Sunday, May 31, 2009

OtB Twins Notes (06.01.09)

Charley Walters reports that the Twins are not quite ready to discuss figures with Joe Mauer yet.  Twins Sports Inc president Jerry Bell cited former Twin greats in Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek as similar players who accepted lower overall contracts to remain in Minnesota and believes that Mauer will follow suit.  Speculation is that offers could easily reach the $20-mill per year range when teams like the Yankees and Red Sox reach for their checkbooks.  This is not too far from his current production value.  According to evaluation, Mauer was worth $22.4 million in his 2006 season and $26.4 million last year despite being paid $6.4 million and so far in 2009, Mauer's obliterating his previous worth by providing $11.9 million in May alone.  Bell says contract negotiations will transpire after the All Star break. 
A strained right groin landed shortstop Nick Punto on the 15-day DL.  After signing Punto to a two-year, $8 million contract in hopes of solidifying their shortstop position, the Twins have received seriously below average offensive output thus far in 2009 (in case you were wondering, by the's system Punto currently owes the Twins $1.6 million of production).  The league-average for a shortstop has been .274/.329/.385 as Punto and Brendan Harris have supplied a meager .226/.307/.228 for Minnesota.  Early rumors suggest that Pittsburgh's Jack Wilson, Cleveland's Jhonny Peralta and Toronto's John McDonald might be available on the trade market, none of whom are the least bit intriguing if the Twins decided to go that route. 
La Velle E Neal says right fielder Michael Cuddyer left the second inning of Sunday's game with a strained right index finger and will be day-to-day with his injury.  "It was a little stiff from [Saturday] night," Cuddyer said. "I came in this morning and it was a little sore. Then I fouled a ball down the left-field line and it just blew up."  Cuddyer has been on a torrid pace in the month of May hitting .315/.398/.657 with eight home runs, three triples and seven doubles adding 26 RBIs in 108 at-bats.  His 1.056 OPS for May was third on the team trailing Joe Mauer (1.338) and Justin Morneau (1.056).   
Kelsie Smith notes that Francisco Liriano's days in the rotation might be numbered as Glen Perkins gets set to return from the DL after some rehab starts.  Pitching coach Rick Anderson believes that Liriano's struggles with runners on base is due to mental issues rather than mechanical ones (opponents are lugging .614 off of the lefty when there are runners but slugging just .415 when the bases are empty).  When asked if the Twins would consider sending Liriano to a sports psychologist, manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters that it is "a touchy subject. It's not an easy thing. We've had players do that before. We have doctors that, if we think this is becoming a real mental issue for them, yeah. Those options are always available if a guy is really, really struggling, and if you have to do that, you have to do that. I would think that my pitching coach is probably better at that stuff. Mentally, he can relate to players as good as anybody, and he's got a calming influence on them."
Last week, Yahoo! Sports's Gordon Eves listed the Twins among potential suitors for Red Sox starter Brad Penny.  With Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano at a combined 4-13 with a 6.48 ERA, the Twins may want to consider some outside help but Penny's 5-1 record aside, he's not an upgrade.  Currently sporting a 5.63 ERA, Penny's strikeout rate is down to 5.6 K/9 and has averaged under six innings per start.  The record looks pristine because of 6.17 runs of support comes in handy while opponents slug .522 off of you.
Twins farm director Jim Rantz -- along with Paul Molitor and Tom Kelly -- was in Rochester scouting the team that has been playing poorly as of late raleys Jim Mandelaro.  The Red Wings are having offensive issues with Matt Macri (.193 BA), Brock Peterson (.159), Trevor Plouffe (.224) and Jason Pridie (.224).  Rantz appears confident in Macri and Pridie's ability to rebound from the slow start given their longevity at the AAA level.  
Former KFAN personality and current Your Voices writer at the Star Tribune, Doogie Wolfson, echoed the sentiment that Steve Phillips is a moron when it comes to making comments on baseball teams.  
Include Matt Garza on the list of people tired of hearing about the trade that sent him to Tampa Bay in 2007: "It's over and done with," Garza said. "I was a Twin two years ago. I'm a Ray now, and I'm more about the here and now. I have bigger things to worry about, my mentality, how I'm going to approach this outing."