December 31, 2008

Top 50 Twins Prospects 2009: #49 Paul Kelly

2009 Top 50 Twins Prospects | #49 | Paul Kelly

Position | Shortstop

Bats/Throws | Right/Right

| October 19, 1986 (Carrollton, Texas)

School| Flower Mound High School

| 6'1''

| 195 lbs.

2008 Ranking
| Not Ranked

Paul Kelly was once considered a top shortstop prospect in the Twins system a few years ago, but a knee injury has cost him all but 9 games in the last two-and-a-half seasons. Kelly was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2005 draft, which at the time was considered a steal as he was projected to go by the middle of the first round. He instantly showcased amazing defense and a great bat. Unfortunately, Kelly's chronic knee problems have allowed him to rack up only 36 plate appearances in the past two seasons. It's unsure whether or not Kelly will ever fully recover, but if he ever regains enough health to make it through an entire season, we'll be able to see that he's still a special player on both sides of the ball.

2008 Statistics

Level      G     PA     AVG     OBP     SLG     XBH     HR     BB
A-         7     31    .321    .367    .393       2      0      2
2009 Outlook
If healthy, Kelly could be in Ft. Myers with the Miracle. But that's a big if.


Not Available

Estimated Time of Arrival


December 30, 2008

Top 50 Twins Prospects 2009: #50 Andrey Lobanov

2009 Top 50 Twins Prospects | #50 | Andrey Lobanov

Position | Pitcher

Bats/Throws | Left/Left

| January 25, 1990 (Moscow, Russia)

College | None

| 6'3''

| 171 lbs.

2008 Ranking
| Not Ranked

Andrei Lobanov signed with the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in August of 2007. The soon-to-be 19-year-old southpaw from Moscow has great height for a pitcher, but could stand to gain a little weight. He throws in the mid 80's with his fastball, and although he has little movement on his pitches, he still has good strikeout numbers in his first 22 innings of pro ball. He has outstanding control (5-1 K/BB ratio) and if he can improve his velocity by just 5-6 mph, but keep his control, he could move up the prospect rankings very quickly.

2008 Statistics

Level      W      L      ERA      IP      K      BB      WHIP      FIP
R          3      1     3.54    20.1     17       3      1.03     1.97
0 0 0.00 2.0 3 1 1.00 1.70

2009 Outlook

Lobanov will probably start the season in Extended Spring Training and will likely be back in Rookie ball this season. He'll probably be in East Tennessee with the Elizabethton Twins come June.

Pitching Repertoire
  • Fastball
  • Curveball
None (If you have one I can post, contact me)

Estimated Time of Arrival


December 29, 2008

Josh's Thoughts Top 50 Twins Prospects: Explanation

With the Twins currently not making any headlines these days, I've decided to start posting my top 50 prospect list. It's taken me a long time to do it, and although I will admit I am not completely 100% of the way done with it, I feel I am far enough along to begin posting it. The reason I wanted to get a jump start on posting it is because of the fact that (A) there's nothing to talk about these days and (B) it will take 50 days to complete.

50 Days from now, the pitchers and catchers will have already reported to Spring Training and it's still a few days prior to the rest of the squad reporting.

This is not to say I will not be posting anything else, because if the Twins do make any headlines, I will give my thoughts. I'm just saying that each day, expect a new player to be listed.

If you find an error, please let me know. I'm sure many of you know, I make my fair share of mistakes, so if you could be kind enough to let me know of any false information, I will greatly appreciate it.

Like all top prospect lists, these are all done really to just give people a better understanding of how fellow fans feel about their beloved prospects. I would like to explain that this list is nowhere near perfect and I do appreciate any constructional criticism you may have.

This list I feel is different than many others, and for that I am really proud of it. It is in fact a list, but instead of posting a brief paragraph on each player and posting a 5-10 player list per day, I am actually posting an individual profile report on each player, which is why it will take 50 days to complete (one per day).

With that, I will begin posting my top 50 prospect list on Tuesday.

For last years list, click here.

December 24, 2008

Twins add bullpen arm?

According to Kirby Arnold of the Washington Daily Herald, the Twins have signed knuckeballer R.A. Dickey to a "split major-minor league contract.

The Minnesota Twins signed right-handed pitcher R.A. Dickey today, which instantly makes him a candidate for a spot in the Twins' bullpen this coming season. Dickey, 34, is known for having a good knuckleball and for having no ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Dickey chose the Minnesota Twins over staying with the Seattle Mariners.
"Seattle could have been more money, but the Twins felt like I could have a place on their roster right away," Dickey said.
That would likely mean that the Twins are going to give him a good opportunity to win a spot in the bullpen this Spring. Dickey was 5-8 with a 5.22 ERA in 32 games (14 starts) with the Mariners last season. He did look good in Triple-A Tacoma, going 2-5 with a 3.77 ERA and a 3.75 K/BB ratio.

This is not the bullpen arm we were all hoping for, but since it is a "split minor-major league contract" he can be sent to Triple-A Rochester should he falter this Spring.

The Twins signed Dickey to a minor-league contract last November, but just over a week later he was taken by the Mariners in the Rule V Draft. In exchange for Dickey to be sent to Triple-A, the Mariners sent the Twins minor league catcher Jair Fernandez.

He will likely be competing with Boof Bonser, Jason Jones and Philip Humber for a bullpen spot.

December 23, 2008


A year and a half after starting this blog, it's finally hit 100,000 page views. Thanks everyone for visiting!

Now, if only I could be making Mark Teixeira money for doing this. Geez Louise!

December 21, 2008

Catching Up

The Twins have expressed interest in Japanese reliever Koji Uehara.

A lot has happened since I last posted, so let's jump right in...

The Twins don't believe that they'll sign Ty Wigginton. The team believes that his asking price will be out of their price range, likely exceeding their offer that they gave to Casey Blake. Although one could argue that Wigginton is better than Blake, the important thing to discuss is whether or not he is that much better than a platoon of Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher.

We also have to keep in mind that we do have two players that are about a year away who could both step up and be third base options for our team. Luke Hughes had a monster year at the plate last year but is not a seasoned veteran like his competition Danny Valencia. With solid 2009 season's both could fight for starting roles come 2010.

There are also a few third basemen expecting to hit the open market next fall including Adrian Beltre, Chone Figgins, Troy Glaus, Chipper Jones and Mark DeRosa. The way I see it, Wigginton would be a good short term fix, but since he is looking for a multi-year deal, it doesn't seem to be the greatest move this club could make. However if they don't anticipate being contenders (at all) for any of the names mentioned above (if Hughes/Valencia/Harris/Buscher don't figure to take full reigns that is), adding Wigginton does make some sense.

I like Wigginton, but I will not at all be upset if they do not sign him.

Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that the Twins are interested in a couple Japanese pitchers, starter Kenshin Kawakami and reliever Koji Uehara. I think that Uehara makes more since since he is a proven reliever (former starter) in Japanese baseball, compiling 33 saves while a closer. He is a crafty right-hander with a good, low-90's fastball that has great command. He could be a right-handed version of Hideki Okajima who's the same build and has the same "stuff."

Christensen mentions that he may be looking for a 3-year $9 million deal, which may scare some, but if the Twins were really looking to sign an impact reliever, he could be worth a gamble.

The bullpen already seems a bit crowded likely using 7 spots between these players:
  • Joe Nathan
  • Jose Mijares
  • Matt Guerrier
  • Jesse Crain
  • Craig Breslow
  • Boof Bonser
  • Philip Humber
  • Jason Jones
So adding one more will likely mean that two are out. Jones seems likely and I would think that the other comes down to Boof Bonser and Philip Humber. Breslow is not a lock either, so it may be an o.k. idea to go into Spring Training with as many options as possible (including Bobby Korecky and Brian Duensing).

