The Twins signed their second former Astro in as many days yesterday, inking third baseman Mike Lamb to a two-year contract worth $6.6 million, with an option for a third year. Joe Christensen reports that while Lamb is a likely candidate to start at third base, assistant GM Rob Antony said, "We don't like to give anything away."
Considering the alternatives, my guess is that Lamb will be the Twins' starting third baseman next season, and that's not really a bad thing. He often struggled to get regular playing time during his eight seasons with the Rangers and Astros, and has never accumulated more than 381 at-bats in a season (EDIT: since his rookie season -- thanks Ryan!). Still, he's posted a solid .281/.339/.427 line over the course of his career, and last season with the Astros he batted .289/.366/.453 with 11 home runs and 40 RBI in 311 at-bats.
There's reason to question why an apparently rebuilding team would make a two-year commitment to a 32-year-old defensive liability, but Lamb is likely to provide at least league-average offensive production from third base next year, which will be a major upgrade from the atrocious .236/.308/.323 line the Twins got from third base last year. Plus, the presence of defensive wizard Adam Everett at shortstop should help offset Lamb's fielding deficiencies on the left side of the infield.
As the Twins struggled to field an offense that could even be considered respectable for much of the 2007 season, I often mused that if they could just upgrade from "awful" to "average" at a few positions, they'd have a shot at competing. Bill Smith has accomplished that, in earnest, by adding Lamb at third base.