Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Aribtration Deadline Looms

The deadline for teams to offer arbitration to free agents is tomorrow at midnight eastern. The only Twins player that this really affects is Dennys Reyes, a type B free agent. If the Twins don't offer Reyes arbitration, they won't receive any compensation when he signs with another team. If they do offer him arbitration, they would either get Reyes back (if he accepted), or they would get a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the 2009 draft.

Some of you may remember the days when a free agent had to be offered arbitration or be unable to sign with his original team until May 1 of the next year. The last CBA removed that requirement, however, so a guy like Nick Punto could be re-signed by the Twins even if he's not offered arbitration tomorrow.

Should the Twins make any arbitration offers? I'll deal with the easiest question first -- they shouldn't even consider it for anyone other than Reyes. There's no reason to offer Nick Punto arbitration, even if they want him back. Come to terms on a fair deal -- and if he doesn't like the offer, let him walk. I suppose an argument could be made that Punto would be more likely to return if he were offered arbitration, but it doesn't make much sense to put his salary in the hands of an arbitrator who very well may overvalue his ability to play all over the field. I'm not taking a position in this post on whether the Twins should bring back Punto or not -- I'm just saying that regardless of their plans, they shouldn't offer him arbitration.

As for Reyes, I don't actually think it's that hard of a decision either. If Reyes was some sort of albatross, the team would have to think twice about making him an offer that he just might accept. He isn't, however -- he's a valuable lefty who could contribute in the bullpen next year if he decided to come back. Reyes has now had three seasons with the Twins -- one spectacular, one pretty good, and one on the bad side of so-so. Since he bounced back last year from his so-so 2007 season, it appears that he still has the ability to be a useful situational lefty out of the bullpen. If the Twins offer him arbitration, then, they'll either get back a useful lefty or they'll gain a draft pick. To me, that's a win-win.

On the other hand, if the Twins fail to offer Reyes arbitration, they would be guaranteed nothing -- they could try to re-sign him as a free agent, but he's likely to get better offers elsewhere. If they fail, they'd get nothing. If Reyes were to accept arbitration he'd probably get a pretty solid salary from the arbitrator -- but it isn't likely that the salary for a middle reliever, even if arbitration inflated, is going to bankrupt the team. It's almost not even worthy of calling a "risk."

I expect that tomorrow will produce little drama -- Reyes will most likely be offered arbitration, and everyone else is likely to be offered nothing. I'd be perfectly happy with that result.

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Boxing Banter

Sadly, my computer is dead (fried motherboard), but a couple hundred dollars later I spruced up my old one with a new battery and power cord, and I pulled my data off the dead one with a SATA-USB dock (handy little things -- I recommend having one around). So, I'm back in the blogging game with my old computer and a fancy new one on the way. Not that I've had much to say for most of the off-season -- hopefully that will change soon!

Now, onto some fight notes. I didn't get to see any of these live, but there were some interesting results to comment on:

1.) Paul Williams is something of a beast, and now he has the WBO interim Junior Middleweight title to lug around and possibly entice people to fight him. This is one of those troublesome interim titles -- the actual titleholder, Sergiy Dzinziruk, is out fighting and defending his title. Why is there still an interim belt when the real title-holder isn't hurt or otherwise out of the picture? And why would the WBO bother with the extreme farce of a "vacant" interim title? These are the mysteries around which boxing is made. If the world made any sense, this would lead to a mandatory fight between Dzinzurik (36-0-0) and Williams (36-1-0) -- but that would probably make too much sense for the WBO. Anyway, based on the results of this fight, Williams isn't going to have any problem with his move up from welterweight.

2.) Maybe I should give Cristobal Arreola more credit than I did in last week's post. After knocking out Travis Walker last night, he's 26-0 with 23 knockouts. He did the deed in the third round after Walker sent him to the canvas in the second, so he would seem to have some staying power. I still doubt that Arreola would have much of a chance against either Klitschko or Nikolai Valuev -- but it's starting to look like we'll get a chance to find out.

3.) This fight wasn't on my radar, but WBC junior flyweight champion Edgar Sosa handed mandatory challenger Juanito Rubillar his 11th loss on the way to defending the title.

