Monday, February 1, 2010
Nine Innings with Seth
The Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook is complete. The TwinsCentric/Maple Street Press Twins 2010 Annual is complete. The FoxSports/Scout.com magazine is complete. Twins Fest is complete. A break may be necessary, but instead, I thought it would be good to go another nine innings with Seth:
First Inning – What’s Going on with Joe?
OK, so my January 29th prediction proved untrue. I’m OK with that. But on Monday afternoon, WCCO’s Mark Rosen got Twins fans attention by saying that he has a source that says that Twins and Mauer have reached a preliminary agreement on a ten year contract. Since then, Twins fans got incredibly excited, national writers like Buster Olney and Jon Heyman tried to discredit the rumor, Twins fans got frustrated, an d the story kind of went away.
So what do we make of all this? I don’t know.
Oh, you were hoping for something a little more than that? Alright, I’ll venture a guess. And please, remember this, it is just my guess.
· Mark Rosen has a lot of local sources. He has been apologist and supporter for years. My guess is that he has a source close to Joe Mauer that has been able to give him something. Let’s not forget that the ten year story is not news. Rosen himself mentioned that on a newscast about a month ago. The story is the “agreed in principal” portion. Mark Rosen is pretty credible locally, so I tend to believe he would not comment on this if he didn’t have something pretty solid.
· Buster Olney is a Yankees guy for ESPN. He’s trying to make a bigger story. SI.com’s Jon Heyman has proven quite a bit of credibility in the last couple of years, but he has been anything but a Twins person going all the way back to some ridiculous articles a couple of years again, including about Johan Santana. These guys have some contacts, no question.
· The Twins front office won’t say anything until something if finalized.
· Robert Shapiro, Mauer’s agent, is not going to leak anything.
· Joe Mauer isn’t exactly going to talk.
· But again, I believe that Mark Rosen has something credible. He isn’t going to put himself and his reputation on the line. Remember, he was the first to note that the Vikings had signed Brett Favre long before it actually happened. He never said Mauer had signed. He didn’t say that the deal was finalized. Think about the small print and the minute details necessary in a contract that includes incentives, potential opt-outs, no-trade clauses, deferred money and more. That would take a week or four of lawyer time.
· I believe that the deal will be announced before spring training.
· In the end, I don’t care if it’s eight years or ten years. If ten years, I am going to stand behind my $185 million projection. If it’s eight years, I would project $160 million.
· The Twins need to resign Mauer. They need to for reasons beyond the baseball field. However, Twins fans need to understand that this contract (whatever is may become) is incredibly risky. A ten year contract extension would make him 37 years old when it expires. Can Mauer remain this good throughout the next ten years? $18-20 million worth of good for ten more years?
Second Inning – Will O-Dawg Crush the Nats?
Over the weekend at MLB Trade Rumors, it was reported that Orlando Hudson was still asking for $9 million a year, but the Washington Nationals were only offering him $3 million. Yesterday, it came out that the Rockies were now out of the running for both Hudson and Felipe Lopez. The Twins were mentioned as a team that would have some interest. Well, if the cost for one year of Orlando Hudson comes anywhere near $3 million, they should be. The Twins were apparently willing to offer Jarrod Washburn $5 million. Imagine signing Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson (two players actually able to contribute positively) for about the same price.
In general, the market is so slow, the contracts are so low. It is a good time to have a little extra money available. Twins fans should be happy they haven’t signed anyone yet because over the next two weeks, they should be active and maybe even sign a player at a huge discount. Hudson makes too much sense, and if that means going a million over budget, that works of me.
