Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Off With a Bang

Over the past couple weeks, there have been few headlines relating to the Twins. Those that have revolved around our hometown team have been incredibly dull: Twins activate Joe Nathan's option, Carlos Silva and Torii Hunter file for free agency, etc. Of course, I can't really complain about the lack of compelling activity; we are just two days removed from the end of the World Series and there are several long months ahead for necessary moves to be made.

That didn't stop the division rival Tigers from getting their offseason started in a hurry though. They pulled the trigger on a trade with the Braves yesterday, sending prospects Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez to the Braves in exchange for shortstop Edgar Renteria. The Tigers wasted no time in filling their new hole at shortstop, which was created when the decision was made to move the hobbled Carlos Guillen to first base.

Renteria, 32, is a five-time All-Star who hit .332/.390/.470 with 12 homers and 57 RBI over 124 games in Atlanta last year. He has never hit for a ton of power, but he's still got some speed and is a very solid defensive player. He should prove a nice fit in the Tigers' veteran lineup. In order to get Renteria, the Tigers had to give up a very nice pitching prospect in Jurrjens, who made his major-league debut as a 21-year-old this year after posting a 3.21 ERA over five minor-league seasons. The second prospect included in the deal, Hernandez, is a 20-year-old who spent the entire 2007 season in Single-A. He's far from an established prospect, but he has great speed (74 SB in174 professional games) and could end up being a solid player down the line.

Like with the Gary Sheffield trade last year, Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski has shown that he has no problem letting go of some promising young players with bright futures in order to help the team in the present. This deal might not ultimately end up being a great one for Detroit, but there is little question that it will make them a better team in 2008, which is bad news for the Twins. I very much doubt this is the last we'll hear from Dombrowski; likewise, I suspect that Kenny Williams will be active this winter as he looks to turn the White Sox back into a competitor. The Indians don't need to do a whole lot of tinkering, but I don't expect Mark Shapiro to sit on his hands.

It's going to be a busy offseason in the AL Central. Let's just hope that Bill Smith and the Twins get in on the action so they don't end up left in the dust next year.

Monday, October 29, 2007


First, let me congratulate the Red Sox on another World Series victory. Boston had a great team this year and they have enough young talent that they should be favorites to repeat next year.

With that being said, the playoffs this year downright sucked. With only two exceptions, every series was a sweep. The World Series was a complete and utter bore, which represents no change from the past several.

In any case, today is a day to celebrate. Whether you're celebrating Boston's championship, the official commencement of the offseason, or my 22nd birthday, there are plenty of valid reasons. Happy Monday everyone.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Notes

Not a whole lot to cover today, so I'll touch on a few different subjects before enjoying my pre-birthday weekend (I turn 22 on Monday!).

* I was surprised to see this story gracing the front page on ESPN.com yesterday. The headline: "Hunter says Twins haven't made any offers since end of season." It must have been a slow news day in the sports world, because that's not really news. Most of us don't expect the Twins to go any further than the three year, $45 million offer they made during the season. And they shouldn't.

* The Twins elected this week to activate Joe Nathan's $6 million option for the 2008 season, which is also not really news since it was obviously coming. Nathan is a tremendous bargain at that price, and he will enter the '08 season as arguably the only known commodity in the Twins' bullpen.

* Infielder Matt Macri, who the Twins acquired from the Rockies in August in exchange for Ramon Ortiz, has been putting together some impressive numbers while playing in the Arizona Fall League. Over 13 games, the 25-year-old Macri has hit .302/.333/.558 with five doubles, two homers and four RBI. This after hitting .296/.345/.511 with 26 doubles and 15 home runs over 331 at-bats this year spread across Double-A and Triple-A. He shouldn't be counted on, but Macri could be a dark-horse candidate to chip in at third base for the Twins. I'd prefer to see Bill Smith go out and acquire a legitimate young third baseman in a trade, but short of that, he could probably do worse than, say, a platoon of Macri and Brian Buscher or Corey Koskie (assuming that Koskie is back in playing shape).

* Non-Twins-related note: if anyone is interested in reading my stuff elsewhere, I write a bi-weekly sports column for the U of M's student magazine, The Wake. You can read my latest column here. This issue's edition previews the men's hockey team, which just recently kicked off its season and last night defeated Ohio State handily.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Coo-Coo for CoCo?

Our friend Seth Stohs over at SethSpeaks wrote an article on Tuesday outlining his ideas for the Twins' 2008 Opening Day roster. Many of the suggestions are ones that have been tossed around elsewhere -- sign Mike Lowell, trade for Jason Bay, etc. -- but there was one acquisition that I don't think I have seen suggested anywhere else. Seth writes that the Twins should bring in Red Sox center fielder CoCo Crisp to replace Torii Hunter.

At first, this struck me as an insufficient answer to the team's center field dilemma. Since joining Boston via trade in 2006, Crisp has been a sub par offensive player. Between 2006 and 2007, he totaled just 14 home runs and 96 RBI while batting .266 and slugging .383. These numbers represented a huge drop-off from Crisp's last year in Cleveland, where he hit .300/.345/.465 with 16 home runs and 69 RBI. That season could hardly be viewed as a fluke, as Crisp had put up very similar numbers the year before, batting .297/.344/.446 with 15 homers and 71 RBI.

Crisp's decline upon leaving Cleveland was rather inexplicable. He was a 26-year-old coming off of a career year and moving into a hitter-friendly park. Yet, whatever the reason for the drop-off in numbers, we know what Crisp is capable of from an offensive standpoint, and if he could even get back to a level somewhere between those good years in Cleveland and the disappointing ones in Boston, he could be an adequate player offensively.

As long as he's hitting a bit, Crisp can be a valuable player, because he has good speed and he is a phenomenal defender. At this point in time, Crisp may have the best range of any center fielder in the majors. For a team like the Twins that likes to build on speed and defense, Crisp seems like a natural fit.

The nice thing about Crisp is that he could hypothetically be available for a relatively cheap asking price. He remains under contract with Boston for two more years (with a club option for 2010), but the Red Sox have little use for him given the emergence of Jacoby Ellsbury in center field. Considering Crisp's unimpressive 2007 numbers and his struggles this post-season, his stock might be at an all-time low. And it's worth noting that while his 2007 season was a very disappointing one as it saw him post a .712 OPS while hitting just six home runs in 526 at-bats, Crisp did set career highs for stolen bases (28) and walks (50), so there are some positives can be drawn from his latest campaign.

