Thursday, March 01, 2007
It appears that the Twins have executed their backup closer plan by agreeing to a three-year deal with Jesse Crain. Even though the Twins would have retained the rights of Crain without the contract, the agreement gives the club cost certainty, as Crain is eligible for arbitration after the 2007 season, in an ever escalating pitching market.
Both parties see Crain as closer material.
"When he came up the system, we looked at him as a potential closer," said Rob Antony, director of baseball operations and contracts, who negotiated the deal. "He's been successful in the role as a setup guy, but we think he could also be a ninth-inning guy."
They also negotiated a bonus clause based on the number of games finished in 2008 and 2009. It looks like the Twins may try to move Joe Nathan after 2007 once his 2008 below market option is picked up for $6 million. The Twins depth in the pen should be leveraged into a replacement in centerfield when Torii Spelling Hunter cashes in his winning powerball ticket.
The question for Terry Ryan is if his club’s playoff shot is questionable on July 31st, does he trade Luis Castillo, Hunter and Nathan? The Twins would get help for 2008, save roughly $7.5 million to help extend Johan Santana beyond 2008, and Francisco Liriano will be back. The Twins stand the best chance of locking up Santana during the 2007 season than after. The best pitcher on the planet should be willing to give the Twins a discount in exchange for guaranteed money, thereby eliminating his risk of injury and getting paid.
Since the Twins are in the toughest division in baseball, things could go bad for them leading Ryan to look to 2008. If so, the Sox would be huge players for Nathan likely dangling Jacoby Ellsbury to fill Hunter’s shoes and an arm. The Twins deal with Crain makes my near obsession with getting Nathan to the Sox more and more a possibility.
PERCEPTION IS REALITY
Baseball Prospectus measured clutch hitting. And of course, David Ortiz ranked #1 again. As for the A-Hole haters in the Bronx, he was the fourth worst in baseball. Jeter was ranked 11th. Do MFY fans hate A-Hole more than Red Sox Nation now?
After two years, I can now afford a vacation. El Guapo's Ghost will be off line for about ten days.