Sunday, November 28, 2010

Quick Notes: Nov. 28, 2010

This past Tuesday was the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their Type A and Type B free agents. The Twins offered arbitration to Carl Pavano (Type A), Jesse Crain (B), and Orlando Hudson (B). They declined to offer arbitration to Matt Guerrier (A), Jon Rauch (B), and Brian Fuentes (B). Pavano, Crain, and Hudson have until this coming Tuesday to accept or decline the offer.

Some fans believe that Orlando Hudson has a "gentlemen's agreement" with the Twins to decline the arbitration just so the team can collect the draft pick. It's a fairly common thing, so I wouldn't be surprised. We'll see.

I'm most interested in what Carl Pavano does. It sounds like a lot of teams are interested in him, so if he doesn't accept, he'll have plenty of offers to consider. But I'm hoping that he likes the Twins so much that he'll accept, which buys the team time to come up with a multi-year deal.

I'm also interested in what will happen with Matt Guerrier. The Twins probably did him a favor by not offering arbitration. If they had, teams may have been unwilling to sign him since he's a Type A free agent. Having to give up a high-round draft pick may have been too costly to sign a middle reliever. So this scenario makes it pretty unlikely that the Twins will try to re-sign him. Too bad; I like him -- probably more than most fans do.


Late Thanksgiving night and early Black Friday morning, we heard that the Twins earned the exclusive negotiating rights with Japanese middle-infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The Twins have to pay his team, the Chiba Lotte Marines, reportedly $5.3 million just to talk to him. The Twins have 30 days to come to an agreement, but since they're the only MLB team allowed to talk to him, there's no reason to believe that they won't sign him. If they can't sign him, they do get their damage deposit bid money back. Joe Christensen of the StarTribune has lots of great information about Nishioka and the whole process.

There are a few questions surrounding his potential signing. Will he play 2B or SS? Will this make a difference in whether the Twins offer JJ Hardy a new contract? What about Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert? (Ok, I was kidding about Tolbert.) And what if Hudson accepts arbitration?

Another pressing question is, how many different ways will Bert Blyleven pronounce his name? And how bad will Dan Gladden butcher it? Most importantly, what in the world will Gardy's nickname for him be?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hot Stove...Huh?

Or: A Fan Tries to Wrap Her Head Around Baseball Contracts

Disclaimer: This isn't really a well-researched piece; it's more of an exercise in thinking through the complexities of baseball contracts. Everything I say here is either something I've known for a while and I don't know where the information comes from or I've heard on sports talk radio. Regard this as you would something from Wikipedia. If you find something that is wrong, please correct me. I'll even let you point and laugh. However, for more in-depth analysis, I do highly recommend the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook. It's only $9.95, and it's packed with helpful and interesting information regarding the current Twins and their contracts along with predictions on how this offseason will shake out. It's very interesting and thought-provoking, and it would be a bargain at twice the price. But anyway, I digress...

Tuesday's announcement that the Twins offered arbitration to Carl Pavano, Jesse Crain, and Orlando Hudson (and subsequently declined to offer to Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, and Brian Fuentes) caused a lot questions on Twitter, and in real life (specifically, my own household) about how baseball contracts, free agency, and arbitration work. I'm pretty sure I've got it figured out; let's go over what I know.

Pre-Arbitration Eligibles:
When a player first becomes a big leaguer, he is under the team's control for six years. However, for the first three, he makes league minimum with no hope of a raise in salary. Of course, at any time, the team may send him back down to the minors, and then service-time is considered. But that's pretty complicated. Just remember the first three years, he's cheap.
  • Alex Burnett
  • Drew Butera
  • Brian Duensing
  • Jose Mijares
  • Jose Morales
  • Matt Tolbert
  • Danny Valencia

Arbitration Eligibles: 
After those first three years (for some players, it's two-plus years, depending on service time -- they're called super-twos), he becomes eligible for yearly pay increases (usually). He is still on the roster for the next three years, but the team may tender, or non-tender, new contracts on a year-by-year basis. If the team chooses to non-tender a contract, it's usually because his worth is getting more expensive than what the team is willing to pay, or the team simply doesn't want him anymore. A player whose contract has been non-tendered becomes a free agent and may sign with any team. Many fans fear that this may be the situation with JJ Hardy.

If the team does tender a contract, the player remains under control for the following year, and they have until the arbitration hearing date to come to terms on the salary. If not, then they go through the arbitration hearing process. I'll talk about this later.

Of course, the team may offer new multi-year deals at any time. This happened with Nick Blackburn last offseason. Oh, and Joe Mauer.

