Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Feeble Beginnings

The Twins have been all over the news early this offseason. There's no missing them.

First, there was the aggressive signing of pitcher Eric Hacker. While other teams were still drawing up offseason plans, the Twins made an aggressive move to bring in a player they'd been coveting. Hacker won 16 games last year, which is three more than AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez! Granted, Hacker did it as a 27-year-old in Triple-A and coupled it with a 4.51 ERA, but that's neither here nor there.

Things only heated up when the Twins inked Chase Lambin, a 31-year-old career minor-leaguer. Despite having spent the previous season playing in Japan (and hitting .192) Lambin was a mid-season International League All-Star last year with the Syracuse Chiefs. Watch out Yankees!

Adding household names like Jeff Bailey, Phil Dumatrait and Yorman Bazardo, it's clear the Twins mean business this winter.

And did you hear yesterday was Ron Gardenhire Day

All joking aside, things have been quiet for the Twins thus far, which is a switch from last year when Bill Smith dealt for J.J. Hardy just days after the World Series concluded. It's not unexpected, and it likely portends a much quieter offseason.

But we can be assured that the Hacker signing won't end up being the team's most significant move this offseason. Things are going to start happening, and today -- marking the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to free agent eligible players -- sets those things into motion. By next Thursday, those players will have to decide on whether they'll accept arbitration. By then, we will know whether Carl Pavano, Jesse Crain, Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch and Matt Guerrier are going to test the free agent market. The following Monday, the Winter Meetings get underway in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. They're a breeding round for hot stove rumors, many of which will certainly be connected to the Twins -- some with merit.

The hot stove has been awfully chilly for the Twins over these first few weeks of the offseason, but things are about to start heating up. As that happens, my posting frequency should increase here and hopefully we'll have some other things to discuss in the comments section than Ron Gardenhire/Brad Childress comparisons.


Anonymous said...

Curious to see how the Hardy situation developes. Was out infield "slow" in 2010? 3B & 1B are set. The only real question mark will be SS. What free agent or trade prospect will be faster then JJ? Better glove? Better bat? Who? I would sign JJ and bring in an extra RH bat. Against a RH pitcher I go Span, Mauer, Justin, Kubel, Young, Cuddy, Valencia, Casilla and against a LH I go Span, Young, Mauer, Cuddy, Justin, RH DH, JJ, Valencia, Casilla

Matt said...

I still think it's funny how people think 3B is "set." Valencia's had way too few at bats to upgrade him past "prospect" at this point.

As usual, the Twins will try and piece something together with Punto, Casilla and Tolbert, with several mediocre minor league infielders to be named later.

I hope Valencia succeeds, but it's way too soon to think 3B is "set for years to come." We all thought Casilla was our 2B of the future after hitting .280 in 2008, and how's that gone for us?

Anonymous said...

Matt, what I meant by "set" is that the Twins aren't planning to put anybody else there for 2011, (As far as I know). 300 AB's is not a small sample size. Casilla's failure had to do with fielding more then hitting. Valencia seems more consistant but we will see.

Anonymous said...

Please don't trade/nontender Hardy, Please don't trade/nontender Hardy, Please don't trade/nontender Hardy... The suspense is killing me.

Anonymous said...

Valencia and Casilla are money...Hardy is expendable. You can't tell me that a .268 SS that plays in 110 games is that hard to find. The Brewers let him go for a reason...the only infielder I would try to land with a 2 or 3 year deal is Konerko...moving Morneau to 3rd and Valencia to 2nd and Casilla to SS. Paulie might bring some much needed toughness to this team.

Matt said...

I see your point, but 300 ABs (half a season) is, in my eyes, a very small sample size.
I don't think an honest evaluation of a big league hitter can come at less than 1000 ABs, roughly a little over a season and a half.
So, by the end of this year, assuming Valencia stays healthy and productive enough to play the whole year, we'll know if he's the answer or not.
At 3B, you have to produce offensively, unless you're Punto, who will probably end up starting there should Valencia falter.

Danny, PLEASE don't falter!

cy1time said...

You'd have to be Anonymous to suggest that Morneau move to third. Yikes.

cy1time said...

You don't like Morneau at third, Matt?

Matt said...

I didn't see that! Morneausy to 3B?

Not sure if I'd like that, or overpaying for a guy on the downside (Konerko), more!

Can we please just sign some pitching, please?

Anonymous said...

I say we sign Mo Vaughn to play shortstop, Morneau at 3rd would be great, how about Bob Hamelin to play second? First base, maybe we could dig up Eddie Gaedel's corpse. I'd like to see Kirk Gibson behind the plate and Shannon Stewart on the hill. Our outfield could consist of Jim Thome, Bob Wells and maybe Bengie Molina. Damn, that would be a good team.

Dave said...

Sounds like moneyball baby!!

I really hope we don't go speed. Speed can be great at the top of the order, but I don't want to sacrifice other things for speed alone. Is Go-Go that far forgotten?

Chubs said...

Detroit hasnt been feeble so far.

Anonymous said...

I vote for Jim Abbott at short stop.

Steve said...

If the Twins don't make a serious investment at pitching they will continue to be no more than a first-series-and-out team.