Fire Gardy

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Twins sign Jim Thome

Well it’s official, the Twins signed Jim Thome.  The deal is reported to be for $1.5 million, with up to $750K in incentives.  I’m assuming these are plate appearance incentives.  The price tag on this deal seems too good to pass up, so I’m OK with it.

I have two fears that arose with this signing.  The first is that we won’t pursue any middle infield candidates.  The second is that Jim Thome will stunt the development of Delmon Young.  While Thome has better numbers against righties than Young does, Delmon is still very raw.  Maybe Thome will help him develop as a slugger.  Ideally, the Twins will acquire either Lopez or Hudson in the coming weeks, and Thome will be used primarily off the bench and occasionally as the DH depending on the matchup. If we are facing a pitcher who Thome has historically crushed, then by all means start him.

So, let’s hope that Bill Smith isn’t done making moves, but I am not overly optimistic.

27 comments

27 Comments so far

  1. sirsean January 27th, 2010 8:52 am

    I love this deal. Remember a few years back, when both Jim Thome and Frank Thomas desperately wanted to come play for the Twins and we didn’t make it happen?

    Well, Thome evidently still really wanted to play for the Twins, and we got him on a deal that’s going to be team-favorable whether he hits the PA-incentives or not.

    $1.5M isn’t a whole lot of money to pay for the most potent pinch hitter you can find; $2.25M isn’t a whole lot of money to pay for a HoF-caliber half-time DH. Frankly, I hope he hits about 60-70% of his incentives, with a .900 OPS, and screws up the way opponents use their left handed relievers whether he enters the game or not.

    It feels weird to be the team getting team-friendly contracts because talented players actually want to come play here.

    That’ll probably happen more if we a) sign Mauer, and b) the stadium turns out to be as nice as it seems like it will.

    Should be exciting.

  2. FunBobby January 27th, 2010 9:06 am

    Just was discussing with a guy at work how good/deep our lineup could be with the addition of Orlando Hudson. Remember the last time we signed an aging, good slugger to play some DH for us? 1991, Chili Davis. The time before that? 1987, Don Baylor. Think about.

  3. sirsean January 27th, 2010 9:16 am

    I feel like the lineup is getting to the point where national analysts won’t be able to say “I don’t understand how the Twins win!” any more. At this point, who thinks anyone in the AL Central has a legitimate shot at scoring runs with the Twins?

  4. Ragstoriches January 27th, 2010 9:39 am

    So is it safe to say that vs. righties the Twins sit Young, move Kubel to left, and DH Thome, and vs. lefties Young plays left and Kubel DHs?

    And when Thome starts, what does the lineup look like – where does he hit? Kubel? Cuddy?

  5. FunBobby January 27th, 2010 9:41 am

    In an ideal world (read, this will never happen in a million years) I go like this Span Mauer Morneau Cuddyer Kubel Thome Hardy Harris Punto

    or something like that. Maybe flip Kubel and Thome.

    When young plays you probably bat him 7th.

  6. sirsean January 27th, 2010 9:45 am

    I’m sure Thome’s starts will all come against righties, but he won’t get all the starts against righties.

    And the ideal world has Felipe Lopez in there instead of Punto, and Danny Valencia in there instead of Harris. But, as you said, it won’t happen in a million years.

  7. FunBobby January 27th, 2010 10:20 am

    I really like the stat that as of now there are no left handed closers in the AL central.

  8. sirsean January 27th, 2010 10:34 am

    Left handed closers are pretty rare; there are only a handful of them across the league.

    Probably because managers slot guys into LOOGY roles in spite of their ability to get right handed hitters out, which makes it impossible for them to graduate to ninth inning (or even full inning) duties.

  9. rghrbek January 27th, 2010 10:45 am

    I don’t mind the transaction now that I have seen how cheaply they got him for.

    Nick from “Nick’s Twins Blog” thinks there is little to no chance the Twins go after O-hud, or f-lo.

    If the twins were actually able to land one of those two, with Thome and Hardy, I would put my normal disdain for BS on hold for a while, and save it all for Gardy and his mismanagment how the players are actually used, per usual.

    Would love to see Delmon get his chance, and by the all star break we shit or get off the pot with him.

    I don’t know that readers/fans can actually realize how bad our outfield will be with Young/Span/Cuddy out there, and that it will be even worse with Kubel/Span/Cuddy out there. With all the fly ball pitchers we have, that is scary, in a new, smaller ball park.

