January 2008


Yeah, it happened. No, it’s not entirely final; the Mets and Johan Santana must agree to a contract extension within 72 hours, and Santana has to pass a physical before everything is written in stone. But odds are the Mets wouldn’t agree to trade 4 of their top 7 prospects if they didn’t think they could finalize a deal. And Santana is a great athlete, not to mention it’s quite rare for players to fail physicals that void trades, so I’d say there’s a 95% chance that it gets finalized.

 

And you read right…in return the Twins got 4 prospects, i.e. unproven players. And basically no holes were filled. Carlos Gomez, arguably the best prospect in the deal, is a 22-year old CF who was admittedly rushed by the Mets organization but could compete for the starting job in Spring Training. He batted just .232 in 58 games with the Mets last year. His more than 3:1 K/BB ratio is definitely unsettling, but generally as a player progresses he learns the strike zone a little better so that number should improve.

 

The other three, Deolis Guerra, Phil Humber, and Kevin Mulvey…well, yeah. Guerra is 18 years old and had a bad start to his minor league career last year, but ended up catching fire at the end. Most knowledgeable Mets fans think Guerra could be a star, much better than Gomez in fact. Humber posted a 4.27 ERA in 125 innings last year in AAA, but that’s as a 24-year old. He certainly isn’t supposed to be dominant, maybe a 4th starter, or 3rd at best. Mulvey is a guy I personally like. Last year, at 22, he went 11-10 with a 3.32 ERA in 26 starts at AA. He had 110 strikeouts and 43 walks in 151 2/3 IP. He was promoted to AAA for 1 start, in which he lasted 6 innings and allowed just 2 hits. He’ll definitely start the year at AAA, but if he does well he could earn a September call up.

 

In short, this wasn’t the best deal that was offered. A Yankees package involving Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera would’ve filled CF, not to mention Hughes could’ve been a dominant #1 or #2 starter. Same goes with the Red Sox; Jacoby Ellsbury could’ve played in center and Jon Lester could’ve been a solid #2. However, latest reports say that Santana basically told the team to do something before Spring Training. GM Bill Smith certainly shouldn’t allow himself to be bossed around by a player, but it sort of appears that’s what happened. You can’t fault him though. They offered Johan a 5-year, $100 million deal as their final offer and it was declined. It’d be more idiotic to give a pitcher a 7-year deal for that kind of money, than it is to trade him for prospects.

 

In hindsight, I think I would’ve rather we keep Johan for this year, try and work out an extension, but if nothing happens we get 2 draft picks next year. Only so that fans could see him and Francisco Liriano go back-to-back again.

 

Frankly, I’m a little disappointed and sad that Johan didn’t want to play here. It seems like the Pohlad family is a little more open to keeping core players, and may be a little more dedicated to putting a winning team out on the field. If the deal goes through, I don’t expect the team to get 80 wins. At this point, with a healthy and similar to ’06 Liriano, we still have 80% that would be fighting for a 3rd or 4th starter spot on any other team. Don’t get me wrong, Scott Baker showed what he can do last year in that 8 1/3 innings of no-hit ball last year, and Boof Bonser lost some weight and might be able to last 7 innings now, but they’re still young and will probably falter along the way. I think Kevin Slowey will have a solid career, but how will he perform in his (probable) first full year in the bigs?

 

Only time will tell.

I’ve got a picture slideshow for everyone highlighting what I did at TwinsFest. It was a fun time, really crazy, and got a little old waiting in lines, but it was well worth it. Hopefully this slideshow shows up properly.

[rockyou id=100362162]

 

In a through-the-grapevine thing, somebody asked GM Bill Smith when we can expect something to happen with pitcher Johan Santana. His reply? “Within 7 days.”

 

Boof Bonser is indeed 30-40 pounds slimmer, Francisco Liriano says his arm is 100% healthy, and Jesse Crain also echoed that he’s throwing regularly to get ready for Spring Training.

The press conference hasn’t been completed yet, so official terms aren’t technically released. But it’s being reported that Justin Morneau will get $75 million over a 6-year period, while Michael Cuddyer will get a 3-year, $23 million contract. More on this in a little while.

