Published on December 15th, 2011 | by Thompson1
Dreams Do Come True: Josh Willingham a Twin
I’ve been waiting for this moment a long time, and now I can finally say, “I told you so.” Josh Willingham is reported to be in Minneapolis today for a physical and to sign a 3 year, $21 million deal with the Minnesota Twins. As you all know, I’ve been Jonesin’ for a case of the Willinghams for years, and now I finally get my fix.
Willingham provides a near-identical replacement for Michael Cuddyer at a cheaper price – a consistent, durable hitter and fielder that can play outfield, first base, and even catch if necessary. Aaron Gleeman effectively argues that Willingham is the better option since the Twins will receive two first round draft picks (not to mention he’s consistently walked more and hits for more power). It’s been speculated that Terry Ryan will only sign one of Willingham, Cuddyer, or Kubel, so Twins fans will certainly be disappointed that Cuddyer won’t be returning, but I warned them of this months ago. Cuddyer was going to get $10 million a year, and it seems he still could despite the lack of rumors coming out of Colorado about a potential 3 year deal worth more than the Twins $24 million. I’m a little disappointed that Jason Kubel won’t be returning, but let’s hope Terry Ryan will put that money into some quality pitching.
So far this offseason Terry Ryan has filled holes at shortstop with Jamey Carroll ($3.5 million), backup catcher, first base, and DH with Ryan Doumit ($3 million), and made a questionable deal with Matt Capps ($4.5 million) to possibly close. He also cut loose some extra weight, literally, as Jose Mijares was not tendered a contract even though he was due a raise of just $300,000. It’s a peculiar move considering the lack of bullpen depth, but the Twins are long tired of Mijares showing up for Spring Training overweight and his diminished velocity raises some concerns. That means the Twins have about $7-10 million to throw into pitching, which could be used on one starter or 2-3 relief pitchers.
Already the Twins lineup is starting to take shape, and could be relatively potent if healthy…
- Denard Span (RF)
- Jamey Carrol (SS)
- Joe Mauer (C)
- Justin Morneau (DH/1B?)
- Josh Willingham (LF)
- Ryan Doumit/Trevor Plouffe (DH/1B?)
- Danny Valencia (3B)
- Alexi Casilla (2B)
- Ben Revere (CF)
But it’s the bullpen and rotation that need work…
- Carl Pavano
- Francisco Liriano
- Scott Baker
- Nick Blackburn
- Brian Duensing?
- Anthony Swarzak
- Alex Burnett?!
- Scott Diamond?!
- Jeff Manship?!
- Glen Perkins
- Matt Capps
I know Terry Ryan realizes this, and I think we can expect the rest of Minnesota’s offseason to focus on improving the pitching staff in any way possible. I’ve been calling for an offer to Hisashi Iwakuma, whose name I can spell faster than Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s, if that’s any indication of how much I want to see this guy in a Twins uniform. I’m starting to get the feeling that injuries last season may have turned Terry Ryan and the Twins away from Iwakuma, but there’s very little out there for affordable arms of that caliber. And I hardly think Minnesota is the winning bidder on Yu Darvish.
The big surprise is that Terry Ryan reached this deal before receiving a decision from Michael Cuddyer, which should draw some criticism from Twins fans and the Minnesota media. But in my opinion, Terry Ryan really showed some strength in not waiting for an answer from Cuddyer, and some common sense in taking the draft picks and saving nearly $10 million over 3 years considering Cuddyer’s asking price of 3 years, $30 million. The real work is just beginning for Terry Ryan, but despite the fans wanting Michael Cuddyer back, this is a huge win for the organization and for Terry Ryan, and something tells me the fans will get over it once Josh takes the field. The Twin Cities should be elated by the news this holiday season, and Josh Willingham will show them why for the next 3 years. Josh Willingham – the gift that keeps on giving. Well played, sir.