Oh, Cuddles. Don't look so sad. Everybody wants you on their team this year.
It's the first Monday in November. Your hangovers, both figurative and literal, have likely faded from a 99-loss 2011. So let's look at the news from last week, and the stories we'll be tracking all off-season:
* Neither Joe Mauer nor Justin Morneau has been run over by a taxi or injured by their breakfast. Let's face it: we can argue about other moves all we want, but the Twins are built on Mauer and Morneau. If they don't produce, it doesn't matter who else the Twins sign or don't sign. And step one is to get both guys healthy.
* There aren't any important dates coming up this week. November 23rd is the last day for clubs to offer arbitration to Type A and B free agents; that's probably the next important date. The Twins have two Type A free agents in Michael Cuddyer and Matt Capps, and one Type B in Jason Kubel.
* Michael Cuddyer is one of the prettiest girls at the free agent dance. The Phillies are in hot pursuit. And according to Phil Mackey, even if the Twins make him the best offer, Cuddyer won't necessarily return to Minnesota. The team will likely offer Cuddyer arbitration; the Phillies have the last pick in the draft, #31 in the first round, so if Philadelphia signs him the Twins will get two picks in the 31-40 range. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since the Twins also have pick #2 and will have to pony up big bucks to sign whoever they pick there.
* Joe Nathan wants to be a closer, and Jason Kubel (mumble mumble mumble). The Twins need a closer and Nathan needs a team, and to me, that could end up being a good fit. Meanwhile, we haven't heard much of anything from Jason Kubel or about Jason Kubel, which given that Kubel hates talking to people probably isn't surprising.
* We can probably ignore Matt Capps from now on. Capps is the Twins' fourth free agent, but the team would rather pretend the whole thing never happened.
* The Twins' front-office "inner circle" is going to need a bigger table around which to meet. The team's trying to bring back former assistant GM Wayne Krivsky, according to Joe Christensen. The team also denied the Orioles permission to talk to VP of Player Personnel Mike Radcliff for their GM job. You can look at this one of two ways:
- Continuity is good, and an inner circle of Krivsky, Radcliff, GM Bill Smith, assistant GM Rob Antony, and former GM Terry Ryan is as high on continuity as you're going to get.
- That farm system's kind of barren, the team lost 99 games last year, and those five guys are responsible for putting all of that together.
You pick which one you want.
* Hey, more guys to pitch a nice gentle batting practice! Your newest Twins are Jeff Gray and Matt Maloney. Neither strikes many guys out or really showed the ability to not get hammered in 2011. They'll fit right in!
* Let's go over the arbitration-eligibles just one more time. Glen Perkins and Francisco Liriano are probably no-doubt to be offered. Alexi Casilla is a little bit of a question mark. Jose Mijares is a big (ha!) question mark. Phil Dumatrait, Matt Tolbert, and Jason Repko can all be more or less ignored. And then there's Kevin Slowey. Make your hipster jokes while you can, because I have to imagine the team will just cut him loose.
* Welcome back, Tom Brunansky. The former Twins right fielder is the new Rochester hitting coach. The organization has yet to hire a new Triple-A manager.
Tracking This Week
- Will Cuddyer, Kubel, or Nathan sign elsewhere?
- Will the Twins make a move for a backup catcher or a middle infielder of some kind? Phil Mackey says they haven't talked to Ryan Doumit or Clint Barmes yet.
- Can we convince Joe Mauer not to buy sharp cereals, such as Cheerios, so he doesn't hurt himself?