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Archive for November, 2009

Twins Around Town

No, this isn’t a post about random Joe Mauer sightings around Minneapolis, it is regarding the Twins to 50th aniversary campaign.  Seems like a cool idea, very similar the the Peanuts campaign in Saint Paul a few years back.

I don’t think the Twins need any extra advertising, especially with Target Field opening up, but it can’t hurt. I think they should roll it out sooner, especially the statues from the Twins early years, so younger fans can take in a lot of Twins history before the 2010 season starts.  Or they can just use wikipedia, whatever works.

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Open Thread: Twins offseason

Now that he has locked up the MVP, lets start discussing specifics of a possible Joe Mauer Contract extension, and any other offseason moves.  This is the first time I’ve attempted anything like this so it probably won’t work.  In the comments section, leave you suggestion for what the Twins should be offering Mauer and any other musings you have in regards to offseason moves.

Remaining needs to be filled

A second or thirdbaseman

One or two mid rotation starters

some bullpen help.

In the comments let me know if you agree, or disagree, or have specific players in mind to fill these and any other holes.  We are approaching the winter meetings, so lets give Bill Smith some suggestions.

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Don’t get too worked up about Mauer not being the unanimous MVP

I’ve talked a good amount of shit about Dave Cameron and his Neyer-esque hatred of the Twins over the years, but he’s not totally blind. When someone — even a Twins player — has an absolutely historic season and is far and away the obvious choice for MVP, he believes that person should, you know, win the MVP. Today he wondered how in the world someone voted for Miguel Cabrera for MVP over Mauer:

Seriously, there is no argument for a first place vote for Miguel Cabrera. Mauer’s team made the playoffs, beating out Cabrera’s team for the last spot. Mauer hit better. Mauer fielded better. Mauer played a more important position.

None of those facts are disputable. A vote for Cabrera being more valuable in 2009 is like a vote for the sum of two and two being five. It’s not an opinion – it’s a lack of understanding.

And as you all probably know, I agree with him. Personally, I debated putting Cabrera somewhere on my ballot, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it; he was essentially the same player as Teixeira and Youkilis this year, and I had them at 9 & 10, respectively. I can easily see an argument for having him in the top 10 … but I simply can’t see how he can be #1 over Mauer, or Zobrist, or Jeter, or Greinke, or Longoria.

Of course, Cameron wasn’t necessarily defending Mauer. Instead, he’s taking up the torch in the ongoing battle between old media and new media:

So, writers who criticized Law for his vote and pointed to it as evidence that he’s screwing up the process, you are hereby required to do the same thing to the Cabrera voter. At least Keith had a reasonable explanation for his vote. There is no reasonable explanation for a Miguel Cabrera first place MVP vote. It’s just stupidity on display.

I like that battle as much as the next guy, I guess. But I don’t think Keizo Konishi should lose his BBWAA voting rights because of this*, just like I don’t think Keith Law should have lost his vote because he didn’t go with the crowd on a particular vote.

* On the other hand, it’s worth pointing out that Miguel Cabrera got a $200K bonus for getting that single first place vote. That’s nothing for Cabrera and his $152M contract; it’s a whole hell of a lot for some nearly-anonymous sportswriter that even Dave Cameron — a Seattle-based blogger/fan — has never heard of. If it turns out that that had anything to do with it, well, then Konishi should absolutely lose his vote. But there’s no reason to suspect that right now.

So let’s all just relax, and not get too worked up about the fact that Mauer got only 27 of 28 first place votes. The voters didn’t blow this one.

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2009 AL MVP Ballot

My AL MVP ballot goes like this:

  1. Mauer
  2. Zobrist
  3. Jeter
  4. Greinke
  5. Longoria
  6. Pedroia
  7. Verlander
  8. Figgins
  9. Teixeira
  10. Youkilis

And that’s what it is right now. Frankly, if you ask me again in an hour, it’ll probably be different. (Ask me again in five minutes. It might be different then, too.) While I was trying to come up with this list, I had two conflicting wishes:

  1. That there were only 4 spots on an MVP ballot, as I feel there’s a huge gap in MVP-caliber-ness between Greinke and the next guy
  2. That there were 15-20 spots on an MVP ballot, because the gap between #5 and #15 is barely discernable, and the order you put these guys in really just falls down to your predetermined biases

Joe Mauer, obviously, takes the top spot (really, the only important one). Everyone’s rehashed this argument a thousand times. Suffice it to say that I think if you’re the best defensive catcher in the league and the best hitter of any position in the league, then you are the MVP of the league. It seems to me that it’d take a pretty convoluted (and “interesting”) definition of the word “valuable” to think otherwise.

