Thursday, December 15, 2011

While we were waiting ...

The Twins continue at this writing to grind with painful slowness to a conclusion to their right field free agent drama.

For public consumption, as in the Associated Press story we're running in this morning's paper, Terry Ryan is not closing any doors on Michael Cuddyer. But if Josh Willingham's in town for his pre-signing physical (as reported by the Strib's Joe Christensen) the train has left the station and Cuddy's not on it. If Cuddyer calls Ryan today and says OK, I'll take last week's offer, is Ryan really going to pull the Willingham deal? I can't see it.

Which leaves the question of why Ryan's putting up the pretense that nothing's settled. Joe C. blogged last night that his sources have been particularly "cautious" about this signing, and he doesn't know why. My guess is that it's a sign of genuine respect for Cuddyer and a reluctance to cut the ties.

Meanwhile, the Twins on Wednesday did announce three minor league signings of guys who played some in the majors in 2011 and who figure to be minor-league depth.

P.J. Walters, right handed pitcher, has 51 major league innings without much success. His strikeout rates in the minors (and even in the majors) have been better than those of most starters in the Twins system, but his walk rates are a bit higher than the Twins prefer, and he really hasn't translated his ability to miss bats into low ERAs.

Rene Rivera: Back
for more.
Rene Rivera is a familiar figure; he spent much of 2010 with the Twins as one of the not-Mauer catchers. He will again be a non-roster invite to spring training and organizational depth at Rochester. There are three catchers on the 40 who rank ahead of him (Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit and Drew Butera), and a couple coming up from behind (Chris Herrmann and Danny Lehmann), so Rivera's chances of picking up more service time aren't as good as last season.

Sean Burroughs is an odd signing, but then he's had an odd career/life. Son of an MVP, Little League World Series hero, Olympic gold medal winner, flameout prospect, derelict, reborn major leaguer ...

He's 31 now, and why he'd pick the Twins as his next stop is baffling. He hasn't the power to be a major league regular, at least not at third base, and he's no middle infielder defensively. If he's going to carve out a career in his 30s, it's going to be as a pinch-hit specialist. Those jobs are rare in this era of 12-man pitching staffs, and where they do exist, they're with National League teams.

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