Alright, so there’s literally no news circling the Twins. Well, Jason Kubel and his wife welcomed a healthy baby boy, but…unless he’s a future Minnesota Twin, it’s irrelevant to the blog..I think. Although, I’m “using” an Aaron Gleeman blog staple and linking to random things for today, none of them regarding baseball. So Owen Michael Kubel does have relevance, for today at least.

 

Actually, there is some baseball news. The Twins were able to avoid arbitration with pitcher Matt Guerrier by signing him to a 1-year, $950,000 contract. The team had offered him $750k and Guerrier was asking for a shade over a cool $1 million. Still, our most consistent reliever (other than Pat Neshek) last year, he’ll double his salary from 2007.

 

And one more baseball bit, check out this article that talks about Kevin Slowey and his newfound friendship with almost-Hall-of-Famer Bert Blyleven.

 

-I’m gonna start off by linking to a blog maintained by one of my most-frequent commenters (not that it’s hard to hold that position), Nato. He’s only got two posts, but one is a semi-highlight of some great music released in 2007, including one of my favorites, but more on that in a bit.  

 

-I lied. Truly though, this is the last thing baseball in this post. TwinsFest is right around the corner. By that I mean, it starts tonight. I’m hopefully going tomorrow, and I’ve never been there so it should be a lot of fun. Autographs with current, future, and former Twins, as well as pictures and looks at the new stadium…it’s a great pick-me-up until Spring Training starts.

 

-I can’t believe I’m actually going to mention this, but a movie called Meet the Spartans comes out tonight. It’s a spoof on…well basically the most popular movies of 2007, although it focuses on 300. Movies like this are made bad on purpose, yet most of the time they make people laugh anyway. I must admit I’m in the laughing crowd, but I’m still undecided on whether or not I should actually see it in theaters.

 

-Ok, remember when I said that Nato’s blog included one of my favorites, but more on that in a bit? Well, it’s been a bit, so I get to explain. On July 3rd of 2007, a singer from California named Sara Bareilles released her first record, titled Little Voice, on a major label. Aaron Gleeman approved a live video version of her hit song, Love Song, on his blog back in late November. That was the first time I had heard her music, and although it’s not really my type, I kind of liked it. After listening to some more of her songs, I came to the realization that nearly every one of her songs is pretty dang good. I was, puzzled, to say the least, when I found out that she would be at a Best Buy store in Richfield, Minnesota, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (coincidentally, a day I didn’t have school). Long story short, I made the trip down there with a few friends and watched her perform two songs live, and then got to meet her and get an autograph and a couple pictures. This is all pretty cheesy, but it was my first time actually meeting someone that I consider famous. So I’d like to share the experience..first, the video that was made to highlight her stop at Best Buy: (hint…at the shot around 4:08 you can see all 3 guys that I went with, plus the guy just in front of us in line, but not me…I guess I’m too short) 

 

now, the picture that I got with her:

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I was pretty nervous, thus the goofy smile. And lastly, the autographed CD/insert cover that I got:

CD auto

 

I suggest checking out her single, Love Song, on iTunes or any other one of the million places you can hear it.

 

So yeah, I just wanted to share that and now I’ll leave you with an awesome quote that Torii Hunter said waaaay back in December 2003: (taken from sethspeaks.net)

When asked about LaTroy Hawkins signing with the Cubs (without the Twins even making him an offer!), Hunter said:

“You’d think we could have afforded that. I think we’re forgetting who we’re dealing with here. Joe Nathan is no LaTroy Hawkins. He might be a good pitcher, but LaTroy has proven himself here, and he’s a chemistry guy.”

At the time it probably wasn’t unreasonable for Torii to say that, but looking back, it’s just hilarious (thanks goes to Nick for that line).

Nothing, really. Heath Ledger died yesterday, but that has nothing to do with baseball. I suggest checking out rotoworld.com and seeing what’s going on around the rest of the league.

Another gem from Ron Gardenhire. Delmon Young in right, Jason Kubel in left, and…Michael Cuddyer in center is a possibility. Not worrying about how the team jerked Cuddy between third base, second base, and the outfield when he was still trying to grow into an everyday player, and the fact that he’s specifically stated he likes it in right and does not want to move away, Gardy thinks this option is better than…oh, I don’t know, Cuddy in right, Delmon in left, and that CF we got in a trade who has been touted as being above-average defensively at ALL THREE outfield spots, Jason Pridie. Or signing CF Jason Tyner, who’s currently looking for a job in Japan of all places, to a tiny contract for 1 year with maybe an option for another.

