January 11, 2006

Trimming the Fat

I was a scrawny little kid. I played a lot of sports and was only willing to eat a few very specific things, so for the first decade or so of my life I was really skinny. At some point, probably around 11 or 12 years old, I began growing significantly taller and started to eat a wider variety of stuff. My athletic abilities also peaked around that time, and soon my participation in sports (aside from watching them) declined.

From about 13 to 23, I gradually got fatter and fatter. I made peace with being a fat guy years ago, embracing the whole look and self-deprecating act, but recently decided that now is the right time to make a change. After all, if you can't lose weight when you're 23, you're probably never going to. Last week I purchased an elliptical machine, which is scheduled to be delivered here this afternoon.

Because working out alone won't fix a problem that is 10 years in the making, I've also decided to change my diet. So, starting today, I'm officially trying to lose weight. I bring this up not because I have delusions of anyone reading this being even remotely interested, but because keeping tabs on my progress here may help me stay with it.

In other words, if in two weeks I have yet to lose any weight and say so here, a few of you are sure to remind me of how pathetic that is. I have no dreams of being particularly fit and I don't even really have a specific number of pounds in mind for a goal. I'd just like to consistently shed pounds on a weekly basis, so that I can motivate myself to eventually drop a significant amount of weight.

Those of you who get annoyed when I discuss uninteresting aspects of my personal life here should think of it this way: Either I begin to lose weight today and shed about half of David Eckstein over the next six months or so, or I'll be a fat guy for the remainder of my life (which will probably be shorter than it should be because of health problems). If you think of it that way it's fairly compelling, right?

While I wait for the delivery that will hopefully change my life, some quick Twins notes ...

  • After trading for Corey Koskie last weekend, the Brewers designated Russ Branyan for assignment Monday. Branyan has some sizable flaws both offensively and defensively, but he's intriguing due to big-time power and a .249/.366/.518 line against right-handed pitching over the past three seasons. While not a good defensive player, Branyan is flexible enough in the field to play passably at first base, third base, and left field.

    To get Branyan the Twins would have to assume a one-year, non-guaranteed contract worth $800,000, which is extremely reasonable for someone who would at the very least be an excellent bench bat and platoon option. Of course, Ron Gardenhire doesn't really platoon, the Twins don't like guys who strike out and are allergic to sluggers, and if they had $800,000 to toss around they should have found a way to deal for Koskie.

  • The Twins added to their collection of mediocre LOOGY candidates yesterday by signing Darrell May to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. May will presumably compete with Gabe White and Dennys Reyes for the chance to replace J.C. Romero in the bullpen, but he's a 33-year-old soft-tosser with a 5.16 ERA in 661.2 career innings.

    May had a nice year with Kansas City in 2003, but is 10-23 with a 5.92 ERA over the past two seasons. The good news? He's held left-handed hitters to a respectable .251/.281/.419 over the past three years, posting a 76-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The bad news? As I've discussed before Gardenhire is unlikely to use anyone strictly against lefties, and right-handed hitters have bombed May to the tune of .291/.341/.533 since 2003.

  • There is some stiff competition for this title, but the following may be the least-believable thing Charley Walters has ever put in his St. Paul Pioneer Press column:
    Although Toronto was willing to absorb $7.1 million of third baseman Corey Koskie's $11 million, two-year contract if the Twins would give up a minor league player, the reason Minnesota would not bite is that Koskie will receive $6.5 million guaranteed in 2008 if he has 600 at-bats this season or 1,200 over the next two seasons. And there is a $500,000 buyout for Koskie if he doesn't achieve the extra $6.5 million. The Milwaukee Brewers, who traded for Koskie, will pay $2 million of his salary this year, $1.9 million next year.

    First of all, it's 600 and 1,200 plate appearances, not at-bats. A seemingly trivial point, but one that could easily mean a difference of 60-75 trips to the plate per season for a guy like Koskie. Plus, he has a career-high of just 562 at-bats. A total of 85 big-league hitters reached 600 plate appearances in 2005, but just 33 of them managed 600 at-bats. I'm sure you get the point.

    Beyond that, there's just no way that the Twins were so worried about Koskie's option for 2008 vesting. He has topped 600 plate appearances in a season just once in eight years, and if by some miracle Koskie actually stayed healthy for an entire season the team could easily bench him once a week against a southpaw to keep his playing time down.

    Plainly illogical and factually incorrect stuff like that showing up in major-market newspapers is a big part of why sites like this one exist, I suppose.

  • According to MLB.com, Jose Lima's agent, Joe Klein, said he has been "talking to the Minnesota Twins about Lima." Lima went 5-16 with a ghastly 6.99 ERA in 32 starts for the Royals in 2005, so hopefully "talking to the Minnesota Twins about Lima" just means that Klein has been speaking into the phone and Terry Ryan has been listening politely before hanging up.

    Interestingly, Lima went 1-1 with a 4.83 ERA in five starts against the Twins this year, compared to 4-15 with a 7.49 ERA in 27 starts against everyone else. In talking about signing May, Ryan said, "I know he had a tough year last year, but he's always had some success against us." Here's hoping that way of thinking doesn't apply to all pitchers, because the list of guys Ryan would have to sign would be about as big as Lima's ERA.

  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Really, Bruce Sutter? (by Aaron Gleeman)
    - THT Interview: Jim Bouton (by Steve Treder)
    - Business of Baseball Report (by Brian Borawski)

    Pick of the Day (162-146, +$1,325):
    Chicago +5.5 (-110) over Minnesota


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