Fire Gardy

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Archive for December, 2008

The Sheer Brilliance of Torii Hunter

In case anyone’s been wondering what Torii Hunter has been up to lately, well, he’s been talking. Not surprising at all. 

“He said he really wanted to come back, but he needed the Angels to step up. I didn’t know what he meant, because I thought eight years and $160 million was a pretty impressive offer.”Hunter, on what Mark Teixeira told him.
That’s … brilliant, Torii. Just brilliant. Perhaps someone will point out to Torii that three years and $45 million is also pretty impressive, and that he himself took the larger offer just a year ago.

If anyone’s going to understand Teixeira’s motivations in going to New York for a ludicrous amount of money, it ought to be Torii Hunter. In Torii’s world, the Twins didn’t “step up” to fulfill his contract demands, and he left for someplace offering bigger dollars deeper into an uncertain future. Teixeira did the same thing. Why does Torii have a problem with this?

Oh. One more thing. Teixeira only spent a couple of months in Los Angeles of Anaheim of California, or wherever the Angels play. Did anyone think that’d be enough time to develop enough connections to consider a “hometown discount” to stay with the free spending Angels? Especially Torii, for whom ten years wasn’t long enough?

I miss Torii Hunter. I love it when he opens his mouth. Pure gold, really.

I also have the feeling that that’s yet another area in which Gomez will eventually replace his production — but as with hitting and baserunning, he’s got quite a ways to go to match Torii. Keep working at it Carlos, you’ll make it eventually.

(And can we also hope for Denard to be a dark horse in the “Replacing Torii” sweepstakes? He’s largely been happy and congenial thus far, but so was Torii when he was younger. And Torii passed along the “play angry” wisdom to Denard, who took it to heart and apparently turned his career around. So it may be only a matter of time before Angry Denard hits the media and gives us some Torii-like craziness. I can’t wait. We could have two Torii-mouths in our outfield soon!)

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Teixeira and the Mighty Yankees!

So Mark Teixeira went to the Yankees. When I got home and flipped on Sportscenter, I was treated to recordings from Boston radio stations with callers calling Tex “the worst mercenary ever,” and other unfriendly names. This from the same fans who were drooling over him just hours earlier. I think it’s stupid and unfair to call someone a “mercenary” for taking a better offer. It just doesn’t make any sense. Also, he had no ties to Boston — why do these callers think he owes them something? (And another thing — why was ESPN playing clips from Boston radio shows, and why were all the analysts talking about what this means for the Red Sox, rather than what it means from the Yankees? Have the stopped pretending they’re not just a Red Sox Fan show?)

Well, now that Tex will be wearing pinstripes, everyone is now convinced that they’re the team to beat, not only in the AL East, but in the entire AL. I don’t know how much one guy can add … especially to an offense that was lackluster at best last season.

Prospective Yankees lineup (2008 OPS+):

Damon (118) Jeter (102) Teixeira (151) Rodriguez (150) Matsui (108) Posada (103) Nady (105) Swisher (92) Cano (86)

The order might be a little different, and is sure to change over the course of the season. They have quite a few good hitters on this team.  Except … take a look at those OPS+ numbers. Other than, obviously, the two best hitters in the AL in the heart of the order, nobody else on there is especially scary. I mean, it’s impressive that they have seven average starters, and Swisher could certainly lift his hitting ability back to its normal levels, but Damon, Matsui, Jeter and Posada aren’t getting any younger and will continue to decline.

Here’s the Twins prospective lineup (2008 OPS+):

Span (125) Casilla (94) Mauer (137) Morneau (137) Young (102) Kubel (118) Buscher/Harris (100/97) Punto (99) Gomez (79)

We have more below average players, but we’re very close to having fewer, given how close a few of our players are to 100. And considering the fact that Buscher and Harris could be used in a better platoon, both of them could turn in a better OPS, given the fact that they won’t be facing same-handed pitching very often. And while the heart of our order isn’t anywhere close to theirs, it’s still pretty good. (A lot of lineups would like to have a pair of 137 OPS+es in their lineup, especially from guys who are also good defensively.) And it’s a young team — it’s easily within the realm of possibility that we see improvements from Casilla, Young, and Gomez.

