Yesterday the Twins announced that they had signed a $7 million two-year extension with 31-year old switch-hitting catcher/DH/OF/1B Ryan Doumit. In 60 games Doumit is hitting .272 (.290 as a LHB and .230 as a RHB) with 7 home runs and 33 RBI’s while catching in 28 games, DHing in 23 games and playing in the outfield in 6 games and at first base in 1 game. Doumit who is making $3 million this year will get $3.5 million per season over the next two years. I have no real issues with this extension as Doumit gives Gardy and the Twins someone that can catch when Joe Mauer is not and he does have some pop in his bat. We should keep in mind however; that Doumit is primarily a back-up catcher and DH and though he has appeared in the outfield on 6 occasions, his lack of speed makes the Twins outfield very poor defensively when you have Doumit patrolling right and Willingham in left regardless if you have Span or Revere playing in center field. I read this signing as an insurance policy and the Twins brain trust saying that Joe Mauer will be behind the plate less and less as they years go by.
I find it tougher and tougher to watch Brian Dozier day in and day out as the Twins shortstop. I understand that the Dozier is the Twins shortstop of the future and I know that he has to play in order to improve but I am getting frustrated both with his hitting and his play in the field. Dozier is never going to be a power hitter but yet too often it seems like he is trying to hit one out of the park. We don’t need power from Dozier, we just need him to get on base and not be the automatic out that we are seeing now. In the field Dozier seems to be lackadaisical at times and he needs to learn to make the routine play time after time and to know when to just hold the ball and not make a stupid off-balance throw to first. Dozier has only played shortstop for the Twins in 47 games but sometimes I think his body language comes across as someone who has been in the “bigs” for a long time and that he has earned the starting shortstop job due to his great play. Well, in my eyes Brian, you are just a rookie trying to prove that you belong in the majors and you may think you have arrived but you are just starting to earn your stripes. I have no issues with mistakes if you learn from them but when you don’t, it might take a trip back to Rochester to refresh your memory on what it takes to be a big leaguer.
As I write this, the Twins record stands at 30-45 and they have the worst record in the American League. It is the end of June with the All-Star game just around the corner and it is time for GM Terry Ryan to start implementing his plan to improve the Twins. I think we all agree, with the possible exception of Dick Bremer, that the Twins are going no where this year. I had predicted the Twins would finish 78-84 this season but the home town boys will need to go 48-39 the rest of the way to make that come true. So what do the Twins do? The Twins need to start making some trades, but who do you trade and what are you looking for in return?
The fact that there are two wild card teams in each league this year for the first time will have a definite impact on the trade market. If you look at the AL East you see that all five teams are less than eight games out of the division lead and no team is more than 3 1/2 games out of a wild card spot so it is unlikely any of these teams will throw up the white flag very soon and start putting players on the market. More than likely they will be looking for help in their quest for the playoffs. In the AL West the Texas Rangers have the best record in the AL but the Angels are coming on strong and are only 5 1/2 games back and tied for a wild card spot. Oakland and Seattle are realistically out of the playoff race and could make players available soon. In our own AL Central you can make a strong case that the White Sox, Tigers and Indians are all in the hunt for a division title since they are all within either 6 games of the division lead or a wild card spot. Even the perennially bad Kansas City Royals with young and up and coming position players albeit matched with poor pitching are 6 games or less out of the division lead and/or a wild card spot. Only the Twins are hopelessly out of the running for the playoffs. That means that in the AL, 3 or 4 teams are looking to unload players while looking to the future while 10 or 11 teams are looking for immediate help. In the NL, you have a similar scenario with only five clubs, the Cubs, Padres, Rockies, Astros, and Brewers probably out of the playoff hunt. So no matter how you slice it there are probably only 8 or 9 teams that are looking to move players and 21 or 22 teams looking for help so I would think this will make for a sellers market this year. You couple that with injuries to key players and you should have teams fighting tooth and nail for the few players that might be made available.
I heard Terry Ryan state in an interview a few days ago that he sees no Twins players as untouchable and I could not agree more. Sure, Joe Mauer has a no trade clause and other players may also have limited no trade clauses in their contracts but as Ryan stated, you always listen, you always want to find a way to get better. You should always be looking to improve your team and maybe that is where the Twins have gone astray over the last decade when the team has made the playoffs six times between 2002 and 2010. It is easy to get comfortable and stick with what got you to the playoffs in the first place. Change is difficult for everyone but it is necessary because without change you are stagnant and believe me, only one team is on top of the heap each season and all the others are looking, plotting, and trying to find a way to get to be the very best. We fans and bloggers fall into the same trap, we fall in love with certain players and hate to see them go because they
have given us pleasure over the years. Someone in baseball once said that they would much rather trade a player a year or two too early rather than trade them a year too late, but it is hard to do. Ryan has a tough job on his hands but I think he is up to the task and it will be interesting to watch him and the rest of this organization as they rebuild a ballclub that fell over the edge very quickly in 20111. In my opinion, the Twins should listen to offers on everyone on the roster but they must trade Francisco Liriano for as much as they can get. Moving Liriano is a risk, but a risk worth taking because both teams involved in this trade are taking a risk and both Liriano and the Twins need a change. Liriano will never be a consistent pitcher long-term but he can get hot in streaks and that might be just enough for another team that needs some short-term help. That is the thing about the playoffs, it is so difficult to get there that when you have an opportunity to make the playoffs you have to take that shot and sometimes that means that you make a trade that you know is not good for your team long-term but it might be just enough to take you over the top now. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the Twins need to have a fire sale and send everyone packing, I am just saying that the Twins have some players that other teams find valuable and if the Twins can improve their team long-term by making a deal, they need to get it done. There is an old saying that “it is always the darkest before the dawn” and hopefully the Twins new beginning is just around the corner.
I am a Chris Parmelee fan and I think that the Twins need to do something with him very soon. I just don’t understand how the Twins organization can have the 24-year old Parmelee with just 15 games of AAA experience just sitting and rotting away on the bench. Either play him or send him back to Rochester but don’t just sit him and send him up to bat 16 time between June 8-27. It is a disgrace that the Twins treat a prospect like this.