I don't think that Crisp is an ideal candidate to take over in center field after Hunter leaves, but assuming the Twins make some significant upgrades at other positions, he could certainly be serviceable. If I had my way, I'd still rather see a guy like Matt Kemp come over in a Johan Santana trade, but I'll be the first to admit that such a move is unlikely. Crisp is a solid, young and cheap player who fits the Twins' mold. Definitely a guy worth keeping in mind over these winter months.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Bit on the Low Side

While perusing the Twins official site yesterday, I come across the following headline: "Mailbag: Santana's future plans." Sounds like it's worth checking out, so I give it a click. Now, keep in mind that the people who write into this mailbag are not the brightest folks (one example of a letter sent in and published in this edition: "What are the odds of Jason Tyner getting a starting position in the outfield next year? He would be a good leadoff hitter, he hit near .300 last season, and plays good defense."), so MLB.com beat writer Kelly Thesier kind of has to work with what she's got. But I was struck by her answer to a query regarding Santana and the possible return on an offseason trade.

The letter refers to a rumor about the Twins trading Santana and Jason Bartlett to the Mets for Jose Reyes, Mike Pelfrey and Carlos Gomez. An interesting thought. Thesier responds that there have been some other musings of what other clubs might offer, "like the Yankees' possibly dangling Melky Cabrera and Ian Kennedy, along with another prospect."

I've never heard this specific rumor before, but if I had I would probably have a lot less hair on my head. Let me get this straight, the Yankees want the best pitcher in the major leagues who is amidst his prime, and in return they are willing to "dangle" their third-best pitching prospect and a guy who projects to be a league-average outfielder? Where do I sign up?!

I really don't know what Santana could garner in a trade this offseason, but I know (at least I pray) that it is more than that. I'm not a believer that some team is going to give up four or five top prospects for one player (I had to roll my eyes yesterday when I heard a suggestion that the Dodgers would give up Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Andy LaRoche AND Jonathan Meloan for Santana), but with the number of competitive teams out there that are direly in need of an ace, and with the fact that acquiring Santana would also entail exclusive bargaining rights for a full year to work on an extension, there will be a market for him. If the offers were really as underwhelming as the Yankees package suggested by Thesier, I'd probably be more supportive of keeping Santana for another year and taking the draft picks when he leaves as a free agent. What the Twins could get for Santana will really depend on how many teams are serious bidders.

Sportswriters around the nation seem to remain skeptical about the likelihood of a trade actually materializing. The Star Tribune's Joe Christensen said a few weeks that he thought there was a "1-in-5 chance" that the Twins trade Santana, and in a chat on ESPN.com yesterday Buster Olney gave the same odds, opining that there is a 2-in-10 chance the Twins trade their ace.

Nevertheless, Santana's future will be the most interesting offseason storyline in my mind. Let's just hope that future rumors that pop up are a little more enticing that the one referenced by Thesier.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Immovable Object, Unstoppable Force, Etc.

Kudos to the Red Sox for putting the finishing touches on an impressive three-game comeback last night with an 11-2 victory over the Indians. Boston will now head to the World Series for the second time in the past four years, and they will take on a Colorado club that is amidst one of the most amazing hot streaks in major-league history. The question now is whether it is better to be good or hot.

In my opinion, the Red Sox are pretty clearly a superior team to the Rockies in almost every aspect. But with the way that Colorado has been playing lately, that might not matter a whole lot. The MLB playoffs often seem to be all about momentum, and the Rockies have that in spades. In fairness, the Red Sox have some pretty good momentum built up themselves after outscoring the Indians 30-5 in their final three ALCS victories.

It should be a fun series, and I'll be intrigued to see how these two teams match up. If pressed to pick a team to cheer for, I'd have to select the Rockies, if only because those big-market teams have plenty of fanfare as it is. Mostly though, I'll just be cheering for some entertaining baseball.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Nathan Situation

Johan Santana has one year remaining on his contract with the Twins. I'm on the record as stating that "the absolute worst thing that could happen would be for the Twins to hang onto Santana for another year, miss the playoffs, and then collect a pair of draft picks next winter when he signs a mega-deal with some big-market franchise." The organization faces a similar situation with Joe Nathan, but my feelings when it comes to the dominating closer are dramatically different.

In each of his four seasons as Twins' closer, Nathan has saved more than 35 games. He has blown a total of 14 save opportunities over those four years. Three times he posted an ERA below 2, and his K/BB ratio during his career as a closer is about 4.5-to-1. The numbers speak for themselves, and they show that Nathan has been one of the top closers in the game for the past four years. In fact, one could easily argue that he has been the very best closer during that span. Nathan will make $6 million in the option year of his contract (which the Twins are sure to activate), and afterward he will be eligible to become a 33-year-old free agent unless he signs a contract extension.

The type of money Nathan is likely to command in a new deal could be staggering. While the closer position might be the most overrated in the game, teams seem to value it more and more and the position's stock on the free agent market has risen quite a bit in recent years. A couple contracts signed during the 2005-06 offseason provide us with a good benchmark for contemplating what Nathan could be looking at after next season. That winter, the Blue Jays signed former Oriole B.J. Ryan to a five-year deal worth $47 million dollars. At the time, Ryan was a 30-year-old (he turned 31 about a month after signing the deal) with one year of experience as a full-time closer. At the time, Ryan's contract was the largest ever for a relief pitcher, but the distinction would last only a few hours. On the same day the Jays finalized their deal with Ryan, Billy Wagner and the Mets came to terms on a four-year contract worth $43 million. Wagner was 34 and coming off a season similar to the one Nathan just finished.

If these examples are any indication, Nathan will be very expensive if and when he hits the market. Given their financial situation, the Twins really can't afford to pay a relief pitcher $10+ million per season, especially considering the number of talented young arms that populate their farm system. So, no, re-signing Nathan is not a realistic option for the Twins.

With that being the case, one might guess that I'm a proponent of trading him this offseason to get maximum value in return. Not so. I think the Twins should hang onto Nathan for next year, get one more season of dominant relief at a value price, and then let him walk for a pair of draft picks the following offseason.

