It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you. Without a dope beat to step to.
Things have been a little hectic at SethSpeaks Central, but I am happy to be back here so that my voice can remain Your Voices.
Apparently there is a football game going on at the Metrodome on Sunday afternoon? I’ll be watching! And I’ll even brave the elements and make a prediction. I encourage you to leave yours too. But we will get back to that later.
Next week also begins the Twins Winter Caravan. Several Twins players, coaches, media and more will travel to more than 50 communities across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Having personally attended several caravan stops, I can tell you that it is entertaining. The Twins do a tremendous job of reaching out to the community and being accessible to their fans.
The culmination of the next two weeks is Twins Fest, which will again be held at the Metrodome. More than 50 current, former and future Minnesota Twins will be there signing autographs and all proceeds will go to the Twins Community Fund. Having been at the past three or four Twins Fests, I definitely encourage people to try to attend. It’s winter. It’s cold. Head into the Metrodome and surround yourself with baseball.
It is hard not to notice the list of Twins minor leaguers who will be attending the event to sign autographs. Aaron Hicks is the clear choice for Twins top prospect. He’s scheduled to attend. Ben Revere has been the Twins minor league hitter of the year each of the past two years. He will be there. Kyle Gibson, the Twins first-round draft pick in 2009, will be there. Danny Valencia’s name certainly has been mentioned this offseason. He will be there. David Bromberg has led his league in strikeouts each of the past three years. He was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year in 2009. The 2008 Twins minor league pitcher of the year, Anthony Slama, and fellow top bullpen prospects Rob Delaney and Alex Burnett.  Twins Hall of Famers like Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and Paul Molitor will be there. Current stars Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Denard Span and Michael Cuddyer will be there. But the minor league autograph section should be full too.
The Twins Caravan and Twins Fest are coming at just the right time. Since the Twins season ended at the hands of the New York Yankees in the ALDS in early November, the Twins have made some moves to improve their team. The Twins acquired shortstop JJ Hardy for backup outfielder Carlos Gomez. Carl Pavano accepted the Twins offer of arbitration. Bobby Keppel was replaced on the 40 man roster by Clay Condrey, a clear improvement.
The Twins still have some perceived holes. I think we just have to accept that Nick Punto will be starting at either 3B or 2B. We can still hope that the Twins will acquire an improvement at the other spot. We have heard names like Kevin Kouzmanoff, Miguel Tejada, Felipe Lopez, and Orlando Hudson. We see that players like Melvin Mora, Adam Kennedy and others are still available. Could the Twins really consider bringing back Joe Crede of Orlando Cabrera? Jarrod Washburn rumors just will not go away, and now it appears that the Twins may be in on another veteran left-hander, Doug Davis. I don’t understand the need to spend money on a 5th starter when there are options unless they also intend to spend on a second baseman.
I think that Twins fans have grown impatient and at this point, they just want the Twins to make a move, any move. Fortunately the Twins front office is smarter than that. They won’t make a move just to make a move. Any move that is made must improve the Twins. Otherwise, they will just be a poorly run, spend-just-to-spend team, and we don’t need or want that.
The Twins will move into Target Field in April. There will be additional revenues. In recent years, the Twins have been able to keep the players that they wanted to beyond their free agent years.  Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Scott Baker were all extended. Obviously the Twins would like to extend the contract with Joe Mauer for many more years. Two years ago, they gave him a four year contract that bought out a year of free agency, but now it is time to talk big, big money. Rumors abound. Could he get six or seven years at $22 to $25 million? Would he “settle” for $18 to $20 million if the Twins gave him eight to ten years?
Yes, I realize that Joe Mauer equals Minnesota. He’s one of us, but the fair question has to be asked; How much is too much? I know everyone wants to say that the Pohlad family can afford this or that, and maybe they can. I know people want to think that baseball isn’t a business, but it is. Personally, I think Mauer’s value to the Twins goes well beyond his All-Star, Silver Slugging, gold glove play. But if he wants $26 to $30 million, that affects the long term success of the Twins organization.
My Prediction: Joe Mauer and the Twins will reach an agreement. It will be announced on the morning of Twins Fest, January 29th. The deal will cover seven years (beyond 2010) and be valued at about $136 million. What are your guesses?
These topics are not new, and that’s why we really need Spring Training to get here. Then we can talk and write about actual games. I love the Hot Stove League as much as anyone, but I have to admit, I’m ready for baseball to get going! These 20 to 30 degree temperatures tell me, OK, I won’t get carried away, but spring training is fast approaching. Events like the Twins Caravan will help you get out of the winter doldrums and ready for baseball. Twins Fest is a terrific event where, even if you don’t spend money to get the autographs will get you excited about baseball and about the Twins.
But first, back to that football game on Sunday that people are pretty excited about. Here is my prediction, but be sure to get yours documented into the comments so that when you’re right, you can brag to all of your friends.
The Dallas Cowboys come in hot. Most national media seems to think that they are the team to beat. The Vikings are far from a perfect team right now, to be sure. With the presence of Demarcus Ware, the Vikings best attack could become quick hitters, and to me, that means Percy Harvin. And to me, that is a very good thing. The Vikings are at home where they are 8-0 on the season.
My prediction: Vikings 41, Cowboys 10.

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