Wednesday

1-14-09: The Open Letter Returns

Hello again everybody...

It's a frigid Wednesday here in Minnesota, so I'm thoroughly jealous of any of you living south of the Arctic Circle. Didn't know that extended down to Minneapolis, did you? It does today anyway. It's so cold, my future generations are complaining.

I'll let that image marinate for a moment...

Enough? You're right. Moving on...

More baseball on the docket. It's time for the return of the Sports Take Open Letter. And the addressee is one of my favorites: Twins General Manager, Bill Smith. So let's get to it...

"The reserve of modern assertions is sometimes pushed to extremes, in which the fear of being contradicted leads the writer to strip himself of almost all sense and meaning."
- Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), noted statesman, orator and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

In other words, don't let the man hold a brother down! Preach on Winston!

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Long time Sports Take readers will recall in the past when I've written Open Letters begging the general managers of my favorite baseball teams not to sign certain ballplayers which I've deemed detrimental to their clubs' chances, regardless of the obviousness of their talent.

This time, I'm taking a different angle. So without further ado, a Sports Take Open Letter:

Bill Smith
General Manager
Minnesota Twins Baseball Club
34 Kirby Puckett Place
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Mr. Smith:

First off, I'd like to congratulate you on the success of last season. While the result of Game 163 wasn't what we all would've hoped for, just being in that game was a pleasant surprise to Twins fans everywhere.

Like most fans, it's my earnest hope that you'll be able to build upon last season's success and make the playoffs in 2009. And I think a sizable opportunity to do that lies in front of you right now.

5-time All Star shortstop Michael Young has asked the Texas Rangers to explore trade opportunities after they asked him to move from shortstop to second base.

While I'm aware that you've re-signed Nick Punto with the intention of having him be your everyday shortstop, I think the opportunity to trade for an All Star at the same position can't be discounted. Punto could easily be shifted to third, and frankly, Young outclasses him in every measurable way.

As I'm sure you're well aware, Young hit .284 last year with 12 home runs and 82 RBI. Add to that a .984 fielding percentage - which helped earn him a Gold Glove - and you have a presence in your lineup and on the field that provides a serious upgrade to anyone you've fielded at shortstop in the last 3 years.

I understand why you wouldn't guarantee the third year on the offer to 3B Casey Blake. By the end of that contract, he'd have been pushing 39 years old, and to guarantee that kind of money to a guy that age is a huge risk. I also realize that the $60+ million due to Young over the next 4 years could be viewed as a risk as well.

But Young has far outstripped Blake in terms of numbers, and is better defensively as well. Plus, Young is only 32. He's still in the prime of his career. And landing a guy like him instantly energizes your fan base.

The other consideration is that due to the size of his contract, you shouldn't have to offer up the kind of prospects you've been asked for in the past. Obviously, Colorado's asking for Denard Span and Kevin Slowey when asked about the availability of 3B Garrett Atkins, is a non-starter.

But given the size and length of Young's contract, the asking-price would have to be lower. Having that kind of salary coming off Texas' books would have to be a factor in the number and quality of prospects that they could ask for in return.

And lest anyone be concerned about Young's impact in the clubhouse, take the word of Ranger Senior Adviser John Hart who said recently on MLB Network's "Hot Stove" program that Young's one of the most professional ball-players he's ever worked with. And considering this is a guy who got the Cleveland Indians to the World Series twice and had to deal with Albert Belle in doing it, I'd take him at his word.

I urge you to give Texas G.M. Jon Daniels and at least inquire what the Rangers would want in return for a player who's clearly expressed a wish to play elsewhere. A consistent hitter and fielder? An All-Star and Gold Glove winner? I think that's worth some serious effort and consideration.

Thanks for your time, and good luck with the 2009 campaign.

Dan Cook
Minneapolis, MN

So will the a trade for Young happen? Probably not. Stories are already being written that indicate that the likelihood is that the rift between Young and Rangers management will be repaired sooner than later. But the beauty of the Hot Stove season is that until we reach the non-waiver trade deadline in July, anything's possible! And that means that Twins fans like me are allowed to dream.

That's all for today. I'll be back on Friday with yet another returning segment. That's right, the DFTU makes it's triumphant return in just two days! Prepare yourselves! Until then, be safe and thanks so much for reading.

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