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While many people had already written off the Twins as contenders in 2012 following a 99-loss season, I've been bullish on their (admittedly slim) chances, reasoning that a whole lot can change health-wise from one season to the next and that no club in the AL Central was looking like a world-beater.
The entire division has largely been in a holding pattern all winter. The White Sox, Indians and Royals haven't made impact additions. The Twins have brought
The Twins have often been criticized in recent years for the paltry returns they've gotten back when trading away players. We've seen Wilson Ramos, J.J. Hardy, Delmon Young and others flipped for questionable returns, only to quickly boost their value elsewhere. Jose Mijares was non-tendered earlier this offseason because the Twins didn't want to pay him $750,000 through arbitration, and he went on to immediately sign with the Royals for $950,000.
About a month from today, Jamey Carroll will turn 38 years old. That will make the veteran infielder, signed by the Twins earlier this offseason to man shortstop over the next couple seasons, the same age as former Minnesota third baseman Corey Koskie.
Of course, while Carroll is enjoying the best years of his pro baseball career, Koskie has been out of the game since 2006, when a concussion sustained in Milwaukee ended his days as a major-leaguer.
An athletic baseball
For Twins fans, the image is tough to forget.
Joel Zumaya was pitching to Delmon Young in the eighth inning of a late June game at Target Field. On a full count, the right-hander reared back and unleashed a 99 mph fastball, which Young fouled off.
It was immediately obvious that something went very wrong with Zumaya on the pitch, as he quickly clutched his right elbow and collapsed to the ground in extreme pain. His right hand was shaking
Geoff Baker, a scribe for The Seattle Times, penned a lengthy but very interesting column earlier this week about spending in baseball.
I recommend taking the time to read it, as the themes are very applicable for Twins fans, but the gist of his argument is that ultra-rich baseball owners are gaming the system by soaking up public money and spending far less on payroll than they can afford to. Meanwhile, the baseball community overlooks this injustice and credits general managers
One couldn't be blamed for writing off Nick Blackburn as an afterthought in the Twins' 2012 starting pitching equation.
After all, he's been pretty bad over the past two seasons. In fact, "pretty bad" might be an understatement – he's been one of baseball's most hittable pitchers, prone to stretches of mind-numbingly horrible performance. His once-premier walk rate has deteriorated into mediocrity, leaving him with little in the way of strengths to fall back on.
The Twins rounded out their rotation today, signing free agent right-hander Jason Marquis to a one-year, $3 million deal. Since Marquis essentially replaces Kevin Slowey, who was traded to the Rockies a few weeks ago and would have made about the same amount next season through arbitration, it seems appropriate to compare the two based on what they're likely to provide in 2012.
Slowey was disastrous this past season, but Marquis' 2010 campaign was almost equally catastrophic, as he