A Thanksgiving Hors D'ouvre: A Peanuty Blueprint

'Tis the season both for overeating and overanalyzing potential Twins transactions. While most people in Twins Territory will be fixated on football in the next 72 hours, I thought, on the off chance that someone sneaks a peak at this space, that I should make it look presentable. So, here's a new blog on how best to address the biggest issue the local nine faces this year.
Available at Deviant Art

Most of the truly accomplished and respected Twins' bloggers have presented their blueprints for general consumption. The prognosticated quickly, and now, three weeks later, I'm doing the same. But, I do have something to offer which my fellow bloggers do not: a plan that balances a quest for wins with an equally important search: a search for a team fans might once again find interesting!

No offense, I know we like to talk about how victories equal ticket sales, but ticket sales also equal payroll and payroll often equals victories...so I thought approaching the problem from a new direction might prove interesting to some (or...okay...just me). Here now, my blueprint for the Twins 2013 offseason

Step 1: Trade Justin Morneau, Denard Span and Alex Burnett to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Niel Walker, Kyle McPherson and Alen Hanson--sign Walker to a four year, $8 Million contract extension

Sargeant Gardy's Lonely
Hits Club Band in hapier times
Start with the hardest thing I've ever suggested. I love Justin and I love Denard. I've invested considerable hours turning them into ninjas and mounties and an off brand version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; but they are pricy, expendable and in need of a chance to win now rather than later.

After being baseball's best story through June in 2011, and their best story through July in 2012, the Pirates need to win now too. Combining Denard's lead off skills with Justin's big bat should ease the burden on Andrew McCutchen and make it ease the blow of giving up a young, promising second baseman in Walker who helps solve our middle infield problem.

As an added bonus, McPherson's resume resembles the best prospect traded for players like Justin Morneau in the past (Jason Schmidt) and High A ball prospect Alen Hanson may set up a superb left side of the infield with Miguel Sano (he outranks all current Twins SS prospects).

While many fans may be turned off by the loss of two more long time Twins players and the addition of several new, unproven guys, I believe the next moves make up for that.

Step 2: Sign Brandon McCarthy to a three year, $51 million dollar contract (including a mandated Twitter clause) and Francisco Liriano to a one year $5 million/5 million sticks of gum contract (total: 5.3 m)

The man likes gum...
Scared as many might be by the return of Francisco Liriano, there should be comfort in the fact that we know what works for Frankie. Given his Target Field success last year (also in a contract year, and with a magical stash of gum), things should be sunshiney (plus we can always trade him again...provided we pay for the gum).

Meanwhile McCarthy makes a welcome addition of a solid #2 pitcher ahead of Scott Diamond and one who will be under contract for a considerable length of time (more than might have been suggested before the free agent bucks started flying, but hey we'll take what we can get). The added bonus is that even if concussion issues prevent him from being the player he seemed like he could be in the middle of the season, his social media skillz should help younger Twins players know what to do in order to avoid being too Danny Valencia-ish when they make the bigs. Even if some ignore him, the burgeoning hipster market will be inexorably drawn to each of McCarthy's starts.

Step 3: Sign Tony Robbins* to be personal life coach to Liam Hendricks, Luis Perdomo  and Brian Dozier (perhaps Kyle Gibson, Anthony Slama and Joe Benson)--1 year $1.8 Million dollars.

Problem: The Twins have a lot of players who are excellent in AAA and lousy in the majors.
Solution 2: Teach them to unleash the power within! (and save money!)

This bit of creative problem solving tries a true moneyball approach to the game. Rather than valuing what our competition values (i.e. talent) we can value something else: mentoring and holistic advice! Thus comes Tony Robbins to convince Messers Hendricks Perdomo et al that they don't need to learn how to master the strike zone, because they already have mastered it! (IN THEIR MINDS!!)

*Note: There is a strict: NO FIRE WALK clause in Mr. Robbins' contract

Grady Sizemore:
You're welcome ladies.
Step 4: Sign Grady Sizemore to play RF (1 year $2.5 million).

As I understand it, many of the female fans of the Minnesota region appreciate it when the team not only plays well, but is also mildly attractive. Without Justin Morneau and the charming accent of Luke Hughes, Sizemore will help to increase the HQ (Handosmeness Quotient) of the team.

I'm open to other solutions here, but the plastic surgery needed to make Anthony Swarzak look like Ryan Gosling is a little steep, and creating Fox Sports North Dudes doesn't solve the outfield problem. So, Sizemore might just be a stop gap until Oswaldo Arcia or Aaron Hicks is ready to go. But until then we can all bask in the awkwardness of this story from the Onion.)

Step 5: Decline arbitration for Drew Butera, promote Chris Hermann and sign Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart for $150 thousand.

Now that Matt Capps (aka "Minnesota Fats Jr." aka "Matt Crapps Shoot" aka "Not Him, Please, Dear God Not Him!") has left the team, it's time to address that other outstanding source of fan vitriol--the boondoggle behind the plate.

Rather than let Drew Butera get a raise in arbitration (thus exploding the cerebral cortexes of many fans) I suggest that we let him go, promote minor leaguer Chris Hermann and put the money we save (approximately 150 k) to someone who can radically alter the perception of our catching corps.

Windbreaker not needed
Enter: Jimmy Hart. Those of us who wasted savored our youthful innocence by watching professional wrestling, know that managers in wrestling are even more irrelevant than baseball managers. But! They do provide much needed cache for those they align themselves with. So, if we bring in Jimmy Hart it goes from being "Mauer or Doumit with Hermann  for emergencies"to being "The Twin Cities Triumverate" with finishing moves like "Ryan Sauve's Opposite Field Smash!"or "Hermann's Munster Arm!" or "Chairman Mauer's Great Plate Discipline Forward..." (obviously I'm not as good at this as professional wrestling people are.

And who knows what kind of drama may unfold. Whose to say that Doumit and Mauer don't turn on each other mid-season on a miscommunicated tag? Or that Herman doesn't take a folding chair to create a sudden case of "bilateral leg weakness"? It will be pure sports entertainment...only with an actual sport.

Line up:
2B-Walker-$2 M
C-Mauer-$23 M
LF-Willingham-$7 M
DH-Doumit-$3.5 M
RF-Sizemore-$2.5 M
Subtotal $40 M
IF-Carroll-$3.75 M
Subtotal: $5.25 M
#1-Liriano-$5.3 M
Subtotal--$ 23.8 M
LHP-Robertson $500k
LHP-Duensing $1.5 M
RHP-Slama $500k
RHP-Perdomo $500k
RHP-Swarzak $500k
SU-Burton $2M
CL-Perkins $2.5 M
Subtotal-- $8 M
Nick Blackburn--$5.5 M
Jimmy Hart--$150k
Tony Robbins $1.8 M
Subtotal--$7.45 M


From this position we could easily add payroll as needed if we do well, or swap out others (Sizemore, Liriano, Carroll, Willingham, Doumit) if we don't. Most importantly we've got some marketable commodities here to keep the turnstiles turning and keep the fans interested (if not completely excited) and establish Walker and McCarthy as building blocks back to consistent contention in the years ahead.