Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Friday, October 05, 2007

Smith Makes Some Moves

Twins GM Bill Smith has made his first roster moves as a GM, parting ways with a few players who I (and many of you) were arguing shouldn't have been brought back last year in the first place -- but also making a move that I disagree with (although not particularly strongly).

First, Smith yesterday (or sometime shortly before yesterday) placed Infielder Luis Rodriguez on waivers, presumably to take him off of the 40-man roster, and Rodriguez was promptly claimed by the San Diego Padres. As you'll see when I finally post my "What I Would Do" post, this is right in line with my thinking. The Twins have numerous players on (and off) the 40-man roster who could be a backup infielder of Rodriguez's quality, each of whom have more upside.

Next, today the Twins outrighted 3 players from the 40-man roster, very possibly severing ties with each of them. Thanks go out to Joe Christensen for reporting this news on his Star Tribune blog -- so far, I haven't seen any articles about it anywhere else, although the Twins website does list the moves in the Transactions section (although, curiously, there is no mention of placing Rodriguez on waivers -- go figure).

The biggest name amongst the soon-to-be-former Twins is Outfielder Lew Ford, and let's just say "Thank You" now to Bill Smith for parting ways with Ford quickly and efficiently. I may have been a Terry Ryan apologist, but I argued against retaining Ford all last off-season and throughout this season. I don't know if Ryan, had he stayed on as GM, would have finally parted ways with Ford after watching him struggle yet again this season -- but that's not an issue any more. Ford's declining production was getting painful to watch, and Smith has mercifully ended the suspense about Ford's future with the team (barring some sort of bizarre move to bring Ford back into the fold as a minor league free agent -- and man, how I hope that isn't the end result of this move!).

Next to get ushered off of the roster, for the second off-season in a row, was Outfielder Josh Rabe -- and here I disagree with Smith. I don't know whether Rabe would be able to give the Twins anything at the Major League level -- and he struggled mightily (6-for-31) in limited action this season before getting injured and missing most of the year. Nevertheless, with limited good options available in the outfield, I would have at least liked to see Rabe get a chance in Spring Training to win a job as a backup. As I said at the beginning of this post, I'm not crushed by this move because Rabe never really showed all that much -- but I wouldn't have pulled the trigger so quickly on him.

Finally, the Twins also removed Infielder Tommy Watkins from the roster, and with his lengthy history in the minors, he too will be free to go elsewhere if he wants to (although Joe C. seems to think that there's a better chance of Watkins returning under a minor league contract than is the case with Ford and Rabe). I'm fairly indifferent about this move -- I think Watkins was a good story this season, an example of a player who persevered and battled his way through the Twins minor league system to finally earn a chance at the big leagues. Heck, he even played well while he was with the Twins. Unfortunately, his story ended with an injury, and now there's a good chance that his short Twins career has come to an end. The fact is, Watkins is an aging middle infielder with limited upside potential -- and the Twins have a lot of younger, presumably better players in the organization who fit that role. In many ways, this move is a perfect match for the departure of Luis Rodriguez, because I think both were motivated by very similar concerns.

The effect of these four moves was to reduce the Twins 40-man roster to 37 players (Josh Rabe was on the 60-Day DL, so his removal from the roster didn't change anything) along with 4 players on the 60-Day DL who will have to be added to the roster by the end of the free agency filing deadline in mid-November. With Rondell White a sure bet to file for free agency, and Carlos Silva almost certain to join him, the Twins would be able to add the injured players to the roster without making any more moves between now and November -- but if history is any indication there will be a few more moves made before November 20 to make room for the addition of a few Rule 5 eligible players to the roster.



  • At Fri Oct 05, 02:34:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well done.
    I agree that the Ford decision was the right one. Great guy. Decent 5th OF. Not worth giving $1 million or more to in arbitration.
    I don't think Rabe's going anywhere. I think it will be just like last year. Personally, I'm not sure other organizations would sign him anyway, and he knows that with the Twins, if he goes to AAA and plays well, they'll give him a shot. However, even if they lose him, not a big deal. The Rochester OF right now would appear to be Guzman, Span and Oeltjen/Deeds with guys like Matt Allegra, Rashad Eldridge and others vying for a spot. Rabe is probably a 4th or 5th OF for the Red Wings. Not worth a 40 man roster spot.
    Watkins - I bet he re-signs a minor league deal with the Twins within a week, if he hasn't already. he's not going to another organization. He'll stick with the Twins. They've stuck by him. He knows they'll give him a chance. He'll go to Rochester and if needed, he may get another shot. If not, he'll become the manager in Ft. Myers.
    Obviously I liked Luis(!) more than most for reasons I've been through, but losing him won't really hurt. The organization has plenty of backup infielders.
    There are a lot more moves to come. Not only do they have to get down to add back the DL guys, but there are several minor leaguers that they really should add to the 40 man, so more such moves should be coming soon.



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