Sunday, March 01, 2009

SPORTS: KC Cruz-er

I see where the Minnesota Twins failed in their attempt to create a new kind of transaction in major league baseball. The Twins and former Arizona Diamondback Juan Cruz were a good fit. Unfortunately, to sign Cruz, the Twins would have to give up their first-round pick in the amateur draft in June to the D-Backs, because Cruz was a Type-A free agent, requiring such compensation.

Cruz, unfortunately, isn't actually THAT good. Decent, and good addition to the young kiddie corps that the Twins will send to the mound this summer, but not worth losing a first-round draft pick. But them's the rules, unless you can figure out a workaround. It's also the reason Orlando Cabrerra to name one player, still is unemployed.

What the Twins were trying to do was to do the equivalent of basketball's sign-and-trade with Arizona. You can't trade draft picks in baseball and you can't trade drafted players until a full year after they've been drafted and signed. All you can do is trade players who have put a year in under your control (or some MLB team's control). Soooo, the Twins were offering Arizona a prospect or two from their farm system to make a deal for Cruz. Arizona was interested enough to listen, but didn't bite. They wanted first-round talent for saying good-bye to Cruz. And Minnesota didn't think he was worth that. And I agree.

But Kansas City sees themselves as the Tampa Bay Rays of 2009. Plus, they have enough young talent in the pipeline to forego a draft pick. The Royals have signed Cruz and will pay the price MLB extorts for signing Type A free agents. Might work out right for them. The Central Division in the AL might very well be a four-team race to .500, respectability AND first place. It's not the strongest division in baseball, by any stretch.

The Twins will be there in the end, if the youngsters on the mound come through. The addition of Joe Crede is going to work out, and I still think Brian Buscher turns into an asset before year's end. The Detroit Tigers still have some claws and if the pitching staff, so good two and three years ago, finds some way to bounce back, the run-scoring Bengals will be heard from. The Cleveland club will be either REALLY good or less than mediocre, depending on the health of Victor Martinez and Grady Sizemore, and the ability of Kerry Wood to actually close games all year. He's even more of a health risk than his two new teammates. And Chicago will not be bad. The question is, has Kenny Williams assembled a team, long in the tooth, that has one more run at a title in them. I personally doubt it, but there's lots of quality people playing on the South Side.

Starting to get that itch. Let's play some BAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!

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