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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Twins Christmas Gifts

Hello MVB readers, now that the stockings have been removed from the chimney, the wrapping paper is thrown away, and everyone's belt loops are loosened a few notches it is time to give out a few more gifts. Here is the 2007 Twins Christmas Gifts...

To- Joe Mauer
I give you my healthy knees. We need you to play more than the 109 games that you played last year. I don't care if you're hitting in the DH role, catcher, third base, whatever. But Mauer needs 500 at bats. The only time he achieved this in his 4-year career he won the batting title.

To- Nick Punto
I bought you a new Mongo bat. This children's neon green bat with a 10 inch diameter should hopefully raise your dismal .210 batting average.

To- Delmon Young
I along with your new home in Minnesota remove the monkey off your back. You came close to a Rookie of the Year award in the pressure of Tampa Bay fans calling you the savior while still not forgetting the "thrown bat" incident. Hopefully you will flourish in Minny.

To- Torii Hunter
I place the monkey on your back. Actually, about 50,000 monkeys called Rally Monkeys. Angels fans won't like seeing your signature whiffs when they're paying you $90 million. I wish you the best and hate to see you leave, but I think the odds are against you.

To- GM Bill Smith
I give you a crystal ball so that you can make sure you make the right offseason moves. In an offseason where Torii left, you traded one young pitcher for a young hitter, signed a new left side of the infield, and will soon trade the best pitcher on the planet you will need to predict the future.

To- old GM Terry Ryan
We love you and all the years you made the Twins competitive with a team salary that rivaled ARod's. But I give you a brown paper bag. Because when Santana, Hunter, and Joe Nathan come back to the Metrodome fans are going to wonder why we didn't sign these guys to long term contracts earlier. You may need to hide yourself in that new "consultant" role.

To- new SS Adam Everett
Just realized Mongo bats are buy 1 get 1 free. So I thought I'd get two so you can learn to hit this season too.

To- Scott Baker
I give you two more outs. So that this season Mike Sweeney won't break up your perfect game with one out in the 9th inning.

To- Francisco Liriano
I'm giving you a helping hand. Not only are we expecting you to bounce back to your 2006 form after a tremendous Tommy John surgery, but you may also be expected to replace Santana and become the staff ace.

Finally... To- All Twins fans
I give the excitement of a new season approaching along with the patience of a new era. The team that takes the field in 2008 will be very different than last year and may have new expectations. But I like what I've seen so far from new GM Bill Smith and I believe at the least the young Twins will be a very exciting team to watch and at best have the potential to surprise the Central division teams as the underdog team.

MVB readers... if you have any last minutes gifts let me hear what you bought for the Twins?

Saturday, December 22, 2007


During the time of this holiday season there are many reasons to celebrate, the Twins MVB would like to give you one more...

If you notice the countdown on the sidebar to the right, there are exactly 100 days until the Twins 2008 Season Opener. Now if that isn't a reason to celebrate then I don't know what is.

Expect the baseball news to be slow over the next two weeks. The Major League office in New York and all 30 teams close their offices for the holidays as of Friday until the New Year. Trade talks and discussion may occur, but don't expect much action.

Still log in here though for the latest Twins info, plus some upcoming challenges and prize giveaways. Only 6 weeks until pitchers and catchers report to spring training!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Adios Silva

Last night the Seattle Mariners officially signed former Twins starting pitcher Carlos Silva. Silva agreed to a massive 4-year $48 million deal. My first thought to Seattle fans.... thank you!

Not to come down on Silva who pitched four very solid seasons for the Twins, but the pitcher has always appeared temperamental on the mound and inconsistent in his performances. He certainly is a pitcher who will eat innings and fill a spot in your team's rotation, but the next time I spend 48 million dollars on anything I hope it will buy me a little something more.