4.) I'm looking forward to December 6. The headline fight for most is the Oscar De La Hoya/Manny Pacquiao tilt -- but I tend to agree with the commentators who think that the natural size difference is too much and that De La Hoya will dominate. Far more interesting to me is the Carl Froch/Jean Pascal fight for the vacant WBC Super Middleweight belt. Both fighters are undefeated, and I think sup mid is an interesting weight that can produce some good fights, so that could be interesting. The vacant WBO Cruiserweight belt will also be contested in a fight between Enzo Maccarinelli and Johnathan Banks. Maccarinelli comes in at 28-2-0 with 21 KO's, while Banks is undefeated with 20 wins and 14 KO's. The WBO junior featherweight belt will also be defended by Juan Manuel Lopez against Sergio Medina.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blog Update

This is not an excuse for my lack of off-season blogging to this point (that's been due to a combination of being busy and a lack of major off-season news), but my computer screen just went belly up tonight. I'm down to using a very unreliable backup, and will probably not be blogging much at all until I get my computer fixed (hopefully by next week). If something major happens I'll do my best to get on and talk about it.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Boxing Banter

Short post today -- it's my birthday and I'm off doing a number of things. I did want to comment briefly on three fights from this weekend:

1.) Ricky Hatton/Paulie Malignaggi was a non-starter for me. The fight just wasn't all that exciting, with Malignaggi diving inside a ton to try to short-arm Hatton, and with Hatton (especially early) grabbing Paulie whenever that happened. After the first round, Hatton dominated the fight (which contributed to the lack of excitement). I expected something better out of two fighters who had only two losses between them coming in, but the combination of styles just didn't lead to a great fight and I ended up being relatively disappointed. Bizarre decision by Paulie's corner to wave the towel in the middle of the 11th round, also. Malignaggi wasn't going to win the fight, and doesn't have the power to legitimately hope for a miracle knockout, so on that level I understand. However, at the time he wasn't really in danger physically, and I'm not sure why they wouldn't have let him keep going until and unless he did get himself in trouble.

2.) Speaking of bizarre fights, the James Kirkland/Brian Vera fight that came right before the Hatton/Malignaggi main event qualifies. Kirkland hammered Vera mercilessly, and knocked him down three times, but two of those falls looked more like slips or pushes and Vera took punch after punch after punch. The referee ended up stopping the fight in the 8th after a defenseless Vera took a particularly nasty punch. For several rounds before that, the british announcers who I was listening to were mortified that Vera's corner wasn't stopping the fight -- but I understood their decision. Vera was occasionally landing big right hands to Kirkland's chin, and Kirkland was occasionally getting winded. Whereas Malignaggi in the main event had no realistic hope of landing a knock out punch, Vera did seem to have that hope. The referee made the right decision in stopping the fight when he did, but I also think Vera's corner was correct in keeping their fighter in the bout.

3.) I didn't get to see the Celestino Cabellero/Steve Molitor junior featherweight unification fight, but I wish I had. Caballero dominated the previously unbeaten Moliter, knocking him out in the fourth round. It sounds like he wants to fight the other champions in the division, and I'm hopeful we could see a fully unified junior featherweight champion in a year or so.

4.) There aren't a lot of big fights next weekend, but HBO's November 29 card has a couple of semi-interesting bouts. Verno Phillips and Paul Williams will battle for the vacant WBO junior middleweight title, and that's a weight that I enjoy watching. There's also an IBF heavyweight eliminator on the card between Cristobal Arreola and Travis Walker. Neither one has a hope of beating IBF champ Wladimir Klitschko if they get a title fight, but at least this is a heavyweight bout between what passes for a couple of high level fighters -- it probably won't be that entertaining but I'll still give it a shot. And don't forget that in two weeks we'll all get to witness the likely disaster that will be De La Hoya/Pacquiao. How great would it be if Pacquiao somehow pulled off an upset in that fight, by the way? I'd find it hilarious, although it'll almost certainly never happen.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Roster Explosion

Since tomorrow is the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft, we knew that the Twins would be making some roster additions. What's a bit surprising is that they added so many players -- a whopping eight, which brings the 40-man roster to 39 players. That leaves one spot open for a potential free agent acquisition (and I would expect they'll add at least someone in that spot, although it remains to be seen whether it will be someone like Casey Blake or someone like Nick Punto). Anything beyond one addition, though, will now have to be accompanied by taking someone off of the roster, so we'll see how they handle that situation if it becomes necessary.

