Monday, January 21, 2008
Good Monday Morning to all of you! It is likely to be a short posting today. Just wanted to post a few quick thoughts today and I hope to post my Top 20 Impact Rookie Pitchers tomorrow (I hope!). But I hope that the links and comments create some discussion. Enjoy the day and feel free to e-mail me or leave Comments to discuss below.
If you missed it last Friday, please be sure to scroll down and read the Q&A with Kevin Slowey. Even if you did read it, be sure to read through the Comments again as Kevin spent some time answering questions there.
Speaking of Slowey, if you check out the Twins Winter Caravan schedule, you can find Kevin along with Scott Baker and Bert Blyleven on the Southeast Tour. If you happen to be able to attend any of his visits, please be sure to thank him for his great work with the fans and with this site!
If you're in the Northern half of the state, you will be able to see Boof Bonser, Brendan Harris, Dan Gladden and Jack Morris. Check out the schedule for the Northern Tour.
Finally, if you're in Central Minnesota, check the Central Tour schedule for dates and times to see if you can attend any of the sessions. You would be able to meet Jesse Crain, Glen Perkins, Craig Monroe, Tony Oliva and Dick Bremer.
And of course, it all leads us to Friday when Twins Fest begins. Check out the schedule and participants. The Twins really have a nice group of minor leaguers coming in which is exciting. I am going to try my best to spend as much of the time it is open there so if you'll be there, let me know.
Be sure to head over to Over the Baggy where he has posted thoughts on each of the AL Central teams, some of the things going on with each.
The big news on Sunday was that the Colorado Rockies and Troy Tulowitski, who finished 2nd to Ryan Braun in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, are nearing a six year, $30 million deal with a seventh year option. That deal would take away Tulowitski's arbitration year and buy out one (or two) of his free agent years. It would be a record for a player with just one year of experience, breaking the six year, $23.45 million deal that Cleveland signed Grady Sizemore for a year or two ago. I realize that there is risk in such a deal and you have to do these things with the right players, but I wish that the Twins would think like this! Morneau and Mauer could have been signed a year earlier. Santana could have been signed a couple of years before his first Cy Young Award got him a four year, $40 million contract. A lot of people think that I am crazy, but:
I would be working with Francisco Liriano's agent right now on a six or seven year contract. There certainly is risk, but the reward could be incredible. When third and fourth starters are getting $8-12 million contracts, this only makes sense. (2008 - $0.5 m, 2009 - $1.5 m, 2010 - $3.0 m, 2011 - $5.0 m, 2012 - $ 7.5 m, 2013 - team option for $10.0 million (which vests with 375 innings between 2011 and 2012 or 200 innings in 2012) with a $0.5 m buyout) There is a five year, $18.5 million contract with the sixth year option.
Jason Kubel should be signed to a four year deal, with a fifth year option. He was the Twins best hitter during the second half of 2007 and given full-time DH duties, I think he can finally come up with that .310, 25 homer, 100 RBI season that I've been predicting for the last two years. If that happens, how much will it cost to lock him up a year from now? (2008 - $1.3 m, 2009 - $2.7 m, 2010 - $4.5 m, 2011 - $6.5 m, 2012 - team option at $8.5 m with $1 m buyout). That's a four year, $16 million deal. If he puts up the type of season I think he can, then he's looking at a Mauer-like four year, $40 million deal!
Pat Neshek has been one of the better relievers in the game the last season and a half. He will be cheap for another year but then his arbitration clock will start. I have to believe that Pat would love to spend his career with the Twins. He would also like some security. (2008 - $0.6 m, 2009 - $1.2 m, 2010 - $1.7 m, 2011 - $2.2 m, 2012 - $2.5 m, 2013 - $3.0 m) That's a six year, $11.2 million. Injury is a risk with any pitcher, but if Neshek is even an average reliever over the length of this deal, the numbers will be fair market value. The risk on Neshek's side is that he 1.) remains an elite reliever in which case, he could probably earn another million or so a year or 2.) become a closer at which time his value would be higher.
Delmon Young - Sure he's new to the team, but he is going to make some serious money unless the Twins do something to help themselves. He signed a major league contract out of high school and 2008 is his final year with that deal. However, he still has two more seasons before arbitration, so any contract with him would have to be at least six years. I think that that Tulowitski deal should be something that the two sides should work off of, but only as a starting point because 1.) Young has more power potential and 2.) Young started at a higher number. Like Tulo, Young finished second in 2007 Rookie of the Year voting. (2008 - $0.7 m, 2009 - $1.0 m, 2010 - 5.0 m, 2011 - $7.5 m, 2012 - $11.0 m, 2013 - 13.5 m, 2014 - 15.0 m, 2015 - team option at $17 million with a $3.0 million buyout). That's a seven year, $56.7 million that could reach $70.7 million. This is the kind of impact signing that might help make Twins fans hush down!
Now, I'm not saying that the players or their agents would agree to these numbers, but I think that the conversation should be had. Cleveland has done very well for themselves this way twice; first back in the mid-90s and now again.
Boston and New York in the Super Bowl... Think that is going to be way overblown over the next two weeks... especially on ESPN??? I'm dreading it already!
I am pretty proud of the Q&As that I have been able to have on this site. But today, you are definitely going to want to go to the Twins Trivia blog where he has a GREAT Q&A with Jim Kaat, Twins (and broadcasting) legend! And be sure to bookmark the blog too!
