Fans of the Minnesota Twins tend to be a nervous bunch.
This is largely due to years of inactivity, false hope, and empty promises from the front office.
It seems that every year we’re given a decry that implies “this offseason the Twins will scour the market to improve the club and prepare for a legitimate push for a third World Series trophy.”
Then Spring Training rolls around and the only additions are past-their-prime veterans who were willing to sign on the cheap and no-name rookies who spent the previous season toiling in Rochester or New Britain.
This offseason—potentially the most important offseason in club history—we were given the same message.
The club was going to improve the infield, add at least one veteran starter to bolster a young rotation, and, most importantly, sign Joe Mauer to a contract extension.
General Manager Bill Smith struck early by trading away defensive wunderkind, Carlos Gomez to acquire an equally-talented gloveman in shortstop J.J. Hardy from the Milwaukee Brewers.
Twins fans assumed that this was the offseason that the club would actually spend money on the free agent market and bring in the talent necessary to push the club to the next level.
After all, the Twins are opening a brand new, state of the art ballpark in 2010 and figure to be rewarded handsomely at the box office as a result.
There was talk of the payroll potentially pushing $100 million.
Thus far, that’s all any of it has been, talk.
With Saturday’s announcement that Miguel Tejada had signed a one-year, $6 million deal to return to Baltimore, it become increasingly obvious that the Twins are simply running out of time and options.
Pitchers and catchers are slated to report to Spring Training in less than four weeks and the only names remaining from the initial list of potential signees are Hudson, Lopez, and Sheets.
Thus far, the Twins have been legitimately linked to none of them.
Ben Sheets, after an impressive throwing session that the Twins did not attend, is being courted by up to half-a-dozen teams. Most of those teams are willing to pay him upwards of $10 million in 2010.
The Twins will undoubtedly not match that figure and—sadly—are far more likely to make yet another run at the likes of Jarrod Washburn, Jon Garland, or Braden Looper.
Personally, I’d rather we make an offer to “Oil Can” Boyd or Jim Bouton than sign any of those three, but that’s just me.
Hudson, however, is reportedly seeking a $9 million payday next season, a figure that no team figures to meet. In the end it’s believed he’ll land a two-year deal in the $12-$15 million range, which the Twins could legitimately afford.
That fact notwithstanding, there have been almost no reports of the Twins even contemplating Hudson as the club’s second baseman next season.
Minnesota’s hesitation to sign Hudson is particularly puzzling as he seems to be exactly what the club has lacked for years, a reliable defensive second baseman who can handle the two-hole in the lineup.
Felipe Lopez, well, he seems to have vanished from the face of the earth based on the fact that absolutely no one is talking about him this offseason.
Lopez is coming off a career year and reportedly has only garnered modest interest from the Cardinals who seemingly aren’t willing to pay actual money to acquire him.
Despite the overwhelming availability of all three of these potential game-changers, the Twins have been legitimately linked to none of these men.
The Twins have, however, been linked to the likes of Jim Thome.
Now obviously acquiring Thome would be a huge move, if it were still 2005. The problem is, it’s not 2005.
Additionally, the Twins already boast a very lefty-heavy lineup and already have a designated hitter.
In fact, they have a pretty good DH.
His name is Jason Kubel, perhaps you’ve heard of him?
That leads us to where we sit right now, 25 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting and still with glaring holes in the roster.
The top available options are apparently not of interest to the club.
Smith appears more interested in aging, decline-phase sluggers who can no longer play the field.
…and Jarrod Washburn.
Oh yeah, and most reports indicate that the Twins haven’t even begun contract negotiations with Joe Mauer, leading to speculation that the club will be forced to trade the once-in-a-generation catcher before the season’s end.
Yeah, there’s a reason Twins fans are a nervous bunch.