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Interview with Star Tribune writer Jim Souhan - The inside dope on E Money - The Johan shakedown - The inside dope on Juan Castro - Twins Fest (Terry Ryan article) - Light at the end of the tunnel - First Venezuela, Can the Twins get some Japanese action? - Seeing Red : No free agents for Twins - Monday, Monday - Koskie is gone - Koskie...or Jones? - Current Postseason aquisitions
 
 
Yep, you did read right. Jim Souhan, a hot-shot sportswrtier who often covers the Twins for the Star Tribune agreed for an interview with this humble website. We (I actually) are thrilled to have someone of his stature and inside knowledge on the site. So, without further ado, I give you Jim Souhan.
 
Q: What is your outlook on the 2005 season?
I think the Twins will win the division, then the question will be
whether they can get past the big-market monsters in the playoffs. The
AL Central is stronger, but I think the Twins' pitching will prevail.
Q: What the best/funniest moment you have been a part of
while covering the Twins?

When Corey Koskie put ice in David Ortiz's pants one day in the spring
training clubhouse. Ortiz was so distracted by the pants, he didn't
realize that Koskie had also loaded up his underwear with peanut butter.
Ortiz did some colorful, bilingual cursing.
Q: Who (past and/or present) is your favorite clubhouse
personality?

Torii Hunter. He's funny, honest, passionate, quoteable and accessible.
Can't do better than that.
Q: What is the best piece of Twins trivia you know?
I'm not into trivia, but I'd say, who was the second baseman when the
Twins turned two triple plays at Fenway Park in 1990. (Al Newman.)
Q: How do you feel about the departures of Christian Guzman
and Corey Koskie?
Guzman was an OK player, but not worth near the money Washington paid,
so it was very logical to let him go. Koskie was a good player and would
have helped the team had he been back, but the Twins were no where near
the other teams in terms of financial offers, so it made sense for him
to leave. The Twins' entire philosophy is replacing expensive players
from within, so, while I'll miss Koskie as a player and a guy, you had
to figure this was coming.
Q: Who are, in your opinion, the BEST candidate to play SS
and 3B?
Cuddyer at third, and I wish I knew at short. Punto was the favorite
until he came to camp with a bad back. Now Castro is the leader, because
he's a very good fielder. Jason Bartlett has a chance, because the
organization is so high on him and he would be an everyday player. And
Augie Ojeda has a chance to compete for the job this spring.
Q: What surprises do you forsee in the AL Central this
season?
I think Cleveland will continue to improve, and Detroit will be more
formidable. I keep hearing the White Sox have improved, but I don't like
their team at all, and the Royals are terrible. To me, the surprise
would be Detroit moving up to second place or anybody displacing the
Twins.
Q: What do you think of Fort Myers?
I like the ballpark and the weather and dealing with the Twins, I hate
the overcrowding.
Q: What are the best and worst part of your job?
The best is getting to write for a living, the worst is being away from
my kids.
You can read Jim Souhan everyday in the Star Tribune Sports Page.
 
 
 
 
I wondered about this off-season pickup, Eric Munson (from now on he will be referred to as E Money). ESPN's Jason Stark ranked the signing the second best minor league signing off the off-season. He said this:
 
2. Eric Munson, Twins (37 HR in 634 AB the last two years -- more than Cliff Floyd, Mike Piazza or Larry Walker).
 
As many baseball readers know, ESPN.com writers don't always give cutting edge analysis, and often are just plain wrong. So I made a plea to the good people of Detroit, to find out what real Tiger fans think about the player/signing. Also, with Castro I was more interested in comments about his bat, but I made a point of asking about Munson's glove because he is a backup at some potentially thin positions (3B, 1B, C) and they weren't all too pleasing.
 
Positive:
 
"I think he'll make the team based on how far he can hit the ball."
 
"He has great power. As a matter of fact, he has the furthest homer in Comerica Park. I saw him in the minors and he launched the ball with great power."
 