The Twins are also interested in former D-Backs reliever, Brandon Lyon. Joe Christensen also reported that the Twins have expressed interest in Brett Tomko. The Twins have plenty of bullpen options both in house and on the market, there's no reason that our bullpen should not be improved next season.

The Twins signed outfielder Luis Matos, Sean Henn, Bob Keppel and Joe Gaetti to minor league deals. More on that, here.

Joe Christensen reported that in the midst of the Rafael Furcal-back-to-Atlanta fiasco, the Twins made another inquiry on Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar. Despite re-signing Nick Punto to play shortstop, the Twins are still looking at the shortstop options. The Twins were turned away after the Braves indicated that they had intentions on using both Escobar and Furcal at shortstop and second base while moving current second baseman Kelly Johnson to left field.

Minnesota still has strong interest in Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy, but the Brewers don't seem interested in trading the 26-year-old.

Anything else I missed?

December 18, 2008

Blog Update

Hello everyone. It's finals week up here at SCSU. Unfortunately that's cutting into my time for writing. My last final is this afternoon, so expect something up tomorrow.

In the mean time, make sure to check out the links on the side of the page.

For a little comedy, check out this clip. It's a classic!

December 15, 2008

Third Base: Sign Wigginton? Stick with platoon? Other options?

After Nick Punto was re-signed for two more years, if the Twins are looking to upgrade any other areas, the focus is now completely on third base and the bullpen. The team has a few in-house options and there are still quite a few guys thought to be available either through trade or through free agency that could certainly help stabilize both positions.

Over the weekend, Ty Wigginton was non-tendered by the Houston Astros which made the 31-year-old probably the most desirable free agent (remaining) at third base. La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is already reporting that the San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates are all interested in signing him. Ken Davidoff of News Day thinks the Mets should get into the action. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any word (since he was non-tendered) on whether the Twins will look at acquring him, it's been just speculation thus far.

The other day I mentioned that a 2-year $14 million offer might be what it takes to land him. Many commented that it would be far too much and that if it costs that much the Twins should just stick with Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris at third base. Neal believes that Wiggington is "worth at least $6 million a year and it may take $7 million a year to get him." With there already being a few teams in the mix to sign him, there's no doubt in my mind that he could legitimately get a salary between $6-7 million per season.

Other than Wigginton, Joe Crede is probably the most desirable remaining third baseman still on the market. But with Crede's health a major concern and the fact that he's a client of Scott Boras, the probability of Crede becoming a Twin is slim to none. Rich Aurilia and Aaron Boone are still available, but those guys are nowhere near as good as what we currently have at third base.

Nomar Garciaparra
was injured most of last year, but he is still a good player. Would the Twins take a flier on him? I seriously doubt it but I wouldn't be opposed (depending the deal). I doubt that his legs would hold up very well on the Metrodome Turf.

If the Twins can't find a fit through free agency, there are still options that through the trade route that may interest the Twins.

Adrian Beltre is one of the most thought after third basemen in baseball due to his solid offense and outstanding defense. He is the best option that is reportedly available, but his chances of becoming a Twin decreased significantly from an already slim chance after he reportedly put the Twins on his no-trade clause following the season. That's not to say that he doesn't want to come to Minnesota, it's more likely just a move that he and his agent (which happens to be Boras) came up with to try and squeeze out a few extra bucks from the team trying to acquire him.

What that shows me however is that he really is not as concerned about winning as he is about making money. Although that's not uncommon in this day and age, it's just something that the Twins don't look for in players. If Beltre really cared about winning, he'd do anything in his power to get out of Seattle and get onto a winning team, such as the Twins. This doesn't really do much in my own thoughts & feelings on him, but I am sure the Twins aren't interested in playing any games with him and Boras.

Garrett Atkins is another player the Twins have shown strong interest in but it looks like the Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd wants a lot more than what the Twins are willing to give up. Sometimes that doesn't take too much for the Twins who are sometimes very stingy when trying to trade, but the reports are that the Rockies at one point wanted Kevin Slowey, Denard Span and a prospect (or two) for Atkins. Even an armchair GM (such as myself) would know that that would be a crazy deal on the Twins behalf. If it were for Matt Holiday and Atkins, then I might be able to get behind that. But since Holiday is gone and the Rockies likely wouldn't give up any other player of (at least) significant value, I think that there is really no chance that the Twins get into talks with the Rockies again unless they lessen their demands.

Mark DeRosa's name has come up, but it doesn't look as if the Cubs want to trade him. The Twins would likely look to him as a third baseman, but if it were up to me, he'd play second base.

Kevin Kouzmanoff looks to be a fairly realistic option. The good thing about him is that he has serious power potential and is still under team control through 2012, which is great. But his negatives are his defense, OBP, strikes out too much and is not a good vs. southpaws. The negatives really outweigh the positives, but if his value is low enough the Twins may look to try and acquire him.

I still would like to see the Twins acquire Jason Donald if they aren't able to sign Wigginton. Donald could probably be had for a pitching prospect, but the question becomes is he a better option than Luke Hughes or Danny Valencia? Although he hasn't played anything over AA Ball, the Twins he is probably more Major League ready than either Valencia or Hughes. He somewhat reminds me of Valencia in that he's a solid all-around hitter, an older prospect, and also is a college draftee. Although I'd love to acquire him, he's not a clear cut better player than either of those two, so is it really worth the price of a good pitching prospect? I doubt the Twins think so.

Then there's the Buscher/Harris platoon. Although it would be great to not have to rely on a platoon, it sure worked out last year and the Twins really seem comfortable with this option at this point in time. This is probably the most likely of choices that the Twins will choose, but that could change in a day. The one thing that makes me really unsettled about this option is what if there's an injury to one of the two. I don't feel too good when thinking of Buscher starting against left-handers.

The Twins are looking for stability at third base. Although Hughes & Valencia are close to the majors, it's not a given that they'll be major assets to our team. The Twins really don't have a lot of free agent options, but Wigginton does "fit the mold" for the type of player the Twins are looking for. He's reasonably cheap and has a good, right-handed bat. This tidbit also tells you why the Twins and Wigginton would make a great match:
I've heard the phrase. "game on," used to describe him.
If it were up to you, what would you do? Sign a free agent? Trade for a player? Or would you rather just stick with the platoon?

December 13, 2008

Download a copy of Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2009!

Just a quick note for tonight. If you haven't ordered a copy of Seth Stohs 2009 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, and if you'd like to save a couple dollars, you can now download it at

With the holiday season coming up, it's a great present for any Twins fan. I highly recommend buying a copy of it. I have it and I cannot believe the amount of content in it. He really did a great job. So make sure to get a copy ASAP! Also make sure to check out as well.

There is a great forward by Pat Neshek, as well as comments by La Velle E. Neal III, Howard Sinker, Jonathan Mayo, Phil Miller, Mike Radcliff, John Bonnes, Aaron Gleeman and Dave Mona. There are prospect lists from myself, Joshua Taylor, Andrew Kneeland, Roger Dehring, James Mathewson and of course, Seth Stohs. There are over 175 player profiles of Twins prospects that are arranged alphabetically. Honestly, this is a great gift for any Twins fan. Whether you're a minor league fanatic or just a casual fan looking to find a little bit more about some of the players that will some day be wearing a Twins uniform, it doesn't matter.

What are you waiting for? Go get it!

December 12, 2008

Wigginton non-tendered, Update

Just hours before the deadline to offer contract to players, Alyson Footer of reports that the Houston Astros decided to non-tender third baseman Ty Wiggington.

His name should be familiar to many. He has been linked to the Twins for a few years in trade rumors since the Tampa Bay Rays traded him to Houston before the July trade deadline in 2007. More recently, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune said during this weeks Winter Meetings down in Las Vegas that his name has come up in team discussions. He said that the Twins referred to him as a "gamer" and we all know that those players are generally viewed highly by the Twins brass (ei. Nick Punto).

