Anybody who is following the Twins should know that the Twins are in discussions with the Seattle Mariners concerning Cliff Lee. Theses talks “are ‘interesting’ and have ‘posibilities.'” These talks have gone to the point where it has been reported that Bill Smith has offered Wilson Ramos and Aaron Hicks for Lee.
The fact that Aaron Hicks could be included in a deal for Cliff Lee has many fans outraged. They believe, and wisely so, that he is too good of a prospect to give up for 2-3 (regular season) months of Cliff Lee. He was, after all, ranked by Baseball America as the 19th best prospect in all of baseball. As Seth Stohs says, Hicks isn’t untouchable, but he shouldn’t be traded for a rental player. That is conventional wisdom and I was agreeing with it, until I thought further.
I wondered a couple of things. The first I wondered was how many of the recent 1st round picks have made it to the big leagues and either had success or are currently having success. I figured some of them have probably had success (I heard there was some guy named Mauer) and that some of them probably didn’t. The next thing I wondered was how is the payroll going to be in the coming years? Surely there will be players with payroll increases meaning that it will be harder to keep around players like the free agent acquisitions Hudson and Thome.
Part 1: Recent 1st Round Picks
1st Round Pick-1997-Michael Cuddyer:
Like him or hate him, Michael Cuddyer has had success in the big leagues. He has been put in many positions on the field and his real success started in 2006 when right field became his home. He got comfortable there and put together a 3.1 WAR season. In his 2 full seasons since then (he was injured for the majority of 2008) he put together 2.6 WAR seasons. This season hasn’t been as successful, but he has been a decent 1st round pick.
1st of all, I’d like to thank Jack Steal for letting me join him on his podcast last night. Of course, co-host Topper Anton was there as well. Thank you both. If you’d like to listen to the podcast, it can be found here.
Most of the players have reported to spring training and have begun bullpen sessions, batting practice, and now, fielding.
We have a picture of one of the new members of the double play combo taking grounders. This will be a great sight to see in 2010.
Bullpen sessions are in full force and we have plenty of pictures.
One of my favorite things about the beginning of Spring Training is the images we get along with. Between seeing favorite players back in action or getting that exciting first look at offseason additions, this is something to look forward to. The time has arrived.
We’ve all heard that Mauer had grown a beard, but we didn’t get to see it until yesterday.
More pictures have come today showing Mauer having shaved his beard. It’s sad. I think it fit him.
We have pictures of 2 of the newcomers, Hudson and Hardy, as they have reported early.
We have pictures of Liriano, Nathan, and Neshek, and a picture of Perkins, Slowey and Mike Maroth, a pitcher the Twins signed to a minor league deal this offseason.
The Twins signed the player I have been pushing for all offseason, Orlando Hudson. This lineup will be great.
1. Span CF (L)
2. Hudson 2B (S)
3. Mauer C (L)
4. Morneau 1B (L)
5. Cuddyer RF (R)
6. Kubel DH (L)
7. Hardy SS (R)
8. Young LF (R)
9. Punto 3B (S)
Previously on my blog, I’ve discussed that what the Twins need most is a #2 hitter to get on base in front of Mauer. There are only 2nd baseman left on the market that fit this mold. The two most ideal fits are Orlando Hudson and Felipe Lopez.
Hudson has been reported to be looking for $9 million next year and he hopes to sign with a team soon. The Twins appear to be waiting for his price to drop, but the Nationals and Mets are in on him. There hasn’t been much interest in Lopez, I’ve only heard him connected to the Cardinals. They haven’t made strides toward signing him, and they’d want him to play 3rd base. He has never played more than 47 games of third in one season.
Hudson and Lopez are very similar players. They are both switch hitters, which is good because whoever hits in front of Mauer should not be a lefty because that could make 5 lefties in a row.
*Please not that when comparing them I will compare their stats from the past 2 years.
Both should put up a decent average. Hudson’s 2 year avgerage is .292, Lopez’s is .298. Hudson gets on base with a .361 OBP, Lopez gets on at a .366 clip. Advantage Lopez.
Whoever hits in front of Mauer should have plenty to hit. Lopez made contact with 92.7% pitches inside the strike-zone that he swung at. Hudson made contact with 88.7%. Advantage Lopez
Hudson hit 17 homers over the past 2 years, while Lopez hit 15. Hudson slugged .431 and Lopez had a SLG of .401. Advantage Hudson.
Once they are on, neither are not much of a threat to steal. Lopez had 14 total steals and Hudson had 12. Advantage Lopez.
One thing the Twins have been known to do is take the extra base when possible. Hudson did this 56% of the time, Lopez did it 33% of the time. Advantage Hudson.
When you’re hitting in front of Mauer and Morneau and you make an out, it should be productive. 41% of Hudson’s outs were pruductive, while only 26% of Lopez’s were. Advantage Hudson.
Hudson had a fielding percentage of .986 and Lopez’s was .974. Lopez’s UZR/150 was -0.25 and Hudson’s was -5.65. Hudson is more accurate but Lopez saves more runs in the long run. Advantage Lopez.
Hudson will command a higher contract than Lopez, and there has been much more interest in Hudson. Advantage Lopez.
Hudson’s WAR the past 2 years were 2.0 and 2.9. Lopez’s were 0.8 and 4.6. Hudson is much more consistent, but Lopez has the higher ceiling. No advantage.
If you tally them up the tally is Lopez 5, Hudson 3. This is slightly misleading, as Hudson has two very important categories, taking the extra base and making productive outs.
Hudson is the more consistent player, while Lopez has the tools to be the better player. So, Twins fans, what do you think? Should the Twins sign Hudson or Lopez? Personally, I think Hudson is the better fit, but would be happy with either.