Twins' Endgame Player Rater
For those of you that haven’t seen the Orlando Cabrera vs. (former Twin) Grant Balfour at-bat in yesterday’s Tampa 6-4 victory, please click here. To preface, it made me again realize just how much I loathe the Sox, how much those pangs for the heat of postseason ball still linger, and how classy the Twins are.
It’s good to be reminded that we are rostered with good cats and not a bunch of lunatics. As per my Mid-Season Player Rater from July, here’s my impressions on the entire body of work, sentiment, stats, and all:
(Please note that some players are not noted due to lack of field time in a Minnesota jersey; 2008 salaries included where applicable)
Craig Breslow- $392,000
The Yale grad was a smart find after being acquired off of waivers via Cleveland in late May. Breslow complied a 1.63 ERA as a Twin, and just 8 of his 42 inherited runners scored in a Minnesota jersey.
Jesse Crain- $1,050,000
His 11 runners scored out of 42 inherited is solid, although his 3.59 ERA raises questions. That’s a long way from his 2.71 mark of ‘05. And am I alone in thinking that he putzes around way too much between pitches? Of course, he is coming off arm surgery, so let’s collectively hope that his performance will only strengthen in ’09.
Matt Guerrier- $950,000
His 5.19 ERA was by far the worst of his career, although he did tie for the A.L. lead in games pitched with 76. As per Crain, we expect more. His 10.12 ERA for August is scary, only equaled in fear by his 10.00 ERA for September.
Jose Mijares- $N/A
Wow. In 10 appearances, dude gave up just 3 hits, 1 run, and no walks. Crazy for a guy that began the year coming off injury, then made the leap from AA ball in September. He’ll likely replace Denny Reyes in the pen. At just 23, the future looks very, very bright.
Dennys Reyes- $1,000,000
We’ve likely seen the last of Denny (see Mijares), who is not signed for ‘09. A career journeyman, he resurrected himself here, and that will likely get him some cash in somebody’s pen, lefties forever being in demand (see: “The Rookie”). He cut his ’08 ERA by more than a run-and-a-half from last year, however his 2.33-mark is still a long way from his dominant 0.89 ERA of ‘06.
Scott Baker- $422,500
He’s our ace, sporting the nastiest stuff among the young staff. Over the course of the last three seasons, his win total has ascended each year, while his ERA has gone down. He can get a strikeout when needed, and evidenced the mettle to be a stopper.
Nick Blackburn- $390,000
His phenomenal performance in the tiebreaker will overshadow an enigmatic season with a .500 record and a plus-4 ERA. He had three months with an ERA going 4.00 or higher, and three with 3.52 or lower. Nonetheless, what will be remembered (aside from getting smashed in the face by Bobby Abreau‘s hot ball) will be that game #163.
Glen Perkins- $N/A
His 12-4 record was very sound, but his 4.41 ERA and 25 homers surrendered in 151 innings raises questions. He’s the #5 dude in the rotation, and it’s nice to have a second lefty option -- although lefties hit a whopping .352 off the Minnesota native. At just 25, however, he has room to grow, and he’ll be given the time to prove exercise such maturity.
Kevin Slowey- $395,000
Like Perkins, he’ll given up some bombs, a leviathan 38 in his case. But such is the result of constantly throwing strikes. Slowey gave up just 35 walks in nearly 230 innings. His strikeout to walk ratio (5.13) was second only to Roy Halladay amongst regular starters in the A.L.
Francisco Liriano- $N/A
Although his initial return to the Show was soggy and reason for concern, Liriano disaplayed the resolve to fight his way back to the Twins, and proceeded to go 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA after the All-Star break. His slider may never be what it was back in '06, but we now know that "The Franchise" is healthy, and that he can be a pitcher, and not just a thrower.
Mike Redmond- $950,000
He hit nearly twenty-points better after the All-Star break and finished with a solid .287 clip in 38 games. It’s the 8th time in his 11 MLB seasons that he’s hit that or better. At 37, there’s no mark, dollar, rating or stat that can measure his clubhouse value on a team filled with youngsters.
Brian Buscher- $N/A
His .294 is solid, although he dropped more than 30 points after the All-Star break, and only hit lefties at a .205 clip. Furthermore, he displayed minimal power (4 HR’s in 218 at-bats) and is regarded as an average fielder at best. Much offseason talk will involve the Twins getting a bigger bat at 3rd.
