer and potentially Kyle Gibson above A level) any sure bets for top of the rotation pitchers in the system, which, almost certainly would guarantee mediocrity at best for the middle of this decade.

This off-season the Twins have an opportunity to remediate this via free agency and, in addition to 2015 and beyond, be competitive in 2014.  In order to do so, the Twins would need to sign at least 3 pitchers better than Kevin Correia who can be a place holder for Alex Meyer, in his last contract year and with Kyle Gibson would be the 2 remaining parts of the Twins' rotation in 2014.   Who should those three new pitchers be?   What would it take to sign them?    Remember, we are not looking only for 2014, but we are looking beyond.  And we are looking for numbers one, two and three in the Twins' rotation, allowing Gibson to be number four and Correia number five, which would result in a competitive rotation.   Potentially one of these positions could come internally:  Alex Meyer might be one out of Spring Training;  I have not given up on Vance Worley because of an awful injury, out-of-shapeness and bad luck (BABIP) induced, age 25 season;  and nobody knows whether Samuel Deduno might take the next step.

What characteristics those free agents should have?

If you look at the measurable characteristics the top pitchers have, two jump out right away, and these 2 happen to be the exact ones the Twins' rotation has been lacking:

a. Hard throwing.   Average Fastball velocity in MLB is 92 mph, including relievers
b. Missing bats.   Average K/9 is around 7 in the majors, so we are looking for top of the rotation players with K/9 above 8.

Only 3 Minnesota Twins starting pitchers, both left-handed, since PitchF/X was introduced allowing the measurement of pitch velocities, satisfied that criteria:  Johan Santana (2004, 2005, 2006) and  Fransisco Liriano (2005, 2006, 2010).

And because of the long-term vision (we are looking for players who can get 3+1 or 4+1 contacts and would be with the team for the biggest part of the decade when Sano and Buxton come to age) the Twins need to look at pitchers who would at mostly be 31 years old in 2014, so they do not pay for a pitcher's declining seasons.   One can argue that an older pitcher can be signed in an one or two year contract as a place holder for someone like Kohl Steward, which is a valid argument, but at this point it does not guarantee competitiveness, since Kohl Steward is not a sure bet now.

Here are the 3 criteria (all measurable) the Twins should look for in a free agent:

a. Average FB velocity >= 92 mph
b. K/9 >= 8
c. Age in 2014 season =< 31

Here is a list of all 2014 free agent starting pitchers, from MLB trade rumors, alphabetically and with 2014 season ages in parenthesis:

Alfredo Aceves (31)
Bronson Arroyo (37)
Scott Baker (32)
Erik Bedard (35)
Travis Blackley (31)
A.J. Burnett (37)
Chris Capuano (35)
Chris Carpenter (39)
Bruce Chen (37)
Bartolo Colon (41)
Scott Feldman (30)
Gavin Floyd (31)
Jeff Francis (33)
Freddy Garcia (37)
Jon Garland (34)
Matt Garza (30)
Chad Gaudin (31)
Roy Halladay (37)
Jason Hammel (31)
Aaron Harang (36)
Dan Haren (33)
Roberto Hernandez (33)
Tim Hudson (38)
Phil Hughes (28)
Ubaldo Jimenez (30)
Josh Johnson (30)
Jair Jurrjens (28)
Jeff Karstens (31)
Scott Kazmir (30)
Hiroki Kuroda (39)
John Lannan (29)
Wade LeBlanc (29)
Jon Lester (30)
Colby Lewis (34)
Ted Lilly (38)
Paul Maholm (32)
Shaun Marcum (32)
Jason Marquis (35)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (33)
James McDonald (29)
Randy Messenger (32)
Ricky Nolasco (31)
Sean O'Sullivan (26)
Roy Oswalt (35)
Mike Pelfrey (30)
Greg Reynolds (28)
Clayton Richard (30)
Ervin Santana (31)
Johan Santana (34)
Joe Saunders (33)
Kevin Slowey (30)
Masahiro Tanaka (25)
Jason Vargas (31)
Ryan Vogelsong (36)

Trimming the list by age, and listing K/9 and average FB velocity for both 2012 and 2013, disqualifying pitchers who (because we are looking mostly for "sure bets".  Reclamation projects and bargains could fit for one of these positions, but are out of scope for this exercise.)  :

a. pitched less than 50 innings due to injury in 2013
b. pitched mostly in the pen in 2013
c. pitched mostly in minor or foreign leagues in 2013 

we have this list (with K/9 and FB velocity fitting the criteria indicated in green, if fit complete or in yellow if fit when rounded up to no decimals) :

The "A" list (at least two pitchers should be from this list) :

Matt Garza, RHP, 30.  Difficult to see a Garza reunion with Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson still on the Twins' staff.  Documented personality conflicts when with the Twins

Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, 30. Received a qualifying offer, which means the Twins will have to surrender their second round pick to sign him.  Price will be high because of monster second half.

Josh Johnson, RHP, 30.  No qualifying offers.  Health and performance consideration (if one looks at W-L and ERA; but solid xFIP and peripherals) will drop the price

Scott Kazmir, LHP, 30.  The only lefty in the list.  No qualifying offer.  Great year suggests that recovered from injury nicely

Edinson Volquez, RHP, 30 .  No qualifying offer.  Very quietly made it to the list.  A sleeper, potentially low cost signing

The "B" list (potentially one pitcher should be from this list, but there are questions) :

Phil Hughes (28)  He is intriguing; close with the K/9.  Still in early prime.  Can be the one from this group to target

Jon Lester (30) Will likely stay with the Red Sox.  Expensive.  Lots of people think of him as an "A list" pitcher but is not.

Mike Pelfrey (30)  Interesting to see him in the list, but his K/9 is not in the ball park.  Can he get his K/9 up?  Great fit in the Twins' club house.  Should the Twins take another flier with Pelfrey another year away from TJ surgery?

 Ervin Santana (31) Expensive.  Lots of people think of him as an "A list" pitcher but is not.   Received a qualifying offer. Stay away for the money.  More expensive that all the pitchers in the A list, other than Jimenez.

The rest:

Gaudin was a reliever in 2012 when he met the criteria.  Nolasco and Vargas are thought to belong in the "A list" potentially.  They do not.

Who are the three starting pitchers the Minnesota Twins should sign in 2013, in order to be competitive in 2014 and beyond?  They are:

Josh Johnson
Scott Kazmir
Edinson Volquez

Can they sign all three?  The short answer is "yes", but I will examine the Twins' budget in another post...