February 21, 2006

Twins Notes

  • Over at his blog, John Sickels has been doing "crystal ball" career projections for various young players. It's basically just a fun little exercise where Sickels tries to predict what a player's entire career will end up looking like 20 years down the road. Yesterday he looked into the future for Joe Mauer and found 17 seasons, a .298 batting average, 2,477 hits, and 308 homers. Oh, and an entire career spent in Minnesota.

    Those are pretty optimistic numbers (Sickels is a Twins fan, after all), although he does put a slight damper on things by predicting "a major injury down the line ... that forces him to move to another position (probably first base) around age 30." Of course, by that time Mauer will have had 10 seasons behind the plate, which is a whole career for all but a couple dozen catchers in baseball history.

    Anyway, I've been oddly fascinated by Sickels' previous career projections -- Prince Fielder, David Wright, Felix Hernandez, Jeff Francoeur, Delmon Young, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira -- and the Mauer one is certainly of added interest to anyone reading this blog. Sickels also looked into his crystal ball for Jason Kubel and Francisco Liriano earlier this offseason, but the results weren't quite as pretty.

  • Earlier this month I posted an e-mail from a reader in the Dominican Republic who had seen Tony Batista play winter ball and wasn't impressed. The response from Batista's supporters ranged from saying "what does he know?" to actually doubting the e-mail's authenticity. Then several other people who saw Batista play in the Dominican Republic chimed in with their thoughts, all essentially agreeing that Batista looked out of shape and performed poorly.

    Well, now we can add Twins scout Joe McIlvaine to the list of people who weren't exactly awed by Batista's play this winter. Patrick Reusse's column in yesterday's Minneapolis Star Tribune included the following from McIlvaine:

    Batista was a little too heavy when I saw him. He still has the hands to play third, although range is an issue -- and, on turf, that might show up more.

    When told that Batista has reportedly lost some weight since he saw him last month, McIlvaine said, "He could stand to lose some more." Reusse also added that "the review from [Japan] was Batista was fat and disinterested."

    To recap, the Twins have all but handed the third-base job to a 32-year-old who was let go by the Japanese League team he played for last season, had a .272 on-base percentage in his last big-league campaign, and can't be bothered to get in shape in preparation for what might be his last real chance in the major leagues.

  • ESPN.com released its first "MLB Power Rankings" for 2006, and the Twins rank 15th. I disagree with a few of the teams ranked above them, but the general assessment seems right. The Twins enter 2006 as an average-looking team that could be a lot better based on a few key factors going their way. Interestingly, ESPN.com ranks the White Sox #1 and the Indians #4, and also has the Tigers just behind the Twins at #19. The division is going to be really tough this year.
  • Over at his blog, Will Young has been posting some really great articles on Twins history by using ProQuest to access old newspaper stories. If you haven't read them already, go check them out:

    - The First Free Agent Signing
    - The Three Trades of 1979
    - After the 1975 Twins
    - The 1975 Twins

    It's all really good, unique stuff and is exactly what makes the Twins blogosphere so great. Seriously, go read those four entries and then tell me the last time you've seen something like that printed in either of the Twin Cities' newspapers or on the Twins' official website.

  • Francisco Liriano has been asked to pitch for the Dominican Republic in next month's World Baseball Classic, and Ron Gardenhire suggests that not being in camp could hurt Liriano's chances of beating Scott Baker out for the fifth spot in the rotation. I happen to think that the Twins have all but decided on Baker already, in which case Liriano might as well pitch for his country if it means a lot to him.
  • There have been several articles floating around lately quoting Brad Radke as saying that 2006 could be his final season. I won't pretend to know what's really going on inside Radke's head, but I don't think this is the first time he's been undecided about his future. Plus, as Barry Bonds has shown over the past couple days, asking a guy about his future in the middle of February is pretty silly.

    If Radke does retire after this season, the Twins should be in decent shape to handle it. The best-case scenario has Baker beginning the year in the rotation and pitching well, Liriano replacing Lohse as the fifth starter sometime around midseason, and Glen Perkins being ready to step in for Radke next spring. A rotation of Johan Santana-Carlos Silva-Liriano-Baker-Perkins in 2007 and beyond is pretty exciting (and cheap).

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