Silva went 13-14 last year with 4.19 ERA in 202 IP. He has a lifetime record of 55-46 with a career 4.31 ERA. To Silva's credit, he picked a great place to move to. He now gets to pitch in the very spacious Safeco Field with one of the best defenses behind him. A sinkerball pitcher who was known for quick grown ball outs and forcing many double plays will benefit greatly with Seattle's skilled defense.

My fondest memory of Silva, was during his 2005 campaign. That year Silva posted historic numbers walking ONLY nine batters in 180 innings. He threw strikes and let the Twins get outs. I wish him the best in Seattle and I think he may surprise me with his performance. But I'm not sad to see him go and hope the Twins can better spend $48 million.

Check out the poll in the sidebar and let me hear your feelings on Silva's departure.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Never Trust a Yankee

Hi Twins fans, I apologize for the post delay as this weekend was a travel weekend. Nonetheless, the Twins continue to make news this offseason in what is becoming the busiest Twins' offseason I can remember.

Friday afternoon, the day after the Twins signed SS Adam Everett from the Houston Astros, they again reached to the Houston organization and signed free agent third baseman Mike Lamb. The left side of the 2007 Astro's infield has now essentially become the left side of the 2008 Twins' infield.

Lamb is a traditional Twins signing as he comes with some questions marks at an affordable price tag, but is full of potential. Lamb has never had the opportunity to play full time as a starter and he should get that chance to earn the role for the Twins come spring training. In a backup/platoon role last year, Lamb hit .289 with 11 homeruns and 40 RBIs. Lamb is a left handed hitter, 32 years old, with a career batting average of .281, and a solid (but not great) defensive glove.

Based on what I've read, sources say Lamb and Everett will take over the left side of the infield with newly acquired Brendan Harris defending 2nd base. This will put Nick Punto back into his former utility role. This infield along with 1B Justin Morneau will be much better offensively then last years squad and I believe Nick Punto needs to be a utility player and not an everyday starter.

In Santana news, it has been reported that the New York Yankees jumped back into trade discussions with the Twins regarding the Twins ace. The Yankees had set a deadline during the winter meetings to trade for Santana and when that deadline passed they claimed to be "done". Not surprising after the Yankees said they were never going to sign A-Rod after he opted out of his contract...and look what happened. With the trade of Oakland A's ace Dan Haren to the Arizona Diamondbacks last Friday, the Yankees' options for acquiring a frontline starter are diminishing which may make them more desperate to give up players for Santana.

The moral of the story... never trust a Yankee!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Curious move as Twins sign Everett

About 30 minutes ago the Twins announced their signing of free agent SS Adam Everett. Everett became expendable from the Houston Astros lineup as they acquired SS Miguel Tejada from the Baltimore Orioles in a trade.

This signing is very peculiar to me. The terms of deal have not yet been released and I'm sure Everett comes at a bargain cost. To his credit he is one of the best defensive shortstops in the Major Leagues; however, I would call Everett a poor hitter (and that is being kind). Last year, Everett hit .232 with 2 homeruns and 15 RBIs in an injury shortened season that limited to 66 games. He is career .248 hitter with only 35 lifetime homeruns and 214 RBIs.

Clearly, we know the Twins value defensive skills and it is true that Everett will be a defensive upgrade over Bartlett who is a good defensive player himself. The Twins now have four infielders in Everett, Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla, and Brendan Harris who can play 2B, SS, and 3B. It will be unknown which player will field which position until the end of spring training in March. Each player has either a defensive, offensive, or baserunning strength coupled with a significant weakness. I would like to think that Twins will still go out and acquire a thirdbaseman who can defend, but more importantly, can hit.

Here's a link to the Everett news.

Let me know how you feel about Adam Everett? I'm off to watch the Mitchell report!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Around the MLB and the mighty Tyner

A few big pieces of information on this cold winter day across the Majors. The Baltimore Orioles traded former MVP Miguel Tejada to the Houston Astros for a handful of 5 young players. The Orioles save a lot of money and get much younger and the Astros acquire an All-Star who is definitely on the decline. It will remain to be seen whether the Astros keep Tejada at shortstop or move him over to the hot corner. Tejada should benefit to feasting on National League pitching and moving into a hitter's ballpark in Houston.

