Sunday, October 31, 2004

Celebrating Halloween

Yesterday was Halloween, a day that means something different for everyone. If you’re ten, it means dressing up and going out to get as much candy as possible for your mom to then take away and ration. If you’re in high school it’s a night to raise a ruckus and run from the law. People my age use it as another excuse to go out in disguise and throw a party. Of course, Latin Americans celebrate Halloween’s religious virtues. If you are the Vikings it is also a day of mourning. Halloween has never really been a baseball holiday, near as I can figure. It usually happens right after the World Series when teams are putting together their off-season plans and players are just beginning to file for free agency. This year, Terry Ryan and the Twins may be getting into the spirit as they monitor a few frightening developments.

Knee Injuries-
Originally I was going to go as an old man for Halloween but when I looked in the mirror I couldn’t help but see the resemblance to two of the Twins most promising young players, Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel. Kubel won’t be back in time to play much of next season but a big fear of Twins fans is that Mauer’s problems will also continue. Another year of putting up with a lineup that is lacking Mauer truly is terrifying.

Pending Free Agents –
I woke up in a cold sweat the other morning thinking about players the Twins might lose in the coming months. A team like the Indians might offer so much money to Brad Radke that the Twins will have to let him go. The market is such that Corey Koskie is a top-three third baseman, making it more difficult to sign him. Cristian Guzman is also a free agent at time when the market is flooded with shortstops but unfortunately there are even more teams looking for one. The biggest horror of free agency might be the guy controlling the pocket book, Dr. Evil (a.k.a. Carl Pohlad).

Kyle Lohse an All-Star –
At first glance this isn’t scary at all. The problem is Lohse will be representing the major league all-stars overseas with a group of other big league players. After the season Lohse just had, his name and the word "all-star" should never be mentioned in the same sentence. I know there is a language barrier but how much can really get lost in translation? The poor people who think they are going to see some good baseball will soon feel like they are stuck in a scary movie. If this is the quality of players major league baseball is exhibiting no wonder the rest of the world wants a World Cup.

What Would Halloween Be Like Without a Trick?
Last week we talked about the Twins bringing back Henry Blanco for another season. This may still be true but Blanco filed for free agency over the weekend. He performed this trick through a clause in his contract allowing him to be a free agent once he reached 280 plate appearances. After Blanco’s performance last year he looks to receive a raise but pity the fool who overpays for his services.

The Best for Last –
A little leftover Halloween treats; Johan Santana should win the American League CY Young in the coming days. Nothing puts a smile on my face like thinking back to the way Johan pitched from June on. As long as he is in the rotation the Twins have a chance every year with a guaranteed win every 5th day.

Now when you start to think of Johan's potential arbitration windfall ($6 million? $7 million? more?), that's the real horror story.