  10. sirsean January 27th, 2010 10:58 am

    Well, the smaller ballpark will actually help our bad outfield defense (less ground to cover, and more balls going over the fence where it doesn’t matter how fast the outfielders are). Of course, it’s not going to help the pitching staff given their love of giving up long fly balls.

    But yes, it does seem like people are underestimating both the value of outfield defense, and just how bad the Twins’ is going to be this year.

  11. Ragstoriches January 27th, 2010 11:29 am

    I’ve got to say I’m much more worried about 2B/3B issues than OF defense. Back end rotation remains to be seen but I hope we’re done manuevering there – let spring training shake things out. Bullpen is set and actually looks decent. Man, if it wasn’t for that Harris/Punto abyss at the bottom of the lineup (and the fact that Gardy is still our manager) I’d be pretty excited for the season.

  12. sirsean January 27th, 2010 11:41 am

    You know, there aren’t very many teams that are stacked at every position. There aren’t even very many that are set at 7 of them.

    And there certainly aren’t many teams who can trot out a top 7 like Span/Mauer/Morneau/Cuddyer/Thome/Kubel/Hardy.

    The Twins are shaping up like one of the top offensive teams in the league this year (even moreso than the last few years, when they were actually one of the top scoring teams despite having a few black holes in the lineup).

    I think being excited about the Twins is more than warranted in 2010.

  13. rghrbek January 27th, 2010 12:49 pm

    With the black hole at the #2 spot, I also am concerned about our running game.

    Hardy won’t do any. Punto is well below average and it seems span has a lot to learn when it comes to stealing bases.

    The way this team is constructed currently, it’s all about a bloop and a blast, which is what Gardy loves.

    Unfortunately, what they should’ve learned from last September, is if you have a good mix of manufacturing runs and the long ball, it is much more lethal, than what the Whitesox have done traditionally, which is what the Twins were last year for the most part.

    Getting a high on base guy in the 2 hole, who can run, would help balance the lineup. Again, a pipe dream.

  14. FunBobby January 27th, 2010 12:51 pm

    and maybe punto will have one of his 2006/2008esque years and be roughly league average or so. the difference between 2007/2009 punto and league average might be greater than the difference between league average and Mauer. I probably just made that up but you get the point that simply getting league average out of 2B this year will make a huge difference.

  15. rghrbek January 27th, 2010 1:44 pm

    I think we would all take league average from our 2b as it currently stands.

    Interesting article here on FAs:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/ben_reiter/01/27/reiter.top10/index.html?eref=sihp

    He has Lopez #1 of the remaining free agents. Unlike what LEN3 reports (he just regurgitates what the Twins tell him and does not research), lopez is a good fielding 2nd basemen. 5th in baseball last year. The Twins will subtly supply the media with anecdotes like “our scout says you don’t want a ball hit his way” to downplay why BS and Gardy don’t want him, which is money and Gardy’s boner for LNP.

    People want to point out that the Twins won’t handcuff themselves with a long term deal, which is silly. No real 2nd base candidates and yet they won’t offer a kid, who turns 30 soon, a 2 year deal with an option on a 3rd?

    I can’t imagine 5 mil is going to bury them financially. If we go out and get someone at 2b, I think Joe Joe would be impressed.

  16. sirsean January 27th, 2010 1:49 pm

    Why do you think Lopez would be available for just $5M, especially if he’s the top free agent left? And also, why do you think the Twins have no budget whatsoever, and can just spend freely regardless of the payroll? They’re already at $91M for 2010, they’ve got to be at least close to out of money to spend.

    Plus, LEN3 reported not that Lopez is a bad defender; he reported that the Twins think Lopez is a bad defender, which is valuable information for us. We wouldn’t have known that the Twins think that way without LEN3’s hard work.

    Once again, I think the Twins are wrong not to sign Lopez, but I’m glad we have some insight into their thought process.

  17. rghrbek January 27th, 2010 2:46 pm

    The SI guy is the first one to rate Lopez that high. I haven’t seen him that high anywhere else, and Hudson is almost always ranked higher.

    I think, if offered more than one year, Lopez can be had for that. Not scientific, but my gut. Even though he has been around for a while, he is not the first name people think of and the market is soft. He may get as much as 6 mil a year, but I would be very surprised if he got more.

    I don’t doubt that the Twins are close to out of money, but that is by their standards and what they are used to paying. Who says they cannot do 100 mil this year?

