February 2009

“Boof”…He’s Gone

boof.jpgDue to partial tears in his labrum and rotator cuff, Twins reliever Boof Bonser will likely miss the entire 2009 season.  While I feel bad for the Boofster, as I know he is such a gamer, I don’t know whether this is a good or bad thing for the Twins’ pitching staff.  Boof is one of those guys who has major-league (stuff)–a live fastball and big breaking curve–but hasn’t been able to adjust after his successful rookie season of 2006.

Last year was so up-and-down for Bonser…one appearance he would look like the second coming of Juan Rincon, while the next he would more closely resemble Terry Mulholland.  Hopefully he can rehab the arm and come back strong.

Saved From The Dark Side

Crede.jpgWell, the Minnesota Twins finally have the right-handed bat they have been so desperately looking for since Ron Coomer went from playing in the All-Star game to laughing like a goon during Twins TV broadcasts (!).  Now, as long as his back can hold out, the Twins have to be the favorite to win the division.

Joe Crede came over to the Twins (The Great White Light) from the Chicago White Sox (The Dark Side) for one year and $2.5 million guaranteed.  He could make up to $7 million in incentives revolving primarily around the number of at-bats he accumulates over the course of the season (which is exactly the kind of contract a guy with his injury status SHOULD sign).

A healthy Crede can be expected to hit in the .270-.280 range with 20-30 home runs.  He is also excellent at the hot corner (something neither Brian Buscher nor Brendan Harris have on their resumes) with the glove.

Perhaps the biggest implication of this move, though, is that it gives manager Ron Gardenhire much better depth on the bench.  In late-inning situational ball, Gardy can send up either Harris or Buscher (both decent batsmen) as well as the odd man out of the Gomez-Span-Cuddyer-Young conundrum.  In recent seasons, the Twins have lost big series (think the ’03 and ’04 ALDS rounds against the Yankees) because of their lack of depth, but this move for Crede changes all that.

One That May Have Gotten Away

Korecky.jpgI was very surprised to learn yesterday that the Twins lost right-handed reliever Bobby Korecky to the Arizona Diamondbacks via wavers.  Besides his exciting extra-inning base hit in that crazy game last season, I was very impressed with his poise on the mound.  Give him another year, and he could become a major-league reliever, with closer status not far behind (he was the primary closer for the Twins’ Triple-A team the past two seasons).

I think what’s even more bitter is that we lost him to fill a spot for Luis Ayala.  Personally, I think Ayala will be one of those guys who will stick around for a few months (probably a month too long, if the Livan Hernandez experiment showed us anything last season) and then be gone due to just plain old bad pitching.  Thus, I think letting Korecky go for Ayala is a mistake that, although it may not be season-breaking, is one that may haunt the Twins a bit when/if Korecky makes it big somewhere else.

Notes:

-In other Twins news, Gardy mentioned the other day that he would love to have Dennys Reyes (who is still a free agent) back in his pen.  While I can see the rationale (Reyes did have his moments against lefty batters), there were just too many times last season where the Big Sweat would come in and walk the only batter he was asked to face, or throw one in the dirt and allow a baserunner to advance.  Craig Breslow can do just as good of a job against lefties and throw less wildly in the process.

-Tomorrow night, I will give my thoughts on the signing of Joe Crede to a one year contract.

Why Hello There, Mr. Anderson…

Anderson.jpg

For those of us who want to see Barry Bonds punished to the full extent of the law for perjuring himself to the U.S. government, a major blow was dealt today.  The judge in the case barred Bonds’ positive steroid tests from 2003, citing that there isn’t definitive proof that those tests belonged to Barry.  Plus, along the same vein, the doping calendars seized from Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson cannot be used in the trial, as (even though a B.B. is present throughout the journals) the court cannot prove with 100% certainty that B.B. is Barry Bonds.

So, in all likelihood, the entire case will rest on the testimony of Mr. Anderson.  However, he has proven to be one tough cookie, serving a long prison sentence already because he didn’t give up Bonds’ name from the get-go.  It makes me sick that Bonds could get by on these technicalities.  Just look at the guy…an A-1 example of a punk who still thinks he will get away with something illegal.