"With Munson I always got the impression that after they converted him from catcher he was a little lost in the field, couldn't make his old reflexes match up with what he needed to be doing. If he could be taught to really know how to work the field, and he could get confident there, I think his hitting would get up to very respectable."
 
"Munson will have a Bob Hamelin-like resurgence and rip 25 HRs easy for the Twins in limited at bats."
 
"Munson has some pop and should be a good hitter. I believe that he would hit at least 25 HR's if given the opportunity. He also will take a walk every now and then."
 
"Give Munson 500 AB and he will have 30 HR's and 80-90 RBI's. Split his ab's between 3B & DH and he will be fine."
 
Negative:
 
"Munson was a major source of frustration.
He is a terrible third baseman. His oftentimes overthrows the ball. Once in a while he makes a spectacular play - however, he has trouble making basic plays. He should've never played third base. It was an experiment that failed."
 
"He has a hole in his swing."
 
"I'd rather give that roster to spot to some young talent or someone who has more than one skill: power."
 
"He's going to need a lot of coaching and training before he's a bonafide major leaguer. He was kept on the roster last season because we were paying him a pretty healthy contract for his experience. The Tigers gave him every chance to prove his abilities - he just never took advantage of that opportunity."
 
"May be able to play 3 positions but terrible at all three. DH is definitely his best position. Catcher will never happen esp with Mauer and LeCroy. 3B fielding % would be below .900 if given any chance there. 1B is a possibility but still would need a TON of work there to become adequate"
 
"Munson is an awful 3B. I think his potential as a player is a poor mans Dave Kingman. Low average, lots of K's, but will hit some homers."
 
"I was really surprised with Stark's ranking (but then again, I didn't understand some of his statements in this column). His power numbers are good, but his career average is .215 and his obp under 300."   

Reading the comments at face value, it would seem that we signed Refrigerator Perry to play center field. The fact is, the Twins have always lacked one guy who was just a homerun hitting meathead. He probably will not play much in the field, but he still is probably a better backup first baseman than Matt LeCroy.
 
The Twins had hoped that Justin Morneau and/or Joe Mauer would grow up to become somewhat of a homerun hitter (minus the meathead) but whether that happens or not, if he can hit 20 HR this season while not starting, he will live up to the 2nd best minor league contract of the 2004-05 offseason.
 

 
 
4 years, $40 million. Wouldn't that be nice. To non baseball thinkers (most of the population) it seems utterly preposterous. We've lately lost count how many times more so-and-so is making more than the president. To the baseball nerds who make a table on their word processor to compare his numbers with other top ranking pitchers (most likely only me) it makes perfect sense.
 
Already 2 pitchers have been signed for more money/year in this offseason, and others for close too, and not one in the whole lot deserves his money.
 
So sit back, relax, and let the numbers slowly take you away.
 

Name

$ / Year

W

L

ERA

K/9

BA Against

K

Johan Santana

10,000,000

20

6

2.61

10.46

.192

265

Pedro Martinez

13,250,000

16

9

3.90

9.41

.238

227

Roger Clemens

18,000,000

18

4

2.98

9.15

.217

218

Carl Pavano

9,987,500

18

8

3.00

5.63

.253

139

Kris Benson

7,500,000

12

12

4.31

6.02

.263

134

 
Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens both signed for more than Johan this offseason. Roger Clemens, despite being the NL Cy Young (Randy Johnson clearly deserved it, but the voters still insist on Wins) is rumored to have talked to Doubleday himself*, signed for a whopping 1 year, $18,000,000 contract. If Vegas were taking bets on who is going to have the better season, I would like to see the odds. Would I take Roger and 2:1. No. 4:1? No. 8:1? Doubt it. 16:1? Still doubt it. Maybe you can get my attention at 32:1.
 
As for Pedro.....10,000:1 anyone? His age is getting up there too, no doubt about it. However, Pedro's age approaching 100 wouldn't scare me near as much as his pitch count approaching 100. And is Pedro 32.5% better than Johan? Is he any percent better than Johan? Absolutely not.
 
