As you can see, my last post was September 28th. Just a touch more than 2.5 months of no posting makes me sad, but I can’t speak for any of my readers on that. I would like to say that getting into the swing of school was the cause of the delay, but even if it was, I shouldn’t have to make excuses. There should be no lack of writing here at T,NT. With that said, I’d like to resume posting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the offseason. Now, let’s get down to business –
1. Matt Garza (P), Jason Bartlett (SS), and prospect Eduardo Morlan (P) are no longer Twins. They were packaged together and traded for former Tampa Bay Rays (no longer with “Devil” in their name) Delmon Young (LF/RF), Brendan Harris (SS/2B), and Jason Pridie (CF). This was GM Bill Smith’s first move in the offseason, and it accomplished what Terry Ryan seemed scared of: trading young pitching for young hitting. It’s well-known that the Twins have an abundance of pitching and a very lackluster offense at all minor-league levels. It’s presumed that Young will start in LF with Jason Kubel as a DH, or vice versa. Harris can play all infield positions, but if Alexi Casilla starts off 2008 in the Twins’ infield, Harris will play opposite him in the middle of the diamond. Pridie will certainly go to Spring Training, and as of this point has a shot to start in CF this year. He’s very young but is coming off his best season which was spent at AAA.
2. Craig Monroe, former Detroit Tiger, was signed to a one-year contract by the team, worth $3.82 million (and that’s with a 20% paycut from what he was asking). He can make “up to $155,000 in plate appearance incentives and $25,000 if he is named comeback player of the year.”1 However, if the team cuts him before Opening Day, he’ll only make $636, 667. I guess it’s possible that they just want to see him perform in Spring Training and that Bill Smith and co. would cut him in a heartbeat. But I just don’t see the organization changing ways that quickly, particularly with Gardenhire still managing. He loves to play aging vets over young guys with a future (in this case it’d be Monroe stealing Jason Kubel‘s playing time) so I’d bet that Ron had a small say in this signing.
3. Slick-fielding shortstop Adam Everett was signed by the team for a $2.8 million/1 year deal, after he was not signed by the Astros. In 2007 he missed 3 months with a broken leg, but in ’06 he played in 149 games and had just 7 errors for a fielding percentage of .990. However, his hitting is comparable to Nick Punto‘s, and that’s while he was in the widely-regarded “hitter friendly” National League. Expect a batting average below .250 and an On-Base Percentage below .300, but expect him to take away 1-2 hits a week. He’ll also probably hit between 6-8 home runs.
4. With the additions of Everett and Harris, it seems likely that Punto would slide into the full-out utility role on the team. A lineup with two players regarded more for their defense than offense, and when their offense is consistently horrible, can only hurt this team that much more. A trade to send pitching for a legitimate third baseman seems imminent.
5. I have a feeling that the Pohlad family has more force behind free agent signings than our GMs. For instance, if you add up the salaries of Monroe, Everett, and Punto, you get $9,200,000. That’s enough to pay for an almost star at either the 3B, CF, or DH positions (however it seems Kubel has been set as a DH which is a great option in my opinion). Instead, we have a corner outfielder who’s declining in production and will probably split time, a probably utility infielder, and a starting SS that has terrible offense but great defense, both of which should equal him out to an average SS. Bill Smith is given X amount of dollars to sign a player for Y position and can’t go over that, is my theory.
6. The long-awaited for Mitchell Report came out last Thursday…for those of you that don’t know, politician George Mitchell created a report that supposedly names a bunch of former and current MLB players that used performance-enhancing drugs. I shouldn’t say supposedly, because the list of names has in fact been released, but some of the names are on the list because of pure speculation. The fact that Rondell White wrote 7 checks ranging from $600-$3500 to the same supplier is humorous. Other past Twins named on the list were Chad Allen, Denny Neagle, Dan Naulty, and Chuck Knoblauch. None of the players are thought to have used while with the team, though. Major names in the report include Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada, Troy Glaus, Paul Lo Duca, Jason Giambi, and a breakout star from last season, Jack Cust. Mitchell himself said no punishments should result from the report, but commissioner Bud Selig has said that he will read through the report in its entirety and decide what, if any, action should be taken.
7. Over the weekend another former Astro was added to the team; 3B Mike Lamb, originally drafted by the Twins in 1994 but went unsigned. He hit 11 HR last year in just 311 at-bats, and had a .289 batting average and a .366 on-base percentage. Lamb has only had more than 400 at-bats in a season once in his career, but it hasn’t been because of injuries, he’s just never had a chance to be a regular starter. It’s quite possible for Lamb to hit 20 HR with 80-90 RBI as a regular third baseman for us this season. Plus, he can play 1B, LF, RF, and in extreme situations, could be adequate at second as he’s been there for roughly 50 innings in his career. The contract is for a total of $6.6 million over two years with an option for 2010. I would imagine the hope within the organization is that David Winfree, Matt Macri, or Matt Moses is fully developed and ready to take over by that time, with Macri probably being the front-runner in that group.
8. A couple fan favorites have been released by the Twins. OFs Jason Tyner and Lew Ford, along with C Matt LeCroy no longer with the team. Ford signed to play with a Japanese team but Tyner and LeCroy are still out there, floating along freely. Although they’d probably be happier if they weren’t “free” and were actually being paid to play baseball.