Monday, June 9, 2014

On Kendrys Morales, Jason Kubel and Nick Burdi

Kendrys Morales started
his career with the
Angels, then was traded
to Seattle.
My Monday print column focused on the Twins signing of Kendrys Morales, specifically on these points:


  • Whether the Twins are really the contenders this move suggests they think they are;
  • How Morales and agent Scott Boras misjudged his market;
  • How the Twins might well, should they slide out of the playoff picture, turn around and trade Morales.


Morales is truly a no-lose signing. He's not blocking, at least for this year, anybody who really deserves a chance to play.

Well, that may not be completely true. One can argue that Morales will keep Josmil Pinto from seeing regular time as the designated hitter. But the reality is that Ron Gardenhire isn't going to use Pinto as a regular DH without a third catcher on the roster, and the front office isn't going to give Gardy a third catcher he doesn't going to use.

---

The decision to dump Jason Kubel was inevitable. He hadn't had a hit in his last 31 plate appearances (0 for 26 with five walks and 12 strikeouts). His last extra base hit came on April 25.  His final slash line -- .224/.313/.295 -- is uncomfortably close to his 2013 line -- .216/.293/.317.

Kubel is one of many players who might well wish to try this career over. We can only wonder how things would have played out for him had he not wrecked his knee in the Arizona Fall League back in 2004. At the time, the Twins viewed him as a hitting prospect at the same level as Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

Life didn't work out that way.

Even with the chronic knee issue, Kubel was a dangerous hitter for several years. He might have been even more dangerous had he played for a manager who valued platoons.

Kubel's final start with the Twins, fittingly, came against a left-handed pitcher. At this point, it probably didn't matter.

---

Had the Twins signed Morales any earlier, they would have forfeited the 46th pick in this year's draft. And the money allotted to their bonus pool for that pick (more than $1.2 million) would have vanished as well.

Instead, the Twins got to pick Nick Burdi (who they also drafted out of high school in 2011 but didn't sign).

Burdi is the closer for the University of Louisville. His college season is still going; the Cardinals earned a berth in the College World Series this weekend.

He is a true power arm, pretty regularly hitting triple digits on the radar gun, and there is a genuine expectation that he can come to the majors as soon as this summer. Indeed, some pre-draft speculation had him going late in the first round to a contending team looking for somebody who could goose their bullpen depth for the stretch run. (I'm really rather surprised Detroit didn't do that.)

It seems likely that adding Burdi to the organization is worth two months of Kendrys Morales.


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