With just a pair of games left in this tragic Twins season, it’s not surprising that a lot of fans and writers have started scheming about what the club should do this offseason.
In my most recent post – James Shields – I noted that while the Twins should really add starting pitching, perhaps the best route would be to go under the radar a bit. This notion is often met with rebuff by fans, but it should be noted that the Twins simply can’t afford to go out and spend big money on a starting pitcher when there are numerous holes to fill on this club. Furthermore, the club isn’t in a position to rebuild; with Mauer and Morneau eating up nearly $40 million in salary, the Twins have to simply fill in the blanks and hope for the best, or at least hope fans don’t burn down Target Field following another subpar campaign in 2012.
As a result, it’s time to get creative. There are two arms that I really think could help the Twins out, and a few more that should be considered as fallback options. Think about it: What’s the strength that the Twins should go after in starting pitchers? Obviously, strikeout pitchers top anyone’s list, but failing that, fly ball pitchers *should* thrive with the Twins going forward, especially considering the future outfield range with guys like Joe Benson, Ben Revere, and Denard Span chasing ’em down.
So here’s whom I think the Twins ought to target, both via trade:
Ricky Nolasco – Florida Marlins
When word leaked out recently that the Fish could be willing to deal the righty, I immediately vaulted Nolasco towards the top of my hypothetical Twins list. Working in the Twins’ favor to acquire Nolasco are the following:
1. Nolasco has a semi-expensive contract, which the Marlins would like to move.
2. Nolasco’s been short on results in 2011, which has lowered his stock and should make him come a bit more cheaply.
3. Nolasco is a strikeout pitcher (career 7.7 K/9) who gets his share of fly balls (38.7 career percentage) and has pitched better than his numbers look (last three seasons with raw ERA over 4.50 show FIP numbers below 3.55).
Place Ricky Nolasco on a Twins team with improved defense (as in, signing Nick Punto, for one), and that
could should be an excellent pickup.
Bud Norris – Houston Astros
I’ll freely admit that there’s little in the way of reason for Ed Wade to deal Norris, but that doesn’t mean it’s stopped him before. Norris will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after next season, so while it may take an offer which knocks Wade off his seat to get a deal done, Norris might be a guy I’d consider doing just that for.
On the ERA and WAR side, Norris has been simply decent. Norris’ career ERA is 4.33, while his WAR mark of 3.6 spread over parts of three season’s doesn’t necessarily pronounce Bud as “the Great One.” But hear me out: Norris’ mix of velocity (93.2 MPH fastball ranks near the top of the MLB), strikeouts (8.8 per 9 in his career), and fly balls (just a tick under 40 percent) make him an ideal candidate to pitch home games at Target Field.
So what would I offer for either of these two if I were Bill Smith? Well, I think it would be foolish not to see if Chris Parmelee’s hot streak has bought him any value on the market. Chances are the answer is no, but it can’t hurt to try. Similarly, it would be worth identifying if Ben Revere is still revered among any of the league’s GMs, because it doesn’t appear ultra likely that he projects as an everyday player on a team with division title aspirations. So basically it boils down to identifying which outfielders the club is high on going forward (ostensibly, Benson and Hicks), as well as starting pitchers (your guess = good as mine), and start from there. The Twins aren’t in a great position to deal from, to be sure, but that only highlights Smith’s need to be creative.
Some alternative options (via FA/trade) include: Wandy Rodriguez – Houston Astros, Chris Capuano – New York Mets, Rich Harden – Oakland A’s, Mark Buehrle – Chicago White Sox, Hisashi Iwakuma – Foreign, and Javier Vazquez – Florida Marlins.