Your soundtrack today is Ticket Home, from The Bones of J.R. Jones.
Should the Twins retire Torii Hunter's number?
This has been one of the fun conversations that have been percolating throughout the Twins blogosphere over the last few weeks. When I was on KATE 1450 last week, host Mitch Widmeier and I discussed it from a couple of angles. My ultimate take was that if Brad Radke's number isn't getting retired, neither should Torii Hunter's. Hunter should certainly join the club's own Hall of Fame, but number retirements should be reserved for the truly elite. It seems likely that Joe Mauer could have his number retired eventually.
Myjah wrote on the subject over the weekend, stating that it would "open an uncomfortable can of worms":
Torii was great. But let's also remember that Torii spent a lot of his prime offensive years as not-a-Twin. He was an Angel, or a Tiger, or whatever. If the Twins retired Torii's number, to me, it would open an uncomfortable can of worms: If you retired #48, why didn't you retire Brad Radke's #22? Why didn't you retire Justin Morneau's #33?
Be sure to read her thoughts and take the poll.
In the Dominican Winter League, the Twins are pushing to get Miguel Sano some time in left field. Trevor Plouffe remains the Twins' starting third baseman as long as he's on the roster, and Paul Molitor is understandably reluctant to let a guy as young as Sano just take his reps as the everyday designated hitter. Both Molitor and Terry Ryan have said they won't move Plouffe, but would throwing Sano into what is already a crowded mix in the outfield be the best course of action? Per Mike Berardino's article on Friday:
"[Playing Sano in the outfield] might be far-fetched. We’ve got an opening in the outfield. We’ve got (Aaron) Hicks and we have (Eddie) Rosario and we have (Byron) Buxton. Who’s going to be ready? We’ve got (Max) Kepler on the way and we’ve still got (Oswaldo) Arcia in the system. I’ve got to look for a spot to get (Sano) on the field defensively, and right now I think that’s one place I would at least consider."
So far, Sano has played in just three games and has yet to play in the outfield. He's 6-for-14 with a pair of doubles, three strikeouts and no walks.
Get the band back together: Justin Morneau edition
When Berardino asked Morneau about a possible return to the Twins this winter, the 2006 MVP played coy but there could be mutual interest between both parties. As Berardino notes, the issue is whether or not Minnesota could find him a role. Even if the Twins find a way to get Sano into the outfield, which just sounds like a backup plan, Joe Mauer is the starting first baseman and guys like Oswaldo Arcia and Kennys Vargas among others would be looking for time at designated hitter.
A reunion appears unlikely at this time, even if it would be fun to see. It would take away options and versatility for Paul Molitor, although you could have said these things about a Torii Hunter reunion at this time last year. And we did.
Did Jim Pohlad just give Terry Ryan a blank check?
Talked w/ Pohlad. He and Ryan have had the payroll talk. Terry has Jim's go-ahead to do what he wants this offseason. #mntwins— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) November 5, 2015
Before the cheap pot shots show up, it's fair to point out that Pohlad has been very vocal about his willingness to spend on payroll if Ryan thinks the decision is responsible. He's understood the importance of free agency to rebuilding teams, he was obviously willing to spend on Mauer, and as Stu's article from a couple of years ago illustrates the club has been willing to step up their big money commitments. Pohlad has talked the talk and the Twins have walked the walk, even if those decisions (cough, Ricky Nolasco, cough) haven't always turned out well.
Giving Ryan a blank check is like giving your most skeptical friend ten dollars. They'll take it, they'll give you a strange look, and they might even spend some of it, but you know they'll give you the change and won't be frivolous with it. And to be fair, it might not be in the best interest of the club to try to sign Jason Heyward or David Price or Zack Greinke. But it sounds like Ryan will be able to do what he feels he needs to do this winter, and for a club on the rise this is the exact right time for Pohlad to hand over that level of control. As Dave St. Peter notes: "At some point, there's limitations [on payroll]. But I don't expect that to come into play." If the Twins really want to put the pedal down a bit, Ryan and the Twins will need to have a nice winter.
Free Agency notes
- MLBTR posted their annual Top 50 free agents list with predictions. Tim Dierkes has the Twins next to one name: Ryan Madsen. He had a good year with the Royals and Minnesota needs bullpen help, so it passes the smell test.
- Dave Cameron did the same thing at FanGraphs, coming away with a similar conclusion as Dierkes. He appoints the Twins just one player, and it's bullpen arm, but this time it's Joakim Soria. I'm okay with both of these ideas.
- La Velle reiterates Minnesota's stated desire to find help at the back end of the bullpen and behind the plate. Neal talks briefly about A.J. Pierzynski (a known interest) and Matt Weiters (the best free agent catcher option).
- From my viewpoint, while I expect the Twins will be aggressive in free agency for the few players they believe are the best fit, my expectation is that the club will be even more involved and invested in trade talks. It wouldn't surprise me to see Terry Ryan move two or three Major League players in addition to minor league prospects.
The Twins blogosphere needs a new podcast like it needs a hole in the head
So we're starting one. Because I can't live in the damn state and because our producer lives in Massachusetts we'll be finding creative ways to make things work and we'll have rotating hosts, but it should be a lot of fun and I'm hoping to have our debut episode for you later this week.
We do need a name for this podcast. Any ideas? Hit us up in the comments. We can't give you anything except bragging rights and maybe a few recs, but it's a priceless opportunity. One for the resume.
That's all for now. We'll see you back here later this morning.