The gray cloud of not acquiring Akinori Iwamura has all kind of silver linings which I’d love to dive into today.
Geek Chorus: Actually, you would have loved to dive into them yesterday, but you were too lazy to finish the column.
Yes. Yes, I was. And that was the Geek Chorus, whose job it is to keep me honest. So honestly, while I'm disappointed to not get Iwamura, there are plenty of positive signs to come out that little episode. Like:
Silver Lining #1: The Twins are interested in upgrading at second base.
Geek Chorus: Uh, doi?
"Doi?" You're going with "Doi?" Nicely done. Very retro.
For most of the nation, this is a "Doi." But those folks don’t root for the Twins, who could trot out at least two reasons to not upgrade:
1) Nick Punto played competently there down the stretch and
2) Alexi Casilla is out of options
The Twins might still mention either or both of those reasons later this offseason, just as Bill Smith did in his interview with TwinsCentric for the Offseason GM Handbook two weeks ago. But neither stopped the Twins from trying to acquire a competent replacement who was going to cost them just short of $5 million next year.
Geek Chorus: Provided it didn’t cost them a B-level prospect – god forbid.
Yeah, the hoarding mentality remains annoying, but there are a slew of free agent second basemen who don’t cost them a B-level prospect, too. Which brings us to…
Silver Lining #2: As good a fit as Iwamura was to plug the vacancy at second base, there are at least a half dozen better fits who will be available this offseason.
When we ranked the free agent second basemen in terms of desirability, Iwamura ranked 6th in guaranteed money, behind Freddy Sanchez, Felipe Lopez, Orlando Hudson, Placido Polanco, and Adam Kennedy. And that list doesn’t include Chone Figgins and Mark Derosa, because they were in the list of third baseman. And doesn’t include potential trade targets like Dan Uggla.
Geek Chorus: Ooh. Dan Uggla. Dan Uggla. The most beautiful sound I ever heard. Dan Uggla. All the most beautiful sounds in the world in two single words - Dan Uggla, Dan Uggla, Dan Uggla, Dan Uggla! I just....
We'll interrupt the Bernstein musical in progress because it's creeping me out a little bit. But the Geek Chorus has a point. I may be guilty of a Polanco Crush, but that's only because Uggla is the girl who is way too far out of the Twins' league to be crushing on. He is Caroline Mulford to Polanco's Molly Ringwald.
Geek Chorus: Now who is the creepy one?
We'll move on.
Silver Lining #3: The Twins recognize that Brian Buscher is not the answer.
Geek Chorus: Unless the question is "Who can strike out more often than Delmon Young?"
Yeah, how about that? Last year at this time Buscher was being touted as two-thirds of the answer at third base because of how he hit lefties. But last year, he not only posted a .235 batting average and a 676 OPS, but he struck out 35 times in 136 at-bats, which was the worst ratio on the team.
Geek Chorus: Careful. This is where one of your more anal-retentive readers points out to you that at-bats are not synonymous with plate appearances.
Super. And this is where I point out that when you're splitting hairs so your boy comes out slightly ahead of Young and Carlos Gomez in flailing futility, you've already conceded the point.
Buscher needs to find a nice non-competitive team that can give him some time playing consistently against right-handers. Maybe there is still time for him to find his way out of the wilderness and into the promised land.
Geek Chorus: Let my people go. (Oh. I guess we did.)
Silver Lining #4: There is a decent chance the Twins think Mike Redmond is coming back as a player.
Why, of all the moves the Twins could have made to the 40-man roster, did the Twins drop Buscher, their main option as a bench bat last year? It's not like there weren't other candidates. Deibinson Romero is a 23-year-old third baseman who is still struggling at High A ball. Trevor Plouffe is a 23-year-old shortstop at AAA who has struggled offensively at every step in his major league career. Is 28-year-old Justin Huber more likely to have a productive role next year than Buscher?
Well, Smith mentioned last month that there is another left-handed bat available:
"Buscher was essentially a left-handed pinch hitter if we needed it. We had pretty good balance. [Jose] Morales was another guy. When he was up for September, he was a switch-hitter, but he’s a better left-handed hitter."
Geek Chorus: So Morales replaces Buscher on the bench, and you think that means Redmond must be coming back as backup catcher? That's a stretch. It might mean just as easily that Redmond is NOT coming back. Can the roster support both Redmond and Morales?
Let's see - five bench spots belong to Brendan Harris, Gomez or Young, Casilla or Tolbert, the backup catcher and...yeah, I think there's room for one more. I'm going with it.
Geek Chorus: Well, I'm withholding my endorsement.
Maybe I should modify #4 to read that it looks like Morales is in the Twins' plans next year. That, by itself, isn't especially good news. Morales' minor league history isn't especially promising. But he had a hot start, cooled considerably, and could end up thrust into a role which he's not ready for...
Geek Chorus: Much like Brian Buscher.
Thanks for stopping by, and make sure to stop by TwinsCentric.com where our first book is now available. We'll see you on Monday.