As reported by Seth Stohs at sethspeaks.net on Sunday, the Twins have signed 39-year-old Mark Grudzielanek to a minor league contract and have assigned him to the GCL to re-acclimate the second baseman who had not played organized baseball in 2009. After his three-years with the Royals between 2006-2008 where he hit .300/.339/.412, Grudzie was listed as a Type A free agent that, combined with his accelerated age, scared off potential suitors this past offseason. A line drive hitter (23.6 percent since 2002), Grudzielanek makes a lot of contact, rarely walks, while providing quality at-bats against left-handed pitching (.302 BA in 667 PA since 2004) and has hit well out of the number two spot (.291 BA). Defensively, his range has shrunk in those Kansas City years but his arm and soft hands ensures that he makes all of the outs he can get to. He's old, recovering from a Ross Gload-induced ankle injury and has been away from the field for almost a year so there is a possibility that Grudz never fully rebounds to his league-average contributions. Nevertheless, his acquisition signifies the front office's lack of confidence in their current second base options but for minimal risk, the Twins received a player of mid-level reward.
More Twins Blogosphere Run-Down on Grudzielanek's signing:
Two of our main trade targets discussed in the TwinsCentric Trade Deadline Primer were traded on Sunday. Tom Haudricourt reports that the Brewers have acquired Diamondbacks second baseman Felipe Lopez for two minor league prospects. Lopez is due $3.5 million on his one-year contract and would have been an attractive solution for second base if the asking price been reasonable. The Brewers, who had a need since losing Rickie Weeks for the season, surrendered LF Cole Gillespie (24 YR, AAA) and RHRP Roque Mercedes (22 YR, HA), neither of which are attractive merchandise. Gillespie has demonstrated a very professional approach at the plate coaxing walks but has marginal power and iffy defense to compliment a weak arm. Mercedes has the potential of being a solid reliever with 90-94 MPH fastball and plus-curve. It's hard not to think that the Twins could not have matched this package.
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles managed to acquire RHRP Cla Meredith away from the Padres for the 31-year-old Oscar Salazar. Meredith, a 26-year-old side-arming groundball machine, was under club control for the next three seasons while entering arbitration in 2010. In his four seasons since 2006, Meredith has worked 237.1 innings with a 165-to-60 K-to-BB ratio and a 0.6 HR/9. Salazar, on the other hand, has found limited time at the big league level because he does field any position exceptionally well but has hit .321/.394/.534 in his 127 PAs in Baltimore. From the Padres perspective, this just makes no-freakin-sense. In a player that they should have leveraged the hell out of in Meredith, they accepted less than beans but were desperate for utility help after Edgar Gonzalez was hit in the head with a pitch and hospitalized.
Sid Hartman wrote that the Twins could have landed Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez if they were willing to relinquish Francisco Liriano. In spite of his 4-9 record and 5.47 ERA, Liriano is far too valuable to swap for one year of Sanchez. His strikeout rate is strong (8.2 K/9) while his last seven starts leading up to the All Star break show that he is improving as he posted a 3.95 ERA with a very good 43/18 K/BB ratio in those 43 innings. "Every team tries to make deals, but they are tough to make," GM Bill Smith said. "The teams that are selling players are looking for a high return. We try and balance out the benefit of the short term vs. the long term."
Poor Brian O'Nora. After an incident in 2008 in which the umpire was the recipient of Miguel Olivo's shattered bat to the head, O'Nora took one unfortunate hop on Saturday night right in the babymaker from Justin Morneau's check-swing. O'Nora staggered around for a bit before dropping to one knee and twice ran off the field during the game (to presumably throw up or piss blood).
Kelsie Smith says that the Twins will start to curtail Delmon Young's playing time. "Everybody's had their opportunity now to get themselves settled in," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Now we're going to put the speed out there, which I like, and see what happens. And Delmon will be a part of it here and there." It might be a harsh reality for someone who hit .329/.333/.474 in 78 PAs dating between June 3rd and July 7th, but Young should be limited to the DH role against left-handed pitchers to reprieve Jason Kubel who is hitting a weak .194 (14-for-72) versus LHP.
