It’s pretty slow going right now in Twins-land, as we wait for the team to make decisions on which 40-man players to remove from the roster, which Rule 5 eligibles to protect, and which free agents to pursue. Even in the down time, however, there are always some scraps of news. Here goes (it’s pretty thin gruel, so prepare yourself):
1.) Tommy Watkins has officially retired. If I remember correctly, the news that Watkins would not be returning in 2010 first came out over the summer. The transaction was apparently just processed today, which I’m guessing means that his retirement paperwork (and yes, I think there really is such thing) was probably just pushed through the system. On the field, Watkins won’t exactly be missed on the field — he hit .219 in 2008 and .248 in very limited action in 2009 — but he was a fixture in the Twins minor league system and by all accounts is a good guy. In fact, the Twins have given him a soft landing, as he’ll begin his coaching career with the Beloit Snappers. It’s always a bit sad when a guy washes out of baseball, but the feel-good part of Tommy’s story (aside from the fact that he got to play baseball for a living for 12 seasons, which isn’t too shabby) is that Watkins finished his big league career as a .357 hitter. I’m pretty sure that if Watkins had picked up more than the 28 career AB’s he got in 2007 before fate intervened, he would have finished with a far lower career batting average. That’s the beauty of having a hot streak at the right time, I guess. Hats off to Tommy. I wish him the best of luck moving forward.
2.) Watkins is not the only new coach that will be in the Twins system in 2009. The story can be found here (same link as in the Tommy Watkins section). I find it hard to get worked up about minor league coaches. I know a number of people were upset that Stan Cliburn was let go as the manager of the Red Wings (allowing Tom Nieto to be promoted from AA to AAA manager), particularly because they felt Cliburn was being blamed for a poor Red Wings season when, in reality, the results were caused by repeated Twins poaching and a lack of AA-AAA level depth in the system. IF the reason that Cliburn was that he was being blamed for wins and losses, then I would probably agree — but I strongly suspect that the Twins made this decision with an eye towards player development rather than wins and losses. I mean, really, who cares whether the Red Wings make the playoffs? Maybe a few people in Rochester. Frankly, I don’t know enough about this aspect of any of these coaches to be able to comment in a meaningful way. I’ll just say I trust the Twins to make the right decisions for the organization, and I wish the new (and continuing) coaches well.
3.) Yankees-Phillies Word Series? Alright, I’m game. I root against the Yankees pretty much by default, so you can bet I’ll be cheering for a Phils repeat. While Yanks-Dodgers would have carried a lot of interesting baggage (Torre back to New York? Wowsers!), I think the Phils have a better chance of pulling off what is at this point clearly an upset.