Twins Notes: Redmond, Mauer, Infielders, and Indianapolis
I've been assuming that the Twins will let Mike Redmond depart as a free agent while making Jose Morales the backup catcher and general manager Bill Smith confirmed those plans over the weekend. Redmond was a near-perfect fit as Joe Mauer's caddy for the past five years and plans to keep playing, but at 38 years old his skills have declined to the point that Morales is simply a better bet. Hopefully he finds another backup job elsewhere and then returns to the Twins as a coach in a few years.
Dave Allen of Fan Graphs wrote an interesting article about Mauer seeing more fastballs than any of the other top-20 hitters in baseball this year. Allen notes that for most hitters the more power they have the fewer fastballs they get, but because Mauer's power didn't emerge until May of this season pitchers perhaps didn't alter their approach to him quickly. He was MLB's second-best fastball hitter after only Albert Pujols and 25 of his 28 homers came off fastballs, so fewer fastballs in 2010 could hurt Mauer.
Three prominent free-agent infielders have signed already and based on the salaries handed out to Chone Figgins, Marco Scutaro, and Placido Polanco this looks to be a buyer's market (or at least not a seller's market). If the going rate for solid but unspectacular infielders like Polanco or Scutaro is about $6 million per year and a top free agent like Figgins gets $36 million over four years perhaps Orlando Hudson, Felipe Lopez, or even Adrian Beltre will actually be in the Twins' price range.
Dan Uggla has been linked to the Twins in various trade rumors and Marlins beat writer Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post expects him to be dealt during the winter meetings. As noted last week I'm not particularly high on Uggla for the Twins because of his salary, likely cost to acquire, and bad defense at second base, but there's no doubt that his bat would be a big upgrade. Over the past three years Uggla is 34 runs above replacement level per 150 games, but Hudson is at 32 and won't cost any prospects.
Cut from the 40-man roster by the Twins last week, Brian Buscher opted for free agency and signed a minor-league deal with the Indians. He hit .266/.343/.356 in 502 plate appearances in Minnesota and .289/.369/.458 in 450 plate appearances at Triple-A, and will compete for a bench job in Cleveland. His competition will include former Twins utility man Luis Rodriguez, who also signed a minor-league deal with the Indians after spending the past two seasons hitting .244/.322/.305 for the Padres.
Jacque Jones plans to attend the winter meetings in Indianapolis this week in an effort to find some team willing to give him a comeback chance. Jones ranked 30th on my list of the top Twins of all time and put together one good season for the Cubs after leaving as a free agent, but then hit .285/.335/.400 in 2007 and .147/.239/.207 in 2008 before spending this season with the independent league Newark Bears. He turns 35 years old soon and was last productive in 2006, so don't expect much interest.
I won't be joining Jones at the winter meetings after attending two of the previous three years, but my NBCSports.com blogmate Craig Calcaterra will be there providing constant updates. I'm not sure how prominent the Twins will be in terms of rumors or actual signings and trades, but if you're interested in reading about everything going on in Indianapolis check out Circling the Bases. Along with Calcaterra's on-site reporting, I'll provide running analysis throughout each day. We'll have good stuff. Promise.
Last and least, if any Twins-related news does break during the winter meetings I'll obviously cover it in this space, but if you just can't wait for the next day's blog entry to be posted you can always read my Twitter updates for immediate thoughts and various other ramblings in real time.
Once you're done here, check out my NBCSports.com blog and Twitter updates.