And it is..... Livan Hernandez, for one year and $5 million in base salary. Despite the Twins' recent habit of signing veteran starters, I was actually surprised by this signing since both Gardy and Rick Anderson had been quoted as saying that they weren't sure any one out there in free agency was better than who was already in the Twins' organization. I mean, if Gardy of all people feels he doesn't need a veteran at a position, then you've got to feel pretty comfortable with the kids. However, Bill Smith went out and got Livan, one of the best starters left in a now very weak market. I find myself not really having a reaction either way to this trade. My first thought was "oh great, here's the next Sidney Ponson," but this rotation is so young, and Livan is much better and more durable than the man who was once nicknamed the "beluga whale." Plus, there are always the parts of a trade that I find it very hard to measure. In this case, it is the veteran presence that Livan provides to this young rotation. I could try to analyze the importance of this, but I really wouldn't have any idea what I was talking about, since I've never been around anything resembling a major league clubhouse (though in Babe Ruth baseball I did a pretty good job filling the Nick Punto role- I was fast and a good defensive player, but couldn't hit the ball out of the infield or even lay a bunt down). The idea of a veteran presence in the rotation is also something that is almost impossible to study in statistical terms, so I can't even turn there for answers. In the end, the Twins operate on a 1-year budget, so any extra profit this year will most likely not be put into salaries next year or any other upcoming year. Therefore, I don't see that spending causing a problem in that sense, and the Twins are still saving plenty if they want to pay over slot in the draft (I know a lot of fans want them to do this with the extra money, but I really don't see them doing it in any situation). Livan could also become a valuable trade piece at the deadline or could be a Type B free agent after 2008 (like he was this year).
I've heard a lot of talk about how the Twins could have spent the money paid to Craig Monroe and Hernandez (could be almost 11 million total with incentives) to acquire one much better player. Even if you throw in Adam Everett and Mike Lamb, the total money paid to free agents still only comes to, at most, around 17 million dollars in 2008. Clearly, if the Twins hadn't signed these guys, they would have had plenty of money to pay Torii and Johan this year. However, only Lamb is being paid beyond 2008, so this money will be freed up after 2008, unlike with Torii (got 5 years) and Johan (6 years). The question never was whether those two should be paid that much and whether the Twins could pay them that much in 2008. It was always the number of years that would have to be committed to these guys, and it is just perplexing to me when this 1-year deal with Livan makes people say stuff like "we should have spent this money on big-name free agent or to re-sign Torii and/or Johan." A) Who was this big name free agent we should have signed/re-signed? Alex Rodriguez? That player has to both be available and want to come here. B) A big-name free agent signing costs a lot of years as well, which obviously makes it a much bigger overall money commitment if people look beyond just this one season. Unless you've got a great shot at a championship, you don't risk your future signing an older player like Torii to a long term deal.
On an unrelated note, does anyone care what Jose Canseco has to say? Does his word really mean anything? Though he may be right about much of what he's said, the way he's gone about it shows that he's really about the money. His most recent act of basically blackmailing Magglio Ordonez to help him out on his movie project discredits him even more, and I don't see how his word could somehow prove to anyone that Clemens is innocent.