After that, I thought Zobrist, Jeter, and Greinke were pretty close to each other. I leaned toward Zobrist because the defensive metrics say he was tremendous this year and I wasn’t about to just ignore that; the same metrics said that Jeter was pretty good in the field, but not great. At the same time, Zobrist was a few runs better offensively than Jeter; given those two things, I don’t see how you can make a case that Jeter was better without saying things like “But Jeter won the World Series in 2009!” or “But Jeter won the World Series in 1998!”* or some such non-individual things.

* People always complain that Jeter’s never won an MVP, therefore he should win the MVP this time around. It’s a cute thought, of course; it’s also one that would never be thought about anyone other than The Great Captain Derek Dreamy Eyes Jeter. You want to know the reason Jeter’s never won the MVP? Here’s a hint: it’s not because sportswriters went out of their way to screw him. It’s because he was never the most valuable player in the league. So … I don’t get the logic that says he should get an undeserved MVP trophy now because he never got an undeserved MVP trophy in the past. The “lifetime achievement award” is called the Hall of Fame, and he’ll get that later.

Anyway, I don’t really feel like arguing about the rest of these guys. Teixeira had a bunch of RBI, but it was only because people were on base in front of him. His actual numbers are basically indistinguishable from other good first basemen: Kevin Youkilis, Miguel Cabrera, Kendry Morales, Justin Morneau (sans fractured spine). Put any one of those guys in the #3 spot in the Yankee lineup, and they’ll get just as many RBI (give or take random fluctuation).

My only worry is that I’m penalizing Teixeira for the quality of this teammates, in an effort simply not to reward him. I don’t think I am. It was something I thought about a lot. And wanting to avoid penalizing him while also including Youkilis (which emphasizes that they’re basically the same) is the reason I didn’t get to put Franklin Gutierrez on my ballot, which I really wanted to be able to do.

Oh well. We’ll see how this thing goes.

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Juan Morillo heads the way of the Lew Ford

Juan Morillo and Justin Huber have both signed with the Hiroshima Carp of the Japanese League.

This isn’t a very big loss.  Morillo could throw really, really hard, but that’s about it.  During his time with the twins in 2009 he didn’t show much progess in his ability to harness the fastball. It would have been nice to keep him around and see if the minor league instructors could work with him, but I’m glad the Twins didn’t bend over backwards to keep him.  That would have been foolish.  But hey, the team is going to make at least one foolish decision this offseason, so here’s to Bill Smith trying to keep them at a minimum.

Justin Huber was a very average player.  He had a decent minor league track record, but no real position.  He will probably have some success in Japan, due to the moderate power he flashed in the minors.  I wish them both the best of luck overseas.

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Taking a look at free agent starting pitchers

The Twins’ starting rotation was one of the weaknesses of the team in 2009. For the five spots in the 2010 rotation, they currently have these players available:

  • Baker
  • Slowey
  • Blackburn
  • Perkins
  • Liriano
  • Bonser
  • Swarzak
  • … and maybe some crappy fill-in guys from AAA

That last bit was supposed to be kind of funny … except that it followed “Perkins, Liriano, Bonser, and Swarzak,” who just so happen to also be crappy fill-in guys from AAA. I think it’s fair to say that the Twins could use another starter (or two).

Given that the top pitchers on the market invariably get huge deals from desperate teams with lots of money who mistakenly think that pitchers will get better if you pay them more money, I’m going to go ahead and count the Twins out of the Lackey sweepstakes. And I don’t view that as a big problem.

I think we should take a look at some of the free agent possibilities this year. I’ve decided to break the potential candidates down into a few different categories; my opinion on the value of each category differs from the Twins’ organizational opinions … don’t worry, I’ll try to explain.

High upside injury risks

  • Ben Sheets
  • Rich Harden
  • Erik Bedard
  • Justin Duchscherer
  • Carl Pavano

League average “innings eaters”

  • Jon Garland
  • Jason Marquis
  • Joel Pineiro

Pieces of shit

  • Daniel Cabrera
  • Brett Myers
  • Brad Penny
  • Jarrod Washburn

First, I’d like to address the “pieces of shit” part of the market. For one thing, there are a lot of them; I’ve only included a few of the “more interesting” ones here. I’m going to file guys like Sidney Ponson and Adam Eaton in the “I sure hope the Twins know better” file,* and just move on.

