Friday February 27, 2004
A short, quick little posting today, but I really hope you will take the time to read through this. Jim Souhan is a great Twins beat writer for the Star Tribune. His article today had an affect on me, and I wanted to share bits of it with you. In the last week or so, I have had articles like “SABRmetrics vs Traditionalists” and the steroid-based “Weighty Thoughts” postings that deal with disputes in baseball. Sometimes it is good to take a step back and gain (well, you can read the title of today’s posting) a little perspective! I hope you will read Mr. Souhan’s full article. You can do so by clicking here, then E-mail me your thoughts.
A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE
Corey Koskie becomes a free agent at the end of the 2004 season. The Twins will need to make a decision whether or not to bring him back. The 3B free agent class next offseason is pretty full already, so the market value could be low. When Corey Koskie has been healthy, he has been one of the best third basemen in baseball. Last season, he should have been an All-Star based on his first half, but then injuries caused him to miss a lot of games in the second half. So, do the Twins extend Koskie’s contract another two or three years, and hope he stays healthy? Or, do they let him become a free agent and take their chances with the likes of Terry Tiffee or Michael Cuddyer at 3B? I don’t know that there is a right or wrong answer to that question.
What is my current thought on that question? I think that the Twins should offer him an extension right now. I think that they should offer him the same contract that Doug Mientkiewicz just signed (2 years, $7 million, with an option for a third year). Granted, this would be a pay cut for Koskie, since he will be making $4.5 million in 2004.
My assumption is that he or his agent would turn down the deal, but it would be a starting point for negotiations. But, maybe it will lead to a 2 year, $9 million extension with an option that would keep Koskie in a Twins uniform through the 2006 season, when 2003 first round pick Matt Moses should be ready to take over.
There is risk by both sides. For the Twins, they could fear Koskie’s back going out on him again and paying him for little playing time. For Koskie, he could have a healthy and very productive 2004 season and not be a free-agent and able to cash in on the success.
On the other side, the Twins would be keeping a very important part of their team, a glue of sorts. For Koskie, he loves Minnesota and playing for the Twins. This is now his home, and I really don’t think that he wants to uproot his family. I think that he is one of those guys who, as Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek did in the past, would take less money to stay with the Twins. In my mind, it would be a win-win situation for both sides.
Injuries. Free-agent status. Roster transition. All of these things have to affect Corey Koskie. I know he doesn’t want to be hurt. I really don’t think he wants to be a free agent; I think he’d like to know he would be with the Twins for two or three more seasons. I know that he missed David Ortiz last season. I know that he was close with the players who are gone now. But he seems to have the kind of personality that would mold well with the new guys. I think he is the kind of player and person that the young guys can and should admire.
So, Mr. Ryan, please get Koskie signed long-term, preferably before the season starts (because as we learned the hard way last year, the Twins don’t like to do that once the season begins!)!
Why am I writing about Corey Koskie today? Well, I wasn’t sure what to write about today, so I was checking out many websites. I got to today’s Jim Souhan Twins article, something I do every night before going to bed. I love reading what he writes. I love the human interest stories of Spring Training. And, his work today was absolutely incredible! Based on the above, I am sure you can deduce that Mr. Souhan’s article is about Corey Koskie. You’d be correct.
Do you remember back in August when Corey Koskie did not make a trip to Anaheim for a weekend series? Back then, I wrote:
Denny Hocking was playing 3B in the absence of Corey Koskie, who is still back in Minnesota tending to some “personal family matters.” I certainly hope it is nothing serious!
Well, Jim Souhan let us in on exactly what kept Corey in Minneapolis. I think serious and unfortunate would definitely be appropriate words for it! His last six months must have been so tough for him and his family. He battled a broken hamate bone, got drilled in the chest with a baseball, other injuries and something that I can’t even imagine dealing with:
Koskie lamented Thursday the many injuries that have sidelined or hampered him the past two seasons. Then he said, quietly, that his wife, Shannon, has had two miscarriages in the past six months, the latter occurring last weekend.
The first happened in August, during a series in Minnesota. Playing in the home series was difficult enough. When the team began boarding a plane for a flight to California, he balked.
