Results tagged ‘ Jim Thome ’

A Rare Off-Season

After making the playoffs for the fifth time in eight seasons, and with a new ballpark in the waiting, the Minnesota Twins entered the off-season primed to make some moves. It took less than two days for the front office to get started, and the big moves over the past four-plus months have many fans optimistic about the team’s chances. 

Four roster moves and one key signing have fans excited, and the season that has been talked about for several years has now finally arrived. A new ballpark, the beginning of the prime years for several star players, and new additions to the roster could potentially make a great start for a new era in Minnesota baseball.
Less than forty-eight hours after the New York Yankees clinched the World Series, the Twins acquired shortstop J.J. Hardy with the hope that he can solidify the shortstop position for at least the next two seasons. The position hasn’t seen consistency since Christian Guzman roamed there during the 2005 season, and if Hardy can hit anywhere near the way he did during his breakout years in 2007 and 2008, he could be a perfect fit.
Next on the agenda was veteran starting pitcher Carl Pavano. His success against the division and the Detroit Tigers in particular made him the perfect late-season pickup as the Twins looked to capture a division title last year. His success with the Twins helped him stay put in Minnesota. After offering Pavano arbitration and receiving acceptance, the sides eventually worked out a one-year, $7 million deal. 
The Twins’ off-season was already going smoothly when the new year began. The rumors continued, and the big name that popped up seemingly every week was that of lefty Jarrod Washburn. Instead of adding another pitcher, the Twins added some pop to the bench with the signing of future Hall of Fame slugger, Jim Thome. After lacking a power hitter off the bench in the 2009 playoffs, the Twins went out and added a cheap option while taking an old nemesis off the streets at the same time. 
With the late-January addition of Thome, the Twins had made three solid off-season moves. Retaining Pavano and bringing in both Hardy and Thome were moves that helped general manager Bill Smith’s grade sheet. The money available seemed to be thin though, and what else the Twins could do remained uncertain as spring training neared.
Just over one week away from the start of spring training, and already at $90 million for the Opening Day payroll, the Twins wrote one more check and added second baseman Orlando Hudson to the fold. The veteran has made All-Star appearances, has won gold gloves, and is the perfect fit between Denard Span and Joe Mauer in the lineup. 
The off-season was already superb with the additions of Hardy, Pavano, Thome and Hudson when the Twins locked up one of baseball’s best players, Joe Mauer, through 2018 to officially complete the five months of hard work. Experts and fans from around the league have lauded the team’s off-season moves and the organization has without a doubt heightened their MLB betting odds for the 2010 season with what might be an off-season of a lifetime for the Minnesota Twins and their fans. 

Photo Day in Fort Myers

Players line up each spring and smile for their yearly photos. Right as games near a start, the complete roster took their pictures for the 2010 season. For the first time, J.J. Hardy and Jim Thome put on Twins’ uniforms, and the rest of the roster got back into the swing of things too.

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Odds and Ends: TwinsFest Day One

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(*) The Official Twitter account of the Minnesota Twins was all over the Metrodome grounds taking pictures of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, the newest Twin, Jim Thome, the picture of Denard Span above, and much more. 
(*) There were many quotes from several players, including Joe Mauer’s thoughts on the Homerun Derby last season:

Mauer says home run derby was tiring “because Morneau kept me out late the night before.”

(*) Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has a story on Joe Mauer’s contract situation, and the following excerpt shows just how much the catcher means to the city and the Minnesota Twins organization:

The line for Joe Mauer’s autograph started outside the Metrodome at 8 a.m. Friday. He was eight hours from signing, and the temperature was minus-4.

TwinsFest 2010 will resume on Saturday at 9 a.m. and will wrap up with a third day on Sunday. No Joe Mauer signing is expected this weekend, but the annual event will help get baseball back in the news nonetheless. 

The Thome Aftermath

After being a Twin killer for most of his career, a run that included hitting 57 homeruns against Minnesota, Jim Thome is joining the organization. For just $1.5 million and up to $750,000 in incentives based on plate appearances, Thome will become a powerful bat off the bench and a spot starter at designated hitter. 

What exactly Thome will do is hard to tell, but it is know that the signing affects the team’s roster, the team’s bench plans for the 2010 season, and the current payroll.
40-Man Roster
The team’s 40-man roster is currently jam packed. There is nowhere to put Thome, and the Twins will have until this weekend when Thome completes his physical to make a roster decision. 
It’s currently difficult to tell who exactly the Twins will remove from the roster as several candidates would be in danger of being lost through waivers. Both Glen Perkins and Alexi Casilla are rumored to be available, but it’s also difficult to see something happening on that front before spring training. 
Bench Plans
The Twins will in all likelihood go with a 12-man pitching staff. Going in that direction would allow for four players on the bench, and with Jim Thome onboard, the plan might change just a bit.
Jose Morales, or any other catcher who may need to start the season after Morales’ has surgery this week, will take one spot. Two spots remain after that, and it sounds as if Jason Pridie might get one spot while the other could come down to a battle between Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert if no further moves are made. 
If the Twins sign a second or third baseman, either Nick Punto or Brendan Harris could shift to the bench, costing both Tolbert and Casilla roster spots. All in all, the bench battle won’t be fully solved until spring training gets underway. 
Payroll Situation
Thome’s contract was rather small, and it really adds just about $1 million to the payroll since he’ll be taking a player’s roster spot who would have made the minimum of around $500,000. Now that Thome is signed, the Twins are right at or slightly above the $90 million mark.
Assuming the Twins might have $5 million more to spend if the right move comes along, there could still be a move to re-sign third baseman Joe Crede or a second baseman such as Orlando Cabrera, Orlando Hudson, or Felipe Lopez. 

Thome Talk

Thome.pngAll around baseball, slugger Jim Thome is regarded as the ‘nice guy’. He’s well respected for his involvement in the community, his leadership in the clubhouse, and his general likability by opposing teams and players. 
For 16 seasons, Thome has been the Twins’ nemesis. First the five-time All-Star spent 12 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, and most recently he spent four seasons with the Chicago White Sox. Thome has hit 57, count them 57, homeruns against Minnesota, with the notable one helping Chicago capture a division title over Nick Blackburn and the Twins in 2008. 
After being the bully for 16 years in the American League Central, the Twins are now trying to add the powerful lefty to their own roster in hopes that he’ll turn the tide on Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit and Kansas City. 
Thome makes sense for the Twins, a team in need of a powerful hitter off the bench, and a team still searching for a fourth outfielder. 
No, Thome won’t be patrolling the outfield anytime soon, but he would indirectly affect the situation. With Thome on board, the Twins would add a powerful pinch hitter off the bench, and a more than capable designated hitter against right-handed pitching.
While Delmon Young, Denard Span and Michael Cuddyer are plugged into the outfield, the Twins currently have Jason Pridie as their fourth outfielder. Thome would allow the team to shift current designated hitter Jason Kubel to left field and Young to the bench when necessary.
Outside of Minnesota, the White Sox and Rays are still in on the 39-year old veteran. Chicago is leaving the choice up to manager Ozzie Guillen, and he’s expected to make his decision in mere hours. If his former team passes, Thome could choose his 2010 destination by the end of the week. 
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