September 25, 2007
Twins Notes: Retirement, Targets, Changes, and Laws
Whether simply healthy or motivated by the quasi-demotion, White returned to bat .321/.354/.538 in 45 games after the All-Star break and then went 5-for-12 (.417) with a homer in the three-game playoff series loss against the A's. That amazing turnaround was enough to convince the Twins that White's horrendous first half was behind him, so they bought out his 2007 option for $750,000 and re-signed him to a new one-year deal worth $2.75 million.
Nicknamed "RonDL" for having played as many as 140 games just once in 15 major-league seasons, White made it through three games before going down with a calf injury. He missed the next 96 games before returning in mid-July and has batted .163/.220/.293 in 32 games since then, saying Monday that there's a "99-percent chance" that he'll retire at season's end. "My body hurts," White said. "There's a good chance this is it."
I liked the decision to sign White as a free agent two years ago and thought that re-signing him was a decent gamble given how well he hit in the second half, but there's no spinning the fact that he's been an unmitigated disaster. Cash-strapped and hurting for offense, the Twins have paid White $6 million to split time between designated hitter and left field while hitting .226/.264/.346 and playing 42 percent of the team's games.
White falling apart shouldn't have come as a huge shock given his lengthy injury history and advanced age, but he hit .289/.341/.476 in the three seasons prior to signing with the Twins and had an OPS between .790 and .900 in eight of the previous nine years. There was no reason for the Twins to expect the two worst seasons of his career and he seemed like a perfect low-risk pickup. Instead, no Twins player has contributed less while having more words devoted to him in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Sweeney was one of baseball's most underrated hitters during his prime, batting .313/.383/.521 from 1999-2005 while posting an OPS of at least .850 every year. Unfortunately, he's 33 now and injuries have kept him off the field while turning him into a shell of his former self, as he's hit just .261/.333/.427 while playing 41 percent of the Royals' games over the past two seasons. A one-year investment similar to White's original deal wouldn't be a bad gamble, but anything beyond that is a mistake.
I've always loved hitting in the Metrodome. If I'm not playing in Kansas City, I'd love to play on a winning team, and Minnesota's been that for a long time. I don't know. We'll pray about my future and see which door God opens. I know there will be one that will be wide open, and that's the one I'll walk through, whether it's here in Kansas City or someplace else.
YEAR AVG OBP SLG OPS
1999 .326 .381 .602 .983
2000 .309 .363 .615 .978
2001 .244 .322 .445 .767
2002 .258 .350 .472 .822
2003 .308 .400 .607 1.007
2004 .281 .338 .505 .843
2005 .307 .384 .538 .922
2006 .306 .381 .490 .871
2007 .267 .332 .493 .824
CAREER .289 .359 .526 .885
Ron Gardenhire probably wouldn't use Jenkins optimally because he tends to save his platooning for young players whose development might actually benefit from playing every day, but he'd still be a good bet for an .800 OPS and 20 homers. Along with good numbers against righties, Jenkins also offers a strong arm, solid range in an outfield corner, and better health than Sweeney. In terms of veteran bats who might be available to the Twins for a reasonable price, Jenkins is an appealing target.
I ranked Perkins as the Twins' third-best prospect coming into the season and wrote that he "has No. 2 starter potential," so it'd be nice to see him given an extended chance to start before being pigeonholed into a bullpen role based on some arm problems and 32.2 good relief innings. Either way, Perkins is one of many reasons to think that the Twins' pitching staff is in excellent shape long term whether or not Johan Santana sticks around.
It's just going to depend on how everything breaks down and how his health is, with his arm, and what our needs are. If we're in dire need of starting pitching, he'll go into the rotation. If we need him to come out of the bullpen, that's where he'll go. It just depends on how everything else breaks down. There are a lot of arguments as to whether he should be a starter or a reliever. What it comes down to is that he's a young pitcher with a great arm.
That's quite a change. Last week Punto "would have a head up" for the job and "has got a lead going into spring training." Now Punto will "come into spring training and fight for a job" and "will be an option for second base" who will "at least be in the mix for it." Either someone in the front office talked to Gardenhire, the criticism reached him, or he's simply at the point where he amuses himself by tossing out ever-changing quotes that he knows fans will be confused by.
He's giving himself an opportunity to come into spring training and fight for a job. He'll be an option for second base, at least be in the mix for it, and I think that's all he expects.
His noodle arm was on full display as the Tigers went 3-for-3 stealing bases, but LeCroy showed the soft hands and solid pitch-calling ability that have allowed him to compile a 4.63 career catcher's ERA. Nichols' Law of Catcher Defense states that "a catcher's defensive reputation is inversely proportional to their offensive abilities," so LeCroy being washed up as a hitter probably made it more likely that the Twins would give him time at catcher in his return to the team.
Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.