Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An Unlikely Flier at Third Base?

First: There's this rumor about the Twins and Michael Young of the Rangers. Not out of the blue nor out of the question, but if Young waves the no-trade clause to Minnesota and the Twins piece a package together well, who knows?

In recent days, we in the bullpen have been thinking about a third base option that doesn't involve money, doesn't threaten the current pitching rotation, doesn't cost much, keeps Denard Span on the team for a chance to prove his freshman season wasn't an apparition, and won't cost Bill Smith his job if it doesn't pan out.

The task is as daunting.

Here's one oddball longshot to chew on: Bring back a former Twins defensive stalwart, sign him to a minor league contract, and see what happens if you toss him in at third. Come on, Corey Koskie's still having issues surrounding his head injury, right? Right.

How about Doug Mientkiewicz?

Proposterous. As preposterous as, say, Mike Lamb? Tony Batista? You get the point. A signing like this would be the absolute definition of Twins Territory.

Give a listen and see how crazy this sounds in the Land Of 10,000 Dollars.

MonkeyWrench hit .277 both last year with Pittsburgh and in 2007 for the New York Yankees. Dougie hit .283 in 2006 for Kansas City. He's 35 this season and a free agent with few, if any, offers on the table. Sources in Pittsburgh say the Pirates have no interest in re-signing Mientkiewicz. His lack of home run power is an obvious problem, but despite not being a full-time starter in recent years, Dougie's RBI total isn't bad if stretched out over a season.

Mientkiewicz played 33 games at 3B last season for the Pirates. His move to third was mostly an end of the season experiment that resulted in a .918 fielding percentage.

The numbers aren't strong, but certainly not weak. Plus, there are positives to the scenario.

  1. Sportswriters already know the correct spelling and punctuation of Mientkiewicz's name. [Hell, it's engrained in their heads as much as MMMbop still is.]

  2. A chance to witness Mientkiewicz/Morneau II, a fight between the vet and MVP in a Twins dugout or clubhouse near you.

  3. A chance to witness Mientkiewicz/Gardy II, a smackdown between the boss and the wanna-be in a Twins dugout or clubhouse near you.

  4. The Twins can bring back the best "Twins: Get To Know 'Em" song, sung in the style of Schoolhouse Rock called "That's How You Spell Mientkiewicz."

  5. Three words: Knee-high socks.

  6. Then 13-year-old screaming girls can now squeeze their now-19-year-old selves into old Mienkiewicz jersey T-shirts again.

  7. Dives-A-Plenty.

It seems a viable -- and very Twins-like option -- for the Twins to try something like this. Mientkiewicz was always good with the glove, and heck, they sure need a backup for Morneau on given days. If he signs to a minor league contract, it's almost a move free of risk.

I can hear the questions at Spring Training now. Listen. It's off in the distance ...

..."that was then, this is now. I mean, Justin and I are good friends now. I went over to him and we shook hands in the clubhouse and we're teammates. We're professionals ... That was years ago and we both made mistakes ... I'm just glad to be back in a Twins uniform ..."

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