"I tried to put a strong face on," Koskie said. "Then, 15 minutes before the game, it hits you. I just kind of broke down, and Eddie [Guardado] came over and said, 'Man, you all right?' "
Koskie walked into manager Ron Gardenhire's office. "I said, Gardy, this is what I'm going through right now, but I want to play," Koskie said. "But [after the home series] when it came time to get on that plane, I just couldn't do it. I remember leaving that plane, feeling like I let everybody down. But I look back at it and it was what I needed to do -- be with my wife.”
I can’t even imagine trying to play baseball through that. But sadly, that was not it, there was more:
In the fall Shannon again became pregnant. "Last Friday, we found out she's 21 weeks along, and just miscarried again," Koskie said. "It was tough, because they had to birth this one, because she was so far along. To see her go through all of this, all the pain she had, it was very stressful.
"And just when we thought it was all said and done, she started hemorrhaging on Monday morning. I rushed her to the hospital."
Koskie and his wife, Shannon, have dealt with it as well as can be hoped, and as expected, Koskie gave credit to others.
When Koskie rejoined the team last August, he admits his legs were shaking, and he had trouble playing. Thursday, he said that he and Shannon have faced this week with resolve.
"I'm very thankful that Shannon is all right, and that we have the two boys," Koskie said. "I'm truly thankful for her parents, my family, my sister, her sister, our friends . . . everybody who has surrounded us in this situation.
"I can't tell you how good this organization has been to us. [General manager] Terry Ryan, Gardy, my teammates, the whole organization has been tremendous, as far as being understanding and supportive.
"Matthew LeCroy and his wife, Holly, helped us out last week, and I don't know what we would have done without them. Terry Steinbach and his neighbors in Minnesota, they've been great to us. The care we received at the hospital here was phenomenal.
"When I talked to Gardy last August, he told me, 'Son, I know we're in a pennant race, but you need to be with your family.' "
But Corey Koskie is also very upfront in letting people know exactly where his strength to deal with such situations comes from:
Koskie, a devout Christian, said he refuses to ask "what might have been," in terms of baseball or life.
"In times of trouble and turmoil, you get to a point where you think almost in terms of self-pity," he said. " 'Why does this happen to me? I've always done what You've told me to do.' But the focus should be on thanking Him for everything He has given us.
"If you look at where I am in my life, playing professional baseball and doing well financially, well, that's what a lot of people view as success.
"No matter how much you make, there will always be somebody who has more. You see a lot of unhappy people, and they buy the big watches and diamonds. That stuff is fine, but if that's what makes you feel good about yourself, you're in trouble."
Here is a quote from Koskie that should help put everything back into perspective.
"Instead of always thinking, 'This is where I want to get,' I want to say that I'm very happy with what I've been blessed with."
I frequently talk about how important statistics are in evaluating a player. But this would be an extreme, unfortunate situation of when there is no way that statistics tell the full picture of what happens in a baseball game. They can’t tell you how this type of situation will affect not only Corey Koskie, but the rest of his extended family, the players and coaching staff.
That is part of why I think that Corey Koskie’s value to the Minnesota Twins is maybe more important than it would be to other teams. The “family atmosphere” that Koskie has with the Twins would not necessarily be the same in a new clubhouse. That is why I think that the Twins should approach Koskie about extending his contract. Not because of these specific situations, but because of not only the talent that Koskie is on the field, but the leadership that he provides his teammates through his actions and efforts.
On final thought from Koskie that I think that we should think about every day!
"Instead of focusing on what we don't have, I want to be thankful for all we've been blessed with."
A lot of negative stories come out in the baseball world, from steroids to bench-clearing brawls, from contract disputes to ownership squabbles. I am one who, after the Kirby Puckett fiasco, does not believe that athletes should be considered role models. But, if you want one, look no further than the Twins Corey Koskie!
On that note, I am calling it a week! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Please take just a minute or two and think about all you have to be thankful for! If you have any questions or comments on this, anything baseball, anything from earlier in the week, the Timberwolves, TV shows or anything, please e-mail me. I’d be happy to hear from you!
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