Nine Innings with Seth – Part 1

2 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook is complete. The TwinsCentric/Maple Street Press Twins 2010 Annual is complete. The FoxSports/Scout.com magazine is complete. Twins Fest is complete. A break may be necessary, but instead, I thought it would be good to go another nine innings with Seth (Please stop back around noon for Park 2):

First Inning – What’s Going on with Joe?

OK, so my January 29th prediction proved untrue. I’m OK with that. But on Monday afternoon, WCCO’s Mark Rosen got Twins fans attention by saying that he has a source that says that Twins and Mauer have reached a preliminary agreement on a ten year contract. Since then, Twins fans got incredibly excited, national writers like Buster Olney and Jon Heyman tried to discredit the rumor, Twins fans got frustrated, an d the story kind of went away.

So what do we make of all this? I don’t know.

Oh, you were hoping for something a little more than that? Alright, I’ll venture a guess. And please, remember this, it is just my guess.

  • Mark Rosen has a lot of local sources. He has been apologist and supporter for years. My guess is that he has a source close to Joe Mauer that has been able to give him something. Let’s not forget that the ten year story is not news. Rosen himself mentioned that on a newscast about a month ago. The story is the “agreed in principal” portion. Mark Rosen is pretty credible locally, so I tend to believe he would not comment on this if he didn’t have something pretty solid.
  • Buster Olney is a Yankees guy for ESPN. He’s trying to make a bigger story. SI.com’s Jon Heyman has proven quite a bit of credibility in the last couple of years, but he has been anything but a Twins person going all the way back to some ridiculous articles a couple of years again, including about Johan Santana. These guys have some contacts, no question.
  • The Twins front office won’t say anything until something if finalized.
  • Robert Shapiro, Mauer’s agent, is not going to leak anything.
  • Joe Mauer isn’t exactly going to talk.
  • But again, I believe that Mark Rosen has something credible. He isn’t going to put himself and his reputation on the line. Remember, he was the first to note that the Vikings had signed Brett Favre long before it actually happened. He never said Mauer had signed. He didn’t say that the deal was finalized. Think about the small print and the minute details necessary in a contract that includes incentives, potential opt-outs, no-trade clauses, deferred money and more. That would take a week or four of lawyer time.
  • I believe that the deal will be announced before spring training.
  • In the end, I don’t care if it’s eight years or ten years. If ten years, I am going to stand behind my $185 million projection. If it’s eight years, I would project $160 million.
  • The Twins need to resign Mauer. They need to for reasons beyond the baseball field. However, Twins fans need to understand that this contract (whatever is may become) is incredibly risky. A ten year contract extension would make him 37 years old when it expires. Can Mauer remain this good throughout the next ten years? $18-20 million worth of good for ten more years?

 Second Inning – Will O-Dawg Crush the Nats?

Over the weekend at MLB Trade Rumors, it was reported that Orlando Hudson was still asking for $9 million a year, but the Washington Nationals were only offering him $3 million. Yesterday, it came out that the Rockies were now out of the running for both Hudson and Felipe Lopez. The Twins were mentioned as a team that would have some interest. Well, if the cost for one year of Orlando Hudson comes anywhere near $3 million, they should be. The Twins were apparently willing to offer Jarrod Washburn $5 million. Imagine signing Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson (two players actually able to contribute positively) for about the same price.

In general, the market is so slow, the contracts are so low. It is a good time to have a little extra money available. Twins fans should be happy they haven’t signed anyone yet because over the next two weeks, they should be active and maybe even sign a player at a huge discount. Hudson makes too much sense, and if that means going a million over budget, that works of me.

Third Inning – Twins Lose Tolleson to Take on Thome

I was thinking that maybe a trade was in the works. When the Twins announced that they had agreed to terms with Jim Thome last week, immediately I started wondering who would be removed from the 40 man roster. Would Glen Perkins be dealt? How about Alexi Casilla? Well, once no one was traded, there was really no choice in who the Twins would remove from the 40 man roster. The question became, would Steve Tolleson be claimed by another team? Well, on Monday, the utility player was claimed by the Oakland A’s. Here is what I wrote about Tolleson in the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook:

Steven Tolleson – IF – (11/1/83)

