Ok, this is now the third rewrite of this post because I’m so distracted/lazy/busy/otherwise occupied that every time I’m about ready to put it up, the Twins front office goes and does something else that changes (AND ADDS TO) at least part of what I had to say. So… if there are parts that are confusing, just keep all that in mind.
The original beginning of this post covered the seemingly rare ability our team management has to keep whatever discussions they are having so quiet and under the radar that there is virtually no discussion of it – which is a GREAT aggravation to fans who are assembling/disassembling/reassembling the 2011 roster in hopes of coming up with that perfect proposal for Bill Smith if only he would listen to us bloggers. In fact, some fans mistake that discretion for lack of activity. Do I know for certain that discussions are actually taking place? Well, no, not until they do something like sign a couple contracts out of the blue. Do I prefer to choose the optimistic viewpoint that Smith likes his job and isn’t sitting on his thumbs wondering why no one is calling him? Yes, yes I do. I’m not sure where the overreaction to silence comes from in the blogging/sports fan community. But then again, I have never known why there is so much overreaction to any given activity in the fan base. It’s almost as if it’s an addiction to the drama. The Twins fan/blogosphere is like an odd combination of American Idol+Twilight+WWE. (Besides, I’m sure that Simon Cowell is already a vampire, right?)
Of course, that’s all setup for this optimist to say I’m still looking forward to the season! Do I agree with all the moves that the team has made this offseason? Not even close. It’s about 50% for the moves I like vs the ones that puzzle or annoy me. It’s hard to settle down my feelings in a general way without covering specifics for a few of them.
So, my offseason commentary will continue with the most recent activity and move backwards:
A) Pavano’s contract is exciting for me. They stuck to their guns when a talented pitcher wanted to go three years. It’s my biggest pet peeve that these contract extensions are just getting ridiculous. This game is just too unpredictable to sustain that level of commitment. And they didn’t overpay either which leads me to believe that Carl Pavano and his family actually really liked it here and wanted to come back. I’m sure that he didn’t give the Twins a discount per se but I think he was ready to take whatever they were willing to give (within reasonable negotiations of course). I like having him in our rotation. Of course, that gives us 6 starting pitchers. Yet another calculation that has some fans up in arms. Is there a trade in the works? Who should go? Honestly? I don’t think there is going to be a trade. I’m not worried that any of my favorite arms are going to be gone (unlike my favorite fielders *sigh*). I am simply looking forward to spring training to see what shakes out. It seems more likely given the emptiness of our bullpen, that whoever doesn’t make the starting rotation in April, will occupy the BP until the inevitable bump in the road for one of the lead-off guys which will be very handy to have an experienced starter ready to step into the spot. Whoever that pitcher ends up being is probably less happy with that option than I am.
B) Matt Capps being signed is far less interesting for me. I know this may be hard to believe but I disagree with JimCrikket and his premise that Capps is the new Punto. Maybe I’m projecting my own feelings out there on other folk but this is my perception. The feelings about Capps just aren’t strong enough about him personally to equate to the love/hate extremes Punto engenders. And for the record, it has NOTHING to do with Ramos. I still haven’t figured out what it is about Capps that people like. There’s just nothing there for me. Maybe it is my love of Joe Nathan and the holdover disappointment that Capps just isn’t it him. But you know, I didn’t have that reaction with any of the other temporary closers we had in Nathan’s place. I actually grew to like Rauch a lot despite his somewhat rocky second half. So, I don’t really think it’s the disappointment factor for me entirely.
I propose that Matt Capps is actually the new Delmon Young. I think he has a LOT of talent but doesn’t employ it consistently enough to give fans confidence in him when he walks out onto the grass. Those who want to see the talent develop and feel like the potential is just too high to let go (especially given Nathan’s uncertainty) are excited by this signing… I’m just not one of them. I don’t despise Capps, that would imply a level of investment that I just haven’t made with him – again much like Delmon. I just haven’t felt the ‘chemistry’ yet. His record is what it is and he could get better or worse – stats just don’t have much to do with it at this point in my book. The one thing I keep reminding myself is that, again like Delmon, he’s a much younger guy than he looks when he’s out there. He’s only 26 and that supposedly gives him time to continue to improve. I hope he does. I wish him well and would love to see him succeed – again like Delmon – I just think we’re paying him too much for I feel is at best a ‘maybe’.
C) THOME! Ok, I really like this signing and it does make me feel better about the offseason. Do I think there were other DH’s out there we could have signed that would have had fun hitting in TF? Yep.. and I could have accepted Vlad (he still scares me at the plate) or even Thames in that role but I LIKE Thome and I think he was a natural fit here and still has the ability to play for what we need in that spot. Like Pavano, I think he feels the same way and hearing that he received legitimately good offers from other GOOD teams but chose to stay here for less tells me that he has a lot of faith in what this team can do in 2011. I choose to see that as optimism.
As for the rest of the moves made this offseason (excluding the outlier event of Nishioka), I have been disappointed in the actions. I thought they should have kept more of our bullpen intact and we have a seriously depleted pen now. I would have liked to see us keep Guerrier and possible Rauch but obviously my opinion carries little weight. I’m downright depressed that Hardy is gone, and I’m not sure I will know what to do with a bench with no Punto. But here’s the thing, I don’t think I need to agree with the moves the Front Office makes in order for me to believe they are actually trying to do what they believe is best for the team. Even when I disagree, I can trust the motive. The track record for this team’s success isn’t when they have miraculous signings or when they got that perfectly right player over the offseason. This team succeeds when they take whoever they have (or have left) and go out and play with everything they have. It’s the character of the guys in the locker room that will or won’t send us to the postseason again. Whether it happens during Spring Training or August, they rally together and fill the holes. That attitude is more important to the success of the team and to this fan than any single contract’s consequence.
*Per MLB Trade Rumors: Nick Punto is going to the Cardinals. *sigh* I’m going to miss him for all the flak he got around here. Good Luck Nicky! http://bit.ly/e1wGXg
For this optimist, I’m taking it all in stride and looking forward to Spring Training and really curious and excited to see where the 2011 season takes the MN Twins!