Here we are, just a couple days before Christmas, and Terry Ryan seems to have gotten all his shopping done in a timely fashion. He came into the off-season with three glaring holes in this offense: 2B, 3B, and DH. By trading for Luis Castillo and signing Tony Batista and Rondell White, he has filled those positions with fairly big-name players and at relatively minimal cost. I have to give him some credit.
I think everyone has some questions about how well Batista and his dismally low OBP will fit with this offense, but the other two should undoubtedly be significant upgrades. Furthermore, Ryan has quietly kept the league's best pitching staff intact. I still believe Kyle Lohse and his potential $4.5 million salary should be dealt, because I think Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano are both ready to join this rotation, but we will have to wait and see what happens there.
Anyway, on to a few news items on the Twinkies...
*Charley Walters had some thoughts from Torii Hunter on the Rondell White signing in his column in the PioPress today. In the article, Hunter hinted that Lohse may yet be dealt, saying, "We also have Kyle Lohse, but you don't know what's going to happen — there's still a lot of winter left. Anything can happen." Hunter also, upon being asked what his opening day batting order would be if he were manager. Here was his lineup:
That's not a bad lineup. It is interesting that Hunter would place himself in the cleanup spot, as in the past he has supposedly been against the idea of hitting in that spot in the order. I don't know how much I like the idea of Mauer hitting second instead of third, unless Stewart can really bounce back. Granted, Mauer is going to be the team's best OBP guy, but he is also the best hitter with runners aboard and I think he would get more RBI opportunities behind Stewart and Castillo. I also don't think Morneau is going to see any decent pitches if he has Batista hitting behind him.
*One move that seems to have been almost completely overlooked by the media and the Twins blogging community is the Twins signing of left-handed reliever Dennys Reyes to a minor league contract for $550K. The 28 year-old Reyes is not exactly a stud, holding a 4.80 career ERA, but his .208/.306/.265 opponents' line against lefties last year indicates that he probably will be sufficient as a southpaw specialist. Playing in the same division against lefty sluggers like Travis Hafner and Jim Thome, he could be fairly important. It is useful to note that Reyes gets hammered by righties, to the tune of .359/.464/.508 last year, so hopefully Gardy will only be using him as a LOOGY.
*According to ESPN.com, the Blue Jays and D-Backs are very close to completing a deal that would send third-baseman Troy Glaus to Toronto. This is an interesting move for the Jays, who already have in abundance of corner infielders. By acquiring Glaus, he would join a group of first and third basemen that already includes Lyle Overbay, Shea Hillenbrand, Corey Koskie, Eric Hinske, and Aaron Hill. Even by playing one of those guys at DH, the Jays would still have a few extras. If the Glaus deal goes down, I would not be surprised to see the Twins make a move for Hillenbrand or Koskie.