Monday, October 13, 2008

Third Basemen Ideas

While the Rays, Red Sox, Phillies, and Dodgers battle it out for the World Series, there are 26 other teams that have already begun to plan their off-season. Some might be staying put, some might be making drastic changes to their team. The Twins seem to be in the middle of that pack. Being a Twins fan, I don’t have any high expectation for the off-season. The Twins tend to stay put most years, unless singing a 40-year old has been (ala Ramon Ortiz, Rueben Sierra, Tony Batista) count as off-season moves. But hopefully this year is different with Rookie GM, Bill Smith at the helm.

One of the Twins most glaring holes for many years has been the third base vacancy. Ever since Corey Koskie left the Twins after the 2004 season, the Twins have been unable to find long-term third basemen. Over the years, they have tried out many players at that spot. Some of the names include Tony Batista, Brian Buscher, Brendan Harris, and Michael Cuddyer. This could be the off-season that we finally find a third basemen that can be a consistent hitter and have a decent glove.

There are a few intriguing names on the free agent market or maybe even through trades. Here are some of the possibilities:

Hank Blalock: Hank is a very interesting case. Early on in his career he was the third baseman that the Rangers planned for when they drafted him in the 3rd round of the 1999 Amateur Draft. But after just a couple seasons at the Major League level, problems started to occur. He has had some injuries, the most notable being diagnosed with Thoracic outlet syndrome during the 2007 season. That affected his throwing, so he was then moved off the everyday third base duties. In the 2008 season he split time at 3B and 1B. If he can build his arm strength back up and work on his hitting, he could very well be a good acquisition for the Twins, if he is available via trade.
Joe Crede: Joe is another player that the Twins may look at to fill their void at third base. In 2008, Crede hit .248, 17 HR and 55 RBI. He played in only 97 games due to injuries. Before the injuries, he was a very solid third baseman for the Chicago White Sox. The only thing that might hold the Twins back from going after Crede is the fact that Scott Boras is his agent. As we all know, Boras tends to go after the big bucks for his clients.
Adrian Beltre: Out of the three that I have briefly talked about, Beltre seems to be the most likely choice. The Twins inquired about a possible trade near the Trade Deadline back in July, but the Mariners demands were too much for the Twins. Seattle wanted one of the Twins young starting pitchers, but the Twins felt it wasn’t worth it. And boy, did the Twins make a smart decision there. Hopefully the Mariners have lowered their demands for Beltre this winter. In 2008 Beltre hit .266, 25 HR and 77 RBI. As well as his bat, Beltre has a pretty solid glove on defense. As we all know, there is the good and then the there is the bad. The bad part about Beltre is that his contract is 12 million dollars this coming season. So the Twins will have to think long and hard about that part of Beltre.
These are just a few of the players that could be available for the Twins this off-season to fill the void at Third Base. Some other players I didn’t mention that could be available are Rich Aurilia, Casey Blake and Edwin Encarnacion. I just hope Bill Smith makes the right decision when he chooses a Third Basemen, if he does. Otherwise we will be watching Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris split time at third again next season.

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