We had a very interesting conversation with Minnesota Twins beat writer La Velle E. Neal from the Minneapolis Star Tribune in the first segment of "Sports Talk" on 970-AM WDAY radio on Wednesday.
Here’s a few of the highlights from the discussion with Neal, for those of you who didn’t catch the show:
- Delmon Young is still "the guy," meaning he will continue to be an everyday player. Neal says the Twins could very well likely go with the hot hand when making decisions on whether to start Young or newly signed slugger Jim Thome.
- Neal expects Thome to get no more than 300 at-bats.
- The Chicago White Sox weren’t as interested in Thome because he had built up equity with the fan base, making it tougher to just plant him on the bench five nights a week. I guess I can understand that. Still feel like for $1.5 million, he’s a heck of a bargain.
- Neal expects no big moves coming. He believes the contract offer to free-agent starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn is no longer on the table. He thinks free-agent infielder Orlando Hudson will cost too much. "What you have right now is what you see," Neal said.
- Third baseman Joe Crede remains a possible free-agent addition, but Neal was told "no" regarding Orlando Cabrera. So you can shut the door on O-Cab. He said the Twins think Danny Valencia will contribute this season, which makes the fact that he didn’t get a September call-up last year kind of unusual. Must have been sending a message, unless there was an injury to him that I don’t know about.
- Neal expects Brian Duensing "will be appointed the leader by the pitching coach Rick Anderson" for the team’s fifth starting spot, though it’s up for grabs to Glen Perkins and Francisco Liriano. The team has Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey pretty much locked into the first four rotation spots.
- Like myself, Neal expects the Chicago White Sox will be the biggest AL Central threat to the Twins in 2010. That rotation – Jake Peavy, Mark Buehrle, John Danks and Gavin Floyd – could be filthy.