- Tejada the Twin? An insider source told me that the Twins and Astros have the preliminary deal in place that would bring Miguel Tejada back to the American League. It is unclear as to what the Astros have coming to them for the former MVP. Phil Rogers reported earlier that the two teams were in talks for Tejada and Ty Wigginton. Obviously Tejada stands a pretty good chance of reaching the Type A free agent status post-2009 and this would secure the Twins two additional draft picks. Assuming that both teams are well aware of this, it would stand to reason that there could be three players moving from the Twins.
If it is just the shortstop it appears that the Twins will owe Tejada $13 million for the 2009 season. This isn't an issue like it had been in the past. Going into 2008, the Twins reduced their payroll by 20%. Twins president Dave St. Peter announced that "We have finalized the budget for 2009, and we believe that the budget allows us some flexibility to improve our baseball team." Yes, the Twins balked at the decision to sign 35 year old Casey Blake to a contract that exceeds two seasons which makes a trade for Tejada that much more appealing simply that he is only available for one season. The Twins were rumored to have offered Blake a two-year, $14 million dollar deal that he turned down. Deciding to forgo signing Blake to a three-year was the right thing to do.
There are some problems with Tejada, however:
- Tejada is coming off his first year with the Astros, disappointing to many. Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice reports that towards the end of the season Tejada looked "old and tired both at the plate and in the field". From August 1st on, the 34 year old Tejada hit .284/.303/.395 in 222 plate appearances. A strong sign of regression is wearing down at the end of the year.
- If you consider OPS+ as a gauge for the player-curve, you will notice that Tejada's peaked at 30 years old (138) then took a downward turn after that season: 128 at 31, 126 at 32, 109 at 33 and 92 at 34.
- Not known to strike out that much, Tejada witnessed his walk rate move south with him. While with the Orioles in 2007 Tejada walked 7.2% of his plate appearances. In Houston Tejada walked just 3.6% of the time. What gives? According to Fangraphs.com, Tejada had a huge spike in the number of out-of-zone pitches he was swinging at. Between the two seasons he increased his chase rate 6%. Judging from his pitch type analysis, Tejada was receiving nearly 5% more fastballs in 2008 than he had in 2007. The amount of curves thrown to him dropped as well. This is a possible indication that the league's scouts no longer feel that Tejada can catch up to a fastball. What's more is that he is no longer pulling the ball with as much enthusiasm as he did several years ago. In his 2002 MVP year, he turned on the pitch nearly 50% of the time. When he did so his average was .380. This past season he pulled the ball only 35% of the time resulting in a .350 average on the balls in play.
No Washburn. Hopefully the Twins are satisfied with their starting rotation moving into 2009. According to Jim Street, an MLB.com reporter, the Mariners are actively shopping Wisconsin native Jarrod Washburn fortunately "The Twins have not been mentioned as one of the teams that have inquired about Washburn -- Minnesota is more focused on third baseman Adrian Beltre -- but the Brewers are believed to have some interest."
Sayonara. One internal left-handed option the Twins could have had to replace Dennys Reyes is moving east. Far east. The Tokyo Yakult Swallows have acquired 27 year old Ricky Barrett. Barrett put together a solid 2008, working 70 innings and striking out 81 while walking 38. The Twins drafted Barrett in 2002 with there seventh round selection and rose through the system but stalled out in AAA since 2006. In total, Barrett had a very good 441 strikeouts in 413 innings pitched.
- Erickson wants a comeback. No, not Roger. Scott. Seriously. Apparently Erickson, 40, has contacted the Twins front office seeking the possibility of partaking in spring training. "He wants to come back," Twins GM Bill Smith reportedly commented, "I told him to go get a job in winter ball and let's see what you can do." Erickson is not currently on any winter league roster so it appears that the Twins won't have to awkwardly tell him that he is not invited. In 2006 the Yankees gave Erickson 11.1 innings and he responded with 7 walks and two strikeouts. The last time Erickson resurfaced was during a Twins broadcast in 2008 which he and his lovely wife, Lisa Guerrero, toured the country in efforts to promote a movie the duo financed called 'A Plumm Summer'. For the most part, the movie fell flat.
- Another Former Pitcher Note. The Blue Jays have hired former Twins pitcher Roy Smith and made him apart of their scouting department. Smith had a brief stint with the World Champion 1987 Twins and went 10-6 with a 3.92 ERA in 173.2 innings in 1989.
Chicago White Sox
Sox Rumors. A few days after the Reds denied the Dye-for-Bailey rumors, the Sun-Times Joe Crowley announced through a Twitter update that the Rays and the Braves are interested in Jermaine Dye. ESPN's Jason Stark reported that the Rays have been "interested" in reacquiring Delmon Young but Dye might be a better corner outfield candidate considering Tampa Tribune's Marc Lancaster noted that a Rays official denied interested in Young. The Rays are possibly shopping pitchers Edwin Jackson and Andy Sonnanstine, two pitchers that the White Sox would demand at least one be involved in any potential deal.
To Dye For? White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams was quoted as saying ''No, we have not traded Jermaine Dye to the Cincinnati Reds or anywhere else,'' but when pressed if there was something on the horizon, Williams added ''Well, we'll just have to wait and see what the meetings -- and this is in regard to everyone on our current roster -- we'll just have to wait and see what the week brings us." Though very consistent since coming to Chicago, Dye will be 35 next year and is due $11.5 million.
Indians Signing Wood? Now that the Mets and Francisco Rodriguez have made it official, it stands to reason that the second tier free agent closers will begin to sign accordingly. The Indians supposedly have the constructs of a deal for free agent closer Kerry Wood. The Indians GM, Mark Shapiro, told the Plain Dealer early in the morning Tuesday that "We are meeting with the agents of all of the closers. Each alternative has different positives and different risks. Every situation is unique to the guy. We don't set length of contracts by position. It's based on the guy, his history. It's situational." The Indians who finished at .500 after a brutal start to the season, were tanked by Joe Borowski's early season failed closings. After the Indians finished the year 38-20 from August 1st on, it was the implementation of Jensen Lewis in the closer's role who pitched 25 innings with a 22/8 K/BB ratio and saving 13 games. Wood, who was throwing at 94-mph, would be an upgrade depending on the length and terms of the contract but is still an injury liability.
Kansas City Royals
Contenders or Pretenders? The Royals are talking a close look at both Rafael Furcal and Orlando Hudson on the free agent market. In efforts to clear more payroll room the Royals are said to be shopping Jose Guillen who is due to make $24 million the next two years.