Although the Twins at this point in time don't feel obligated to still upgrade third base, I am sure that they will look into Wiggington. Although his home/away stats are completely alarming, he did hit left-handers very well last year from the right-side of the plate, which was considered (by m any) to be one of the biggest needs heading into the off-season.

He is a career .270/.330/.460 hitter with a career 105 OPS+. If you lay out his numbers to a 162 game season, he'd average 59 XBH's (23 home runs) and 79 RBI per season.

Wiggington just turned 31-years-old, which means that he would be a fine player to offer a long-term contract to. The team balked at giving Casey Blake a third year due to the fact that he would be 38-years-old at the end of the deal. Although I don't see the Twins giving Wiggington a huge deal, but a two-year deal with a third year option is probably what the Twins will offer.

Perhaps a two-year $14 million deal with a third year vesting option that could bring the deal to be worth $22 million. Is that too much, too little? I think that's definitely something the Twins will at the very least look at.

Update 11:40 PM: I just saw that Lance Cormier, John Bale, Clay Hensley, Joe Nelson and Scott Proctor were all non-tendered by their teams. I can see the Twins have a good deal of interest in all five. All have reasons for being non-tendered though. So all would be risks, but if they don't cost a lot, why not?

Final Winter Meetings Thoughts

The Winter Meetings are now officially done. Although some things were accomplished, it's easy to look and say that the Twins really did nothing this entire week in Las Vegas. Many fans are sick and tired of the Twins not getting into any of the action during the Winter Meetings, which seems to be a common occurrence year in and year out.

I don't fault the Twins for this. The Winter Meetings is a great time to get a feel for what teams around the league intend to do during the off-season. Last year, many started believing that a trade for Johan Santana may not be completed after the conclusion of the Winter Meetings. Many felt that the Twins lost the best chance of having direct contact with opposing teams, which one would think would make it easier to get a trade done. That may be true, but since none of us truly know what goes on in the negotiation rooms, we cannot know for sure.

Many are disappointed that the Twins were not willing to pull off a trade for a third baseman or shortstop despite having depth in both the outfield and as well as minor league pitching. Instead the Twins re-signed Nick Punto to be the starting shortstop which has been the only move that the Twins have made this off-season (besides selecting pitcher Jason Jones in the Rule 5 Draft). And again, we don't know what is going on behind closed doors, so we cannot say that the Twins weren't actively looking for a trading partner. How do we know that the Twins and Orioles didn't talk and that the Orioles demanded some unreal return like Kevin Slowey for Melvin Mora? If the trade does not make sense for both teams, there's nothing you can do about it. Twins GM Bill Smith said it best:

"...with any trade or free-agent signing, it takes two to agree."

I have no doubt in my mind that the Twins were very busy at the Winter Meetings. Just because something was not reported, does not mean that it did not happen. The percentage of the information that the media reports is dismal to the actual percent of what is actually going on. That's not the fault of the media, it's just that not everything is reported to the media. But still many believe if the media doesn't report it, that means it didn't happen.

When a tree falls and nobody is around to hear it, does it make sound?

The Twins made it know around the league that they are looking for a right-handed third baseman. There are a few that have been discussed, but their respected teams (probably) want a lot in return, while the Twins (probably) don't want to give up. Is that the Twins' fault? Not necessarily. Minnesota does value some players higher than most of us would think that player is worth. According to Phil Miller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Boof Bonser's name came up a lot at the Winter Meetings but it was known to opposing teams that he won't come cheap. Most Twins fans would probably trade Bonser for a ticket to a game and a free pretzel (maybe just the pretzal), but the Twins like the potential Bonser has in the bullpen and don't want to give up on him.

The Twins see potential, but he has definitely underperformed. That should remind you of David Ortiz. Ortiz left and became "Big Papi" and a World Series Hero for the Boston Red Sox after the Twins gave up on him. Since then, the Twins have felt great regret and been hearing non-stop complaints from the fan base. Nobody at the time thought Ortiz would blow up like he did. Just like the Astros didn't think Santana would become the pitcher he is today when they decided to leave him unprotected in the 1999/2000 Rule 5 Draft. At least that one worked out for the Twins.

The Twins may be extreme when it comes to holding onto players as they don't want to give up on any despite what us fans may think of them. What we see/hear is probably not even remotely near what the team sees/hears. We all may think that Bonser is not worth hanging onto, but to the Twins he's shown them potential and promise to become a capable pitcher in the majors. And for that reason, the Twins don't look likely to give up on him like they did with Ortiz. Is that a bad thing? Depends on who's answering.

Many fans are upset that the Twins don't spend nearly as much money like such teams as the Mariners, Blue Jays, Tigers and Astros. But look where that's gotten them. None of those teams were even remotely close to making the playoffs last year, yet all have payrolls over $100 million, besides the Astros who came in just under $90 million in 2008. It's easy to say that the Twins should just sign so-and-so for this much, but this is a business. The Twins continue to win while having a marginal payroll. Sure they haven't won a World Series and I'm not saying that the Pohlad's don't want to see us win a World Series, it's just that they aren't going to break the bank to do so. Especially because they continuosly make money year in and year out while funding a winning team that usually is in the bottom half of MLB payrolls. To some owners, winning means everything. To the Pohlad's, that's not necessarily the case. The Pohlad's got their fortune by being frugal and smart with their money.

I personally don't agree with everything the Twins do, but most of them you can find an excuse as to why the team did it. Such as the Punto re-signing. Many fans are disgusted in both the fact that he is going to be starting at shorstop and that we are going to be paying him $8.5 million over two years. The Twins signed one of the best remaining shortstops on the market after they discovered that a trade for one wasn't a realistic option. Surely the Twins had every intention of signing him since he filed for free agency, but they went into the Winter Meetings with the possibility that they could find a deal with another team.

Had Punto signed with another team and if the Twins weren't able to pull off a deal, would fans still be so upset? Besides Rafael Furcal, is there really a significantly better option? We can nitpic on different players, but Punto was near the top in terms of best remaining free agents. It was unrealistic to think that J.J. Hardy, Yunel Escobar, or even Furcal would be Twins. We can speculate all we want, but the bottom line is that those players all have huge pricetags and the Twins rarely if ever will go out of their way and overpay for a player. It's just not something the Twins have done and I don't see them doing it anytime soon.

Some fans would have liked to see Brendan Harris, Matt Tolbert and Alexi Casilla battle for the middle infield instead of re-signing Punto. But I can guarantee you that most (if not all) of those fans are the same ones that complain about the Twins not doing anything.

The Twins seem comfortable with a Harris/Brian Buscher platoon at third next year. And on some levels it makes perfect sense. Last year they combined for a .273 average, 11 home runs, and 96 RBI. Together, they could be a great tandom at the hot corner for the Twins. And we wouldn't even have to trade anyone of value or give up any money to get them either. With Punto coming back, this assures us that unless something major comes up, we should at the very least be able to see that platoon at third base.

The Twins will continue to see what they can do at third base, but if they don't trade/sign for anyone else, is that the worse thing in the world? I think not. I'd be a little disappointed that the team didn't acquire a big name guy, but I've come to accept over the years that we as fans seem to get our hopes up too much. That in no way means we cannot speculate or hope for something to happen, it just means that if it doesn't please don't continuosly complain about it. Like I said, we have no idea what happens behind closed doors. The majority of the rumors don't come true, and being disappointed in your team for not going through on something you want to believe is true, when really it isn't, is really pointless. That's like me being upset the Twins didn't get Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp for Santana last year when it was first rumored to be a possibility (only to find out that it wasn't true).

There is one thing though that I do know is true. As we sit right now, the Twins are still a contending team and may very well be the team to beat in the American League Central.
Sorry about the rant. I just felt it was necessary after hearing all of the negativity towards the Punto deal, and that the Twins were quiet at the Meetings. Roast me if you'd like, I'm just sick of hearing all the negativity.