Carl Pavano: Much of the same. Makes basically the same money, couldn't touch Johan with a ten foot pole. Hitters batted 61 points higher against him than Santana, thats a bigger difference the batting averages of Christian Guzman and Vlad Guerrero.
 
The one that really irks me, though, is Kris flippin Benson. This is a guy who is a 3rd or 4th starter, at best. He signed for a pretty cool 3 year, $22,500,000 contract and I guess the Mets are hoping he can repeat last years "stellar" performance, 12-12. (Note: I hate to bring wins and losses into an analysis but in his case, you can tell by his ERA that run support wasn't the problem).
 
This is a guy the Twins almost traded right before the deadline, and we could've lost a lot of talent trading for a bad pitcher (did anyone else just think of Rick Reed?)
 
From a statistical standpoint, well you don't need me to tell how much better Johan's statistics are. Lets put it this way: the difference in Opponents Batting Average was 71 points, the difference between Ichiro and Shannon Stewart (remember that Ichiro broke some obscure type of record...pertaining to hits in a season or something?) On top of that, it wasn't as if this was a down year for Benson, in fact he has a career losing record (47-53) and a career ERA of 4.28.
 
So shame on you, general public, for saying Johan doesn't deserve his modest $40 million, you couldn't be further from the truth. C'mon, he throws a baseball every 5 days!
 
 
* - Its a joke, get it? Ha ha, funny........wow, tough crowd.
 

 
 
When the Twins signed Juan Castro to a 2 year, $2 million contract, not everyone was happy. Okay, almost no one was happy. We know that Juan is a good fielder, and a poor hitter. We know he played for the Reds and has been a career utility player.  Finally, we know that all signs point to him starting on opening day.
 
No one that I have talk to/have read really knows about Castro like we would know about a Twin. Obviously this is understandable because he has never played on the Twins or even in the American League.
 
The way I see it, the best way to get the inside dope on Juan Castro is to ask the people who have watched Juan Castro. So I sent e-mails, posted on message boards, and read blogs and  the results weren't all too pleasing. I was suprised, however, at their vast knowledge about the Twins. Very good to see. Here are some of the comments:
 
Negative:
"Sorry, man, he sucks. He can't hit, can't run, can't draw walks, and has little
range. The one thing he can do, however, is catch ground balls. He does that
very, very well."
 
"Rivas, Punto, and Cuddyer are all better starting options than Castro. Castro is the IF equivilent of Henry Blanco. He's a great addition to a roster, but you don't want to give him 4 at bats a game."
 
"Starting Juan Castro at shortstop is a mistake. Although, compared to starting Luis Rivas at second, it may not be so bad."
 
"Juan Castro: a slick-fielding SS who also handles 2B and 3B with aplomb, Castro is the very definition of a backup infielder. He surprised this year with 9 HR in 320 AB, playing a lot due to injuries and instability on the team. Still, his OBP was .290, unacceptable for an everyday player no matter how good his glove is.
Castro is 31, and won't be getting any better. In fact, his value will soon plummet as his defense degrades. He is signed for one more year. Rumors have
him possibly playing every day at 2B or SS in 2004, but that would be disastrous."
 
"Among the worst hitters all-time for someone with such a large number of at-bats.Career utility man for a reason."

"Thanks Terry Ryan for removing the possibility of him eating up Reds payroll."
 
"These guys have always been rough on Juan Castro! You'd be better off starting Jason Bartlett and using Castro as a backup at all 3 IF spots, but in reality he's not that different from your former SS, Guzman. If he gets 400+ AB's, he'll hit 4-5 HR, about .245-.250 with a .280-.295 OBP. No speed, no patience, little pop, but hands of gold. A better fit for a contender as a sub."
 
There Seems to be a pattern here.....
 
Positive:
"If you're looking for someone to come in late and play defense he's good."
 
