Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.
The Twins announced their 2012 Diamond Award winners today, as voted on by local members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Team MVP: Josh Willingham
Pitcher of the year: Scott Diamond
Rookie of the year: Scott Diamond
Most improved: Ben Revere
Determination and leadership: Justin Morneau
Media good guy: Glen Perkins
Defensive player of the year: Ben Revere
Upper Midwest player of the year: Joe Mauer
The annual Diamond Awards dinner, with proceeds benefiting neurological research at the University of Minnesota, will be held Jan. 24 at Target Field.
Scott Baker said he had a good conversation with Twins General Manager Terry Ryan today, when Ryan called with news that the team was declining Baker's $9.25 million option for 2013.
"I think we’ve kind of known it wasn’t going to get picked up," Baker said. "He was very nice letting me know they’d like to have me back."
Baker is now a free agent and will be able to receive offers from other teams by Friday night. But the Twins are still very much in the running to re-sign him.
"We’re talking, and obviously I think there’s a mutual feeling that I want to be back, and they want me back," Baker said. "But it has to make sense for both parties, and we’re just not there yet.
"There’s a lot to consider. I’ll just say, we’re not close, but we’re definitely closer than when it started. I’m by no means discouraged by anything that’s gone on so far. But at the same time, there are great teams and other possibilities out there."
General Manager Terry Ryan described Monday's decision on the option "a paper move."
"I don’t think anybody expected us to pick up that option," Ryan said. "We certainly have the ability to talk to Scott and his agent right through the period. So whether we do today, tomorrow or the next day, we have the ability to."
Twins pitcher Nick Blackburn had arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip from his right elbow last Thursday but should be back to full strength for spring training, General Manager Terry Ryan said today.
Also, the Twins announced that they have re-signed righthander P.J. Walters to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.
The Twins today notified starting pitcher Scott Baker that they will not be picking up his $9.25 million option for 2013, allowing him to become a free agent, a person familiar with the discussions said.
Update: The Twins just made this official with an announcement.
The decision was not a surprise, but there was some thought that the sides might work out an incentive-laden deal before Baker hit the free agent market. Beginning Friday night at 11 p.m., Central, Baker will be free to sign with another team.
Baker, 31, missed last season while recovering from Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery in his right elbow. He is 63-48 with a 4.15 ERA in seven years with the Twins. He signed a four-year, $15.25 million deal with the Twins before the 2009 season, which included the 2013 option and no buyout.
In 2011, he appeared to turn a corner and ranked among the best pitchers in the American League at 8-6 with a 2.86 ERA through the end of July, before coming down with arm trouble.
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan has said the Twins would like to re-sign Baker, as the team is looking to fill fourth fifths of its starting rotation, with Scott Diamond the only lock moving forward. But now Baker will be thrown into the pile along with all the other free agents, including Carl Pavano.
The Twins announced Wednesday that they are officially declining Matt Capps’ $6 million option for 2013, paying the $250,000 buyout, which makes Capps a free agent.
The Cubs have claimed Twins relief prospect Carlos Gutierrez off waivers. Gutierrez, a 2008 first-round draft pick, had a right shoulder injury last season.
The Twins also announced that they’ve trimmed six other players from their 40-man roster: Esmerling Vasquez, P.J. Walters, Kyle Waldrop, Jeff Manship, Luis Perdomo and Matt Carson.
Twins pitching prospect Kyle Gibson continues to raise hope in the Arizona desert.
The 2009 first-round draft pick, who had Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow on Sept. 7, 2011, had another strong start in the Arizona Fall League on Tuesday, holding the Mesa Solar Sox to one run on six hits over five innings, with no walks and eight strikeouts.
Gibson, who turns 25 next week, is 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in two starts, with no walks and 16 strikeouts. Keep in mind, this is usually a hitter friendly league, and typically features baseball's stars of tomorrow. Last year, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were both in the AFL -- on the same team.
Next year, the Twins will be as careful with Gibson as the Washington Nationals were Stephen Strasburg this year. Not to put those two in the same category, but the Nationals limited Strasburg to 160 innings in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery.
Still, the fact Gibson is back to dominant form, with his fastball reportedly touching 93-miles per hour, is a very encouraging sign for the Twins.
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