Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review of the GM Handbook

Twins Centric has released their annual GM Handbook, a 134-page PDF featuring Michael Cuddyer (perhaps a big ? should also be there) on the cover and a wealth of information inside. Here, I am going to review the Handbook and offer a fifth blueprint for the Twins 2012 season.

Some general comments are needed first. John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and Seth Stohs are the equivalent of Joel McHale--they did the research and analyzed the 2011 Twins so you don't have to. After Patrick Reusse's Foreward (no comment here), the Handbook proceeds to analyze the 2011 season, the payroll and the 40-man roster questions. This is followed by my personal favorite part of the Handbook, the organizational depth charts. Seth Stohs does a fantastic job providing information for each position throughout the system. The Handbook continues with grades for every Twins player, arbitration-eligibles, and free agent and trade targets (also a strength of the Handbook is the depth of this section). Each of the four bloggers then outlines their blueprints for the 2012 season and the Handbook concludes with a much-too-short "What are you going to do in the offseason?" section of some select players in the organization.

Understanding the payroll situation is vital for all Twins fans to be able to claim to know anything about what the team can reasonably do in the offseason (and this should be required before being allowed to comment on the StarTribune's website). John Bonnes makes the situation quite clear--as is, the Twins are committed to $77.25 million in player salaries ($75.55 million if you do not include the criminally horrible Drew Butera, Alex Burnett, and Jose Mijares, but alas, these three may continue to pollute the 40-man roster next season). The roster holes resulting from this payroll situation really set up the rest of the Handbook. 

The detail provided in the roster decisions for next year is a major strength of the Handbook. The 40-man roster still is depressing given how the Twins overvalue some seriously bad players and might risk losing some good minor league prospects in their obsession to add mediocre relievers each offseason. Seth provides sound reasons why he would add the five players he wishes to add to the roster (this is found down in his blueprint). Hopefully the Twins will think likewise (and include a 6th player from the list!--Solarte).

As I have already said, my favorite part of the Handbook is probably the organizational depth charts. Let's just put it this way--let's hope that Chris Herrmann proves to be good for the Twins and let's also hope that Miguel Sano sticks at third. The catching and third base situation in the system is not good.

The player report cards are as expected. Perkins at the top and a whole bunch at the bottom.

The arbitration-eligibles situation is pretty clear. A pray that Jose Mijares is signed and traded in some package to some sucker team.

The free agent decisions weigh heavily on the front office. It is possible for 0-3 of these players to be re-signed. Matt Capps will be gone, likely to be a decent setup man for some team in the NL. The Cuddyer-Kubel-Nathan question is the most important non-injury-related item in the Handbook. I will say that there is upside to not paying for any one of them.

The trade targets section is fairly helpful, though Brandon Morrow is not going to be traded and if C.J. Wilson leaves the Rangers, Colby Lewis isn't going anywhere either. I still maintain that a Kevin Slowey for Ty Wigginton trade is very possible, but Wigginton doesn't appear at all in the Handbook.  It is not at all clear why Matt Garza is included in this section. The Twins would never take him back, and the Cubs gave up way too much to get him, so they are going to keep him around post-Zambrano. Tyler Clippard would be nice (as long as Span is not involved).

The free agent pool section is more helpful, certainly. And it comes with expected contracts for every player. This really helps when determining who may fit where and for how much (likely).

Onto the blueprints: PLEASE NOTE that I started this review one day and then paused a few days to finish it. In the meantime, the Twins fired Bill Smith and named Terry Ryan interim GM. And then there was the $100 million payroll disclosure, which is probably the bottom end of some range with the top at $110 million. This actually does not seriously affect the blueprints all that much, though.

I have to say that Parker Hageman's blueprint seems vastly superior to the others. Nick Nelson's is my next favorite because it opens up more possibilities for ad hoc trades mid-season next year (and is the closest to that $100 million figure). I like the general idea of letting Kubel and Cuddyer both leave, unless Kubel would be willing to accept arbitration or a two-year deal. I predict right now that Cuddyer ends up in Philadelphia which will really overpay him a great deal, and Kubel ends up in Boston or Texas (and he will be good in both places). Signing Joe Nathan is something I like, but if payroll is set to decrease it is going to be either losing Nathan or not signing a David DeJesus or Derrek Lee, at the very least. I like almost everything about Parker's blueprint. Colby Lewis would be a great idea, but if C.J. Wilson leaves the Rangers, there is no way the Rangers are trading Lewis away. I don't know if trading Slowey and X prospect for Ianetta is really better than just signing Barajas and trading Slowey for Wigginton, but Parker's blueprint excels in his good use of 4 or 4-5 million bucks here and there (Octavio Dotel, David DeJesus, Clint Barmes, and Derrek Lee--one of my all-time favorite players), and then dropping down in the 1-2 million range (Wuertz and Nix).

Finally, the "what are you working on this offseason?" Player Development section is a great look into players at various levels, but this section would be better early in the Handbook. A small and minor quibble for an intriguing glimpse into things. I really would like to hear for Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, and Oswaldo Arcia though!

All in all, this is a wonderful must-read for Twins fans. These guys are fantastic and they produce something that may be unheard of for other MLB teams (I don't know how many other teams have bloggers writing about them at this level).  I will share my blueprint in the next post.

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