Twins Notes: 40 Men, Name Changes, and Lawn Protection
With the Rule 5 draft coming next week the Twins protected Danny Valencia, Robert Delaney, Deolis Guerra, Alex Burnett, Loek Van Mil, and Estarlin De Los Santos by adding them to the 40-man roster. All six prospects would have been Rule 5 eligible for the first time. De Los Santos is the only surprise, because he's on the bubble for my upcoming top-40 prospects list and played this season at Single-A, making it unlikely that any team would be willing to keep him in the majors for all of 2010.
Clearly the Twins love De Los Santos' glove at shortstop, because he had a career-year offensively this season and still batted just .289/.328/.393 with one homer and a 50-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 292 plate appearances. Steve Singleton, Brian Dinkelman, Ryan Mullins, Dustin Martin, Ramon Santana, Santos Arias, Matt Fox, Juan Portes, and Rene Leveret are probably the biggest names not protected by a 40-man spot, but they'll each likely narrowly miss my top 40.
Deibinson Romero is also eligible for the Rule 5 draft after being taken off the 40-man roster. Romero was added to the roster last year at this time and ranked 24th on my list of prospects heading into the season, but hit just .225/.311/.369 at high Single-A as his stock fell significantly for the second straight year. Along with Romero, the Twins previously cut Brian Buscher, Justin Huber, and Armando Gabino from the 40-man roster and also cleared a spot when Juan Morillo signed with a team in Japan.
Add the Pirates to the list of teams that tried to get J.J. Hardy from the Brewers, reportedly offering up either closer Matt Capps or catcher Ryan Doumit. Capps is more a "setup man allowed to accumulate saves" than a "closer" and had a rough 2009, but he's still 26 years old with a 3.61 ERA and 208-to-50 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 272 innings. Doumit is also coming off a rough year and is iffy defensively, but he's one of baseball's best-hitting catchers and under team control at reasonable rates through 2013.
Combined with some previous reports about what the Brewers turned down for Hardy two things seem clear: Hardy still had plenty of value around MLB despite coming off a career-worst year and Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin is extremely high on Carlos Gomez. Based on counter-offers that Melvin supposedly made, he sees Gomez as having similar value to players like Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Travis Snider, Adam Lind, Paul Maholm, and Zach Duke.
Miguel Angel Sano has apparently changed his name, which is certain to raise a few eyebrows after the shortstop from the Dominican Republic signed with the Twins in September amid questions about whether he was really 16 years old. Kelly Thesier of MLB.com notes that he'd been using his mother's maiden name as a sign of respect that's common in the Dominican, but will now go by his father's last name as Miguel Jean. Adjust your 2017 replica jerseys accordingly.
Robb Quinlan is rumored to be on the Twins' radar, which isn't shocking for a native Minnesotan who played for the Gophers. Quinlan has spent the past seven seasons as a part-time player for the Angels and once upon a time was a very solid platoon player capable of backing up third base and first base. Unfortunately now he's 33 years old and has gone from passable to terrible at third base while hitting just .252/.305/.333 over the past three seasons. He's a marginal bench bat at this point.
Next time Minneapolis Star Tribune writer and KSTP radio host Patrick Reusse offers his opinion on something baseball related, remember that he wrote this in his "Turkey of the Year" column last week:
Joe Christensen. Gentleman Joe is a Star Tribune baseball writer and also the Twin Cities' leading advocate for OPS, a make-believe number that Bill James acolytes have embraced. How often must we say this, Joe? Runs scored and RBI mean something; OPS doesn't.
You know a columnist has officially fallen into the "get off my lawn!" stage of his career when he's finally getting around to railing against a stat that has been widely used for a decade. At this pace Reusse will mock Joe Christensen's great-grandchildren for using VORP in 2089.
More importantly, only 86 more days until Twins pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
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