Friday, November 19, 2004

Weekend Tidbits

The weekend is just about here and that is a very good thing for some of us. In the next three days, both Corey Koskie and Brad Radke could decide where to play next year. Before you get too excited, there is also the possibility of those decisions dragging out until long after Christmas. In the meantime, we are all stuck playing the waiting game. Luckily, the past couple days have already seen the departure of Cristian Guzman and a few smaller developments to hold us over.

Detroit signs Troy Percival to a 2 year 12 million dollar deal -
Twins fans remember the game of cat and mouse the team played with the Tigers incumbent closer Ugueth Urbina last off-season. Urbina’s numbers turned out to be a solid 21 saves with a 4.51 ERA but were nowhere near the production of Joe Nathan. The Tigers picked up Urbina’s $4 million option for next season but could not pass up the opportunity to sign an elite closer like Percival. There is no denying that Percival is a step above Urbina and brings the Tigers closer in the division. The Twins will probably fear him the most, as he has been more successful against them then any other team in his career. His only question marks are his age and durability both; both will determine the difference he makes the next two years.

The question now is what to do with Urbina. He was a great set-up man for the Florida Marlins during their championship run 2 years ago before sliding into the closer role in the World Series. He did not seem too excited about the prospect of doing it again when he was on the market last winter. The Tigers could continue to upgrade their roster by trading him for another need. At $4 million he remains reasonably priced and his numbers came after beginning last season in the minors to get ready for the year. If the Tigers decided to keep him, they may have a 1-2 punch to rival the Twin’s combo of Nathan and Juan Rincon. Either way this is another example of the rest of the division catching up to the Twins in the division as the Tigers have come a long way from the team that almost set a record for futility two years ago.

The Twins have announced a new ticket plan
I will be the first to admit that I don’t attend enough games at the Metrodome. It is so dark in there and the air circulation is so bad that it almost puts be to sleep despite the exciting play on the field. I really struggle watching games in that atmosphere and often it is just more comfortable to see the games on TV. I was at the two playoff games and during the short period when the fans were into the game, the dome was rocking. The excitement and noise that building can generate is unmatched.

No matter what the legislature decides this session on a new stadium the Twins will be playing the next several years at the dome. Their marketing department is doing their best to make up for it. This new idea is supposed to be the first of its kind. It allows fans to purchase any 40 games worth of tickets that can either be spread out over the course of a season or used all in one night if you have a bunch of people. This allows fans the flexibility of not having to pick the games they want to attend far in advance. It is a great idea; my only concern is what happens when everyone decides to use them when the Yankees are in town? Outside of politics the Twins have been one of the most fan friendly teams in the league and this is another great idea to make going to the games fun and easy.

One final sendoff to Cristian Guzman
I used to think that Cristian Guzman could be one of the special players in the game. I also once believed that Jim Bowden was one of the smartest general managers in the game when he was constructing winning teams in Cincinnati on a cracker budget. Those days were a long time ago. I hope that both Guzman and Bowden are happy with each other. One thing Bowden is good at is making deals once his hands are tied and that is what he has done by signing Guzman and Castillo to huge deals. Deals he will have to work his way out from under at a later date. Not a good start for the new Washington franchise. There are still better shortstops on the market making it more more prudent to wait. The run on shortstops has not begun and it may never get started. The best-case scenario is that somehow the market dries up for a Nomar Garciaparra and he ends up with the Twins. We can all dream anyway. Guzman’s deal means that players like Renteria and Garciaparra, who are significantly better players, are going to want even more. The Twins did not need the frustration of dealing with Guzman on a day-to-day basis any longer. He is not the player he promised to be and it was time to move on.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I was going to try and preview the Vikings today but we will have to save that kind of analysis for another week. Look for the team to break out of its funk, even without Randy, this week against the Lions. The Lions are in their own downspin and they are not as talented at the Vikings. The Vikings will play a smarter game and win this one by a large margin. The Vikings make me wish it were baseball season.