November 30, 2008

Twins Notes: Young, Morlan, Reyes, and Iron Man

  • When local sports gossip columnists Sid Hartman and Charley Walters had similar notes recently about Delmon Young being on the trading block my take was that someone from the Twins was clearly making that information public intentionally, so it makes sense that the Young-related speculation has now advanced to a national level. Here's a recent note from Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com:
    Twins left fielder Delmon Young is "very, very much out there," according to one rival GM. Young, a right-handed hitter, would make particular sense for the Phillies, but the Twins will need to be careful in any trade discussions. Getting poor value for Young would only compound their mistake in acquiring him as part of a six-player trade in which they sent shortstop Jason Bartlett and right-hander Matt Garza to the Rays.

    There are some prominent national baseball columnists who strike me as having spotty track records when it comes to passing along rumors, but Rosenthal is atop my list of trusted writers. Not only does he break more big stories than anyone, I've seen him in action at the winter meetings two years ago and was blown away by how hard he works. In other words, a single paragraph from Rosenthal does more to convince me that Young is being shopped than 50 notes from Hartman and Walters would.

  • Speaking the Young trade, along with Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett the Twins also sent Eduardo Morlan to Tampa Bay when the Rays reportedly soured on Juan Rincon due to his medical records. At the time Morlan ranked as the Twins' eighth-best prospect in my most recent annual rankings and my write-up of the trade included the following:
    While it'll no doubt be a glossed-over aspect of a blockbuster trade, the difference between Rincon and Morlan is substantial and increases the already strong chance that the deal will be unkind to the Twins over the long haul. ... The 21-year-old former third-round pick has dominated in the minors and projects as a late-inning reliever who could be ready to make a significant big-league impact as soon as 2008.

    Morlan struggled through a shoulder injury early on this season, but finished very strong to end the year with a 3.64 ERA, 45-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and .240 opponent's batting average in 47.2 innings at Double-A as a 22-year-old. Shoulder problems aside his performance this season did nothing to alter my opinion that he's a very good relief prospect, which is why it was so surprising to see that the Rays opted not to add him to their 40-man roster.

    Morlan is now eligible to be selected in next week's Rule 5 draft and it would be nice to see the Twins recoup some of the value from the Young trade by taking him, but my guess is that Morlan won't make it to them. Even speculating that a specific player will be selected at all in the Rule 5 draft is somewhat pointless because the whole thing is very unpredictable, but Morlan is exactly the type of prospect many teams target and he's featured in all sorts of articles highlighting potential Rule 5 steals.

  • Today is the deadline for teams to offer eligible players arbitration, which means that the Twins must make a decision regarding Dennys Reyes. If the Twins offer Reyes arbitration and he accepts, they're on the hook for a one-year contract at a price yet to be determined. If they offer him arbitration and he declines in order to sign elsewhere, they'll receive a second-round draft pick. And if they don't offer him arbitration, he's a goner and they'll get nothing as compensation when he officially departs.

    In addition to the looming decision on Reyes, today's deadline also means that some pretty intriguing free-agent relievers could become options for the Twins if their respective teams decline to offer them arbitration. For now guys like Juan Cruz, Russ Springer, and Bob Howry probably aren't on the Twins' radar because signing them would involve losing a first-round pick, but if no arbitration is offered they'll be free to sign without any compensation and would be very worthwhile targets.

    UPDATE: The Twins offered arbitration to Reyes and the Diamondbacks did the same with Cruz, but Howry and Springer are now eligible to be signed without draft-pick compensation.

  • Not only has Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star long been my favorite newspaper columnist, he was one of just two Baseball Writers Association of America members with an actual MVP ballot this season to cast a first-place vote for Joe Mauer:
    I felt very strongly that he should have been the American League MVP in 2006 over his teammate Justin Morneau. This year, I felt like Mauer was both the best player in the American League and--just as a slightly different way of looking at it--the most irreplaceable player. ... I realize that this is not the only way to look at this thing--probably not even the best way to look at it--but I have to say I have no idea why people who watch this team more closely than I do insist that Morneau is the more valuable player.

    Posnanski is definitely right in saying that most Twins fans think Justin Morneau is more valuable than Mauer, but that sentiment has certainly never been expressed in this space. Of course, Posnanski has suggested multiple times that Ron Gardenhire is the best manager in baseball and that's also not a sentiment you're likely to see here, so we don't agree on everything.

  • University of Minnesota alum Todd Zolecki of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Phillies "are looking for a utility infielder and have had discussions with Nick Punto." Philadelphia originally drafted Punto in the 21st round way back in 1998 before sending him to Minnesota along with Carlos Silva and Bobby Korecky in the 2003 trade for Eric Milton. My guess is that Punto would be willing to re-sign with the Twins if they offer him a legit chance to start, but may go elsewhere if only a backup job is offered.
  • Not only did Carlos Silva go 4-16 with a ghastly 6.46 ERA for the Mariners during the first season of his four-year, $48 million contract, he reportedly did so while adding about 30 pounds to his 250-pound frame. As someone who lost 90 pounds and then gained most of it right back he has my sympathies, although the combination of $48 million, a training staff, and doing something athletic for a living may have motivated me a bit more than, say, having a job that involves no co-workers and writing from bed.
  • If you've ever wanted to see what Robert Downey Jr. would look like wearing a vintage 1987 Twins World Series t-shirt while sitting next to Gwyneth Paltrow on the set of Iron Man, here's your chance:

    Even better, the photo was taken by The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges. As for why Downey would wear an old Twins t-shirt from 1987, none of the people who sent me the link had a plausible explanation and it definitely doesn't make as much sense as Bert Blyleven wearing this t-shirt.


  • Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

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