Posted at 8:11 PM on March 19, 2008
by Chris Dall
Per Joe Christensen of the Strib, it looks like a battle royale is developing for the Twins 2nd base job. Brendan Harris is hitting .176 with a .222 OBP, while Nick Punto is hitting .172 with a .250 OBP. Is it too late to let Alexi Casilla compete for the job?
Fortunately the fight for centerfield is turning out to be a bit more interesting. Denard Span, who early in the spring was having trouble connecting with 60mph batting practice fastballs, is now hitting .290 with a .421 OBP and 3 stolen bases, while Carlos "Go-Go" Gomez is hitting .244 with a .267 OBP and 8 stolen bases. The team's decision on this one will be interesting, because both players are important to the organization, Span as a former #1 draft pick, and Gomez as the key piece to the Santana deal. My guess is that they'll go with Span to start the season and send Gomez to the minors to play every day and learn how to take a pitch. But if Span falters, Gomez could be up quickly.
If Francisco Liriano shows that he can get through a few Spring starts without pain, I think they should just throw him in the rotation and let him take his lumps for awhile. His greatest value to this team is as a starter, even if he's not the pitcher he was in 2006. And most players who have had Tommy John surgery have said that it took them several starts before they realized they could throw at full strength without re-injuring the elbow. Hopefully pitching every 5 days against big-league hitter will hasten Liriano's comeback.
Many Twins fans are rightfully giving heat to the team for not re-signing Torii Hunter and trading Johan Santana, but so far the decision to let Carlos Silva walk is looking pretty good. Silva has an ERA of 9.20 in 14 innings, and batters are hitting .406 against. Now, while it's fair enough to say to Livan Hernandez isn't giving the Twins much better so far, remember that we're paying him a fraction of Silva is earning.
And finally, in a non-Twins note, did anyone catch the item today regarding the MLB union and Barry Bonds? Apparently Donald Fehr wants the union to look into the possibility of collusion against the home run king*, since Bonds still wants to play and hasn't received any offers. For the life of me, I can't imagine why teams would want to stay away from Bonds. Could it be the cloud of negativity that follows him wherever he goes? The fact that the majority of baseball fans outside of San Francisco loathe him? Maybe it's the special treatment he demands. Or the fact that he's 45 years old and is breaking down. Oh wait, I know, it's the perjury and obstruction of justice charges he currently faces! MLB owners might not be the wisest lot, but I don't think they had to get together to figure that none of them want to touch Barry Bonds with a 10-foot pole.
Maybe if Donald Fehr had focused as much on steroids as he did on wringing every cent from the owners, this wouldn't be an issue.