In the past week, the San Francisco Giants have kept with tradition and signed two older veterans in Mark DeRosa and Juan Uribe. Recently, there were rumors swirling around that the Twins were interested in signing either of these two to play either 2nd or 3rd base. Fortunately, they won’t get that chance now, thanks to Giants GM Brian Sabean.
If the Twins had signed DeRosa, I felt that it would have been hypocritical based on the fact that the Twins refused to sign Casey Blake last offseason. Compare the two of them, with Blake’s age for Opening Day ’09 with his ’08 stats and DeRosa’s age for Opening Day ’10 with his ’09 stats.
Blake ’09 (35 years old): .274/.345/.463, 21 HR, 71 RBI, -5.4 UZR (3B), 2.6 WAR, primarily played 1B, 3B, and RF in career
DeRosa ’10 (35 years old): .250/.319/.433, 23 HR, 78 RBI, -5.6 UZR (3B), 1.7 WAR, primarily played 2B, SS, 3B, LF, and RF in career
I don’t think it significantly matters, but the seasons for both players that I cherry-picked were split between two teams, and each of them played part of their respective seasons with the Cleveland Indians.
Last offseason, Blake was being pursued to play 3B, while DeRosa was looked at for both 2B and 3B, with his versatility at other positions as being a positive for signing him (keep in mind the Twins also thought of trading for DeRosa last offseason before the Indians acquired him from the Cubs). The Twins ended up avoiding Blake because he wanted at least a 3 year contract and they weren’t willing to gamble that type of contract on a 35 year old. Similarly, DeRosa first wanted the same length of contract when he would be 35 as well. Blake’s career BA/OBP/SLG line is .266/.338/.450 while DeRosa’s is .275/.343/.424. Blake ended up getting a 3 year, $17.5 million contract from the Dodgers with a $6 million club option for 2012, while DeRosa will have a 2 year, $12 million from the Giants, which actually isn’t too bad. But, matching DeRosa’s career numbers really isn’t that hard, and the Twins could certainly do that for a cheaper price. I’m not necessarily saying that Danny Valencia could do that, but someone could.
As for Juan Uribe…oh, Juan Uribe. He did have a great year in ’09 with the Giants, but it was significantly better than what he’s ever done, at least in terms of batting average and slugging percentage. Uribe has typically had a low batting average (thanks to a low BABIP…remember that the MLB average is always around .300), and an above average BABIP helped him to his .289 batting average in ’09. Throw in some poor OBP for his career and the fact that 3B is not his best position, and you end up with a guy that doesn’t appeal to me. However, I was surprised to see that he’s usually rated as above average at 2B and SS in terms of UZR, and slightly below average at 3B.
There still are plenty of options available, but each passing day makes me think more and more that the Twins will open 2010 with Brendan Harris and/or Matt Tolbert et. al at 3B until Danny Valencia has spent enough time in the minors such that his first arbitration year is pushed back one season, and Nick Punto at 2B. It’s not a good solution, but sadly it’s the one I see happening.