Rambling On founder Erik Ritland and Twins analyst Peter Ripka bring you the best Twins coverage for the common fan. Come for the insight, stay for the irreverence.
Bi-weekly blogs, appearing on Thursday, begin Feb. 14. Stay tuned for a big announcement about the podcast.
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Erik: If we're being honest, they need upgrades at every position, except maybe #2 starter (I hope it isn't too soon to say that Berrios has that locked down).
That being said, they entered the off-season without a second baseman or DH, so those obviously needed to be addressed. Our pitching situation is a big meh all around, but to fix it would take more than any team has at their disposal, regardless of how much money they have. I did expect them to bolster both the rotation and the bullpen in free agency, though, as neither would strike fear into the heart of any opponent outside the Detroit Tigers.
Peter: Pitching, pitching and more pitching. The bullpen left a lot to be desired last season and the rotation was very hit or miss. Mostly it was the other team that hit, actually..
Give a grade for each of these signings and what you expect from them:
Nelson Cruz (DH/OF) 1 yr/$14m w/$12m option for 2020
Erik: As far as talent and price goes, the Twins couldn't have done any better than Nelson Cruz. Plus he's a good clubhouse guy, and as we say when Torii Hunter came back, that can be important. It'd be an A if Cruz was more than a one-dimensional, above average player. Grade: B
Peter: This isn't your typical old guy signing. He has a proven track record and wasn't just a flash in the pan for one season. Grade: B+
Johnathan Schoop (2B) 1 yr/$7.5m
Erik: The Schoop signing does two important things: it gives prospect Nick Gordon another year (or half year...) of seasoning, and it gives the Twins a possible mid-season trade chip. Coming off an awful, injury-ridden 2018, the once-decent Schoop is simply a question mark. A typical Twins singing if there ever was one. Grade: B-
Peter: He isn't a top tier player, but he fills a hole and can provide a little offense. Grade: B
CJ Cron (1B) 1 yr/$4.8m
Erik: Why not. Tyler Austin doesn't appear to be the future of the Twins at first base, so it's nice to see that they brought in somebody to compete with him. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out. Like most of the Twins moves this offseason, though, this is a big yawn. Grade: C
Peter: With Mauer retiring, they needed an everyday first baseman, and Cron fills that void at a good price. Grade: B
Blake Parker (RP) 1 yr/1.8M plus incentives
Erik: This move shows the intelligence and savvy of the Twins front office. Parker is a nice addition to the bullpen at a good price. He's something of a typical Twins arm - he doesn't throw fast, he doesn't strike a lot of people out - but he does the job as a bullpen pitcher who keeps damage at a minimum. Grade: B+
Peter: A new arm added to the pen for competition. His incentive-based contract provides little risk. Grade: C
Martin Perez (SP) 1 yr/$3.5M w/$7.5M option for 2020
Erik: Perez is basically Odorizzi light. Just throw touted prospect Fernando Romero into the fire of the fifth spot already, good grief.
There are four tiers to typical Twins signings: 1) Decent but never great players 2) Veterans with a little bit left 3) Formerly good players looking to find their old magic 4) Mediocre players that have never been that good and probably never will be. Perez is in the last, least category. Grade: D
Peter: Should be an effective fifth starter in the rotation. Hopefully he won't be a glaring weakness that the fifth spot, as has been the case for this team in years past.
Was there anything else you wish the Twins would have done in free agency?
Erik: Sigh. What else could they do? They need at least another season to see if all our suspects/prospects will pan out. A more aggressive push to patch up the bullpen and rotation would have been nice - the Twins should sign Dallas Keuchel at whatever price he's asking, it's not that unreasonable - but that just wouldn't be the Twins way now, would it?
Peter: Based on what was available, and what is still available on the market, they couldn't do much more in my opinion. I would have liked some baseball trades to shore up the back of the bullpen, but what can you do.
Are you satisfied with the approach the Twins took this offseason?
Erik: I guess. Honestly, what do you want them to do? They can't replace the whole team. Buxton, Sano, Kepler, Rosario, and Polanco all need at least one more year to see if they'll ever live up to their potential. As such, the Twins idea of building a serviceable team around them is about the best, smartest thing they could do.
I'd love to see a true fire sale if they aren't doing well come mid-season. Best case scenario: Schoop and Cruz return to the thrilling days of yesteryear and get a big return on a trade, while each of our prospects/suspects shows their true colors so we can unload those who aren't doing well for good deals at the deadline. And by "good deals" I mean a package that includes some prospects, any decently touted prospects. One or two of them have to pan out. It's the law of averages, dammit.
This isn't the sexiest idea, and the fans may not dig it, but whatever. Fans aren't always the brightest. Once they make a big turn around, a la the Houston Astros, everyone will come back anyway.
Peter: I'm pretty satisfied with their approach. They've got to see if the young players have rebounds. Sano, Buxton, and a full season from Polanco will tell us what they need to address next off-season. I wouldn't be surprised if this team finished a few games above .500.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. Founder of Rambling On, he has written hundreds of articles and hosted almost a hundred podcasts. He began his career as Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Hometown Hustle and Curious North. He directs all of the content on Rambling On, created and maintains the website, and is social media content director. He is also copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota. Support Erik's music on his music site or BandCamp, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.
Peter Ripka is the original Rambling On podcast co-host and has been a contributor since its inception. He’s currently the Wild analyst, a position he’s held for several years. A Wild and Twins season ticket holder, his writing combines the passion of a fan and the insight of a beat writer.