Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back To Work

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I don't have much to write about today, because this is quite simply a quiet time for the baseball world, but I thought I'd at least write up a quick post to let you all know I didn't die of mistletoe poisoning.

The only real story that continues to get ink regarding the Twins is the Johan Santana saga. It doesn't seem like a deal is particularly near, but rumors continue to float around regularly. Murray Chass of the New York Times wrote yesterday about the implications of baseball's luxury tax, relating it to the prospect of the Yankees acquiring and signing Santana. Chass mentions this interesting tidbit:
At one point, the Twins were said to be holding out for Hughes and Ian Kennedy, another of the Yankees’ attractive triumvirate of major league-ready young pitchers (the untouchable Joba Chamberlain being the third), but the Yankees wouldn’t give up both, so the Twins asked instead for [Jeff] Marquez, a 23-year-old right-hander.
A 23-year-old who struck out just 5.45 batters per nine innings in Double-A last year, Marquez is far from a great prospect. Chass mentions later in his article that the Yankees' GM Brian Cashman "wants to hold on to the young pitchers." With that being the case, I don't see why the Twins are really pushing for arms. Getting Kennedy would be nice, but the Twins' organization is already stocked with marginal pitchers like Marquez -- they have very little use for him. I'd much rather see them acquire a hitter with some upside as the third piece behind Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera in a deal with the Yankees.

On another note, I hunkered down during the long weekend and paged through a book I received several weeks ago to review. It's called "The Best Arguments in Minnesota Sports," and it is written by Pioneer Press scribe Bob Sansevere. Basically it is just a list of 100 different debatable topics with regards to each of Minnesota's sports teams -- from the Vikings to the Twins to the T-Wolves and so forth. I'm not the biggest Sansevere fan and I certainly found myself disagreeing with a few of the stances he takes in the book (Jack Morris is more deserving of a Hall of Fame spot than Bert Blyleven??), but it's an entertaining read. Check it out if you're cooped up in the house on a snowy day and bored.

Friday, December 21, 2007

So Long, Silva

Considering the market that has been established for mediocre starting pitching in recent offseasons, there was never much doubt that Carlos Silva would be pitching in a different uniform next season. It was reported earlier this week that Silva and the Mariners were closing in on a four year deal worth $44 million, but I elected to withhold comment until the deal became official. That happened yesterday, when the Mariners officially announced that they'd signed Silva to a four-year contract, which turned out to be worth a little more than originally thought at $48 million.

It's a little difficult to wrap your head around, isn't it? It was less than three years ago that the Twins signed Johan Santana to a four-year extension worth $39.75M. And now Silva, a pitcher who was arguably the worst in the league two years ago, and who has little chance of being anything more than a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, is inking a contract that will pay him an average of $12 million per year. The initial reaction is to look at this contract and say, "Man, Seattle got hosed." I don't necessarily think that is the case, all things considered.

Last winter, the Brewers signed Jeff Suppan to a four-year deal worth $42 million. At the time, Suppan was about a week away from turning 32, and -- like Silva -- he was a good bet to provide around 200 innings with a solid but unspectacular ERA. Comparatively speaking, getting Silva for an extra $6 million over the same number of years seems like a decent deal. Silva is only 28 and his career ERA and WHIP are better than Suppan's were. Plus, while Suppan has had some solid years over the course of his career, he's never had a season as good as Silva's 2005, so it could be said that Silva has more upside.

Forty-eight million dollars seems like a lot to spend on a player of Silva's caliber, but the reality is that the Mariners had money to spend and they were badly in need of a reliable arm that they can stick in their rotation. Silva's ERA last year would have ranked second among Seattle's starters, behind only Felix Hernandez. The deal is good for Silva because it puts him in a place where he has a good chance to succeed -- Safeco Field is a pitcher's park and the groundball-inducing Silva will no doubt enjoy the Mariners' defensive proficiency on the left side of the infield with Adrian Beltre at third and Yuniesky Betancourt at short.

Seeing Silva sign this type of contract just re-emphasizes the fact that he is valued more around the league than a lot of Twins fans might have thought. I was quite vocal last season around the trading deadline in stating that the Twins should trade Silva for any kind of value rather than watching him walk as a free agent with no compensation during the offseason. The first team I suggested as a trading partner was, in fact, the Mariners, who were contending for a playoff spot but featured some of the worst starting pitching in baseball. If Silva is worth this kind of money on the open market, it's hard to imagine he couldn't have at least netted a prospect or two from some team looking for a rotation boost down the stretch.