I graduated from college with a degree in Economics. Well, Vince Gennaro wrote an interesting piece on the economics behind a potential Johan Santana trade to the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets and picks a "winner." Gennaro teaches a "a graduate course on the business of baseball in the Sports Business Management program at Manhattanville College". Sounds like an interesting class!
The Baseball Analysts' Rich Lederer who has written a lot on the Hall of Fame and specifically the case for Bert Blyleven recently wrote a couple of articles saying that Jim Rice should not be in the Hall of Fame. ESPN's Buster Olney wrote an article about Lederer's argument against Rice. So, Rich added a few great thoughts. I enjoy the conversation and could argue both sides. But I mainly want to talk about one thing that continues to come up with Hall of Fame voting. The idea is that the members of the Baseball Writers Assocation should vote because they cover the game every day and have a better feel for who is a Hall of Famer or an MVP than others. I do have to wonder about that. Currently, teams play the teams in their division 18 or 19 times each season. A beat writer could cover their team and the four other teams in their division that many times in a season. They can get a feel for those guys. But the teams play the other team in their league only six to nine times a year. Is that really enough time to watch the other teams? And a beat writer spends so much time with his team that I would imagine it would be difficult to really get a feel for the rest of the league. Before inter-league play, teams in each league played each other an equal number of times. That means that a beat writer would see each opponent about a dozen times each season. Can he or she really gain a feel for MVP in that much time? What about the other 150 games? And if I read another National League team's writer talk about the virtues of Jim Rice, who played only in the American League, it will be too much! Those guys never covered Rice except maybe in an All-Star game. At some point, the actual numbers do have to matter. There should be an equal part career stats, peak stats and era stats comparisons. There should be some credence given to the opinions of teammates and opponents, but even that can be biased. I have no doubt that Joe Christensen and LaVelle E Neal take their votes seriously. I've had conversations with Joe about Hall of Fame voting and I know he puts a lot of thought and diligence into his vote. It is a great responsibility and it should be looked at as such. But some of the arguments that you read are just ridiculous. Ridiculous especially when people make the ridiculous claim that Bert Blyleven is not a Hall of Famer.
I was listening to Sid Hartman's radio show late Sunday morning and out of the blue Ron Gardenhire called. Sid was flustered but then asked him about a comment attributed to Gardy in a Charley Walters' article. Gardy said that that he would talk to Michael Cuddyer about playing CF. That would leave the Twins with an OF of Jason Kubel or Craig Monroe in LF with Cuddyer in CF and Young in RF. That is a feasible outfield and I really wouldn't' have a major problem with Cuddyer in CF. However, I took the comment completely differently. I see the chances of Cuddyer playing CF for the Twins in 2008 at about 0.1% I'm not even worried about it. I think what Gardy was really saying was that if there is not another move made to bring in a true CF, then he is going to have to weigh all of his options. If Jason Pridie and Denard Span are not ready coming out of spring training, then Cuddyer, Young, Monroe and even guys like Punto or Casilla or whoever else would have to be considered. But again, Bill Smith will not leave Gardy with that predicament (and if he does, his 2007-08 offseason was a true failure) so don't make too much of it at this time. NOTE - if you do go to the Walters' article, there are several very interesting notes about former Twins.
On Thursday, the Twins agreed to a one year, $1.3 million deal with Jason Kubel. On Friday, the Twins agreed to a one year, $7.4 million contract with Justin Morneau and a one year, $2.5 million contract with Juan Rincon. I'm very much comfortable with the Kubel and Morneau deals and hope that each is still signed long-term this offseason. It may surprise you to know that I am actually OK with the Rincon deal as well. With the Twins current lack of money spent, I am comfortable with giving market value to a reliever. The Twins have had a strong bullpen for the whole decade and that should continue. Rincon has been surpassed by Neshek and Guerrier and likely Crain if he proves himself healthy, but if Rincon can regain any semblance of his form, he can be a valuable 6th or 7th inning guy.
The Twins two remaining arbitration-eligible players are Michael Cuddyer and Matt Guerrier. Guerrier is in his first year of arbitration. He asked for $1.15 million and the Twins offered $750,000. Most likely, the teams will end up with a one year deal worth between $900,000 and $1 million. Either way, the Twins are getting a bargain. I expected Guerrier to ask for at least $1.5 million. As for Cuddyer, the Twins RF asked for $6.2 million while the Twins countered with $4.7 million. The two sides will likely end up somewhere around the midpoint of $5.45 million. But I think if the case went to the arbitrator, Cuddyer's side would win in a landslide! Hopefully the Twins and Cuddyer's camp will be able to work out three year deal, and if so, then the 2008 could be around the $5 million range. That would mean a three year deal worth around $20 million. Both of those should resolve themselves before getting to the arbitrator.
John Sickels' Prospects Book is going to be shipping this week! Head over to his Minor League Ball blog where he is given some excerpts of the book for free! Here are his prospect reports on Nick Blackburn, Chris Parmelee and Michael Tarsi.
I don't remember Jim "Two Silhouettes on" Deshaies being this bad in 1994! Worse than Eric Milton, circa 2005 for the Reds!
Wow! That was much more than I was planning, but hopefully there is plenty in there to get some conversation started on a Monday. Let's fill up the Comments section. Of course, you can always e-mail me as well!