So in 100 days, the Minnesota Twins will open the 2012 season out east against the Orioles. While 2011 wasn’t a season most fans want to remember, I felt it only appropriate to take a look back at some of the biggest highlights from April to September.
A huge shout-out to everyone who sent me ideas today on Twitter, including JackJohnRoger, dknygap4, jeffshelman, cdelzer & dillonheins. And a special shout-out to TC Bear, the best mascot in MLB.
And yes, I know I’m rather fond of saying the words really & definitely…
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Michael Cuddyer‘s off-season negotiations have become one big game of Hokey Pokey. It seems every day there are reports of new teams joining the party — Rockies, Brewers, Cardinals, Phillies, Red Sox — while the Twins have remained stedfast in their talks with the utility player who has been with the organization since he was drafted in 1997. Even after news broke that Josh Willingham would be joining the clubhouse next season, talks were still in play between the Twins & Cuddyer — breaking out even more possibilities as the days dragged on.
The latest: Friday AM – Cuddyer signs 3 year/$31.5 million deal with Rockies. Hold up was the 4th year deal. Cuddyer wanted 4th year deal or more money, which is what he’s getting with Rockies.
Thursday, Dec. 15th
- 9am: Dust settling, market not nearly as large as originally speculated. Sounds like Twins are the only true ‘contending’ team in the hunt, although with 99 losses last season that seems a stretch. The Twins won’t wait much longer on Cuddyer.
- Both Twins & Rockie have shown their hands to Cuddyer, it’s in his hands now. 3 year/$26 million (possible jump to $28) looks to be best offer.
- It does not look like M’s & Reds are real players in this.
- Other things to consider: Is $2 million worth leaving Minnesota? Any hard feelings over Minnesota’s offer? Pay cut a year after being an All-Star? Which team gives him the best chance of getting a ring?
- 12pm – Cuddyer coming to terms with the fact that the market won’t support the 3 years/$30 million he was hoping for. Willingham was not signed to replace Cuddyer but to add power to a struggling lineup.
Wednesday, Dec. 14th
- Twins’ offer still on the table. More noise regarding Twins & the possibility of keeping Cuddyer & Willingham & moving Denard Span for pitching prospects.
- Sides still in fluid talks, confirmed by Minnesota Twins’ general manager Terry Ryan.
Tuesday, Dec. 13th
- Both Twins & Rockies feeling a sense of urgency, push Cuddyer for a decision. Both teams have a lot riding on his decision. No ultimatums at this point, but teams expected to give a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ offer soon.
- Later in the day, news broke that Twins had signed outfielder Josh Willingham to a multi-year deal pending a physical. Because of Willingham’s similarities to Cuddyer, everyone assumed talks with Michael would end on the Twins’ side.
- At 7pm, news came out that larger market teams were starting to express interest in Cuddyer after the Willingham news came out — specifically the Red Sox, Brewers, & Phillies.
- Twins not out at the point, even after Willingham news. Idea now that Twins might keep Cuddyer & sign Willingham, then move a speedy outfielder for pitching.
- At 8pm: Cuddyer not ready to leave Minnesota. Rockies’ offer has been on the table for over three days at this point.
Monday, Dec. 12th
- The smoke had started to clear with just the Twins and the Rockies in serious contention for Cuddyer’s services next season. Was a chance a 3rd team was laying in the weeds. Resolution expected to come mid-week with the deal lowering down to 3 year/$26 million.
- Also on Monday: the impact of Ryan Braun‘s PED appeal process threw the Brewers into the mix for a moment but having just signed Aramis Ramirez, it wasn’t clear how serious they were about pursuing Cuddyer.
- Rockies make a big push for Cuddyer, making 3 years/$30 million an even bigger possibility.
- Cuddyer’s desire to stay with the Twins complicated by factors that would need to be addressed: 4th year option, Twins contending in 2012, clubhouse attitudes after 2011 season, and pitching.
Friday, Dec. 9th
- Word came out that 3 years/$30 million was a solid possibility for Cuddyer, whose value was being driven up by larger market teams like Boston and Philadelphia.
- Some buzz came out that Seattle was interested in talking to Cuddyer’s camp but there was no chance Michael would be headed that far west.
- At this point, Cuddyer’s camp okay with the ‘hurry up and wait’, willing to let the market develop for a few days before diving into anything too seriously.
Tuesday, Dec. 6
- Cuddyer’s camp made it known to all teams that he was interested in a 4 year deal. Wasn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but he wanted to at least explore the opportunity. Current deal last Tuesday was said to be 3 year/$30 million. Most noise came from Twins & Rockies, although Cardinals had shown some interest.
- Besides the 4 year talk, Cuddyer’s camp was mostly quiet — no doubt due to the fact that he & his wife had just welcomed twins girls days earlier. Diaper duty & no sleep does not bode well during off-season negotiations.
- At this point, there was pressure to have a resolution done by last weekend — which obviously didn’t happen.
Be sure to follow along as this crazy ride continues, which will no doubt be the case since Star Tribune beat writer Joe Christensen announced late tonight that the Twins might wait until Friday to officially announce Willingham’s deal.
Update: Thursday at 10:45am — Twins announce 3 year/$21 million deal with Josh Willingham, taking the roster to 38.
When Michael Cuddyer & his wife Claudia welcomed twins girls into the world earlier this month, fans of the utility player breathed a huge sigh of relief. How could he sign with anyone but the Twins now that he had just welcomed his own pair into the world? It’s perfect!
As delightful as it would be if that were the case, there are other factors that will play a role in Michael’s decision to re-sign with Minnesota.
The line-up the Twins opened 2011 with when they played two pre-season games against the Braves at Turner Field - March 29 & 30, 2011
Right now, it sounds like he’s sitting on 3 years, $26 million. He made it clear early on that he was interested in talking about a 4th year option. That’s still there and could come out as a tie-breaker with the Rockies in play.
He also wants the Twins to be contenders in 2012. So does the rest of the team & everyone in Twins’ territory. Last year was rough on everyone and the attitude in the clubhouse right now isn’t pretty. No beef between players, just an over-all — WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR? — feeling that is a recipe for disaster when trying to rebuild after a down year. Michael’s leadership & veteran status would be bright spot for a pretty young squad & all of the new faces that will be joining it this season.
While a resolution seems to be within sight, both the Twins & the Rockies are pushing Michael for an answer. His camp has and remains to be very quiet, which is making both teams nervous and anxious for a resolution. In order for these squads to move forward in the off-season, a resolution needs to happen. Both teams have a lot of holes to fill and need to know where their money is going in order to do so.
Right now there are no ultimatums but a ‘final offer, take it or leave it’ could be coming soon unless Cuddyer’s camp makes some noise.