The San Francisco Giants added a very needed bat to their weak offense by signing free agent CF Aaron Rowand to a 5-year $60 million deal. Rowand's name was thrown around by the Twins but never reached serious discussion given the contract he was looking for. This was a large deal for Rowand given he had a surprise breakout season last year.

Lastly, tomorrow is a big day for Major League Baseball. At 2 pm ET, former Senate majority leader, George Mitchell, will be conducting a news conference to announce the results of his 20-month investigation into baseball's drug problem. It is expected that many player's names will be mentioned and there will be some revealing information about what was going on during the "Steroid Era." This could get ugly, here's more information.

In the Twins news department, the mighty Jason Tyner (who hit his first career homerun this year after 1,220 at-bats) was let go today by the Twins. It appears the Twins' outfield was a little too full.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Twins, Monroe agree to one year contract

Twins breaking news fresh off the (cyberspace) press, no it does not have to do with Johan Santana. The Twins have agreed to a one-year deal with outfielder Craig Monroe worth an estimated $3.82 million plus incentives based on plate appearance.

Monroe, who split time with the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs last season, was acquired by the Twins for a player to be named later on November 13 from the Cubs. Twins had to either sign or non-tender Monroe by the Wednesday deadline tomorrow.

With the recent trade for Delmon Young, and Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel already slated for a bulk of the at bats in the corner outfield and designated hitter spots, it appeared the Twins would let Monroe go. However, it appears the Twins believe Monroe could be a big part of the team this year. Last year Monroe, 30, had a below average year batting .219 with 12 homeruns and 59 RBIs. But in 2006 he hit 28 homers and drove in 92 RBIs. This type of production would be a welcomed surprise for the anemic Twins offense. Monroe has always been a Twins killer in the Metrodome, so I figure if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

In recent Santana news, it has been reported that of the Red Sox offers, the Twins prefer the deal that included OF Jacoby Ellsbury. This makes the Monroe signing even more peculiar as the Twins outfield would look like Young in LF, Ellsbury in CF, and Cuddyer in RF with a possible platoon of Kubel/Monroe at DH. A very young, but dangerous outfield, but hopefully there will be enough at bats to go around. I don't think you can ever have too much talent.

Buster Olney of ESPN, previews a potential Red Sox rotation with Santana and a Twins' lineup with Ellsbury.

MVB readers, what are your thoughts/feelings on the signing of OF Craig Monroe?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Show Morneau the Money

With news from the Santana front appearing relatively still (could change any day now), I wanted to focus my attention on a different Twins star: Justin Morneau.

I think with Torii's departure to the Angels and the high likelihood of Santana still being traded away, the Twins stand to learn a lesson this offseason. SIGN YOUR STARS TO LONG TERM CONTRACTS AS SOON AS YOU CAN!

In the past, the Twins have maintained the philosophy of not signing long-term deals for fear of the signed player suffering a significant injury or turning out to be a fluke after a career year. I understand this is wise as the small market Twins cannot afford to get bogged down by bad long term contracts; however, there is something to be said for rewarding your star players and locking them up while you can still afford to do so.

During 2006 season when Johan Santana was revving up his campaign for his second AL Cy Young award the Twins could have locked up Santana to long term deal of roughly $15 million a season. This was the market value at the time for frontline pitchers. It was clear Santana was no fluke. He had already won one Cy Young award (should have won two) and had proven his durability over multiple seasons. Instead, Santana is set to change the market for star pitchers as he may possibly command a salary of nearly $25 million a year.

