September 7, 2009

Twins Notes: Mulvey, Crede, Baker, Penny, Lew!, and Grass

  • Thanks to some nifty waiver-wire maneuvering, the Twins completed the Jon Rauch deal by sending Kevin Mulvey to the Diamondbacks as the player to be named later. Acquired as part of the four-player haul for Johan Santana two winters ago, Mulvey was fourth on Baseball America's list of the Mets' top prospects at the time of the trade and was sixth on my list of the Twins' top prospects a short time later, but dipped to 12th prior to this season and likely would have been in the 12-15 range for 2010.

    Clearly the Twins soured on Mulvey after making him a key component of the Santana deal, because in the two years since then he started 51 times at Rochester while spending about 72 hours in Minnesota and was passed over for Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing, and Armando Gabino when a short-term rotation fill-in was needed. Perhaps they're right to sour on Mulvey, whose performance at Triple-A has hardly been great, but that doesn't say much about their evaluation of him just 18 months ago.

    His ceiling now looks pretty low, so the chances of Mulvey coming back to haunt the Twins are slim, but he's a 24-year-old with two seasons of Triple-A under his belt and certainly would have been an option as a back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever next year. In fact, Arizona promoted him to the majors immediately after the trade and Mulvey made his Diamondbacks debut Thursday with a perfect seventh inning of relief in a 4-2 game against the Dodgers.

  • Along with trading Mulvey for Rauch the Twins also sent intriguing mid-level prospect Yohan Pino to Cleveland for Carl Pavano and 2008 second rounder Tyler Ladendorf to Oakland for Orlando Cabrera. None are elite prospects, but Mulvey and Pino are MLB-ready pitchers and Ladendorf got a $700,000 bonus as the 60th overall pick 15 months ago, so it's a lot to pay for 10 outings by mediocre starter, 50 games from a washed-up shortstop, and one-plus seasons of a solid setup man making $3 million.

    Cabrera in particular has predictably been a worthless pickup, showing dramatically diminished skills on defense while batting .248/.277/.349 out of the No. 2 spot because regardless of their actual ability to hit Ron Gardenhire apparently must put a middle infielder in front of the lineup's top bats. Aside from the wonderful but brief stint with Joe Mauer batting second every other start there has gone to Cabrera, Alexi Casilla, Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert, or Brendan Harris, and they've collectively hit .203/.249/.275.

  • Spencer Fordin of wrote a good piece on Matt Wieters struggling to live up to the massive hype as a rookie. Some people referred to him as "Joe Mauer with power" when the Orioles called him up in late May, but a) Wieters is hitting just .264/.310/.368 through 71 games, and b) Joe Mauer is now "Joe Mauer with power." Wieters remains one of the best young catchers to come around in years, but Mauer is a totally different animal. When he was Wieters' age, Mauer hit .347 to win his first batting title.
  • Joe Crede somehow managed to miss 40 of the first 128 games while staying on the active roster, but was finally placed on the disabled list last week with complications from multiple back surgeries. His status for the remainder of this season is uncertain and the oft-injured, 31-year-old impending free agent seems unlikely to re-sign with the Twins, so Crede may end up costing around $3 million for 88 games of .229/.293/.421 hitting and excellent defense.
  • No one seems to have noticed because the meme is that the Twins' entire rotation fell apart, people are still upset about his awful April following a season-opening DL stint, and Bert Blyleven treats each run he allows as a personal insult while spouting the same cliched stuff about "leaving the ball up," but Scott Baker is 13-3 with a 3.65 ERA and 119-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 145 innings during his last 23 starts. Last year he was 11-4 with a 3.45 ERA and 141-to-42 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 172 innings.
  • According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Twins opted against submitting a waiver claim for Brad Penny because they were told that he didn't want to remain in the AL after posting a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts with Boston. Penny got his wish, as he went unclaimed and was released by the Red Sox, at which point he signed a one-month, $75,000 contract with the Giants and tossed eight shutout innings in his return to the NL.
  • My blogmate Matthew Pouliot is nearing the end of "a series of articles examining what every team's roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed" and the results are very interesting. In the Twins' case that means they get to "keep" guys like Torii Hunter, Matt Garza, and A.J. Pierzynski, but don't have current imports like Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, and Francisco Liriano or past imports like Santana, David Ortiz, and Jason Bartlett. They still do well and the whole series is cool.
  • Chris Parmelee, Rene Tosoni, Mike McCardell, Alex Burnett, Spencer Steedley, Steve Hirschfeld, and Steve Singleton have been chosen as the Twins' representatives for the Arizona Fall League. Last year the Twins sent Jeff Manship, Danny Valencia, Rob Delaney, Anthony Slama, Tim Lahey, Steven Tolleson, and Dustin Martin.
  • One of the many weird things about having this blog is getting random e-mails from people asking about where they should park at the Metrodome or how they can get in touch with a minor leaguer or where they can find information about a game they attended in 1976. Within that mix are at least a few e-mails per month wondering what happened to Lew Ford, who apparently made quite an impression in 497 mostly mediocre games with the Twins. Anyway, here's the answer. No more e-mails, please.
  • It remains to be seen if Rauch will be worth parting with Mulvey and $3 million, but he certainly looks the part of an effective late-inning reliever. In addition to being the majors' tallest player at 6-foot-11, he has a whole bunch of tattoos that include plenty of ink on his neck.
  • Through no fault of her own, Kelly Thesier of penned the least-interesting story ever written about staying up late while waiting for grass to arrive.

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