I don’t see the addition of Teixeira making the Yankees offense suddenly an unstoppable juggernaut. It’s barely better than the Twins’ and the gap is smaller than the gap between Mauer/Morneau and Rodriguez/Teixeira. Throughout the rest of the lineup, the Twins are actually better offensively, better defensively, younger, and cheaper.

(And before anyone calls me crazy for comparing the super-juggernaut Yankees to the lowly “You’re still in the league?” Twins, note that the Twins scored more runs than the Yankees last year. The mighty Yankees are trying to catch up to the little Twins. Weird.)

Good for the Yanks to pick up the best hitter on the market. Combined with the top two pitchers on the market, they pulled down the biggest haul in the history of free agency. Possibly in any sport.

It makes them better. But I don’t think it justifies the combined anger and awe from BostonESPN. They’re still just another team.

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A Twins Carol

Its pretty easy to make the Carl Pohlad-Ebeneezer Scrooge comparison, so I’m going not going to do it.  Although I do think the Twins front office needs to be visited by three ghosts in order to jump start them out of this state of complacency they seem to be in. So, without further ado, FireGardy.com presents: A Twins Carol. 

Bill Smith sits comfortably in his cozy metrodome office, basking in the glow of his most recent offseason move: the resigning of St. Nicholas Punto.  A move sure to bring joy to all of the fans.  As he dozes off, he is visited by the ghost of one of his old bosses: Andy MacPhail.  MacPahil tells him he will be visited by three spirits who will guide him to make the correct decisions in running the Twins.  Visibly shaken, Smith heads home to bed.  But first leaves a memo to the scouting department to draft only pitchers in next June’s draft.

The Ghost of Baseball Past:  The first visitor is actually two, Doug Mientkiewicz and Corey Koskie.  They bring Smith back to the fall of 2002, the Twins first playoff berth since their World Series run in 1991.  They remind Smith how much fun it was to be a part of the team that brought so much joy to fans.  However, they were not content with just being in the postseason.  Riding mostly a group of no-name players they beat the A’s and their vaunted Big Three in five games, only to fall to the eventual World Champs, the Angels.  The Team was hungry, the former Twins remind Smith, he and Terry Ryan would need to build a winner out of this core group.  The fans were hungry for more winning, and Ryan and Smith were in great position to feed them.  2002 was a happy time for the Twins and their fans, but one could see the dark and ominous clouds forming around the Metrodome.  Smith asks what is in store for his beloved team, but he realizes he is back in his bed and Doug and Corey are nowhere to be seen.

The Ghost of Baseball Present:  The next visitor is in the form of backup catcher Mike Redmond (thankfully wearing clothes).  He brings smith to Las Vegas for the winter meetings, showing Bill for the first time what a GM sitting on his hands looks like. Mike summarizes the last few Twins baseball seasons for Bill, from a players point of view.  He shows Bill that after that first playoff appearance or two, the Twins fell into a state of complacceny.  Signed dreadful free agent, after dreadful free agent.  Tiny Tony Batista was supposed to provide the much needed power threat the Twins have lacked since the mid 80’s.  He didn’t last the season.  Sidney Ponson, Ramon Ortiz, and Livan Hernandez, were supposed to provide a stabilizing veteran presence for young pitchers, none of them lasted a full season.  Mike explains to Bill that all of this, and zero playoff wins since 2002 have caused Twins fans to be frustrated and embittered at the Twins inability to make moves.  This comes to a head at the 2008 winter meetings, where Bill wanders around the Bellagio saying very little to the press, or to free agent infielders.  He then calls a press conference to announce a huge signing that will solidify the left side of the infield for 2009.  Nick Punto.  As Mike and Bill watch on, even Smith realizes how stupid that is.  He shouts at himself to no avail, as Mike explains to him “Nobody can hear you”.  Worried at how dangerous a position the Twins are in for 2009, Mike returns Bill back to his home in Minnesota, telling him to wait for the final spirit. 