Alas, the non-move by Terry Ryan goes down as another blemish on what was an unimpressive late run for the former GM. I wish Silva the best in Seattle and my guess is that he'll do fairly well there. Let's just hope he gets hit with another tummy-ache when the time comes for him to face the Twins.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Offseason Thus Far

At this point last December, Terry Ryan had made the following offseason roster moves: picked up Torii Hunter's option, picked up Carlos Silva's option and signed free agent Jeff Cirillo to a one-year contract to serve as a backup 1B/3B/DH. As exciting as that flurry of activity was, I think it's safe to say that it pales in comparison to the list of moves Bill Smith has made here in his inaugural winter at the helm of the Twins. Already he has pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal to bring Delmon Young to Minnesota, signed a pair of free agents who are slated to be starters in the infield, and gotten the Twins involved in trade talks with numerous clubs regarding ace pitcher Johan Santana. At this point, it appears likely that the Twins will have new starters manning at least five positions in 2008, and that's the type of shakeup that was needed for an offense that was one of the league's most stagnant in 2007.

Smith has been aggressive to be sure, but that's not to say I'm wild about the moves he's made. I felt that the Twins gave up too much talent in the trade with the Rays. Adam Everett (or "Neverhitt," as we'll likely be calling him in a few months) is a wonderful defensive player but does nothing to solve this team's offensive problems. Mike Lamb is certainly an upgrade offensively at third base, but there are serious questions about his defense and his ability to produce in the lineup as a regular. Craig Monroe will make more money than any mediocre fourth outfielder rightfully should. With all that being said, I'm not overly upset about any of the moves Smith has made and I think they all fit into an intelligent overarching plan that will give the Twins a chance to compete next year but is more aimed at putting the team in position to succeed in the long-term.

To me, the Twins' chances of competing next season are almost completely dependent on whether or not Santana is traded. Despite the tough nature of the AL Central these days, it'd be hard to count out a Twins team with a talented young rotation led by baseball's most dominant starting pitcher. The Twins can be especially dangerous if their offense is above-average, which would be possible with great campaigns from Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Young to go along with competent performances elsewhere. If Santana is gone, it's tough to see this team hanging around with the big boys, unless Francisco Liriano is a lot better than I expect him to be.

In most circles, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Santana will be dealt, likely within the next couple weeks. I'm a little skeptical at this point. Unless one of the bidding teams ups its offer, I could see the Twins hanging onto Santana and re-evaluating in July. And as much as I've been opposed to that notion in the past, perhaps it wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.

I guess my feelings about the overall job Smith has done so far this offseason can best be described as lukewarm. He's still got some work to do, and he's got plenty of time to do it. We'll see what else he has up his sleeve.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

On the Lamb

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.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Everett's D Has Its Day

The Twins entered this offseason with several holes needing to be filled. They opened another hole when they traded starting shortstop Jason Bartlett as part of a package to acquire Delmon Young, and yesterday they seemingly filled that hole by signing Adam Everett.

The Twins inked Everett, who had been non-tendered by the Astros just a day after a 5-for-1 swap sent Miguel Tejada to Houston, to a one-year deal worth $2.8 million (with an additional $200K possible in incentives). Everett seemingly serves as a stopgap until a guy like Alexi Casilla, Trevor Plouffe or Alejandro Machado is ready to take over the position. The contract is reasonable and it doesn't carry much risk. But is it a good signing?

The Twins came into this offseason badly needing to improve an offense that was one of the league's worst in 2007. As such, bringing in a player who has been one of baseball's worst regular hitters for the past several years seems like a major step in the wrong direction. In the past season, Everett batted .232/.281/.318, which is Nick Punto territory. What's worse is that there isn't much potential for Everett to produce any more than that. Throughout his career, his numbers have always been very consistent with his overall hitting line of .248/.299/.357, which is what you'd expect from a guy who hit .258/.346/.368 in the minor leagues. Everett's career high for on-base percentage is .320; for slugging percentage, .385. On top of all that, he'll turn 31 in February, so he's no spring chicken.

