Wednesday, December 8, 2004
DISCUSSION QUESTION: ANNOUNCERS
Just Waiting... Then Look Ahead!
Nomar Garciaparra and Todd Walker stayed with the Cubs. Matt Morris signed to stay with the Cardinals. Jaret Wright and Tony Womack signed a ridiculous contracts with the Yankees. Eric Milton was supposed to too. Arbitration was offered to stars like Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Orlando Cabrera, David Wells, Roger Clemens, Carlos Beltran and Edgar Renterria, and to bit pieces like David McCarty and Todd Greene. Arbitration was declined by stars like Troy Glaus and Jeff Kent and many others, meaning there are a lot of new-found free agents looking for work. This, my friends, is the real beginning of the Hot Stove Season. This is arguably my third favorite time of the baseball calendar (third only to the opening of spring training and Opening Day).
This is when things start happening. And this is when players start signing with their new teams. And the GM Meetings start at the end of the week. And there is the Rule V draft. And players will be traded. And, most importantly, fans of most of the teams in the Major Leagues can start figuring out who will be on their roster on opening day and how their team will do. So last night, the Twins had a couple of decisions to make that would very much affect how I, as a Twins fan, would start my thoughts on the 2005 Twins. So, what happened?
Are you like me? Did you wake up this morning and check out the MLB Transactions to see which players signed with their former teams? (Or, in my case, I waited until well after 11:00 central time last night, hitting refresh on ESPN.com's MLB Transaction page, the Dickie Thon Twins Fan Forum and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Twin Page) I was just waiting for news to come out on Corey Koskie and Brad Radke. Had Terry Ryan and the player's agents agreed to a last second deal (as was the case with Shannon Stewart a year ago), did they chose to not offer arbitration to the players (as they did with Eddie Guardado last year) or did they chose to offer the players arbitration in hopes to sign them to long-term deals before actually going to arbitration?
So many questions... and we sat there, just waiting. We couldn't really do anything more. Likely, the essential parties were locked away in a room negotiating. Hopefully they sat in a room until the 11:00 deadline and didn't make themselves available to the media. But what would the results be. When we found out what happened last night, we at least knew what the next steps could be.
So, what happened, you ask? Let me tell you. 11:00 came and went and still no news. What did it mean? At 11:08, on the Dickie Thon site, we saw it first. "Twins sign Radke, offer Koskie arbitration." And I finally took a deep breath.
Brad Radke - Near the final minutes available to them, the Twins and Brad Radke agreed on a two year contract believed to be $18 million. I have to admit that I am thrilled about this signing. First, it is only two years. Also, $9 million is more than fair for a 31 year old coming off the best season of his consistent and lengthy career. Had he and his agent insisted on a 3 year deal or more than $10 million a year, I would have understood not signing him, or offering him arbitration. I also believe that, although Johan Santana is clearly the ace and the team's best pitcher, a good team needs a steady, calming pitcher like Radke. He provides 200+ innings every year, has never had problems, and is so steady. Last year, he added impressive to the list of adjectives used to describe him. He sits in as the #2 pitcher for the Twins for the next two seasons, and I am happy about that!
And so is Radke, "I feel the Twins were my first priority, and I'm just glad it got done."
Corey Koskie - The Twins did not reach an agreement with Koskie, however, they did decide to offer him arbitration. What this means is that the two sides can continue to negotiate a long term contract right up until their cases would go to an arbitrator. Of course, Koskie could decide not to accept this or he could still sign with another team, but I don't think he, or the Twins, want him to do that. (and if he does that, at least the Twins will get draft picks in return!) I fully expect the two sides to reach an agreement in the near future. If they are able to sign him, the team can feel more confident in letting Jason Bartlett take over at shortstop. Despite his low batting average last season (.251), Koskie improved his power numbers and showed in the playoffs the type of tough out that he can be. Now, I think that the Twins and Koskie can take time to come up with a good, fair, incentive-laden 2 year deal with an option for a third year. Because he is assured to miss 25-30 games a year, I do believe that a 2 year, $8.5 million deal would be fair, with a team option for 2007, with a clause saying if he meets a certain number of at bats over the next two seasons, the 2007 contract automatically vests. (Note - a side benefit of Koskie coming back is that it likely means that Luis Rivas will not return)
Terry Mulholland - The Twins did offer him arbitration. I am not entirely sure why this makes sense. I think if they wanted him and he wanted to stay, they could have just reached a one year deal. Either way, this isn't a big deal as even in arbitration, I don't think Mulholland would get a very high salary.
Henry Blanco - The Twins decided to offer Blanco arbitration. This again was another formality. The Twins had already signed Mike Redmond to be their backup catcher for next year. Also, late last night, Blanco signed a contract to catch for the Chicago Cubs next year, reuniting him with Greg Maddux. It is uncertain as to whether the Twins will receive a supplemental draft choice for losing him.
I guess, we should have known good things were in store for the Twins. I mean, even Phil Rogers wrote an article on the Twins domination of the AL Central in recent years!
In the cases of Radke and Koskie, which if we're being honest are really the only two that matter, I am happy that some of the "old guard" will stick around to mesh with the new crew. Now that we can pencil in Koskie at 3B and print Radke's name in pen as the Twins 2nd starter, let's take a look at the Twins possible 2005 roster.
