Cold and snow is only entertaining through Christmas and New Years. Then I want sunshine and green grass. The plus side of being a baseball fan is that sunshine and green grass metaphorically appear in the middle of February...and that's less than 12 weeks away. In the mean time...
- Yesterday, as Justin Morneau collected jackets for his coat drive, he sounded positive that he'd be back for Spring Training. Not to state the obvious, but it would be a massive blow to the team both emotionally and talent-wise if he's unable to go.
- As Nick Nelson notes, the in-depth analysis on Tsuyoshi Nishioka will have to wait until the Twins secure a contract. But the culture around our baseball team has definitely changed: not in terms of philosophy or structure, but in terms of resources. A smart, well-run franchise with money is dangerous, and that's what we have with the Minnesota Twins.
- There are two big off-season dates on the way this week. The first is on Tuesday, which is the deadline for Carl Pavano, Orlando Hudson and Jesse Crain to accept or reject arbitration. None of them will have problems signing somewhere else, we just have to hope that wherever Pavano signs, his team's first round draft pick isn't protected
- The second date is the non-tender deadline, on Thursday. Although the Twins are now expected to offer J.J. Hardy a contract, what they do with it is still in question. While most fans seem to understand that Hardy's talent justifies his place with the Twins, the organization continues to be non-committal. To be fair, they've been non-committal on every arbitration-eligible player bar Matt Capps, but there's definitely an air of uncertainty surrounding Hardy. Hardy wants to stay, but this is likely a situation that may not shake itself out for a while. Both the Orioles and the Giants have been rumored to be interested in our shortstop.
- Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star runs through the AL Central, identifying each team's needs and surplusses among other minor bits. What confuses me about his logic: he claims the Twins have difficulty with payroll because of Joe Mauer's $23 million per year salary, and then suggests that if the team wants to make a splash they'll trade one of their many outfield prospects; namely Ben Revere, Aaron Hicks or Joe Benson. I won't argue that the Twins have a glut of outield prospects, because they certainly do, but if a team is hard-pressed to add payroll and THEN wants to make an "impact trade", a prospect isn't going to be the sticking point. You could have named any Twins prospect. The real question is which player, currently under contract and making significant dollars, the Twins would move in order to make this "impact trade" feasible for a team with "payroll concerns".
- Finally, apologies to Dez. I was supposed to appear on his podcast yesterday and then completely lost track of time. I'll make it up to you Dez!