Trading Nathan right now would be detrimental to the team's chances in 2008. Many argue that Pat Neshek could step in and close, but I think there have to at least be some questions about that plan of action after Neshek's 4.82 second-half ERA and the late-season revelation that he was experiencing elbow and shoulder issues. Even if Neshek could take over as an effective closer, losing Nathan weakens the bullpen to a devastating degree. Matt Guerrier had a great season in 2007, but it's far from a given that he'll repeat that performance. And there are many questions swirling around Jesse Crain, Juan Rincon and Dennys Reyes. I have long felt that the Twins need their bullpen to be a strength in order to succeed, and if they trade Nathan this offseason, their relief corps will not be a strength in 2008.

Fortunately, by the time Nathan leaves via free agency after next year, some help could be in place. Eduardo Morlan, who is being groomed as the closer of the future and is likely to start next season in Double-A, could be ready by then. Furthermore, a player like Boof Bonser or Glen Perkins may have settled into a relief role. For the time being, however, I just think there are too many questions surrounding the bullpen for the Twins to be able to trade their best reliever and continue to compete. Of course, if they are uncompetitive around the trading deadline next year, the Twins could start listening to some offers.

Nathan has blossomed as a dominant reliever in Minnesota -- consistent almost to the point of being automatic. That's refreshing for Twins fans who had to endure the heart-pounding years of LaTroy Hawkins and Eddie Guardado in the closer role. As much as I'd love for Nathan to stick around and continue to slam the door on Twins' opponents, the numbers show that it's just not feasible. And while his trade value might be pretty high, I don't think the Twins can afford to deal him right now considering their current bullpen situation. Unlike in Santana's case, I think the best choice here is to enjoy one more season of Nathan and then let him walk for draft picks.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cleveland Lookalikes

This is undoubtedly going to be one of the most irrelevant posts ever on this blog, but I couldn't think of much to write about so I just went with what hit me. And what hit me while watching last night's ALCS game between Cleveland and Boston was how similar some of the players on the Indians look to some famous Hollywood celebrities. Many will likely disagree, but here are some of the ones that struck me:

Starting Pitcher C.C. Sabathia...

... Long-lost twin of Forest Whittaker?

Another member of the Indians' rotation, Paul Byrd...

... Bears shocking resemblance to singer/actor Eddie Izzard.

And the big first baseman Ryan Garko...

... Just a heftier version of Mark Ruffalo.

Center fielder Grady Sizemore...

... or Spider Man villain James Franco?

Anybody else have any player/celebrity lookalikes from the playoff teams?

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Great Debate

Two weeks ago, I devised an offseason wish list with my plan for the Twins' offseason and posted it with the hope that it would generate some good conversation. Boy, did it ever. Beyond the 38 comments that people left here on that post, several other bloggers offseason blueprints of their own. A few days after I posted mine, Matthew Whipps from Twins Killings wrote up a list of moves that he would like to see, in which he suggests that the Twins deal Johan Santana to the Red Sox for Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis. Then, a few days ago, Peter Schoenke of RotoWire posted his blueprint, which he said was "kind of a rebuttal" to mine. Indeed, Schoenke has some very different views than me on how the Twins should handle the upcoming offseason, as he suggests that the Twins keep Santana, trade away four pitching prospects and let Carlos Silva walk.

The great thing about these ideas that people have concocted is that they are really never wrong. Well, OK... they can be wrong. But, for the most part, each list that I have seen has featured a lot of reasonable, defensible ideas for how to get handle some sticky situations that the Twins will face in the coming months.

One issue that I have with a lot of the lists I've read is that they don't do enough to fix the offense. I fully expect a few of the Twins' hitters to bounce back next season to some degree, but this is a team that ranked 25th in the league in runs scored over the course of the season -- a major overhaul is needed. That's why I suggested the acquisitions of Matt Kemp, Garrett Atkins and Barry Bonds... the Twins would be getting fresh starters at three positions that currently project as major weaknesses next year while adding a ton of power to their impotent lineup. Furthermore, Atkins and Kemp are potentially long-term fixes.

Unfortunately, I don't expect the offseason to play out like any of these grand plans have suggested. A realistic scenario, to me, would involve the Twins keeping Santana, signing Mike Sweeney to play DH, and bringing in a guy like Darin Erstad to replace Torii Hunter in center field. I do, however, fully believe that the Twins will make some sort of trade to bring in a third baseman. It might not be a player of Atkins's caliber, but I'm convinced that Ron Gardenhire and the front office have grown tired of the team's perpetual ineffectiveness at the hot corner, and I don't believe they view any of the internal options as potential answers to the issue.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Lucky Ones

Tonight, the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks embark on a best-of-seven series to determine which team will represent the National League in the World Series. The Rockies and D-Backs, both of whom have a payroll below $55 million, are both easy teams for Twins fans to cheer for. Both are built on young talent that was developed primarily from within their own systems. There are few giant egos on either roster, and both teams seem to play with a lot of heart.

What is interesting is that both teams have a player on their roster who was with the Twins as late as August. I speak, of course, of Rockies reliever Ramon Ortiz and D-Backs bench player Jeff Cirillo. Arizona claimed Cirillo after the Twins waived the oft-unavailable third baseman in early August, and a couple weeks later the Twins dealt Ortiz and his 5.14 ERA to Colorado for minor leaguer Matt Macri.

Neither Cirillo nor Ortiz plays a prominent role on his respective team, and the change of scenery hasn't positively affected the play of either one -- Ortiz posted a 7.62 ERA over 13 innings with the Rockies down the stretch while Cirillo hit .200/.273/.300 in 40 regular-season at-bats with the Diamondbacks. Yet, both are fortunate enough to experience an exhilarating postseason run, and one of them will get to participate in the World Series. Meanwhile, their former teammates are at home watching the games on TV after completing a disappointing season.