But here's what makes Everett a major-league player: his defense. He's a phenomenal defensive shortstop -- the best, according to many knowledgeable baseball analysts and players. Defense is important -- as Ubelmann notes, perhaps to an underrated degree. This is especially true at shortstop, which is perhaps the second-most important position on the field behind catcher. When he's at his best, Everett can save runs with his glove and help a team's pitching staff tremendously.

But this brings two questions into focus. First, will Everett be at his best? He missed much of the 2007 season after breaking his leg in June, and there's no telling how that will affect his mobility. If Everett loses even a step, his value diminishes greatly. The other question is how helpful he will be to this Twins team -- specifically, how much more helpful will he be in the field than a player like Casilla or Punto who is likely to put up better numbers offensively? With Carlos Silva departing, the Twins don't project to have a very groundball-heavy pitching staff; it is also possible that Everett's range will be less effective on artificial turf than it was on natural grass.

At this point in time, I don't like this signing. Everett is the type of player that can be valuable in the right situation, but I'm not really sure the Twins are a team that can afford the luxury of a superb defensive shortstop who can't hit worth a lick. If Bill Smith manages to fill each of the team's other holes with legitimate hitters, my mind could change; however, that seems somewhat unlikely at this point.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Update: Twins Sign Everett

According to Ken Rosenthal of, the Twins have signed shortstop Adam Everett to a one-year contract. Everett became expendable to the Astros when they decided to trade for Miguel Tejada.

Step one to upgrading an anemic offense: sign a player with a .248/.299/.357 career hitting line to become your starting shortstop. Check.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Monroe's Aboard

Joe Christensen reported yesterday that the Twins have come to terms on a one-year contract with Craig Monroe, an arbitration-eligible outfielder whom they acquired from the Cubs about a month ago. The Twins signed Monroe for the smallest amount they could by rule at $3.82 million - a 20 percent reduction from his salary in 2007. That seems like an awful lot of money for a guy who hit .219/.268/.347 last season.

However, while I'm not overly enthused about the signing, I'm not too upset about it. In essence, what Bill Smith has done with the Twins' outfield so far this offseason is replace Rondell White with Delmon Young and Lew Ford with Craig Monroe, without much fluctuation in cost overall. Those are pretty significant upgrades. Despite his poor numbers last season, Monroe is a solid fourth outfielder who can come off the bench and provide some pop. He also hits well against lefties (.814 career OPS), which should be useful given that the Twins' 2008 lineup will likely contain at least four left-handed bats in Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and the center fielder (who I'm currently presuming will be either Jason Pridie or Jacoby Ellsbury).

It seems likely that Monroe will be overpaid in 2008, but that's really a luxury that Twins can afford, with have a massive chunk of payroll coming off the books even if Johan Santana isn't dealt. The Twins have continually claimed that they intend to increase payroll in 2008 -- it seems like they'll have a hard time doing so without handing out a few pricey short-term deals.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

All Quiet on the Midwestern Front

I realize it's December in the middle of Minnesota, but I think I just saw a tumbleweed roll by outside. Not much going on in Twins-land right now.

I don't have much to write about today. The Santana trade talks have seemingly quieted down for the time being, and it's tough to analyze any of the Twins' other pressing issues until that situation gets sorted out. I've heard Brandon Inge's name mentioned as a possible third base solution for the Twins... going to have to give that one a big fat no. He's basically Nick Punto with more power -- not worth the money he'll make or the prospect the Twins would have to give up to get him.

Several Mets fans showed up in the comments section on Friday's post and gave some first-hand viewpoints on the prospects being mentioned in Johan Santana trade rumors. If you haven't read through them, it's definitely worth checking out.

Have a good Tuesday. I know I will... officially less than one week left of school this semester!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Wrapping Up a Long Week

This has been a crazy week for Twins fans. The Johan Santana rumors were flying non-stop for about 72 straight hours, and at several points it seemed that a deal was imminent. Yet, here we are; the Winter Meetings have come and gone, and Santana is still a Twin for the time being. I'm of the opinion that Bill Smith's patience in this situation is a good thing. The deals that have reportedly been proposed have been extremely underwhelming, and I have to imagine that some team is going to come to its senses and cough up some real value in order to bring in the best pitcher on the planet. That said, the Twins need to make a decision on Santana in the near future, because the rest of the their moves this offseason will be dictated by what happens with him.

