This is Part 2 of 2, concerning the work to be done this week by the Minnesota Twins staff at their “organizational meetings” in Fort Myers this week.
Reports have estimated that as many as 100 members of the Twins staff may participate in the meetings this week. That’s a lot of people, but then it’s a big job.
In Part 1, we covered the manager and coaching staffing issues. In Part 2, we look at roster matters at the Major League and minor league levels.
As indicated in Part 1, over the coming days, weeks and months, the Twins need to
- Hire a new manager for the first time in over a decade.
- Work with said new manager to assemble a seven-person big league level coaching staff.
- Assign manager and coaching duties to every level of minor league affiliate.
- Determine which, if any, of their minor league free agents to attempt to retain.
- Determine at which minor league level to place a significant number of their top young prospects to start 2015.
- Determine whether to offer arbitration to a few members of their current big league roster.
- Identify potential MLB level free agents and/or trade targets to pursue once the World Series is completed.
Concurrently with their efforts to identify and put in place big league and farm system managers and coaches, the Twins also have some work to do on the player front.
Filling out the roster(s)
When the subject of filling out the 2015 roster comes up among most Twins fans, the discussion generally focuses on which of the current Twins will/should be back with the club and who potential acquisitions might be that Terry Ryan should seek in the free agent and/or trade market.
Granted, those are important considerations.
But, given that 2015 is looking more like a bridge to the next era of competitive baseball at Target Field than it is a destination itself, the make-up of the organization’s minor league rosters may be equally important to that of the big league roster, if not more so.
For the past couple of years, as the farm system has been being restocked, even the most optimistic fans of the organization have conceded that most of the Twins’ most promising prospects have been in the low minors, multiple years away from being of any help to the parent club.
Sure, it was fun to watch Byron Buxton put on a show for the Fox Sports North audience in 2013 when the cable network televised one of Buxton’s Cedar Rapids Kernels games. But while the distance between Cedar Rapids and Target Field can be traversed in less than five hours, the time it takes for a prospect to progress from the Class A Kernels to the Twins is much longer – frustratingly so, in some cases.
The 2012 Elizabethton Twins won the Appalachian League championship. In 2013, many of those same players made up a Cedar Rapids Kernels playoff team that went 88-50. This past season, largely the same crop of prospects contributed to Fort Myers’ Florida State League championship team.
In 2015, that group should largely fill out the roster for the first season of the Twins’ new AA affiliation with the Chattanooga Lookouts.
No problem, right? Move them up there. Challenge them. A player who masters Class AA is generally considered a candidate to skip AAA and move up to the Big Club if a need for someone at his position presents itself and that player is deemed to be a more promising solution than whoever fills that position in Rochester.
The thing is, you don’t have to stretch your imagination far to find 30 or more players who, arguably, should be starting their season at AA. That’s a problem when you’re only allowed 25 players on the Lookouts’ roster.
Jeremy Nygaard maintains an excellent database at Twins Daily that includes a variety of important information concerning every player in the Twins organization. For example, did you know that the Twins also have 23 minor leaguers in their system eligible for free agency this offseason – or that 21 of them are already at Class AA or higher?
They also have a similar number of players eligible to be selected by another organization in the Rule 5 draft if they aren’t added to the Twins’ 40-man MLB roster by December.
Granted, few of those potential free agents would be viewed as potential lynchpins on future Twins teams and even fewer of the Rule 5 eligibles are likely to be lost in that draft, but with the promising class set to move up to Chattanooga, the front office does have its work cut out for it this week when they sit down to fill out preliminary rosters for their AAA and AA clubs.
Finally, there’s the minor little project to assemble a Major League roster.
And, by “Major League roster,” I mean a roster of players who have either demonstrated that they possess a talent level worthy of being on a Major League roster or, at least, have shown potential to be elite big leaguers in the not-so-distant future.
Of course, this topic can (and certainly will) warrant entire articles devoted to it all on its own. For purposes of brevity here, suffice to say that the Twins need to identify big league talent to fill the following positions:
- A starting pitcher worthy of being a #1 or #2 starter for a competitive big league team.
- Multiple bullpen spots.
- A Major League center fielder.
- A Major League left fielder.
- Any other position that may open up due to trades.
That’s a pretty substantial shopping list. Some of these needs may be filled from within the organization, some via trade and some via free agency. What they all have in common is that, at the end of 2014, the Twins did not have an incumbent that you would definitively declare to be a legitimate everyday Major League talent.
When you consider all the work to be accomplished this week – paring down the manager options, looking at coaching candidates for both big league and minor league positions, and assembling rosters at multiple organizational levels, not the least of which is for the Twins team itself, I’m not sure 100 people in Fort Myers is going to be enough.
Of course, I have some vacation time coming if Terry Ryan would like me to come down and offer some ideas. I’m just a phone call, email or Tweet away.