Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Turkey Notes

There hasn't been a whole lot of news on the Twins as of late, but I felt I'd drop in an update here with a few quick notes as Thanksgiving Day rapidly approaches.

* I tend to avoid the urge to criticize the writing of Kelly Thesier, a reporter employed by MLB.com who writes most of the articles found on the Twins' official site. She draws some aspersion from bloggers for her tendency to write puffy and overly optimistic material, but as a Mass Communications major I understand that the goal of PR is to make your product look as attractive and flawless as possible. She's going to put a rosey-colored spin on everything she writes, and that's her job so I really have no problem with it.

However, sometimes I get a little exasperated when she writes things are blatantly untrue and not even defendable by the logic I described above. For instance, I came across this nugget today when reading an article about the Twins finalizing their 40-man roster for the off-season:
Of the four added on Monday, the most touted prospect would be the 22-year-old [Denard] Span. The outfielder has been talked about as the future replacement for Torii Hunter in center field as he possesses similar skills to the All-Star outfielder.
Aside from the fact that they both play the same position and both are considered to be good defensive players, there are very few similarities between Torii Hunter and Denard Span. Hunter is right-handed, Span is left-handed. Hunter has considerable power, Span has almost none. Hunter is reasonably fast, Span's entire game is built around his incredible speed. Hunter strikes out frequently, Span is a contact hitter who generally puts the ball in play. Saying that the two players possess "similar skills" is a major stretch in my mind. Of course, it's also a little questionable to refer to Hunter as an "All-Star outfielder" seeing as how his only All-Star appearance came four years ago, but that gets back to that overly optimistic PR stuff I was talking about earlier...

* The latest hot rumor is that Terry Ryan is in talks with the Rockies about a possible trade that would send right-handed starter Jason Jennings to the Twins. The names being tossed around on the Twins' side are Scott Baker and Jesse Crain, as the Rockies are reportedly looking for youthful rotation and bullpen help. The Twins have enough starters better than Baker and enough relievers better than Crain that I don't feel like losing them would be a significant blow. With that said, the prospect of this transaction is far from appealing to me.

Jennings was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2002 and he had a successful season in 2006, posting a 3.78 ERA over 212 innings in Colorado. He's also reasonably young at 28 and his salary in 2007 will be $5.5 million, which is relatively modest considering how much some middle-of-the-rotation starters have been signing for recently. However, looking past Jennings' nice ERA, there are plenty of reasons to believe his success in '06 was something of a fluke. For one thing, his ERA in each of the three prior seasons was over 5. For another thing, his peripherals were underwhelming. He didn't strike many batters out, his control was not good, and his groundball/flyball ratio was unimpressive. Couple that with the reality that he would almost certainly be gone following next season, and Jennings really doesn't appear to be worth a couple of fairly valuable trading chips.

* The AL MVP will be announced today. I'm fairly certain it will be Derek Jeter, but Justin Morneau stands a good chance of coming in second. I maintain that Morneau was the third-most valuable player on the Twins this season, but I'd certainly be happy to see him receive a bunch of votes. Of course, I also maintain that Albert Pujols was a much more valuable player than Ryan Howard in the NL, but hey, what do I know.

Happy Thanksgiving!