By David Palmer
With pitchers and catcher officially reporting to spring training in the next couple of days, the Twins go to war with basically the same roster they had to finish last year. The biggest acquisition we made was hiring a groundskeeper for Target Field.
Before Twins General Manager Bill Smith came around, Terry Ryan was widely known as one of the league’s best and smartest. I have raked on the Twins front office quite a bit this off-season, but for good reason. Trades and free agents continue to slip through our fingers for no particular reason. We are like the Troy Williamson of professional franchises. As Peter Christian has mentioned before, Bill Smith might possibly be the worst negotiator of all time. I would love to hear the phone conversation between Bill Smith and Scott Boras in negotiations for Joe Crede. It probably goes something like this:
Smith: Hey Satan, it’s Bill Smith.
Boras: Umm, Who?
Smith: You know, GM for the Minnesota Twins. Any chance of coming down on the Crede price?
Boras: Minnesota has a baseball team?
Smith: How is his back doing?
Boras: He’ll be fine, and we’re only asking for $7 million for 1 year.
Smith: Whoa, Whoa, Whoa there Scotty, who do you think we are, the Yankees?
Boras: Sorry Bill, that’s the best we can do. I’ve got to go, there are some orphanages that I have to burn down.
Smith: Okie dokie, before you go, do you have any free agent pitchers over the age of 40 that we could sign?
Boras: No, but I hear Scott Erickson wants to come out of retirement.
Smith: NICE! Do you have his number?
It might be the biggest negotiating mismatch since the US purchased Alaska from Russia for 2 cents an acre in 1867.
You will be hearing a lot about the Twins bullpen over the next six weeks, and rightfully so- they sucked ass last year. If Guerrier can’t regain his 2007 form and Mijares doesn’t pan out, we are in serious trouble. No fear though, Luis Ayala brings his 5.71 ERA from the Mets to our ‘pen. That should straighten things out. Hopefully he can bring some of that great Met karma with him too.
On a lighter note, as I mentioned before, we just picked up our second groundskeeper in franchise history; the great Larry DiVito was hired to head the crew at Target Field in 2010. For those who haven’t followed Larry’s career in depth, he was head groundskeeper for the Nationals the past three seasons. He cut his teeth as a groundskeeper in Rhode Island for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox.
This is where he first learned his craft under the tutelage of the legendary Dino Caparelli. Things didn’t come easy at first for Larry. He struggled with the fortune and fame of groundskeeper apprentice. Fast women, a faster buzz (from mixing Vicodin and laundry detergent), and high-stakes games of cribbage consumed his nights. But, it all caught up to him on August 2nd 1999. During a day game between Pawtucket and Scranton, DiVito ran naked onto the field with some sort of spray screaming, “the dung beetles are everywhere, we’ve got to get rid of the dung beetles!” He was checked into rehab the next day.
This is where he became a born-again Christian and vowed to never touch laundry detergent again. Ok, I obviously made that whole behind-the-music type of story up, but if Larry can keep the infield grass a little longer, Gomez might have 150 bunt hits in 2010. Brett Butler, who had 41 bunt hits in 1992, holds the MLB record. That is well within reach for Gomez. He led the majors with 30 last year, on turf I might add. The left side of the infield at Target Field should be a marshland.
This is one of the best times of year because this is when hope springs eternal for all major league squads; everyone thinks they have a chance, even the Brewers. The weather is thawing a little bit, and baseball can seriously be discussed for the next 8 months. I couldn’t be happier, World Series here we come.
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