Friday, December 27, 2013

Catching up

Kurt Suzuki has played seven years
in the majors, most of them with
the Oakland Athletics.
I was gone for the past week -- a holiday week in Cooperstown, actually, something I'll be posting about in coming days -- and in keeping the spirit of the venture I avoided actively blogging. Yes, there were fresh posts each day, but they were all pre-written and scheduled to be posted. I took note of the Ryan Doumit trade just before leaving town, and everything since was canned.

But if I was idle in terms of blogging for eight days, the Twins, in terms of shaping their 2014 team, were not. Time to catch up:

Kurt Suzuki signed. When the Twins traded Doumit to Atlanta, it was pretty obvious that they were going to add a veteran catcher. The chatter about free-agent backstops, once A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia signed elsewhere, was about John Buck and Suzuki.

Of the two, I prefer Suzuki, although that's not saying a great deal.

Suzuki is a 30-year-old catcher who was worked hard by the Oakland A's in his mid-20s and hasn't been an effective hitter since. At one point the A's hit him third quite a bit, although he wasn't a legit middle-of-the-order bat. It was akin to the Twins hittting Brian Dozier third in September this year; somebody has to fill that slot, and Dozier/Suzuki were the best of a bad bunch of options.

Suzuki is essentially a generic catcher. He'll start if the Twins decide Josmil Pinto needs more minor league time, or if Pinto's troublesome shoulder isn't up to the task (Terry Ryan downplays the shoulder issue, but it has taken Pinto out of winter ball); he'll back up Pinto if the kid starts.

I hope it's the latter role.

Mike Pelfrey's signing also became official. I've said my piece on Pelfrey a few times already. I'm at a state of grudging acceptance and moving on.

Darin Mastroianni outrighted. The Twins had opened a 40-man roster spot with the Doumit trade, so they needed another to execute the two signings. Mastroianni lost his spot.

The outfielder remains in the organization -- he wasn't eligible to declare free agency -- and I think he still has a legitimate chance to make the club out of spring training. Not being on the 40 already is a bit of a hurdle, but not as big as proving that his 2013 ankle injury didn't steal his most important tool, his speed.

This wasn't a Twins move, but Liam Hendriks -- who the Twins lost on waivers to the Cubs in an earlier roster-opening move -- was waived by the Cubs and claimed by Baltimore.

Odd, this, because Baltimore had to pass on Hendriks for him be to claimed by the Cubs (when the Twins put a player on waivers, American League teams have the priority). So the Orioles passed on him when the Twins waived him but claimed him when the Cubs waived him.


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