Monday, January 02, 2006

Return of Koskie?

With the Blue Jays' glut of corner infielders, there has been much speculation about the possibility of a trade that would bring former Twins' third-baseman Corey Koskie back to Minnesota. After trading for first-baseman Lyle Overbay and third-baseman Troy Glaus this off-season, the Jays now have a collection of first and third-baseman that includes those two as well as Koskie, Shea Hillenbrand, and Eric Hinske. Toronto GM JP Ricciardi has stated that Overbay and Glaus will start at first and third, while Hinske will be moved to the outfield and Hillenbrand will probably DH. This leaves Koskie, who missed 85 games last year for the Jays due to injury, as the odd man out. The Twins have signed Tony Batista to play third, but his contract is non-guaranteed and he could be released at minimal cost if the Twins were able to acquire Koskie, who would be a clear upgrade.

I like the notion of a return to Minnesota for Koskie. He is a good guy, and a pretty good player. I don't really buy into the argument that he is a risky investment because he is "injury-prone"... he broke his hand sliding into second-base last year, that is a freak incident. To my knowledge he does not have any serious lingering injuries. He also has a .369 career OBP, which dwarfs Batista's .298, and he provides better defense as well as some solid pop with the bat.

Unfortunately, there are several obstacles standing in the way of a Koskie return to the state in which he spent his first seven big-league seasons.

The money is the biggest problem. The Twins cannot afford to pay his salary, especially if they can't dump Lohse in the deal. Yes, it would be lovely if Toronto would be willing to pick up most of Corey's salary, but I have a feeling there are other teams out there in need of help at third base that would be willing to pick up most of it (Cleveland, for instance?).

It'd be great if we could send Lohse to the Jays for Koskie, but I don't see why Toronto would want him. He's not better than any of the five guys currently slated to be in their rotation, and Ricciardi probably recognizes that he is going to be overpayed next year at $4.5 million (although with the contracts that he gave AJ Burnett and BJ Ryan, he would likely see Lohse's contract as a bargain). Short of that, who would we send to the Jays? I'm open to suggestions.

If Ryan can find a way around these issues - and I would be very pleasantly impressed if he can - I would welcome Koskie back. By no means is he a superstar, but there is no arguing the fact that he is a dramatic upgrade over any of the third base options we currently hold.

7 comments:

p2 said...

Nick(s)

I like the idea of Corey returning to the Twins, but trading Lohse would be a mistake. I'm not ready to start the two rookies at the back of the rotaion. I'd rather have them battle for the starting stop and give the loser a bull pen gig for the time being. Santana wasn't given a the starting rotation-he had to earn it.

Nick N. said...

That's a fair point. Like I said in the post, it's probably not even worth giving much thought because there is seemingly no reason why Toronto would want to trade for Lohse.

Nick M. said...

If they want Koskie, it seems they would have to give up a prospect, but I see the bigger problem being money, as Nick mentioned. Cleveland seems to be a better partner simply cause they are better able to handle the contract Koskie has. I'd love to see a different third baseman, but its hard to say if or when that will happen. But Koskie seems unlikely.

cmathewson said...

We've talked about this on Twinkie Town, but Koskie does in fact have chronic back and hamstring problems, which account for the majority of his injury woes since 2001. His games played numbers (153, 141, 135, 118, 95) only tell half the story. He was banged up most of the time since 2001, which makes his OPS all the more impressive over those years. When he was helathy, he had an MVP month (August 2004). And I thought he deserved consideration for league MVP in 2001, which was his only completely healthy season.

Sliding head first into second to challenge Torii Hunter's arm is not a freak accident but reckless disregard for his body (he was out by five feet). That was an avoidable injury if he was using any sense at all on the bases. And it's the third time he's jamed something near his hand or wrist in his career sliding in head first. He's kind of a lumbering Nick Punto, a baseball player with a hockey mentality. He is in fact the definition of injury prone.

All that said, I would be in favor of acquiring Koskie, but I don't think you can get rid of Batista, because the chances are you will need him for 50 to 60 games. That alone was why Terry Ryan refued to give Koskie more than a two-year contract offer, and why it makes it all the more difficult to take on his contract, which not only includes a third year but a vesting option.

Looking around the league, I can't find any teams for which Koskie is an upgrade besides the Twins, the White Sox and the Tigers, considering his injury history. Keep in mind that Koskie has a limited no-trade clause. The only team of the three I know that he definitely approves of is the Twins. So JP might need to take what he can get from the Twins, which I have said could be Punto (the Jays need a utility guy), a minor leaguer like Blackburn and $2 million a year in salary relief, with the Jays picking up everything else, including the option.

Nick N. said...

All very good points, cmath. One thing: Koskie would not be a third-base upgrade for the Indians, who I mentioned in the post? Aaron Boone hit .243/.299/.378 last year. Yikes.

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