Over the last 48 hours there's been no shortage of baseball news and rumors coming out of Minnesota. Let's get right to it.
- Joe Mauer spoke with a number of Twins Cities media sources yesterday, in regards to a number of topics: injuries, his perception to the public, and expectations for health going into spring training were the most popular subjects. Mauer said all the right things, but it was refreshing to hear him speak with a bit more clarity and confidence. He acknowledged that being cagey about what was wrong with his body wasn't the right way to go, and admitted that transparency in such issues should be more important going forward. He talked about his frustration with his public perception but understood it to a point. And he sounds confident about coming into spring training healthy and fully prepared for a summer long campaign. Let's hope so.
- Terry Ryan spoke with a select and lucky few yesterday as well, covering a number of topics in an interview moderated by Dick Bremer. Ryan expressed again the team's interest in Matt Capps, and of course outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel. Cuddyer seems to have the focus between those two, and in spite of what Ryan said it seems highly unlikely that both would return. Essentially it sounds like the Twins are waiting to hear what each player is expecting to get paid. The last most interesting topic was Francisco Liriano. Ryan agreed that a lot of his issues are mental as opposed to physical, and expressed that Liriano needs to be more consistent (along with the rest of the rotation, with the exception of Carl Pavano).
- Last night we heard about Minnesota's interest in Edwin Jackson and Jeff Francis. Jackson, who doesn't profile as a typical Twins free agent target, is a #2 or #3 starter who is likely to garner an eight digit yearly salary. That's a price tag that the Twins can't afford. It's an interesting idea though, because Jackson is enigmatic like Liriano; he throws hard, has electric stuff and at times shows flashes of ace-type stuff, but he can also lose command and become very hittable. If someone wants to shine Jackson, they'll be paying for his upside. His upside is worth that eight digit salary. With the exception of his ERA and innings pitched, he wasn't that guy last year.
- Francis, meanwhile, looked like he was going to be a star in the minor leagues. From 2002 to 2004 he was rocketing to the Majors with a bullet. In his minor league career he's tossed 375 innings of 2.57 ERA baseball, striking out 415 and allowing exactly one base runner per inning. Suffice it to say his MLB career hasn't been quite as stellar. He's now a soft-tossing lefty (fastball averaged less than 85mph in 2011) who can't strike anyone out (4.5 K/9), and who has averaged 108 innings per season since 2007. If you get what you pay for, paying for Francis means you're signing a pitcher just to sign a pitcher. Nothing more.
- On a final note, Mauer told MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger that he's willing to help recruit free agents to Minnesota. I think that's a good thing, and provided that Mauer doesn't bore them to death it would probably help a great deal. Visiting players like to know that a team's superstars like playing for that club, and having Mauer be that guy would be great.
Enjoy your Saturday, folks. I'm going to get a haircut.