In looking back at what I've written so far over the course of this (dreadfully boring) offseason, it's struck that I've been kind of a sour-puss. While others have been railing off the virtues of various possible trades and free agent acquisitions, I've been pointing out flaws and downsides to just about every substantive rumor. I have, at various times during the past few months, expressed opposition to signing Orlando Cabrera, signing a free agent reliever, trading for Garrett Atkins, signing Ty Wigginton, or giving up a starting pitcher for basically anything less than a king's ransom. I was somewhat supportive of signing Casey Blake, but hardly blinked when the Twins came up short in their offer and watched him go to the Dodgers. Someone on a message board recently called me "Ole Buzzy McBuzzkill." I think they may have had a point.
My central thought process behind all this "status quo support," if you will, is that the Twins came within a game of making the playoffs last year, and -- at least right now -- I don't see the rest of the AL Central division improving all that much in 2009. With a young and talented roster with several guys who can reasonably be expected to improve next year, the Twins seem about as well-positioned as anyone to make a postseason run in the upcoming season.
Still, I kind of feel like a sell-out. Most years, I'm right there along with the chorus of complainers when the Twins once again fail to partake in the Hot Stove festivities, opting to pour their limited resources into inexpensive low-upside veterans rather than taking an exciting, organization-shaking gamble. (Last winter, of course, presented a notable exception to this philosophy.) Now here I am saying I'd be fine if the Twins do nothing other than re-signing Nick Punto and maybe inviting a few guys to camp in the spring on minor-league deals.
Well, today, I'm going to get back on the wagon and get behind a potential acquisition that I think makes a lot of sense for this team: Mark DeRosa. Why isn't this guy getting talked about more? We can be relatively certain he's available, since his name was often connected to the Jake Peavy rumors, and he strikes me as a far better fit for this team than a Wigginton.
DeRosa, like Wigginton and Blake, has experience at multiple infield and outfield positions. He's logged most of his career innings at second base, but has also played 1,534 innings at third, making him a potential third-base option. I haven't seem him play much, but the defensive metrics peg him as a slightly below-average defender basically wherever he plays -- maybe about Blake's level, and certainly better than Wigginton. DeRosa is also a right-handed hitter with strong numbers against lefties, and has been a productive hitter for three consecutive years as a regular. In 2008, he had the best season of his career, posting a .376 on-base percentage with Kubel-esque power. That would be lovely production from an infield spot.
DeRosa will turn 34 in February, but that still makes him younger than Blake, and since he only became a regular player during the past three years one could easily speculate that he's got plenty left in the tank. Next season will be the last of his current three-year contract, and he'll be making only $5.5 million, making him an excellent bargain and a short-term commitment.
The problem here is that DeRosa strikes me as the type of player the Twins would undervalue. He's not a great fielder, and he's not terribly fast or athletic. So, there's reason to believe that the Twins won't be willing to offer enough for the Cubs to consider moving him. Personally, I'm not sure I'd be willing to part with one of The Fab 5 for him, but basically every other pitcher in the organization is fair game, be it a minor-leaguer or one of the Boof Bonser/Philip Humber duo.
I've stringently held to my belief that making a move for the sake of making a move doesn't make sense for this club in its current position. But moving on DeRosa, if the Cubs' asking price is reasonable, makes all the sense in the world. That's a rumor even this old Scrooge can get behind.