December 2009

Looking ahead….

Monday, December 28th, 2009

I’m supposed to be off today. I still have some use-or-lose-it time off, but it’s been about three weeks since I last posted and I was tired of seeing that my last entry was about a minor leaguer I might never cover.

I’ll get more involved after the new year. That’s’ when Joe C. will be away on one of his super-cool excellent adventures.

Twins officials are in the transition phase between the Dome and Target Field. The next time I’ll try to contact one of them will be on a new phone number at the new park.

They continue to monitor the market for third basemen. Mark DeRosa? There have been reports that his asking price has gone down. Heard at the winter meetings that he wanted three years and $21-24 million (boy, did that Placido Polanco contract set the bar). Now it might be two years and $6 million per. Is that in the Twins’ wheelhouse now?

UPDATE: DeRosa looks to be headed to San Francisco.

Adrian Beltre? No chance. He’s going to want more than DeRosa.  But many teams appear to be waiting for the market to drop. Players like Jason Bay and Matt Holliday don’t have jobs and might not end up with what they originally sought.

Haven’t heard anything on Kevin Kouzmanoff since the winter meetings (then again, I’ve been off). Kouzmanoff for Glen Perkins makes sense to me. But I did hear in Indy that the new Padres GM doesn’t want to swing and miss with his first trade – which is why he asked for more than Perkins for Kouzmanoff.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire  said during the winter meetings that the club might still be interested in starting pitching. We know about Jarrod Washburn’s interest in pitching close to home. I know other names have been mentioned elsewhere.

I can see the Twins  adding a moderately-priced starter for the back end of their rotation. But I also see that they have a few bodies around – Perkins (for now) and Francisco Liriano are at the top of the list. And Brian Duensing has raised the stakes.

My opinion is that if they need a couple million to get a deal with DeRosa done, don’t worry about adding another starter. The pitchers they are looking at aren’t front of the rotation types, anyway.

I have heard nothing concrete about the Joe Mauer negotiations recently. I must say, however, it seems like everyone I run into has a mutual a friend or a neighbor of a friend who’s heard this or that about the deal.

Believe me, we will let you know whenever we hear anything about talks. There’s usually someone on one side or the other who lets a detail slip out here and there. Both parties are working extremely hard to keep this one quiet. That won’t stop us from trying…

I noticed that Buster Olney of ESPN wrote about the opening of Target Field . You wouldn’t believe h0w many people approached me at the winter meetings about playing outdoors. Most people think we live in Siberia. I met new Cleveland manager Manny Acta, and the first thing he said to me was, “what’s it’s going to be like playing outdoors up there?”

It’s on everyone’s mind.

The Star Tribune took a tour of Target Field before the holiday season kicked off. The place is going to rock. Fans will be right on top of the action. The foul territory is among the smallest in the game (Scott Baker won’t be happy). The last row in left field is closer to the field than the first row of the upper deck at the Dome.

The thing that jumped out at me the most: bars.

Yes, bars. They’re everywhere. And for good reason.

First of all, the Twins have tried to provide places where fans from any part of the park can get warm when the temperature dips. Every time I saw a bunch of heat lamps, a bar seemed to be nearby.

The coolest thing I learned during the tour:  There will be a spot called the Town Ball Tavern. I don’t know how the Twins pulled it off, but they acquired the old floor that the Minneapolis Lakers played on and have installed it in the Town Ball Tavern. A spot worth visiting….

That’s about it, baseball-wise, for now. I hope you got what you wanted for Christmas, and I hope you achieve everything you strive for in 2010. I leave you with a couple non-baseball notes.

One of my gifts to my brother was a Star Trek DVD. I’m not a Trekkie, but the movie was pretty good.

And I ask all Packers fans to unite with Bears fans tonight as we fight off the attack of the Purple-clad horde from the north…

Righthander Chris Province joins Twins

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

In addition to tendering contracts to all their eligible players, the Twins also have acquired righthander Chris Province as the player to be named later in the deal that sent Boof Bonser to the Red Sox.