 

But I don’t know which is worse. That idea, or this comment from Ron: “We’ve got Nick Punto as an option, too, and I like the heck out of him…He had a little bit of trouble offensively last year, but don’t forget what he did the year before.”

Uh, yeah, a .210 batting average in 472 at-bats. Just a little trouble there. And also, Gardy, “what he did the year before” would be considered a career year. See Hunter, Torii circa 2007.

 

 

Cuddyer, along with Matt Guerrier, are the two players on the team still up for arbitration. Cuddy is asking for $6.2 million while the team is offering $4.7 million (a much more reasonable contract). Considering he got about a $2 million raise for his 24 homer, 109 RBI performance in ’06, a nearly $3 million raise for 16 HR and 81 RBI seems ridiculous. The difference with Guerrier is much less; he’s asking for $1.15 mil while the Twins are offering $750,000.

 

If you don’t already read Aaron Gleeman’s blog on a daily basis, he answered some questions in today’s portion. Check it out, some of them are pretty wacky. That’s part 1, random questions. I’m a big fan of his usually weekly “Link-O-Rama” section, moreso than I am of his actual baseball posts. And I’m not really sure why.

 

 

If you’re a fan of football, yesterday was probably a lot of fun for you. The Patriots squeaked away from the Chargers (I felt San Diego held in there a lot longer than they should’ve) and the Giants upset my (sorry, Vikes) Green Bay Packers. Brett Favre threw an overtime interception that led to a game-winning, 47-yard field goal. It was an exciting game and as sad as it is to say, I think the Giants have a chance at beating the Pats. They only lost by 3 in week 17 when they faced off in New York. But the Giants have won 10 straight road games, and playing in Arizona would probably qualify as that.

If you’ve seen the movie I Am Legend starring Will Smith, you may remember the scene this picture is from. It’s right in the beginning when he’s watching TV: look closely at the bottom and see if you can read what it says.

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“Giants lose to Patriots for second time this season, 23 to 7”

As I said, the Giants lost 38-35 to New England in week 17..is this a sign of things to come?

EDIT: The team also today signed Juan Rincon and Justin Morneau to 1-year deals to avoid arbitration, for $2.4 and $7.4 million, respectively. More on that on Monday, as it’s quite possible Matt Guerrier and Michael Cuddyer get signed soon to avoid arbitration as well.

By barely I mean, it’s only a 1-year deal worth $1.3 million. It initially seems like way too much, considering last year was Jason Kubel‘s first full year back from a devastating knee injury suffered in 2005. The team did this to avoid arbitration with him. I am of the opinion that Kubel will surprise everybody this year. His second half of 2007 was monstrous, and if he consistently gets at-bats, whether it be as a DH or left fielder, he could easily be a better producer than Joe Mauer and Delmon Young.

AA pitcher Jose Mijares, a somewhat promising relief pitcher, hurt his elbow in a one-car auto accident and will require surgery. He’s expected to be out 4-6 months.

Over at mlbtraderumors.com, ESPN writer Buster Olney has this to say about Santana: “Olney talked to a talent evaluator who wondered whether the Twins might be concerned about Johan Santana‘s health. Reduced late-season velocity and less use of his slider could be signs.” While I never noticed a velocity drop, especially in his 17-strikeout performance against the Rangers in late August, I did notice his apparent decision to not throw his slider like he used to. I have a much simpler explanation than possible health problems, though: he saw a friend and teammate in Francisco Liriano basically shred his shoulder by throwing his slider an incredible amount of times. Johan obviously doesn’t want to have Tommy John Surgery, or any injury at all. It’s up to Rick Anderson to teach him how to throw it properly so he can use it at all times.

Speaking of coaches, I found this in the Pioneer Press: “Rick Stelmaszek, 59, the Twins’ most tenured coach (27 seasons) and one of the most popular guys with peers in major league baseball, is in a Chicago hospital recovering from two seizures. Stelmaszek has been in intensive care while being treated for a high ammonia level.” From that same article: “Twins general manager Bill Smith, on the status of pitcher Francisco Liriano as spring training approaches: ‘We’re counting on him reporting healthy, strong and in good shape, and ready to go. But he hasn’t pitched in a big-league game in a year and a half.'”

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