"Soft hands, accurate arm, below-average range.Possibly the surest hands of any infielder in the game. Very smooth at 2B, 3B & SS. If you're looking for a comparison, maybe Vizquel in his prime with a bit less range and a significantly weaker stick."
 
"Castro is fine in the right role. If he's your 25th man and a defensive replacement at 3 infield positions, he can help a team and provide a timely hit once in awhile. Our frustration often came from the manager's penchant (both Bob Boone & Dave Miley) for falling in love with a two-week tepid streak from Castro and plugging him into the 2-hole on a semi-daily basis. It wasn't his fault he was used too often and in the wrong spot in the batting order."
 
"If you ever get to a game early, be sure to watch Castro take ground balls during warm-ups. I've never seen anything like it. The guy's instincts are unbelievable. He's like an early (smaller) Bret Boone in fast forward. Great defensive guy...no doubt about it. I think he even racked up a couple of saves last season that would have been Graves blow-ups if someone else was in the field"
 
"Castro can and will be very valuable to a contender. Even the 75-76 Reds had their Doug Flynn."  

 
Well, I have to admit, this article is skewed. I included about the same amount of positives as negatives, when in actuality there was overwhelmingly more negatives, and even the people who gave him compliments were mostly against him.
 
One comment read, "Castro is our favorite whipping boy around here" which leads me to believe he is something of a Kyle Lohse type, except worse because the Twins are a better organization. Some of those comments were pretty harsh, and because they come from Cincinnati diehards, they give me an uneasy feeling.
 
Whats my prediction at shortstop, you ask? Well, if you are asking, I'll tell you that I think the job will be at least 50% on the shoulders of Jason Bartlett by the middle of July. There has been a lot of made of his fielding and how he displeased the coaching staff when he was brought up to the show. When I talked to Terry Ryan (three cheers for shameless self-promotion) I got a genuine vibe that it isn't nearly as big of problem as most people make it out to be.
 
I think, as well as hope, that he will become a valuable version of Denny Hocking (hopefully he can get above the .052 BA mark) and "provide a timely hit once in awhile." After all, even the 75-76 Reds had their Doug Flynn.
 
1/30/05 Twins Fest
 
Today was the grand event of the year, Twins Fest 2005. It couldn't of went much better for numero uno. It started off by getting a pair of free tickets from a friend, which is always a good start.
 
Once I got there, my friend Garrett McConnell (a Twins Junkie but to a lesser degree) and I began passing out flyers spreading the good word about this website. I am hoping to get a mad rush of hits in the coming week because I spread around about 100 of them.
 
Walking down one of the aisles I noticed Dick Breamer walking all alone and I introduced myself to him and gave him a flyer (I hope you get to read this Dick). Then I happened to give a flyer to a charasmatic man known only to me as "Sammy" who was apparently at the Hot Stove League Banquet. We chatted for a bit, and he mentioned that I should meet his friend, and motioned to him. Somewhat uninterested, I turned and shook the man's hand, and he said, "Hi, I'm Terry Ryan."
 
My jaw now hurts from hitting the floor, and Sammy, seeing my bewilderment, suggested that we should conduct an interview sometime, to which I strongly seconded. Terry said, "Well why not now?" 
 
I fumbled for a pen and grabbed one of my flyers and began blubbering and stuttering away, trying to think of a flipping question, but my mind was just napping at the time. Finally I asked the most generic question in the book: "So what is your outlook on signing another free agent this winter?" I wanted to slap myself in the face.
 
He politely answered, as he has countless time before this, that it is not very good. He said they had been looking for a good left handed bat and signed Eric Munson and Armando Rios. He added that Munson was an especially good pickup because he can play 1st, 3rd, and he can catch.
 
Now my brain had started to warm up, and I asked him about the criticizms over the bat of Juan Castro. He made it clear that they did sign him to field. As far as batting, he noted that it is difficult to produce offensively when you come off the bench most of the time (see Doug Mientkiewicz) and that he still has some "pop in his bat" and "is certainly not an out." Castro has been around long enough to be able to produce when called upon.
 
