Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Catching Up

Alright, there is just so much going on right now that I'm going to have to push back the Position Analyses for Starting Pitcher and Relief Pitcher until tomorrow and Thursday. I've been very removed from things lately, as I spent last week soaking in the sun down in Orlando (I actually wrote all of last week's Position Analysis pieces the week before; if no one noticed then I guess I did a decent job!), so there are a few things I'd like to delve into.

The biggest news, of course, is the Twins' signing of closer Joe Nathan to a four-year extension that will keep him in Minnesota until at least 2011, with an option for 2012. Between 2008 and 2011, Nathan will make $47 million, or an average of $11.25 million per year. Considering the type of money that Mariano Rivera and Francisco Cordero have gotten lately, Nathan's deal seems like a decent bargain; and most importantly, the contract includes only a limited no-trade clause (Nathan can select three teams to which the club cannot trade him), so if push comes to shove he can remain a valuable trading piece down the line.

Many people are grumbling about this deal, reasoning that Nathan is less valuable than players like Torii Hunter and Johan Santana who were let go during the offseason and that closers in general are overrated and not deserving of this type of money. I tend to find both of these lines of reasoning rather dubious. The Twins could not have reasonably afforded to pay Hunter or Santana the huge money they were seeking so there's no way this can be viewed as an either/or situation; and, while the closer position itself (mostly just the save statistic) might be overrated, dominant relievers who pitch extremely well in high-leverage situations are not. I'm of the belief that the Twins needed to retain Nathan in order to maintain a strong and reasonably deep bullpen, because with Eduardo Morlan out of the picture, this organization does not have much in the pipeline when it comes to power bullpen arms.

Aside from locking up Nathan, the Twins also made an official decision on their center field situation yesterday by cutting Denard Span and Jason Pridie from the big-league camp. Indeed, as I have long anticipated, Carlos Gomez will open the season manning center for the Twins. This is certainly something I'm supportive of, in part because I think Gomez has the tools and attitude to be able to learn and develop in the big leagues, and in part because as a fan I'd simply much prefer watching him than Span.

The Twins also cut Philip Humber and Brian Buscher yesterday, indicating that Matt Tolbert will make the club as a utility infielder (okay...?) and that Nick Blackburn and Brian Bass will hang on, one as a long reliever and one as a starter. The team has suggested that Francisco Liriano will open the season in the minors, despite his strong outing on Sunday afternoon.

So, unless something changes, this is what we can expect the team's 25-man roster to look like on March 31:

C: Mauer
1B: Morneau
2B: Harris
SS: Everett
3B: Lamb
LF: Young
CF: Gomez
RF: Cuddyer
DH: Kubel

C: Redmond
IF: Punto
IF: Tolbert
OF: Monroe

SP: Hernandez
SP: Bonser
SP: Baker
SP: Slowey
SP: Blackburn

CL: Nathan
RP: Neshek
RP: Rincon
RP: Reyes
RP: Crain
RP: Guerrier
RP: Bass

I would have liked a better final bench option than Tolbert, but none of those decisions are going to make me rip my hair out. Let's see what these boys can do.

8 comments:

neckrolls said...

As a fan of fundamentally sound baseball, I'd prefer to watch someone who has quality at bats and hits the cutoff man than Gomez. I hope he's as quick a study as you say. Personally, I think he's got a demotion to Rochester in his near future.

I'm guessing Tolbert is valued as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement. With him on the roster, there are two fast guys on the bench, and Lamb and Harris can both come out of a tight game in which their defense might be a liability. I doubt he'll rack up a lot of ABs.

Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with the roster. Like you said, let's see what they can do.

Nick N. said...

As a fan of fundamentally sound baseball, I'd prefer to watch someone who has quality at bats and hits the cutoff man than Gomez. I hope he's as quick a study as you say. Personally, I think he's got a demotion to Rochester in his near future.

Gomez will learn both those things just as well in the majors as he would in the minors. Trust me though, he will be fun to watch. His ability to steal bases at will and track down almost everything in center field will make him an exciting player to watch each night, even if his fundamentals develop a little more slowly than we'd like.

I'm guessing Tolbert is valued as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement. With him on the roster, there are two fast guys on the bench, and Lamb and Harris can both come out of a tight game in which their defense might be a liability. I doubt he'll rack up a lot of ABs.

The problem is that Tolbert is not a great defender, nor is he exceptionally fast. He's basically just a poor man's Punto (never thought I'd find myself saying that). It seems awfully redundant to have them both on the roster as utility guys, which leads me to believe that Punto might be starting a good chunk of games at second.

Anonymous said...

i was really hoping humber would make the team. maybe livan's era will be in the ponson region and he will be cut/demoted/traded early.

Baseball_Lipgloss said...

I am also excited to watch Gomez in center. He's worked hard (and delivered) in Spring Training to earn the spot.

SBG said...

Let's see what these boys can do.

That's dangerously close to the motto of a certain team that takes up residence at 600 1st Ave. N. Hopefully, the 2008 season won't resemble that disaster, but just the thought of it has me breaking out in a cold sweat.

Anonymous said...

I would expect Tolbert to get most of his action at second base. That probably means Gardy is not entirely happy with either of the other options. Harris glove and Punto's bat are both suspect. If both fail, Tolbert provides a better glove than Harris and a better bat than Punto.

Watching Gomez is going to be exciting, but not all that excitement will be positive. That said, I don't think he is going to see the minor leagues again. He is going to make rookie mistakes and he will make some spectacular plays on what would have been routine fly balls with Hunter.

If TK were still manager you can almost guarantee Gomez would stick. TK was notoriously patient with talented young players once he committed to them. Gardy seems to have a harder time, especially with the spanish speaking guys, so Gomez may not have as long a leash. But I still think it is doubtful Gomez will see the minor leagues again. I don't think he would have been given the job unless the Twins were pretty certain he would keep it. He has too much talent.

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