In that same 2006 season while Justin Morneau was putting up his MVP winning numbers, the New York Mets signed their young stars, David Wright and Jose Reyes, to long-term deals of 6 years $55 million and 4 years $23 million respectively. These may appear like heavy contracts, but these two players were emerging stars and now have very affordable contracts. It's ok that the Twins wanted to make sure that Morneau's MVP season wasn't just a fluke, but this past season he clearly showed he is a major league star. Granted, Morneau's 2007 season was a down year from the year before but he is one of baseball's best young players and an integral part of the Twins' future.

Joe Mauer was signed to a 4 year $33 million deal before the 2007 season to ensure he will be playing when the new ballpark opens in 2010. Now Justin Morneau MUST be signed to a long-term deal while we still can.

Consider the loss of Torii Hunter and the probable loss of Johan Santana a lesson. I don't think Twins fans could take much more.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Santana Status Quo

The winter meetings are officially over and GM Bill Smith and his entourage have headed home to the Twin Cities. Most notably, Johan Santana is still wearing a Twins uniform.

Smith had many conversations, lot of players were discussed, and the media made a frenzy of the Santana sweepstakes, but in the end Smith and the Twins were not satisfied with their offers. Does this mean Santana will be a Twin when the 2008 season starts? Not so fast...talks have stalled for now, but expect many more rumors in the next couple weeks.

ESPN's Buster Olney says the Santana discussions are far from over. Of all the potential suitors, Olney still feels the Red Sox are the favorite to acquire the All-Star pitcher.

The New York Mets have joined the Santana fray along with the Red Sox and many people still believe the New York Yankees are in on the talk although they claim they are done discussing Santana. Reports also claim the Seattle Mariners have explored deals for the Twins' pitcher while both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels seems to be on the outside looking in. Fox Sport's Dayn Perry breaks down all the possible Santana deals.

Meanwhile... PIC OF THE DAY!

What do you think of Torii's new digs?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Twins patient with Santana

It's day 3 of the Winter Meetings and as you all know the Twins haven't been in the headlines for anything but rumors. Santana is still wearing number 57 for the Twins and personally, I'm ok with that. The only headlines so far at the meeting go to AL Central rivals, the Detroit Tigers, for their blockbuster trade acquiring Florida Marlin All-Stars Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis for the prices of six prospects. One of baseball's toughest divisions continues to get tougher. Not good news for the Twins.

The Yankees claim they are "99.9% out of it (the Santana sweepstakes," but after they were "done negotiating" with Alex Rodriguez earlier this offseason we never quite trust the Yankee's word. It does seem that the Bronx Bombers have moved on to other needs, but we can never count them out. The Red Sox are patiently waiting with two different proposals offered to the Twins.

The proposals: 1) headlined by P Jon Lester, along with OF Coco Crisp, SS Jed Lowrie, and minor league P Justin Masterson. 2) centered on OF Jacoby Ellsbury, along with SS Lowrie, and probably P Masterson.

I credit new Twins GM Bill Smith for his patience and determination throughout this entire Santana madness. Johan is the biggest asset to the Twins franchise and although Smith is in between a rock and a hard place to trade Santana, the GM knows what he wants in return and will wait until he gets it. AND IF HE DOESN'T... then maybe we will see Santana on the mound after all come opening day. To get Santana, Smith wants two players that will step into the opening day lineup and be major league contributors. They asked the Yankees to throw in young pitcher Ian Kennedy along with Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera, and win the Yanks said no the Twins said ok then. I'm not sure if the Twins are holding out until the Red Sox put both Lester and Ellsbury in a deal or not. I think they should wait until they are able to get both players, but given that the Sox don't actually NEED Santana, they too may be content with keeping their young stars.

Hall of Fame Baseball Analyst and the man who is always on the inside of baseball news, Peter Gammons, said this today about the Twins at the winter meetings.

"Don't expect to see a Twins-Red Sox or Twins-Yankees whopper. The sense is that Minnesota will hold onto Johan Santana."

ESPN columnist Buster Olney gives a good review of the position that GM Bill Smith is in and breaks down the Twins current situation.

