Friday, December 16, 2011

Farewell Michael Cuddyer

Yesterday, the Twins made it official by signing free agent OF Josh Willingham to a three year deal, worth $21 million. Today, we saw Michael Cuddyer and the Rockies agree to a 3 year, $31.5 million deal, officially ending his tenure as a Twin. Moving forward, this appears to be the best deal for the Twins as they will receive a first round pick and a sandwich pick between rounds 1 and 2 in the draft as well, in addition to the money they saved by signing Willingham. But as we look ahead to what Josh Willingham will bring to the Twins for the next three years, I want to step back and reflect on what Michael Cuddyer brought to us for the past 11 seasons.

People forget or for that matter never realized, that Michael Cuddyer was drafted 9th overall by the Twins as a shortstop out of Great Bridge High School in Virginia. He was then moved over to third base and advanced up through the system. Late in 2001, Cuddyer got his call up to the big leagues, but unfortunately spent the following two seasons going back and forth between the Twins and AAA-Edmonton. But by 2004, Cuddyer had earned his way in as a regular, filling in at just about any position possible, but primarily third base (He had been road blocked by Corey Koskie until his departure following '04).

Following the '05 season, Cuddy was moved to the outfield, and his career really took off from there. He drove in a career best 109 RBI in 2006, and then after two sub par seasons, he lead the Twins with 32 home runs in 2009, while carrying them to a Central Division crown. During his time here, Cuddy helped play a part in all 6 divisional titles under manager Ron Gardenhire ('02, '03, '04, '06, '09 &'10). And finally in 2011, he earned his first career all star game selection as he lead the Twins in most major offensive categories.

But as we all realized over time, Cuddy was not going to win us over with flashy stats. What he did do right was play baseball, "The Twins Way". And perhaps no one was a better example of that than him. He could play almost anywhere on the diamond (He even made a relief appearance in a game against Texas this year). He was sound defensively (I loved watching him play a ball off the baggy in the Dome and gunning out a runner trying to get a double). He became a clubhouse leader in the later years. And above all, he had tremendous hustle every single day (The best example of this is his triple in game 163 in the 10th inning).

Also keep in mind, Cuddyer was tremendous in his outreach to the to the community. He held an annual Twins Celebrity Waiters Event where all the proceeds went to his favorite charity, the Boys and Girls Club of the Twin Cities. In 2006, Cuddyer was the Carl R. Pohlad award recipient on the Twins (Most outstanding community service), and was the Twins nominee for the Roberto Clemente award in 2006 and 2011.

As you can see, on the field or off the field, Michael Cuddyer was the real deal. And in the last few seasons, he was the heart and soul of the Minnesota Twins. But now, his time in Twins Territory has come to an end (The saying goes,"All good things, must come to an end"). Its time to stand up and applaud what Cuddy has given us for 11 seasons. Because frankly, this team does not win 6 division titles in 9 seasons with out him. Perhaps no one has played baseball "The Twins Way" more better in the history of the Twins, than Michael Cuddyer has. He gave us everything he possibly could. In the end, all we can really say is thank you and good luck...

Thank You Cuddy

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Final Winter Meetings Notes

  • Today, clearly was not the day to sleep in. By 10 am, 1B Albert Pujols and LHP CJ Wilson both had come off the free agent market, and both signed with the Angels. Hard to believe Pujols is leaving St. Louis, but, it appeared that the Cardinals took him for granted and never offered a deal much over $200 million for 10 years. It will definitely be a thrill to get to see Pujols every year now...good thing the Twins just traded Kevin Slowey (Pujols was 2 for 2 with 2 HR and 4 RBI vs Slowey). (Note: The Twins home opener on April 9th is against the Los Angeles Angels.)
  • The Twins drafted White Sox farmhand pitcher Terry Doyle in the Rule V draft today. Doyle was a combined 8-10 with a 3.07 ERA in 2011 between Class A and AA. He had an impressive Arizona Fall League, going 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 27 1/3 innings. Hard to see him making the team out of camp this spring, so I would guess the Twins will send something back to the White Sox, so they can send Doyle to Rochester or New Britain.
  • With Pujols' RH bat coming off the market, you could look for the Michael Cuddyer market to start heating up now. The Twins do have a reported 3 year/$24 million offer out to Cuddyer, and are pushing for a quicker resolution from him, so they can move on with other moves this offseason. If Cuddyer does sign elsewhere, it is likely that the Twins will push hard to retain Jason Kubel and may also go after free agent OF Josh Willingham.
  • Yesterday when meeting with media in Dallas, Ron Gardenhire was full of information for us Twins fans. He first said that star players Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are doing well in their offseason workouts/rehabs. Secondly, he said that he is excited to have Matt Capps back to close in 2012. And thirdly, he mentioned that the team is looking to add a starting pitcher (The Twins did make a offer to Mark Buehrle, but were never really a strong candidate to land the lefty). Good thing Gardy talks to the media every so often, he is more insightful than the front office, so we get to know what the team is up to during the winter.
  • There are 73 days until pitchers and catchers report...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Twins Trade Slowey

Today, the Twins finally did the inevitable, and rid themselves of Starting Pitcher Kevin Slowey, by trading him to the Colorado Rockies for a player to be named later. This in a wake of a season that saw Slowey battle injuries and go back and forth between starting and relief pitching. His line in 2011 was 0-8 with a 6.67 ERA in 59.1 innings pitched. But before that, Slowey had decent success as a starter, by registering three consecutive 10+ win seasons while battling injuries those years as well.

