Over the weekend, La Velle E. Neal III confirmed that the Twins were interested in bringing in switch-hitting first baseman Tony Clark. Clark has spent the past 3 seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks where he hit 53 home runs in 702 at bats (one every 13.3 at bats). His 53 home runs isn't bad, neither is his slugging percentages of .546 over the last 3 seasons. The big problem with Clark is his .266 average and fairly low on base percentage that raises concern.
At 35 years old, he is likely to only be seeking a one or two year deal with a salary of somewhere between $1-2 Million annually. He will likely only be candidate to fill in at designated hitter. Historically speaking, this is a Twins-like signing (older vet, cheaper salary, dwindling career), but I'm hoping that new GM Bill Smith is just bluffing and doesn't actually find Clark to be a possible signing.
I will say that I think that Clark is a better DH option, than what we have, but with Craig Monroe already penciled in as the backup left fielder and designated hitter, I don't think that Clark is really needed. If we didn't just trade for Monroe, I wouldn't be skeptical of this deal, but with Monroe and Clark possibly making the lineup for the Twins, I will not be very thrilled.
Clark has a good deal of power still, which is very nice, but I just don't want to have both Monroe and Clark. One is fine, but not both.
I guess we'll have to wait and see if this plays out, but I'm hoping that (for Jason Kubel's sake) this isn't true.
Arizona Fall League Review
On Saturday, the Phoenix Desert Dogs finished up with a 20-11 season and wound up winning their 4th straight AFL Title in a row.
7 members of the Twins farm system played big roles for the Desert Dogs.
Matt Macri, 25, Third Base
Macri finished up the season batting .257/.315/.406 in 101 at bats in 28 games. He also had 9 doubles and 2 home runs. Macri was sent down there to help the Twins get a better look at his bat, which they acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rockies for Ramon Ortiz in August. This probably doesn't give the Twins of hope, but he'll likely be back in Rochester to begin '08.
Trevor Plouffe, 21, Short Stop
Plouffe had a resurrected '07 season and he continued his strong play in the AFL. He finished up the AFL season batting .280/.379/.360 with just 4 doubles in 15 games (50 at bats). He is still very young, and is definitely at least 2 years away from making any sort of impact on the Twins, but his strong 2007 definitely gives the Twins optimism of his upside, after it seemed to be dwindling. He should start '08 in Rochester, but due to his age and the fact that Rochester's infield may be crowded, he may be forced to earn his way up from New Britain.
Drew Butera, 24, Catcher
Butera was also sent to the AFL to give the Twins more of a look at a newly acquired player. Butera was acquired from the Mets along with Dustin Martin for Luis Castillo in July. Butera batted .250/.314/.313 in 12 games (32 at bats) in the AFL. Because of the lack of depth in the Twins system at catcher, he will probably start '08 in Rochester, but probably should stay at New Britain.
Anthony Swarzak, 22, Pitcher
Swarzak was sent to the AFL probably because he had a short season due to a 50-game suspension in the beginning of the season. Well he and the rest of the Twins young pitchers came ready to throw this Fall and really impressed many. Swarzak was 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA in 7 starts (22 innings). He had an "ok" 3-1 strikeout to walk ratio, and a respectable .241 average against. He will probably start '08 in Rochester, and if he can put together a strong next season, he could be pitching for the Twins come September.
Ryan Mullins, 24, Pitcher
Mullins had a strong fall with a 1-0 record and 2.84 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 6 games (5 starts...19 innings). He had somewhat of a successful and somewhat of a frustrating season in '07. He was dominant in High-A Ft. Myers and was strong in AA New Britain, but he really struggled in AAA Rochester, which lead to him finishing the season back in New Britain. He will probably be in Rochester to start the season, but could be back in New Britain if he doesn't show improvement.
Eduardo Morlan, 21, Pitcher
Morlan had both a good regular season and also a good fall season. He finished up the AFL with 1 save in 12.2 innings and also a win and 7 strikeouts while holding his opponents to a very good .190 average. He will more than likely start '08 in New Britain as he only has 4 innings of experience there, and he and Rob Delaney will be a very tough 1-2 punch late in the games as they were in '07.
Nick Blackburn, 25, Pitcher
Blackburn had a great fall league winning 4 of his 6 starts and compilling a 1.64 ERA and a ridiculous 10/1 K/BB ratio in 22 innings. He definitely gave the Twins optimism after he floundered late in the season while he was with the Twins. The team will more than likely keep him on the 40-man roster this season and he will probably be a dark-horse candidate to win a spot in the rotation. If he doesn't win a spot in the rotation, the Twins may opt to keep him in the bullpen or they may send him down to Rochester to begin the season. But as a 26 year old next season, it is definitely a potential "make-or-break" year for him with the Twins.
Also worth noting...
Brian Duensing helped Team USA beat Cuba to win gold at the IBAF World Cup. The 24-year-old southpaw, pitched 4.2 innings and gave up 2 runs before being pulled.