As I sit here looking out the window over-looking the back yard I see nothing but white. We have received about 9″ of snow in the last day or so and it is still snowing. Hard to fathom that the Twins will be playing baseball at Target Field which is just about 10 miles away in less than a month.
Time go by so quickly, you don’t realize how quickly until you get up in age and look back on things. When you are young, a week can seem like an eternity, when you get longer in the tooth you understand how quickly time passes. It has already been six years since Kirby Puckett suffered that massive strike on March 5, 2006 and passed away a day later. Boy, it doesn’t seem like it can be seven years that Kirby has been gone.
The minor leaguers have reported and will soon start to play games in Ft. Myers so the Twins will be in position to start cutting players and sending them to the back fields at the Hammond complex. Disappointment? Yes, but most of these guys can continue to play and hone their skills for a shot at the big money in the big leagues. On the other hand it also presents opportunities for some up-and-comers to get the call to come over to the big league side and strut their stuff for a game or two here and there, a rare opportunity to show the Twins management that they belong with the big boys. On the down side there are some players in the minor league complex today that will be cut before camp ends and their baseball careers may be over, a lifetime of dreams will come to and end for some and the reality of getting a real job will be staring them in the face. But that is the reality of baseball and life. As sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, these things take place year after year in spring training camps all over Florida and Arizona.
After two seasons they would like to forget, the Twins have lots to prove and many decisions to make. I think it is too early to waste a lot of time speculating on who is winning what position battles as yet but there are a number of good battles going on. What the player does on the field doesn’t even take into account how “service time” plays into things and how long the Twins have a player under their control. The Twins aren’t even a .500 team this year so do the Twins bring say an Aaron Hicks north in to start the season or do they wait for a month or two and control him a year longer? There are plusses and minuses on both sides but my opinion is that if the Twins are really serious about putting the best team on the field now and for the future they will not allow this to come in to play. If Hicks earns the job with his play and beats out everyone the Twins throw out there, give him the job. If you lose a year of control over Hicks so be it. You play the game of baseball to win, not to see how you can avoid arbitration and or free agency with your players. When the season ends the only valid measure of how any baseball team did is your wins and losses and if you won your final game. The bottom line is winning and you win with your best players. If you are more worried about the money then winning then you are in the wrong business. I am not advocating spending money foolishly, but how can you say that letting a young guy play if he earns it spending money foolishly. To me spending money foolishly is signing someone like Jim Thome to pinch hit for a team that will be lucky to win 75 games. If this is really what Gardy wants then I say fire Gardy because he is not thinking straight and I really like Grady as the Twins manager, but bringing Thome back would be the final straw. I know that Thome is a great guy, a future hall of famer and all that but it comes down to this, how many games will he add to the Twins win column? Everything has an opportunity cost, I think Thome’s opportunity cost is too high. It is not about the money, it is about the player that deserves to be on the roster more than Thome does at this stage of his career.
A player that I think does not deserve a roster spot on the Twins 25 man roster is long man Anthony Swarzak. I know you need a long man but Swarzak has done a less than stellar job in that role. Let’s look at what Swarzak has done in his 3 years with the Twins. He record is 10-20 with 5.03 ERA with a 1.44 WHIP. Opponents hit .287 off him (righties hit .302 and lefties hit .272) and he has a 1.96 ratio for SO/BB. I am not a huge fan of Cole DeVries as a starter but I would like to see him in the long man role for the Twins. In his one season in Minnesota, DeVries went 5-5 with a 4.11 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. Opponents only hit him at a .252 clip and his SO/BB ratio was 3.22. If DeVries is not in the starting rotation, he deserves to be the long man more than Swarzak does.
Have you been watching the Twins attendance numbers at their spring training games? I have and if I were the Twins I would be very concerned. The Twins have played 6 exhibition games at Hammond Stadium and they are averaging 5,553 per game and their high is 6,591 with their seating capacity at about 8,000. In 2012 their average attendance in Ft. Myers was 7,344 so the drop from last year is about 24.39%. If you compare attendance drops in spring training games to regular season attendance drop in attendance in 2012 you could expect the Twins attendance to drop 25%-30% this season in Target Field meaning that the club will be lucky to have 2 million fans pass through the Target Field turnstiles. That is assuming the Twins don’t play worse than or better than is expected by the fan base. Hopefully the Twins can get off to a good start both on the field and with their attendance but with the number of home games the Twins have in April and the weather being what it is so far, there is reason for concern.