Monday, July 20, 2009

Going For Grudz

The Twins made a move aimed at addressing one of their biggest holes this weekend, inking Mark Grudzielanek to a minor-league contract with the apparent plan of plugging him in at second base if Alexi Casilla continues to struggle.

The move was interesting and unexpected, to say the least. With rumors floating around about various trade candidates who might interest the Twins, Bill Smith has elected to sign a 39-year-old free agent who hasn't played this season.

Grudzielanek hasn't, in fact, played in a game since August 1 of last year. He spent last season with the Royals and missed the final two months with an ankle injury, subsequently drawing little interest in free agency. This led many to believe he was done playing, so to see his name pop up as an acquisition for the Twins around the trade deadline is a huge surprise.

This isn't necessarily a bad move. Despite his age, Grudz has remained a productive hitter over the past several seasons. He hasn't posted a batting average lower than .294 since 2002. He bats from the right side. He's got decent power and has generally been good for 30 doubles and a few homers each year. Defensively, he's very solid and has graded out better than average basically every season that he's been in the league. If the Twins are getting the same Mark Grudzielanek from the past five years, they're getting a significant upgrade at second base.

Of course, whether they're actually getting that player remains to be seen and is far from a lock. At this point, there's really no way to know what kind of shape Grudzielanek is in after being away from the game for a full 12 months. And while he has maintained solid production over the past several years, a player in his mid to late 30s can drop off a cliff at any time (just ask Rondell White and Bret Boone).

With 1,772 games of major-league experience, it's possible that the 14-year veteran could jump right back in and acclimate himself quickly. The Twins will need him to do just that, because with only 70 games remaining and a two-game deficit in the standings, they don't have much time to be patient. This is a low-risk, medium-reward type of signing and many fans will no doubt be disappointed that this move very likely precludes any type of major trade being swung, but if the Twins have done their homework and are confident that he's in game shape, Grudz is definitely capable of shoring up the second base position over the final two months of the season.

8 comments:

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philly_phanatic said...

You have a great blog here, Mark Grudzeilanek how ever you spell it, was a good pick up and shall be a fair utility player. I am a Phillies fan so please check my blog out by clicking on my name thanks. :)

Matt P said...

looks like props are given where props are due. couldn't agree more.

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