Acquired: 5th round pick in 2005 from U. of South Carolina

2009 Team(s): New Britain Rockcats, Rochester Red Wings

2009 Stats: .266/.340/.380, 27-2B, 3-3B, 8 HR, 40 RBI

Following the 2008 season, the Twins added Steve Tolleson to their 40-man roster. Despite lingering injuries in the second half of the season, including a bad finger, Tolleson had hit .300/.382/.466 with 28 doubles and nine home runs for New Britain, in just 93 games. He went to Twins spring training in 2009, but he was slowed by injury and didn’t see much time. Because of that, he began 2009 back in New Britain where he got off to a horrible start. In April, he hit just .172/.238/.207 with just two doubles. But by May, he heated up and hit .310/.408/.506 with 11 extra base hits. He was promoted to Rochester and in June he hit .310, but his monthly batting averages after that month were .271/.250/.133, and his OPS fell from .806, to .753, to .647, to .345.

Tolleson stands close to the plate and has a very short, quick swing. That does make it difficult to know how to pitch him. He has a very good eye at the plate. He is a good contact hitter who generally hits the ball on the ground or line drives. Defensively, he is solid, but certainly unspectacular. He has limited range and arm, but he makes almost all of the routine plays. He played shortstop at South Carolina, and played mainly the middle infield spots earlier in his career. He spent some time at third base in 2006. He got a little bit of time in centerfield in 2008. In 2009, he played primarily shortstop at New Britain, but when promoted to Rochester, he played everywhere. He played all three outfield positions. He played three infield positions as well. He mostly played second base and left field, but it appears now that we can officially put Tolleson into the utility player listing. Also worth noting is that his father, Wayne Tolleson, played a utility infielder role for the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees during the 1980s.

Fourth Inning – Why Won’t Washburn’s Name Just Go Away?

Because there is a pretty good chance that he ends up with the Twins, I fear. A couple of front office guys really like him. There is no question that Washburn wants to be with the Twins. The Mets are allegedly out of the running, and the Mariners likely don’t want him back. The Twins are likely competing against nobody. I can totally see him signing a low-base, high-incentive contract. The reality is that you can never have enough pitching. The Twins have nine options for five rotation spots already, and in reality, they have five options for just one rotation spot, so I just question the need for Washburn. But I know a couple of people (that matter) really think he can bring something to the team.

Like I said, I will be back around noon with the final 5 innings, including links to other Twins blogs and the unveiling of the lineup for tonight’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. I think you’ll like the guest list.

If you have any thoughts on the topics we’ve covered in the first four innings, let me know. Leave you comments here.

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14 Responses to “Nine Innings with Seth – Part 1”

  1. mike wants wins February 2, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    Why would Mauer sign for $15MM per year? That makes no sense to me at all. Is there any way he gets less than $20-25MM per year with other teams? I’ll be shocked if he goes for as little money as you are saying. Thrilled, but shocked.

    As for Washburn, I don’t get it. He had one good half year, in a pitcher’s park. The Twins OF D is suspect (at best) and he’s a fly ball pitcher. Would he be that much better than random guy x, or would that money be better spent on a 2B that can get on base and bat second (every game, or nearly every game). The allocation of resources on this roster is just way off. Too much money in the 5th-7th bullpen guy, and not enough on 3B/2B. Very odd allocation of resources.

  2. Jack Steal February 2, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    Seth,

    Nice job!!

  3. Seth February 2, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    Who said anything about $15 million per year? Now, like I said, I’ll stand by $18.5 million per year, but like I said, that could jump to up to $22 million.

  4. mike wants wins February 2, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    8 years, $120MM=$15MM per year, doesn’t it?

    $18.5MM still seems low.

  5. Seth February 2, 2010 at 10:20 am #

    good catch… that should have been 8 years, $160 million. I changed it. thank you!

  6. dave February 2, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    Actually, you CAN have too much pitching, if it results in paying too much for a highly questionable pitcher, and if it means that, as so often is the case with the Twins,it holds back promising talent within the organization, AND if it means that a valuable position player is not picked up. Once the Twins front office gets something in its collective head, changing it is like turning an ocean liner around. Washburn is not needed, Hudson or Lopez is. BTW: like everyone else I want Joe in the fold long-term, but I’ll believe Joe is signed when he is signed.

