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Looking Into: Tony Batista

Now that I've had a week to think this over, let's see if a little distance has brought about any conclusions.

What?  Tony Batista??  We should have [done one thing] instead of [doing what we did]!!!  -98% of Minnesota

For me, and for the other 98% of Minnesota, it's time to move on with the fact that Batista is a Twin.  Frankly, I'm not disturbed by the idea, in fact I'm cautiously optimistic.  I was just looking for something more.  By something more, I mean Hank Blalock; I wanted Blalock manning third base.

But I realized a few things since the Batista signing.  Number one, what we paid for Batista versus what we could have paid for Blalock is much easier to swallow should he underperform.  $1.25 million for Batista versus a couple of high-end pitching prospects for Blalock...if they both were to bust, which would you rather have given up?  Next, I realized that not only is Batista only 32 years old, but before his one-year stint in Japan he put 32 over the fence.  Finally, I realized that Batista was offered $7+ million to play across the Pacific...which was significantly more than what he would have been offered by any other major league club.  That is why he played in Japan.

It's possible to put a positive spin on anything.  That's what I'm doing.  Without going overboard, the signing of Tony Batista does have some upside.  He could hit 30.  He could drive in 110.  The pitching prospects we didn't deal are still in our pocket, should Ryan decide (and he should) that he needs to make another move.

Most of the time, MLB players who move to Japan go there to die.  But moves from Japan to the MLB are not unprecedented.  The Detroit Tigers lifted Cecil Fielder from Japan.  Alfonso Soriano has had a nice career in America since being released by a Japanese team.  Gabe Kapler is back.  None of these players have situations identical to Batista, but the point is that not everyone who plays in Japan is used up.  Whining that he played in Japan for one whole season isn't valid.

What is valid is the miserable career OBP.  Maybe it should be a prerequisite for a team like Minnesota, but Batista wasn't signed for his miserable career OBP, he was signed for the threat of power.  Chances for a team like Minnesota to sign or trade for a power hitter who also gets on base at a high rate (see: Pujols, Bonds, Griffey, Alex Rodriguez) are slim to none.  And you know how the saying goes...Slim just left the building.

Signing Batista is not the worst thing the Twins could have done.  It's not the best, either.  I would have preferred something different.  But after thinking about it for a few days I'm not nearly as down on it as I was when I saw the news.

2B Luis Castillo
C   Joe Mauer
LF  Shannon Stewart
1B Justin Morneau
3B Tony Batista
CF Torii Hunter
DH Lew Ford
RF Michael Cuddyer
SS Jason Bartlett

Dropping Hunter to the sixth spot in the lineup is better suited to his offensive ability.  To have a six-hitter that can bat .275 with 25 homers and be able to drive in 90 is a luxury Twins fans aren't used to.  Things could get worse than the lineup you see above, and there's no doubt in my mind that it's a better lineup than what we had staring us in the face at the end of October.

Should Terry Ryan make a move on a legitimate DH, and I sincerely hope he does, then maybe the DH hits five and Batista can slide to seven where that hideous OBP wouldn't be as glaring of a deficiency.

Every offseason questions get answered in ways no one wanted them to be answered.  Tony Batista isn't Luis Castillo, but he isn't somebody named Boone, either.  In the end, if Batista doesn't work out, we're still not worse at third than we were in 2005.  If he does, that 30-homer threat has been a long time coming for Twin fans.