Of course, not every Twin that left the team during the season got so lucky. Let's not forget about Luis Castillo, who was traded to the Mets in time to take part in perhaps the biggest regular-season collapse in major-league history. Sorry, Luis!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


In our comments section last week, a reader notified me that this blog was rated as the 17th-best baseball blog in the country for the 2007 season by the readers of a site called LA Snark. Suffice to say that this was a major surprise to me and also a huge honor. I'll confess that I don't know much about the LA Snark blog and I'm a little wary of this list's legitimacy considering that some wonderful and popular Twins blogs like Seth Speaks, Twins Geek and SBG appear nowhere among the Top 101, but nonetheless it is extremely flattering that enough people voted for this blog to put it among the Top 20, and to rank it as the second-best Twins blog on the Web behind the immortal Aaron Gleeman (who came in at No. 3 overall). So, thanks everyone.

Anyway, last week's surprises didn't stop there. Bill Smith made his first official moves as the Twins' general manager, dropping Luis Rodriguez, Lew Ford, Josh Rabe and Tommy Watkins from the team's 40-man roster. Moves like this can accurately be described as "trimming the fat."

With the possible exception of Watkins, each of the players are expected to find a home with another organization during the offseason. Rodriguez has already been picked up by the Padres. These are hardly moves that will hurt the Twins, as none of these players have been valuable assets to the team.

Back in 2004, it appeared that Ford would be a part of the organization's long-term plans after he hit .299/.381/.446 over 154 games while patrolling the Twins' outfield. Unfortunately, he never approached those numbers again. Since his major-league debut in 2003, here is Ford's year-by-year OPS trend: .977, .827, .715, .599, .677. At this point his career, he is just a no-hit fourth outfielder. Because of his defense and speed, Ford still has some value, but he's not worth the $1 million-plus he's likely to receive through arbitration next season. It appears that Smith realized this, and made the necessary move.

Rabe and Watkins are both minor-league journeymen who don't really belong in the majors. Many people seem to have grown an affinity for Watkins because he's apparently a nice guy and he had some success in his brief stint as a major-leaguer this season, but it's important to note that he has hit just .249/.331/.337 over 10 minor-league seasons. I'm fine with him returning to the organization on a minor-league contract, but I found it awfully ridiculous that some people were toying with the notion that he could compete for a starting job in the Twins' infield next year.

Moving these relatively useless parts out of the picture represents a step in the right direction for Smith, but by themselves these moves don't do a whole lot of good. They key now, as Gleeman notes, will be finding superior players to replace them. That shouldn't be an overly difficult task, and if Smith can accomplish it, he could go a long way toward improving the offensive depth on this club.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Mosvick's Award Picks

Just as giving out grades is a somewhat lame method of postseason analysis, posting on the major-league awards can just as easily be construed as lame. However, I'd still like to weigh in with my opinions with another of my rare contributions to the blog from Virginia. After all, I have no excuse right now since I'm on fall break and am supposed to be relaxing. With that, here are the award winners as I see them:

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
There isn't really much of a debate here. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to argue against A-Rod deserving this honor. Rodriguez hit .314/.422/.645 with 54 HR, 156 RBI, 143 runs scored, 376 total bases, 85 extra-base hits, and 24 stolen bases. He posted an MLB-best 96.6 VORP as well as leading the league with 299 times on base and 166 runs created. With his season, he set records for third basemen in home runs, RBI, runs scored, and runs created. While A-Rod is struggling in the postseason, it has nothing to do with the MVP race. Magglio Ordonez was great for the Tigers, but a marginal outfielder who had an offensive season just below that of a good defender at third does not pass the bar.

NL MVP: Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies
Rollins had a stunning year at short, hitting .296/.344/.531 with 38 doubles, 20 triples, 30 home runs, 139 runs scored, 211, 41 stolen bases, and 380 total bases. If you go by VORP, Rollins doesn't appear to be the standout candidate. Rollins's VORP of 66.1 ranks 9th in the NL behind Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Chipper Jones, Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Chase Utley. Out of those players, Wright, Holliday, Fielder, and Utley seem like the standout MVP candidates. Ramirez, Pujols, and Cabrera were outstanding -- especially the underrated Ramirez who has a great bat but is a butcher at shortstop; however, they all played for losing teams.

Holliday and Wright are likely Rollins's biggest competition. While everyone believes Coors Field is an offensive haven, it's nothing compared to Rollins' home field of Citizens Bank Park. However, that didn't really affect Rollins, who hit ..293/.352/.507 in away games this year. Holliday's 92 extra-base hits, .340/.405/.607 line, and 386 total bases all rank above Rollins. However, as an outfielder, Holliday's defensive contribution (not factored into VORP) is nowhere near that of the phenomenal defense of Rollins at shortstop.

As for Wright, his season is a good comp for Rollins. Wright is young at 24, is constantly improving, and provides good defense at the hot corner. Wright hit .325/.416/.546 with 30 home runs, 107 RBI, and 34 stolen bases, all amazing numbers. Yet, while the arguments of intangibles are often lost on me, I believe it is in this vein that Rollins wins out. The Philadelphia shortstop's combination of speed, power, defense, and leadership is hard to beat any year especially in a year in which Rollins had one of just four 20-20-20-20 seasons all time.

AL Cy Young: C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland Indians
As much as I detest the Indians (and especially Sabathia) as a Twins fan, it's just hard to pick against this guy. Sabathia's basic numbers were impressive enough, as he went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA. However, his deeper numbers tell the story of why he should win. Sabathia's 209/37 K/BB ratio (5.65) is this second best all-time for a left-hander, behind Randy Johnson's 290/44 (6.59) in 2004. His 65.2 VORP ranks first for AL pitchers. He also ranked first in innings with 241 and fifth in WHIP (1.14).

Sabathia's main competition is his own teammate Fausto Carmona, along with the Angels' John Lackey, and Boston's Josh Beckett. Carmona has been largely eliminated despite his 3.06 ERA and 19 wins due to the fact that he's only struck out 137 and has walked 61 as well as having pitched fewer innings then Sabathia. Lackey could be eliminated for similar reasons, as his only real advantage over Sabathia is in ERA (a league-leading 3.01), while he pitched fewer innings (224), struck out fewer (179), and walked more (52). Beckett is probably considered Sabathia's major competition, simply because he has that all important 20th win that writers seem to love so much. However, while his 194/40 K/BB ratio is very good, Beckett threw significantly less innings (200 2/3), giving him less strikeouts (194) with a slightly higher ERA (3.27). He has a better BAA (.245 to Sabathia's .259) but overall, it does not seem enough to justify giving the award to Beckett over Sabathia.

NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy, San Diego Padres
This is just as easy as giving the AL MVP to A-Rod. Peavy won the NL pitching Triple Crown, leading the league in wins (19), ERA (2.54) and strikeouts (240). He also posted a league-leading WHIP (1.06) and OBA (.208). No one else was even close.

AL Rookie of the Year: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
Boston had two rookies everyone was excited about coming into this year from Japan, with most of the attention focused on Daisuke Matsuzaka. However, Dice-K had a fairly uneven year, as he showed the ability to strikeout hitters with 201 K in 204 2/3 innings yet posted a high ERA of 4.40 and ranked sixth in the AL with 80 walks. It was also thought that Alex Gordon would give good competition, but Gordon struggled for most of the year and guys like Jeremy Guthrie had significantly better rookie campaigns. However, it largely came down to a race between Kansas City's Brian Bannister and Pedroia.

Bannister pitched very well for the Royals, but Pedroia definitely had the superior year. His 317 average ranked 10th in the AL and he showed some power with 39 doubles and some decent patience with 47 walks while playing solid defense.

NL Rookie of the Year: Troy Tulowitzski, Colorado Rockies
This is a much harder race than the AL rookie race. Tulowitzski is joined by Ryan Braun and Hunter Pence as outstanding rookie candidates. Pence looked like the early front runner, hitting .343/.372/.593 in May and .314/.336/.542 in June before going down with an injury that kept him out of the lineup through the end of July and most of August. Pence's .322/.360/.539 was good and his 17 home runs showed lots of power potential, but his patience certainly leaves something to be desired. Pence also flashed a good glove in center field.

Braun, on the other hand, became the talk of baseball fast in June, as he hit .382/.435/.716 with 6 home runs and 21 RBI. Braun continued his massive pace, hitting .324/.370/.634 over all with 34 home runs and 97 RBI, setting an rookie record with his limited at-bats. However, Braun was also an absolute butcher at third, making 26 errors in 112 games at third.

That leaves Tulowitzski, who had a great year offensively and defensively. As a defender, Tulowitzski had the most putouts by a shortstop since Ozzie Smith. Offensively, Tulowitzski certainly benefited from Coors Field, hitting .326/.392/.568 while hitting .291/.359/.479 overall. Despite the home field advantage, Tulowitzski's 24 home runs broke the National League record for home runs by a rookie shortstop, passing Ernie Banks, and it ranks third behind Cal Ripken and Nomar Garciaparra all-time. Just as well, Tulowitzski's 104 runs scored and 99 RBI are impressive for an shortstop. More importantly, Tulowizski was able to help shape the entire Rockies season, playing 155 games and helping to lead them ultimately to the National League Championship Series.

Friday, October 05, 2007

There's No Such Thing as Santana's Clause

There will be number of interesting storylines for Twins fans to follow this offseason. Bill Smith has plenty of things on his plate in his first few months as general manager; Torii Hunter and Carlos Silva are both eligible to become free agents and there are several holes on the offense that seemingly need to be filled from outside the organization. The player whose fate I will be following with the most interest over the next few months, though, is Johan Santana.

Santana is under contract with the Twins through next season, but I would contend that Smith absolutely must make a decision on the left-handed ace this offseason. Whether that means trading Santana or extending his contract, the Twins need to make a move on way or the other because doing nothing could prove tremendously costly.

I already have my doubts about whether the Twins can realistically afford to re-sign Santana, but if it's going to happen, it will need to happen soon. I am quite positive that if the two sides have not reached an agreement by the start of next season, Santana will wait to test free agency, which will almost certainly push him out of the Twins' price range.

If it becomes clear that Santana will not be in Minnesota past the 2008 season, a trade is the only logical avenue for the Twins. Santana told Star Tribune beat writer La Velle E. Neal III earlier this week that he'd be willing to waive his no-trade clause, which eliminates a major stumbling block in any potential efforts to deal him. As Joe Christensen notes on his blog, we are likely to see a ridiculous number of trade rumors involving Santana over the next few months, most of which will have no basis in reality. For his part, Christensen says he thinks there is only about a "1-in-5 chance" that the Santana will be traded between now and next spring. I would presume that the likelihood is a little higher than that, but I suppose I could be wrong.

In my heart, I'm not really rooting for Santana to get traded. He's a very likable guy, a historically great pitcher, and a lot of fun to watch. If Smith can find a way to get a contract extension worked out this winter that makes sense and keeps the Twins in a position where they'll be able to surround Santana with enough talent to win throughout the life of his contract, I'll be a very happy camper. The problem is that I really can't see that happening.

In my mind, the absolute worst thing that could happen would be for the Twins to hang onto Santana for another year, miss the playoffs, and then collect a pair of draft picks next winter when he signs a mega-deal with some big-market franchise. Unfortunately, considering this organization's history, it's probably the most likely outcome.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

2007 Grades: The Pitchers

Before I get started today, I'd like to mention the Playoff Contest over at SethSpeaks.net. It's a great way to stay involved and interested in the MLB post-season even with the Twins not in it. The playoff action gets started this afternoon, but if you have some time this morning, be sure to swing by and build your fantasy playoff team! OK, on to the pitching grades...

Yesterday, I handed out my 2007 grades for the Twins' position players. Today, I'll take a look at the pitching staff. I've graded every pitcher that threw a pitch for the Twins this season, with the exception of Jason Miller, who tossed a total of four innings with the big-league club. As with the position players, the pitchers' grades are adjusted a bit based on expectations, but I tried to keep the scale as absolute as possible. Again, the players are listed in no particular order.


219 IP, 15-13, 3.33 ERA, 235 K / 52 BB, 1.07 WHIP

The bad news is that Santana put up his worst numbers since becoming a full-time starter in 2004. The good news is that those numbers are still extremely good by any standards. Perhaps it is unfortunate for Santana that he has been so good for the past three years, because if any other pitcher on the Twins' staff put up numbers like these, we'd all be jumping for joy. Instead, another great season from Santana is met with little enthusiasm. A lot of streaks ended for Santana this year: his string of strikeout crowns, his run of consecutive outings with 5+ innings pitched, his home winning streak. But for the fourth straight year, Santana pitched well over 200 innings while ranking among the best pitchers in the league in almost every category.

