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Just a few quick notes for you. Players are filing for free agency. We have seen some trades already. And this time of season is all about rumors. How many will be true? Probably very few. But that’s what makes the Hot Stove season so fun. Everyone has an opinion, and then once the deals start happening, everyone will have another opinion. So, here are a few:
· Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors has put out his predictions for their top 50 free agents. A few are Twins related:
o He lists Casey Blake as the #18 free agent as predicts he will go to the Twins. First, the Twins could use a veteran 3B. If signed Blake would play against lefties and righties. That would make Matt Macri worth taking off the 40 man roster. Blake could also occasionally play some 1B. I like Casey Blake. It would be a neat story for the Twins to bring him back after he was never really given a chance to play 1B or 3B earlier in the decade because of Corey Koskie and Doug Mientkiewicz. But Casey Blake is what he is. He’s a solid, but not young 3B. Defense is certainly not his best quality. As I have mentioned with the likes of Adrian Beltre, I would like a guy with a one year contract. I just do not believe that Blake would be willing to sign a one year contract. I have heard rumors that he could get as much as 3 years and $24-27 million. That is FAR too much. How high would I go on the Iowa native? I would offer a one year, $8 million deal, with an option for a second year at $7.5 million with a $1 million buyout. If Luke Hughes or Danny Valencia are deemed ready for a starting job in 2010, they do the buyout. If they’re not, you pick up the option. Would Blake sign for less to come back to the Twins?
o At #21, he lists Orlando Cabrera going to the Twins. I really was a big fan of Cabrera’s back in his Expos days. I always thought he was greatly underrated. But he is no longer young and the speed he once possessed is just not there anymore. He doesn’t have great range, and his offense would, at best, be league average. Now, that would be an improvement from what the Twins have received from the SS position over the past few years, but does Cabrera expect a three year deal that will take him to age 37? Does he expect more than $8 million a year? If so, I think I’d rather take league average for much, much less money.
o Finally, the #42 free agent according to the list was Nick Punto. He predicts Punto heading to the Tampa Bay Rays. I’m not so sure I agree. They have an infield of Evan Longoria, Jason Bartlett and Akinori Iwamura. They have Ben Zobrist already playing a Super-Utility role. As Dierkes says, if Punto wants playing time, much less ‘craves a starting job’, I don’t see Tampa as an option at all. I am very curious what the free agent market will do for Punto. Can he really get a two or three year deal? Will he be able to make the $2.4 million that he did in 2008? If not, he might as well stay with the Twins. That said, it will be interesting to see just how much the Twins want Punto back.
· Hall of Famer Tracy Ringolsby wrote his opinion of the needs for each of the big league teams. For the Twins, he says”
TWINS have young nucleus in place but need to add bullpen depth. RHP Pat Neshek (strained elbow) is expected to be ready for spring training. LHP Jose Mijares could be late-inning factor, but a veteran middle reliever would be welcomed.”
Could the Twins use a solid middle reliever? Sure, I guess it wouldn’t hurt, but I certainly wouldn’t make it a priority, certainly not the top priority.
· This was discussed some in the Comments section over the weekend, but Baseball Prospectus’s Joe Sheehan posted Five Radical Moves to be made this offseason. It included this one:
Minnesota trades Francisco Liriano to Texas for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Hank Blalock and Omar Poveda.
I can see the thinking, but in my mind, it isn’t a trade to make. That said, it would be hard to not at least consider. I still see Liriano coming back to be an All Star caliber starter, but there is still a lot of risk in him. A year ago, the Rangers acquired Saltalamacchia, Andrus and more for Mark Teixeira. “Salty” could be a solid backup catcher and a DH option, but I wouldn’t rank him ahead of Kubel at this point. A year ago, I may have. Andrus would be nice to have, but he is one of those guys who has always been very young for his level of competition. He has performed adequately, but not spectacularly. Blalock is pretty worthless at this stage, in my opinion. A year ago, we talked about how he couldn’t hit outside of Texas and against left-handed pitching. This year, add in the fact that he hasn’t been healthy for two years and the fact that he probably can’t play 3B anymore and you’ve got yet another 1B/DH option which does no good. I’m not completely against trading Liriano. I understand trading him if you get a great offer… and I mean really great… but this certainly is not the right offer as Andrus is the only player that could help the Twins and he wouldn’t for at least two years.
· What other rumors are you hearing?
Here are some additional notes:
Arizona Fall League Wednesday Update
· Jeff Manship was named the Arizona Fall League’s Pitcher of the Week last week.
· This afternoon Phoenix beat Mesa 5-2.
· Danny Valencia went 0-4 with three strikeouts and also grounded into a double play. Not a good day.
· Dustin Martin went 2-4 and is now batting .307.