In other Twins news...

Santana isn't the only topic concerning the Twins at the meetings. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports the Twins are looking for middle-infield help and are potentially targeting free agent SS David Eckstein. Manager Ron Gardenhire said about Eckstein, "I've always had a lot of respect for him. He catches the ball. He knows how to play. He's a proven winner."

Eckstein does play the game hard and with a lot of character, but to me he seems like another player on our roster who plays great defense and can't hit... his name is Nick Punto. This report is simply in the rumor stage right now, but it makes me ask the readers...

Who would you rather have starting the 2008 season at shortstop? Nick Punto or David Eckstein?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ready, set, trade!

Tomorrow marks the start of the annual Winter Meetings for baseball general managers. The four day event held in Nashville, Tennessee this year appears to be full of talk, rumors, and even trades.

Here's the latest on the Santana trade front. It seems that the two teams that have emerged as probable trade partners for the Twins are hated rivals the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Two events occurred over the weekend that significantly impact the scope of the Santana talk.

Friday the Yankees announced that they would be willing to trade young pitcher Phil Hughes in any deal for the Twins' ace. After a week of trying to avoid putting Hughes in any deal for Santana, the Yankees have changed their stance and are now offering a young pitcher who could in the future become the force that Santana is on the mound today.

Sunday the Red Sox stated they would add young outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury in any deal for Santana. This announcement comes after repeatedly calling Ellsbury "untouchable" in any deal. This option would fill the Twins large void left in centerfield by the departure of CF, Torii Hunter. Ellsbury made a quick name for himself across Sox Nation batting .353 with three home runs, 18 RBIs, and nine stolen bases in just 33 games in August and September for the Boston club. Ellsbury also became a hero taking over the starting centerfield position in the playoffs and responding with a terrific World Series performance.

If you're the Minnesota Twins the question becomes, do I trade my star player, and if so, do I rebuild with a young star pitcher or a young start outfielder? Hughes or Ellsbury?

One thing is for sure, the flurry of rumors surrounding Santana's name in the last week are close to an end. The Yankees announced today that their offer will soon be off the table. This means the Twins must make their decision soon, like in the next 24 hours soon. By tomorrow night we may know the future outlook of the Minnesota Twins franchise.

If you acquire Hughes you replace Santana in the rotation. Losing a current start for a future star. If you acquire Ellsbury you receive a stud young outfielder capable of replacing the beloved Torii Hunter who would excel batting at the top of an order with Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, and Delmon Young hitting behind him. BUT... what if the Twins decide that neither of these offers are good enough. What if the Twins instead trade some of their younger prospects and open up their wallet to sign a free agent or two and in doing so will their holes in CF, 3B, and DH. If Liriano comes back as good as he was in 2006 and the rotation is lead by Santana and Liriano, Delmon Young develops into a star while the rest of the lineup bounces back from a subpar year, I would label the Twins as a legitimate World Series contender. BUT... are they still good enough to tackle the defending champion, Boston Red Sox?

Think if the Twins decide to trade Santana to Boston, you now have a team that is not only the favorite to win the 2008 World Series but also a team that is developing into a dynasty for the next three to four years. A 2008 rotation of Santana, Beckett, Dice-K, Schilling, and whoever else feels like pitching (doesn't really matter) with the Red Sox offense is the closest thing to a sure thing in the baseball world.

So I wish I had a crystal ball to tell you what will happen, but at least it appears that we won't have to wait long to discover the outcome. As a fan, I'm not even sure yet what move is best for the Twins. I think the thought of having Ellsbury patrolling the outfield is at first glance more appealing to me, but Hughes too is a potential dominator on the pound. And all this being said, I'd be completely happy seeing Santana take the hill on opening day still in a Twins uniform.

The Star Tribune asks you... will Santana stay or go?

I ask you, considering the more likely option that Santana WILL be traded, will it be the Red Sox or the Yankees? Let's hear your opinion.