The Ghost of Baseball Yet to Come:  The final visitor arrives in the form of Carlos Gomez.  Unable to speak any English, Gomez uses rapid hand guesstures to signal Bill to follow him.  They arrive just over a year in the future.  April 2010, in the bleachers of the new Target Field.  Bill hardly recognizes the team that takes the field for that opening day.  Toby Hall is behind the plate, and a hobbled Paul Konerko is playing first base.  “What happened to Mauer and Morneau?” Bill asks Gomez.  Carlos points to the opposing dugout, Mauer and Morneau are sitting in there wearing White Sox uniforms.  “Oh no! I must have traded my two best players to the White Sox. But why?”  Again, Gomez points to the suite level, and there sits Carl Pohlad throwing money around, laughing muttering something about scamming the tax payers into buying him a new stadium.  Smith screams in terror, fearful that he will be unable to assemble a winning team when the new stadium opens.  Gomez points again to visiting owners box, and there sitting next to Kenny Williams and Jerry Reisndorf if Smith himself “Jesus Christ, I work for the White Sox now?!”  Smith wakes up in his own bed in a cold sweat, vowing to build a team that will not just compete for the division, but a team that will compete for a World Series title for years to come.  He immediately jumps out of bed and begins to work on contract extensions for Baker, Liriano, and Slowey.  While devising a clever way to get rid of Michael Cuddyer. The End.

Editor’s note: While I do not believe Carl Pohlad is required to spend all of his money on the team, I just thought it made for a more compelling story.  Merry Christmas everyone.

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Twins Christmas Wish List

While it has become very clear that I have a different set of wishes (and possibly goals) for the Twins than they do for themselves, I am going to lay out a list anyway.  While there really isn’t much I reasonably believe the Twins will go after, I also plan on throwing in a few things I wish for them NOT to do. 

  • Acquire one or two right-handed bullpen arms.  If the price becomes too high, stick with what you have.  Don’t sign a third or fourth tier free agent just because.  Give more innings to Breslow and Mijares, not scrap heap players who were slightly below league average in 2000.
  • Do not trade Kevin Slowey.  I am pretty sure this has already come true, as it seems that Smith has turned down several trading partners who asked for Slowey.  However, I would still like to stress it.
  • Use Punto off the Bench in a utility role.  This is where is is most (or the only way in which he is) valuable. 
  • Platoon Buscher/Harris correctly.  If Buscher goes 4-4 with 2 homers or something against a righty, and a lefty is pitching the next day, do not start him because he is “hot”.  Do it right. Buscher against righties, harris against lefties.  No questions about it.
  • Do not trade Delmon.  His value is WAY down from a year ago.  If we trade him now, there is no way we get anything close to  Garza/Bartlett.  I work in the financial industry, and buying high and selling low is not what you are supposed to do.  Unless you hate money/winning. 
That is about it.  What else should the Twins do/not do?  If Punto stays in a utility role like he should, who plays short?  How many of my “wishes” will come true?  My guess is none.

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Joe Posnanski has a man crush

Is it possible that Joe Posnanski is in love with Ron Gardenhire?  He recently wrote a winter meetings recap and dedicateda paragraph to his lunch with Gardy.  Now, I think Posnanski is a great baseball writer and I read almost everythingbaseball related he publishes.  But this man is in love with Gardenhire.  I can see how reporters like him, he seems to be very open and is good for sounds bites with his “aw shucks” manner.  However,  this piece kind of upset me.  He said he thinks Gardy is the best manager in the game, but he then goes on to say if he watched all the games, saw how Gardy managed the bullpen, watched every single on of Nick Punto’s at bats he might think differently.  What now?  So you like Gardy because he is nice, that’s cool, I’m sure he is.  But don’t go and say he is the best manager in the game without much basis.  I get your point that if the players like the manager, they tend to play harder.  However, that isn’t always enough.  Gardy is a good manager, but the best in the league?  What is that based on?  Tony LaRussa arguably gets just as much, if not more, out of the same level on talent.  In 2006, when he won the world series he had David f-ing Eckstein as his starting SS.  He is worse than Nick Punto.  Outside of Puljos, the Cards didn’t have an overly talented bunch.  So I’d say the “getting the most out of the least” argument doesn’t really hold that much water. 

