We’re sure you have all heard by now, but Jim Thome is a Twin once again. After hitting 25 HRs for the Twins in 2010, Thome signed a 1-year $3 million deal to play another season with the Twins. Amazingly for someone who hit 25 HRs, Thome “only” managed 59 RBI. This seems indicative of the feast or famine hitter Thome is. Regardless, he will be a huge bat to bring back to the lineup. Thome surprisingly turned down an extra $1 million from the Texas Rangers. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the reasoning for turning down more money had to do with teammates, his fondness of the Twins’ organizaiton and his family, who live in Chicago. Even though it was only one million dollars, which isn’t entirely significant to a major league star of Thome’s caliber and longevity, it is still nice to see a professional athlete make a decision based on more than money, but maybe we just think that because we got our man. In addition to the above mentioned reasons for Thome signing with the Twins, Rosenthal also included his desire to remain in the AL Central as a driving factor. Thome has spent 17 of his 20 seasons in the AL Central. One thing is for certain, the Detroit Tigers, the only team for whom he hasn’t played, are not happy to see him for another year. Jim Thome has hit 63 homers off the Tigers, more than any other team in his career.
One thing is for certain, though, getting Morneau back for the 2011 season should help to maintain Thome’s production and protect him in the lineup. GM Bill Smith has said that Morneau is increasing his workload, which is encouraging. The first baseman seems confident in his ability to return this season too. Recently, Morneau vowed to be ready for spring training. TC Huddle is excited about the possibility, but we won’t breath a sigh of relief until it’s clear he is back and the symptoms are no longer. The same goes, in fact, for closer Joe Nathan, whose rehab appears to still be moving forward smoothly. Accounting for the payments the Twins made to Nathan, Morneau, and all other players on the DL in 2010, Minnesota spent more than $30 million on inactive players and led all MLB teams in this category. Owners and organizations have started to clamor for a tweak in the system to avoid these types of problems from happening further. In the meantime, we can only hope Morneau and Nathan are back for spring training.
Speaking of spring training, last week the Twins invited 19 players to camp that are not on the major league roster to camp. Among them are the obvious invites to pitchers Kyle Gibson and Kyle Waldrop, and the non-obvious selection of Brian Dinkelman, who was an All Star in 2007 with the Elizabethton Twins and whose name is a lot of fun to say. For an thorough look at these players and breakdown of all the Twins top prospects, Seth Stohs at SethSpeaks.net has broken them down and his annual prospectus should be available soon too.
Finally, have a look at Twins MVB‘s look at the offseason thus far. Among other things, Brandon likes that talks with bringing Nick Punto back are in progress. We agree, if the price is right, and we have agreed with most every move the Twins have made this offseason. Now if we could only sign another starting pitcher. Twinkie Talk, however, may not be completely excited for 2011 and wonders if the Twins should be building for 2012, rather than the season before us. We’re of the opinion that you always win now, because you never know when you’ll be back, and you never mortgage your future. (SEE 2010 Minnesota Vikings). Regardless, we agree with TT that the Twins should continue to be AL Central contenders for years to come, which is exciting.
Finally, with the problem of bullying running rampant in youth throughout the country in 2010, TC Huddle liked hearing Gov. Mark Dayton requesting the state’s youth leaders to befriend less popular kids. In encouraging the youth, Dayton offered a story of Joe Mauer befriending a developmentally disabled student while a student at Cretin-Derham Hall. The problem with bullying is a great problem in our youth right now. One which we think is larger than many politicians care to admit. We enjoy seeing Dayton making a call to action and we hope Joe Mauer and other athletes will follow suit to support the cause. Seeing as it wasn’t a problem for Mauer back at CDH, we’re sure it won’t be a problem now.