December 20, 2005

Twins Notes

  • I guess I jumped the gun a bit on this story last week, because Jacque Jones didn't officially decline arbitration until yesterday. For those of you who didn't read my thoughts on Jones' exit the first time around (when it was only sort of official), feel free to check it out now.

    If Terry Ryan has the ability to make a move on a significant designated hitter, I'm guessing it will happen soon. Ryan has consistently said he wanted to clear Jones' salary from the books before doing anything, so now he's free to pursue guys like Mike Piazza and Frank Thomas without the threat of going over budget.

  • The Royals signed Doug Mientkiewicz to a one-year deal worth $1.85 million. It's an odd move for a number of reasons, first and foremost that Mientkiewicz is a first baseman hit .240/.322/.407 in 2005 and .238/.326/.350 in 2004. Why a team that went 56-106 this season needs that is unclear to me, although I suppose it'll help the young infielders and pitchers some to have a good defender at first.

    Beyond that, adding a mediocre veteran first baseman seems like the last thing the Royals needed to do. They already have Mike Sweeney and Matt Stairs on the roster, and one of their top prospects is Justin Huber, a first baseman who hit .326/.417/.560 with 23 homers and 97 RBIs in 120 games between Double-A and Triple-A this year. Luckily, I stopped trying to figure the Royals out a while ago.

  • Charley Walters' column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press last week had an interesting note:
    Word is the Twins wanted pitcher Chien-Ming Wang and second baseman Robinson Cano from the Yankees for center fielder Torii Hunter before Minnesota acquired second baseman Luis Castillo from the Marlins.

    As I've said before, if the Twins can acquire multiple young players who are both good and cheap for Torii Hunter, they should jump all over it. Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano certainly each fit that bill, and if there are similar offers out there from other teams keeping Hunter for 2006 is a mistake.

  • Nomar Garciaparra, who was probably the free agent targeted most often by optimistic Twins fans this offseason, signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers. Like Bill Mueller, Garciaparra agreed to a reasonable deal that the Twins seemingly could have matched. And like with Mueller, I'm guessing Garciaparra never had any interest in coming to Minnesota.

    Remember those big plans for the offense everyone had back in November? Well, at this point the Twins' moves have boiled down to replacing Jones and Nick Punto with Tony Batista and Luis Castillo. Batista actually replaces Michael Cuddyer at third base, but Cuddyer seems likely to take over for Jones in right field. Oh, and they've also lost Matthew LeCroy, who was one of the team's most productive hitters in 2005, and are still searching for his replacement. Good times!

  • I am trying to keep an open mind regarding new MLB.com Twins beat writer Kelly Thesier. With that said, she wrote 320 words on Batista in a "Mailbag" column yesterday and didn't once mention his complete inability to get on base. She mentioned his homers and RBIs plenty, of course, so it looks like we've got another person covering the Twins who probably doesn't know Bill James from Rick James. Oh well.
  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Franchises at Birth: The Royals and the Brewers (Part Two: 1971-1974) (by Steve Treder)
    - Not So Sweet Surrender (by Dan Fox)
    - Daily Graphing: A.J. Pierzynski & Heath Bell (by David Appelman)

    Pick of the Day (155-133, +$2,055):
    Los Angeles +3 (-110) over New Jersey


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