Writing that Minnesota’s 2006 hopes rest on ” a combination of luck, player development, free-agent overachievement and opponent lethargy”, you can color the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Jim Souhan unimpressed with Terry Ryan’s offseason moves.
The Twins are different from other contending baseball teams another way: When they presented their “big” offseason acquisitions, those “big” acquisitions required nametags and introductions.
This is not encouraging for anyone who watched the Twins treat breaking pitches as unidentifiable flying objects last summer.
To solve their power outage, the Twins signed a player (Rondell White) who hit 12 home runs last year … and allowed one to leave (Jacque Jones) who hit 23.
They entered free agency wanting to find a proven cleanup hitter, and now that they have made three surgical signings to improve their every-day lineup … they still need a proven cleanup hitter. (White, who will inherit the role, has hit .182 in the Stats Inc. category “close and late” — indicating clutch situations — over the last three years.)
The Twins’ moves are at once logical and disappointing.
They needed to improve their infield play and on-base percentage, and did so by trading two of their lesser pitching prospects to Florida for second baseman Luis Castillo. It was an excellent trade.
They needed to find power and sure hands at third base, and did so by signing Tony Batista, who has both. It is a risky move, because Batista strikes out a lot, draws few walks and is said to have little range, but he can hit the ball over the fence. (I would have preferred Corey Koskie, because Justin Morneau needs someone with whom to speak Canadian.)