So last night I cursed the Twins by saying they hadn't yet signed a veteran on the backslide of his career. In order to balance that out a bit, here's a brief list of free agents who could still be on Minnesota's radar.
Joe Beimel, RP - He'll be 32 this season, and is a southpaw. The Twins still could decide to add another arm into the bullpen mix before spring training starts, and he's posted ERA's of 2.96, 3.88 and 2.02 over the last three seasons. Looking beyond the ERA doesn't give me much confidence in Beimel's abilities, but I'm not in the front office.
Orlando Cabrera, SS - He turned 34 in November, and while his name is known throughout the league, he doesn't provide anything of value that would make him worth bringing in. The Twins are better off with Nick Punto at shortstop, where both his defense and offense can be on the better side of adequate, and passable for a shortstop, respectively.
Alex Cintron, SS - Cintron is 31 and a switch hitter, and doesn't provide much of anything other than a .277 career batting average. I think this one is pretty unlikely.
Joe Crede, 3B - Crede will also be in his age-31 season in 2009, and will be three years removed from his last full season. The Twins have side-stepped anyone who's tried to gauge their interest to this point, never saying they weren't interested, but still saying that his health was a concern. He'll come affordable at this point, or at least he should, and at his best could provide good defense and some good power from the right side of the plate. But along with those health concerns should come that career .306 OBP. That's just sad.
Juan Cruz, RP - Captain Strikeout is still available, and he'll be 30 this year. He'd be a great set-up man, if the Twins would be willing to shell out.
Elmer Dessens, RP - Please, God, no. But nothing can replace the crafty veteran leadership of soft-tossing right-hander at the ripe old age of 38, can it?
Brendan Donnelly, RP - If he can stay healthy, he profiles as a guy who allows less than a hit per inning. But he'll turn 38 in July, and if the Twins are tepid about Joe Crede, they have to be a little wary of Donnelly.
Eric Gagne, RP - He's just turned 33, and we already know that the Twins have exchanged numbers with him and his agent. While he did make 50 appearances last summer, it was his first full summer since '04. This smacks of the Lightning In A Bottle signing that the team has tried to cash in on over the last number of seasons, and while it's not Tony Batista, it's not as understandable as Rondell White, either. I'd be okay with an invite to spring training.
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B - He'll turn 39 in June, but the man is just a good hitter. He hasn't hit for an average worse than .294 since 2002, and his OBP has been between .331 and .366 in that same period. He'd be a stop-gap, and Alexi Casilla would have to move to shortstop (which I don't see happening unless the Twins make a move for someone like Brian Roberts). Grudz would be a Twins-esque pickup, but honestly I think Minnesota is set with their middle infield.
Orlando Hudson, 2B - Here's a guy I could see the Twins shifting Casilla to shortstop for. Hudson did turn 32 in December, which would scare me away from the type of multi-year contract he's likely seeking, but over the last three seasons he's definitely been a guy who I would happily hit second, right behind Denard Span. Again, the question is whether the Twins would actually dish out for him.
Jason Isringhausen, RP - A 36-year old right-hander, last year he posted an ERA over 3.78 for the first time since 1997. He doesn't allow a lot of hits historically, and the Twins would probably urge him to keep in the strikezone a bit more, but I could see Minnesota taking a gamble here.
Will Ohman, RP - Good strike out rates, and still available? He's 31, left-handed, and might be out of the Twins' price range.
Al Reyes, RP - He turns 39 in April, and does have a history of injuries. But he can strike guys out, and he could come dirt cheap.
Russ Springer, RP - Springer turned 40 in November, and yet he's another pitcher who's had his name come up over the winter. He's notorious for being stingy with base runners, can make a few guys miss, and he throws five pitches. Springer looks like he could actually deliever, at least on first glance.