Despite the name of this site, we think Gardy generally does a good job, but has serious room for improvement.  Now Posnanski, a national columnist, is underminingeverything we are trying to do here. Damn.  This is really more of a rant against Posnanski just saying things in a column without really backing it up.  “Gardy is great, I don’t really watch him on a regular basis, but he is great”.  Let the people who watch the Twins day in and day out do the talking, Joe.  There are readers on this site who love Gardy and everything he stands for, and I respect that because they know A LOT about Twins baseball so they have more than no legs to stand on. 

If he had to write this piece I wish he would have replaced “Ron Gardenhire” with “Twins baseball”.  The Twins have really played this way for a while, I guess if you want to put a face to it you can, but we all know that the throwing strikes, and  emphasis on defense is somethingthe organization stresses from draft day on.  Not something Gardy institutes when players arrive in his clubhouse.  He reinforces it, yes.  And since the Twins don’t really keep any of the worthless free agents they sign, that’s not an issue. 

So, in summation, I would like to state that Ron Gardenhire is getting WAY too much credit for how this franchise has fared.  During all those crappy years under Tom Kelly we were stockpiling draft picks to get the players we have today.  Maybe this is a sport-wide issue.  Managers get way too much credit for the success of their organization.  Its different than college football, where the head coach is in charge of recruiting players, developing players, and coaching the game.  So from now on, if we want to praise the Twins, we really should remember everyone who contributes.  Gardy is really a figurehead.  Stan Cliburn (and his brother, I think its Stu or some other weird alliteration) are probably the best managers in the system. 

Another thing I don’t like about Gardy, is he is loyal to a fault.  I’m all for supporting your guys, and I like that he won’t sign an extension until his staff is signed.  However, someone needs to take Ullgerbehind the woodshed and just end it.  He is bad at everything, and the fact that he is the manager if Gardy is ejected or has to leave the team or whatever is just downright terrible.  Terrible.

Well, that is my Friday morning rant.  Have a good weekend everyone.

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Ty-onara

Well, that didn’t take long.  All sources indicate that the Twins are not going to pursue Ty Wigginton.  Apparently his price tag was higher than Blake’s.  He is 4 years younger, so he should make more than Blake.  That’s basically what he is, a younger version of Casey Blake.  This leaves the Twins with few to no options to upgrade the infield.  I think we should accept that, and move on.  The only other option is Mark Derosa of the Cubs.  Nick and Nick weighs that option in his blog today, so I won’t delve in too deeply.  He has a few main points, I’ll summarize:

  • DeRosa only became a full time player 3 years ago, so despite being 34 he still “has a lot left in the tank”
  • While primarily playing 2B, he also has logged a considerable amount of innings at third, playing slightly below average defense at both.  This means we could try him at third, or play him at second and move Casilla to short and go with the Buscher/Harris platoon at third, moving Punto to super-utility.
  • Had a career year last season, so will probably regress.
  • Twins will undervalue him since he doesn’t play great defense, or isn’t really fast, and will offer the Cubs a garbage package, and the Cubs will laugh at us and tell us to go home.
  • “The Fab 5″ are off limits, but someone of the Bonser/Humber variety is not.
OK, I guess that was more than just a summary.  He makes some valid points, but I don’t think the Twins will be able to swing anything.  I doubt they are comfortable enough with his defense at third  (and Gardy would rather sacrafice his first born than take Punto out of the everyday lineup, so the infield shift suggested above is out of the question) to make the move.  Oh well.  He was a short term solution, who had one year remaining on his contract.  I say we focus our attention and money on the bullpen. 

Joe Nelson was recently non-tendered by the Marlins.  He also appears to be the prettiest girl at the dance.  In 2008, Nelson was 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 54 innings.  He had 60 strikeouts to 22 walks, and gave up just 5 homers.  He also sported a healthy 1.18 WHIP.  While he is 34 years old, he doesn’t have too many innings at the major league level, and has about 700 total professional innings under is belt.  That really isn’t that many, and as far as I know he has no history of arm trouble.  Could 2008 be a fluke? Yes, it very well could be.  The fact that he has 19 teams chasing him does not bode well for the Twins.  Unless he prefers pitching for Rick Anderson and an organization that value pitching above all else, over pitching for the highest bidder.  Which I doubt.  Especially since he is 34 and hasn’t had a big payday yet.