December 11, 2008

Twins re-sign Nick Punto, Rule 5 draft

Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune just broke the news that Nick Punto has signed a two-year deal to remain with the Twins.

Punto, 31, is coming off of a strong 2008 campaign hitting .284/.344/.382 with 25 XBH's and an OPS+ of 99 in just 338 AB's.

The deal is reportedly worth $8.5 million which is about what would be expected from a two-year deal with Punto, and there is also a club option for $5 million for 2011.

Twins GM Bill Smith had this to say:
“Nick has been an important part of the Twins’ success for the past five years,” General Manager Bill Smith said in the announcement. “He provides great defense up the middle and brings leadership and energy to our lineup.”
And Punto still has a chip on his shoulder from last season, which is great to see players have.
“I feel like we got really close last year,” he said.“I have a sour taste in my mouth from that last game in Chicago. We’re looking forward to next year.”
Punto was my top free agent shortstop other than Rafael Furcal. I also liked Felipe Lopez, who also signed today (with the Diamondbacks), but a hot 43-game stretch isn't enough for me to overtake either Punto or Furcal.

I just hope that this isn't the only move the team makes, even though I feel much better about our options than I usually do, I'd still like to see them acquire a third baseman and a reliever if at all possible.


The Twins have selected Right-handed Pitcher Jason Jones with the 14th pick in the Rule 5 draft. He's a 26-year-old starter who will likely be converted into a reliever, but I really don't expect much from him.

I really wish the Twins would have selected Eduardo Morlan instead who was one of my favorite prospects before being dealt in last years Matt Garza-Delmon Young trade. The Brewers selected him two spots later.

There is nothing new otherwise to report. According to Ken Rosenthal of no longer talking to the Padres about acquiring Jake Peavy, but other than that there is nothing new on the Twins front.

Stay tuned though...

Winter Meetings: Day 3 Review

Besides a rumor that escalated over Tuesday into Wednesday, there really wasn't that much that happened yesterday. That is, for the Twins. There was a big signing and 12-player trade that highlighted the Winter Meetings on Wednesday. And although something can get done today, I am sure a lot of attention (at least from the Twins standpoint) will be focused on the Rule V Draft.

La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that the Twins talked to the Cubs on Tuesday about a potential trade that would make the Twins involved in the biggest trade that has been speculated about this off-season. The Cubs are trying to acquire starter Jake Peavy from the San Diego Padres, but don't have the pitching to do so. That's where the Twins became useful. The Cubs also trying to shed some salary to take on Peavy's, would then trade second baseman Mark DeRosa to the Twins.

DeRosa is coming off of his best season as a professional in which he hit .285/.376/.481 with 54 XBH's (21 home runs) and a 118 OPS+. He has played mostly second base for the Cubs due to the fact that they have Aramis Ramirez at third base, and because he is much better suited for second base than he is for third. I am not sure of the Twins' intentions on were they would play him, but I would imagine it would depend on whether or not the Twins add any more players to the infield.

The soon-to-be 35-year-old has spent time in 3 organizations in his 11 year career. He will make $5.5 million next season which is definitely doable for the Twins and would allow them to still explore another player either via trade or via free agency.

Here's a crazy thought, is there a way to get Kevin Kouzmanoff and DeRosa in the same deal?

Of course, this trade was at one point shot down and it again resurfaced which is something we've seen become very common at the Winter Meetings. Carrie Muskat of reported that DeRosa wouldn't be traded. Corey Brock of then reported that the Twins were not involved in any prospective Peavy-Cubs trade, but then went on to say that a fourth team would likely be needed. Brock does mention that if the Padres were interested in any of the Twins pitchers that Boof Bonser, Philip Humber, Anthony Swarzak, Kevin Mulvey and Brian Duensing could all be possibilities for the Padres. La Veal E. Neal of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune then says that the Twins may not be apart of a Padres-Cubs trade but could still acquire DeRosa. Aaron Gleeman of "head from a couple non-Minnesota reporters" that the Twins might have a reasonable chance to acquire DeRosa for a perhaps a package headlined by Humber.

Twins GM Bill Smith also doesn't see the Twins in a multi-team trade at this point.
"We are having enough troubles doing a two-team deal. Multi-team deals are hard to do. They happen if you can work one out. But they are complex, and they are difficult to do."
The Philadelphia Phillies are also interested in acquiring DeRosa to use him as both insurance for the currently injured Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz in their infield or to start in left field after Pat Burrell left.


La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune also gave these tidbits:
  • Delmon Young is still somewhere on the Philadelphia Phillies radar.
  • There's a chance the Twins and Rockies talk again about Garrett Atkins.
  • There is no interest in Jorge Cantu.
And he also gave us this little nugget that doesn't necessarily make me happy. According to "Twins people" there are no-trade problems regarding Adrian Beltre. If you quickly read that, then you'd say "great, there aren't any problems" (like I did), however Neal then goes on to say that Beltre has a limited no-trade clause.

But where was this during the summer when the Twins and Mariners seemed close to a trade? I'd seriously doubt that nobody would have "spilled the beans" about this aspect until now. Unless he suddenly was able to change his preferences, this should be new to everybody.

Although there is still about two months before Spring Training, a lot of things should be cleared up after today. Not just for the Twins, but for around the league. Although the Twins haven't found a trade partner, I'm not too worried. Reason being is that the Twins have a fine platoon currently set-up with Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher at third base and I have a pretty confident feeling that the Twins and Nick Punto will reach a deal eventually. And even if a deal cannot get done this week to fill a need, that doesn't mean it won't happen at all.
"Yeah, we've made acceptable progress," Twins GM Bill Smith said. "But again, with any trade or free-agent signing, it takes two to agree."
Bold Predictions: Today, we'll see Mark Teixeira, Rafael Furcal and A.J. Burnett sign with clubs. My guess, Teixeira goes to Boston, Furcal to the Royals and Burnett lands with the Yankees. OK, maybe they're not bold.

Stay tuned...

December 10, 2008

Winter Meetings: Day 2 Review

Yesterday there really weren't quite as many big rumors as there were on Monday, but there were a few tidbits that seemed to still get a bit of attention.

It just wouldn't seem right without starting with a Delmon Young rumor. Early yesterday morning, there was a rumor that had the 23-year-old outfielder back to his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays, and although the Rays would likely be trading a pitcher, that player wouldn't be coming to the Twins. Instead Jayson Stark of indicated that a third team, naming the Rockies as an example, that could jump in to grab the pitcher from the Rays while sending the Twins a player... most likely a third baseman (Garrett Atkins).

I'm not as interested in Atkins as some around the world are, so I am a little bias about this trade. I think that if this deal was in place, the Rays would be getting an absolute steal if they only had to surrender Edwin Jackson or Andy Sonnanstine. Both pitchers are young with some promise, but both figure to be #4-5 starters at least for the foreseeable future.

Although there are conflicting reports on whether or not the Twins and Rockies have discussed a possible Atkins trade, Kelly Theiser of reports that it is highly unlikely for the Twins to make a trade with the Rays that would send Young back to Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says that the Twins and Rockies have discussed a deal (likely not involving Tampa or any other third team for that matter) about Atkins (and also backed up Theiser's report). The Star-Tribune report is conflicting to that of Troy Renck of the Denver Post, who says that the Rockies have not discussed an Atkins trade with any teams thus far.

