As mentioned here yesterday, Terry Ryan participated in a live "chat" over at TwinsBaseball.com yesterday afternoon. He said very little of substance -- far less than Ron Gardenhire revealed in his Q&A over the weekend -- but since it's the end of February and I'm starting to really get baseball fever, there is enough to at least discuss.
On Joe Mauer's knee and the team's backup plan at catcher:
Our first alternative would be go with Mike Redmond and probably Matt LeCroy. Certainly, we'd have to keep an eye on anybody that might be available through the course of spring training. So far so good. Mauer is doing fine and going through all the drills. We haven't had any problems.
The noteworthy thing here is that Ryan still thinks of Matthew LeCroy as an option at catcher, albeit an emergency option. At the end of last season the team went out and got a 97-year-old Pat Borders just to avoid having LeCroy catch once a week.
On the middle infield situation:
Punto hasn't shown he can be healthy enough yet, durable enough. The shortstop position is wide open. At second base, we have confidence Rivas can take the next step, we'll give him every opportunity to do that.
If the Twins have done anything with Luis Rivas, it is certainly "give him every opportunity." I'm sure that breakout year is right around the corner too, because plenty of players have very little success in the minors, put together four awful seasons in the majors, and then suddenly become stars.
Nick Punto's freak collarbone injury sure has given him the "injury prone" label in the team's eyes, whether fairly or not. And it doesn't help matters that he is now having back problems this spring. As for shortstop being "wide open," I guess we'll find out whether that's the truth if Jason Bartlett puts together a strong spring. I'm inclined to think Juan Castro will be starting on Opening Day unless he gets hit by a bus down in Fort Myers or Bartlett hits like .850 with 20 homers and flawless defense.
On Justin Morneau's health:
He has had a number of things happen to him this winter. Wisdom teeth removed, appendix removed -- he had chicken pox and now's he got a little bit of a lung problem. He should arrive today or tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll get him enough strength to be ready by Opening Day.
When I hear "hopefully" used in connection with a star player being ready to for Opening Day ... well, it isn't very encouraging. Between Jason Kubel's exploding leg, Mauer's bum knee, and Morneau's laundry list of issues ... ugh.
On the team's plans for Eric Munson:
I would say he will provide some depth at third, first, catcher and DH. He's a left-handed bat off the bench.
This is about the fourth of fifth time I've seen Ryan or Gardenhire go out of their way to describe Munson as a bench bat, so I am guessing (hoping?) Michael Cuddyer's hold on the third-base job is a little more secure than some may think. Of course, if the curse on Morneau isn't lifted, the Twins may need Munson at first base.
On whether or not Lew Ford is the everyday designated hitter:
No -- he'll rotate amongst others. He'll play left, center and right. And he'll DH.
I think this is mostly due to Ford being viewed as a young player (despite being 28) and the fact that teams are reluctant to name young players everyday DHs. On the other hand, it may also be the first sign that they are going to value defensive ability over Shannon Stewart's feelings, which is a good thing. Every inning Ford gets in the outfield instead of Stewart is a plus.
On what sort of baseball writing he reads:
I certainly read Baseball America, Baseball Weekly, The Sporting News and the Internet. I read newspapers every day from around the country. Most baseball books on the market -- "Moneyball" is a good baseball book. Any scouting information you can get is good.
First, Ryan is the only person I know of who didn't cancel their subscription to Baseball Weekly when it changed to Sports Weekly. Either that or he hasn't realized it changed, since he is still calling it "Baseball Weekly."
Aside from that, I am intrigued by the fact that he called Moneyball "a good baseball book" and admitted to both owning a computer and reading stuff about baseball on the internet. By my rough estimation, those two admissions bring the chances of him having ever read this blog up to roughly 0.000005%.
Hi Terry! Keep up the good work.
Today at The Hardball Times:
- Coming to America (Part Two) (by Aaron Gleeman)