Here's the list, if you haven't yet seen it:

C - Drew Butera
C - Wilson Ramos
IF - Luke Hughes
IF - Trevor Plouffe
IF - Deibinson Romero
IF - Steven Tolleson
LHP - Brian Duensing
RHP - Anthony Swarzak

All of those names appeared as at least possibilities on the list I put together a week ago, with five of them on the list of players I personally would have picked. I didn't have Drew Butera, Trevor Plouffe, or Deibinson Romero on my list, but I understand the reason for protecting each of them. Butera is a solid defensive catcher who should be able to make it as a scrappy backup in the big leagues at some point. Plouffe had a rough stretch early in his professional career after being a high draft pick, but has bounced back reasonably well over the last few years. Romero had a disappointing and injury filled 2008, but was considered a high-end prospect entering the year and the Twins are obviously still high on him.

The only player who I had stated I would protect that the Twins left off the list is lefty Ryan Mullins. As I acknowledged at the time, I have a weakness for left-handed starting pitchers. I still think the Twins could wind up seeing Mullins disappear in the draft, but clearly they're not that worried about the possibility either because they don't think he'll be taken, they don't think he'll last a full year with a big league club if he is taken, or they don't care if he's taken. Certainly, if the Twins were going to protect just one lefty starter, Duensing was the right choice.

Will anyone be taken from the Twins in the draft? It seems quite likely. Aside from Mullins, who I think has a chance of being selected, one possibility is Tim Lahey, who was drafted last year before being returned to the Twins. He's been just ok in the Arizona Fall League (a 3.97 ERA but a highish .289 batting average against and an underwhelming 8-6 K-BB ratio in 11.1 innings) and didn't pitch well at all in Rochester in 2008. That might discourage anyone from taking him. I also wonder a bit about Matthew Fox and Jay Rainville, around whom there might at least be a nibble or two. Erik Lis is a left-handed hitting masher, and that might be attractive to someone. Beyond that, any other picks would probably be a bit of a stretch -- but you never know. Who thought that R.A. Dickey would be taken by the Mariners last year?

I like that the Twins added so many players to the roster, and I hope it pays off when the draft rolls around.

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Quick Thought on Draft Picks

There's an interesting draft-related tidbit buried in this ESPN article on the length of the first round of the playoffs. The article's main point of discussion is the suggestion from A's owner Lew Wolff that the first round of the playoffs be shortened to one game so as to shorten the post-season (I'm not even going to bother discussing how bad this idea is -- suffice it to say I can think of about five reasons, ranging from issues of competition to finances to better alternatives, that make this a non-starter).

What I found much more interesting, though, was Wolff's statement about his intentions regarding the recently-acquired Matt Holliday. Says Wolff: "I'd rather take the two draft choices than lose him in the middle of the season." He's referring to the possibility that Holliday could be traded at the deadline, spun off for prospects in the way that pretty much anyone who has any talent is always spun off by the A's (lest anyone think a Twins fan calling out the A's for this is the pot calling the kettle black, let me point out that the Twins signed Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, and Joe Nathan to long term deals -- yes, they traded Johan Santana, but there were a lot of factors involved with that decision). If Holliday is dealt, the A's could get some prospects for him -- but even if they don't trade him, they'd get draft pick compensation when he signed elsewhere before the 2010 season.

I think this is interesting because it's a somewhat unusual way of looking at the situation. Teams can't trade draft picks directly, but what Wolff is essentially suggesting here (indirectly) is that he picked up Matt Holliday with an eye towards those picks. Unless you think the A's are somehow going to be able to compete with the Angels next year, the Holliday pickup was not made to get the A's into the playoffs. That led many (including myself) to conclude that this pickup was designed to give the A's trade bait either before the start of the 2009 season or at the deadline in July. We all know, after all, that the A's are obsessed with making trades for prospects. But if Lew Wolff isn't just blowing smoke, it suggest that they love draft picks even more.

