|2007 Postmortem: The Minnesota Twins||| Print |||Send|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on November 23, 2007
Regular Season Record: 79-83
Finish: 17.0 games back in AL Central, 15 games back in AL Wild Card
Innings Pitched: Johan Santana, 219.0
ERA: Johan Santana, 3.33
Wins: Johan Santana, 15
Strikeouts: Johan Santana, 235
Saves: Joe Nathan, 37
Best Move of the Season: Waving good-bye to Sydney Ponson. The Twins gave Ponson, a knight of Aruba, seven starts to prove himself as a capable number five starter, but he was anything but that. The best move of the season came when the Twins pulled the plug on Ponson and his 6.93 ERA.
Worst Move of the Season: The Twins signed not only Ponson this past offseason, but also Ramon Ortiz. Ponson absolutely stunk in his appearances, but that cannot excuse the work of Ortiz, who was absolutely dreadful. In 28 appearances, including 10 starts, Ortiz had an ERA of 5.14. Wasting innings on these guys rather than on more important pitchers, i.e. their future, seriously hindered the Twins.
Most Valuable Player: It may come as a surprise, but it’s not the guy who just signed a five year, $80 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Rather, the Twins’ MVP was their first baseman, Justin Morneau. The left-handed batting Morneau hit a solid .271 with 31 homers and 111 RBIs. His only deficiency came in the on-base percentage category, where he stood at .343.
Cy Young: This is a fairly straight-forward award: Johan Santana. While the do-everything ace did not have another brilliant year, for this to be considered a bad year is quite the compliment. Santana racked up 235 strikeouts, put together 219 innings, and still had a decent ERA of 3.33. He’ll be back next season.
Up and Coming Player: Starting pitcher Matt Garza should be able to slot into the number two slot in the Twins’ rotation until Francisco Liriano returns from Tommy John surgery. Garza, a right hander, had 16 appearances (15 of which were starts), all with an ERA of 3.69. His presence, along with the presumed health of Liriano may make Santana expendable (more on that later).
What Went Right: The Twins had a strong trio at the end of their bullpen in the forms of closer Joe Nathan (1.88 ERA), the funky-throwing Pat Neshek (2.94), and Matt Guerrier (2.35). If those three arms continue their dominance next season, those late-inning leads will be very, very safe.
Garza also stepped in and showed that he could perform at a high level. The team should feel safe penciling him in for 32-35 starts next season right behind Santana. Combine that with the decent innings that Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker got at the major league level, and the Twins may have given their youngsters enough experience at the major league level to be ready next year.
What Went Wrong: Catcher Joe Mauer spent a big portion of the season hurt -- he missed about 50 games and 200 ABs -- and that definitely hurt the Twins’ ability to manufacture runs. They did not have any players who get on base at high rates, which ultimately hindered their offensive production.
Offseason Preview: The Minnesota Twins have already lost center fielder Torii Hunter to free agency, after he agreed to a five year, $80 million contract with the Angels. That leaves a huge hole in the middle of their lineup, but not one that can’t be filled. The Twins should kick the tires on options like Aaron Rowand and Andruw Jones, but it is more likely they are going to be stuck with a Cliff Floyd or Mike Cameron or Jose Guillen.
The trade market may be more beneficial for them, however. The Twins have the young pitching the Florida Marlins would be looking for in return for third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Also, if the Baltimore Orioles would pay a large portion of his contract, Miguel Tejada could be an option at shortstop for the Twins.
And then there is the matter of Johan Santana. The Twins offered their southpaw ace a five year, $93 million contract, but it is likely he just laughed at it before turning it down. He is going to get a lot more money than that on the free agent market. This gives the Twins three options: 1) deal him now with some of the rumored deals including Clay Bucholz and Jacoby Ellsbury from the Boston Red Sox or Phil Hughes and Robinson Cano from the New York Yankees or Fernando Gomez and Mike Pelfrey from the New York Mets; 2) deal him at the trade deadline next season, when teams won’t pay as much, but the Twins will be more certain that their ace won’t want to return and that they won’t be competitive; or 3) ride him until the end of the 2008 season and pray that he’ll sign a big deal or accept the draft pick compensation.
And let’s not forget Joe Nathan, who is in the same boat as Santana. He’s signed for $6.5 million next season, but becomes a free agent at the same time as Santana. The Twins will likely wait him out, but he could be gone at the trade deadline.