Greetings, all. Now that the Winter Meetings is over, we can see that CF for the Twins is going to be one fun guessing game as to who will be starting. I'm taking the safe bet of Darin Mastroianni, who will then move aside for Aaron Hicks sometime in the middle of the season. But if you're a gambler and you want to go with Joe Benson, by all means go right ahead.
- Ryan Dempster isn't the best starting pitchers available on the market right now, but he's certainly near the top despite his age. At the very least, he believes he's a top free agent pitcher, as he's been quite selective with where he's going to sign. He's already rejected two offers over the past few days, first from the Kansas City Royals (2 years, $26 million) and now the Boston Red Sox (2 years, $25 million). It sounds like Dempster is holding out for a 3-year contract, so if you had any delusions of the Twins signing him, you may as well throw that out the window. In my opinion, I'd just take one of those contracts with 2 years, because if Dempster is too patient, teams will have filled all their needs and he might be stuck with only a 1-year contract, or even be forced to wait until midseason to sign.
- The average salary in MLB rose 3.8% from last season, meaning that your average MLB player earned about $3.2 million last season. NBC Sports notes that part of that increase was due to the minimum salary being raised from $414,000 to $480,000 last season. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that you would kill to make $480,000 even if it meant sitting on the bench all season, and no, a team's money would not be better spent on you instead of Drew Butera.
- Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk had a great post yesterday about the things that we like to pretend are important in determining a free agent's future home, but really don't matter that much. His basis for the article started with a commenter stating that since Nick Swisher is from Ohio, it would make sense that he'd want to be close to home and play for the Cleveland Indians. Never mind that Ohio was merely Swisher's birthplace and that he moved to West Virginia before returning to Ohio for college. Really, a player's home doesn't often determine where he wants to play. Javier Vazquez finishing his career in (then) Florida was simply so he could easily travel to his home in Puerto Rico, but he's the exception, not the rule. By this logic, Travis Hafner would have signed with the Twins ages ago (born in North Dakota), Justin Morneau will sign with the Cubs or White Sox after next season (Jimmy John's is based in Champaign, IL), and Joe Mauer will put all coastal teams on his no-trade list (because can you seriously imagine seeing Joe Mauer in a swimsuit? I can't unless he has floaties on his arms).
- Going back to Craig Calcaterra, he has another post, but this time about the Rule 5 draft. As you may know, the Twins took RHP Ryan Pressly from the Boston Red Sox. If you weren't aware, players taken in the Rule 5 draft must be on the 25-man roster for the entire season or be offered back to their original team. The exceptions are that you can work out a trade for the player and then send him to the minors, or you could DL him so he still accrues major league service time, but without using up a roster spot. However, teams would take advantage of the disabled list and often give their player elbow tendinitis or dead arm so they could be DL'd, but MLB is cracking down on that now. Rule 5 players in particular will be scrutinized more when they hit the disabled list, so that might be something to keep an eye on this season. Also, Calcaterra had a team official tell him a pretty good quote.
"(W)e are about 90% sure that a guy we’re looking at in the late rounds actually exists."
- Finally, let's pay homage to Johnny Carson's Carnac The Magnificent. Answer: "Minnesota Twins, Miami Marlins, New York Yankees." Question: "What are three teams that are being tightfisted with their money?" Yes, that's correct. Apparently an agent was told by Yankees GM Brian Cashman himself that he was not allowed to spend any money without approval from the owners first. This is definitely a step in the opposite direction from when George Steinbrenner was owner, where the Yankees would throw money at any player that looked appetizing. In fact, the Yankees were in negotiations with Nate Schierholtz for a while, when in years past they'd likely have sprung for Michael Bourn. I'm wondering if the Yankees aren't trying to be a little smarter with their money and operate more like a mid-market team, instead of being the one that led the majors in salary for years.