Now, I'm not belittling the draft. Organizations must rely on the draft to have any chance of being effective in the long term. But if you have any faith in your scouting department, wouldn't you be more inclined to make a deal for known commodities through a trade than taking a chance on two draft picks which be no higher than the mid-point of the first round? My guess is that Wolff is just playing his cards close to the vest, and that if GM Billy Beane comes to him in July with a good trade, Wolff will sign off without whining too much about losing the draft pick compensation. If not, the A's have an even stranger philosophical approach than I thought.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Seth's 2009 Prospect Handbook

I've mentioned it before, but I wanted to mention once again that Seth Stohs of Sethspeaks.net is now taking pre-orders on his prospect handbook. Seth is a dedicated fan and an expert in the Twins minor league system. If you're interested in finding out information on the over 175 players in the Twins minor league system, or if you know someone who is, I recommend you order the book. Find out more information at:



Sunday, November 16, 2008

Boxing Banter

I would like to introduce a new regular Sunday feature of this blog -- a boxing "notes" post which, as you can see, will be called Boxing Banter (I'm all about alliteration). I plan on putting a Boxing Banter post up every week, with a few observations on the events that took place over the previous few days (the schedule for most weeks includes fights from Wednesday to Saturday, with the big events usually on Saturday). I am by no means as versed in boxing as I am in baseball, having been a fan for a much shorter period of time. Also, while I get to watch a fair number of fights, I don't get a chance to watch them all, and there should be no expectation that I've seen all the fights I'm talking about. These aren't meant to be recaps of fights, anyway, but thoughts on the implications of fights and on the events yet to come. Here goes:

1.) With the heavyweight division in such a state of stagnation (Evander freakin' Holyfield is getting a title shot against Nikolai Valuev on December 20 -- and his last significant win came in 2002 against Hasim Rahman), it was good to see David Haye make a definitive statement in his full-time heavyweight debut against Monte Barrett. Barrett isn't exactly a title contender, but he's a solid enough fighter to debut against. Haye knocked Barrett down five times before the fight was stopped in the fifth round. I don't know what Haye's ceiling is as a heavyweight, but I look forward to his eventual contest with Valuev and/or one of the Klitschko's. Haye has already challenged Vitaly, but he'll have to wait in line for at least one more fight. Hopefully he doesn't move too soon -- but you bet I'll be watching when he gets his shot at a title.

2.) Another heavyweight who might get some notice is Denis Boytsov. He's undefeated at 23-0 with 18 KO's, and so far has only been ranked by the WBA and WBO. At some point I'm guessing he'll get some love from the WBC and IBF. That recognition will come if he starts beating some bigger names. He beat Vinny Maddalone on Saturday night.

3.) The big fight of the week was between Jermain Taylor and Jeff Lacy in a WBC super middleweight eliminator. Taylor won big on points, but now might not pursue the title fight against an as-yet-to-be determined champion. The reason? ESPN's Dan Rafael reports that Taylor wants a piece of Joe Calzaghe at light heavyweight. Ironically, the belt Taylor would be fighting for if he accepted the fight he's earned would be a belt vacated by Calzaghe when he moved up in weight. I understand why Taylor wants Calzaghe -- it's all about the payday, and he could undoubtedly make more bank against Calzaghe than he would against the winner of the fight between Carl Froch and Jean Pascal. I don't begrudge him that; boxing is a violent sport that messes up competitors, and grabbing the cash while you can makes sense. It's frustrating, however, that so many boxers have to ignore weight classes and mandatory fights (or, in Taylor's case, possible title fights) to go make money in one-off challenges. In some cases, this impulse gets us freak-show fights like the looming disaster that will be De La Hoya-Pacquiao. In other cases, it just means good fighters aren't identified with a particular weight class. Either way, it's frustrating. I wish there was a solution, but I doubt there is.

4.) Next week, undefeated IBF junior featherweight champion Steve Molitor faces WBA junior featherweight champion Celestino Caballero in a unification fight. The fight also has ramifications for The Ring rankings, as Caballero is the Ring #2 and Molitor the Ring #4 in that division. My dream would be for the winner to face WBC/Ring champion Israel Vazquez in a further unification sometime in April or May -- but we'll see what Vazquez has in mind coming off of three straight fights against Rafael Marquez.