  7. nohandle February 2, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Can a team as financially lightweight as the Twins really afford to give a guy as injury-prone as Joe Mauer $22+ million per year — especially considering he refuses to switch to a position that would put less strain on his large frame? And what happens to pitching now that the organization’s entire financial future is tied up in one guy? It’s over for the Twins. Too bad. I really liked this team.

  8. Mark February 2, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Why don’t they just keep Perkins and forget about Washburn?
    Perkins is cheaper and definitily has a bigger upside

  9. mike wants wins February 2, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    That’s much more realistic. And, I don’t think he’ll be worth $10MM when he’s in his late 30s…but you never know.

  10. mike wants wins February 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    Er, $20MM is what I meant to type.

  11. JA February 2, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    Hi Seth, Wasn’t it reported not long ago that the Washburn offer was made prior to the arbitration offer to Pavano? Either way, he might end up being too tempting for the FO. Hudson signing, ohh! That would be nice.
    As for Mauer, I could care less if its 18 or 22 million, get it done. This is a player who has only scratched the surface of his ability, the best is yey to come.
    Too bad about Tolleson, I, like you, really enjoy following the system and tend to really want certain players to make it, Tolleson might not be the next all-star, but given the right opportunity he may find a role and hang around for awhile. Good luck to him, except when he faces the Twins. Makes me wonder about Butera.

  12. joelthing February 2, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    Playing with players.

    Casilla is out of options. That means he stays as a backup infielder. The Twins still think he could play second abse and make Punto the utilityguy bigtime. Or maybe Casilla can still be the second baseman of the future.

    Time to cut loose, Twins.

    Do the Twins need a veteran lefty? Then they move Liriano to the bullpen until someone falters or gets injured. Seems the likely scenario (shades of Santana/Rogers spell). Duensing and Perkins and Swarzak and Manship can all start at Rochester. Who else starts at Rochester this year?

    But Washburn just ties up unnecessary funds that could be better spent elsewhere.

    Crede. Someone made the point that the major thing Crede brought to the roster in 2009 was that the Twins played with a 24-man roster for far too many games because you couldn’t disable the guy because of contract incentives. He would be a plus (and cheap signing) but basically means Tolbert or Casilla need to go.

    Someone, anyone at second base. No, not Casilla. Not Punto. Removing Punto from the starting mix actually makes Punto much more valuable to the Twins. He can fill-in anywhere, still get 250-300 at bats, can be used in a situational. But put Punto in a starting positon, you weaken the bench and weaken the line-up. Yes, SOMEONE has to contribute to 24-27 outs per game. You do need a #9 hitter. But I would ratehr see the Twins argue about having Delmon Young, Crede or Hardy batting ninth!

  13. Gopher Nation February 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    I can’t believe I am saying this but if the Twins sign Hudson to play 2b, I would be ok with going into the season with Punto as our 3B. Harris could fill in as well. The lineup would be strong enough that Punto batting ninth would be fine. I have also maintained Punto should not have received the contract he did nor be considered anything other than a utility inf. He would provide good defense at 3b, which can’t be overlooked.

    Although, I still don’t understand the Harris contract. We hardly played him last year and give him a two year contract that looks a little heavy in light of what Hudson may sign for.

  14. TT February 2, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Last fall when the season ended, the Twins had anything but “too much” pitching. I don’t see what has really changed since then.

    Slowey says his wrist hurts – “as you would expect” – and yet people here seem to assume he will be immediately effective. Liriano puts up good winter numbers and people are ready to assume he is back to his 2006 form. Duensing put up a handful of quality of starts at the end of last year against September callups and now he can be relied on to help the Twins win the pennant over a full season. Perkins has struggled off and on and the last time we saw him it was off, but now he is healthy.

    The rest of the Twins pitching depth is almost entirely speculative. This time of year it seems the every Twins prospect is ready to pitch in a pennant race. Its only when summer and fall come that they lose that ability.

    I also think its important to remember the Twins are very unlikely to get through the year with even just six starters, much less five. They have three and there are no guarantees even those three won’t fail or get hurt. Can you have too much pitching? Maybe, but the Twins are nowhere near close. With the rest of the team they have, it would be foolish to risk a shot at the world series on optimistic projections of young pitching.

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