Third Inning – Twins Lose Tolleson to Take on Thome
I was thinking that maybe a trade was in the works. When the Twins announced that they had agreed to terms with Jim Thome last week, immediately I started wondering who would be removed from the 40 man roster. Would Glen Perkins be dealt? How about Alexi Casilla? Well, once no one was traded, there was really no choice in who the Twins would remove from the 40 man roster. The question became, would Steve Tolleson be claimed by another team? Well, on Monday, the utility player was claimed by the Oakland A’s. Here is what I wrote about Tolleson in the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook:
Steven Tolleson – IF – (11/1/83)
Acquired: 5th round pick in 2005 from U. of South Carolina
2009 Team(s): New Britain Rockcats, Rochester Red Wings
2009 Stats: .266/.340/.380, 27-2B, 3-3B, 8 HR, 40 RBI
Following the 2008 season, the Twins added Steve Tolleson to their 40-man roster. Despite lingering injuries in the second half of the season, including a bad finger, Tolleson had hit .300/.382/.466 with 28 doubles and nine home runs for New Britain, in just 93 games. He went to Twins spring training in 2009, but he was slowed by injury and didn’t see much time. Because of that, he began 2009 back in New Britain where he got off to a horrible start. In April, he hit just .172/.238/.207 with just two doubles. But by May, he heated up and hit .310/.408/.506 with 11 extra base hits. He was promoted to Rochester and in June he hit .310, but his monthly batting averages after that month were .271/.250/.133, and his OPS fell from .806, to .753, to .647, to .345.
Tolleson stands close to the plate and has a very short, quick swing. That does make it difficult to know how to pitch him. He has a very good eye at the plate. He is a good contact hitter who generally hits the ball on the ground or line drives. Defensively, he is solid, but certainly unspectacular. He has limited range and arm, but he makes almost all of the routine plays. He played shortstop at South Carolina, and played mainly the middle infield spots earlier in his career. He spent some time at third base in 2006. He got a little bit of time in centerfield in 2008. In 2009, he played primarily shortstop at New Britain, but when promoted to Rochester, he played everywhere. He played all three outfield positions. He played three infield positions as well. He mostly played second base and left field, but it appears now that we can officially put Tolleson into the utility player listing. Also worth noting is that his father, Wayne Tolleson, played a utility infielder role for the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees during the 1980s.
Fourth Inning – Why Won’t Washburn’s Name Just Go Away?
Because there is a pretty good chance that he ends up with the Twins, I fear. A couple of front office guys really like him. There is no question that Washburn wants to be with the Twins. The Mets are allegedly out of the running, and the Mariners likely don’t want him back. The Twins are likely competing against nobody. I can totally see him signing a low-base, high-incentive contract. The reality is that you can never have enough pitching. The Twins have nine options for five rotation spots already, and in reality, they have five options for just one rotation spot, so I just question the need for Washburn. But I know a couple of people (that matter) really think he can bring something to the team.
Fifth Inning – We’re #5! We’re #5! We’re #5!
So, one of the big topics over the weekend was what the Twins would do with their fifth starter spot. The first four spots in the rotation are expected to be filled by Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey and Carl Pavano. Why is it even a topic? After the conclusion of the 2009 season, in my mind at least, the answer was easy. Brian Duensing’s performance over the season’s final six to eight weeks earned him the right to have the first shot at the fifth starter job. However, Francisco Liriano’s performance in the Dominican Winter League playoffs certainly has people excited. It’s not just the completely dominant numbers. It’s not even the reports of the 95 mph fastball and a 88 mph slider. The excitement seems to be from a focused, and in shape, Francisco Liriano. The excitement comes from the sharpness of that slider. The excitement comes from Liriano’s lack of walks and control inside the strike zone.
Obviously the big question will be answered through spring training. Brian Duensing deserves the shot. I think we all agree with that. Nothing in his AAA numbers indicates that he will be able to sustain that kind of success, but I think most of us think that he can be a serviceable fifth starter. With Liriano, there is no question about the stuff anymore. The concerns with him are all between the ears. How confident will he be? How much does he even want it? How frustrating have the last two years been for him, not able to do what he did in 2006 before surgery? If he can bring that aspect of the game together, Francisco Liriano can still be an All-Star caliber starting pitcher. Will he ever get back to his 2006 level of dominance? Unlikely, but you never know. But again, with his stuff, he can still be an ace. In my mind, Liriano is the wild card, the X-factor in how far the Twins are able to go in 2010.
But don’t forget that the Twins have other options, even before reaching to someone like Jarrod Washburn. Glen Perkins is still around. Most can’t imagine a scenario in which he comes back, but he is a lefty who throws fairly hard and has three big league pitches, so he shouldn’t be 1.) forgotten, or 2.) given away. Anthony Swarzak came up in the middle of the season and pitched well for a few weeks. Jeff Manship came up to help an over-worked bullpen in August and got the opportunity to make a few starts. He picked up his first big league win in that final weekend series against the Royals. Both of them will likely begin at Rochester, but both could be ready if called upon to either start or pitch some long relief for the Twins.
