"I think we should be able to [make some moves]. I've got enough going on down here that I think we should be able to get some sort of fit there." -Terry Ryan
It's hard to keep it all straight at this point. There's a lot going on, and so much of it includes different teams and different players...and a lot of those players and teams are overlapping.
Someone I was never that hot on, the Thomas Talk has begun to cool dramatically. He'll be 38 in May and has averaged only 86 games per year since 2001. At age 35 he hit 35 homers in 153 games, but by the time the season starts he'll be nearly 3 years removed from that feat and can't be counted on to be a consistent presence in the lineup.
Additionally, it's been rumored that Oakland is close to offering Thomas specific dollar amounts, something that Minnesota isn't close to doing. Speaking of dealing with Frank Thomas, Ryan has said "We're not even talking about dollars or offers yet." If the Twins were seriously interested in Frank, and I certainly hope they weren't, they would have at least had semi-serious discussions involving contract talks.
Go to Oakland, Mr. Thomas. Enjoy your twighlight, and be sure to bring your spare parts with you.
Nomar Garciaparra and Mike Piazza
Depending on the day I flip back and forth on which one I would rather have...if I'd have either one at all. Garciaparra is younger and could be an everyday DH while filling in at third, but Piazza is a veteran and could provide leadership. Whether or not either one could produce at a level the Twins would expect them to is up for debate, and this fact alone is enough to scare me away from both of them. Today, anyway.
Ryan has acknowledged that there have been talks with both Garciaparra and Piazza, but nothing more has been confirmed.
Renteria, Marte, Lugo...Minnesota?
After a disappointing season in Boston, the Red Sox have jettisoned Edgar Renteria to Atlanta, who was in need of a shortstop after the departure of Rafael Furcal. In return, the Braves sent Boston their 3B prospect Andy Marte. Marte suffered in limited time in Atlanta last season, but he'll only be 22 coming into 2006. In 2004 and 2005 in Atlanta's AA and AAA affiliates, Marte hit 43 home runs and notched 142 RBI with respective OPS of .889 and .878.
What's interesting about this move is that the acquisition of Marte causes a logjam at 3B for Boston...being Kevin Youkilis has been the heir apparent for the past couple seasons. At 27 when the season opens, Youkilis can hardly be dubbed a prospect, but the liklihood of the Red Sox keeping both he and Marte around seems slim. Enter the rumored deal of Boston dealing Marte to Tampa Bay for Julio Lugo.
If Marte lands with the Devil Rays, he'll join with a number of other youngsters that will spend the next 3 or 4 seasons going through growing pains together. And if, indeed, he does land with the Devil Rays, could this mean Aubrey Huff could be had at a reasonable cost? It's been mentioned on this site already, but if you include a couple of pitching prospects and an established player...say Durbin, Perkins and Ford or Bonser, Perkins and Crain...could Tampa say no?
For Minnesota, Huff not only fills a need at 3B, he can hit southpaw pitching and brings a big stick to the lineup. Would I be excited to see Huff in Minnesota? Yes. Is he my ideal choice? Absolutely not.
Year Age 2B HR OPS Games FP
2003 22 33 29 .872 143 .959
2004 23 38 32 .855 159 .957
2005 24 34 25 .749 161 .973
His most similar offensive comparison by age is Scott Rolen. Other similar batters are Eric Chavez, Gary Sheffield and Troy Glaus through age 24.
This is the guy I'd be elated about if Ryan was able to swing a deal. His numbers were down in 2005 in comparison to his two prior seasons, but at age 25 he's still on the incline into his physical prime. 2006 will be his fourth year as a regular player, and with an decent glove and a sorely needed big stick, if he can be had for the right price he fits the bill.
On Blalock's downside his OBP dropped from the .350's in '03 and '04 to .318 in '05. He also strikes out a lot; a combined 281 times the past two seasons.
Whether or not Kevin Mench would be included in the deal is a moot point. Mench is a bonus, he could be useful--Blalock is the centerpiece.