Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Friday, December 08, 2006

Why Cirillo Makes Sense

In case you hadn't heard, the Twins are actively pursuing Jeff Cirillo as a backup corner infielder (by actively, I mean that it sounds as if a contract offer is imminent). Cirillo is not a huge signing, by any means, but it seems to me that there is no question that this would be a very solid signing for the Twins.

To understand why, you have to look at how the Twins roster looks to be shaping up for next season. The Twins will carry either 6 or 7 infielders on the team: 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, backup middle infielder, backup corner infielder, and possibly a utility type guy (the alternative to this is probably carrying a 12th reliever on the team). We know, barring a trade in the weeks to come, who each of the starters are. We also know that the team has Luis Rodriguez and, after yesterday's Rule 5 Draft, Alejandro Machado to fill two roles with the team in the infield. But neither Rodriguez or Machado is really a "backup corner infielder" type guy - Rodriguez can play a little 3B, and Machado, being a veteran, probably could handle himself there in a pinch. But do we want to see either of them backing up at 1B?

Granted, some of this is made less of a concern by the fact that the Twins can use Michael Cuddyer or Nick Punto at 1B in an emergency - but if (heaven forbid) Justin Morneau were to have to miss a few games (or a few weeks) due to injury, those would not be viable options. Instead, it makes a lot more sense to have a corner infielder on the team who could handle the job.

Jeff Cirillo is 37 years old, and hasn't been starter since 2002 with Seattle, but he proved last season with Milwaukee that he is still capable of putting up solid numbers: .319, 3 HR, 23 RBI in 263 at-bats. While it would be nice to find somebody with a little bit more power, I don't think there are really suitable options out there. As a result, Cirillo would add some veteran leadership, with a decent bat, who fills a need position. Additionally, he should come cheap - the Strib is suggesting that the Twins will/have offered a contract worth about $1 million. That's not chump change, but it's not a silly amount to spend on a veteran backup, either.

The other significant reason to make this move is that there really isn't a suitable alternative at the minor league level. The Twins lost Terry Tiffee to minor league free agency (although if he hasn't signed somewhere, it's possible he could be brought back into the fold), and no one else at the AAA level is suitable. Matt Moses is not ready for the Major Leagues - and might not even start the season at AAA, after the acquisition in the AAA phase of the Rule 5 Draft of Brian Buscher. The point is, the Twins don't have an internal option.

So, I fully endorse any Cirillo signing - and hopefully the Twins can beat out the 2 or 3 other teams who have an interest in him. We should know within the next couple of weeks, if not earlier.


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