Wednesday, June 13, 2007

All Kinds of Notes

The Big Trade(TM)
The lead story on the news last night was TBT the Timberwolves made yesterday, trading pointish guard Mike James for powerish forward Juwan Howard. For Wolves fans there is some good news in that it's not a clear step backwards.

On the other hand, it's not necessarily a clear step forward, either. It makes room for Randy Foye, but James was never really in his way, in the same way that Howard won't ever really be in the way of Craig Smith. It also gives the Wolves one less year of a guaranteed contract, but not until the 2009-10 season. By that time, KG's contract is over, and I assume he would be gone.

But really, short of a miracle, there isn't a lot more that can be done. Next year, the Wolves would need to trade away at least two, and maybe three of their ridiculous non-KG contracts s to make their way below the salary cap. The year after that, they'll likely still be over the cap unless they move at least one of them. And then in 2009-2010, they'll be under the cap and flush with trading chits, as several contracts will be desirable as expiring contracts. And as KG plays for some other team.

What can be done in the short term? The easy answer is that Wolves need to hope they catch fire with that 7th pick. Short of that, the only other (non-KG) tradable commodity they have to improve the team is Ricky Davis, a talented but enigmatic player who could help a contending team OR just provide an expiring contract. Those two factors make him desirable to any number of teams. Whether the current Wolves management trades him might be a litmus test on whether they've learned anything from their current mismanagement of all things contractual.

Matt Tolbert
So Matt Tolbert is moving to third base, huh?

You won't find Tolbert on any prospect list for the Twins, which makes his hot start at Rochester more amazing. He's 25, which is pretty old for a breakout season, and he's also only carried this hot streak for 140 at-bats, so it might be a little early to start licking each other's popcicles.

Looking at his minor league stats so far, there's some stuff to like, provided you're not looking for big time power. He struggled mightily in 2005 in his first full yearin professional baseball, but last year he showed a fairly solid batting eyer and decent gap power, though his batting average in New Britain over the second half of the season didn't demonstrate much in the way of progress.

If he keeps up this kind of hitting (and by keep up, I don't mean hitting .379, but maybe closer to .310) you could make a case that he needs to be considered as a possible major league starting position player. But even then, I'm not sure you can project him to be a major league starter at third base unless your current third baseman is slugging .298.

What's that? Really? Um, forget I said anything.

Allocating Funds
The Twins announced yesterday that they have reached a quick agreement with Ben Revere, their first round pick in this years's draft. Revere signed for $800,000, a small amount given his first round status, possibly because he wasn't considered first round talent by at least one baseball publication.

Over at the GameDay's Writers blog, Kyle Eliason wasn't afraid to rip the Twins for their pick, in part because there were more many more highly touted prospects available, partly because Revere fits a small and speedy stereotype, and partly because he thought the Twins drafted him because he was cheap. I replied in the comments section that I thought he was overreacting a bit, but this signing seems to confirm at least the last point.

I've been critical of those writers who want to point to the millions of dollars the Twins spent on veteran pitchers this offseason, half of which now seems to be relatively wasted. My point was that the money was always a gamble, some of it (Silva's money) has paid off well, and that there wasn't much available for $3-4 million over one year that was any better.

But Kyle also commented and pointed at the draft as a place where that money CAN be used and used well. If the Twins are going to gamble on a player, why not on a player that can impact the organization for years at a time, rather than a 60 inning patch for April and May? I'm sure someone will point out that the money is likely in a seperate budget, but whose fault is that? When the Twins are drafting late, wouldn't it make sense to reserve some payroll dollars in the hope that a high-ceiling Scott Boras client might scare some other teams off?

For a competetive team, the current year always needs to be the priority. But it smelled like overkill at the time, and that seems to have been confirmed. Now it smells like that overkill may have affected this year's draft, which may affect the Twins several years down the road. None of this can be confirmed - maybe the Twins just really liked Revere and thought the other guys were overrated - but Kyle's right that this doesn't feel quite right.

Lew's Home Run
Did anyone else notice that while Lew Ford was rouding the bases last night, the PA system was pounding out the Victory March from Star Wars? Just like shooting womp-rats in Beggars Canyon back home, eh Lewk?


Anonymous said...

They played the Star Wars theme music for Morneau and Torii also...
For Lew - that's fine
For Justin and Torii - that's just wrong!

h. said...

Stupid thought on a Thursday night after a great game of baseball...

Does it really figure into the game of smallball to your best five players bat first?

Maybe Gardy is right and there is an argument to be made for batting Punto in the second position. We're a small ball team that is looking to advance the runner. The sacrifice is, perhaps, one of the more given plays in baseball and arguably a staple in our offense.

Given our acceptance of this play and given Castillo's OBP is it best to have Joe batting second?

There has been much made about having the best starting five in the league given the most at bats. However, with our style of small ball couldn't there be an argument to playing a sacrificial at bat in the two hole?

brianS said...

Punto has more GIDP (3) than SH (2) on the season. Combine that with his 324 OBP (exactly at his career average OBP, btw), why would you want him getting a couple extra PA per week by batting him second instead of 8th or 9th?

If we MUST go that route, I'd rather see Bartlett in the 2-hole. But I'd rather let the Mauer experiment run for a few weeks.

Kyle Eliason said...

Mauer is the perfect number two hitter. He's:

1. Left handed, which allows him to hit behind the runner.

2. Very rarely strikes out.

3. Hits a ton of ground balls.

4. Posts an excellent batting average.

5. Posts an excellent on-base percentage.

I cannot think of anyone in the major leagues I'd rather have batting second for a team I managed than Joe Mauer.

Mauer as a number three hitter is overrated. He hits too many line drives and ground balls at this stage in his career (which don't translate into homeruns). Given the number of games still left in the season and Mauer's career homerun rate, he's on pace to finish the season with what, eight dingers?

Mauer should have been hitting second last year, too. Mauer is the number two hitter all number two hitters should aspire to be.

Adam said...

Oh, Lew...I wonder if it's more than a coincidence that his uniform number is twenty?