5.) Next week will also see Ring junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton defending his title against Paulie Malignaggi. Both fighters have one blemish on their record -- Hatton's is a 2007 loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Malignaggi's a 2006 loss to Miguel Cotto. Malignaggi enters the fight as the #1 contender to Hatton's belt, so this should be a heck of a fight. My guess is that Hatton will retain, but I guess I wouldn't be surprised either way.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gardy Re-Ups

It's been expected for quite awhile, but the Twins announced today that Ron Gardenhire has been locked up through 2011, with the coaching staff in place through 2010. While I generally feel like the Twins fan base supports Gardy, there are a few naysayers out there who don't. That'll always be the case, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. For my money, though, Gardy is a solid manager, and I'd much rather have him in charge of the team than about 90% of the other guys in the league. Yes, he has his particular hangups and he occasionally drives me craazy. That's pretty much par for the course with a manager, though. I'm glad that Gardy will be around for at least a few more years -- and hopefully one of these years he'll be able to guide his team to a World Championship.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Neshek Out for '09

The fears of Twins fans were confirmed today when the Twins announced that Pat Neshek will miss the 2009 season due to a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament. The only good thing about the timing is that the Twins now know entering free agency that they won't get anything out of Neshek, which means there is plenty of time to design the bullpen without him. Clearly, I'd rather have Neshek available, because when pitching well he's capable of being a phenomenal setup man for the team. I wish him the best of luck in his recovery, and hope he's ready to bounce onto the field when the new stadium opens up in 2010.


My Rule 5 Protection Picks

The Rule 5 Draft takes place on December 11 this year, but even though it's still a month away the deadline to add a player to the 40-man roster to protect him from the draft is on November 20. The Twins have already added Armando Gabino to the 40-man, and while that does protect him from the Rule 5 draft that move was made early to prevent him from becoming a minor league free agent. This post ranks the top players who I would protect if I were the Twins, and throws out a list of a few more players who could be added as well. With just 31 players on the 40-man roster, the Twins have the room at add 5-6 guys to the roster while still leaving spots open for a few free agent acquisitions. Here's my list:

1.) Luke Hughes - 3B
Despite being just 24, Hughes has actually been Rule 5 eligible for a few years now, having been originally signed by the Twins out of Australia back in 2002. He's had a few good years and a few bad years since starting his playing career in the organization in 2003, but 2007 and 2008 were both very solid, and he's now moved up to Rochester, where he can be expected to play next year. With the Twins third base situation far from settled, and with Hughes recent success, I'd add him to the 40-man roster in a heartbeat. I'd be surprised if the Twins took a chance and left him unprotected this year.

2.) Brian Duensing - LHP
The first of two lefties drafted in the 3rd round of 2005 who I expect to see protected by the Twins this year. Duensing didn't have a great 2008 in Rochester, posting a 4.28 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Still, he's been an effective starter everywhere he's pitched in the minor leagues, and will be entering his second full season in AAA in 2009. As an effective lefty starter at the AAA level, I'd guess Duensing would be drafted if left unprotected. I expect him to soon be on the 40-man roster.

3.) Ryan Mullins - LHP
Duensing will likely be joined by fellow 2005 3rd round pick Ryan Mullins. Unlike Duensing, Mullins spent the 2008 season in AA New Britain -- but like Duensing he had a bit of an off-year, posting a 4.31 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 148.1 innings. I still expect him to be a high profile commodity on the Rule 5 market if not added to the 40-man roster. Since I'm a fan of lefty starters, and since I think Mullins has a high upside, I'd add him to the roster.

4.) Steven Tolleson - 2B/SS
Tolleson was a 5th round selection in 2005, and has hit pretty well while healthy. He had a nice 2008 season in New Britain, with a .300 average and 848 OPS. He's bolstered his odds by playing well in the Arizona Fall League. He's probably above Mullins on the Twins list, but he's right behind him on my list. Either way, I expect the Twins will add him, as would I.

