The Twins made a couple of moves to fill needs today, signing third baseman Tony Batista and DH candidate Shawn Wooten. Batista spent last year playing in Japan, and Wooten spent most of last year playing in Triple-A.
Batista, who is perhaps most well-known for having one of the most open batting stances in Major League history (he literally faces the pitcher) historically has had some pretty decent power numbers, but he is not overall a very good hitter, as indicated by his career .298 on-base percentage. He's not a patient hitter, he's not particularly fast, he's a relatively bad fielder, and he's 32. With all that said, I don't mind this pickup.
While the economics of the deal are not yet known, I can't imagine the Twins paying him all that much, and it's only a one-year deal so even if he fails to produce it won't kill them. Furthermore, while he is yet another guy who won't draw walks, he does have serious power potential. Batista slugged 41 home runs in 2000 with the Blue Jays (and still only had a .307 OBP... shudder), and while that was his biggest power season, it wasn't a major anomaly. He is a guy who can typically be counted on for 25-30 home runs, which the Twins could sorely use from the third base position. In 2004, his most recent season in the Majors, Batista hit 32 home runs and drove in 110 for the Expos, but he also posted only a miserable .272 on-base percentage, drawing just 26 walks in 606 at-bats.
All this indicates that Batista will be a fairly frustrating player to watch. But will he be more frustrating than Michael Cuddyer, who last year seemed to ground into a double play or strike out in almost every key situation he stepped to the plate in? That's difficult to conceive. And if he can put up 30 home runs and 100 RBI and show at least a little discipline at the plate, he would be a big addition to the lineup.
Wooten is a decidedly less important signing. The 33 year-old, who plays catcher and first base, was brought in on a minor-league contract today and may be candidate for the open designated hitter job. It's difficult to get a read on Wooten. I seem to recall him being a pretty decent player when he was the DH for the Angels a few years ago, but he really doesn't have a whole lot of Major League experience. At age 33, Wooten has little over one full season's worth of ML at-bats in his entire career. The most play-time he's gotten was in 2003 with the Angels when he appeared in 98 games. He hit .243/.303/.349 with 7 home runs and 32 RBI. We'll have to wait and see how he performs in the spring.
Technically, these signings address areas of major need for the Twins, but let's hope they aren't done yet. While Batista may fill the gap at third base and provide some bottom-of-the-lineup power, it's hard to imagine Wooten stepping in as a full-time DH.