At Ron Gardenhire's press conference yesterday, the Twins manager tried to cover up his comments from last weeks North Dakota agricultural trade show in which he made this statement:
"Those three guys (Span, Gomez & Cuddyer) need to play every day. Delmon is in the mix. He’s a helluva player, a helluva talent. But to me, those three guys should be your outfield and then you go from there.
But yesterday, he expressed regret but didn't really take back what he said.
"I'm not going to say it was out of context, because I said what I said, but it was kind of left off there," Gardenhire said. "It wasn't a shot at anybody, I wouldn't do that. I have a lot of respect for Delmon."
He also gave a little reasoning as to one reason the Twins may be looking to trade him.
"Like everything with every player, we want him to flow into our program and understand what we are all about, and he played," Gardenhire said. "He's a little more stubborn than some of the guys."
But then he downplayed it by saying:
"Delmon was not a problem, not an issue, and I would hate to think that somebody would think it was."
So really, it was a bunch of nothing. Gardenhire downplayed the entire incident and Twins GM Bill Smith backed it up by talking up his 23-year-old outfielder.
"The biggest thing I keep saying is that he played all year at 22," Smith said. "We've got kids in A ball that we're raving about that are 22, and he's already got two years in the big leagues. We're excited about his potential and what he's going to grow into."
He also said that he loved Young's reaction to the statements made by his manager last week.

Nothing new regarding the Philadelphia Phillies being interested in Young, which was probably the biggest rumor regarding the Twins on Day 1 at the Winter meetings.


Also at Gardenhire's press conference, Nick Punto's name came up. We all know of Gardenhire's "bromance" for Punto, and he reiterated that yesterday.
"If we sign Nick Punto, he would be my starting shortstop, and I think that's what he's looking for," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I like him and I think he's a gamer. He brings a lot to our baseball team; but whether we can do it or not, we'll have to wait and see."
The Twins are hoping to re-sign Punto to fill the vacancy that he (and to some extent Adam Everett) have left. Punto is strong defensively but can also surprise some offensively. I don't expect him to hit .284 with an OPS+ of 99 like he did last season, but I don't think he'll be anywhere near as bad as he was in 2007 when he hit .210 with an OPS+ of 52. Somewhere between those numbers is probably the minimal of what I'd expect from him.

Certainly out of any remaining free agent shortstop, Punto is probably at the top of my "wish list" if you don't consider Rafael Furcal a realistic option. Hopefully the Twins can hammer out a 2 or 3-year deal before the end of the week.

The Twins may have to compete with teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies for him. Punto did say that he'd like to stay in Minnesota though.
"Minnesota is my first choice. It would be really hard to leave there," said Punto. "It's really great to hear (Gardenhire) say that. It means a lot to hear that from your manager."
If he's that keen on returning to Minnesota, and if the Twins are trying actively to re-sign him, then a deal should be done in the next couple of days. I just hope the Twins don't miss out on him and have to overpay for a different guy who is probably worse defensively and not much better offensively (if any) at all.


La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune said that the Twins have discussed a few different third basemen internally.

Ty Wigginton of the Houston Astros was one of the players mentioned. He is coming off of his best season as a pro hitting .285/.350/.526 with an OPS+ of 128 and 46 XBH's (23 home runs) in just a mere 386 AB's (111 games). Those are outstanding numbers considering the AB's given, however his numbers were obviously inflated while playing in Minute Maid Park. He hit .343 with an OPS of 1.080 and 32 XBH's (15 home runs) at home opposed to hitting .234 with an OPS of .697 and just 14 XBH's (8 home runs) in more AB's on the road. Yuck.

Kevin Kouzmanoff of the San Diego Padres was also mentioned. Kouzmanoff is under team control through 2012 which alone makes him much more appealing (at least to me) than Garrett Atkins. Kouzmanoff doesn't play outstanding defense and to make matters worse he's currently recovering from shoulder surgery. Kouzmanoff hit 23 home runs in just his second full season in the majors and although his overall numbers are down from a year ago, he's quickly emerging as a personal favorite of mine. The reason being is that I'd rather pay a marginal price for a cheaper, younger third baseman than overpay for an older, more expensive third baseman like Atkins.

I don't think I'd do the earlier speculated Delmon Young-Kouzmanoff rumor, but I would probably trade any (one) pitching prospect in the system for him along with Jason Pridie who's defense could play a big factor at Petco Park in San Diego. I don't know if that would get it done, but it seems obvious that the Padres are at the very least open to moving Kouzmanoff to make room at third base for Chase Headley.

Jorge Cantu was the third player mentioned by Neal. He's probably the most inept defensively out of all the players mentioned, but he may cost the least in terms of what the Twins would have to give up. I see no reason as to why the Twins would want Cantu. He's such a liability at third base that he won't last there long and although he is the youngest of the group, he was signed to a minor league contract just a year ago which may suggest that this season could have been a fluke (although he did put up very similar numbers in 2005).

I really am not a big fan of Cantu's, although he is the type of batter the Twins need at third base. But if the Twins were really interested in acquiring Cantu, they'd be just as well off by moving Michael Cuddyer back to third base who is probably a better option defensively.

Those are three names that have been kicked around quite a bit at the Winter Meetings, but it's nice to see the Twins at least think about them. I am warming to the thought of acquiring Kouzmanoff, but I am really not impressed with Cantu and I wouldn't overpay for Wigginton.


In the same report as above, Neal mentions that the Twins have Jack Wilson somewhere on their radar. If you read yesterday's post, you'd know what my thoughts are of acquiring Wilson.

Nick Punto please...


Later last night, a rumor that really intrigued me came afloat. According to T.R. Sullivan of, the Twins are interested in Texas Rangers reliever Joaquin Benoit. The article also mentions that the Twins willing to trade Boof Bonser. However, I'm not sure if they are implying a Bonser-Benoit swap, or if it just Sullivan reporting something.

Benoit was injured for most of last year, which is why any potential suitor must remain skeptical. But in 2007, Benoit was one of baseball's better relievers sporting a 2.85 ERA, an 87/28 K/BB ratio and a 1.17 WHIP in 82 innings out of the Rangers bullpen.

This may be a great opportunity to buy low on a potentially great relief option, but I don't know if I'd trade Bonser for him. Bonser has the makeup to be a good setup man, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what he can do starting the season in the bullpen (and not rotation). Benoit has a mid-high 90's fastball with a great slider. Bonser has a mid-high 90's fastball (more so since moving into the bullpen) and a hammer for a curveball. Both could be great assets to the Twins bullpen.

But who would the Twins have to give up?

Stay tuned...

December 9, 2008

Winter Meetings: Day 1 Review

The Winter Meetings got under way in Las Vegas, Nevada yesterday and already we've heard our fair share of rumors regarding the Twins. The Twins did make it more clear that they are really just looking for one infielder instead of two, something many Twins fans were probably aware of but didn't want to accept. I don't include Nick Punto in that though. They also made it clear that they are willing to increase payroll which is something that is great to hear!

But here are some of the rumors from day one at the Winter Meetings...

Delmon Young's name came up a few times. Most notably is a new rumor involving the Philadelphia Phillies and infield prospect Jason Donald. Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News reported the rumor and also mentioned that the Twins are also seeking relief help along with an infielder. Almost a month ago, I mentioned how the Phillies could be a fit to fill two holes the Twins currently have. The two players I mentioned were Donald and reliever Ryan Madson.

The Phillies had one of the best bullpens in baseball last year which was an integral part to the teams success, which was winning the World Series. So obviously they'd like to keep that group in tact. The Phillies don't seem that interested in what's out there on the market and need to find a good right-handed outfielder, which the Twins currently have two of that have found their names in a few rumors already this off-season. One of them is Young, and the other is Michael Cuddyer.

If the Twins and Phillies were exploring a Young trade, they certainly would have to give up more than Donald, but is Madson too much? That's debatable. The Twins would be trading a 23-year-old with a lot of potential for a 24-year-old prospect who hasn't played above Double-A and a 28-year-old reliever. If the Twins cannot get Madson, they could probably get Chad Durbin. but at that point I don't know if I'd accept.

Young was also linked to the Giants which if you remember was another team already linked to Young earlier this off-season. But the Twins really have no use for Jonathan Sanchez who was the only name that was given to La Velle E. Neal III.

Something to definitely keep an eye on over the next few days, that's for sure.


