Friday, March 04, 2005

The frightwig party platform: Twins

To help ease into the pool, here's a shorthand summary of the frightwig view on the State of the Twins:

  • Hail Johan Santana! Glad to see the Twins secure him for the next four years with a deal that is fair to both the player and club. Roy Halladay in a similar situation got $42m over 4 years from the Blue Jays after he won the Cy Young in 2003, so to sign Johan for $40/4 in this winter's crazy spending market is worth a big gold star. I'll live with the injury risk that the club takes on. I could have understood if TR had decided to wait and see what happened this year before locking in to a multi-year deal next winter; but the closer Johan got to free agency, I think the chances of the Twins keeping him past 2006 would have dimmed. Plus you'd have the gossip and speculation swirling around the clubhouse about whether the Twins should trade Johan, and blahblahblah. It's just good to have it all settled. Kudos to Terry Ryan's staff and to Johan for coming together to work this out.

  • Nice deal on Radke, too. I tend to give The Annointed Ace for Life a hard time. The Bad/Rad schizo stuff gets to me. I think his pitch patterns sometimes can be too predictable. (Like, if you don't know what Radke is going to throw to a lefty with 2 strikes, you need to pay closer attention.) It bothers me that he can intimidate Gardy into leaving him in a game longer than he should, just because everyone wants Brad to get that 'W.' I think all the "ace" talk is bandied around rather loosely for someone who has a 4.23 career ERA. But, he is a solid #2 pitcher to pair with Johan, and guys with lesser track records than Radke were scoring some crazy longterm deals on the free agent market this year. For keeping Radke secured to a tidy 2-year deal for $18m, both the Twins front office and Radke deserve my applause.

  • I hope to see Jason Bartlett become the regular SS, ASAP. But as long as Gardy doesn't act like he's married to Castro or Punto at the position, I won't mind if one of those two is given the interim position to start the season.

  • Cuddyer should be the 2nd baseman. I could live with the risks involved with entrusting Tiffee and Munson to play 3B. It's been said many times that Rivas will get "every opportunity" to prove he can be a major league regular, but I'd say he ate up his fair share of opportunities at least two years ago. He never did much in the minors, he's never distinguished himself or progressed in 4+ years as a regular in the majors. His bosses have taken to openly questioning his work habits, his concentration level, and his feel for his position at 2B. The club has other options worth trying. Why is Rivas back for a 5th season, penciled into the starting lineup of a team that hopes to contend for the pennant?

  • Terry Ryan, you're a good man. You run a fine organization. It's been a pleasure, except for the annual month of sucking in the summertime, to watch this team of mostly homegrown talent grow together as a division champion and one of the better clubs in the league. The awards you and your staff get, you deserve them. But I hoped that the primary goal of this offseason would have been to address team weaknesses, crafting a plan to make the team stronger so that next Fall we might beat the Yankees and go on to greater glory. Instead, it looks like the primary goal was to control roster attrition. You did the right thing to let Guzy go: he was a weakness in the lineup, making too much money. The other two weak points were Rivas and Jones--and you could have saved $6.7m by letting them go, too. Why were you lowballing Koskie, one of your most productive players, offering him insulting paycuts while you had no trouble finding $5m for an ordinary RF who can't hit lefties, plays a position of organizational surplus, and just had a poor year? There are a few other nickel & dime expenditures that add up to significant waste, too. Even if you were worried about Koskie's health over the next couple years, you couldn't have used $8-10 million of freed payroll to upgrade the rotation or something? It just seems that we're setting our stake on the M&M boys, and the team will go as far as those two might carry it this year. I'm looking forward to seeing those two play the full season, as much as anyone, but I think the supporting cast could've--and should've--been even better. That's on you, sir.

  • I do expect that the Twins should win the Central again, fairly easily, unless disaster strikes and about four key players are lost for most of the season. Santana and Radke could regress, but they should be a solid #1-2. I'm looking for Silva to post a higher ERA, but Lohse to bounce back with a better year. The bullpen looks incredibly deep with talent. I think Cuddyer will have a solid year. The outfield is deep with options. Like everybody, I'm psyched to see Mauer and Morneau in the heart of the lineup all season. I expect Cleveland to be pretty good, and I believe Detroit will surprise people; but even so, I don't see them improving enough to win 90+ games and outrace a Twins team that doesn't trip up itself. Chicago? Worst offseason for any hopeful contender in the majors. Kenny Williams tried to copy the Twins' style without any understanding of the substance. Enjoy the slide down to 4th place, bitches.



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