My next topic was something that only he could give me the dope on. "Did Corey Koskie really want to stay, and what led to him leaving?" Without flinching, he replied "No, he liked Minnesota. It was just a combination of money and years that we couldn't agree on." I guess everyone sort of figured that, but its good to hear it from the brains himself.
 
C'mon Trevor, think of another question! You're starting to sound like an idiot. C'mon....current events! Ummm....ooh I know! "How are you coming along in the Santana negotiations?" In his usual matter-of-fact, concise manner, he explained that they are getting close with Santana, Lohse, and Silva on contracts. When I asked to comment on the structure of the deal he narrowed it down to 1, 2, 3, 4, or 4 yearswith an option, and all he guarentee was that it wouldn't be 3 with an option.
 
"How is the rotation looking?" 1. Radke 2. Santana 3. Silva 4. Lohse 5. Mullholland/Mays/Other candidates. Speaking of Mays, how is our old pal doing, I wondered. "He'll be ready to go at Spring Training" and said he and Terry will both probably share time in the rotation and in the bullpen. Speaking of health, Joe Mauer and Shannon Stewart will be ready to go as well, and the overall health of the club is excellent with the exception of Jason Kubel.
 
The name Jason triggered, "How is Jason Bartlett's fielding coming along?" Well, Terry says he is similar to all other young players coming up, he picked Corey Koskie as an example, who struggle in the beginning and need to be acclimated. He has good range, a strong arm and good agility, so he will come around. When I inquired how much time he was going to get at the shortstop spot this summer, he said it would be up to him.
 
After this thrilling event, the last great moment was doing a sports cast with Clay Matvick, and I gave him a flyer so he plugged the site in our two minute segment which I got a free VHS of. Another great guy.
 
Well, now that we have all the formalities out of the way, lets get this season rollin'! I'm ready, Terry's ready, Gardy's ready, Dick's ready, Clay's ready, so I guess I'll see you there with my free tickets, only usable in April and September.  
 
 
 
I'm not sure about you're specific take on the positive/negative direction for this offseason, but if you are one of the many who think its been over all negative, it might be partially my fault.
 
I have this Twins hat. Its not just any hat, either. Its a top of the line $25+ hat with flex fit. Since I have acquired it, it has brought nothing but good luck. Well, a few weeks ago I left it at a relative's house during a family get together.
 
The next day, Christian Guzman went to the Nationals/Expos (I'm not saying its a bad thing, just interesting timing). Within the next week and a half we signed Juan Castro and Mike Redmond (it was about now that I was beginning to realize my hat was nowhere to be found).
 
A while later, I called over to their house to see if I had in fact left it there and if I could come and pick it up (enough is enough -- Juan Castro?) and they said that I did leave it over there and I could pick it up at Thanksgiving, only a few days away.
 
Thanksgiving rolls around, just as we start negotiating with Koskie, and I figure it will be back just in time. Well, it seems they had misplaced it, possibly the owrk of one of their toddlers. Ugh.
 
A few weeks later, Corey Koskie signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. No more get togethers until Christmas! Things started spirling out of control now. We signed Jacque Jones, Luis Rivas, and Matt LeCroy (the latter two being the negatives) and I feared for the worst.
 
Now it is safely in my possesion, placed on my head in its familiar spot. Boys, I think things are going to take a turn for the better.
 
Off Topic: Man, I recieved my copy of the Twins 2004 audio yearbook, and it is awesome.  I've already listened to the whole thing a few times, and could some more. It takes the most important and exciting radio clips from the season, along with thoughtful narration and some well timed and appropriate music. Check it out
here

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If you read my post yesterday (Here), I called Joe Randa "[the only] chance the Twins have at signing a free agent of any status whatsoever." Someone pointed out that there was another 3b free agent we were "eyeing." His name is Norihiro Nakamura (I don't look forward to typing that name all season).
 
