*It should come as no surprise to anyone in Twinsland that Jacque Jones will be rejecting the Twins' arbitration offer. The Twins have made it clear since they signed Jones to a one-year deal before last season that he wasn't in the team's long-term plans. Now, with Jason Kubel hopefully returning from a major knee injury and the team still looking to sign a veteran hitter, it looks like Jacque's time with the Twins is done.
I have already discussed this topic at length in the past, but to reiterate, I will not miss Jones. During his time with the Twins, he has shown flashes, but generally I don't consider him to be a very good player. He cannot hit left-handed pitchers, he has no strike zone judgment, he is a boneheaded fielder, and he is not a good base-runner. To his credit, he is a nice guy and he has hit some very dramatic home runs and done some great things for this team, but I think it is best for all parties that he move on. In a lineup where he has some protection, he may very well put up some gaudy numbers (although if he ends up in Kansas City, one rumored destination, I wouldn't be suprised if we see him fall off the face of the earth).
*The cover story on ESPN.com's MLB page yesterday was a Jerry Crasnick article about the Twins and their incredible lack of power over the past couple decades (Insider account needed). I knew the Twins were one of the worst teams in baseball in this regard, but I hadn't realized quite how bad it was in relation to the league's other 29 teams. As most of us know, the Twins have not had a player hit 30 home runs since the 1987 season when Kent Hrbek, Tom Brunansky, and Gary Gaetti all did it. The next longest dry streak of any Major League team belongs to the Kansas City Royals, who have gone 5 years since Jermaine Dye clubbed 33 dingers in 2000. The Rockies have had 27 players hit 30+ homers since 1987, while the Twins have had zero.
What could be the cause of such a colossal lack of power? It's not like the Metrodome is a giant pitcher's park. Is it the scouting, the coaching, or simply the organizational philosophy? Whatever the case, the Twins will never be able to win a World Series without a decent power threat. Fans were hoping that last year Justin Morneau, who hit 19 dingers in about half a season's worth of at-bats in '04, would break the tragic streak, but unfortunately he regressed into one of the worst-hitting first basemen in the league. The Twins' current roster has several players capable of hitting 30 home runs - Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, Morneau, and perhaps Jason Kubel - but when will one or more of these players put it all together and become a consistent power threat? We can only hope it's soon.
*The Phillies a couple days ago sent pitcher Vicente Padilla to the Rangers in return for a player to be named later. This move negatively impacts the Twins in a few ways. For one thing, it fills a pitching need for the Rangers, reducing their desperation and thus making them less likely to deal Hank Blalock or Kevin Mench to us. Also, it tells us that Kyle Lohse's trade value is probably not as high as we would have liked to believe. As Aaron Gleeman notes, Padilla is similar to Lohse in a lot of ways, including age, salary, and career stats. The fact that he only garnered a PTBNL for the Phillies, the same thing the Twins gave up in the trade for the dreadful Bret Boone, is a pretty sobering fact.
It's hard to see the Twins making a trade in the near future. The trades occurring around the league are making it evident that the pieces they have to move are not particularly valuable at this point in time. I think Terry Ryan will probably wait until the spring to try to make a move, when needs of other teams become a little more urgent and values tend to rise a little bit. That said, I certainly hope he can make a move for a free agent hitter of some sort, any sort. I will be beside myself if the Twins go into training camp with Michael Cuddyer at DH and Glenn Williams or Juan Castro at third base.