March 2, 2009

Weekend Round-Up

If you haven't heard, Baseball Digest is now online! is now up and running and although it's litterally brand new, it's going to be a great source for Twins news. Seth Stohs of Seth Speaks has rounded up a few Twins bloggers to help him provide great Twins coverage on the new site. Parker Hageman of Over The Baggy, Nick Nelson of Nick & Nick's Twins Blog, John Meyer of Twins Most Valuable Blogger and myself will all team up to help give great coverage on a variety of Twins topics.

If you haven't checked out the site, make sure to do so. Here is the Twins Page which already features a great article by Parker titled "Twins Have Depth In Rotation." I'm really looking forward to being apart of the site and I'm sure everyone will be satisfied. Who doesn't love more Twins coverage?

The Twins opened up Spring Training with a 4-game winning-streak prior to their loss to the Boston Red Sox yesterday. A few players have caught my eyes more than others...
  • Delmon Young looks like he has actually improved his swing from last season. Instead of grounding into so many groundouts this season, it looks like he could hit more line drives. It's only Spring Training and don't forget that he looked impressive last year at this same time. But it does make me feel a lot better about Young seeing that he's improving.
  • Although he hasn't gotten a hit and has even racked up an error, I've enjoyed seeing Trevor Plouffe play shortstop. Despite reports that he'll likely end up at a different position due to his lack of range, Plouffe's range at shortstop has been better than advertised. Saying that he's our version of Boston's Jed Lowrie may be unfair, especially considering that Lowrie is a much better hitter, but fielding-wise, I see a resemblence. But don't forget, Plouffe is still two years younger than Lowrie and his bat could still turn around. Although it likely won't be anytime soon.
  • Danny Valencia has also caught my eye as well. Although I'll admit that I was undoubtedly watching him closer than I would other prospects, he's looked great so far this Spring. Besides committing an error in just his second appearance this season, Valencia has looked solid at both the plate and on the field. I'm really looking forward to seeing him in Rochester this season and hopefully in a Twins uniform by 2010.
  • Both Brian Buscher and Dustin Martin have impressed me with their at bats. Both have shown good ball-driving ability early and Buscher is really pushing hard to make the team as a bench bat. Martin on the other hand is just hoping to land a spot in the Rochester outfield. Both have been fun to watch.
  • On the mound Anthony Swarzak, Kevin Slowey, Luis Ayala and R.A. Dickey have all impressed me as well.

On Sunday, Joe Nathan officially pulled himself out of the World Baseball Classic after lingering shoulder discomfort has made him weary of competing. It's great to hear that he made the decision by himself, but it's still very concerning considering how unsettled the Twins' bullpen already is. Although I may be jumping the gun, but it's certainly unsettling to hear one of our most important players being potentially injured. Especially after the unfortunate news of Boof Bonser just last week.

Without Nathan, the Twins could be knocked out of competition very early this season. Thankfully Nathan and the Twins aren't as concerned as I am at this time. Hopefully it doesn't amount to anything whatsoever.

One potential bullpen addition the Twins were recently looking at is now off the market. Reliever Juan Cruz signed a two-year $6 million deal with the Kansas City Royals over the weekend. Since Cruz was a Type-A free agent, and the Royals didn't do a sign-and-trade deal with the Diamondbacks, they were forced to give up draft compensation in order to acquire Cruz. Normally, the Royals would have had to give up a first-round pick, but that pick is protected as it's in the top 15 picks, so the Royals only had to forfeit their second rounder. It's a great move by the Royals to upgrade an already talented bullpen.

Unfortunately, the Twins couldn't even agree with Cruz on a contract. The deal itself is very reasonable and it makes me hope that the Twins really have something up their sleeve if they weren't even willing to offer Cruz $6 million over two years with a third-year option at a still reasonable $3.5 million. The team has prospects Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama pounding on the door, but still not ready. I bet you wish they were a little more aggressive with Slama (especially) who along with Delaney could have been ready by mid-season.

Cruz would have been a great insurance policy if indeed Joe Nathan was out of action at any time this season, but now the Twins will have to wait and see if they are able to pull anything else off prior to the start of the season. As great as it would be to sign a guy like Chad Cordero, it's just unlikely that he'd be of much help until around mid-season.

And finally, some great news. Former Twins third baseman Corey Koskie has signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs. Koskie has been out of baseball for two-and-a-half years after experiencing symptoms of post-concussion syndrom following a fall back in 2006. Koskie had been working out at the Twins Spring Training complex this Spring and was hoping to prove himself with team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Fortunately, the Cubs were ready to pounce on the chance of adding him and he looks to have a shot at winning a backup spot for the Cubs. It's great to hear Koskie get back out onto the field and be able to try and prove to both himself and the rest of the league at least one more time that he still has what it takes to play at this level.