January 30, 2006

Twins Notes

Between kicking off the top-40 countdown and breaking down a horrible Wolves trade, quite a few interesting Twins-related notes popped up in various places ...

  • While they essentially put an end to the meaningful portion of the offseason by declining to trade for Corey Koskie, the Twins are reportedly still trying to fill out the bottom of the roster by finding a left-handed bench bat. Here's the scoop from the Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, La Velle E. Neal III, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

    That could mean they are looking at such players as Erubiel Durazo, Dave Hansen and Timo Perez. Hansen's agent has been in touch with the Twins, but it's unclear how much interest the Twins have in him. Perez has played in two World Series, in 2000 with the Mets and last season with the White Sox.

    Durazo has a .381 career on-base percentage but was slowed by injuries last season. He also might be too expensive for the Twins. "I'm looking at it," Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said when asked about bench players. "If there's something there that makes some sense, we will address it. You also have to deal with chemistry and make sure he's happy on that bench."

    Grouping Erubiel Durazo with Dave Hansen and Timo Perez is like grouping Albert Einstein with Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson, in that it makes almost zero sense on any level. A healthy Durazo would be one of the Twins' best hitters, while a healthy Hansen or Perez would struggle to be Triple-A Rochester's best hitter.

  • According to Jason Williams in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Ron Gardenhire has already decided on the first five spots in his 2006 batting order: Shannon Stewart, Luis Castillo, Joe Mauer, Rondell White, Torii Hunter.

    The thing that makes little sense is Stewart leading off, rather than Castillo. Castillo has significantly less power and is far more of a base-stealing threat, which means you want him batting in front of the more powerful and less speedy Stewart. Much like Gardenhire playing Stewart over Lew Ford in left field over the past two years, this is another example of the manager not wanting to ruffle Stewart's feathers at the expense of actual performance.

    The other thing that sticks out is that Justin Morneau's name is nowhere to be found, which means he's likely slated to bat sixth. The importance of a batting order is almost always overstated, so I don't think this is much of an issue aside from giving a glimpse into Gardenhire's thought process heading into the season. It's encouraging that Tony Batista's name is also absent from the first five spots. The bad news is that Batista's name will still show up in spots six through nine.

  • Speaking of Morneau, LEN3 reports that he and Hunter patched things up at Twins Fest. Here's what Hunter had to say about it:

    We both apologized. We're going to go out there and play the game. We're like brothers. We're together every day, and you're bound to disagree on something. It's about making up and we made up. It's like a marriage. Well, not like a marriage.

    In other words, they're like brothers who are married. Hopefully the makeup sex was good, because "the only thing you're gonna have better than makeup sex is conjugal visit sex."

  • Within that same article, LEN3 reports that Morneau is feeling "great after being able to work out throughout the offseason." He's up to 230 pounds and unlike last winter has avoided contracting the illnesses usually reserved for people playing The Oregon Trail.
  • MLB.com's Twins beat writer, Kelly Theiser, wrote an article over the weekend that had some details on Jason Kubel's health status. Apparently Kubel tripped and fell off the stage he was standing on during Twins Fest, landed on his surgically repaired knee, and decided that the lack of pain was "a good sign for spring training." Just imagine how optimistic everyone would be if Kubel had dropped an anvil on his foot or something.
  • Former Twins outfielder Dustan Mohr has agreed to a one-year deal with the Red Sox. That should be a good fit for Mohr, who can platoon with Trot Nixon in right field and give Boston a capable backup in all three outfield spots.
  • CBS Sportsline's Scott Miller wrote an article about the Twins last week that had an interesting quote from Terry Ryan. Asked about the negative reaction some people have had in regard to the Batista signing, Ryan said:

    It's not exactly what people admire in statistical analysis. I know that. I'm not so much concerned with home runs. I'm concerned with winning games. I'm concerned for our pitching and bullpen -- we need more (offensive) pressure, more threats.

    It seems to me that the people in favor of the Batista signing -- Ryan included -- are unable to separate one offensive skill from a player's overall offensive package. Things like drawing walks, hitting homers, and bunting for hits are just part of the total value a player can bring to the table offensively. In Batista's case, many people seem to be saying that his ability to hit home runs or put "pressure" on opposing teams makes up for the fact that he doesn't get on base and eats up a tremendous number of outs.

    Not only isn't that true, it shows a lack of understanding about what leads to run scoring. Teams score runs not because they do certain things well -- like hit for power or draw walks or steal bases -- but because the overall makeup of their offense is good. The overall makeup of Batista's offense is horrible, and his ability to hit homers is accounted for within that.

    Think of a hitter like a movie. There are a number of things that need to go right for a movie to be good, from the acting and directing to the script and cinematography. Batista is like a movie that has good actors, but they're doing scenes from a horrible script, being directed by someone who has no clue, and the whole thing is being shot with a camcorder.

    That movie would have some positive aspects and people who wanted to defend it would say things like, "It wasn't a great movie, but the acting was good." Sure, but the overall product would still be sub par because it's not as simple as the good canceling out the bad. In other words, good acting and all, the movie still stunk.

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