* Yes, I know they don’t know better. Just leave it alone. Know this, though: if they do sign somebody idiotic, I’m going to fly off the handle, and it’ll probably be a spectacle. So if you come here hoping to read one of my angry screeds, the Twins just might do something such that you’ll stop being disappointed. I’m just warning you.

Daniel Cabrera used to be a highly touted prospect, and still has a big arm and great stuff. He’s just spent the last 7 years totally collapsing; his ERA+ “peaked” at 96 in 2005-2006, and has been on a fairly steady decline since then. But he still throws a fastball in the mid-90’s with good movement, and should be available for a song. The Twins might even be able to stash him in the minors to start the season. I think it might be worth a shot, to see if anybody in the Twins organization can fix this guy. But since it’s not likely, it’s worth pointing out that he should absolutely not be counted on for anything (except an ERA north of 5).

I’m calling Myers and Penny “pieces of shit” here, when in reality they’re not terrible pitchers. The thing is … Myers beats his wife and gets in bar fights and gets arrested and throws his (superior) teammates under the bus and is generally regarded as a big douchebag. And he’s not that great. The whole package? Kind of a piece of shit … and really not the kind of guy I’d expect the Twins to go after. Penny throws hard and has talent, but at the same time he got shelled in his brief stint in the AL in 2009, and when he was released he basically had the option to go to any team; most players say stuff like “I want a chance to win,” or some other such lip service to what old men like to hear player say. Instead, he said “I don’t want to be in a pennant race because of the pressure, and I don’t want to be in the AL because the hitters are better.” So, in response, I say this to Brad Penny: Fuck off. A contender in the AL, like the Twins, shouldn’t touch this guy with a twelve foot clown pole.

There’s been a lot of talk this offseason about Washburn coming to the Twins; after all, he’s left handed, he’s from Wisconsin, he’d love to play for the Twins, so it’s fucking perfect. Well, here’s the deal, folks:

  • He started last season in Seattle, where they had a historically great outfield defense
  • He’s a flyball pitcher, and that defense turned a huge percentage of those fly balls into outs
  • He got lucky, and gave up the fewest HR/9 in his career (0.7) in that half-season in Seattle
  • Because of those three things, he put up a mirage 2.64 ERA in the first half of the year
  • He then moved to the Tigers
  • He faced better hitters, and there was the pressure of a playoff race (for those of you who care about such things)
  • His outfield defense was merely good, as opposed to one of the best ever assembled
  • He got less lucky (2.5 HR/9)
  • He put up a 7.33 ERA

Now, look. I do think he got unlucky in Detroit, and according to him, he was injured the whole time. (See, he is just like Perkins!) On the other hand, we don’t know how Target Field is going to play — it could be a pitcher’s park, or it could be a band box, we just don’t know. But it wouldn’t be wise to bring in a guy who can only succeed in a cavernous stadium. On the other, larger hand, the Twins’ outfield defense this year doesn’t figure to be very good. Wait, I don’t need to sugar-coat this … the Twins’ outfield defense in 2010 stands to be one of the worst in the league, again. Frankly, Denard Span is not a good defensive CF. Michael Cuddyer is not a good defensive RF. (I think his defensive numbers paint a too-gloomy picture, but that doesn’t mean I’m high on his defense.) Delmon Young is absolutely atrocious out there, one of the worst in the league, capable of turning outs into singles, singles into triples, doubles into home runs … wins into losses. That is not the outfield you want if you’re going to bring in a flyball pitcher. His 7.33 ERA in Detroit … well, with the Twins, he might be lucky to repeat numbers that low. For the Twins, Washburn would be a piece of shit. And an expensive one, at that.

I don’t really want to talk too much about those innings eaters — they’re boring, they’ll fit in fine in the 3/4 spots in the rotation, and they’ll probably get contracts just out of the Twins’ budget, because most teams fill out their rotation with $12M/year veterans rather than $0.4M/year pre-arbitration guys like the Twins do. If they sign one of those guys, good for them, nobody gets fired for bringing in an innings eater to help out the youngsters — it’s just not going to put anyone over the top or anything.

And now that I’ve wasted all my breath talking about what the Twins should not do, we get to the interesting and fun part: the high upside guys!

Sheets and Harden figure to be the most fascinating starters on the market: both of them are more than capable of putting up a +4 win season and being a viable 1/2 starter in a rotation … if they’re healthy. Bedard could do the same, except he’s even less likely to stay healthy, which is saying a lot.