    We have added Hardy, thome and Condray (always forget his name). Are those 3 players enough for us to, a. win the division, b. actually win a game in the playoffs? C. Advance in the playoffs. Ok maybe a and b, but I think the Twins should not be satisfied with that. I am not suggesting to spend unwisely, but Punto comes off the books next year, which would almost pay for Lopez (at that price granted).

    Plus they need to knock Mauer’s socks off with how committed they are to winning. If Joe is not signed by Spring Training, it will be a HUGE distraction, regardless of his agent’s willingness to negotiate into the regular season.

    You are right about LEN3 reporting what the Twins said, but I also think he should do his own research and place an opinion out there. Any research that either proves or contradicts a statement made by the ball club, is useful to the fans. Too often the beat writers for the Twins don’t go the extra mile, resulting in many people believing what the Twins say as fact.

    Thank goodness for Blogs like this that go the extra mile.

  18. FunBobby January 27th, 2010 3:03 pm

    I don’t like to say we “go the extra mile” since this is a blog and we are lazy. I like to think we “buy and extra round”.

    LEN3 usually does make a point to differntiate between what the Twins express as their opinions and what is his own. He seems to just give us facts most of the time and let us jump to our own conclusions. Which is fine.

    I agree that most of the time I see hudson ranked ahead of Lopez, but i see them as 1 and 1a. Hopefully this weekend smith isn’t hobnobbing with fans like me at TwinsFest, but working the phones to get one of these guys.

  19. Ragstoriches January 27th, 2010 3:34 pm

    Why not Lopez at $5 mil? To be fair, did anyone think Thome would be there for $1.5m?

  20. FunBobby January 27th, 2010 3:43 pm

    Fair point about Thome. I was kind of blindsided with how low that contract was. I think Lopez can get 2 years for 6-7 per, which I think is manageable. However, with each passing day, the price drops. I hope Smith and co. don’t wait too long. They should offer something comfortably in their price range and see what happens. I would hate them to think “well, he is at 1 year, 5.5 mil now, lets see if he drops to 1 year, 5.0″ only to have some other team like the Nat sweep in and sign him for 5.5.

  21. FunBobby January 27th, 2010 3:44 pm

    In other words, I could really see the Twins try to nickel and dime the shit out of potential free agents only to miss the bus completely.

  22. sirsean January 27th, 2010 3:55 pm

    I can see them doing that too, and it worries me.

    Also, beat writers like LEN3 have to walk kind of a fine line: they need to maintain their access to the front office and other members of the organization, and they’re not going to be able to do that by publicly ripping everything they say and calling them liars.

    It’s a good thing for fans that there are plenty of bloggers thinking about this, and getting the benefit of LEN3’s access without having to worry about losing their access if they criticize the organization at all. LEN3 provides an extremely valuable service, and I don’t want to see that go away even a little bit.

  23. rghrbek January 27th, 2010 4:41 pm

    Good stuff kids!

    As I have stated before about beat writers, it is a fine line they have to walk, but there are ways to do it objectively and provide educated insight.

    I wrote this just last week, but Mike Russo is the best I’ve seen. He has more access than the Twins beat writers, and he will disagree with anyone with the Wild if what he sees and hears are contrasting to what is being “spread” by their organization. It’s really good stuff.

    Nobody needs to be hostile, but if the Twins are opining that Lopez is a bad defender, as they have asserted, then a beat writer should also point out that their view is more than likely wrong. That’s all.

    Beat writers are very valuable to all of us, on a daily basis.

    rg

  24. David January 27th, 2010 5:29 pm

    Seriously gentlemen “stunt the development” of Delmon Young, hasn’t that development been stagnant for several years!

  25. FunBobby January 27th, 2010 5:31 pm

    I think he showed some progress at the end of last year, but as someone said, we are approaching “shit or get off the pot time with him”

  26. Ragstoriches January 29th, 2010 3:52 pm

    Aw man, Punto had wrist surgery!

    http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ap-twins-morales&prov=ap&type=lgns

    Any chance of complications with that? Like maybe accidentally the doc chopped off his hand?

    Who am I kidding, Gardy would still probably start a one-handed Punto.

  27. [...] infield in 2009 and improving their bench. They traded for J.J. Hardy, signed Orlando Hudson, and brought in their old nemesis Jim Thome. Obviously, these moves were not without risk. Hardy was coming off of a rough 2009 season in which [...]

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