Another rumor that surfaced early in the morning was that the Twins and Astros had talked about Miguel Tejada in a possible trade. That rumor was first reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, who is one of the most respected baseball writers in the world. Phil Miller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press said that there was a phone call, but reported that nothing else was to become of it. And finally, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune said that Tejada is not an option for the Twins (Miller then backed that up as well).

It's amazing how in just one day a rumor can start, gain strength and be completely shot down all before dinner time.

Tejada who is 34-years-old and on the downward spiral of his career. He has failed to hit 20+ home runs in his last two seasons and in 2008 drove in the fewest runs since 1998. He is due $13 million and seems destined to be moved to third if he were to be acquired. The Twins would be better off going after Astros third baseman Ty Wiggington than to eve waste time/money on Tejada.


After that rumor, another was announced that almost made me throw up in my mouth a bit. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that after the Tigers signed shortstop Adam Everett, a new team that is in the mix for Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson is the Twins. John Bonnes of Twins Geek speculated on a potential Wilson trade a couple weeks ago.

Wilson who will be 31-years-old in a couple weeks who is strong defensively but weak offensively will make $7.25 million next year. Trading for him really makes no sense when Punto is still available. Punto will probably make somewhere around half of what Wilson will make next year and is a pretty good comparison. It just doesn't make sense.

And just when the rest of the Twins Nation caught wind of this rumor, it was shot down by Jenifer Langosch of I think I can speak for everyone when I say "thank goodness!" I just hope it doesn't resurface later on.

December 8, 2008

Jekyll and Hyde Declines Arbitration

Dennys Reyes will be looking for a new bullpen to pitch in next season

At last nights 11:00 PM deadline for players to accept or decline arbitration, Dennys Reyes decided to part ways with the Twins after three very successful seasons. Reyes spent his time with the Twins as the go-to left-handed option out of the bullpen.

Reyes signed a minor league contract with Minnesota on February 21, 2006 after spending time in 8 different organizations before signing with the Twins. In his first season, he proved to be a reliable left-hander for the Twins who's bullpen ranked first in all of baseball with a 2.91 ERA, thanks in part to Reyes' 0.89 ERA in 50 2/3 innings. After starting the season in Rochester, Reyes ended up playing a role in the teams 2006 comeback to win the American League Central Division on the last day of the year.

In 2007, Reyes really struggled all season making people compare Reyes to Jekyll and Hyde due to his dominating 2006 campaign being followed up with a disappointing 2007 campaign. However the entire team struggled as a whole, which is why Reyes was given more slack from Twins Nation. He landed on the disabled list twice in 2007, once with a rotator-cuff injury and another time with a left-elbow inflammation which caused him to miss the last 37 games of the season.

Reyes rebounded nicely in 2008 posting a 2.33 ERA along with a 1.19 WHIP in 46 1/3 innings of work. He was proving the Jekyll and Hyde theory to be right at least to some extent being good and bad from month to month. In April, June and August, Reyes posted a combined ERA of 0.69 ERA with a 21/7 (3-1) K/BB ratio. In May, July and September however, Reyes posted a combined 4.43 ERA with an 18-9 (2-1) K/BB ratio. However the number that really was alarming (besides the ERA) was that in his good months, he never posted a WHIP above 0.91. However during his bad months, his lowest WHIP was 1.43. The other thing is that he had 3 wins all season, all three came in his good months.

Never has anyone paraded around that Reyes is the best reliever out there, and overall he was a solid left-handed option. However I am really excited to move on with Craig Breslow and Jose Mijares as our go-to left-handed specialists, both of whom I expect much more from than Reyes. It was good having "The Big Sweat" around the last couple of years, however I for one am glad to see his hot and cold play leave to sign with another team. He will definitely draw plenty of interest on the open market as teams are always looking to add left-handed relievers to their bullpens.

Adding a reliever shouldn't be a big problem, however the Twins need to act soon after missing out on a few guys at very affordable prices. We'd all love to see the Twins sign Kerry Wood or Juan Cruz, however knowing that both would like to close and both would cost quite a bit (in both money and in Cruz's case draft pick compensation), but those are just very unlikely options.

Jason Isringhausen, Brandon Lyon, and Russ Springer are three guys I can see the Twins having interest in. Springer and Isringhausen are probably just one-year guys which I believe could be a way the Twins are leaning, due to the fact that they have Pat Neshek (hopefully) returning in 2010 and by that time both Anthony Slama and Rob Delaney could be ready to be dependable major leaguer's. However I don't see any harm in signing a guy like Lyon to a 2 year deal with possibly a 3rd option year. After all, depending on prospects to fill a job a year later is not the greatest way to manage a roster.

After those guys, the Twins could look to Huston Street of the Rockies, Heath Bell of the Padres, or Dan Wheeler of the Rays for relief help. Street will likely cost the most, but the Twins could potentially be buying low on a guy that just a couple years ago was one of the most talented young closers in baseball. The Padres really have no reason to trade Bell other than to hopefully bring in a bat. Delmon Young's name has been linked to the Padres. Could the Padres package Bell and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff for a package headlined by Young? Seems possible, especially after La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune doesn't see Garrett Atkins being a fit for the Twins. And Wheeler probably will probably cost the least and could be a great fit in the setup role for the Twins.

There's no doubt that the free agent market is full of good relievers, however since many of them hold Type-A compensation, the Twins will not be adding any of them. So, if the Twins look to be adding a talented reliever and not just a short-term solution, they may need to go to the trade market to add. Just add that to the list of positions the Twins will look to add via trade at the winter meetings.

December 7, 2008

Twins moving in on Adrian Beltre

The Twins and Mariners will look to hammer out a deal at the Winter Meetings

Yesterday, I mentioned a trade that I would be comfortable doing to acquire Adrian Beltre from the Seattle Mariners. The feel I got is that readers believed it's pretty steep for just one year of Beltre. In my proposed deal, pitchers Glen Perkins and Tyler Robertson would be going to the Mariners along with outfielder Jason Pridie.

Today the Seattle Times beat writer, Geoff Baker believes that the Mariners could target Michael Cuddyer and it doesn't sound like it would really take a lot more than that to land the highly touted third baseman. Cuddyer likely would be the Mariners Designated Hitter, however the Seattle Times post also mentions that he could be an option at third base for the Mariners.

The Twins used Cuddyer as a third baseman in 2005, but didn't really adjust to the position well. Cuddyer came through the Twins system playing just about every position imaginable, including third base on a fairly regular basis. The Twins gave Cuddyer somewhat of a short leash in '05 and let him finish off the season in right field after he proved to be a liability at the hot corner. The fact that the Mariners would even consider him as a third baseman is somewhat of a shock to me, but it could just be this writers opinion and not the opinion he got from someone inside the organization.

People should know by now about my opinion on trading for Beltre. For over a year now, I've been calling for the Twins to trade for him. And obviously over the last few months, his name has been at the top of my list for available third basemen. Beltre is a power-hitting, slick-fielding third baseman but is in the last year of a five-year, $65 million deal that he signed after his monster 2004 season as a 25-year-old in which he hit 48 home runs with 121 RBI and an OPS+ of 163 with the Dodgers. He finished second in MVP voting that year to only Barry Bonds.

Beltre would be a perfect fit either between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, before Mauer, or after Morneau. He is a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter who would benefit greatly with great hitters like Mauer and Morneau around him. The Twins have been looking for a third baseman who hits for power while playing good defense for a while now, and they finally may have that guy within reach of having.

Unfortunately, Beltre's agent is none other than Scott Boras who is every teams worst nightmare, especially the Twins. Boras is known for encouraging his clients to test the free agency market to try and receive the largest salary so that his commission is as large as possible. He really doesn't care about his clients, he really only cares about cashing a fat check and hoping that his clients perform well so that he can cash an even bigger check in their next negotiations. It's the work of a client, that's for sure. Unfortunately with Beltre, the Twins could be looking for a long-term solution at third base which would mean that signing Beltre to a long-term deal could be a problem. However the general consensus is that many think the Twins are just looking for a short-term fix until Luke Hughes, Danny Valencia or another player within the system is ready to take over the position come 2010.

