I’m tired, but I wanted to get this post up. Feel free to prod me in the comments if this makes no sense whatsoever!
One of the yearly off-season milestones that transaction dorks like myself tend to follow with far too much interest is the release of the list of minor league free agents. For the most part, players who have kicked around the minor leagues long enough to gain minor league free agency without earning enough respect from a major league team to be on a 40-man roster aren’t the most exciting or promising ballplayers in the world. Still, the names are often familiar, simply due to the number of years we fans have had to follow their careers. The list of players leaving the organization in this way (at least for the moment — these guys can, and often do, return to the team) is as follows:
Frank Mata – RHP
Oswaldo Sosa – RHP
Reid Santos – LHP
Brock Peterson – 1B
Alejandro Machado – IF
Brian Buscher – 3B
Matt Moses – OF
David Winfree – OF
What to say about this bunch? First, lets just recognize that the loss of these players is not exactly a huge blow to the team. Brian Buscher was probably the best of the bunch. We’ve all known this day was coming for guys like Brock Peterson and Matt Moses. What chance, exactly, did Peterson have of advancing to the big leagues when his position is blocked by former MVP Justin Morneau and DH Jason Kubel? Exactly. The kicker is that Peterson actually is coming off a pretty nice season — he hit .304/844 in 316 AB’s for Rochester in 2009. There just wasn’t really any reason to give him a spot on the 40-man roster, and he will hopefully find another place to ply his trade. Actually, the Twins couldn’t have expected Peterson to perform as well as he has — he was a 49th round pick in the 2002 draft.
On the end of the spectrum is Matt Moses. Moses, of course, was a first round pick in 2003. Unlike Peterson, who seriously over-performed and ultimately ended his Twins career on a high note, Moses ended with a flop and is almost certainly done in baseball. Moses has spent at least parts of the last five seasons in AA New Britain, culminating with a 2009 season that saw him hit .224/627. High profile picks don’t always pan out, but it’s still sad when the end finally comes.
I don’t have much to say about the other guys. Mata had some nice stats in 2009 pitching for New Britain, but nothing that would blow anyone away. Machado was always filler in my mind. Sosa flamed out in mid-2007 and was never the same — and missed virtually the entire 2009 season. His loss is not that hard to take. Winfree had some power and might catch on somewhere, but didn’t seem like a priority to keep around. What else to say? Not much.
Finally, I said I’d talk about Juan Morillo and his departure for greener pastures (well, neon green) in Japan. What surprised me was that the Twins had just added him to the 40-man roster only to turn around and let him head overseas. I’m not sure how that worked out, but I read somewhere that the Twins were going to get some sort of compensation for him from the Japanese team that signed him. I frankly know nothing about that, but can’t imagine it would be anything but some cash. Every little bit helps, I suppose. The disappointing thing is that Morillo could possibly have helped out next year. While I don’t think he was ready to burst onto the scene as a setup man or anything like that, I do think that he was improving his control and could have been a nice piece to have around. Justin Huber also left for Japan, but this didn’t really bother me — as I’ve said repeatedly since the end of the season, I just didn’t see a future for Huber in Minnesota. Good luck to these two across the (bigger) pond.