Pick up the Pace


Baseball is about to get interesting again, and you can rest assured that Puckett’s Pond will be here to comment, clarify, and complain about all the offseason news that’s guaranteed to happen… any day now!

November started with a bang, and the Twins kept making moves for the the first two weeks of the month. But we have had nothing but slow news days since. Thanksgiving temporarily unplugged the Hot Stove, and nothing interesting has happened to the Twins since then. You know it’s getting bad when your team hires a new AAA manager, and you find yourself reading the article over and over and thinking it’s important news. But the boring time is about to end! All those selfish GMs, players, and agents who insisted on wasting time with their families last week are back to work, ready to resume contract negotiations for our entertainment.

The real excitement starts next week, when everyone who’s anyone amongst baseball brass will assemble in Dallas for the Winter Meetings. They last from the 5th through the 8th (next Monday through Thursday). Highlights include the announcement of the of the Veterans Committee Hall of Fame vote on the 5th (we’re pulling for Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva), the December 7th deadline for players to accept or decline arbitration offers, and the Rule V Draft on December 8th.

The meetings will also be a great opportunity for Terry Ryan to get reacquainted with all of the GMs and execs for the other 29 teams. He spent about a dozen years swindling these guys before, so hopefully they’ve all forgotten about his wheeling and dealing abilities and are willing to trade some top talent to the Twins. Ryan Still hasn’t crossed the outfield, starting rotation, or bullpen off the Twins’ shopping list, and there may be a bargain or two available.

We should also see the free agent market speed up a little in the next week or two. Some players and agents will be hobnobbing with GMs in Dallas. That networking nexus will almost certainly spawn a few high profile signings. But right now we are really waiting for the first big shoe to drop. Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, and C.J. Wilson are the marquee players on the market this year. Some of the not quite as talented free agents are no doubt waiting for those guys to sign so that they have an idea of how lucrative the market can be. Likewise, teams who cannot afford the big names (like the Twins) will be looking to see where those players end up so that they can assess the remaining competition for second tier players.

The Twins tend to continue tweaking their roster well into January each offseason, as was the case when they signed Jim Thome and Carl Pavano the last couple of years, but the bulk of their roster moves will come in the next two to three weeks. So if you have your heart set on the Twins acquiring Mark Buehrle or Josh Willingham, you’d better hope that they sign by mid-December.