1-30-09: Twins Just Say No

Hello again everybody...

I'm getting after this a little later than usual today. There are several reasons for that. Number one, I'm writing from the home offices today. Vive le Vacation!

Number two, I'm still fighting off the virus/plague/Andromeda strain that's been making the rounds at work, so I slept in nice and late. I think I'm on the upswing with this thing, but I don't want to jinx it.

Number three, I've been reading the latest Bill Simmons chat session on Not only is the guy a brilliant writer, but he's awfully quick witted, as displayed clearly in this chat.

And finally, number four, because I'm at home, I actually can listen to the shows we usually just watch at work. (We have 4 TV's in the studio, but because it's radio, the volume's always turned down. Which usually isn't a problem, since we're just checking out the Cable News Babes anyway, but it's intriguing to actually hear them.)

So forgive me if this get out later than usual. Then again, with no job to interrupt my writing, maybe it'll all even out. Let's get to the writing and we'll see!

I know I promised you all a DFTU today, but I decided to start with the Twins calling off negotiations with Eric Gagne. I fully intended to follow that with a DFTU, but I got so carried away ripping Heavy-G, that I decided to hold off the DFTU til next week (secretly hoping the Badgers can end their 5-game skid so I can discuss it in the past-tense). So I hate to disappoint those of you tuning in for the DFTU, but I promise to be as entertaining as I can in the interim! Off we go!

"We confess our little faults to persuade people we have no large ones."
- Francois de La Rochefoucald (1613-1680), noted French author and accomplished nobleman

First of all, typing "Francois de La Rochefoucald" is really hard. Go ahead. Open up "Notepad" and try it. I'll wait.


Secondly, how does one become an "accomplished nobleman"? Is it just being nice to the unwashed masses? Is there philanthropy involved? Is it simply a matter of not executing members of the working class for fun? These are the things I wonder about when I'm home from work and not feeling well.

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But let's get to the actual column, shall we?

For those of you who didn't read Joe Christensen's article in the Star Tribune (and if you're a Twins fan, Joe C. and Lavelle are required reading), the Twins have halted talks with free agent RP Eric Gagne.

If that name sounds familiar to you, it should. I spent most of last baseball season savaging him and the Brewers for signing him to that gaudy 1-year $10 million deal.

Fortunately, his talks with the Twins this off-season have flown mostly under the radar, so I've been able to ignore them and pretend they weren't actually happening. One of my Brewer-fan friends kept trying to bring it up, but I wouldn't take the bait.

Now, I can finally talk about it.

Yes, the Twins still need late-inning relief help. Pat Neshek's not coming back this season (and if you believe some of the rumblings, may just plain be done), and Jose Mijares is still awfully young. Plus you'd rather have him as a left-handed specialist, than locked in as your go-to 8th inning guy. Jesse Crain's still a distinct possibility, but there's no guarantee that his comeback from arm surgery will continue on the same path it was on late last year. So you'd like to bring in another arm as an insurance possibility if nothing else.

There was a potential for some intra-DFTU-ness to happen when the Twins talked to D'backs free agent RP Brandon Lyon. Alas, Lyon went to the Tigers where he's got a shot at closing. And that's the major hold-up for the Twins. If you're a late-inning reliever, you'd like to go someplace where you have a shot at the closing gig, because that's where the big money lies. But if you're going to sign with the Twins, you've got no shot unless Joe Nathan gets hurt. And he's shown no inclination towards injury so far.

So apparently one of the guys the Twins were looking at was Eric Gagne. There were two major problems in my mind. One, Gagne sucks. And two, his agent is Scott Boras.

I'm not sure how much more evidence people need that Gagne's cooked as a big league pitcher, but apparently Boras is still able to weave his magic (see: Jason Varitek's two-year deal with the Red Sox... 2 years for a .220 hitter? why not?!).

We know that Gange was named in the Mitchell Report as a steroid user. And not at all coincidentally, his career went straight into the tank after the report came out (also the point at which, one would presume, he stopped using). Have we seen anyone who used steroids with fantastic results, then stopped using, and did anything other than break down til they were forced to retire? Not to my knowledge.

(Aside: this would be the part where I have to acknowledge that Wednesday, I said that I didn't know anyone who wasn't watching the Superbowl on Sunday, only to have a comment attached from a regular reader who won't be watching on Sunday. Sorry Mary. I stand corrected.)

For their $10 million last year, the Brewers got 4-3 with a 5.44 ERA and 10 saves. $1 million per save? Sounds reasonable to me! (insert sarcasm here). The guy hasn't managed more than 16 saves in a single season since 2004 when he was at the end of that stellar (yet steroid induced) 3-year run of 45+ saves per year.

But the Twins weren't looking at him to close, they wanted him to set-up for Joe Nathan. And as Joe C. pointed out, Gagne went 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA in September setting-up for the Brewers, right?

So what! Those aren't exactly lights-out numbers. And the guy had to know he was pitching for his major league life at that point. And the Twins were talking about a $3 million deal with $500,000 in incentives?! Maybe, maybe, if those numbers were the other way around, I could've lived with the idea. But as constituted? Not a chance.

So yeah, the guy sucks.

But there's also the nightmare of dealing with his agent: Scott Boras. For those of you who doubt Boras' evil genius credentials, you need only peruse Bill Simmon's article about Manny Ramirez's exit from Boston to get the idea.

(Warning: if you're going to read it, either make sure you have a solid chunk of free-time to devote to it, or print it out so you can use it for "throne time" reading. It's epic, but worth the read.)

This is the same problem the Twins are dealing with in their flirtations with 3B Joe Crede. When you're dealing with Boras, you can be fairly sure you're going to over-pay for the guy you sign. And it's entirely possible you may find out 6 months down the road that the fine print of his contract says that Satan has a "club option" on your soul.

This is the guy that convinced the Texas Rangers to bid against themselves and pay Alex Rodriguez $250 million. This is the guy who convinced the Boston Red Sox (whom I hate) to resign their .220-hitting catcher to a 2-year deal. And this is the guy who's going to get Manny Ramirez a ridiculous contract even though the league's apparently decided he's more trouble than he's worth. I mean, after everything he did to help get the Dodgers into the playoffs last year, doesn't their reluctance to re-sign him tell us something?

So why would you want to deal with an agent who's this much of a headache to sign a steroid-depleted pitcher who won't be happy as a set-up guy because in his heart of hearts, he still thinks he should be a closer?

If you're the Twins, you don't.

Thank God.

I can't even imagine the things I'd have had to write if the Twins had signed him. It wouldn't have been pretty. It may not have even been fair. It would've been just plain painful.

Fortunately, sanity prevailed. Thank you Billy Smith. Thank you baseball gods. Thank you Scott Boras for holding out so long, that the Twins had time to come to their senses.

I can finally breathe again. And it feels damned good.

That's all for this week. I'll be back on Monday with your "delayed but never denied" DFTU (unless the Badgers lose again and I find something else to write about so I can stall again). Until then, stay safe and thanks for reading!

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