Where’s Neo when you need him?!

Double Homecomings

 
T1_0805_oldglavine.jpg

Tom Glavine back to the Atlanta Braves: After pitching the first 16 years of his career with the Braves, then five years spent with the rival Mets, Tom Glavine was back in a Braves uniform last season.  However, his great homecoming story was cut short by an elbow injury that required surgery, after which many thought he would hang ‘em up.  However, it was announced today that he is coming back to the Braves for one (presumably final) season.  Hey, as long as he can still paint that outside corner, he can still win 10 games.

KenGriffeyJr.jpg

Ken Griffey Jr. back to the Seattle Mariners: After spending his first 11 star-studded seasons in a Mariner uniform, KGJ left for his hometown of Cincinnati for eight years, where injuries plagued his performance to the point where he became a shell of his former greatness.  During the mid-1990s, when I was just getting into the Minnesota Twins and baseball in general, my favorite single player was Griffey (sorry Ron Coomer, you just didn’t cut it for me…!).  I loved the mammoth dingers he would crush and the confident (bordering on cocky, but he could back it up) way he carried himself.  Thus, although he’ll likely never hit as many as 35 homers in a single season again, it will be fun to see that bat-waggling, uppercut swing back in Seattle (although it will be a little wierd not observing it in the Kingdome!).

Union Man

bud-selig-getty2.jpg

A day or two ago, MLB Commissioner Buddy-Boy Selig had a few harsh words for those criticizing his stand against steroids in the game.  Selig said that it “annoys the you-know-what out of me” to be criticized for the Steroid Era, and that he tried to institute a tough testing policy in 1995 but was fought by the MLB Players Union (led by Donald Fehr) every step of the way.

Now, while I can understand Selig’s frustration with Fehr’s Union, which has gotten completely out of hand with too much power the last decade or so, the commish seems to have forgotten one certain thing: the title in front of his name.  As commissioner, what Selig says is what WILL happen in baseball.  If he was frustrated by Fehr in 1995 while negotating the new bargaining agreement to avoid a longer players strike, why didn’t he just come to the public with the information?  He could have easily just held a press conference and told baseball fans that the Union is impeding my efforts to clean up the sport.  So much pressure would have been place on the Union at that time that they likely would have complied.  However, Bud instead chose to overlook the entire issue at the time (think all the U.S. Presidents before Abraham Lincoln overlooking that “little” issue call slavery) in order to gain a brittle trust with the Union.  That was his big mistake, and he is paying for it royally now.

So, when I hear Selig getting defensive about all the negative press he is currently receiving, I think he deserves every bit of it.  Only certain commissioners (Kennesaw Landis being first and foremost) have truly tried to do what was best for the game, but Selig is not one of them.  He THINKS he is (because he got the players back on the field in ’95), but really he just mortgaged the next decade to steroid issues.

Skirting The Truth

arod_popeye.jpg

With all the current controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez’s leaked positive drug test from 2003, I just wanted to put in my two cents worth: I think he is still (while not outright lying) trying to cover up a large portion of his steroid involvement, or at least make it seem much more benign than it really was.  The only thing different with A-Rod is that, once he was caught, he opened himself up to a live press conference (more accessibility than guys like Mark McGwire or Rafael Palmeiro, for example).  He allowed himself to be put through the wringer and now hopes that his answers will prove satisfactory to warrant some forgiveness.  I, however, do not believe that he is portraying himself in the correct light based on two portions of his recent comments:

First, he has not (to this point, and likely ever) given what I would consider a decent explanation for why he continued to take steroids.  All he says is that he was “young, naive, and stupid”, but to me that is a cop-out.  You can’t tell me that when A-Rod saw his HR numbers surpassing 50 (in 2001 and 2002), up from his usual low-40s number, he didn’t realize it was because of the substances he was injecting into himself.  Sure, Rodriguez may say that his rookie year in Seattle and his 2007 Yankees campaign were his two greatest seasons in the major leagues, but that is strictly a matter of opinion.  I think that A-Rod knew EXACTLY what he was doing (taking steroids).

