It's Hot Stove Christmas this week, with all of baseball's movers and shakers at the Winter Meetings. Here, as far as I'm concerned, are the five biggest things to know from Day 1, from a Twins perspective:
Tsuyoshi Nishioka doesn't speak a word of English. So says Bill Smith via the Pioneer Press's Kelsie Smith. That'll make it hard for him to fit into the gregarious Twins clubhouse, one would think; it also would make Nishioka pretty much Orlando Hudson's diametric opposite. Asked to compare Nishioka to another player, Smith picked out Greg Gagne, presumably because both could wear pants with a 22-inch waist. Ed Price at the FanHouse says the Twins have offered the infielder a three-year deal worth around $10 million.
- Also from Smith via Smith, Carl Pavano called up the GM and expressed his enjoyment of his stint in Minnesota, and his desire to come back if things work out. With the Pavstache's desirability on the free-agent market, though, he'd have to be a fool to accept any kind of discount - and (draws on unfiltered cigarette) Mama Pavstache didn't raise no fools. That said, Pavano's agent says the Twins still have a shot to sign the righthander.
- Kelly Theiser has another Smith quote, as the GM said that 2B and SS are the only positions up in the air. Translation: yep, J.J. Hardy is on the trading block! Though Smith also said that the team could find a way to play Hardy, Nishioka, and Alexi Casilla; you can translate that one as "Gardy still hates Casilla," if you like. (Nick Nelson was a little more worried about the uncertainty quote: "He's assembled a group of mannequins to occupy the bullpen?" But Smith meant position players.)
- The team is aware that Delmon Young is a terrible fielder. Phil Mackey asked about the Twins', shall we say, sub-par outfield defense, and Smith allowed that Young "wore down" late in the season, which I think is code for "needed a helmet to protect himself, at times."
- Joe Nathan has been shut down, according to La Velle E. Neal III, Esq., but not because it's going poorly for the closer. Rather, the team says they want him to start throwing again on January 1 to build up for the season.
No big news, really, on Day 1. Check back tomorrow, as things begin (we hope) to heat up.