Thursday, November 11, 2004

Twins Chatter Q & A

Things have been a bit slow (understandably) in the baseball world recently, especially here in Minnesota. For today's post, we have decided to share a few quick thoughts on some of the relevant issues surrounding our Minnesota Twins. Be sure to stop by tomorrow to check out our thoughts on Johan Santana winning his first Cy Young Award. In the meantime, enjoy a little Twins Chatter.

Ron Gardenhire finished second in the American League manager of the year voting. Do you think he deserved to win it?

Ryan: "Actually, I was very surprised to see he only lost by a narrow margin (101-91 points). I knew that Gardy was a contender, but I didn't think he had a real chance to win the award. Showalter took a team that was absolutely horrific last year (18 games under .500) and kept them in the playoff hunt until the last week of the season: an amazing accomplishment. I personally wrote the Rangers off around the All-Star break, but they somehow hung in there. We all give Gardy a hard time because we see him on a day to day basis. Let's face it: he's not the greatest game day manager. His strengths lie in communicating with players and getting guys to play hard and as a team. Using relievers, pinch hitters, making lineups, and such is not his strong point. That being said, I think he was a deserving #2 finisher in the voting."

John: "If Gardenhire didn't deserve to win the award he wouldn't have finished second. It was bad luck that Texas played as well as they did. Showalter's team may not have made the playoffs but they far exceeded expectations. There is no doubt they impacted the playoff picture by staying in the race right up until the last weekend of the season. Every time someone counted them out they somehow were able to make another run at it. They did it with terrible pitching making the job Showalter did all the more impressive. Gardy did a good job of working with a team that had expierenced more turnover then previous years. He was able to overcome some major injuries while fending off the White Sox and the Indians. Some years the award may have belonged to him, this year Showalter deserved it."

As Twins Geek said the other day, it is appearing less and less likely that the Twins will be able to keep both Brad Radke and Corey Koskie. Which do you think the Twins should keep and which do you think they will keep?

Ryan: "For me, this question has but one answer: Brad Radke. Although I am extremely disheartened by the fact that the Twins aren't going to sign him before their exclusive negotiating window closes, I can't help but think they'll find a way to get it done. He's the guy that we really really need to keep, and the one I think we're most likely to keep. Given a choice, I would keep Koskie too (assuming his price stays reasonable) but I think he's more expendable than Radke. Tiffee and Cuddyer would make a decent platoon next year. Their combined defense would be inferior to Koskie's, but offensively I think the two could approach Koskie's expected production (.275/20/85)."

John "Ideally the team would find the money to keep both players. If that is not the case, Radke has got to remain the number one priority. It is near impossible to fill the void he would leave in the rotation. I don't envision the Twins taking even part of that money and going after another reliable pitcher. Radke is the horse of the staff and the team can rely on him. Koskie is a risk that a small market team like the Twins may not be able to take. He brings great chemistry and is a big part of the lineup but it would be easier to replace him then Radke. However, I don't see Cuddyer being the one to fill his shoes. Cuddyer has seemed uncomfortable at the hot corner and seemingly is being groomed to play second base. If he sees time at 3rd it will not be for an extended period of time. The Twins are going to do everything in their power to step up to the plate and sign Radke. He will be a Twins next season, I almost guarentee it. Remember, the first time the team signed him marked the start of their turn around. Without Radke this team will not win the Central next year."

What are your expectations in terms of Joe Mauer's health, not only in 2005 but beyond?

Ryan: "Just like everybody else, I believed the Twins brass when they came out and said that Joe would make a full recovery. The thing is, they've been feeding us the same lines since April without actually providing any hard facts. Well the other day, I stumbled upon a fact of my own. My dad is going to have surgery to remove his meniscus soon (ironically the same surgery Mauer had back in April) and happened to bring up Mauer in the conversation with his orthopedic surgeon. Our doctor knows a thing or two about such injuries (he also personally knows Dr. John Steubs, the guy who performed Joe's surgery) and I was extremely disheartened by what he had to say. One thing is for sure: a meniscus tear is really something from which you can recover in about a month, which was the initial estimate on Mauer's injury. However, the complications in Joe's case stemmed from the torn cartilage that was removed later in the summer. That is a much tougher injury to recover from, especially for someone who plays a position where the knees are so important (like catcher). Anyway, this doctor was under the opinion that Mauer would be lucky to get five more years out of his knees as a catcher. You can take that however you want to, but personally, I believe him. Just when we thought we had an All-Star catcher on our hands, he turned into an All-Star third basemen."

John: "Mauer’s health is going to be a cause for concern until he proves he is fine. Right now, I would compare the strength of his knee next season to walking on thin ice. There is a chance everything will be fine but there is a distinct possibility the ice is going to give and something will fall through. I think we all have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that Mauer is not going to spend his whole career behind the plate. The Twins will be lucky to get the next 5 years out of him. They have to be careful not to overwork him. The good news is he’s still going to be a great player no matter where he is on the field. It’s simply a matter of getting the most out of his career even if it means switching his position."