Sixth Inning – Podcast Updates
SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast – (Tonight at 9:00 central time) – I’m really excited for tonight’s show. Last week’s show was really fun, with five guests, including four players. This week, we go back to one hour, but the guests continue. Last Tuesday night, Denard Span and Jeff Manship were involved in the Twins Caravan and signing autographs through our show, but both of them were kind enough to re-schedule for this week. Also, there is a chance that Max Kepler will be joining the show tonight as well, which is pretty exciting. If he is unable to join, we’ll open up the phone lines and take your questions or comments for the remainder of the show. Remember the chat room will be open throughout the entire show, and I will ask Denard, Jeff or Max any questions that you would like while we have time. I’m excited. It should be a fun show, so hopefully you will be at to listen live. And if you can’t, please remember that you can listen to the podcast later, or you can download it to iTunes.
Quick reminder, you can still pre-order the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook for $12.95 through the conclusion of the podcast. At that point, it will be available for $13.95.
Also, be sure to listen in to last night’s Travis Talks Minnesota Sports podcast. It was a good show. His first guest was Larry from SouthSideSox.com, a White Sox blog, and they had a good discussion on the White Sox in 2010. Then Nick Nelson of Nick’s Twins Blog joined the podcast to talk about all of the Twins topics of the day.
Of course, on Wednesday night at 9, you’ll want to tune in to Fanatic Jack’s Twins Talk podcast!
Seventh Inning – Twins Fest Updates
Here are some other Twins blogs related to Twins Fest experiences that you may enjoy:
· Those Girls handed out their 2010 Twins Fest Awards. You’ll want to check out all the winners!
· Andrew from Off the Mark posted his Twins Fest Experience.
· Be sure to check out the Twins Geek account of Day 2 of Twins Fest. Particularly note his awkward conversation with Topper Anton of Curve for a Strike. It makes me laugh. Here are his Day 1 thoughts.
If there are any that I am missing, please let me know.
Eighth Inning – Twins Links
Here are some other Twins blog links:
· Aaron Gleeman started his Top 40 Twins prospect list yesterday with his selections for 36-40, only to see his choice for #37 (Tolleson) get claimed by another team. Today, he’s got his choices for 31-35. (They’ll all still be with the organization tomorrow!)
· Here are Granny Baseball’s thoughts on Joe Crede.
· Alright Hamilton has an Essay Contest: Orlando Hudson or Joe Mauer. Check it out and participate.
· February 12th is officially Nick Punto Day. This is the brain child of Andrew Kneeland of Twins Target who rightfully says that Punto is a very polarizing character among Twins fans. So on February 12th, participating bloggers will all write their thoughts on the Twins infielder.
· And I’ll just say, be sure to check out the Twins MVB. He’s got a ton of stuff going on at his site that you’ll want to check out. He was also the feature of Curve for a Strike’s Twins Blogger: Get to Know ‘Em last week.
· The Twinkie Town Top 50 Prospect rankings are complete. Check it out and weigh in on who you think is missing, who is ranked too high or too low.
· And while you’re there, be sure to check out Roger’s Weekly Twins Minor League Update.
· Check out the Over The Baggy Twins Notes.
Ninth Inning – TwinsCentric Gathering
I can’t really think of a ninth inning topic right now, so I thought I would just mention that the TwinsCentric group – John Bonnes (Twins Geek), Nick Nelson (Nick’s Twins Blog) and Parker Hageman (Over The Baggy) and I – are going to be hosting some get-togethers for bloggers and Twins fans. The first will likely be on a Saturday afternoon in March, sometime when the Twins have a spring training game that we can all watch together while talking about our favorite team. So, be sure to pre-order your copy of the TwinsCentric/Maple Street Press Twins 2010 Annual, and meet us all there. Obviously as we obtain more specific details, they will be posted at our sites.
Alright, nine innings with Seth is complete. Please check out the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast tonight at 9, and have a great day! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me or leave them in the Comments section.