The deadline to tender or non-tender offers is Dec. 2.
  • Matt Capps (3rd year of arbitration eligibility)
  • Alexi Casilla (1st)
  • Clay Condrey (3rd)
  • JJ Hardy (technically 3rd, but really 4th, he was a super-two)
  • Francisco Liriano (2nd)
  • Pat Neshek (2nd)
  • Glen Perkins (1st)
  • Jason Repko (3rd/4th)
  • Kevin Slowey (1st)
  • Delmon Young (2nd)

Free Agents with Options:
A free agent's contracts is up, but sometimes optional years are added to the end of the contract. Either the team or the player, or both, can have the option depending on how the contract is written. It's kind of a built-in "out" clause. Most are team options; only superstar players get player options. If the option is exercised, the contract is extended. If it's not, then the player is a free agent and may sign with any team. He may, in fact, sign with his original team. This might happen if the salary for the optional year is higher than the player is worth.
  • Jason Kubel -- Twins picked up his 2011 option, he's under contract
  • Nick Punto -- Twins declined his 2011 option, he's a free agent

Type A and Type B Free Agents:
Again, these players' contracts are up, but Elias Sports Bureau has deemed them to be a "Type A" (top 20% based on last two years) or a "Type B" (next 20% over last two years) free agent. Teams may offer a player arbitration if they feel the rewards outweigh the risks. The risk is that the he'll accept and they'll have to give him a salary increase. That could also be a reward if they really want to keep him.

If a player accepts arbitration, he is under contract for the following year, and the terms of the salary will be determined before or through the arbitration hearing. They could work out a multi-year deal if they want to.

If a Type A player refuses arbitration, he is a free agent and may sign with any team. However, the team who signs him gives up a high-round draft pick to the original team, plus the original team gets a supplemental (between the first and second rounds) draft pick. This may hurt a player because teams may shy away from signing him so they can save their draft pick.

If a Type B player refuses arbitration, he is a free agent, and the original team gets a supplemental draft pick.

The deadline to accept or refuse arbitration is Nov. 30.
  • Jesse Crain (B) - Twins offered arbitration
  • Brian Fuentes (B) - not offered
  • Matt Guerrier (A) - not offered
  • Orlando Hudson (B) - offered
  • Carl Pavano (A) - offered
  • Jon Rauch (B) - not offered

Regular Free Agents:
These guys' contracts are up, and they're free to sign with any team, including the original team.
  • Randy Flores
  • Ron Mahay
  • Jim Thome

Under Contract:
These guys are under contract and aren't going anywhere unless the Twins trade them.
  • Scott Baker
  • Nick Blackburn
  • Michael Cuddyer
  • Brendan Harris (in the minors, not on 40-man roster)
  • Joe Mauer
  • Justin Morneau
  • Joe Nathan
  • Denard Span

Arbitration Process:
A player who qualifies for arbitration and the team submit salary figures to each other in mid-January for the new contract. Then they work on meeting somewhere in between. They have until the time of the arbitration appointment, sometime in February, to come to terms. They can literally have their hand on the doorknob going into the room and come to an agreement (this happened to Michael Cuddyer a couple of years ago). If they can't agree, they go to a hearing. A three-person panel of independent arbiters listens to both sides' cases and reviews other stats, accomplishments, etc. However, when each side is presenting it's case, things can get ugly. The team's GM is trying to downplay the player's value, while the player's agent is trying to upgrade it, all while the player is sitting there feeling like a piece of property up for auction. Weaknesses, bad habits, and all sorts of negative things are brought up. Egos are bruised; nerves are touched; backs are stabbed. Then, as they leave the room, the player tries convince himself it's "just business" while the GM tries to convince him that it's great to have him and that he needs to bust his balls for the team. This happened to Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants last year. It wasn't pretty. Then the panel makes its decision, choosing either the team's or the player's salary figure -- no in-between.

There's a reason that teams, players, and fans rejoice when they avoid arbitration.

So, yeah, I think I've got it all. Any comments or corrections?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quick Notes: Nov. 21, 2010

Hearty congratulations to Ron Gardenhire for winning the AL Manager of the Year. It was very well deserved and very long overdue. He's always done a great job making my favorite team win more often than they lose.

Now, I hate to pee in his champagne because I honestly believe he deserves the award, but if he wants to ever win it again, he and the team need to solve the riddle of getting out of the first round of the playoffs. I'm not one to blame the manager for the performance of the players, but I do have a feeling there's just something more he could do to lead, guide, encourage, mentor, fire-up, or otherwise push these guys in these situations. Of course winning is a team effort, and the award is supposed to be for regular-season accomplishments, but these first-round faceplants are pretty memorable and voters won't be able to get them out of the backs of their heads.

