This was certainly a busy week for the Twins front office as they locked up all eight of their free agents within hours of the time both sides were required to submit their desired numbers to the league office. In what has been reported here and elsewhere, seven of the eight were signed to one year contracts with Brendan Harris inking a two year deal. Joe Christensen reported an interesting fact regarding Francisco Liriano's contract, that he can earn his incentives by making a certain number of starts or appearances. So the Twins appear to be open to using him as either a starter or out of the bullpen in 2010.
Now Bill Smith can focus on signing Joe Mauer before next weekends Twins Fest as predicted by our friend, Seth Stohs. The only other move this week was the signing of 29 year old left handed pitcher Mark McLemore.
Ponce did not make the Puerto Rico Winter League playoffs which means that Angel Morales' winter season came to an end. After a slow start and not playing much before Christmas, Morales finished strong at .295/.358/.311 in 61 at bats.
Mayaguez is playing Arecibo in a semi-final series in Puerto Rico. Twins third baseman Danny Valencia had an excellent week for Mayaguez at 7-20 with 2 doubles, a home run, 1 walk, 2 runs scored and 1 RBI. Teammate Nelvin Fuentes pitched 0.2 hitless inning while recent Twin signee Mike Maroth allowed 6 hits and 3 runs in 5.0 innings with 1K/3BB in his only start. Twins catcher Drew Butera, who has been with Arecibo this winter, was 1-2 with a run scored in one game of Thursday's double header. Butera came back and played in both games of last night's double header, going 2-3 with a run scored and triple in the first game while going 0-2 in the night cap. After hitting .200/.265/.289 in 45 at bats during the winter season, Butera's bat contributed to Arecibo's sweep yesterday, forcing a decisive game seven of their semi-final series.
Wilson Ramos adopted team, Caracus is down two games to Magallanes in their best of seven Venezuelan championship series. Ramos broke out of his mini-slump last Saturday when he was 2-4 with 2 RBI. He had another solid game on Sunday, 1-4, 2 runs scored, 1 RBI and his second home run in the play-offs. In the first two games of the championship series Ramos was 0-4 Thursday, when the Magallanes pitching staff threw a 9-0 shutout, and 1-5 in last night's loss.
In the Dominican Republic, Gigantes (Alexi Casilla and Estarlin De Los Santos) began their best of nine championship series with Escogido (Francisco Liriano). In what has been reported from several sources, Francisco Liriano made his last start of the winter in game one of the series on Monday. The Franchise was very good, but not as sharp as he had been, pitching 5.0 innings with 5 hits, 1 unearned run and 6K/2BB in a 2-1 loss. Alexi Casilla was 2-4 with 2 runs scored, a home run and RBI for Gigantes. Gigantes took a 2-0 lead in the series on Tuesday with Casilla going 1-4 and getting the only RBI in a 1-0 win. Escogido got into the win column with a 13-4 slugfest on Wednesday with Casilla going 1-4 with a run scored and double. Estarlin De Los Santos made a late appearance, going 0-1. Casilla was 1-4 on Thursday as Escogido won, 3-2, to tie the series at 2-2. After a day off the two teams will resume play today.
In other news from the Caribbean, former Twin Jose Offerman was suspended for life by Dominican officials following an argument in a game last Saturday. Offerman, who was the manager of Licey, punched umpire Daniel Rayburn following the ejection of Ronnie Paulino. After filing reports, the four man umpire crew left the Dominican Republic in fear of their safety. Offerman was later arrested with the Dominican Republic president, Leonel Fernandez, making a statement regarding his regret of the incident.
Have a great week everyone. Lets hope that Seth is right on with his prediction!