I personally would like to see the Twins sign him to a 3-year, $36 million deal which I think Beltre could go for. He'd be 33-years-old at the end of that deal, meaning that he'd be looking for one more deal for about the same length. However most players at the age of 30 would like to be signing their last long-term deal so that they are close to the end of their careers by the end of the deal. There's no telling what Beltre's intentions are and really it's anyone's guess at this point.

I just hope that the Twins at the very least would look into signing him long-term just from the standpoint that the Twins haven't had a good third base prospect come through the system in a while and although we have two guys that the team is very fond of, they are in no way "sure things" at this point. Hughes is coming off of a breakout season hitting .309/.369/.524 with 18 home runs (44 total XBH's) between 285 AB's in Double-A New Britain and 106 AB's in Triple-A Rochester. The problem is that he is not great defensively at third base, and it's unknown if he'll be able to handle third base on a regular basis. He has played the majority of his time in the Twins system as a second baseman, however he's played third base enough to give this team a good enough feel as to whether or not he'll be able to handle the job. He will probably play most of his time next season at third base, however if Danny Valencia is promoted early (which he should be), Hughes may have to move to second base or the outfield which are the other two positions he's mostly familiar with.

Beltre for Cuddyer and Boof Bonser or Philip Humber in my mind could be a good deal for both teams. The Mariners are getting at least two years of Cuddyer and at least four more years of Bonser. Obviously Bonser is not the greatest pitcher in the world, however he does have potential and with no room in the rotation, the Twins may try and look to trade him or Humber who is also out of options and needs a spot on the 25-man roster. The ramblings everyone's hearing is that the Twins would like to try converting Bonser into a setup man, however if his 5.88 ERA last year as a reliever is any indicator, he has a lot of work to do. Humber really gave the organization optimism over his last 8 starts posting a 6-1 win mark and 2.60 ERA with a 51/11 (4.64) strikeout to walk ratio.

So a revised trade on my part, would Cuddyer along with Bonser be a good deal? Personally, I like that trade more due to the fact that it would be nice to be able to keep all of the starters we had last year and just continue to grow as a unit. It'd also be nice to be able to keep one of our best pitching prospects in the system as well as a good defensive fourth outfielder as well.

If the Twins were to make a trade for Beltre, I fully anticipate Nick Punto being back with the team as the Twins starting shortstop. As much as I would love to acquire Jason Donald from the Phillies, I just think that the Twins (especially Ron Gardenhire) are just more comfortable with Punto than they would be with any other player coming in.

One thing is for sure, the Twins have a lot to get done at the Winter Meetings.

December 6, 2008

Twins no longer pursuing Casey Blake

Reports are that the Twins have bowed out of talks with free agent Casey Blake.
Usually don't have much to post about over the weekends, however La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported this morning that the Twins are moving on from free agent Casey Blake after negotiations were in a standstill with Blake demanding a guaranteed third year. The Twins see the moves that other teams such as the Giants, Cardinals and White Sox have made to improve their infield and don't want to be left behind by waiting for Blake to agree to a 2-year deal on the table.

“We’ve got to move here,” the source said. “There are too many things going on.”

I am happy from the standpoint that it really looks like the Twins have honest intentions to improve their infield, however if they expect to improve the infield through trade, I don't know what to expect. The Twins don't seem willing to part with Kevin Slowey who is one of the most thought-after pitchers in the American League at the moment, and also seem reluctant to trade any pitcher for that matter.

Both Denard Span and Delmon Young have drawn interest from other clubs, however I don't see the Twins trading Span at the moment and I hope that they don't trade Young. I know that you "have to give up something to get something" which is why I was so drawn to Blake in the first place. I never thought he was the best option out there in terms of production, but I loved the thought of adding a player without having to give up a valuable player to improve an infield position.

La Velle points out that the Twins might have some interest in Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson. I've never been a fan and I would hate to see the Twins get sucked into the Pirates game which they've seem to have been playing over the last few years regarding Wilson. For nearly as long as I can remember, Wilson's name has come up in many different trade rumors. However the Pirates demand for a top quality player in return for a defensive standout has pushed teams away in the past. Especially considering that the Pirates don't seem willing to eat much of his $7.25 million salary he's set to make in 2009. I love his defense, however I'd hate to see the Twins overpay for a guy who probably would hit #8 or 9.

At this point, I don't have a clue what to expect the rest of the off-season. The Twins still seem very interested in Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins, however the Rockies have been said to be asking for a laughable return for him. Reports are that the Twins would have had to give up Span, Slowey and a prospect for Atkins during the regular season. Although both Slowey's and Span's value have both increased immensely since the middle of the season, I still see them asking for one of those guys with a prospect in return. If that's the case, then no thanks. I understand people's disagreeing that we should trade one of our outfielders for infield help, heck I agree, however trading five more years of Span (not sure if that's accurate, but I think it is) for two years of Atkins.

The two years is especially discouraging considering that he's in the middle of his arbitration and his salary has been going up while his production has been going down. I like Atkins, however if the Rockies want to get rid of him they'll have to meet half way. And I don't see them giving him up for less than what they feel he is worth, which is top quality.

Michael Cuddyer for Atkins would make a lot of sense for both sides, however I don't see the Rockies agreeing to that at all. They want to get young and cheap, so if they shed Atkins' salary, I doubt that they want to add anyone else's salary to replace it.

One name that La Velle does mention that I am certainly interested in is Jason Donald. Remember a few weeks ago, I mentioned that the Twins may be interested in Donald to fill one of their infield needs. He had a phenomenal AFL season in which he hit .407/.476/.747 with 6 home runs (19 total XBH) in just 91 AB's. 51% of his hits went for extra bases, which is something the Twins are looking for, someone who can drive the ball.

Although he has no experience over the AA level, many feel that Donald would be ready out of Spring Training this season. Although a lot of scouts feel that he doesn't have enough range to play shortstop at the major league level, he's yet to change positions and just remember that scouts said the same thing about Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie who's range looked to be more than good enough for the Red Sox last season.

I'd expect that the Twins would have to give up one of their top pitching prospects to get Donald such as Kevin Mulvey, Anthony Swarzak or Philadelphia (suburban) native Michael McCardell (who I am sure would be more than open to pitching for the Phillies some day). Although I'd love to keep all of these pitchers, I can see why the Phillies would be attracted to them. They all have bright futures and can help their ball club sometime in the next year or two (McCardell doesn't need to spend much time in any level, although that's not how the Twins have handled him so far).

As much as I love Rafael Furcal and would like to see him in a Twins uniform, I just don't see the Twins being major players for him. Surely he'd be a logical fit, but I don't see the Twins guaranteeing him 4-years at the price he wants.

If the Twins could get Donald for Mulvey to play shortstop, I'd love to see the Twins try and rekindle trade talks with the Mariners for Adrian Beltre who is coming off of his second consecutive gold glove season. The only problem with adding Beltre is that the Mariners (like the Rockies with Atkins) want a lot in return and although he's probably the best third baseman said to be available, I don't know how far I'd be willing to go. I'd easily trade one of Glen Perkins or Nick Blackburn for Beltre, although both of those guys would need to be one of the key pieces, meaning they'd certainly want more. How much more would they want? No idea. I would probably go no further than to trade Tyler Robertson as far as "ranked" prospects go. I'm just not sure what the Mariners would want the most. They need everyday players, but they also need pitchers.

I will admit though, if the Twins trade for Beltre (or any of the other guys that have been mentioned to play third base), I fully expect Nick Punto to be back with the club and starting at shortstop next year. Meaning a deal for both a shortstop and a third baseman seems unlikely.

What's my proposed deal?