Any speculation that the White Sox might be in consideration for Roy Halladay seems fueled by an empty piece in the Chicago Sun-Times suggesting that the Sox are "mulling the price". Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey fanned the flames by demanding the Sox land Halladay (a stark contrast to the Twin Cities mouthpieces). Manager Ozzie Guillen dismisses this by saying ''To make that work would be a lot of money and a lot of players involved. It's nice to say we need this guy or that guy, but it's not easy [to make trades]. I don't think we'll give up half the organization for one guy.'' As we noted in the TwinsCentric Trade Deadline Primer (available for download at $9.95), the Sox are a hard team to read. GM Kenny Williams pulls the trigger quite often on deals but mostly during the offseason. His last big-splash deadline foray was landing Freddy Garcia from the Mariners in 2004. Then again, William has re-acquired tradeable parts from the Braves in the Javier Vazquez trade and had tried to pry Jake Peavy away from the Padres earlier this year so the notion that he will stand pat is any one's guess.
Clinging to a two game lead over the Twins, the Tigers received some bad news this week: hard-throwing Joel Zumaya will need to go on the DL with a shoulder injury. With Zumaya going on the 15-day DL for the Tigers, it exacerbates an already weak area for Detroit. “He’s been throwing 100 m.p.h.,” manager Jim Leyland said. “It’s hard to assume something isn’t right when a guy is throwing (that fast).” This is curious in that usually shoulder injuries come with a drop in velocity. While the starting rotation has been excellent upfront, the bullpen has found it difficult to complete the transaction, blowing 56 percent of save situations. Zumaya will be replaced by the young fireballer Ryan Perry, who's erratic control has produced similar results to Zumaya (6.9 BB/9 vs 6.4 BB/9). The Tigers, who have very little left as trade chips, have also inquired about Adam Dunn and Roy Halladay.
Towards the end of Friday night's broadcast against the Rangers, Bert Blyleven made a curious comment stating that he believed that the Ballpark at Arlington was very much a "fair" field, favoring neither the pitchers nor the hitters, citing the dimensions to back his claim. Blyleven, of course, is wrong. Including the well-documented channel that propels flyballs to the seats, STATS records shows that 'heat equals hitting' and found that when the temperature was above 90, there were an average of 9.1 runs scored and 1.83 HRs per game. When the temp drops below 60, the offense scores 8 runs with 1.40 HRs per game. As stated numerous times, Arlington typically reaches triple-digits in the summertime. According to ESPN.com's list of Park Factors, the Ballpark has been hitter-favorable every year (with the exception of 2007 when the PF was 0.979) and has averaged 6th of the 30 teams dating back to 2002.
Continuing on with Dick 'N Bert announcing tandem, in one of the numerous downtime, down-home blatherings, Dick Bremer revealed that he was curious to know where suburban Blaine, Minnesota (along with rural Nowthen and Sleepy Eye) got their town names. Okay, I'll bite:
Blaine, MN: Named after James G. Blaine, a senator and three-time presidential candidate in Maine, submitted by Moses Ripley in 1877 when the township separated from Anoka.
Nowthen, MN: In 1876 the Burns Township needed an official post office name and the post master, Jim Hare, wrote to Washington requesting a name. Because of Burnstown Township in Southern Minnesota the PO General asked Hare to come up with alternatives. He dictated a letter with many candidates and finished it with "Nowthen". Unbeknownst to the powers that be in Washington, Hare often started and finished his sentences with "Nowthen" and had no intention of naming the community as such (kind of like saying "Knowhatimsayin"). The name was chosen and stuck.
Sleepy Eye, MN: Named after Chief Sleepy Eye who recommended the area of the Minnesota River now Mankato as a sustainable place for settlers away from floods. Sleepy Eye and his people settle just west of current-day New Ulm on a lake, later named "Sleepy Eye".
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