Province, 24, was a fourth round pick of the Red Sox in 2007.  He was 2-4 with a 2.60 ERA in 43 games as a reliever for Class AA Portland. In 79.2 innings, Province gave up 72 hits with 32 walks and 55 strikeouts.

Update: Just swapped texts with a AL scout who has seen him pitch. The scout doesn’t like Province’s chances of being a good major league pitcher. He said Province’s sinker is very good but he has no second pitch.

The scout also texted, “Great build and makeup. Hardworker.”

So it seems like Province’s advancement will be based on him perfecting a second pitch.

Twins trade Bonser to Red Sox

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Larry Reynolds, the agent for Boof Bonser, has just tweeted that Boof Bonser has been dealt to Boston. The Twins designated Bonser for assignment on Tuesday to make room for Carl Pavano.

 Twins GM Bill Smith acknowledged that a few clubs had called about Bonser. Stay tuned here for updates after we’re done with the Rule 5 draft.

UPDATE: The Twins will receive a minor league player to be named later in exchange for Bonser. In most cases, teams get to pick from a list of minor leaguers. And, in most cases, it is NOT a top prospect. The Twins got nibbles on Bonser soon after he was designated for assignment, giving Smith hope that he could swing a deal.

Still, Bonser would be with the Twins right now if he had accepted their offer earlier in the offseason.

Rule 5: As expected, the Twins didn’t select anyone in the Rule 5 draft this morning. They did lose two pitchers, Angelo Sanchez and Winston Marquez.

Sanchez, a righthander, was 5-1 with a 5.52 ERA at rookie league Elizabethton. Marquez, a lefthander, was 1-0, 3.27 in seven games at E-Town and 0-2, 5.21 at Beloit. Both had good strikeout rates. 

Thursday morning update

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

The Rule 5 draft is roughly 30 minutes away, but the Twins look to be spectators and not participators this year. They have the 20th pick in the major league phase and have talked about players. But they don’t see a fit for where they are drafting. Plus, their 40-man roster is full.

“At this time we are at 40,” Twins GM Bill Smith said. “While that’s subject to change, we don’t anticipate altering our roster before (the draft).”

We will be present at the event, anyway.

One development on the trade front. One AL team that has been in touch with the Twins was told that Boof Bonser, Glen Perkins AND Alexi Casilla were available. Casilla was a mild surprise. He disappointed the Twins last season and they have the scrappy Matt Tolbert to help back up the infield.

Teams will begin to pack up and leave after the draft. Not the Twins. They always attend a minor league banquet on the last day of the meetings. We are scheduled to meet with Smith after the draft, then we’ll begin to wrap up this year’s winter meetings.

Evening update

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Just got out the Twins suite and it appears that the club made little progress on the acquisition front. When you spend more time shooting the bull with the GM than discussing topics, you get the sense that there’s not much going on.

Their search for a third baseman will likely continue well beyond the end of the winter meetings. San Diego continues to ask for too much for Kevin Kouzmanoff (although they really want to trade him and make room for Chase Headley). The Twins just won’t give up more than Glen Perkins.

Mark DeRosa is asking for more years and money than clubs are willing to spend right now, but that could change as the third base market remains fairly saturated. Twins remain interested,

Twins GM Bill Smith said some clubs have called about righthander Boof Bonser, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday. I think the odds are against a trade because the Twins will be forced to make him a free agent on Saturday, so clubs can wait and just sign him without giving up anything.

Word in the lobby is that the Dodgers might be interested in Bonser.

Heard the Twins offered Boof $550,000 earlier in the offseason, but that offer was turned down. I think it’s a gamble for someone coming off of shoulder surgery to take such a stand, but part of the plan might be too find a club that offers a better chance to start.

Heard the Twins have had no contact with the agent for infielder Orlando Hudson.

Heard that Rich Harden might land with the Rangers.

Indications are that the Twins just aren’t feeling Pedro Feliz.

That’s all for now, but you never know when things will develop.