Anyway, here are some notes to wrap up this hectic week:

* Our pal Aaron Gleeman, who kept a running string of Santana updates on his blog on Wednesday and Thursday, noted on Wednesday evening that La Velle E. Neal III had said "it appears unlikely a deal will be reached this week." This prompted Gleeman to state that "the past 72 hours appear to have been a whole lot of nothing. Well covered, widely read nothing, but still nothing."

Not sure I'd agree with that last part. The Santana Saga has been widely read, to be sure, but "well covered"? I'm not real satisfied by the way this whole situation has been covered by the national media. Does reporting every small, unsubstantiated rumor and watching it get picked up by several outlets and subsequently blown out of proportion really constitute good coverage? I wouldn't say so.

I am actually quite satisfied with the way Neal covered the Winter Meetings. As a Twins' beat writer, you might expect him to be the most active reporter in pumping out Santana rumors, but he kept fairly quiet and reserved. I saw many people accuse him of being overly slow or sparse in his coverage, but I'm glad he chose not to contribute to the hysteria by running every unsubstantiated rumor on his blog.

From this point forward, I've chosen to take basically everything I hear regarding Santana with a grain of salt, unless I'm hearing it from a source I truly trust (like Neal). That way, I don't have to get worked up about fabricated rumors of a horrendous three-way deal that would result in the Twins getting Dan Haren and essentially nothing else for Santana. Yuck.

* In yesterday's column I previewed the Rule 5 draft, writing blurbs about the two players I was most worried about seeing the Twins lose: Yohan Pino and Garrett Guzman. Thankfully, Pino is safe, but unfortunately Guzman was grabbed up by the Washington Nationals. If he sticks with the Nats, it's not a crippling loss, because Guzman really doesn't project as anything more than a fourth outfielder at best, but the Twins are not an organization that can afford to be letting quality hitting prospects go for free. Aside from Guzman, the Twins also lost outfielder Rashad Eldridge, and pitchers R.A. Dickey (whom they had just recently signed), Tim Lahey, J.P. Martinez, and Joshua Hill. Guzman, Lahey and Dickey were selected in the major-league portion of the draft, meaning they will need to spend the entire season on the drafting team's 25-man roster or be sent back to the Twins.

* The Dodgers agreed to terms with center fielder Andruw Jones yesterday on a contract worth about $36 million over two years. With the addition of Jones, the Dodgers seemingly have an overloaded outfield, which would perhaps make it more palatable for GM Ned Colletti to part with Matt Kemp, who has always been my favorite player associated with the Santana rumors. Of course, the Dodgers have reportedly been very quiet in the Santana sweepstakes, and there are major questions about whether they would be willing to pony up the cash to sign the star left-hander long-term. Still, my dreams of a Santana-for-Kemp and Clayton Kershaw swap will continue to dance faintly.

* New York Mets GM Omar Minaya told the Associated Press that he thinks he has the players to bring in Santana, even without trading star shortstop Jose Reyes. Most people are skeptical about the Mets' ability to put together a worthy package without Reyes, but I'm pretty high on outfield prospects Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez (especially Gomez). The big downside with the Mets is that they lack high-end pitching prospects that might help offset the loss of the Twins' ace.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Rule 5 Day

The annual Rule 5 draft takes place this morning, and I'm a little nervous because the Twins have left several good players unprotected. You may recall that last year, San Diego nabbed pitcher Kevin Cameron from the Twins in the Rule 5, and he went on to post a 2.79 ERA out of the Padres' bullpen. I'd hate to see something like that happen again.

Players become eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft in the fourth year after they are originally signed (fifth year for a player who was signed at age 18 or younger). Only players not on a team's 40-man roster are eligible to be drafted. Drafting a player has some risk involved, because in order for a team to keep him, the player must remain on their 25-man active roster for the entire season. Johan Santana (still a Twin!) was perhaps the most notable Rule 5 draftee of all time, but as examples like Cameron and Cincinnati's Josh Hamilton illustrate, smaller successes are possible.

