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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