Besides the injuries, Slowey had been more of a clubhouse cancer with his attitude during the past year, which ultimately lead to this move today. Slowey had not been happy with pitching in relief when he was the odd man out of the rotation in spring training. Then, he pitched lifelessly when his "injuries" allowed him too.

Kevin Slowey started out with great potential when he burst onto the scene in 2008. But then over time, his injuries and attitude really watered down his ability to pitch well, and thats why we are at this point today. The good news for him is that he is going to a place where they have few decent starters, so he should get all his appearances as a starter in 2012 and probably 2013 as well. But, he will be pitching in the mile high city, where the ball just flies. So hopefully, he can keep the ball down.

I am in favor of this deal. Yes, they are getting rid of a decent starting pitcher. But, they chose to go with Nick Blackburn over Slowey when the team gave Blackburn a ridiculous extension (He is owed $4.75M in '12, $5.5M in '13, and a $8M team option in '13) prior to 2010. And yes, they lose starting pitching depth with this move (Hopefully this leads to another move that sees us acquire a starter). But, the fact is Slowey needed to go. The team just does not have time for pitchers who have attitude problems and dont give a crap when they take the hill. So I wish Colorado luck on trying to keep him happy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Twins Resign Matt Capps

Two months ago, Matt Capps looked like a goner. But today, the Twins and the free agent closer have agreed on a one year deal worth $4.5 million with a $6 million option for a second year. The deal was first reported by's Jon Heyman via twitter. Capps was acquired by the Twins in July of 2010 for Wilson Ramos and was very successful (16 saves, 2.00 ERA, 1.185 WHIP in 27 games) in the process. But 2011 saw him have a nose dive in all his numbers (15 saves, 9 blown saves, 4.25 ERA in 69 games), and was ultimately removed from the closers role in favor of Joe Nathan.

Capps' effort in 2011, lost him favor with many Twins fans. In fact, he was often booed off the field late in the season because he just could not get people out. But, as we found out, he was pitching hurt during a good portion of the season, and that would explain for his struggles. But, he has to learn he is more valuable to us healthy than hurt but trying to pitch through it.

I am in favor of this move. Yes, we could of let him move on with another team and get a draft pick. But, he will probably come at a cheaper price than other closers would (Hopefully), and he is due to bounce back. The other day during a fan forum with season ticket holders, GM Terry Ryan sighted how relievers have rough stretches (using examples of Matt Guerrier in '08 and Jesse Crain in '09) and can bounce back because the team believed they had the right stuff to do so. And that is obviously the same case with Matt Capps. Let's just hope Ryan and company are right.

Winter Meetings Notes

Its only been a month, but what better way to return to writing on here, with some winter meetings posts. Its one of my favorite 4 day stretches in the baseball calendar year. So much rumors flying around, its bound to give you a headache at some time. But perhaps no team needs some retooling more than the Minnesota Twins. And now they have Terry Ryan back behind the GM desk, so maybe he can work some trade magic once again. So today, I'm gonna kick this off with some notes:

  • It would appear that the Twins offseason is hovering around the status of OF Michael Cuddyer right now. As Lavelle writes this morning, the Twins appear to be the favorites to land Cuddyer and it may come on a 2 year deal. But, that could change this week and the Twins may have to improve their offer.
  • The Twins claimed SS Pedro Florimon off waivers from Baltimore today. This has to be a move to strengthen the upper levels of the minor leagues, as Florimon is a career .247 hitter in the minors. More on this later.
  • Today, Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva fell short in their hall of fame bid on the golden era veterans committee ballot. Kaat recieved 10 of 15 votes and Oliva received 8 votes. A player needed 12 to gain induction. Former Cub Ron Santo did get enough to gain election today (Receiving 15 votes) and will be enshrined in Cooperstown next August.
  • As Buster Olney tweets, the Twins appear to be trying to move P Kevin Slowey this week, before the non tender deadline appears. I certainly don't expect us to keep Slowey if we can't trade him. The Twins will just non tender him and let him sign with someone else if they can't move him this week. Slowey made $2.7 million last season and is arbitration eligible and probably would see his salary go up to $3 million if the Twins retain him. But, there is no chance they do, nor should it be considered.
  • Non Twins related note: With the signing of Heath Bell and Jose Reyes, I expected the Miami Marlins to stop with the big name signings. But, they are apparently not done there as they try and go after Albert Pujols. So apparently, moving into a new stadium has made the Marlins a big market club. But their attendance has not hinted that they should be freely spending money like this...
More posts to come this week...