November 2007

Thursday update

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

First of all, thanks for helping this blog reach Mike Russo levels yesterday…

I don’t have any big news to report. The Twins remain in contact with a lot of clubs about Johan Santana, and I’m looking into a few things.

The Twins had a few minor signings yesterday that were lost in the Delmon Young hoopla. They re-signed Brian Bass and placed him on the 40-man roster. So the Twins now have two open spaces there. They also have signed righthander R.A. Dickey and lefthander Mariano Gomez and will invite both of them to spring training.

Talked to a scout this morning who really feels that Brendan Harris is more of a second or third baseman than shortstop. He compared him to Mark DeRosa and Bill Mueller. That gets me thinking that Nick Punto is the first string shortstop unless the Twins trade for one.

The same scout said that Delmon Young still needs work in the outfield but has a big arm and, or course, big offensive potential. There’s a chance that Young’s production won’t be far off of what Torii Hunter did last year – .287-28-107.

The Twins could have two first overall draft picks – Young in 2003 and Joe Mauer in 2001 – batting back-to-back in the order next season.

Heard that Torii Hunter has purchased a home in Newport Beach near some Angels teammates — and that he met Lindsay Lohan at a Lakers game. I told him a couple of years ago when the Twins were in town to play the Dodgers that he would be A-List material if he played there. He’s on his way.

Sorry the update isn’t as power-packed as yesterday, but I figured mentioning Lindsay Lohan would make up for it. I’m making calls and will alert you if something comes up.

It’s official

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

The Twins and Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night have completed a trade that brings young hitting star Delmon Young to the Twin Cities (photo courtesy of USA Today).

The Twins have sent righthander Matt Garza, shortstop Jason Bartlett and minor league righthander Eduardo Morlan to the Rays for Young, infielder Brendan Harris and outfield prospect Jason Pridie.

Young, 22, who hit .288 last season with 13 homers and 93 RBI and is considered one of the better young hitters in the game.
He was the first overall pick in 2003 and is the younger brother of major leaguer Dmitri Young. Delmon Young rise to the majors includes being named minor league player of the year in 2005 but also includes some snags.
He was suspended 50 games by the International League in 2006 for throwing a bat and hitting an umpire. And he was pulled from a gamelate last season for not hustling but was allowed to play in the season finale after apologizing.
Harris, 27, hit .286 with 12 homers and 59 RBI. He played 87 games at short and 47 at second base last season. Pridie, who spent the 2006 spring training with the Twins as a Rule 5 pick, batted a combined .304 with 14 homers and 66 RBI at Class AA Montgomery and Class AAA Durham. Pridie, 24, is a center fielder, but isn’t expected to be in the mix for a starting job.
A trade for Young could lead to the Twins non-tendering a contract to outfielder Craig Monroe, who was acquired from the Cubs earlier this month. The Twins hoped to get Monroe to agree to a pay cut with incentives. With Young expected to play in left field and Jason Kubel around, outfield at-bats for Monroe would be hard to get.

The Twins continue to take offers for two-time Cy Young award winner Johan Santana, who could help the club land help in center field and third base. And closer Joe Nathan could be dealt as well.


Twins close to landing Delmon Young [updated]

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

The Twins and Tampa Bay Rays are close to finalizing a multi-player deal, according to several sources with knowledge of the discussions. The deal could be announced as soon as today.

The main pieces changning teams would be outfielder Delmon Young, the first overall pick in 2003, and righthander Matt Garza. But indications were strong on Wednesday that as many as six players could be involved.

In addition to Garza, the Twins would send Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett and reliever Juan Rincon for Young, shortstop Brendan Harris and outfielder Jason Pridie. Pridie was with the Twins during spring training of 2006 as a Rule 5 pick.

Twins players for several weeks had expected the club to deal for either Young or B.J. Upton. 

Young, 22, hit .288 last season with 13 homers and 93 RBI and is considered one of the better young hitters in the game. Harris, 27, hit .286 with 12 homers and 59 RBI.

[UPDATE]: This would be the first big move by Twins General Manager Bill Smith since taking over for Terry Ryan in September. And it’s not expected to be his last.

The Twins are talking to teams about staff ace Johan Santana and could deal closer Joe Nathan as well.

The Twins would be expected to land at least one starting pitcher if Santana and/or Nathan is dealt. That would make up for the loss of Garza, a top pitching prospect. The Twins also need a center fielder and third baseman.

It was learned on Wednesday that the Twins have shown some interest in free agent center fielder Aaron Rowand, but it’s unclear if they’ve made a contract offer.

The addition of Young could lead to the Twins non-tendering outfielder Craig Monroe, who was dealt to the Twins from the Cubs a few weeks ago.

Check back here for more details – or when the deal is officially announced.

Midday update

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Got further confirmation today that the Twins want Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and prospects for Johan Santana, but Boston is reluctant to give them up.

We’ve also heard that several names have been kicked around during talks, including lefthander Jon Lester, shortstop Jed Lowrie, outfielder Brandon Moss and major leaguers Coco Crisp and Kevin Youkilis (note: got the impression that Youkilis’ name was barely kicked around).

It comes down to what combination the sides can agree on. The size of Santana’s contract extension will also determine how much Boston – or any team – is willing to give up.

The Yankees, Mets, Angels have reportedly spoken with the Twins about Santana, too. Stay tuned.

Wednesday: Good Morning

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

It doesn’t surprise me one bit that the Twins are willing to trade Joe Nathan and Johan Santana.

As painful as it is for fans to watch good players leave, the talent the Twins could receive for these two players could put them in position to make a run in 2010 when the new ballpark opens.

It’s not like they are gutting the roster. The M & M boys will be around in 2010, as well as several pitchers who should be polished by then. Florida has successfully moved good players and reloaded twice – the main difference being that they have won two World Series titles while the Twins have only made it out of the first round once in four tries since 2002.

But if the Twins’ history of identifying good players serves them well, they should get some talented players back.

What they should still be criticized for, however, is not staying ahead of the market. Hunter, Santana and Nathan all could have been signed a year ago. The Twins needed to be proactive.

They shouldn’t make the same mistakes with Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer.

Trade rumors: Told you things were about to heat up. Joe C. and I were in chase mode yesterday.

There was a report from a radio station in L.A. that the Twins were about to send Morneau to the Angels for Ervin Santana and Casey Kotchman. We looked into it but there doesn’t appear to be anything cooking there.

I did get a call last night about the Twins and Boston’s Coco Crisp. Crisp is really starting to get attention because clubs don’t want to overpay for Aaron Rowand and Andruw Jones. I was told that 1. The Twins remain very interested in Crisp but 2. If Santana gets dealt to the Red Sox, the Twins want Jacoby Ellsbury in the deal. So there’s a chance that Santana is traded elsewhere and the Twins could go after Crisp.

Also heard a rumor that Lew Ford is drawing interest from the Hanshin Tigers.

I reported today that the Twins have had discussions with the Angels, Red Sox and Yankees about Santana. I’m sure more teams are interested, like the Dodgers and Mets. I prefer to get it confirmed that the team has actually talked to the Twins instead of assuming that they have. We’ve read plenty of stories about teams prepared to enter the Santana sweepstakes if he becomes available. I’m looking for more than that.

I know the Brewers need a closer, but I reached out to someone I know in that area and the response I got was that Brewers GM Doug Melvin really wants to hold on to his young players. Nathan might not be a fit there, but that could change.

We also head a Boof Bonser-to-the-Devil, er, to-the-Rays deal. Looked into it but found nothing. Again, there could be something there but we just haven’t tapped into the right information source yet. Seriously, this is CSI Minnesota sometimes.