The offseason is a great time to catch up on your reading. With the World Series over, there are no more nightly ball games. Pretty soon the weather is going to turn for the worse, making it more difficult to do anything outside. And since you’re such a dedicated Puckett’s Pond reader, I’m sure you’ve already read everything we’ve written 19 times, and you’re hungering for new material. That’s why, as a service to you, I’ll be reviewing Twins-related books this offseason.
First up, TwinsCentric’s Offseason GM Handbook. This “book” is available as a pdf download from at www.twinscentric.com.
I give it a 4 out of 5 on my TC Bear scale.
AUTHORS: If you read the online version of the Star Tribune, you are probably familiar with the Twins Centric crew. John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and Seth Stohs come out with new material nearly every day, and their different strengths as writers and fans mesh very well together.
OVERVIEW: The idea behind the GM Handbook is to put you in the shoes of the Twins’ GM. I know that deep down inside, each and every one of us believes we can do a better job than Bill Smith. Most GMs have an MBA or a law degree to help them understand the intricacies of modern baseball contracts. The GM Handbook won’t make up for that, but it is a handy guide to the Twins roster, the free agency market, and the minor league system.
If you’re looking for a brilliant literary work, like the next War and Peace, Hamlet, or Horton Hears a Who, you won’t find that here. The GM Handbook is more of an informational guide or a reference manual than a work of prose. It does not have any lengthy feature articles, aside from a foreward by Strib writer Patrick Reusse. Instead, it contains 138 pages of stats and blurbs. Each Twins player from the 2011 roster receives a grade (and there are a lot more Ds than As!), the minor league system is dissected position by position, all of the potential free agents are discussed, and each of the TwinsCentric team offers a blueprint for what he would do to improve the Twins.
HIGHLIGHTS: I loved the information about free agents on the market. If you just look at a list of potential free agents online, you don’t get any in-depth analysis. TwinsCentric offered at least a paragraph about every important player on the market, and they even took the time to estimate what kind of contract those players could receive. The organizational depth chart was another informative feature. They broke down the Twins organization from the Major League club down to the Gulf Coast League, listing the best and most promising players at each position, and making the case for all the players who might need to be added to the 40 man roster.
NEGATIVES: While most of the information in the Handbook is pretty level headed, I can’t say I agree with all of their opinions. For example, Brandon Morrow is listed as a trade target. In my personal opinion, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthropolous would have to develop a pretty severe crack habit before he would agree to trade Morrow. But that’s a minor quibble. Other than a couple of minor typos, I didn’t see anything else in this book I didn’t like.
CONCLUSION: The TwinsCentric GM Handbook book is worth buying and reading. Right about now is the time that we’re all paying attention to the Hot Stove reports and free agency news. The GM Handbook is a good way to familiarize yourself with all the names you’ll be hearing in the coming weeks. That said, the material in the book is time-sensitive. By December or January, a lot of the free agents discussed in the book will have signed with teams. So if you’re going to read it, it’s probably best to buy a copy within the next week or two.