Although I doubt the Twins have shown much interest in getting him, mostly because the competition over him is driving up the cost. Many teams, including the Angels have shown interest in him.
 
Unless Carl Pohlad decides that "hey, I've already adjusted the budjet, might as well go all the way" its more unlikely to happen with the signing of Jones, Rivas, and LeCroy.
 
I decided to look at the situation anyways. Nohihiro has played his entire Japanese career with the Kintetsu Buffaloes. In 2002 he led his league with 42 homeruns and 115 rbi (it is worthy to note that they play a 140 game schedule, so he played in 22 less games. In a 162 game schedule he would've had 49 homeruns and 133 rbi).
 
He plays average defense (.962 career fielding % at 3b) and doesn't steal bases. Never has had more BB than strikouts (last year only Shannon Stewart did). He is also 31 years old, but then again so is Koskie.
 
Obviously, most Twins fans (including myself) would welcome him with open arms. He could play third, and Cuddyer could become (yet another) utility infielder, putting in time with Luis Rivas at second base.
 
Norihiro: 第3 基盤は双生児のための演劇の来る! 
(Please come play third base for the Twins!) 
 

12/22/04 Seeing Red : No free agents for Twins

No, I am not furious or even angry as the subject line would imply. No, it was actually a weak attempt at a pun/clever headline.
 
Joe Randa signed a 1 year $2.15 million deal with the Reds yesterday. This symbolizes the end of any chance the Twins have at signing a free agent of any status whatsoever.
 
If you read the Twins blogs/forums on a regular basis, you've probably noticed the overall negative feeling. A lot of wowwescrewedthatups and CarlPohladcantakehisbudgetand[censored]s.
 
I don't disagree that the Koskie/Jones/Rivas situation could've been handled a little better, but I reserve my right to use the spilled milk theory on the issue. Sure, we lost Koskie, but we took a step in keeping 'the' ballclub together, 
('the' = 3 straight division championships, an ALCS, another very close call, etc.).
 
I mean, its not like we expected a big name (or any name for that matter) to be added the the roster. Instead, we've done a decent job at solving in-house issues.
 
When you think about it, after all this hooplah we've still got 7 of nine starters and for all intensive purposes all of our pitching. If thats how it stands at the start of spring training, I will be just fine.
 
Off the topic - You might've seen it on twinsgeek.com, but I just ordered my copy of the Twins' 2004 Audio CD. It looks really good, and is free courtesy of this guy. Check out http://www.looptidbaseball.net/b2/index.php to find out about it.
 
 
The Twins have until 11:00 Monday (tomorrow) to offer arbitration to their 7 arbitration eligible players, including Jacque Jones and Johan Santana. If they don't, they will become free agents, and some (Santana, Jones, Rivas) would be as good as gone then.
 
Plenty of predictions have been made, but the fact of the matter is that Tuesday's probable roster will be about as automatic as the Lions making a game tying extra point.
 
Johan is 99% coming back, and 75% for Luis Rivas. I just don't know what to think anymore about Jacque. When Koskie left, I figured it would be automatic that we would keep Jones because there had been talk of even keeping both of them. But when you break down the payroll, there isn't a whole lot of room for him.
 
Keep in mind that if he is offered arbitration he would be probably making the same amount as Johan. Jones has very quietly hinted that he might take the Twins' pay cut that they will most likely offer first, but I am reluctant to predict that a modern era baseball player will 'probably' take a pay cut.

12/14/04 Koskie is gone

Yea, you read it right. After weeks of playing chicken, Corey Koskie finally signed a fat deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. The deal, 3 years and $17 million, is only a physical away from being final.

Well, it finally happened. The last few weeks I've had a gut feeling that he would return to the Twins where he belongs, but it seems he has opted to go elsewhere, and elsewhere is the only remaining baseball franchise in his home country, Canada. The Twins seemed stubborn throughout the entire process, and Koskie played the game for a little bit but eventually fell in to conformite (take the money and run).