But, yes, 2010 was a great year for the Twins, thanks in large part to their great manager.

And as a reward, the Twins extended his, and the other coaches', contracts. Yay.


The Twins another minor-league signing, 1B Jeff Bailey, this week. It seems as if they're concentrating on beefing up the Red Wings sqaud some more. This is good because they had a horrible season last year. The Rochester fans deserve better, and the Twins could use more depth.

The Twins also added a four minor-leaguers to the 40-man roster to protect them from the upcoming Rule 5 draft: RHP David Bromberg, OF Joe Benson, 1B Chris Parmelee, and OF Rene Tosoni.


Scarf-zilla update: it's done! It's ridiculous, but it's done! It can warm four people at once, but it's done!

Now, for some smaller, more manageable projects.


I hope you have a fantastic and safe Thanksgiving. I'm really looking forward to enjoying my mother-in-law's cabbage rolls.  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Notes: Nov. 14, 2010

Congratulations to Joe Mauer for winning the 2010 Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards. It's not really a surprise that he won them. While there is always controversy around the Gold Glove, and some folks were saying that Joe didn't have his best year defensively, I can't think of a better catcher in the American League.


Speaking of controversy with the Gold Glove, there was a little issue with the winner at shortstop for the American League, Derek Jeter. You see, the Gold Glove award has a bit of a reputation of once a guy starts winning it, he keeps winning it -- whether he deserves it or not. And giving it to Jeter seems to reinforce that reputation.

Jeter makes great jumping throws, but he has to because he doesn't have much range. If he had good range, his throws would be routine, which probably doesn't really appeal to him anyway. In fact, the folks at figured out some defensive metrics of all the American League shortstops. Jeter came in at #59*. Seems as if some other guys may have deserved it more than him.

* has since taken down the link to the list they made, otherwise I would have linked to it.


Although it's been a pretty quiet week for the Twins, they have added a few new guys to the minor leagues. The most notable of which, and so far the only one to land on the 40-man roster, is relief pitcher Eric Hacker (a name that always makes me think of former Gopher football player Eric Decker).

There's not much to read in to this signing other than that he'll be given every opportunity to prove himself during Spring Training and earn a spot in the Twins' bullpen.

The other guys they've signed are really to fill in spots in the minors. However, one guy, relief pitcher Yorman Bazardo, certainly gets the Cool Name award from me.


Target Field announced several new features for next season. It's hard to believe they could improve on such a great ballpark, but these improvements sound pretty sweet. There will be a new scoreboard in right field which will be the same as the one in left field, only smaller (great idea -- I sat in the left field seats once, and I had to turn around in my seat just to see the scoreboard). They're also adding a clock tower next to the new scoreboard (nice, IF they keep the graphics on it team- or game-related; lame, if it's just another place to put advertising).

They also hope to improve customer service at the concession stands to reduce wait-time (ok, I've never had a problem) and add more signature Minnesota food (I can't imagine what that would be -- they've already got the Juicy Lucy and Byerly's Wild Rice Soup -- unless it's Spam).

Free WiFi and improved cell coverage will be great too.


Speaking of improvements to Target Field, it seems as if Justin Morneau was hoping they'd have the hitters in mind and bring in the fences a smidge. I don't blame him. It is certainly near the bottom of the list for homerun-friendly parks.

A lot of sports radio talk show hosts, bloggers, and other fans are kind giving him a hard time about his remarks. But, I seem to remember a lot of folks complaining during the season about all the catches at the wall. Why is it ok for fans and media-folk to whine about it, but not players?

I'm not completely sure that moving the fences after just the first season is the right decision. But, it's his opinion, he feels strongly about it, and I'm glad he said something.


Scarf-zilla for Jim Thome update: it's longer than I am and almost done. With five rows to go, I ran out of blue yarn. Story of my life.

Yes, I have to get more yarn and finish those five rows. It needs to be symmetrical; I'm particular like that. Luckily, I used cheap yarn that claims to have no dye lot.

By later in the week, Bill Smith should be able to offer Big Jim a contract, complete with scarf-zilla if he wants it.

If Jimmers doesn't need it, it would also be suitable for TC Bear.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Notes: Nov. 7, 2010

The free agency season has officially begun. Ten Twins were granted free agency, which is kind of a lot (only the Rays have more with 12).

Here are the guys we may not see in a Twins uniform any more:
  • Crain
  • Flores
  • Fuentes
  • Guerrier
  • Hudson
  • Mahay
  • Pavano
  • Punto
  • Rauch
  • Thome
Here is my plan: keep the guys I really like, and best wishes to the other guys.


