Sunday, November 22, 2009


Yesterday, during a conversation with two friends, we realized that collectively, the three of us had attempted something eight times but succeeded only once. I remarked that our rate of success qualifies us to play infield for the Twins. One of the others, who does not follow baseball closely, responded, "You're referring to somebody in particular. Just a second. I'll think of the... PINTO! Is it Pinto?" I had intended for my comment to apply to Buscher, Tolbert, and Casilla as well, but the characterization of the piranha as a sub-compact car with no rear fender and a gas tank prone to explosions struck me.

Meanwhile, rumors and suggestions fly about potential free agent moves during the off season. I expect to see Chone Figgins playing third for the Twins next year. The Twins certainly know that fans lost patience with the instability at the hot corner a few seasons ago. The signing of a big-name player symbolically shows fans the organization's commitment to building a winner, while maintaining the traditional Twins image because "he plays our style of baseball."

He will likely flounder in a Twins uniform; he has hit for respectable average, but his game is primarily speed and defense. Similar players for the Angels- Izturis and Aybar- have had similar numbers. Similar players for the Twins have flirted with the Mendoza line. I doubt there can be much difference between Twins speedy infielders and those for the Angels. That leads me to wonder about quality of coaching for the Twins. It may take the Twins a few months to do the damage, but even at career year he'd be way too expensive- which is exactly why I expect it to happen. The Twins best hope is that the Mets outbid for him like the Lions did with Scott Mitchell. I suppose at the very least, he knows not to try to score from second on a grounder to short.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I wish I were disappointed at the news that the Twins traded outfielder Carlos Gomez to the Brewers for shortstop JJ Hardy. Instead, I immediately thought, "This might mean they'll keep Delmon Young." That's a fitting follow-up to, "At least they got more for Garza than Johan."

Many Twins followers had wanted the outfielder to spend the season in AAA. I do not recall arguing a strong position for or against the option, but in hindsight, it clearly was the right thing to do. A dime-a-dozen Jason Tyner type could have done as much for the Twins in 2009 as Gomez and regular at bats and focused coaching in Rochester may have helped to transform Gomez from the bad halves of Pedro Cerrano and Willie Mays Hays to their respective good sides. The move ultimately doesn't mean a whole lot, and still fails to address the top priority for the Twins this offseason.

The article in the Star and Tribune includes a disappointing, albeit unsurprising, description of offseason plans for the Twins. "Smith didn’t rule out pursuing a second or third baseman but noted manager Ron Gardenhire’s preference to have Nick Punto in the lineup." I'm going to take the positive interpretation of this. Smith has realized that if Punto is on the roster, Gardy will play him. If Smith realizes this, that means he knows how simple it is to solve the Punto problem. Get rid of him. Even if this befuddles Gardy so badly when he's filling out the lineup card that they end up with Matt Tolbert in centerfield, no DH, and Kevin Slowey batting fifth, it's worth it.

When I broke the news of the trade to my 86-year-old neighbor, he said it best. "They already have a shortstop who can hit .225." At least this one won't try to score from second on a grounder to short.