C - Joe Mauer
1B - Justin Morneau
2B - Michael Cuddyer
3B - Corey Koskie
SS - Jason Bartlett
LF - Shannon Stewart
CF - Torii Hunter
RF - Lew Ford
DH - Michael Restovich/Matthew LeCroy
B-Up C - Mike Redmond
U-IF - Nick Punto
U-IF - Juan Castro
B-Up OF - Michael Restovich/(one of Michael Ryan, Todd Dunwoody or Jason Tyner)
SP 1 - Johan Santana
SP 2 - Brad Radke
SP 3 - Carlos Silva
SP 4 - Kyle Lohse
SP 5 - JD Durbin
CL - Joe Nathan
RP 1 - Juan Rincon
RP 2 - Grant Balfour
RP 3 - Jesse Crain
RP 4 - JC Romero or Terry Mulholland
RP 5 - Joe Mays
Again, I see no reason why that roster can't win the Twins fourth AL Central title in a row! Cleveland will be tough again. Detroit will spend money on veterans again, so they could compete. But this is a good team! In the batting lineup, here are the changes:
Joe Mauer replaces Henry Blanco
Michael Cuddyer replaces Luis Rivas
Jason Bartlett replaces Cristian Guzman
Lew Ford replaces Jacque Jones
In each case, the offensive numbers will be better. Defense will likely be lessened at 2B and SS. It will be equal, if not better, at catcher and RF. That bullpen of Crain, Balfour and Rincon setting up Nathan will be incredible. The team doesn't really need a lefty with those power arms, but we all know that Ron Gardenhire will want at least one. The team now needs to decide if it will offer JC Romero arbitration later in the month. I would say that if they can't agree to a cheap, two year deal, they should just let him go.
That's right! You heard it here first. This team will win the 2005 AL Central! Of course, injuries will be a factor. Michael Restovich already will miss time with his broken collarbone. That could give Kevin West an opportunity. If/When Corey Koskie misses time, Terry Tiffee is more than ready to hit at the major league level. Scott Baker is near ready as are a couple of other arms.
I am officially excited about baseball again! It has been quiet for a month, with stupid non-baseball issues creeping into our world. But now, the Hot Stove League is officially upon us, and that makes me very happy and rejuvenates me! I can't wait for February!
Any thoughts on the Twins decisions from late last night? Or any thoughts on my roster? E-mail me. Let's talk!
DISCUSSION QUESTION: TWINS ANNOUNCERS
Reprinted from 12/7/04 - I got an interesting e-mail from a guy named "Mike" this weekend and think it is worth posting. I myself am quite curious as to what the answer might be. So, I am going to post it as a new Discussion Question of the Week. We haven't really had one of them for a long time. But what it is is a way of making this site a little more interactive. Here is the process:
I will post a question or multiple questions today.
On Friday, I will post the responses that I receive to the question of the week.
So, you need to take a look at the question, and then send me an e-mail with your response to it, by Thursday night.
The reason I really like doing this is because so many of you come to my webpage and take the time to read my thoughts on a daily basis. What this does is allows you to participate a little bit in the site and to let your thoughts be heard to a bigger audience.
So, let's get to "Mike's" e-mail and questions:
Since XM radio is going to broadcast MLB games this year, I was curious about other team's announcing crew. If you have time, could you address a few of the topics below regarding the Twins announcers?
knowledge of the game
keeping track of the game situation
sense of humor
knowledge of sabremetrics
ability to criticize home team
frequency of cliches?
attitude towards umps (is he highly critical?)
Thanks...I appreciate both your website and any info you can give me,
I guess what Mike, and now I, would like to know is a couple of things. First, please tell us who your team is. Second, since XM radio will likely broadcast the radio broadcasts of the game, who are your team's radio announcers? Third, just to add a little bit to this, who are your television play-by-play and color analysts? And finally, please tell us how they are at announcing using the above criteria or measures? Mike was specifically asking about the Twins, but let's get thoughts on as many teams as we can!
So yes, there are multiple questions and it might even take a couple of minutes to compile a message, but please take the time to do so, especially if you aren't a Twins fan because I am sure that it could create a fun debate when reading how other other announcers call a game. The Twins radio crew includes Herb Carneal (who is a Hall of Famer, a legend, but is getting up there), John Gordon (who is very annoying to listen to and frequently wrong and wayyyyy too easily excitable) and Dan Gladden (who I actually think is the best of the three despite being relatively new to it). On the TV side, Twins fans listen to Dick (I set up Bert) Bremer and Bert (I should be a Hall of Famer, and my birthday is April 6, and you are hereby circled) Blyleven. I am curious as to how Twins fans feel about listening to these announcers too.
So please, take a couple of minutes and respond to this week's Discussion Question of the Week (by Thursday night). E-mail me. Thanks!
If you're looking for a great way to organize your family's Christmas Wish Lists, be sure to go to this site, designed by a good friend of mine.
And as I mentioned yesterday, I got my copy of 2004 Hardball Times Baseball Annual over the weekend! It is far more impressive than I ever would have thought. Great articles, get writing, and very interesting and comprehensive statistics. It is well worth picking up for yourself or as a Christmas gift for family and friends who are baseball fans! By it here.
And on that note, I am going to call it a day! If you have any thoughts, opinions or questions on any topic, please feel free to e-mail me. Have a great Wednesday!
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