Dateline: Fort Myers, Fla.
I wrote in today's paper about the possibility that the Twins will feel forced to trade Joe Mauer if he doesn't sign with them in the coming months.
To put my perspective into one sentence: I still think the Twins will be able to sign him, but the organization is very well aware of the risks of signing one player to an exorbitant deal, and the front office would be foolish not to have contingency plans in case Mauer won't agree to a reasonable sum.
The reaction is most fans is probably that the Twins can't even think about trading Mauer. But if he doesn't sign, they will have only two options: Trading him, or losing him in free agency and receiving two draft picks as compensation. I do not believe they will let him walk away.
What's interesting is, for a player with an injury history, if the Twins decide to trade him, they might be motivated to move quickly, because the worst-case scenario would be seeing Mauer get hurt and spending his last year with the Twins on the disabled list, then leaving as a free agent.
And while Mauer has as much leverage as any baseball player has ever had, what if his back goes out tomorrow? There are risks on his side, as well.
-I'm writing every day while I'm in Fort Myers. I'm heading back to Minnesota next week to cover the Gophers' NCAA tournament run, the Wild playoff run, the Timberwolves playoff run and the Gopher hockey sprint to the national championship. Oh, and Coach Brew's next recruiting coup.
-You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib, although I'm having trouble with my blackberry ap on Twitter so I've been quieter than usual lately.
-My take on the Twins' closer situation: I do not sense that they are going to make a panic move. I don't think they'll give up top prospects for a closer or pay top dollar for one. I think they might add one more arm if they can, perhaps by trading Glen Perkins, who suspiciously is being used in less-than-highlighted roles this spring.
What is most likely, and what I think would be wisest, is this: Start the season with a committee approach. Play matchups in the late innings. If Matt Guerrier dominates in the eighth, let him start the ninth. If Jon Rauch gets hot, ride him. If Jose Mijares starts looking like Eddie Guardado with better stuff, hand him the job.
One downside of having an established closer is that the manager will hand the ball to that guy whether he's the right guy on that particular day or in that particular situation. One advantage to not having a closer is you can have Mijares face two lefties to start the ninth, or have Pat Neshek face two righties to start the ninth.
By midseason, a handful of closers will be available in trades. If the Twins can piece things together until then, they might be able to find a bargain, or they might be pleasantly surprised by an in-house candidate, whether it's Mijares, Neshek or (as La Velle wrote today) Carlos Gutierrez.
-I'll be on with Joe Anderson on am-1500 at 6:05 Central time on Friday for my usual chat with him. I'm on mornings on am-1500 at 7:45, and on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:14 weekday mornings.
This week we'll do Sunday Sports Talk live from Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers with a bunch of Twins guests.
I'll check in after the Twins play tonight in Fort Myers.