* Joe Christensen wrote a really interesting article for the Sunday sports section of the Star Tribune about how Mike Redmond started his major-league career. It's a great story that should serve as an inspiration for fledgling minor-leaguers who are starting to lose hope of ever making it in the big leagues.
* Christensen also wrote in his notes section yesterday that Ramon Ortiz doesn't look like such a rip-off when compared to some of the other absurd contracts handed out to mediocre (or worse) starting pitchers this offseason. The point is a fair one, but I think Christensen goes a little far with this statement:
But is [Adam] Eaton, who hasn't made more than 22 starts in a season since 2004, worth eight times more than Ortiz, who has averaged 29 starts over the past six seasons?To be clear, Eaton signed a three-year deal with the Phillies during the off-season worth a TOTAL of $24.5 million. That means the contract will pay Eaton an average of about $8 million per season, whereas Ortiz will be making just over $3 million on a one-year deal. In other words, Eaton will make less than three times as much as Ortiz, not eight times as much. By that type of logic, Barry Zito is going to be making about 42 times as much as Ortiz this season.
And to answer Christensen's rhetorical question, I do indeed feel that Eaton is worth 2-3 times as much as Ortiz (though I certainly would never endorse the Twins signing him to a contract like that).
* With the departure of Jason Williams, new Pioneer Press baseball scribe Kelsie Smith has taken over blogging duties over at the newspaper's spring training blog. So far Smith has appeared up to the task, updating like crazy and littering her posts with interesting tidbits.
As for Williams, I'll miss him. He had become something of a punching bag around the Twins' blogosphere, in large part because because his "NO IDEA" mini-rant from a mailbag section in the Pioneer Press which became a running gag, but in my experience I always found Williams to be a really nice guy. I contacted him via e-mail for some quotes when I was writing a paper for a class last spring and he was incredibly friendly, extending an invitation to visit him in the press box during a game and even giving me his personal cell phone number, despite the fact that we were essentially complete strangers. I also thought he was a pretty damn good beat writer, although admittedly I don't read the Pioneer Press sports section with much regularity.
* Jayson Stark wrote an amazing article on Johan Santana for ESPN.com. It is a guaranteed delightful read for any Twins fan. I've been kind of back-and-forth as to whether or not I think the Twins really have a legitimate chance of extending Santana's contract, but whatever happens I'm just going to enjoy watching him work this season.
* La Velle E. Neal III writes in his blog that Ron Gardenhire's actions have given indication that the Twins will open the season with the following rotation: Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson, Boof Bonser. Just what we've all feared. Yep, Silva has certainly looked like a No. 2 starter this spring...
* On that subject, I know spring stats really don't mean much of anything, but sometimes they just can't be ignored. For instance, I'm not at all concerned about the fact that Santana has issued 10 walks in 14 spring innings, or that Justin Morneau went his first 32 at-bats without a home run (he proceeded to hit two over the weekend). Nonetheless, it's hard not to be discouraged by Silva's 7.62 ERA in 13 innings this spring. Likewise, it's painful to see Scott Baker with a 2.57 WHIP in five appearances. This is an important spring for those two guys, and thus far they have been unable to rise to the challenge.
Also, I can't help but be a little giddy to see Nick Punto leading the team in walks with seven (although he's hitting just .216 with no extra-base hits).
* Matt Garza has struggled with a strained neck this spring. J.D. Durbin has been limited to four innings by an iffy elbow. Lew Ford will miss a month or more after undergoing knee surgery. And, perhaps most significantly, the great Ken Harvey will miss several weeks thanks to knee problems of his own. But, as Howard Sinker noted this weekend in his Section 220 blog, things could be a lot worse. (Thank goodness we didn't draft Mark Prior!)