The positive I bring out of this is that the Twins have been saying all along that if they didn't sign Corey than it would make it dramatically easier to acquire Jacque Jones. This trade-off eases my mind on the issue. Whats Next

Now we must look ahead at what we will gain or lose at the third base position, and the probable starter, Michael Cuddyer. Along with him, I added Juan Castro and Mike Redmond to the JunkieMetrics page.

When I do a statistical analysis, I like to use some of the stats I thought of and I think are highly underrated, I call it Junkiemetrics. Lets first look at K/Outs percentage. The way I see it, if a high percentage of the outs you are making are coming from strikeouts, then those outs can't be productive, when you could at least advance runners of have the chance for the ball to be kicked around and reach base.

Koskie led the team (thats a negative) with a 32.6% rate. Ironically, Michael Cuddyer finished second with a 29.6% rate. (Newbie Mike Redmond had the lowest of all the Twins listed at 15.3%, Christian Guzman had the lowest of those who played for the Twins last year at 15.31% and Shannon Stewart is the lowest of the returning Twins at 16.7%)

Also, both had poor plate dicipline. Koskie's W/K ratio was -54, 3rd worst on the squad, and Cuddyer was at -37 (Cuddyer had less at bats, which may or may not matter). In fact, the only Twin with more walks than strikouts last year was Shannon Stewart.

My personal favorite power hitting stat (also a Junkiemetric) is the HR/H%. Corey trailed only the insane Justin Morneau in this category with an impressive percentage of 23.59% (Justin was 25%). Michael had a respectable 13.5%, which is in the midlle to upper class of the Twins. (For the record, our two new pickups, Redmond and Castro rounded out the bottom with a horrendous 3.17% and 2.13% respectively.)

What does it all mean? Niether have good plate discipline, and nothing is lost in the area. Also, neither are good contact hitters because they strike out way too much; again, nothing lost in the area. You lose a little long ball potential in a longball deprived infield (save Justin Morneau). Mostly, a Juan Castro homerun will come about as often as Haley's comet.

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Reading the Star Tribune today and I picked up on an interesting comment made by Lavelle E Neal III. He was talking about the ability of the Twins to keep Jacque Jones.
 
"If Koskie doesn't re-sign with the Twins, Jones might be able to stay. But if Koskie re-signs, the team might trade Jones to help the payroll remain around $54 million for 2005"
 
Now I know that the Twins have a lot of young talent in the outfield, but Jason Kubel won't play this season if we lose Jones, we could be scrambling to field a decent outfield each night versus a talent logjam that seemed so promising.  
 
Although his average dipped this year, he was still one of our most prominent offensive producers, and I think he is more important to the lineup than Koskie. Jones hit one less homerun, but still had a higher batting average, and more RBIs.
 
From what I have read, the Twins have nearly as many options at third base as they do in the outfield. Jason Bartlett, Nick Punto, Augie Ojeda, and Luis Rivas all make sense in one way or another. Bartlett will spend a lot of time this winter on defense, Nick Punto looked like a rising stop before his injury, Augie Ojeda would work fine if he can get his hitting going, and Luis Rivas would be very sensible because he could shift over to short and have Cuddyer play second.
 
Maybe it's just me, but I think we could all use a little re-evaluation of our priorities.
 
EDIT: It seems the Twins chose Jones over Koskie

 
Mike Redmond, an excellent fielding catcher from the White Sox, signed for 2 years for around $1.8 million
 
Veteran infielder Juan Castro was signed for 2 years with a one year option. He will replace Christian Guzman, though not for sure at shortstop. He played previously for the reds, and the deal was rumored to be worth about $2 million.
 
Christian Guzman of course, signed with the Washington Nationals and the shortstop will be up for grabs for Juan Castro, Jason Kubel, Augie Ojeda, Nick Punto or even Luis Rivas.
 
Other somewhat notable losses from the Twins Roster are Pat Borders, Joe Roa, and the Pinch Hitter Jose Offerman.

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02-03-04...Back to back to back baby!