On October 30, Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press reported that Michael Cuddyer had emergency appendectomy surgery two days prior. But, what's weird is, no one else reported it. Honestly, I looked.

Now, I'm not necessarily a fan of Shooter, but I would think a journalist who's spilled as much ink as he has wouldn't just make stuff up. So, I guess I believe him. But wouldn't you think that someone, anyone, would also mention it? Fifteen people told me about his little knee-cleanup surgery a couple of weeks ago, so I'm confused as to why it's not all over the usual outlets.

I guess everyone takes it to heart when Walters titles that segment of his column "Don't Print That."

And if it is true, Cuddy is a quick healer; he tweeted Sunday about taking his boy to the Wiggles concert. He even proved it with a picture. He looks good (yes, he always looks good; I mean healthy).

So, Cuddy honey, if you really did have your appendix out about 10 days ago, I hope you're well. And if you didn't, I still hope you're well, but I think you should openly mock and laugh at Charley Walters.


Allow me to give you an update on my crocheted scarf project. Turns out I'm pretty bad at judging size. Not only is it way to wide for my neck, it's also turning out to be way too long (it's a pattern, so I can't just stop). It's so big, it's suitable for Paul Bunyan. Or Jim Thome.

Hey, I have an idea...I'm totally willing to throw in this scarf-asaurus in any offer the Twins give to Jimmers. Big, strong sluggers have to keep warm, you know.


My birthday was this past week, and I finally got a Brad Radke jersey. Yay me! This is my first player jersey (the other one I have is plain). At least I know I can't bring bad luck to Radke's Twins career.

The notable part about this is that Radke jerseys are really hard to find. So, I'm very happy to get this.


Speaking of getting old, I take an unusual interest in players over 40. I looked them up to see their contract status and see how many of them were free agents. I guess it's kind of typical that a lot of them are free agents; older guys usually get only one-year contracts. Of the 15 active players in the MLB who are 40 or older, only three -- Tim Wakefield, Omar Vizquel, and Darren Oliver -- have contracts for 2011. Here's a breakdown:
  • Jamie Moyer* (SP) -- free agent from Philadelphia Phillies
  • Tim Wakefield (SP) -- 2011 contract with Boston Red Sox ($1.5 mil + incentives)
  • Omar Vizquel (IF) -- 2011 contract with Chicago White Sox ($1.75 mil)
  • Trevor Hoffman (RP) -- free agent from Milwaukee Brewers
  • Matt Stairs (OF/PH) -- free agent from San Diego Padres
  • Russ Springer** (RP) -- free agent from Cincinnati Reds
  • Brad Ausmus (C) -- free agent from Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Arthur Rhodes (RP) -- free agent from Cincinnati Reds
  • Mariano Rivera (RP) -- free agent from New York Yankees
  • Takashi Saito (RP) -- released from Atlanta Braves
  • Jim Edmonds (OF) -- free agent from Cincinnati Reds
  • Mark Grudzielanek (IF) -- released from Cleveland Indians
  • Craig Counsell (IF) -- free agent from Milwaukee Brewers
  • Jim Thome (DH) -- free agent from Minnesota Twins
  • Darren Oliver (RP) -- 2011 option picked up with Texas Rangers ($3.25 mil)
* Jamie Moyer, unfortunately, may have to call it quits. He's playing in the Dominican Winter League to rehab his surgically repaired elbow and to prove he's still good enough. However, after just a few pitches on Saturday, he re-injured his arm. It doesn't look good.

** Russ Springer was not on my original blog post about the graybeards because he was likely sitting at home that day. He didn't sign with the Reds until mid-July.

So I'll keep track of these guys and see who gets signed, who retires, and who fades away....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So That's It?

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for winning the World Series. They really played well, and their pitching was outstanding. Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner were tons of fun to watch.

Oh, and a nice pat on the back goes out the the Texas Rangers. They had a great season and they should be proud.

But now what? I miss baseball. I am currently watching a replay of the Twins game the one time they beat the Yankees. It's nice, but it's not the same -- I know how it ends; baseball isn't as much fun without drama.

So, to keep me occupied in these dark months, I'll read and watch TV. Oh, and I've taken up crocheting -- I'm working on a beautiful (read: ordinary) scarf for myself (because I don't really know how to do anything else). And I'll wait.

But that's ok. If I had baseball all the time, I'd probably wouldn't appreciate it as much.

So, in the meantime, I have this:

I attempted to make a sweatshirt with this graphic. My iron was too hot and the transfer burned, melted, and smeared. Story of my life, I can't even complain right.