202 IP, 13-14, 4.19 ERA, 89 K / 36 BB, 1.31 WHIP
Expectations were set very low for Silva coming off a miserable 2006 campaign, but he managed to rebound big-time with his second-best season as a starter. After surrendering a whopping 38 home runs in '06, Silva nearly cut that number in half by allowing just 20 this year -- his lowest total since becoming a full-time starter.

83 IP, 5-7, 3.69 ERA, 67 K / 32 BB, 1.54 WHIP

Many will look at the difference between Garza's ERA in 2006 (5.76) and 2007 (3.69) and conclude that he made the necessary adjustments to become an effective major-league pitcher. That may not be totally true. Garza got off to a great start after being called up at the beginning of July, posting a 1.70 ERA while posting a 35/12 strikeout-to-walk ratio and holding opponents to a .239 average through his first 37 innings. But, from that point forward, Garza experienced struggles similar to those he encountered as a rookie the previous season. Over his final 46 innings, Garza posted a 5.28 ERA to go along with a K/BB ratio of 32/20 and a BAA of .333. His strikeout and walk rates over that latter span were actually worse than the ones he posted in 2006.

173 IP, 8-12, 5.10 ERA, 136 K / 65 BB, 1.53 WHIP

After an impressive debut at the major-league level in 2006, Bonser regressed in almost all categories in 2007. Outside of an excellent month of May, Bonser was downright horrible all year long, and he was eventually moved to the bullpen in the final month of season.

143.2 IP, 9-9, 4.26 ERA, 102 K / 29 BB, 1.33 WHIP
Something of an afterthought coming into the season, Baker surprised many by stepping up and delivering an above-average performance after joining the Twins' rotation in May. After struggling a bit initially, Baker posted a 3.24 ERA over 71 2/3 innings after July 30. His near-perfect game on August 31, which I attended, will be my most vivid memory from this season.

66.2 IP, 4-1, 4.73 ERA, 47 K / 11 BB, 1.40 WHIP

Slowey struggled mightily in his first call-up, posting a 5.84 ERA while allowing 13 home runs in 37 innings and striking out only one batter per every two innings. When Slowey returned to the team as a September call-up, he was a different pitcher. In six September outings (four starts), Slowey posted a 3.34 ERA, fanned about one batter per inning, and allowed just three home runs in 29 and 2/3 frames. The overall numbers aren't overly impressive, but the upward trend toward the end of the season is very encouraging.

37.2 IP, 2-5, 6.93 ERA, 23 K/ 17 BB, 1.89 WHIP

Ponson was predictably horrible, putting up atrocious numbers over seven wasted starts before being cut in May. Signing Ponson to a low-risk minor-league contract was not a bad move by the Twins; handing him an undeserved spot in the rotation to start the year and watching him get shelled for seven starts was.

91 IP, 4-4, 5.14 ERA, 44 K / 15 BB, 1.40 WHIP
Great in April, atrocious in May, and in the bullpen by June. Ortiz did a decent job out of the bullpen for the Twins, posting a 4.15 ERA in 18 relief appearances before being traded to the Rockies in August.

28.2 IP, 0-0, 3.14 ERA, 20 K / 12 BB, 1.22 WHIP
While his workload for the season was unfortunately limited due to shoulder problems, Perkins looked great when he was on the mound with the Twins. He allowed only two homers in nearly 30 innings and limited opposing hitters to a .232 average. He did not allow a run in seven appearances after returning to the Twins in September.

11.2 IP, 0-2, 7.71 ERA, 8 K / 2 BB, 1.80 WHIP
A September call-up, Blackburn made his major-league debut out of the Twins' bullpen on September 3, tossing a scoreless ninth inning in a 5-0 loss to the Indians. Blackburn continued to pitch well in his first several innings at the major-league level, posting a 2.08 ERA across 8 2/3 innings in his first four appearances. His final two appearances of the season, however, were beyond brutal, and they completely changed the complexion of his overall numbers. In three innings spread across his final two outings, Blackburn allowed 10 runs (eight earned) on 11 hits, including two homers. His overall performance this season is too small a sample size to draw any real conclusions from, but hopefully next year he will look more like the pitcher from those first four appearances and less like the one from the last two.

16.1 IP, 5.51 ERA, 10 K / 4 BB, 1.41 WHIP
No doubt affected by shoulder problems that would quickly end his 2007 season, Crain pitched very poorly in 18 appearances. He underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff at end of May, and it is entirely possibly that he will not pitch again in the major leagues.

20 IP, 8.55 ERA, 8 K / 10 BB, 2.00 WHIP
DePaula got his major-league career off to a very ugly start with the Twins this year. He walked more men than he struck out, he allowed tons of hits, and he surrended five home runs in 20 innings. My lasting memory from DePaula this season will be the time in early September that he entered a game against the White Sox in the ninth inning with the Twins ahead by six, and proceeded to surrender five earned runs without recording an out, allowing the Sox to get back into the game and eventually win.

70.1 IP, 2.94 ERA, 74 K / 20 BB, 1.01 WHIP
After an astonishing first half in which he posted a 1.70 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .129 batting average, Neshek saw some serious regression after the All-Star break, where those numbers dropped to 4.82 and .260. Neshek posted a stellar K/9 rate of 11.1 in the first half, but that rate dropped off to 7.1 in the second half. Meanwhile, he walked one more batter in 28 post-break innings (14) than he did in 42 1/3 innings before the break (13). Neshek's overall results were still great, but the dramatic drop-off in the second half raises questions about whether his team-leading 74 appearances were too many.

59.2 IP, 5.13 ERA, 49 K / 28 BB, 1.56 WHIP
A crucial member of the Twins' bullpen for the past four seasons, Rincon saw his playing time diminish along with his control and his ability to keep the ball in the park. Rincon gave up nine home runs in 2007, which equals the total he allowed over the past three seasons prior -- a span of more than 200 innings. After watching his ERA shoot up to 5.71 with a brutal outing in Toronto on July 25, Rincon never was able to get back under 5 for the rest of the season. There were no rumblings of injury issues, so it's tough to finger what was behind Rincon's putrid 2007 campaign.

