Sunday, January 17, 2010

Around the division

It's been more than a month since the last look at the Twins' divisional rivals. Let's see what's been happening:

Tigers: Just signed Jose Valverde (left) to close. Silly move in my estimation; they have a ton of young relievers, at least one of whom ought to be capable of pitching the ninth inning. Well, it's one less decision for Jim Leyland to make.

They're rumored to be looking at Johnny Damon, which sounds more like another Scott Boras invention than reality. They have several million tied up in Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez, who are (like Damon) corner outfielders now so limited defensively that they ought to be DHs. They don't need three of that kind of player.

Now watch: They'll probably sign Damon and put him in center. There he would replace Curtis Granderson, who is essentially replacing Damon on the Yankees roster. That would buy some time for Austin Jackson to ripen in the minors. It would also probably cause heads to explode in the Tigers-oriented part of the blogosphere.

Kansas City: The Royals have been busy this winter signing such free agents as Jason Kendall and Scott Podsednik.

It's kind of cute, their relentless pursuit of mediocrity. Dayton Moore, the K.C. general manager, might has well have "I can't evaluate talent" tattooed across his forehead.

White Sox: They've been pretty quiet since dealing for Juan Pierre, who is apparently ticketed for left field with Alex Rios in center and Carlos Quentin in right. (I had assumed, when the deal was done, that Quintin would stay in LF, Pierre in his accustomed CF and Rios in his accustomed RF.)

The Sox did sign relief pitcher J.J. Putz, which would impress me more if this were, say, 2007. He hasn't done much since then but get hurt. Important if healthy.

GM Kenny Williams says he's done dealing, which doesn't necessarily mean anything.

Cleveland: Making minor moves, some of which make sense. Outfielders Austin Kearns and Shelly Duncan signed minor league deals. Duncan's been trapped in the Yankees system, and Kearns has struggled with injuries. Neither has any real star potential at this point — they're both 30 — but either could be a useful bench player.

Mike Redmond, as noted in the previous post, signed with the Tribe. He's on the 40-man roster, unlike Kearns and Duncan. I don't know which youngster will be Cleveland's No. 1 catcher, Lou Marston or Carlos Santana — the linked-to story says Marston's the favorite, but I believe Santana is the more highly-regarded prospect — but it's a safe bet that they expect Red Dog to catch once a week and mentor the kid the rest of the time.

Meanwhile, Jake Westbrook, who has been out since May 2008, pitched winter ball in Puerto Rico and pronounces himself good to go. He's to be their Opening Day starter.

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