February 2, 2006

Random Stuff

  • I had a really interesting experience yesterday afternoon that ... well, I can't quite tell you about it yet. Hopefully within the next couple weeks I'll know a little more about the details and can share some with you. Suffice it to say that it may end up being one of the cooler things that has happened to me related to writing. Of course, I probably just jinxed it (which serves me right for being such a tease).
  • A slightly less interesting experience was watching the Wolves get blown out by the Pistons last night. I was very critical of the Wally Szczerbiak-for-Ricky Davis swap last week, and when the Wolves won two out of their first three post-trade games I received an awful lot of confrontational e-mails and comments taking me to task for my analysis.

    The problem with that sort of reactionary thinking is two-fold. First, it's based on a really small sample of games and it's tough to draw meaningful conclusions that depend so much on things like Marcus Banks scoring 20 points in 21 minutes. Beyond that, the two wins were over horrible teams. I might be wrong about the trade, but it certainly wasn't shown by the Wolves beating a 15-28 Houston team that was playing without Yao Ming and then beating an 18-26 Boston team at home.

    Of course, the flip side is that me being right about the deal certainly isn't shown by the Wolves losing big on the road to San Antonio and Detroit. We're still a long way from being able to judge the trade on results, but so far with the new guys the Wolves are 2-0 against horrible teams and 0-2 against great teams. I understand the excitement that comes from a win like the one over the Celtics, but sometimes it makes sense to let things play out a bit before you send the "you're an idiot" e-mails.

  • The Twins signed 40-year-old Ruben Sierra to a minor-league contract earlier this week, and it appears as though the plan is for him to serve as this year's Jose Offerman Memorial Veteran Left-Handed Bat Off The Bench. The move is like a less-impactful version of the ongoing Tony Batista debacle, so it really isn't a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.

    With that said, Sierra simply doesn't bring a whole lot of value to a team at this point. It's true that he's both a veteran and left-handed (in fact, he's a switch-hitter), which seem to be the two qualities Ron Gardenhire and Terry Ryan are constantly lusting after in a reserve. Sadly, the "bat" part is where Sierra comes up short, hitting .229/.265/.371 in 2005 and a combined .251/.302/.423 over the past three years.

    The beauty of baseball is that anything can happen in a limited number of at-bats, so if the Twins actually limit Sierra to pinch-hitting duties he's as likely as most to get a few key hits and end up with a surprisingly solid season like the one Offerman had in 2004. That doesn't make signing a 40-year-old who has struggled to post a .700 OPS and has no defensive value a good idea, and the thought of Sierra and Batista on the same roster is depressing unless there's a time machine involved.

  • With Sierra signed and Jason Kubel likely headed back to Triple-A to begin the year, here's my guess as to what the position-player portion of the Twins' roster will look like on Opening Day:
     C   Joe Mauer               C   Mike Redmond
    1B Justin Morneau IF Juan Castro
    2B Luis Castillo IF Nick Punto
    SS Jason Bartlett OF Lew Ford
    3B Tony Batista OF Ruben Sierra
    LF Shannon Stewart
    CF Torii Hunter
    RF Michael Cuddyer
    DH Rondell White

    That is a group that will score more runs than the Twins managed in 2005, but to me it is also an example of wasted opportunities and uninspired decision-making. I have no doubt that there will be times when Batista, Sierra, Nick Punto, and Juan Castro are all in the lineup together, and that just shouldn't be a possibility for a team that hopes to make up ground on the defending champs.
  • Finally, I received a few e-mails from people who wanted me to post links to each entry in the "Top 40 Minnesota Twins" countdown, so here are the ones that have run thus far:

    - #40 Randy Bush
    - #39 Scott Erickson
    - #38 Eric Milton
    - #37 Jimmie Hall

    Once again, thanks to everyone for what has been an overwhelmingly positive response. If you enjoyed these first four, I'm sure you'll really like the next 36.

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