88 IP, 2.35 ERA, 68 K / 21 BB, 1.05 WHIP
With a brilliant showing in 2007, Guerrier effectively turned himself from a reliable long-relief guy to a top-notch setup man. Like Neshek, Guerrier experienced some decline in the second half (1.70 before the break, 3.34 after) but it wasn't as drastic, and Guerrier actually improved his strikeout rate late in the year.

29.1 IP, 3.99 ERA, 21 K / 21 BB, 1.88 WHIP
Few people expected Reyes to replicate his magical 2006 numbers, but the drop-off in '07 was pretty steep. While the ERA was not too bad, Reyes allowed way too many baserunners this season. After walking just 2.6 batters per nine innings and holding opponents to a .197 batting average last year, Reyes saw those numbers rise to 6.4 and .309 this year. He also missed a large portion of the season due to shoulder problems.

71.2 IP, 1.88 ERA, 77 K / 19 BB, 1.02 WHIP
Nathan wasn't nearly as dominant as he was in '06, as his K/9 rate fell from 12.5 to 9.7, but he continued to be one of the top closers in the league by coming through in important situations and consistently keeping opposing hitters off the base-paths.

21 IP, 4.71 ERA, 14 K / 16 BB, 1.81 WHIP
All things considered, Cali did a reasonably decent job in limited duty out of the Twins' bullpen despite having no positive history at the major-league level. His control was horrendous (16 walks in 21 innings), but he managed to work around that to post an adequate ERA.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

2007 Grades: The Hitters

I racked my brain trying to come up with some original and innovative method of evaluating the 2007 performances of the individual Twins players, but in the end I've decided to take the cliche route of handing out grades. Lame, I know. Today I'll take a look at the hitters, and tomorrow I'll move on to the pitching staff.

Below I have come up with a grade for each position player that had any type of significant role on the 2007 Minnesota Twins (for the purposes of this article, the cut-off will be 50+ AB), with the players listed in order of 2007 at-bats. The grades are adjusted somewhat based on expectations and age, but I tried to make my scale as absolute as possible so that every player is graded on the same criteria.


.293/.382/.426, 7 HR, 60 RBI, 62 R, 7/8 SB
It's tough to analyze Mauer's '07 campaign. On the one hand, you want to give him credit for putting up very solid numbers, ones which are well above average for a major-league catcher. On the other hand, you can't help but be disappointed by the major decline from his astonishing 2006 campaign and the total lack of power. Mauer was limited to only 109 games and 406 at-bats due to various injuries; that may not have been something he really had control over, but it definitely inhibited his ability to help the team win.

.271/.343/.492, 31 HR, 111 RBI, 84 R, 1/2 SB
Like Mauer, Morneau is tough to grade. You look at his overall hitting line and think, "Nice season"; but then you start to contemplate the fact that he was hitting .295/.364/.581 with 24 home runs at the All-Star break, and you can't help but feel that those overall numbers are a big let-down. Morneau hit only seven home runs after the break and saw his slugging percentage fall by nearly 200 points from the first half. In the final 63 games of the season, he hit a total of three balls over the fence. Overall, Morneau had a solid season, but thanks to a rather miserable second half in which he could never seem to really get going, it was a far cry from his MVP campaign in 2006.

.287/.334/.505. 28 HR, 107 RBI, 94 R, 18/27 SB
Playing for a big contract in what was likely his final year with the Twins, Hunter put up bigtime numbers, setting career highs in several offensive categories. Like Morneau, Hunter's power numbers tailed off in the second half, but he was still a solid contributor. Hunter was durable, appearing in all but two of the Twins' games this season, and he was solid defensively. He ranked fourth in the AL in doubles with 45.

.304/.356/.352, 0 HR, 18 RBI, 54 R, 9/13 SB
When you look at his batting average, it would appear that Castillo was a very solid contributor for the Twins in the leadoff spot. Yet, when you look further into his peripherals, you find that he simply wasn't a great player with the Twins this season. Castillo hit for almost zero power, managing just 14 extra-base hits in 85 games. His lack of patience was also disappointing, as he managed just 29 walks in 384 plate appearances with the Twins, and posted a .356 on-base percentage that would have ranked as his lowest since 2001. Though he still able to find his way on base thanks to his ability to constantly beat the ball into the ground and frequently scamper to first before the throw for an infield hit, Castillo was a declining defensive second baseman with no power and diminishing speed.

.210/.291/.271, 1 HR, 25 RBI, 53 R, 16/22 SB
Only a late-season offensive surge saved Punto from finishing with a batting average below .200. He was a complete mess at the plate, reaching base less than 30 percent of the time while frequently failing to execute simple fundamental plays like sacrifice bunts. Fortunately, Punto was very good defensively, and he turned in several highlight-reel gems at each infield position. There's no denying that Punto's horrendous offensive performance hurt the team more than probably any other individual this season, but I tend to place that burden on the manager rather than the player. Punto's brutal offensive numbers in 2007 would not have been nearly as damaging to the team had he been used as a part-time player and utility man, as he should have been the moment a better option arose.

.244/.323/.329, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 8 R, 1/1 SB
Buscher, called up from Triple-A in July after posting great numbers at two levels of the minors, was that better option. In his first 21 games with the Twins, Buscher batted .294/.357/.412, but despite his offensive proficiency, he never found himself in the lineup on a consistent basis. Buscher managed just five hits in his final 31 at-bats (.161), which caused his overall numbers to take a dive, but the overall effort was a decent one from the 26-year-old rookie. He showed some flashes of power and plate discipline, and should be in the mix to start at third next year unless the Twins bring in someone from outside the organization.

.222/.256/.259, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 15 R, 11/12 SB
There are very few positives to be drawn from Casilla's performance over 56 games with the Twins this year. The 23-year-old put up even worse offensive numbers than Punto while playing shoddy defense and making countless mistakes in almost every aspect of the game. His poor plate discipline was tremendously disappointing, as he managed just nine walks in 204 plate appearances while striking out 29 times. Casilla showed some good speed on the basepaths, but outside of that, the young infielder took a step back in his progression in 2007 by showing that he couldn't hold his own in the big leagues.