Brandon Lyonis another option.  In 2008 he pitched 59 innings, with 44 strikeouts to 13 walks and 7 homers.  Very similar to Nelson.  He was the D-backs closer for the first half, racking up 26 saves before losing the job.  My concern with Lyon is he might take a job where he can be a closer.  Nelson might be in the same boat.  Both have closer-ish numbers, and might take more money and go to a bad team so they can be the ace of the bullpen.   

The Twins should be courting both of these guys heavily.  I would prefer not to go into the season assuming Bonser or Humber will be effective setup men.  I think Bonser canbe, but when it comes to Boof, assume nothing.  If they decide to go after a free agent relief pitcher, they might have to trade one of Bonser/Humber since both are out of options.  Lets lay out who I think will be on the opening day 25 man roster so we can figure out how many roster spots we have:

  • C- Mauer, Redmond (2)
  • IF- Morneau, Casilla, Punto, Buscher, Harris, Tolbert (?) (6)
  • OF- Span, Gomez, Cuddyer, Young, Kubel (5)
  • SP- Baker, Liriano, Slowey, Blackburn, Perkins (5)
  • RP- Nathan, Guerrier, Crain, Bonser, Humber, Mijares, Breslow (7)
That is a full roster, so I imagine someone has to go.  I could see Breslow starting the year in the minors and the Twins bringing in some new blood to fill his spot.  Or if they are able to unload Bonser or Humber, we can open up a spot that way.  This is nearly the exact same 25 man roster we ended the season with.  I don’t like change for the sake of change, but I think this team clearly had holes last year and assuming Gomez is going to get leaps and bounds better is not a good way to fill a hole.  What do you guys think on possible roster configurations?  Lets not get into who is starting and where, but just which 25 guys will head north in April.

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Midweek Roundup

After using a lot of words in this space to speculate who the Twins will acquire in their efforts to upgrade (whenever I use that word I get that stupid Beyonce DirecTV commercial stuck in my head, damn you television!) the left side of the infield; I’ve decided to address some other noteworthy items from around baseball.

According to ESPN Rafael Furcal is not a Brave after all.  The rumors have been all over the place with this guy.  A few weeks back he was reportedly shopping for houses in the bay area, then we heard The Royals offered him the most money.  So let me get this straight, at one point the two front runners for the top FA shortsopt were the A’s and the Royals!? Am I taking crazy pills or what?  Then Atlanta swoops in and as of late Monday/early Tuesday he was a Brave….again.  Now as of the time I am writing this, he isn’t officially a Brave, but now the Dodgers have stepped in.  This is pretty crazy. Edn result: Braves

In other LA related news, Manny isn’t getting the 4 year offers from every pro team on the planet as Scott Boras claimed.  I’m pretty sure he expected 52 contract offers of 4 years, 90 million or some nonsense for his enigmatic client.  Newsflash, Scotty, ain’t gonna happen.  One way or another, your guy is going to end up in LA.  Or technically Anaheim, I guess.  Your two usual fall-back teams, (that you can trick into signing your client when the LA/NY/Boston’s of the world don’t want him) Detroit and Texas, aren’t biting.  We all know Manny isn’t headed back to beantown, and while I’ve heard a few members of the Yankee front office are interested, I don’t see him going there.  As for the Mets, their owner just lost a ton of money in the Madoff scheme, plus they aren’t looking for more outfielders.  That leaves LA.  If the Angels lose out on Tex, they will come knocking.  So really, the Dodgers are the only team that appears to be making Manny a priority.  This gives the team the upper hand.  Everyone knows what they are getting in Manny, he is a lose cannon who can hit the crap out of the ball.  But also drag your team down over the course of 162+ games.  Manny even went as far as to threaten retirement if he didn’t get more attention on the free agent market.  He is a child.  Throws a tantrum when the gorwn-ups are “ignoring” him.  Good move Manny, I’m sure everyone wants you as a teammate now.  Here is my offer, the Twins will offer you the exact same contract they offered Casey Blake.  That is all I’m willing to offer you.  If only to metaphorically slap you and Boras in the face.  Didn’t Boras call the Dodgers first offer “insulting” or something of the sort.  Next up: Boras instructs Manny to hold his breath until he gets the offer he feels he deserves.  End result: Dodgers.

