January 6, 2006

Twins Notes

  • FoxSports.com reported earlier this week that Terry Mulholland will sign a minor-league contract with the Diamondbacks. I was very critical of Mulholland during his two seasons with the Twins and even more critical of the team for signing and playing him. However, he was not quite as horrendous as I expected him to be, although that still meant going 5-11 with a 4.89 ERA in 182.1 innings.

    J.C. Romero being traded to Los Angeles and Mulholland officially exiting leaves the Twins without an established left-handed pitcher in the bullpen. I don't really think having a lefty reliever is absolutely necessary (the Angels in recent years being a good example), but my guess is that the Twins do. At this point it looks like the job will be between Dennys Reyes and Gabe White, who have both signed minor-league contracts with the Twins that include invites to spring training.

    Neither player excites me much. Reyes has pretty good raw stuff, but he's 29 years old and has never really been able to consistently throw strikes. He has a career ERA of 4.80 and posted a 5.15 ERA and 35-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio while pitching in pitcher-friendly San Diego this year. Meanwhile, White is a strike-throwing machine, but he is also an extreme fly-ball pitcher who gives up an extraordinary number of homers.

    I have little doubt that either guy could do a passable job as a true LOOGY, but Ron Gardenhire has shown no indication that he will use someone in that role. Romero faced a ton of right-handed hitters during his time in Minnesota, and while Mulholland surprisingly shut down lefties in 2005, he faced enough righties for it to cancel out. Not messing around with relievers who face only one batter at a time is generally a positive thing for a manager, but the problem is that if Reyes and White are used in the same way they will struggle.

    I like how Gardenhire runs a bullpen, but the team's apparent commitment to carrying a lefty at all costs goes against his style. A smart manager will take a good righty over a mediocre lefty just about every time, and the Twins have the correct assortment of right-handed arms in their system to make that work. Rather than mess around with guys like Reyes or White, who might be decent in defined roles but probably won't even be used that way, I'd rather they filled the back of the bullpen with guys like Willie Eyre or Boof Bonser.

  • Speaking of former Twins signing minor-league contracts, the Corpse Formerly Known as Bret Boone signed with the Mets the other day. Twins fans will remember Boone as the owner of one of the least successful stints with the team in franchise history. I voice a lot of opinions here and thanks to the law of averages many of them make me look smart, but rarely have I been so right so quickly as when I criticized the trade for Boone.
  • As perhaps the world's biggest Joe Mauer fan, I was pleased to see that friend of AG.com Chris Dial's analysis of the most valuable players in the American League over at Baseball Think Factory ranked Mauer 10th. There were quiet grumblings in some quarters about Mauer's first full season being a disappointing one, but using just about any metric that accounts for defense and positional scarcity he was among the top 20 players in the league. And he turns 23 in April.
  • Over at his blog, John Sickels asked his readers to predict the 2006 American League standings. Of those polled, 43% said that the Indians would win the division and 37% said that the White Sox would win the division. For those of you without calculators, that means the Twins are left with some portion of the remaining 20%, along with the Tigers and Royals.
  • Former Twins prospect and native Minnesotan Michael Restovich signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs this week. Restovich is basically all out of chances to become anything more than a guy who shuttles back and forth between Triple-A and the majors at this point, but I'll probably go to my grave thinking that he could have been a useful platoon player for the Twins.

    Restovich has hit .254/.333/.408 in 127 career games, including .281/.336/.467 against left-handed pitching. The amusing thing about him signing with Chicago is that he could hypothetically end up platooning with Jacque Jones, which is the role I kept hoping for him to take over while with the Twins. Of course, that would assume that Dusty Baker believes any more in platooning than Gardenhire did, which is pretty doubtful.

  • Luis Rivas, who is thankfully out of my life now, is reportedly being courted by the Rockies. That's a smart move for Rivas, because at least playing half the time at Coors Field will make his raw numbers look less horrendous. I was looking over some stuff at Baseball Prospectus the other day and saw that over the course of 565 games with the Twins, Rivas was 49 runs below average offensively. Tony Batista, who may very well take over for Rivas as my least favorite player, is 51 runs below average offensively over 1,179 career games.
  • And finally, here's Sid Hartman's take on the ongoing Corey Koskie rumors:

    Nothing will happen as far as Corey Koskie coming back to the Twins until spring training, according to a person who knows what is going on. At that time, if Toronto hasn't dealt Koskie, look for Twins owner Carl Pohlad to go out of his way to get Koskie back here if Toronto will pick up a good share of that big contract.

    Of course, as anyone who has read the Minneapolis Star Tribune for any length of time knows all too well, Hartman saying something makes it no more likely to come true than, say, the lottery numbers that can be found within a fortune cookie leading to millions.

    UPDATE: Koskie has been traded to the Brewers. I'll have more on this Monday. Probably.

  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Daily Graphing: Ryan Franklin (by David Appelman)
    - Being A Hopeless Fanboy (by John Brattain)

    Pick of the Day (161-143, +$1,555):
    Houston +2 (-110) over Toronto

    Saturday's Pick:
    Washington +2.5 (-110) over Tampa Bay

    Sunday's Pick:
    Cincinnati +3 (-110) over Pittsburgh

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