Since Sheets missed all of 2009 and Harden broke down badly towards the end of the season, it’s likely that neither of them will be able to demand big contracts this year, even in a thin free agent market. If the Twins can get their hands on either one of them for a 1-2 year contract in the $8M/year range, it’s a deal they simply have to jump on. More than that, though, and the risk is probably too great. It’s possible that some foolish team lavishes riches on these guys, so you can’t necessarily consider it a failure if the Twins don’t bring them into the fold; but Bill Smith had better be using some rollover minutes talking to their agents.

I put Pavano on the injury risk list, largely because nobody really trusts him to stay healthy on any sort of long contract. That lack of trust may or may not be warranted — but the Twins benefited greatly from Pavano’s work in the second half of 2009, and he apparently really enjoyed pitching for the Twins and would like to come back. That’d be a good idea for the Twins, who don’t have much of a rotation without him. If he’d accept a 2 year deal for $10-15M to stick around, it’d almost certainly be worth it. I don’t know if he would, though: in the three seasons he’s been healthy enough to play, he’s been a 3.4-4.4 win starter, which would be worth over $15M a season. (The risk, of course, is that in the 5 seasons he’s been too injured to play, he’s been a 0.0-0.8 win pitcher, and that’s not someone the Twins can afford to be paying big dollars.)

Pavano doesn’t have the upside of Sheets, Harden, or even Bedard. But he’s probably less of a health concern and the Twins have the inside track to signing him (which is probably not true of the other guys).

I’d say the Twins need one of the high upside guys on this list, and it barely matters which one. I’d stay away from the rest of the market, unless one of the innings eaters comes really, really cheap. And as for the pieces of shit? Well, Terry Ryan is still Smith’s senior advisor, and I’m sure he’s pushing hard for guys like Braden Looper, Vicente Padilla, Eric Milton, and Livan Hernandez. The real test is whether Bill Smith can resist.

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Perkins Drops Grievance, Sets Up Possible Trade

A lot of people will probably call this a small piece of news, but I disagree. Glen Perkins has dropped his grievance against the Twins:

Glen Perkins has dropped his grievance against the Twins as the sides reached a settlement this week, avoiding a hearing that was scheduled for Friday in New York.

He was pissed off at the Twins for optioning his contract to the minors rather than sending him on a rehab assignment after activating him from the DL at the end of August. He’d been on pace to become a Super-2 player and become arbitration eligible this offseason, but the Twins’ move pushed back his arbitration eligibility a full year.

First of all, teams do this all the time to save money; and it’s been happening more and more often as front offices are getting savvier and are trying to do a better job of controlling costs and keeping their young players cheap (and around) as long as possible. On the other hand, players are understandably irked when it happens — it’s essentially a billionaire owner screwing a young guy out of several hundred thousand dollars (which is nothing to the billionaire, but is a massive pay increase for the player, often more than 100%). Neither side is right when it comes to this stuff, as I see it.

But with Perkins, things are a little different. Perkins has repeatedly complained of injury during his time with the Twins — but only immediately after a bad performance. (Before those starts he said he felt fine, and after he lays the egg he claims to have been injured all along. Each time, this is news to the Twins’ training staff.) The Twins have repeatedly had him checked out, and doctors can’t find anything wrong with him — Perkins then demands a second opinion and the team has to fly him around the country for other doctors to see if the Twins’ doctors are wrong. They usually don’t find anything either.

Meanwhile, Perkins is not pitching for the team; when he does, he pitches badly, for the most part. But the biggest problem with this back and forth is the building animosity between Perkins and the Twins; Gardy has voiced his frustration with Perkins in the past, usually after Perkins blames his performance on a previously-unknown injury. Not surprisingly, Perkins has quietly been on the trading block for several months (or more).

But it’s awfully hard to trade a guy who has a currently-open grievance against his team. It signals potential trade partners that the team and the player want to split up — and thus lowers his trade value.*

* And Perkins’ trade value probably isn’t very high as is, given his performance. The only thing he has going for him is that he’s cheap during a time when teams are trying to save money. And he’s left handed.

That’s why this move is significant: the Twins somehow* convinced Perkins to drop the grievance, giving him some extra service time but keeping him under Super-2 status, which completely removes the artificial anchor to his trade value.