Even thouh he is a  Scott Boras client, the Mark Teixeria saga has been shockingly normal.  Does Boras tailor his negotiation strategy to fit the personality of his clients?  Perhaps.  I really hope Tex goes to the O’s or Nats.  Hometown team.  I have a few friends who live in the DC area, and they are excited about being able to go the Nationals Park and see an actual player on the home team.  Not a bunch of suckers.

The AJ Burnett signing seems to be a bad one for the Yankees.  While he could be good next year, and maybe the year after.  You are probably looking at 2.5-3 years of badness at an average of 16.5 a year.  That is unfortunate.  If the Yankees still feel the need to add more pitching, they might go after one of Ben Sheets/ Derek Lowe.  Which makes their entire rotation a house of cards. 

Finally, does anyone think Barry Bonds will have a job this year?  I do not.  At least not with a MLB team.  Maybe he can get a job at Dennys or something, but in this job market, I wouldn’t count on it Barry.

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Ty Wigginton

As everyone knows, the Astros non-tendered third baseman Ty WIgginton at Friday’s deadline. LEN3 wrote a piece about it over the weekend.  Despite his name being similar to Ty Willingham, I think the Twins should go after him.  He has the ability to hit for power, and play a competent third base.  Last year at age 30, he had an OPS+ of 128, that is very good.  His hitting line was .285/.350/.526, also excellent.  Apparently the Twins have been a fan of Wigginton since his days in Tampa, but have never been able to swing a deal to get him.  In 2008 he played 82 of the 111 games he played at third, with the rest coming in the OF.  For his career he has played in 747 games, 527 of them coming at third.  His career fielding percentage (not the greatest stat, I know, but bear with me) at third is .956, while not great it won’t be a downgrade from any of our other 3B options. 

To summarize, he is a right handed, third baseman, with power.  What’s not to like?  Well, probably the price tag.  Odds are he will get Casey Blake type money (how pathetic is that statement out of context?), something the Twins have shown they are not willing to do.  If we can somehow convince Wigginton to come to Minnesota on a 2 year, 14-15 mil deal, I’d say we do it.  The only thing we lose is money, which sucks, but we don’t have to give up draft picks or prospects, which are more valuable to the Twins than money.  As of right now, I’d say he is our best outside option at third.  The cost for Beltre, Atkins, etc. will be way too high.  While Buscher and Harris would make for a fine platoon, I can see Gardy botching the platoon and going with the “hot hand” which you aren’t supposed to do in a true platoon.  Brian Buscher should not be allowed to hit against lefties, its as simple as that.  I have a feeling lots of teams are interested in Wigginton, which is why the Twins should be going after him early and often.  Thoughts?

Update:  Word is Furcal has signed with the Braves.  So what do they do with the fine, young shortstop they already have?  Move one of Furcal/Escobar to second?  Or trade Escobar to the Twins for pennies on the dollar?  I would take him in a trade for pitcher.  A pitcher not named Slowey.  With the braves losing Smoltz, and losing out on the Peavy sweepstakes, they might need an established Major League starter, would anyone be opposed to throwing them one of Blackburn/Perkins for Yunel Escobar?  I know Gardy has named Punto our SS, but this team should take any left side infield upgrade it can get.  For the record I have heard no rumors saying that a)the Brave are looking to move Escobar, or b) the Twins have asked about him.  Its all speculation, which is all we can do during hot stove season.

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2009, a lot like….2008?

So the winter meetings are over, and the Twins pretty much did nothing.  Except talk about trading one of our youngest, most talented hitters.  Not cool, Bill.  So here is how I would like to see the lineup for 2009:

  1. Span, RF
  2. Casilla, 2B
  3. Mauer, C
  4. Morneau, 1B
  5. Young, LF
  6. Kubel, DH
  7. Buscher/Harris, 3B
  8. Punto, SS (until he gets hurt by memorial day and is replaced)
  9. Gomez, CF
That is basically the same lineup as last season, which is fine.  Notice I left out Cuddyer.  He really hasn’t done much to deserve a starting spot.  He can compete for an outfield spot, and take some DH at bats against really tough lefties.  I’m still convinced Delmon Young can put it together.  I might flip him with Kubel.  I’m not 100% sold on RLRL…., but sometimes its necessary, with the specialization and bullpens and whatnot.  Obviously things can trade if we decide to trade away our extra outfielder (since depth is a bad thing, apparently) or move somebody for a thirdbaseman, which I don’t think is neccessary.  The Buscher/Harris platoon really started clicking towards the end of the season.

