Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Buscher and Rage and Nothing

You'll see this later, but I can't wait much longer to spit it out: DAMN! Damn, damn, DAMN!!!!

One of the early signs that this blog was going to turn from technical experiment to tragic little obsession took place on January 31, 2002. On that date, the Twins had signed relief pitcher David Lee to a contract - and there was no mention of it in the local papers.

I whipped myself into a self-righteous rage. That was a significant signing, or at the very least a signing with some delicious implications. How could their be no coverage? So I sat down and wrote 400 words comparing Terry Ryan to a Pyrolobus fumarii and this blog (with a few notable breaks) has been dedicated to exploring Twins minutia ever since.

Which bring us to yesterday's minutia, and the infinite implications it represents:

Minnesota Twins outright Brian Buscher to AAA-Rochester.

Implication #1: DAMN! Dammity-damn-damn, dammit!! It looks like the Twins just missed trading for Akinori Iwamura. And it was close enough that they made a roster move to clear space for him.

I guess we're skipping straight to dessert, or what looked an awful lot like dessert, until it was snatched away by Pirates GM Neal Huntington.

The compelling aspect about the Buscher roster move was the timing. The Twins have plenty of time to make their 40-man roster decisions, and the most obvious reason to clear a spot now is to open a space for a new player in a trade. So what kind of players are traded within days of the end of the World Series?

A specific kind of player is usually traded at that time. It's a player who has an option that a team can pick up, but whose option the team doesn't WANT to pick up, because they don't need that player.

(For instance, the Chicago White Sox has a $12 million option on Jermaine Dye for 2010 that they're unlikely to exercise. But that doesn't mean that nobody else would be willing to pay $12 million to Dye for 2010. So rather than just let him walk as a free agent, you can bet that White Sox GM Kenny Williams was on the phone this week asking other GMS if they wanted to trade for Dye.)

That kind of player was traded today when Iwamura was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates today. We wrote up Iwamura in the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook. We said:

Akinori Iwamura*:
Tampa Bay Rays
Age: 30 (DOB: 2/9/79) | 2009 Salary: $3.25M
2009 Stats: .290/.355/.390, 1 HR, 22 RBI
The Rays have a $4.25 club option for Iwamura, but it’s quite feasible that they could buy that out for $250K given that they already have a strong starting infield unit with Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett and Evan Longoria. If Iwamura hits free agency, he’d be someone the Twins would need to take a long hard look at. He was limited to only 54 games in 2009 by injury, which might make him an even better bargain.
Estimated Contract: 2 years, $8M

We were right that he was going to be available, but we didn't anticipate the Rays would trade that option rather than just not exercise it.

Before I heard that Buscher had been outrighted, I had heard from both local and national sources that the Twins were in final talks over Iwamura. Now, I hear stuff like this all the time, but the Buscher roster moves raises those rumors to another level.

I'll stop short of saying there is NO reason to make that roster move at this time if the Twins were not expecting to acquire a player, because there could be something personal going on with Buscher that we don't know about. But the timing of it is exceptionally strange. Usually the timing for this kind of move points to a second move.

So - damn. Iwamura has a career OBP of .354 and plays league average defense at second base, which are two thing the Twins didn't do in 2009. He's been a leadoff hitter for most of his MLB career, which would've played nice at #2 in the order, though he does bat left-handed.

So he's not an exceptional player, but he's a clear upgrade over what the Twins trotted out at second base last year. Losing him isn't going to cripple the offseason plans, and there are plenty of other, more positive implications to this move. But it looks like the Twins missed out on someone they wanted, and someone who would have made lots of sense.

Which brings us back to that entry from 2002. David Lee never played in a game with the Twins that year. He was sent to AAA a couple weeks before the Twins broke camp. All of that outrage and fine literary effort was ultimately for nothing. Like, it seems, this latest one.


SethSpeaks said...

The nice thing about Iwamura is that, since the Twins seemingly don't want to just hand 3B over to Danny Valencia, he could have played 3B the first couple of months before shifting over to 2B, and replacing Mr. Punto.

TT said...

Didn't Buscher have to clear waivers? That means this move was made a while ago. You might want to consider if there are six-year minor league free agents who they would want to add to the roster. Morillo comes to mind. I guess we will find that out shortly.

jesse said...

It astounds me that the local media couldn't say that the Twins were in serious talks with the Pirates for Iwamura. You say they did, but I didn't hear it...which might have something to do with my being in England. But when they tell us "Buscher kicked out", how can they not follow it up with "...because XYZ".

Ultimately this doesn't break my heart either way. He would have been an upgrade, but there were plenty of risks, too. I'm also glad the Twins didn't try to top the Pirates offer, if indeed that's why this didn't get done.