.265/.339/.361, 5 HR, 43 RBI, 75 R, 23/26 SB
Certainly, Bartlett's 2007 season was a step back from what he was able to do after being called up in 2006, but the shortstop recovered nicely after a horrific start to put up some decent numbers overall. Bartlett was a fixture at shortstop, coming to the plate 570 times over the course of the season, and he got on base at a decent clip while running the bases well. His defense was suspect at times, but overall he showed good range and made some nice plays. The area most in need of improvement is power; I don't care much that he only hit five home runs, but I'd certainly expect more than 20 doubles over 140 games considering the excellent gap power he showed in the minors.

.233/.315/.362, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 13 R, 3/4 SB

Ford showed some improvement from the hideous numbers he put up in 2006, but not a whole lot. He appeared in only 55 games and didn't do a whole lot when he was in the lineup.

.261/.327/.386, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 18 R, 2/2 SB

The Twins brought in Cirillo during the offseason with the hopes that he could be a reliable backup and perhaps even part-time starter at third base and DH while mashing lefties. He really wasn't able to accomplish either of those tasks. Cirillo posted a .750 OPS against left-handers this season, and seemingly couldn't play more than once or twice a week due to nagging injuries. He was traded in August, and it didn't make a whole lot of difference.

.294/.346/.353, 1 HR, 38 RBI, 23 R, 0/0 SB
Redmond's offensive contributions were somewhat similar to those of Castillo -- good average with very little patience or power. That's a pretty acceptable hitting line for a backup catcher, though, and Redmond posted it while playing good defense and being likable in the clubhouse. Redmond was excellent against lefties (.330/.410/.443), which made him the perfect complement to Mauer.

.273/.335/.450, 13 HR, 65 RBI, 49 R, 5/5 SB
Kubel recovered from a horrible first half to finish the season with a very respectable hitting line. We can't ignore that brutal first half, which is why his grade isn't as high as it could have been, but Kubel showed good power and increasingly solid plate discipline throughout the season, which sparks hope that the 25-year-old could be poised for a big season in '08.

.174/.235/.321, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 8 R, 0/0 SB

White was hurt for much of the year, and when he wasn't, he hit incredibly poorly while playing offensive positions.

.208/.262/.338, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 7 R, 1/2 SB

In his relatively brief time with the Twins, Jones showed glimmers of power, but overall he was a bad hitter who didn't look to belong in the major leagues. He struck out 20 times in 77 at-bats, and went 1-for-13 with seven strikeouts against lefties.

.286/.331/.355, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 42 R, 8/11 SB
While getting far more at-bats (304) than he rightfully should have and ridiculously appearing in 70 percent of the team's games, Tyner did what he always does: posted a solid average while essentially hitting nothing but singles and playing mediocre defense.

.219/.281/.303, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 18 R, 1/1 SB

Rodriguez had his worst offensive season as a major leaguer, and didn't do much in the field or on the basepaths to offset that.

.250/.288/.250, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 0 R, 0/0 SB

My darkhorse candidate for team MVP.

Monday, October 01, 2007

End of Season Thoughts

First, let me apologize for the lack of new posts this weekend.

Second, let me thank everyone who contributed to the comments section for Friday's post. I wrote up that offseason wish list with the hopes that it would generate some good conversation, and it did just that. There were some great comments, and I'll address a few of the points that were brought up below. But first, I'll reflect on the season that ended yesterday with a 3-2 victory in Boston.

The Twins' 2007 season opened on April 2, with Johan Santana facing off against Orioles' ace Erik Bedard at the Metrodome. One hundred and sixty-two games later, the Twins are 79-83 and the '07 season is in the books.

The Twins finished third in the AL Central, which is exactly where I predicted they'd finish back in March, so I suppose I shouldn't be too disappointed. Yet, I am disappointed. During the season, I saw flashes of brilliance from this team, and I saw a roster with enough talent to compete for a playoff spot. Instead, that team finished 17 games out of first place, because for whatever reason they could never seem to consistently get big hits, they fell apart in key series, and the front office stood pat without making a single move to bolster the fledgling offense.

It was a season filled with disappointing individual performances, and highlighted by the resignation of longtime general manager Terry Ryan. This offseason is going to be a hugely important one, and I really have no idea what to expect from new GM Bill Smith. I truly hope he's able to make some moves that will get the team back on a competitive track in 2008 while simultaneously setting the organization up for future success. It won't be easy, but I think the moves I suggested in my post on Friday are the type that could put the team in that type of situation.

There were a few gripes that seemed to be common themes in the comments section on my Friday post. The most prominent seems to be that the Twins should get more for Santana than the suggested bounty of Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Believe me, I'd love to see the Twins get as much as they possibly can when trading the best pitcher in baseball, and I wouldn't be surprised to see another top-notch prospect added to that package depending on how many other teams are bidding for Santana's services. I do, however, think it would be wise for people to temper their expectations about what the Twins could get back for Santana. Receiving a young outfielder who can hit like Kemp and play center field along with a 19-year-old left-handed pitcher with arguably the most upside of any hurler in the minors in return for any one player -- not matter how great -- is impressive. If the Twins are able to get a package better than Kemp/Kershaw for Santana, great; but I'd be satisfied with that deal.

Several people thought that signing Bonds was unrealistic, while some just don't want him here. I can understand both sentiments, and I agree that it's a long-shot. I would really love to see the effect that Bonds would have on this lineup though.

Anyway, while I was disappointed by the way the Twin' 2007 season ended up, it was a really fun season for me. I truly enjoyed writing on this blog, and there was more interaction in the comments section than any previous year. I was able to meet several fellow bloggers and readers over the course of the year, which was a great experience. Here in the final couple months, once Mr. Mosvick departed to go law school, I had the responsibility of posting every day, and let me just saw that I have a new level of respect for guys like Aaron Gleeman and Seth Stohs, who find time to update their blogs individually almost daily and with no assistance.

With the season coming to an end, so too will the everyday posting routine here on this blog. This should be fairly obvious, since there just isn't a whole lot to write about during the offseason. I hope everyone will still visit back frequently, however, because I do plan to update at least a few times a week this winter. Whenever the team makes a move, I'll have analysis, and I hope people will stop by to give their own thoughts. Over the next few days, I'll do some season review stuff, and then I'll just play it by ear from that point forward.

Thanks everyone for reading and commenting. I hope you'll continue to stop by during the offseason. It will be a crucial one for Smith and the Twins organization.