I hated seeing Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel leave for Colorado & Arizona, respectively. They have been incredibly fun to watch the last decade or so. I liked Kubel’s no-nonsense approach to success, as well as his live bat and always-improving defensive skills. Cuddyer, of course, was the epitome of the “Twins way” with his positive attitude, versatility, and toughness. There is no way that losing both of them will improve the team in any way, shape, or form for 2012.
The trouble, of course, is that the Twins (because of last season) dug themselves into such a hole that the competitive future is almost surely beyond ’12. As such, as much as I hate to say it, not overpaying for Cuddyer & Kubel was probably a smart decision. We gave them both fair offers (at least from what I heard/read) and they chose greener (literally) pastures. More power to them.
In Cuddy’s case, he’s never really developed into an elite player. He strikes out (on those @#$% outside pitches in the dirt!) far too much, is prone to long slumps, and could just as easily hit .260 with 15 homers next season. We can’t tie up any more money in that risk (see: Mauer/Morneau; unluckiness)
With Kubel, he could absolutely mash subpar pitching…but struggled mightily (sometimes even embarrassingly so) against the elites (see: Yankees in playoffs). Plus, the move to Target Field really dulled his right field gap home run power.
So, as much as I hate to see them go, I have to conclude that it makes sense at this point in the Twins’ future.
We did, however, sign Josh Willingham (formerly of the Marlins, Nats, & most recently A’s)…
I don’t really know much about Willingham, but I like the reviews of him I hear from other players. He seems to have some pop in his bat as well. What I like the most, however, is that his career OPS is over .800. It isn’t tremendous, of course, but far better than most players in our lineups last year. At the very least, he can hopefully provide some veteran leadership to what promises to be an interesting mish-mash of a team in ’12.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot…
We also got Jason Marquis (of basically every NL team, I believe…!). Considering the little money we paid him, this could be a steal…provided he comes back from a leg injury sustained last season. He’s a workhorse who prides himself (much like Pavano) on taking the ball every fifth day. Lord knows we need more of those types around these parts.
My thoughts on a few Twins moves the last month or so…
Kevin Slowey traded to Colorado: You know, I was always a big Kevin Slowey supporter. I thought he had the stuff to be the next “Brad Radke”, and I think that concept still exists. However, it will likely never be realized because of his inability to stay healthy for any prolonged period of time. Slowey is one of those pitchers who needs to be 100% healthy to succeed, as he relies on such pinpoint control and sharp breaking pitches. Any “hitch in his giddyup” will cause him not only to fail, but fail miserably. Thus, despite having high hopes for him, I can’t say I’m all that sorry to see him go.
Matt Capps back as closer: I didn’t like Capps from the beginning, and I haven’t changed that opinion. I honestly do not know what the organization sees in this guy. Does he have the potential to be a decent middle-reliever? I think so. But CLOSER, where the pressure is magnified with every pitch? Nah-uh. He has proven time and time again (when healthy or hurting) that he can’t rise to that occasion like Mr. Nathan could. I know we are a wreck bullpen-wise, but to pin a key spot on this guy is tenuous at best.
Jim Hoey released: This guy was an absolute joke. I don’t understand how you can expect to have a major-league career when you can’t locate a fastball to save your life! Yes, he can throw the ever-loving @#$% out of the ball, but it doesn’t matter a bit…it’ll either be wide of the strike zone or right down the middle (with one option being as unpleasant as the other). Nothing lost here.
Jose Mijares released: Jose had one dominant year with the Twins…and hasn’t come close to that form since. Personality-wise, he never arrives to training camp on time (always visa issues) and, when he does show up, he’s grossly overweight. So, it isn’t until June when he’s even physically ready to pitch effectively. When on the mound, Mijares is wild to the point of frustration. Everyone can see he has “the stuff” to get lefty batters out at an alarming rate, but he just can’t do it consistently. Again, I know our ‘pen is a train-wreck right now, but this guy was beginning to become more trouble than he was worth.