October 2007

Elias Rankings released

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

The Elias Sports Bureau has released its annual player rankings – rankings that are used to determine compensation for teams that lose free agents.

Please be aware that the structure has changed! There are no more Type C free agents, and the pool for Type A free agents has shrunk from the top 30 percent to top 20 percent. Rankings are based on an Elias formula that examines production over the past two years.

With that in mind, check out the rankings for AL position players.

Torii Hunter is tied for 20th with Carl Crawford. The Type A list ends at 23. Keep in mind that outfielders are thrown into the same pot with first basemen and DH’s.

This means that if Hunter signs with another team before Dec. 1, the Twins will receive that club’s first-round pick in next year’s draft – as well as a sandwich pick between the first two rounds. In order to receive compensation after Dec. 1, the Twins would have to offer Hunter arbitration (if he hasn’t signed by then). That’s a formality.

The list of pitchers had not moved on the wire at the time of this writing, but a source told me that Carlos Silva tied for 37th on the list and did not qualify as an A- or B-type free agent. I thought Silva had a shot at B status, but his poor 2006 season cost him.

That means Silva could sign with another club and the Twins would receive nothing in return. I wish I knew what Philadelphia and other teams offered for Silva before the trade deadline. I know there was interest, but obviously not enough for the Twins. They must really want to have his veteran presence in the rotation next season.

Some minor news and some dates worth remembering

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Teams now are allowed to contact free agents and talk in general parameters but not offer contracts (riiiiiiiiight!). So you’re going to hear about teams asking about Torii Hunter, like this one.

Some clubs are more forthcoming about this information than others. 

I spoke to Twins minor league guru Jim Rantz. He said the club has signed Jason Miller, Tommy Watkins, Alejandro Machado, Armando Gabino and Josh Hill to minor league contracts.  

Rantz currently is in talks with Felix Molina, Trent Oeltjen and Brian Bass, but loses exclusive negotiating rights on Nov. 13th. 

Here are some other dates to watch for:

Nov. 20: 40-man rosters are due on this day. The Twins’ 40-man roster currently is at 36. It was at 39, but Hunter, Rondell White and Carlos Silva come off of it as soon as they file for free agency.

Dec. 1: Deadline for clubs to offer arbitration to their free agents so they can receive compensation if they sign elsewhere – a big one for the Twins.

Dec. 3: Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville. Look for Torii Hunter to show up, host a special presentation of Best Da** Sports Show, take phone calls on MLB Radio and take the stage at the Grand Ole’ Opry to sing. `God Bless Texas.’

Dec. 6: Rule 5 Draft – we all know how much this means to the Twins.

Dec. 7: Deadline for players to accept or reject arbitration offers.

Dec. 12: Last date to tender contracts – another date that has special meaning to the Twins (see Pat Meares, 1998).


Don’t Expect Hunter to Wait

Monday, October 29th, 2007

What’s up! I’m back from K.C., where my first five picks of my fantasy hoops draft went like this: 1. (first overall): Kobe Bryant. 2.(24th): Andre Iguodala. 3. (25th): Deron Williams. 4. (48th) Mehmet Okur. 5. (49th). Jason Richardson. Thanks for the suggestions.

Anyway, just wanted to address the Torii Hunter situation. I expect Hunter to file for free agency today and get his offseason rolling. Hunter and his agent, Larry Reynolds, are anxious to see what’s out there on the free agent market, and the Twins, frankly, don’t have the financial muscle to offer a proactive deal to keep Hunter from shopping around. (Won’t offer a proactive deal is more accurate, thanks Shawn!)

It’s really a sign that Hunter’s days as a Twin are numbered. He’ll get some nice offers, perhaps as long as five years, which the Twins can’t hang with.

If the Twins do part ways with Hunter, it will be a sad day in the Twin Cities for all the fans who have grown to love and support Hunter. But the sadness should only last for a day. There’s $12 million of his 2007 salary that will be available to invest in other players, and that’s where the interest should be in.

Here’s a suggestion for a solution: Coco Crisp. The Red Sox have the emerging Jacoby Ellsbury to play in center, which could make Covelli (Coco’s real name) available. He makes $4.75M in 2008, $5.75M in 2009 and there’s a 2010 option for 2010.

Coco has hit .264 and .268 in two seasons in Boston after batting around .300 for two seasons with Cleveland. He can run and plays fairly well in center. I wish he’d walk more, but he did walk a career high 50 times this season and will turn 28 next month.

The Twins can use the savings to address offense issues at third base and designated hitter. It will be tough to lose the 26-30 homers and 90-100 RBI Torii brought, but maybe the Twins can absorb most of it with improvements at third base and DH.

By the way, I’m against some suggestions of going after Marcus Giles. But I’m all for taking a chance on Jason Bay.

Another thing. I think it’s awful that A-Rod and agent Scott Boras would step all over the World Series by releasing their plans to opt-out of his contract with the Yankees. What a lack of respect.  Has A-Rod ever helped a team reach the World Series? And Boras’ explanation that A-Rod wasn’t sure about the return of Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte is ridiculous. The Yankees can any hole with cash – and they’ve released plans to offer Posada a nice extension.

That’s all. Joe C. is in the baseball bureau today and will be all over any news….

Live from Kansas City

Friday, October 26th, 2007

That’s right. I’m in town to hang out with some old friends. Don’t worry, Joe C. is on the clock in case there’s some, `real,’ news to report. Things are covered.

Anyway, one of the reasons I’m down here is for our annual fantasy basketball draft. The league began in the early 1990′s. Many of us have departed for other papers – the Strib, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, etc. – but we’ve used the league to keep in touch through the years.

I’m the co-owner of a team called, `The Fabricators of Funk.’ We have the first overall pick, then the order reverses so we have picks 24 and 25.

I know many of you are in hoops leagues. I know who we’re taking No. 1, but I’m looking for suggestions on who’s worthy for those 24th and 25 picks which will be huge (Luol Deng? Al Jefferson? Darren Williams? Dwight Howard?) What are your thoughts?

Oh, is this a baseball blog? The Boston Red Sox are the 2007 World Series champions. The title will be confirmed by Wednesday. I’m confident both Torii Hunter and Carlos Silva will negotiate with other teams during the offseason instead of accepting offers from the Twins because the offers won’t be enough to persuade them to sign, meaning the Twins will have to battle with other teams to keep them. There, I’ve talked baseball. Now help me…..

It’s a Good Day to be Named Mauer

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

If you’re Joe Mauer or Jake Mauer, you’re having a pretty good day.

Joe Mauer, after receiving several opinions, will NOT need hernia surgery. Joe had the procedure done in 2004 and doctors agree that there’s no reason to go back in. Joe is resting for a couple weeks but is expected to swing into full offseason workout mode soon.

Jake Mauer on Tuesday was named manager of the Twins’ rookie league team in the Gulf Coast League. He’s been a coach there the past two seasons.

It’s unknown at this point if Jake will implement Qwickswing sessions with his hitters. (Just kidding!)