Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Three-Bagger: Rosario, Kubeddyer & The Handbook

* La Velle posted an update on his blog yesterday that is definitely worth reading. It includes notes on various players and prospects. The most interesting tidbit, from my perspective, was that the Twins are trying minor-league outfielder Eddie Rosario at second base in instructional league, and plan to carry the experiment over to spring training.

Rosario, who turned 20 last month, has played the outfield exclusively in his minor-league career, which thus far has spanned only 118 games. He had a breakout season in the Appalachian Rookie League this year, batting .337/.397/.670 with 21 home runs and 60 RBI in only 67 games.

Between Ben Revere, Joe Benson, Aaron Hicks, Angel Morales, Oswaldo Arcia and perhaps Miguel Sano, the Twins are overloaded with talented young outfielders that have a chance to help them in the coming years. Rosario's bat is certainly looking legit after he led the Appy League in homers. If the Twins can successfully shift him from an area of organizational strength to an area of extreme weakness (middle infield), it'd be a huge win.

Rosario has played only one full professional season, so a transition to the infield could be easier than it would be for, say, Ben Revere. La Velle noted that the Puerto Rican prospect was "all for" trying second base, and that front office execs Deron Johnson and Mike Radcliff both said Rosario "looked pretty good there during instructional league."

* The same article wonders whether the Twins can afford to bring back both of their long-tenured free agent outfielders this offseason. Jason Kubel has been with the organization for 11 years and Michael Cuddyer for 14 years, so these are decisions that will be taken very seriously.

There are a lot of good arguments for bringing Cuddyer back, and I'd guess that if it comes down to a choice between the two, the Twins are leaning heavily in that direction. However, from a pure baseball standpoint, Kubel sure looks like the better bet to provide good value for the money over the life of a new contract.

After posting an .805 OPS in 2008 and a .907 OPS in 2009, Kubel is coming off a pair of down years where injuries have been an issue. This, combined with his defensive deficiencies and platoon split (which softened this year), will keep him from commanding a king's ransom on the open market. However, even with his reduced productivity over the last two years, his core numbers (.756 OPS, 33 HR, 150 RBI) are very similar to Cuddyer's (.777 OPS, 34 HR, 151 RBI).

Yes, Kubel is another lefty bat and he doesn't offer the same flexibility or leadership that Cuddyer does. But he's also three years younger and he's going to be a whole lot cheaper. It will be interesting to see how those factors weigh on the Twins.

* I'm pleased to finally announce that this year's edition of the TwinsCentric GM Handbook is now available for pre-order. If you lock up your copy now, you'll get a nice discount at 5.99 -- down from the official price of 9.99 -- and you won't have to wait long for your copy, as we'll be dropping the e-book PDF file in your virtual mailbox as soon as the World Series is finished. You can click on the image below to secure yours:

Add to Cart

As always, the Handbook puts you in the shoes of the Twins GM and provides all the information you'll need to navigate the offseason and renovate the roster. We've got full run-downs of the free agent market, trade targets, arbitration eligibles, 40-man roster decisions and more, all packed with insight and advice from your TwinsCentric guides.

The GM Handbook has become our flagship product, and I hope that everyone who's interested in a comprehensive preview of this hugely important offseason will pick up a copy. Thanks, as always, for the support.

All that free agency money could be put to good use at a site where Americans can play poker.


USAFChief said...

"The Handbook" is well worth the money. Highly recommended for those who enjoy the hot stove league.

Durt E. Sanchez said...

The biggest issue with Kubeddyer is that Morneau and Mauer are in their primes (debatable) if you're going to with with the M&M boys the next few years is your best chance and we saw what a team of really young guys looks like this year.

You made the obvious points about their strengths and weaknesses, the Twins made their bed with the Mauer deal already, to have your best chance to win you need to sign both AND trade for/sign an Ace, no matter what the cost. With the good young talent you mentioned they may actually have the chips for a trade.

The question comes down to win or rebuild, we'll see this winter.

Bugbite said...

I like the efficiency of combining the names of players with similar skills/value. "Kubeddyer" is a good one. (Blyleven once accidentally coined an alternative: "Caddubel").

Let's save syllables and just go with the likes of Plouffioka, Spanvere, Valenssilla, Slowburn, Duenzak, Pavkins, Lirihoey, Dinkelsoni, (I could go on and on) and of course the all-important Mauerneau.

Matt said...

I like the idea of taking good athletes from the outfield and trying them at higher pressure defensive positions while they're young.
If Rosario's bat pans out long term, he'll make more ca$h as a 2nd basemen, anyway, so it's really a no-brainer for him.

Mauerneau may never be the same. Don't dump young prospects for an "ace" just yet. It's possible to compete in this division and make a move at the deadline if you think an ace can put you over the top.
My point is, even if you added a Cliff Lee, a CC, or CJ, having just one of those type of guys isn't going to be enough to compete with the uncertainty in the rest of your roster for next year. Look ahead to 2013 and beyond.

Young Man Duggan said...

What I've always had a hard time understanding is that the Twins (and a lot of organizations for that matter) draft young infielders, and then give up on them pretty quickly by converting them to the outfield where there's a glut of players. I understand the defensive deficiencies, but I'd settle for a good bat coupled with alright defense assuming the whole infield isn't that way.

Middle infield has long been an issue for the Twins offensively. Our pitchers tend to be fly-ball pitchers, so why not maximize the offensive side of the middle infield and sacrifice some infield defense? I know people will point to Trevor Plouffe, but guys like Cuddyer could have panned out at third. Plouffe had his spurts that showed he could be an effective infielder (and times that showed he was a liability), but Gardy's notoriously tough on young players, so I think that should be considered in the analysis of young players mistake prone play at times. I don't mean to come off as an apologist for poor play, but why bail on players so quick?

JC said...

Nick, your readers may appreciate this great event for Twins fans this weekend. Jack Morris is conducting a meet-and-greet with autographs & photos this Sunday at Kieran's. Tickets only $35!

Richey Starkey said...

Hopefully nobody wasted too much time working on the free agent section of the handbook. This off season will again show Target Field has bumped the Twins interest in signing free agents from the level of the dollar tree to wal-mart. Cant wait to see the central division teams upgrade while the Twins boast getting a healthy mauer and morneau is like 'adding two all-stars'(for over 100 million).

Shane Wahl said...

Wow, that is very interesting news about Rosario.