5.) Wilson Ramos - C
This one is tricky for two reasons -- first, while I believe he's rule 5 eligible this year, I don't know that for sure. He was signed as a 16-year-old in 2004, which makes this year's rule 5 draft the fifth since he signed with the Twins. That should make him eligible, but there may be some unusual rules with international signings that I haven't taken into consideration. Second, he's a bit on the unseasoned side to protect by placing him on the roster; he hasn't played above High A ball. Most team's also couldn't afford to hold a young (he's 21), untested catcher on the roster for a full season, as would be required if he were drafted. Still, he's got a lot of potential, and there might be a fear that he could be taken if he's in fact eligible. I could see either decision being justified, but I'd probably add him to be on the safe side. That would give him three option years to develop into a big league caliber player (after which he could either backup Mauer or be in a position to replace him if Mauer had departed by a free agent by then). It'll be interesting to see what the Twins do with him.

6.) Anthony Swarzak - RHP
Swarzak had a bizarre year, pitching very poorly in New Britain (5.67 ERA/1.60 WHIP in 101.2 innings) before being promoted to Rochester and pitching very well (1.80 ERA/1.22 WHIP in 45 innings). Swarzak has been extremely solid since being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft as a high schooler, so I expect that his poor performance in New Britain will largely be discounted and that he's still a highly-valued prospect in the organization. He'd probably be the final player I protected if I were running things, and I expect he'll also make the Twins list.

Other Possibilities
Here are the other names who are Rule 5 eligible (I think) that I could see potentially being protected by the Twins. There are a variety of reasons they wouldn't make my cut, from performance issues to inexperience (and therefore not being likely targets). They are in no particular order:

Drew Butera - C
Trevor Plouffe - SS
Matthew Fox - RHP
Zach Ward - RHP
Tim Lahey - RHP
David Winfree - 1B/OF
Brock Peterson - 1B
Alejandro Machado - SS
Deibinson Romero - 3B
Erik Lis - OF
Yohan Pino - RHP
Jay Rainville - RHP

We'll find out what the Twins decide to do in the next week or so.

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Minor League Free Agents

I'm slowly starting to catch up to the point where I can think about blogging again, which is good since free agency begins in three days and a number of things are actually likely to start happening which deserve some attention. For starters, I wanted to get a post up on a story where I'm once again a bit behind the curve -- minor league free agency and the players who are no longer the exclusive property of the Twins because of it.

You've probably seen the list already, either at Baseball America or on Joe C's Twins blog or over at Seth Speaks or any of a number of other outlets for it. I'm not going to try to do a lot with the information, but here's the list in case you haven't seen it, and some brief thoughts afterwards.

RHP: Julio DePaula, Danny Graves, Tom Shearn
LHP: Ricky Barrett, Carmen Cali, Mariano Gomez, Jason Miller
1B: Garrett Jones
2B: Felix Molina
SS: Sergio Santos; Howie Clark
OF: Joe Gaetti, Darnell McDonald, Tommy Watkins

Two of these names are immediately recognizable because they were recently removed from the 40-man roster -- Julio DePaula and Sergio Santos. As I said at the time, though, there was no reason to keep either of these players on the 40-man, and losing them as minor league free agents doesn't hurt the team. DePaula's 5.70 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in 77.1 innings represented a marked regression from the numbers that he had put up in 2007 and earlier, so there's some chance that he could regain his form. However, it wasn't worth keeping him on the 40-man roster to find that out, and if the Twins want to they can try to re-sign him and not have to worry about having him take up valuable roster space. Santos, meanwhile, was seemingly picked up off waivers as a stopgap for the Rochester infield. Like Chris Basak the year before, the acquisition never really made sense, and I doubt the Twins will make much of an effort to reacquire him.

Danny Graves, Tom Shearn, and Howie Clark were all veteran minor leaguers who were mostly filling spaces on minor league rosters. Clark got 8 AB's as a Twin this year, but that was due to unusual circumstances. None of them will be brought back, although there will be other players like them signed by the Twins this off-season simply as roster filler.

