Fire Gardy

Mismanaging games since 2002

Everyone take a lap, except you Span, you’re cut.

Today was final cut down day for the position players.  And it looks like the last men standing are Carlos Gomez and Matt Tolbert.  Tolbert really came out of nowhere to earn the utility IF spot.  Good for him.  Nobody seemed to want it, so he stood up and took it.  Buscher was the early spring favorite, but just could produce for all of camp as he seemed to fade down the stretch. Tommy Watkins tried to learn to catch, but having one hit all spring doesn’t make you a viable candidate, no matter how many positions you play. Although this theory is disproved by the fact that Nick Punto has a job. 

 LEN3 also is reporting that Liriano will be sent to AAA and Brian Bass will take the 12th pitching spot.  I got no problem with that, but I’d like to see Liriano up in Minneapolis sooner rather than later.  Maybe a month or two in the minors depending on how everyone else pitches. 

 7 days from today.

 UPDATE: The Twins have extended Joe Nathan for three years, with a club option for 2012. The average annual salary is 11.25 mil, and there is a 2 million buyout.  Not sure what the salary would be for the 4th year, or what the no-trade clause status is.  We’ll get more info as it becomes available.

13 comments

13 Comments so far

  1. sirsean March 24th, 2008 8:35 am

    Punto has 5 hits.

    Buscher did indeed have a rough spring (at least once the games started), but I still don’t see how that puts Tolbert above him. Buscher at least has the potential to be a power bat off the bench. Tolbert seems to be nothing but a slightly younger version of Nick Punto.

    I know Gardy loves it that he TRIES SO HARD (which is why he always says he’s trying to get Tolbert to slow down and try less hard), but honestly, how many Puntoes does a team need?

    We’ll see what Bass can do, I guess, but we can’t send him down when we bring Liriano up. Bass is out of options. So it’ll have to be someone else going down.

  2. FunBobby March 24th, 2008 8:39 am

    Maybe the figure they can dump Rincon by then. He is the only guy in the pen right now that I am comfortable with getting rid of, mainly because he has overstayed his welcome by about 2 years.

    I agree, Buscher has showed he can be a good hitter in the majors, Tolbert has not. It was kind of like who is less bad when he picked that final bench spot. I’m not comfortable with picking the guy who had a slightly less bad spring as the guy who takes the last spot on the major leauge bench.

  3. sirsean March 24th, 2008 9:34 am

    Tolbert’s had exactly one good half-season in his minor league career, and has the annoying tendency to try to kill himself on the field. Remember when Punto broke his collar bone diving for a ball he had no chance at? Look for Tolbert to do the same.

    Buscher hasn’t had that much more success in his career, and certainly can’t play as many positions. But the way I see it, if you have to choose between two mediocre players, you should probably pick the one whose skillset you lack. It’s about balance. And you don’t get more balanced by stacking the team with light-hitting utility players with questionable baserunning decision-making skills and just barely enough speed to be dangerous (to themselves and the inning).

    At least Rochester may be able to make a run at the IL title this year; it looks like a few guys on their team are better than their counterparts on the Twins.

  4. FunBobby March 24th, 2008 9:56 am

    Another thought is that Buscher should be playing everyday, so he is in AAA, where Tolbert is destined to be a bench player the rest of his career so might as well start him on that path now. Just another theory. Although it makes too much sense so its probably wrong, considering Gardy’s track record for doing things incorrectly.

  5. sirsean March 24th, 2008 12:09 pm

    Actually that does make a lot of sense, and I hadn’t considered it.

    Presumably we want to groom Buscher to replace Lamb, possibly for next year, and the way to do that is to have him stay at AAA, start every day, and see if he can mash the ball down there.

    I’m willing to hope that Gardy’s thinking about this correctly.

  6. Texas March 25th, 2008 12:21 am

    The salary would be about the same. The Twinks kept the same no-trade clause from the previous contract (Nathan can designate three teams that he can not be traded to). So essentially it’s the same deal with a 7 million dollar raise commitment for three years to a pitcher who has shown signs of decline and will be at the least 36 years old when we can get out of the deal. To a position that is entirely overrated when it comes to salary disposition

  7. sirsean March 25th, 2008 7:52 am

    But considering the overall market for “closers,” or “9th inning relievers,” his $6M contract was grossly undervalued. The contract we signed him to is at or below market rates.

    His “signs of decline” may be largely attributable to a lack of save opportunities in 2007. And he had one bad month early in the year. He’s still been the best closer in baseball.

  8. Texas March 25th, 2008 11:00 am

    I agree that the previous contract was undervalued and I agree that Nathan is a top notch closer. We also got him below market rate. However, the point I’m trying to make is that this is not the sort of investment that a mid-market team that is continually investing in cheap young talent should be making. Especially when we consider our track record of turning pitchers into closers and our reluctance to sign talent that arguably will have more of an impact on the team generally (the best SP in the game & a pretty good OF who by all accounts was the team leader). I don’t feel that the Twins are going to be winning this year, especially considering the starting rotation. But I have been wrong before. And this isn’t a move a team that at best looks to be a third place team should be making.

  9. sirsean March 25th, 2008 11:15 am

    1) Nathan was willing to negotiate on the terms of the contract to bring the years down. He wanted 5 years, and got 4. Neither Santana nor Hunter were willing to accept a huge money deal for any less than the maximum number of years they could get. I don’t see how they’re comparable.

    2) Winning this year? Maybe not. But it’s a 4 year contract. It might be nice to have an established closer when we’re good in 2010.

    3) It’s a four year contract. I don’t know why everyone’s going crazy about this like it means he’s definitely going to suck and now we’re stuck with an albatross. If we learned anything from the Santana/Haren/Bedard debacle, it’s that teams value a couple years of someone good much much more than one year of someone awesome. So if we put Nathan up for a trade … his lengthy below-market contract will look pretty tasty to a lot of teams, and we’ll get a nice haul in return.

    The only bad thing about this contract that I can see is the danger that Nathan blows his arm out. But he hasn’t really been showing any signs that that’s a legitimate worry, so … I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

  10. Texas March 25th, 2008 11:32 am

    1- I guess some of my meaning might be getting lost in translation. Hunter and Santana seemed rather content to chase the money, however, both had stated earlier that if the Twins had approached them before the season they would have been more agreeable to extensions (maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I would take them at their words). I was never a fan of re-signing Hunter (way too old, way too many years), but it’s hard to watch the team not even negotiate in good faith with a potential HOFer.

    2- 2010, assuming Nathan is still an elite closer and we haven’t developed one in our system. Of which we have several very good pitchers in.

    3- I don’t disagree that the contract isn’t bad. Considering Nathan’s track record over the last three years, 11 mill a year is a very good dollar figure. The point i’m trying to make is that the closer role is entirely overrated and a team on a fixed budget should not be investing more than 10% of it’s budget on this position. The contract will be agreeable to many teams. I’m not sure when or how Nathan has to designate the teams he can’t be traded to, so I don’t know about that part of the deal.

    Again it’s not that I am not a fan of Nathan (I am) or Nathan getting paid (Good for him). I’m opposed to the deal as far as the club is concerned. I would rather have taken my chances with Neshek or someone from Rochester and taken the haul. All of that being said, we still have the no-trade clause and again perhaps this contract would make Nathan even more lucrative.

  11. sirsean March 25th, 2008 12:01 pm

    Yes, I think this contract makes Nathan more trade-able. Teams won’t see it as a rent-a-player if we decide to deal him.

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