Let’s cheer for the Minnesota Twins today. Because these Minnesota Twins – the 2012 Minnesota Twins – might not be around tomorrow.
I just took a look at the Opening Day lineup and I’m struck by how few players I see — at least in the starting lineup — as a reliable part of the Twins future. The same thing goes for the projected starting rotation (my feeling is amplified with newsflash update of Scott Baker lasting 3 batters in his minor-league start today).
The Twins are very much a team in transition and in just two short years they may barely resemble what you see here at the beginning of 2012.
Take a look at the 2012 Opening Day starting lineup and the projected five man rotation and who do you reasonably expect to be on the team in two years, when the 2014 season starts up?
2012 Starting Lineup
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Josh Willingham, LF
6. Ryan Doumit, RF
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. Chris Parmelee, 1B
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B
2012 Projected Rotation
Well, Joe Mauer won’t be going anywhere – there will still be 5 more years at $23M per owed to him. He’ll still do the 2014 ceremonial opening day squatting at catcher, but will likely start seeing more and more time at other positions.
Josh Willingham will have one more year on his contract.
And then? Well…
Ryan Doumit is committed to just one year. Call him a ‘Journey-man’ – he’ll be going his Separate Ways (Worlds Apart).
Jamey Carroll is committed to two years plus an unlikely-to-be tapped 2014 option. He certainly won’t be an everyday middle infielder at age 40.
It’s reasonable to question whether either of the Concussion Twins will be every day Twins in 2014. Justin Morneau will be a free agent and 2014 will be the final non-option year of Denard Span’s contract. The Twins are as loyal as an MLB team gets, but extending on Morneau makes little sense from today’s perspective. Span is the more likely of the two to be starting on Opening Day 2014, but that’s a dicey proposition, too.
Alexi Casilla will be a free agent and likely not worth the pursuit.
Valencia will be entering his first year of arbitration (translation: muy caro) – right about the time that super-prospect Miguel Sano will be knocking down the door of third base.
Parmalee will still be cheap – the question remains if he has what it takes to be a full-time bat at first base or DH.
That’s the 2012 opening day starting lineup.
Projecting any current starters onto the 2014 rotation isn’t a good bet either. Pavano and Liriano will be free agents* after this season, Baker after the next. Marquis is probably a one year gap-filler. Blackburn has a 2014 option that I hope the Twins will recognize as over-priced.
* For all the free agents, remember that under the new collective bargaining deal, offering arbitration is a much worse bet for teams since only really expensive team offers (i.e. no Twins offers) will bring back any compensation picks. So the Pavano-style one-year-at-a-time deal at arbitration prices is a thing of the past.
So the starting Twins of 2014 might only have Mauer and a lame-duck Willingham from 2012’s opening starters. Of course the Ghost of Opening Day Future will contain spirits from the Ghost of Baseball Season Present, as likely 2012 contributors Plouffe, Dozier, Benson and Hendricks will be asked to step up to lead roles by 2014.
Still, that’s not a lot of continuity. On the bright side, the Twins will have flexibility with only 14 Million non-Mauer dollars presently on the 2014 books.
[Contract info for this post comes from: Cot's Baseball Contracts at Baseball Prospectus]
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