Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Another Look at the Rondell Re-Signing

In a move that most of us were expecting, the Twins re-signed Rondell White today, inking a one-year deal worth $2.75 million. Much like the contract White signed with the Twins last winter, this one includes a second-year option as well as incentives for reaching 650 plate appearances in each of those seasons.

Of course, the Twins are hoping that White can hit like he did in the second half of the 2006 season, when he posted a .321/.354/.538 line with seven homers and 23 RBI over 156 at-bats. If he's able to perform anywhere near that level offensively, the salary the Twins are paying him will be a bargain when you take into account the deals being signed around the league. Then again, we have to remember that White was totally incapable of hitting the ball for a solid four months last year. The hope is that most of White's early struggles were a result of his ailing shoulder affecting his plate approach during the first few months of the season, with his solid performance down the stretch signifying that the problems were behind him. That's a reasonable thought process, and it gives me optimism that White can piece together a solid campaign and provide the type of right-handed consistency that the Twins need in their order.

At this point, it seems that the team's tentative plan is to feature White as their regular left fielder while starting Jason Kubel at designated hitter. White is not a good defender, but Kubel is a wild-card at this point and if his knee problems continue to limit his range in the outfield it's probably for the best that he sticks at DH for the time being. With Lew Ford and Jason Tyner available as late-game defensive replacements, White's sub par fielding ability should not be a major problem. Of course, if Kubel is back at full health, I'd much rather see him out in left; the notion that White cannot hit as well without playing the field is quite silly to me.

If White can retain the form that he showed in the latter months of the '06 season and some other players can build on the success they had last year, the Twins should have a pretty decent offense in 2007. Much will depend on Jason Bartlett's ability to hit like he did when he first came up (.342 average June-August) and not like he did at the end of the year (.228 average in September) as well as Nick Punto's ability to show consistency over the entirety of the season.

And, of course, RonDL's ability to stay healthy and hit the way we know he's capable of.

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