On another note, I don’t think we should forgive Gardy just because he retracted his “delmon young isn’t going to start next year” statement.  I’m pretty sure Bill Smith made him issue that retraction.  So it doesn’t count.  Managers should never be forgiven for forgetting the players on their team.  But that is in the (recent) past, so lets move on.

Anyone else have any thoughts on lineup projections?  Do you think Gardy will rotate four outfielders, or pick three and have one come off the bench?  Will Span regress to the point where he is either no longer in the majors or isn’t good enough to be a starter and will fill the “Lew Ford roving outfielder” role?  Is it baseball season yet?

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Much ado about pitching, and other Thursday morning musings

Well, CC Sabbathia and K-Rod (quite possibly the worst nickname ever) are off the books.  Both are headed to NYC for mega-bucks.  The Mets also swung a three team trade last night to get JJ Putz, another closer, to bolster their bullpen.  It looks as though Minaya is trying to go from worst bullpen in the league to best by throwing money (and prospects) at the problem.  We’ll see if it works.  Rodriguez has to be close to breaking down, at the very least he is due for a DL stint.  Maybe that is why the traded for Putz, insurance.  He is only one year removed from an all-star appearance and 40 saves.  Not a bad setup man to have.

Now that I have gone one paragraph without mentioning the Twins for the first time in my life, lets talk about the hometown team.  It seems as though every potential trade partner wants Kevin Slowey, and understandably so.  My question is, aren’t we just one year removed from Nick Blackburn being named the number one prospect in one of the most pitching rich farm systems in the AL?  He put together a decent, at worst, major league season and now people are sour on him?  I know that Slowey is better, but what is wrong with Blackburn?  He is older, so maybe GMs think he has peaked and there is no potential left?  I guess that is fair.  I suppose I’m just frustrated that in order to get a potentially decent (or just as likely bad) position player (Kouzmanoff, Atkins, Beltre) you need to give up a potentially great (or at worst league average) starting pitcher.  League average starting pitching might be one of the most valuable commodities in the game.  Look at how much guys like Silva, Lohse, and Jeff Suppan make.  I get that prospects are worth more than money, but these players we are talking about aren’t prospects.  If a league average pitcher is worth 12mil/year (Silva), hey Padres, why not trade for a 12mil/year pitcher who actually costs you close to league minimum and you give us Kevin Kouzmanoff, who you won’t be able to afford in a few years because your owner got divorced and is broke.  Obviously, I’m biased. 

Has anyone else noticed that if a random team like the Nationals wanted to get a player similar to Kouzmanoff, they would have to give up next to nothing (literally, probably a PTBNL), while the Twins have to give up a Major League starter.  It happened with Delmon Young,  the Nats got Dukes for literally nothing, while we gave up Matt Garza plus our starting SS.  Is this all the GMs taking advantage of us now that the big, bad bully Terry Ryan is gone?  Or is Bill Smith just a bad GM?

This next issue touches on some of what we covered yesterday, sort of.  Does anyone else think it might be time to infuse some new blood into the front office.  Everyone up there has been with the Twins since the start of their career and they seem to have adopted a group think mentality.  They don’t know how to run a baseball team any differently than “stay away from power hitters” and all the other organizational philosophies that we have discussed.  I’m not saying “fire Bill Smith, and hire some hall of fame GM from a different organization” but maybe lets add some new (possibly stat oriented guys to mix things up) people at the assistant GM level.  Its basic principles of management that group think can be very dangerous for an organization.  Lets mix things up, why get complacent? Why not find new, creative ways to improve on our already semi-successful formula.  A move like this is by no means drastic, nor will it change things really quickly, but I think its best for an organization that is in need of some change.

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