Been away from the cafe for a while. To touch on some of the things said in previous posts...
Grant Balfour isn't in the running for anything other than a bullpen role, if he's even ready to go by opening day. His game was based around being able to touch 98 on the gun. After his arm problems and surgery, I doubt his velocity next season is going to be anywhere near what it was in the past, and no one knows how effective he'll be. I don't think the Twins can count on him being a part of their staff in 2006, but if he does manage to make it back and stick it will be a nice surprise.
Someone mentioned something about the emergence of Crain... Crain scares the hell out of me. His dominant 11.48 K/9 in the minors hasn't translated yet to the big league level (3.29 K/9). The Twins have tinkered with his delivery to get more movement on his pitches and he dropped a lot of velocity... from mid-ninties heat down to low-ninties warm. Anything is possible, but relievers with a sub-four K/9 usually don't sustain the kind of success he has had the last two seasons.
There is no way
the Twins will part with Scott Baker. It's about economics. He'll be a no. 3 caliber starter and only make $400,000 next season.
Radke isn't going anywhere. He's a 10/5 player and has veto power on any trade. He took a hometown discount when he signed his current contract so he could retire as a Twin and spend his entire career with one team. There is no way
he would agree to be traded.
The two pitchers the Twins are actively shopping around are Lohse and Romero. Lohse isn't overpriced when compared to what the market is awarding third and fourth staters, but the Twins have too many cheap internal replacements to keep his salary. People have mentioned Baker and Liriano, but they also have Boof Bonser and Matt Guerrier who wouldn't make awful fifth starters. There is even Dave Gassner who could pass as a major league starting pitcher for a few weeks if needed in an emergency. Thus, Lohse will either be offered arbitration and traded or let go as a free agent. Romero is too inconsistant to justify his salary.
I think the Castillo deal is a decent one for the Twins. It will end the nightmarish clown car routine of futility infeilders the Twins suffered through at second base last season (Castro/Rivas/Punto/L. Rodriguez). Worst case scenario they upgraded their defense, but with their horrid on-base percentage, Castillo will be an improvement offensively if Gardenhire bats him leadoff. Anywhere else, with Castillo who has zero pop, would be a bad idea. The problem is that Gardenhire is one of the worst managers in the major leagues. He juggled line-ups all the time last season without any thinking behind the moves other than "let's try something and see if it sticks". Not to mention calling out second year players like Mauer and Morneau for not playing hurt... which is always a genius idea... ridicule your franchise catcher coming off season ending knee surgery for not playing hurt...
Gardenhire aslo plays favorites, big time, and one of "his guys" is Stewart, who despite having the worst outfield arm in the majors and just average range, plays left field when Ford is the DH, despite the fact that Ford was a center fielder in the minors and was called on to play center in Hunter's absence even over Jones, because Stewart whines when he just has to DH. He aslo whined when he was moved out of the leadoff spot last season, and Gardenhire caved and put him back there. I really hope he doesn't cave to Stewart and hit Castillo second.
But... while I don't mind losing Walker, I really liked Bowyer. The Twins organization threw some knocks at him, like his mechanics were too jerky and he didn't take to attempts to teach him new pitches... but he does throw 97 and posted a 2.78 ERA in 74.1 innings, striking out 94 Triple-A hitters last season before being called up. If he can cut down his walks, he'll be closing for the Marlins sooner than later.
All this is academic if the Twins don't at least
add a good right handed bat. And they'll still need a couple breakout seasons from the likes of Kubel, Cuddyer, Bartlett, or Morneau if they want to hang with Chicago and Cleveland.