Thursday, November 1, 2018

Notes, quotes and comment

The Twins, having opened two spots on the 40-man roster by declining their options on Ervin Santana and Logan Morrison, promptly filled one by claiming Michael Reed on waivers from the Atlanta Braves.

Reed is a right-handed hitting outfielder who turns 26 this month. He had a really impressive minor league season, hitting .342 between Double A and Triple A. He's said to be a speed-and-defense guy who hits lefties well, and he's gotten 37 major league plate appearances over the past three seasons, two with Milwaukee and one with Atlanta.

I can see him being a platoon partner with Jake Cave, a left-handed hitter who really struggled vs. southpaws. But I also believe that the Twins don't want to use an outfield spot to platoon Cave. They want -- need -- the Eddie Rosario-Byron Buxton-Max Kepler trio to be healthy and effective over the full season. That hasn't happened yet.


The Twins have yet to make any official announcments about the coaching staff, and their website continues to list the 2018 staff, with the exception of Rocco Baldelli as manager.


RIP to Willie McCovey, the great power hitting first baseman of my youth, who died Wednesday after a sustained run of health issues. "Stretch" won the NL MVP in 1969, the season I discovered baseball, and hit 521 homers, mostly with the Giants.

The Giants of the 1960s were chronic contenders who seemed to finish second or third every season. Their minor league teams at the time produced outfielders like a southern Minnesota farm produces corn. Off the top of my head, the Giants in the 1960s debuted: Manny Mota, Felipe Alou, Matty Alou, Jesus Alou, Bobby Bonds, Jim Ray Hart, Ollie Brown and Ken Henderson, all of whom because major league regulars at worst. In the early 70s they had Gary Mathews, Garry Maddox and George Foster, each of whom wound up long-term regulars for outstanding teams.

But they got rid of all of them because none of them was Willie Mays.

McCovey and Orlando Cepeda came up at about the same time. Both were great hitters, and both had leg or foot problems that limited them to first base. Alvin Dark, the manager of the Giants in the early 60s, tried each in left field anyway. You can't blame him -- a middle of the order of Mays-McCovey-Cepeda is frightening to contemplate. But what they really needed to have that was the designated hitter rule.

There's a story ... Dark, having decided that playing Cepeda in left wasn't working, moved him back to first and put McCovey in left. Somebody told Dark that McCovey was uncomfortable with the change. Replied Dark: "What else is he gonna do? Catch?"

Eventually, in 1966, the Giants traded Cepeda to St. Louis for a starting pitcher, Ray Sadeki, who was never as useful for the Giants as he had been for the Cardinals. Cepeda won the 1967 MVP; McCovey won the 1969 MVP. The Giants finished second in both seasons. Of course.

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