Well it's hard to predict what the Mariners want, however I think that Perkins, Jason Pridie and Robertson should get it done. I know Pridie might not interest them much, however he's got outstanding defense which is valuable in the giant Safeco Field. The Twins would probably hate to lose both Mulvey & one of their five starters, however they have Boof Bonser, Philip Humber, Brian Duensing, Swarzak, and we all know that the Twins are always looking at adding a veteran free agent.

A lineup of...
  1. Denard Span, LF
  2. Joe Mauer, C
  3. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  4. Justin Morneau, 1B
  5. Michael Cuddyer/Delmon Young, RF
  6. Jason Kubel/Delmon Young, DH
  7. Jason Donald, SS
  8. Alexi Casilla, 2B
  9. Carlos Gomez, CF
A rotation of...
  1. Scott Baker, RHP
  2. Francisco Liriano, LHP
  3. Kevin Slowey, RHP
  4. Nick Blackburn, RHP
  5. Boof Bonser/Philip Humber/Anthony Swarzak, RHP or Brian Duensing, LHP
Would be good with me! Although I'd hate to lose Perkins, I don't see how the Twins can't find a suitable replacement between one of the four guys I listed. Perkins had an O.K. 2008 season, but he's certainly replaceable. And if the Twins were really concerned, Randy Johnson is on the market and although he probably wants somewhere around $7-8 million, I think the Twins would be getting a proven guy to handle the load.

And even if Punto is back, it wouldn't be the end of the world... And no, I don't share the same "guy love" for Punto that Gardy does, but I do think he's a solid player. I just don't know if I want him penciled in to start everyday. To me, he's a very good utility player who should be used off the bench. But that's a different story...

That would just leave the bullpen to be fixed, and really that's the first position I believe will be addressed. Like Aaron Gleeman noted on Thursday, the Twins need to move fast because some very suitable guys are flying off the market at great prices, so the Twins need to get in on the action ASAP.

I know that I "live in a fantasy world," but C'MON! It's the off-season! When is there a better time to hope and dream and speculate about your favorite team?!

December 5, 2008

Trading Delmon Young could be a big mistake

Manager Ron Gardenhire doesn't see Delmon Young (left) starting in 2009, at least not right now.
By this point, I am more than certain that most (if not all) of you have either seen or heard Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire's comments regarding next years outfield. During a Q&A segment at an Agricultural Trade Show in Fargo on Wednesday, Gardenhire discussed what he believes his 2008 starting outfield will be:
"Those three guys (Span, Gomez & Cuddyer) need to play every day. Delmon is in the mix. He’s a helluva player, a helluva talent. But to me, those three guys should be your outfield and then you go from there.
Delmon Young is coming off of a 2008 season in which he failed to live up to the extremely high expectations put on him by the team and the media that would be hard for any 22-year-old to live up to. That has now lead to to non-stop rumors since the Twins were eliminated from playoff contention.

During his tenor with the Twins, former GM Terry Ryan was ridiculed to no-end for his reluctance to trade pitching for hitting, despite having a surplus of capable arms. After Ryan stepped down, new GM Bill Smith's first move was acquiring outfielder Young (and others) for pitcher Matt Garza (and others), however a year later the Twins already feel the urge to abandon ship and trade Young after just one season.

Garza and the other players traded to Tampa Bay went on to have a great season in which they helped turn a hopeless franchise around and helped lead them to the World Series. This in part is (at least in my mind) one reason for the Twins feeling disappointed in Young. The Twins saw their former players help turn a franchise from bottom-dwellers to near-champions and are taking their frustration (and regret) out on the player that they traded for. Is it possible to think that if Johan Santana lead the Mets to the World Series (with the Rays missing the playoffs, and continuing their routinely bad performance) that the Twins would probably be pretty disappointed in Carlos Gomez in nearly the same way that they currently are in Young? In my mind, I think the success of the former players could very well be playing a role in why there is a lot of negativity towards Young.

Surely Young looked lethargic in left field and really didn't seem to "bust his ass" on every play, however left field is about 20 feet larger on both the line and in the alley compared to right field, which in my mind should account for something. At the beginning of the season this wasn't such a big deal considering that Michael Cuddyer (who may be just as slow, if not slower) was in right field. However the moment that Cuddyer got injured and Denard Span came up and became a regular, everyone started discussing Young's defense. The Twins should have made the switch to play Span in left with Young going back to his natural position in right field, immediately. I know for a fact that the media would be discussing Cuddyer's lack of range (the same way that they are talking about Young's at the moment) if Cuddyer played along side Gomez and Span who together may be the fastest outfield-duo in the entire league. In other words, nearly everyone looks slow in the outfield alongside Span and Gomez.

As much as I like the leadership that Cuddyer provides for a young team; his age, salary, production (or lack-there-of) and health concerns really show why the Twins would be better off trading him over Young. Young is under team control through 2013 and likely will make as much money (maybe a little more or a little less) as Cuddyer in his 3-years of arbitration that Cuddyer will make over the next two years with the Twins.

In terms of salary, the Twins are under the "cap" what many would have (a few years ago) predicted we'd be at in 2009, however there's no doubt that the Twins would like to move Cuddyer's salary to help sure up another position of need. The Twins have needs at shortstop, third base and in the bullpen. The Twins are currently aggressively pursuing free agent Casey Blake to play third base while it's still a complete mystery who they intend to fill the other positions with. Moving Cuddyer and at least some of his salary could allow the Twins to sign contract extensions to a few players who could certainly use them (Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel for example).

There is no doubt that Young is a much more valuable bargaining chip in comparison to Cuddyer, which would make sense why the Twins at the very least would listen to offers for Young. However, the Twins could be making a very bad mistake by trading a 23-year-old over a soon-to-be 30-year-old, while both of their respected values are lower than what they could (and should) be.

Opening day is still about 4 months away, and nearly anything can happen between now and then. I am not really concerned about Gardenhire's comments in terms of it being a "read between the lines" for the Twins going out of their way to trade him. But if they aren't going to play him in 2009, then would it just be better to trade him now and get what you can before crippling his value by sitting him?

Personally, if the Twins don't trade Cuddyer then I would like to see the Twins keep all of their outfielders (using them in a rotation which has been explained here). Bill Smith at the very list entertained that notion with this quote:
"Everybody said it wouldn't work, but the Red Sox didn't do too bad,"
He is referring to the 4-man rotation that the Red Sox used throughout the 2008 season with Manny Ramirez/Jason Bay, Coco Crisp, J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury. La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune agrees and believes that the Twins should just sit tight and see where they're at come the Trade Deadline next July.

Players' values are generally quite high around the Trade Deadline and teams generally are willing to overpay for a player to help push them over-the-top. Outfielders are one position (along with pitchers) who generally are a hot commodity at this time. And come July there could be an injury, which would make the decision to keep all of their outfielders a great one. But if everyone is healthy, the Twins could get pretty valuable in return and that pretty valuable player could push the Twins over the top for the rest of the second half next season or put them in great position for 2010 when the team moves into Target Field.

The Twins have options, I just hope that they decide to stay with Young and hopefully trade Cuddyer. Nick Nelson believes that the Twins could be trying to increase Cuddyer's value by making jabs at Young and I'd love to see that be the reason for all of the negativity towards Young. If it is, it's could certainly pay off. If not, it's still looking to pay off since according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports:
"With the ankle limiting his workouts, Young gained several pounds. But after giving the injury two weeks to heal following the season, he returned to the gym. Since then, he has been shedding pounds and adding muscle at the Peak Performance Project in Santa Barbara."
This obviously started before Gardenhire's latest comments, however Young is already indicating that he wants to turn things around:
"I've got things to fix with baseball and with my body."
I am sure people are sick of me defending Young, and since he has been one of my favorite players since he was drafted (being that I've been a Rays fan for a while and I totally disregarded the bat incident) I know I am a little impartial. I just hope that you see why the Twins would be better off keeping Young in as non-biased of a way that I can tell you.