The Twins have left a few notable prospects off their 40-man roster this year, and there are a few guys I could see another team take a shot at. One of those players is Yohan Pino, a skinny 24-year-old Venezuelan who finished up the 2007 season in Class-AA New Britain. Pino holds a 2.87 ERA and 267/59 strikeout-to-walk-ratio over 276 2/3 minor-league innings. Pino cruised through the lower levels of the Twins' system, but struggled a bit in Double-A last year. Nevertheless, ZiPS -- a system that projects players' numbers for a given season based on age and past performance -- posits that Pino would post a 4.46 ERA in the majors next year... that's better than the projected ERAs for Scott Baker, Carlos Silva, Boof Bonser and others. That might be a long-shot, but Pino does have some nice upside.

Another player that the Twins could lose is Garrett Guzman, who is one of the few quality hitting prospects in the organization. A 24-year-old corner outfielder, Guzman hit .312/.359/.453 in Double-A last year, and for his minor-league career he is a .290/.341/.439 hitter. Lacking legitimate power and speed, Guzman is far from a phenomenal prospect, but being that their system is so thin on decent hitting prospects, he's a guy the Twins would hate to lose.

Other Twins prospects who could potentially be swooped in the Rule 5 include SP Kyle Aselton, RP Ricky Barrett and 1B David Winfree.

Of course, analyzing only the players the Twins stand to lose during today's draft is a rather negative focus. The Twins will have their chance to nab another team's forgotten prospect as well, and I suspect they'll select somebody. The Twins haven't made a big splash with their Rule 5 acquisitions in recent years -- last year they selected Alejandro Machado, who spent the season on the disabled list; the year before they selected Jason Pridie, who they sent back to Tampa Bay before the season started. Still, there are some intriguing players out there that might be available when the Twins choose. Baseball America has a good list of Rule 5 candidates here that is worth looking over. Among the names to keep an eye on: outfielder Brian Barton, third baseman Jamie D'Antona, and defensive-minded second baseman Luis Valbuena.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Nothing Yet

I heard on multiple occasions yesterday that a deal with the Red Sox was in the final stages of completion. It never materialized. I'm not unhappy about this, because I found the rumored deal (which was said to contain Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, Justin Masterson and possibly Ryan Kalish) to be quite unsatisfactory. If it comes down to it and that's truly the best offer the Twins receive, I guess they have to take it, because it's almost certainly more value than they'd be able to acquire with the draft picks they'd receive when Santana leaves as a free agent next year. Still... we're talking about the best pitcher in baseball, right? That package doesn't even compare favorably to the one the Rangers got from the Braves for Mark Teixeira last season.

All of this might not even matter anyway. It seems like the Tigers basically have the division locked up for the next several years after pulling off this doozy.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Deal Or No Deal?

Johan Santana is still a Twin as I write this on Monday night. Of course, considering the nature of the current negotiations, I feel like that might change by the time I wake up in the morning.

The annual Winter Meetings are in full swing, and Santana is the hot topic. Numerous details about the Twins' talks with the Yankees and Red Sox have been popping up courtesy of various news outlets: Santana will not accept a trade during the 2008 season, Santana will not accept a trade to any team other than New York or Boston, the Yankees have imposed a 24-hour deadline at which point they will withdraw their offer (that deadline passed last night), so on and so forth. All these publicized details from what are supposed to be private trade discussions make me feel like getting back into my The Departed state of mind from last Friday and paraphrasing Sergeant Dignam: these negotiations have more leaks than the Iraqi navy.

Most of the details that have been leaked have been pretty weakly attributed ("a Twins official"; "a person familiar with the player's thinking"; etc.), so I'm not inclined to take a whole lot of these rumors too seriously. Yet, Yankees head honcho Hank Steinbrenner didn't feel the need to mask his identity when he came out and made the following comments to the New York Times:

“I don’t want to continue this dog-and-pony show, playing us against the Red Sox,” Steinbrenner said. “I’m not going to participate in that. This is our best offer. Minnesota knows it’s our best offer. Everybody knows it is.

“We need to get this done. If we don’t, I certainly won’t be upset about keeping Hughes and Cabrera. I definitely won’t. I don’t think Minnesota wants to be stuck negotiating with just one team.”

. . .