Also, we are all forgetting that MLB DID actually have a steroid “policy” in place before 2003.  Basically, the policy stated that all substances deemed illegal outside the game were also illegal within the game.  The steroid that A-Rod tested positive for, Primobolan, has never had an approved prescription use.  Also, by itself it is a rather weak steroid, so it is often used in conjunction with other products (such as HGH, perhaps, the other substance that A-Rod tested positive for in ’03…hmm).

Thus, there are two many loose ends and fishy coincidences here for me to completely believe A-Rod’s claims.  Plus, in 2007 (when under the steroid allegations of Jose Canseco) Rodriguez told Kate Couric point-blank that he never used steroids.  Either he was a great liar, then, or a complete idiot.  He wants us to believe that “idiot” line, but I lean towards the “liar”.

The “Rocket” Fizzles!

roger_clemens_liar.jpgBesides all the fallout of the Alex Rodriguez steroid admission, which I will discuss on this blog in more detail in a later post, it was also recently announced that a federal judge dismissed basically all of Roger Clemens’ “defamation of character” lawsuit against former personal trainer Brian McNamee, who said in last year’s Mitchell Report that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.

For once, I think the U.S. justice system got things right!!  McNamee was promised federal immunity for his contributions to George Mitchell, and that is exactly what he is getting right now.  So, in essence, Clemens isn’t able to screw him over for just telling the truth.

As you will likely find out by reading my upcoming blog posts about steroids in major league baseball, I am a huge proponent of holding everyone (players, managers, trainers, commissioner Selig, etc.) accountable for the Steroid Era of 1994-2003.  Thus, I think that Clemens is getting EXACTLY what he deserves.  Whereas most players (Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, etc.) have completely disappeared following steroid accusations, Clemens (because he is a jerk…just ask Mike Piazza about that) decided to lie through his teeth and fight it tooth and nail.  So far, though, he’s not winning and I’m all for that.

A Typical Twins Signing

Ayala.jpgBesides signing Matt Guerrier to a one-year contract, the Twins also added reliever Luis Ayala, who spent portions of last season with the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets.  Ayala will get $1.3 million for one season.

I don’t know a whole lot about this Ayala (although that should be pretty self-explanatory considering he played for the Expos/Nats franchise most of his career), but I don’t like his 2008 stats: 2-10, 75 IP, 5.71 ERA.  However, I also noticed that Luis has had some very solid past seasons (’02-’05) with the Expos/Nats, posting sub-3.00 ERAs.

This is a typical Twins move in that Ayala is a guy who nobody is beating down the door for, so his price is pretty low.  If he pitches well, that would be great, but he’s also just as important to create some competition for the setup man role in Spring Training.  Ayala, Matt Guerrier, and Jose Mijares will now all be battling for the “exclusive rights” to work the eighth inning when the Twins have the lead, and competition for jobs is something the Twins have always liked to put a priority on (especially with their young players).

It’s not quite Brandon Lyon or Eric Gagne, but we’ll see how Ayala pans out.

Matty G.

MattGuerrier.jpgI know I’ve been a bit lax about updating this blog as of late (but isn’t that happens when trying to cover the Twins’ “plethora” of moves this offseason?), but I did want to mention that the Twins just recently avoided arbitration with relief pitcher Matt Guerrier.  Matty G. ended up signing a one-year contract worth $1.475 million.

As of right now, I think this is a good move for the Twins, although it remains to be seen if Guerrier can regain the early-season form he showed in 2008.  For the first half of the season, Matty was the ONLY Twins reliever (excluding Joe Nathan, of course) who was even partially effective.  He bailed us out of tough spot after tough spot.  Come August and September, though Guerrier hit a major wall and was, as much as I hate to say this, quite terrible.  Whether it was from him being overworked/overexposed earlier in the season or just a lack of confidence, Guerrier sadly became the guy you didn’t want to see trotting in from the bullpen.  By the very end of the season, Guerrier’s setup job was given to Jose Mijares, as Matty failed in try after try to produce quality outings.

So, I think that Guerrier can flourish out of the pen again, but only if the Twins do not wear him down to the bone again.  He has a windmill-like delivery that must make it difficult for batters to pick up the ball coming out of his hand, but he needs to be JUST the eighth-inning guy, and not EVERY night at that.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.