* My guess? They kicked some money to him under the table in return for dropping the grievance so he can be traded more easily. If I were running the team and another GM told me he’d be willing to trade me something decent for Perkins if not for the grievance, this is exactly what I’d do.

So don’t be surprised to see Perkins moved to another team, and possibly soon. We’ll try to keep you posted.

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Sizing up the infield market

The Fanhouse GM meetings update states that the Reds are having money woes and will need to shed a ton of payroll.  One of the trade candidates is Brandon Phillips.  I’m sure the price would be high to get him, since the Reds need cheap players who will be under team control for a long time.  These are the Twins favorite type of players.  Phillips is set to make around 7 million next season, which is a bargain considering the power he has out of the second base position.  I know a lot of people have been mentioning Polancoas a candidate to play second base, and he is a very nice player.  However, if we can get Brandon Phillips for someone like Glen Perkins I think we should do it.  He is a very complete player, he was a 20-20 guy last year.  His on-base skills leave something to be desired, his career OBP is .312.  Not good. At all. So when we are deciding between Polanco and Phillips you are basically choosing power or OBP.  I’d be happy with either, and adding Polanco gives us a nice #2 hitter, whereas Phillips is better suited further down in the order.  The problem with going after these two guys is it leaves us with Punto at third, and if its Phillips, no clear #2 hitter.

The thirdbase market consists basically of Chone Figgins and Adrian Beltre.  Both will probably be very expensive, with Beltre probably getting more because he is a power hitter and everyone overpays for homers.  If I was running the show I would go after Figgins.  I think Gardy would like him since he is scrappy and doesn’t hit for power, like Punto, but unlike Punto he is, you know, good.  Man, how good would that career 363 OBP look between Span and Mauer?  Gardy would get his way, having fast guys at the top of the lineup, but those fast guys would also have high OBPs.  I think the main reason I want Figgins is because it would make the lineup Gardy-proof. Span-Figgins-Mauer-Morneau-Cuddyer-Kubel-Hardy-Young-Punto. Not too shabby and there is really no other way to construct it, except maybe flip-flop Cuddyer and Kubel.

I really hope that Smith and his brain trust aren’t content with Punto as a starting infielder and do the due diligence on ones that are available either through free agency or a trade.  The two most glaring holes are obviously second and third base, and I think we need to fill one of them, with Punto playing the other.

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Revenue/Payroll Reinvestment is the Thing to Watch

When asked about the size of the Twins’ payroll, Terry Ryan and Bill Smith have always said that it’s simply a function of revenue — that the team will always spend right around 52% of revenue on the major league payroll. It’s a good excuse for keeping the payroll low; “we don’t have enough money” is something that seems to resonate with both fans and sportswriters.

But is it true? Khoi Vinh, a Yankees fan, did some research on this very topic in the interest of defending the Yankees* against those who would say they only won the World Series because they have the most money.

* Personally, I don’t think that’s necessary at all. And doesn’t the fact that this is what everyone’s talking about kind of tarnish their championship celebration? I’m sure the media and the Yankees themselves would have found some other way to tarnish it, but still. Let’s all get over the fact that they have the most money. We knew it before they won another World Series, and we know it’s going to continue. It’s just reality, folks.

What he came up with was a table comparing 2008 revenue to 2009 payroll, and compared them to get an “investment rate” in the team’s payroll. The Yankees’ investment rate was 4th, at 54%. The Tigers led the league with a 62% investment rate.* And the Twins? Well, the Twins were in the bottom third of the league, with a paltry 41% investment rate.

Given the numbers Vinh cites, the Twins should have had an $82M payroll in 2009 rather than $65M, based solely on their revenue and their claimed level of reinvestment in the team.

* Does anyone else think the Tigers are setting themselves up for some financial trouble in the near future? I mean, they’re in Detroit. How is their revenue not going to continue to drop? I’m guessing all those big long-term contracts are causing some ulcers in the front office right now.

It’s worth noting, of course, that the Twins’ 2008 revenues were the 4th lowest in the league, ahead of only the Marlins, Pirates, and Royals. So while it’s certainly easy to accuse them of not spending a large enough percentage of their payroll, they’re not exactly wrong that they simply lack the funds of other franchises.

The revenues probably went up in 2009, as they sold out an inordinately high number of games, took down the curtain to open up several thousand extra seats and sold those out, and played an extra home game with the curtain down. Additionally, revenue will certainly increase with the new stadium, as people rush to see the place, and season ticket sales climb, and (perhaps most importantly) the Twins actually get a reasonable share of the revenue from the Dome.