“How can I go any higher?” Steinbrenner said. “What do they want — Hughes, Kennedy and Cabrera? I can’t do that kind of thing. It’s crazy. It’s suicidal. In the past 20 or 30 years, teams have always asked more from the Yankees than they have of anybody else, and that’s going to stop. I’ve made the best offer Minnesota is going to get, and the fact is, it’s an offer we can go away happy and they can go away happy.”
Joe Christensen labeled Steinbrenner's comments "blatant tampering," which was also my first thought when I read them, at least given my understanding of how the league's tampering policies work. I'll be disappointed if Steinbrenner is not disciplined for his comments.

There's a reason people dislike the Yankees, and this is a big part of it. They try to impose their will and intimidate all the smaller market clubs. What exactly gives Steinbrenner and the Yankees the leverage to impose a deadline (on Dec. 3, no less)? They are the buyers in this situation, not the sellers. The Twins have no obligation to trade Santana, as much as Steinbrenner seems to be acting like they do. If he wants to withdraw his deal -- which is far from overwhelming -- then so be it. After the way the Alex Rodriguez situation played out just over a month ago, I don't think anyone is buying into this deadline business anyway.

This period of uncertainty is excruciating for Twins fans, and doubtlessly even more so for the beat writers who have to try to keep tabs on all the rumors flying around. That said, it seems that for the time being it is in Bill Smith's best interest to remain firm and be patient. The decisions he makes here will be crucially important to the future of the franchise. He can't afford to let himself get played by the Big Bad Empire.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The New Players: A First-Hand Perspective

The Twins acquired three new players in last week's trade with Tampa Bay. Most baseball fans are at least familiar with the players' names, but beyond the stats, stories and scouting reports, most of us don't know a whole lot about Delmon Young, Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie. To get a better idea of what types of positives and negatives these players bring with them, I went straight to the source, getting in contact with a Rays blogger to get some hometown perspective.

R.J. Anderson, senior columnist for the blog DRays Bay, was kind enough to get back to me with the following first-hand report on the newest Minnesota Twins:

It’s surreal to see the words “Delmon Young traded,” and not have it written as a rumor; it wasn’t long ago Delmon made his debut, hitting a home run against the White Sox after being pegged in his first at-bat. It felt like a turning point in the franchise’s otherwise pitiful history; this was our golden child – the real one, not Rocco Baldelli or Josh Hamilton or Toe Nash – no this was the real deal. In the past year plus he’d flash his arm – perhaps the best in the league – and his doubles stroke, but also his lack of plate discipline. I know some Twins fans have asked if he can play center, the answer is no! His arm is rendered nearly useless and he doesn’t have the range for it; far too many balls were misplayed by Young in center. He’s got a bit of an attitude issue as well, Joe Maddon benched him for not running out a groundball late in the year, and I believe some reports had him sticking his head into the Twins’ daycare of all places and saying “We just kicked your daddies’ asses!” early on in the season. In the past he infamously threw a bat and stated that he wanted to put in his “six and bolt,” but after that hasn’t had any discipline taken on him. On the field if he just learns to take a better approach at the plate he can become very special, but until he does that Twin fans might get a bit irritated with Delmon coming up against a pitcher who’s walked two straight with the bases loaded and seeing him ground into a double play on the first pitch – something he did quite a bit last year. If he works out the Rays will look like fools.

Harris was a very nice surprise; acquired from the Reds last January for cash he was a dark horse to make the roster but did just that when Jorge Cantu – coincidently with the Reds now – was sent to Durham. He showed some pop in limited action before taking over for the putrid Ben Zobrist at shortstop. Harris is what Joe Magrane referred to as a “trooper”; he doesn’t do anything overly well, but does a lot of stuff decently. I think he was a bit overexposed last year – hence his second half collapse – but otherwise shouldn’t bust next year. Defensively he really shouldn’t be at shortstop, and he’s only slightly better at second; he tries, which is good, but sometimes busting ass doesn’t equate to being good – overall I liked him better than Wigginton and I’d say he’s pretty much a wash with Bartlett with Minny getting the better hitter.

Pridie is a former second round pick with loads of tools, his BABIP for this year seems to indicate he’s not .900 OPS good, but he’s certainly better than Jason Tyner – and I love Jason Tyner – I’ve never seen him field, but all indications are he’s a major league center fielder. I’d like to think he’ll be at least league average and more valuable than putting say Steve Finley in center.

Thanks, R.J.! And everyone should make sure to check out DRays Bay for some good perspective on the trade from the other side.