Sunday, December 26, 2010

Waiting for Godot: Pavano and Thome

Christmas is past and
Carl Pavano hasn't been
wrapped up yet.
The Twins have, still, two open spots on their 40-man roster. Presumably those are being held for Carl Pavano and Jim Thome.

Pavano and Thome play very different roles, but they have these things in common:

  • They are older players whose very age makes them question marks;
  • They performed better than 2010 than they can be expected to perform in 2011;
  • They went into free agency expecting multi-year offers and, judging from the fact that they remain unsigned, aren't getting that kind of interest; and
  • the Twins want them back, but aren't willing to bid against themselves.

Seth Stohs last week asked the question: Did the Twins lose out on other moves because they were waiting for Pavano?

My guess is not. As I see it, the Twins went into this offseason with two priorities:

  1. Make the middle infield younger, faster and cheaper;
  2. Revamp the free agent-laden bullpen.

They have certainly accomplished the first part, and they have a multitude of pieces from which to construct a new relief corps.

Now, if they retain Pavano, that will open some additional possibilities. Perhaps they'll trade one of their right-handed starters; perhaps they'll return Brian Duensing to the bullpen. But they've dealt with their chief concerns without a Pavano decision.

It appears that neither Jesse Crain nor Matt Guerrier — the two long-term Twins relievers who have signed elsewhere this month — found any sense that the Twins wanted to retain them. Nor has there been any sense that the Twins are particularly interested in keeping Brian Fuentes or Jon Rauch.

That lack of interest suggests to me that the Twins made a baseball decision as well as a financial one: That beyond the cost of re-signing even one of these veterans, it was time to move on to younger pitchers, fresher arms, in those roles.

True, they haven't added established major leaguers, but they are looking for four- and five-year solutions to both the middle infield and middle relief, not the short-term Band-Aids that the likes of Orlando Hudson and Rauch represent.

That means trusting your talent evaluators and going young. The Twins talent evaluators have, by and large, earned our faith.


Poll stuff: A slow week on the blog and a less-than-compelling question result in a mere 37 votes in this week's poll question:  Who should hit second for the Twins in 2011?

Tsuyoshi Nishioka won easily, getting 28 votes (75 percent) to Alexi Casilla's nine votes (25 percent).

New poll up.

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