Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Minnesota Twins OF Jason Kubel: Tradeable Asset?

With the recent rumor that the Minnesota Twins would consider trading starting pitcher Francisco Liriano at some point in the near future, I'm choosing to take a look at another player that could be a tradeable commodity for the Twins at some point this coming season. 

Outfielder Jason Kubel garnered some notoriety in 2010 for hitting the first regular season home run at the Target Field, the Twins' new home park, but it was otherwise largely a forgettable season for him. He had a slow start, hitting just .232  in April and May combined, on his way to a slash line (batting average/on-base %/slugging %) of .249/.323/.427 with 21 home runs and 92 RBI along with 68 runs scored and 23 doubles over 518 at-bats. All of those numbers were a drop-off from Kubel's breakout 2009 campaign, when he posted a .300/.369/.539 slash line with 28 home runs, 103 RBI with 73 runs scored and 35 doubles in 514 at-bats.

Kubel notably struggles against left-handed pitching, with a .236 career clip against southpaws, so he would seem to be an ideal part-time starter against right-handers that has been miscast as basically a full-time player over the past couple seasons. That increase in playing time is mostly due to Twins first baseman Justin Morneau missing the end of the last two seasons with injuries. Morneau is working his way back after not playing after July 7 last season due to a concussion, and if he is healthy the Twins seem to have a glut of corner outfielders and DH candidates with Michael Cuddyer moving back to his customary right field and Delmon Young and Jim Thome also on the roster. 

Minnesota picked up Kubel's $5.25 million contract option for 2011, after which he can become a free agent. The Twins have a lot of outfielders, most notably Ben Revere, Aaron Hicks and Chris Parmalee, in their minor league pipeline so they may soon have a bunch of major league-ready talent able to man the outfield. The time to trade Kubel looks to be this season, especially if the team is in contention once again and needs to acquire bullpen help at some point down the road. If the Twins do want to deal him, it is very important Kubel has a strong start to the season to further enhance his value. If he starts slowly again, they may be stuck with him for the entire season.

Kubel's ability as a power hitter, as he coming off three straight 20-plus home run seasons, and the fact he can play both corner outfield spots certainly enhances his trade value. He will turn 29 in May, so he is still fairly young and should have a few more seasons of peak value left and also should be motivated to potentially make himself more valuable on the free agent market next winter. If the Twins were to put him on the trading block, teams in the American League may be among the most interested parties, as they can use Kubel as a DH as well and keep his bat in the lineup.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010) Poem-Now An Award-Winner

I'm taking a brief foray away from sports to share a poem I wrote in honor of former Dio and Black Sabbath (among others) lead singer Ronnie James Dio.  I submitted it to Hero Magazine and it won 3rd place in their February writing contest.


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I am a sportswriter based in Minnesota, and I contribute currently to a few sports related websites. I intend to use this blog to create visibility for my work.