Camp Opens: Twins News Rundown
Image courtesy of Kim Klement, USA Today* Byung Ho Park passed through waivers so he will be among the non-roster invites in camp. Ostensibly he'll be competing with Kennys Vargas and others for the DH job, but it would seem that Park will have a tough hill to climb.
When we were recording a podcast shortly after the new front office leadership was installed, I recall Parker making a point about how this regime will view certain players very differently from the last one. They didn't scout and acquire any of these assets, so Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have minimal personal investment.'
Park appears to be a clear case of this. Last offseason, the Twins were so high on the Korean star they coughed up a $12.8 million posting fee, made a four-year contractual commitment, and ultimately pigeonholed one of their best young players out of position to make room for him.
Now, after one season in the States, Park has evidently lost all luster in the eyes of team decision-makers. When the Twins signed veteran reliever Matt Belisle, they could have designated Michael Tonkin or Danny Santana, either of whom will be exposed to waivers at the end of March if they don't make the roster. Instead, they chose Park. If he were claimed it would have taken $9 million off the books, but also would have meant chalking up the $15 million upfront investment as a complete loss.
That doesn't sound like something Terry Ryan would do, especially if he harbored a belief that Park's disappointing rookie season was hindered by a wrist injury that eventually required surgery.
But we're not in Terry Ryan territory anymore. And Park passed through waivers, indicating that the rest of the league's teams share a similar view to Falvey and Levine. One wonders what the 30-year-old would need to do this spring to change it.
* Rehabbing from last June's shoulder surgery, Glen Perkins was playing catch in Ft. Myers by January and hoped to take another important step last week: throwing from a mound. One day before the planned bullpen session, though, he and his trainers decided to push it back, citing renewed soreness.
This development is not encouraging, but also not surprising. Labrum surgery can generally carry a lengthy recovery window of nine months or more; Perkins is a 33-year-old whose operation was more extensive than most. Bumps in the road are to be expected, and the southpaw himself acknowledges that. He'll give it a go on Tuesday and could generate some nice early-spring positivity if it goes well.
On another note, whenever Perkins hangs up the cleats, he might have a future in writing. His foreword for the Baseball Prospectus 2017 Annual was an excellent read. The book also includes a Twins feature from Parker, and was all put together by our friend Aaron Gleeman, so I definitely recommend grabbing a copy to prep yourself for the coming season.
* Speaking of strong writing, over the weekend the imitable Phil Miller had a great piece in the Star Tribune examining the odd dynamic between an aging lame duck manager and a fresh, young executive duo that is transparently future-focused.
For Molitor, winning in 2017 is vital. For Falvey and Levine, this year is nothing but a step to where they want to get. It's a learning experience and an opportunity to actively assess all that they've inherited. One of those things is a manager on a one-year contract.
When a team that, on paper, looks perfectly capable of competing and playing .500 ball goes on to lose 103 games... well, Molitor says it best in the story: "That doesn't reflect very well on the manager."
But the truth is, it doesn't reflect well on anyone. And while some are flummoxed by Jim Pohlad's continuing allegiance to the Hall of Famer, I will say I'm glad that he and Falvey will have a chance to overlap. You can take issue with Molitor's managing from up close or afar, but if you spend any time talking to the man you will not doubt his intuition for the game. Pairing him with an analytical mind like Falvey on day-to-day operations – especially at a time where Molitor will necessarily be very open to new approaches – could yield fruitful results. I'm curious to see how it plays out.
* Our 2017 Minnesota Twins Top Prospect series kicked off last week with my profiles of our choices for 16 through 20 and Seth's takes on 11 through 15.
Today, Parker kicks off our one-by-one countdown of the Top 10 with a look at 20-year-old Dominican slugger Lewin Diaz. Make sure to give it a read, and tune in each day over the next two weeks to learn all about the organization's brightest upcoming talents.
* For a fifth straight year, Twins Daily will be providing on-site coverage of Minnesota Twins spring training from Fort Myers, FL throughout the month of March. Parker, Seth, John and myself will alternately be on hand to cover games, snap photos/videos, and chat with players and personnel. Unrestrained by column inches or any concept of what is too minute or trivial to print, we promise to deliver the deepest and most comprehensive reporting from Twins camp that you will find anywhere.
With temperatures rising and snow melting in Minnesota, it looks like Mother Nature is taking her cue from the baseball calendar. Spring is coming.
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