The four lefties are interesting. Carmen Cali is probably the most familiar name because of his stint with the Twins in 2007, but he wasn't needed in 2008 at the big league level, and probably wouldn't have been able to provide much there anyway (he has a career 11.80 big league ERA). The Twins might, however, go after Ricky Barrett if he has any interest in returning to Rochester in 2009. He had a solid season in 2008 (3.21 ERA/1.33 WHIP/81-38 K-BB in 70 innings). While he's not one of the most dynamic prospects in the organization, he consistently posts a K/9 ratio of over 9.00, and usually keeps his ERA and WHIP in check. Considering that he's also a lefty, and at 27 isn't exactly too old to contribute, I would like to see him back in the fold. Mariano Gomez put up a solid year in 2008, his first in the Twins organization, but not enough to deserve a spot on the roster. I could see the Twins trying to bring him back, but at just 25 he'll probably get a few offers from around the league, and he doesn't exactly have a strong connection with the organization. Jason Miller has a nice 2007 and then found himself busted down to AA in 2008 in spite of that. He didn't find easier competition at the lower level -- he had a very poor 5.61 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 85 innings. He might be brought back for another go-round in AA, but I doubt it will be a top priority for him.

Garrett Jones put together his best minor league season since 2004 in New Britain with his 2008 work in Rochester, hitting .279 with an 821 OPS and 23 HR's while striking out 98 times in 527 AB's. Those are solid numbers, but Jones is seriously blocked in the Twins organization by Justin Morneau and the plethora of good outfield options. He's probably better off leaving the Twins and trying to find a better situation.

Felix Molina was somewhat surprisingly re-signed by the Twins after becoming a minor league free agent last season. I liked the idea at the time, but he had a pretty bad year, hitting .247/636 in 300 AB's. I would guess that he won't be back. The same is probably true for long-time Twins minor league fixture Tommy Watkins, who had a feel-good big league debut in 2007 only to be converted to primary use an outfielder in 2008. His struggles at the plate (.219/596 in 233 AB's) and his increasing age (he's 28) make him a somewhat unlikely target for the Twins to retain.

Depending on where they feel the organization is with outfield depth, the club could potentially go after free agents Darnell McDonald and Joe Gaetti, however. Gaetti was acquired from Oakland in July for "future considerations" (I haven't seen what those considerations are yet). He then had 1 at-bat with New Britain before being shut down for the season. I would have to think the Twins saw something in Gaetti that made them want to pick him up, so I expect them to push to bring him back. McDonald is pushing 30 and hit just .268 this year. He doesn't seem destined to break through as a likely big league regular (or even as a big league backup), so the Twins would probably only try to retain him if they wanted some AAA outfield filler.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Seth's 2009 Prospect Handbook

For my money, Seth Stohs over at Seth Speaks is the hardest working, most informed Twins blogger out there. It's my pleasure, then, to wholeheartedly endorse his 2009 Prospect Handbook, which is available for pre-order now at his website. With a forward from Pat Neshek and profiles over 175 minor league players, it's sure to be a valuable addition to any fan who enjoys the minor leagues as much as the MLB. Seth also offered me a page to include a top 30 prospect list, and I happily agreed. Check out his site to find out more about what's included in the book. Good luck to Seth on book sales!


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Congrats to the Gold Glover

I wanted to post a congrats to Twins Gold Glove catcher Joe Mauer -- I imagine this will be the first of many for a guy who is rightfully one of the best catchers in baseball. There is a good argument put forth by folks like Marty that Mauer also deserves this year's AL MVP award, but this is a nice consolation prize since the MVP is pretty unlikely.

As for this blog, expect light blogging to continue at least through Saturday. I take the MPRE on Saturday -- it's the first of the tests required of those who want to be lawyers. There's a joke somewhere in the fact that ethics are tested using a 60-question multiple choice exam, but I'll leave that for others. Hopefully when the exam is done and I'm not taking practice tests anymore I'll get a chance to write a few longer posts. See you then!

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Blog Update

I had planned on getting up a "roster additions" post by yesterday, but that didn't happen. Now, I'm in full on election mode (not to mention homework mode), so don't expect anything for the next few days. Hopefully Thursday. Whatever your political affiliation, get out and vote tomorrow if you haven't already. Can't wait to see how things unfold tomorrow!