Alexi Casilla- $N/A
Casilla cemented his role as the Twins’ second baseman of the future by finally earning his way of Gardy’s doghouse. His poor August (.234) and September (.221) saw him battle injury, and found the average dip to a season-ending .281. He had a shocking zero doubles the last two months of the season, and only swiped 7 bags in nearly 100 games. He’s got a ways to go toward a consistent glove, but he’s earned more time to prove himself and iron his natural athleticism.
Brendan Harris- $431,100
Harris, like Buscher, isn’t signed for ‘09, and may not be retained. But there’s something about this fella that I kind of like. Although his time spent at 2B was oft-brutal, he looked solid defensively at third, while providing the club with 171 total bases and 39 walks in 130 games. He’s been a journeyman, but I’d rather not see him journey on at least yet. He could prove a valuable role player.
Justin Morneau- $8,400,000
With 20 or 30 games to played, Morneau looked to be the American League MVP. Then the Home Run Derby champ hit just .196 with 3 RBI and no home runs in his last dozen games. The award will likely go to Boston’s Dustin Pedroia, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Morneau finished third behind the Chi Sox’ Jermaine Dye. Nonetheless, he’s one of the best hitters in the world, he’s still underrated with the glove and -- as per Mauer-- count on him being a productive Twin for the rest of his balling life. He'd rate higher, but his 23 homers in 163 games (yup) are just 4 more bombs than he hit in 74 games in '04.
Nick Punto- $2,400,000
Punto had a lot to prove this year -- and he did so admirably. Following his .290 2006 campaign with last year’s .210 average, Nicky bounced back to hit .284, while swiping 15 bags and notching 4 triples. He proved the shortstop of choice come crunch time, and, after 5 seasons in Minnesota, seems ingrained in the hearts of the Bread Basket. There’ll be talk of the club going after higher-priced free agents here, but don’t count on it. Punto will start at short Opening Day 2009.
Michael Cuddyer- $5,916,666
A tough season for poor Cuddy, beset by injury with just 71 games played and oft-unproductive when he did suit up. I’ve got to think that his sad .249 average and lowly 3 HR’s are all a product of being banged-up. He’s signed through 2010 with a club option for 2011. Much will be made of him being expendable, but I both suspect and hope he’ll be here long term, and that he’ll rebound strongly -- after all, he’s magic.
Denard Span- $N/A
Span's ascendance to cemented leadoff hitter has, and will continue to create some confusion on the Twins roster and lineup card -- which is a good thing, as a club can never have too many good players. After getting sent back to AAA in spring training, and then getting shipped back again after his initial call-up, Span displayed both impressive mettle and talent during the stretch run. He displayed the patience as leadoff that we weren’t getting from Carlos Gomez, became a highlight fixture on SportsCenter with the glove, and wrapped up his 93 games with a sound .294 average and a very respectable .387 on base percentage.
Carlos Gomez- $395,000
The Santana trade may forever follow Gomez around, but, in time, I wholly believe he’ll even the score that today seems disproportionate. But dude is just 22. If he were, say 26 or 27, his .258 average and insane 142 strikeouts (with just 25 walks), would label him a major underachiever. As it stands today, however, he’s still something of a project, but one with undoubted talent and insane speed. Hitting 9th found him hit 40-points higher than hitting leadoff. His 33 steals were good for 7th in the A.L., even though he had none in July.
Jason Kubel- $1,300,000
Kubel’s 2008 saw him hit for career-high’s in hits, triples, home runs, RBI, walks and total bases. Growth was indeed necessary to witness here, as the Twins -- last in the in the A.L. in homers -- will soon need to address their perennial power outage.
Delmon Young- $1,440,000
The Twins off-season is just a few days old and already Young is being called-out by some as potential trade bait. I’m starting to think I’m in the minority set by actually liking this guy. Hell, like Gomez, he’s just 22. But he’s now assembled nearly 350 big leagues games, and, believe or not, he hit .290 this year -- good for 8th best among all MLB left fielders. True, his power and RBI numbers descended from ‘07, and he has something of a freak-out quality in left, but I really like his chances to be a productive offensive player for years to come.