December 15, 2005

Twins Notes

  • ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote a nice article earlier this week about the Twins' complete lack of a 30-homer hitter since 1987, which is a topic I've lamented here numerous times. According to the article, "145 players combined to hit 30 or more homers in a season a total of 464 times" since the Twins had their last 30-homer season.

    If you can get over how depressing that is, it's pretty amazing that the team has won a World Series and made four trips to the postseason over that span. I also found it interesting that scouting director Mike Radcliff is quoted as saying "nobody's really put a finger on" why the Twins haven't had a 30-homer guy, but then Crasnick writes the following just a few paragraphs later:

    Even the team's approach to teaching hitters in the minors has come under scrutiny. [Tom] Kelly, who led the Twins to two world championships during his tenure, liked his hitters to use the inside-out, opposite-field approach and shorten up with two strikes. That approached filtered down to the instructors in the minor leagues, and it hasn't necessarily been conducive to producing sluggers.

    The Twins may not want to change their approach, but the finger is firmly in place on a legitimate reason (or multiple reasons) for the lack of power. Crasnick also brings up David Ortiz as an example of how the Twins don't create an ideal situation for someone capable of hitting for big power even at the big-league level and discusses how the team's drafts have been heavy on pitchers and athletic position players.

  • Bill Mueller, who was likely Terry Ryan's #1 target to play third base for the Twins in 2006, signed a two-year deal with the Dodgers yesterday. Reports of the deal say that Mueller turned down a three-year contract from the Pirates, so it's possible that he also turned down a competitive offer from the Twins at some point. I hope that's the case, because $9.5 million over two seasons probably makes Mueller one of the bigger bargains of the offseason.
  • In yesterday's entry I focused on the on-field aspects of Jacque Jones declining arbitration, but today I'd like to comment on something Jones' agent told the Minneapolis Star Tribune when asked if Jones would be accepting the Twins' offer:
    "I think we're not going to accept it," Dan Lozano said. "We've got a couple of multiyear deals on the table and not a one-year deal. Why would we turn those down and accept a one-year deal?"

    This is the sort of thing that gets glossed over in sports, but I often think about how things would be handled in non-sports situations. Not counting income like signing bonuses and endorsements, Jones has made a little over $13 million playing baseball professionally through the age of 30. From all indications he would have liked to finish his career in Minnesota, but the Twins were not willing to pay him what has been deemed fair-market value for multiple seasons.

    He may very well get $15 million over three years from a team like the Royals, instead of what probably would have been something like $6 million over one year from the Twins. Of course, barring a career-ending injury he could then have negotiated another contract as a free agent next offseason, which tightens the gap between the two offers. Yet his agent seems to imply that the decision was as simple as weighing the number of years each team is willing to guarantee his salary.

    Now pretend that instead of playing baseball, Jones has been a long-time employee of, say, Best Buy. He has advanced up the company ladder to make $13 million by the age of 30, likes working there, has called Minnesota home for nearly his entire adult life, and would like to be a lifelong employee if possible. Unfortunately, when he goes to negotiate a raise, the company is unwilling to give him the contract he wants.

    He shops around a bit and finds another, similar company located somewhere else that is willing to guarantee his salary for multiple years. In that case, would it be such a no-brainer that the long-time Best Buy employee would leave the job he enjoys in the state he calls home to get more financial security when he has already earned over $13 million at his job?

    I'm not blaming Jones for leaving the Twins, but I think history has shown that veteran players who leave their long-time teams aren't always thrilled with their decision down the road. I wonder if Jones and his agent discussed that part of the situation, rather than just the number of years teams are offering to pay him guaranteed money for.

  • For anyone interested in getting a look at new Twins prospect Alexi Casilla that goes beyond his stats, FutureAngels.com has some nice action shots of him hitting, running, and fielding.
  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Catching Up On Trades (Part 2) (by Aaron Gleeman)
    - Pitching Contracts (by Dave Studeman)

    Pick of the Day (154-129, +$2,395):
    San Antonio -2.5 (-110) over Minnesota


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