(I’ve written before about the Twins’ deal with the Metrodome. Basically, it’s the only stadium deal in professional sports that is not set up for the team to continually siphon off extra money from the municipality, instead allowing the local government to siphon money from the team. Minneapolis and Minnesota have received over $100M of free money from the Twins since the Dome was built. In all other stadium situations, that flow of money is reversed. I’m guessing that Target Field will be more common, so in addition to generating more revenue overall, a larger percentage of that money will find its way to the Twins.)

They could probably also use a more lucrative cable deal, which is increasingly one of the things that sets apart the large-revenue teams.

But the thing to watch, as the Twins move into Target Field next year, is not only the revenue increases, but also the level of investment in the team — if the percentage remains as low as it currently is, the increased revenues from the new stadium will simply go as profits, and will not help the team’s competitiveness as much as they should.

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First Update from the GM Meetings: Gabino, Morillo, Huber

Joe Christensen just brought us an update from the GM meetings in Chicago,* noting that we’ve lost Armando Gabino to the Orioles on waivers, that we’ve placed Juan Morillo on the 40 man roster, and that Justin Huber cleared waivers and is on his way back to Rochester.

* Before I say anything about these moves, I just want to point out that I really would have liked to try to crash these meetings, and was hoping I could figure out where they were happening and maybe sneak in. Could have been fun. Except, as it turns out, they’re holding the meetings at O’Hare airport, which is absurdly far out of my way and is very, very inconvenient. Couldn’t they have gotten a hotel downtown? Is the economy really that bad? Oh well, I guess I’ll just be reporting on the GM meetings from afar, as usual.

First, the Gabino news. He was a mid-level prospect for us the last few years, posting acceptable strikeout rates (consistently around 6.5 K/9 throughout the minors) and low walk rates (2.8 BB/9 in the minors). Basically, he’s exactly the sort of strike throwing machine who can’t strike very many people out that the Twins ostensibly value highly. His problem, though, within the organization is that he’ll be entering his age-26 year, and thus is no longer really a prospect with a huge amount of upside; compound that with the fact that he’s the same age as (or older than) the other pitchers in our rotation — who happen to be the same type of pitcher but more talented than Gabino — and it’s pretty clear he has no place in the future of the organization.

Add to that the fact that Gardy apparently hates his guts, and it’s really no surprise he’s gone. He was called up this year because the team was woefully short of pitchers — and Gardy let him into one game as a reliever and one game as a spot starter, before letting him rot in the bullpen for the rest of the season, refusing to call on him regardless of how badly Keppel and the others were ruining the game. And if there’s one thing we know about the Twins, it’s that if Gardenhire doesn’t like you, you’re going to ride the bench until you’re off the team.

Gabino is not a big loss.

Morillo, of course, continues to be interesting. He posted an excellent 11.7 K/9 this year at AAA, but still can’t harness his blazing fastball as he also posted an abysmal 6.9 BB/9. Apparently the Twins still think they can do something with him, because they’ve decided to protect him from the Rule 5 draft by putting him on the 40-man roster. Either that, or they’re simply astounded by the speed of his fastball, the likes of which the Twins have probably never seen before.

If Morillo winds up playing a significant role in the Twins’ bullpen this year without demonstrating increased command in the minors, it means the Twins are in trouble.

Huber was another guy who Gardy simply didn’t care for; despite posting a reasonably impressive .273/.356/.482 line in AAA, with 22 HR, 22 2B, and an 84/51 K/BB ratio in 506 PA, Gardy apparently couldn’t find more than two plate appearances for the 2B/3B in over a month of service time. I will point out, of course, that Gardy found plenty of work for Matt Tolbert at both of those positions. Once again, September call-ups just meant that Gardy’s doghouse gets bigger.

Normally I’d be a little bit surprised that nobody decided to take a flier on Huber, but this isn’t a normal time. We haven’t seen what to expect from the free agent market this year — it’s possible that prices will be severely dampened by the effects of the economy on baseball teams (most of whose owners simply have no money beyond the massive loans that allow them to call themselves wealthy), and by the glut of free agents on the market. This situation could well be exacerbated by Buster Olney’s prediction that up to dozens of talented arbitration-eligible players will simply be non-tendered rather than offered a contract, further increasing supply in a demand-starved market.

As a result, teams probably wanted to see what happens, as there will presumably be plenty of available players who are simply better than Huber. Perhaps the Twins will be watching, waiting for such an option to pounce on.

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