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Thursday, December 14, 2006


I could live with Jerome Williams and Toby Hall for depth purposes.

JW has good stuff and could be usefull to spot start or in long relief.

"He and brother Brian always struck me as a little unnaturally powerful for players their size."

Totally agree. Brian is an absolute monster and Marcus had a season (2003) in there where he hit like Jeff Kent. He's never come close to that year again.

Interesting take on Giles and his impressive size/numbers ratio. Without making mention of the dreaded "S" word, one can maybe draw the same correlation with his onetime teammate Javy Lopez, whose numbers took a sharp decline once the "S" issue was brought to light.

Of those players mentioned, Toby Hall looks good due to the simple fact that that he's basically all thats left catcher-wise, and Claussen, who at least has a full season's worth of starts under his belt, might be worth a flyer as a long-relief camp invitee as well.

Marcus Giles always struck me as a guy who was on the "gas"

Great point Paul. Look at Javy Lopez's 2003 season. 43 jacks, 109 ribbies. Just so happened Marcus had a career year that year as well. Even Furcal had a career high in HR's in 03. I think we're on to something here. Smoltz is on record as saying the 93 Phils team was a bunch of juicers, how bout the 03 Braves???

Don't forget Sheffield. Sheffield admitted using a steroid-laced cream when he testified before a federal grand jury in 2003.

i saw we sign victor zambrano and trade him to the mets for their top pitching prospect.

oh wait that already happened.

Claussen is real risk. He is an extreme flyball (eg HR) pitcher. He has a good slider, but hasn't struck out many batters. I don't see him getting better, despite his relatively young age. Toby Hall would be an OK pickup, but I would prefer a left handed hitting catcher if possible with already 2 righties.

Giles/Brett Boone. Might as well be the same guy. Only Brett knew when the gig was up and retired into the sunset before the speculation got too hot. If anyone is thinking about signing Giles, they might mention to him that there still is no valid/certified test for HGH and nothing in the new CBA......oops, I mean, they should mention that performance enhancing substances are not legal and are frowned upon. ;)

Toby Hall is being rumored as a target by the Phils.

Toby Hall would give the Phillies catching corps some gravitas, having been the starting workhorse catcher for the D-Rays before the Dodgers acquired him to be a backup backstop. Coste only has part of one season as his MLB experience and Ruiz has even less. Hall doesn't have much power, but he'd be a steadying influence with his MLB experience.

"Cleveland inquired about Mike Gonzalez but the Indians flatly denied the Pirates' bid for switch-hitting catcher Victor Martinez, whom the Pirates would have converted to first base."

Um, so I'm guessing that's a no on Lieber for Gonzalez then.

Hall would be nice, and it would allow Coste to be primarily a PH and super-sub (more likely, Gillick would probably screw him over and send him to Ottawa). One thing the Phillies will have this year is a lot of flexibility. Nunez as (f)utility infielder, Helms at 3B or OF, Coste at 3rd, 1st, OF, C.

I guess the Phillies offseason is over for a while. Since there is no imperative to trade either Liber or Rowand right now, I imagine we won't get anything new until after the holidays.

Might be time to read all those baseball books I reserve for the cold New England winters. I have the Halbertam book that I won from Jason and a bio of Ed Delahanty, but that's it.

Any reccomendations?

I'd like to see Coste get a shot a playing one of the other fielding positions. I'm not so sure that we will, however. Recent history hasn't suggested it and I'm not even sure that Manuel knows that Coste has experience anywhere but behind the plate. Let's hope that Ruiz plays to or above expectations so that we can entertain the idea of using some of these "out of the box" scenarios. Although the first game that I see Nunez starting 3B with Helms, Rowand and Conine in the outfield, I may jump off of the Walt Whitman.

Where is the Hall rumor?

3 of my baseball book recommendations

1. Batboy -- autobiography of New York Yankees batboy in the early 90's

2. Teammates by Halberstam -- 80 year old RedSox teammates make 1300 mile drive to Florida to visit dying Ted Williams

3. The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics -- by Alan Schwartz

Found this ammusing, I could see this being the next PB injury:

Tigers gM Dave Dombrowski told WXYT-AM on Wednesday the team had concluded Joel Zumaya's wrist/forearm troubles at the end of the season came from playing the Playstation 2 game "Guitar Hero," not anything pitching related.

Bringing in Hall would be Sal Fasano, Redux, sans fu manchu. Hall is a notorious hacker at the plate with occasional spot power. Defensively, he is about average but I was never impressed with what I saw from him behind the plate in Sox-Devil Rays games.

If Hall accepts a minor league assignment, fin. But I don't want to see this guy on the opening day roster. Waste of a roster spot.

Of the non-tenders listed, I like Alexis Gomez, who I thought was a nice find for the Tigers, and he bats LH. I enjoyed the book "Clemente", and for my odd baseball interests, "Barnstorming to Heaven", Syd Pollock and his great black teams, and "Growing the Game", the globilization of MLB.

Verdeforce, I can't find where I read the Hall rumor to Philly, but I remember that it was attributed to a Tampa newspaper.

kdon, I remember during the season Coste saying his book would be available soon. That would be worth reading if you could find it.

Catcher defense is a hard thing to figure, but I'm pretty sure Hall is reagarded as a far better defensive player than Fasano (based on observation, Fasano was just terrible).

Offensively, they are probably are a wash, but you have to figure there won't be much else out there. What I think the Phillies are concerned about (and I am too, but to a lesser extent) is that Ruiz and Coste will completely flop. I'm a believer in both, but there is a risk in going into the season with a catching tandem with 267 career ML at-bats.

BM, I've read #s 2 and 3, both very good...I'll try Batboy, but I'm loathe to read anything Yankees related.

And the Coste book...I don't think so, I'll wait for the movie!

I agree with MG - Hall's no Chris Coste or even Carlos Ruiz - we need a big proven bat to add to them, if anyone. Javy has still been hitting since steroids have been tested for, so I think he would be a much better addition then the few others still out there. If the Pirates don't want Lieber for Gonzalez or Torres, maybe we can get Paulino out of them?

have you guys seen this vidro to the mariners trade? what are the M's doing?

Verdeforce, I pointed this out on the last thread, but the idea that "Javy's still hitting" - it just ain't true.

Lopes put up .683 OPS last year - that's barely better than Fasano and substantially worse than Lieberthal. Toby Hall and Yorvit Torrealba (with the Rockies now, I know), to name two mediocre but often suggested catchers, were both better at the plate in 2006 than Lopez.

Lopez did hit alright for the Orioles before he was traded, but the key there is that he was DHing most of the time for Baltimore, but catching exclusively for Boston. at this point in his career, Lopez is a backup DH who can catch in an emergency. what we need (or at least what Gillick etc. *think* we need) is a veteran catcher who's reliable on defense and can catch 30-40% of the season (my guess). Lopez is not even close to that right now.

I mentioned Hall to Phillies yesterday, saying he and Jerome Williams were the 2 non-tenders who could most likely help the team.

I would agree that Hall and Williams are two players the Phillies could find immediate use for.

Current bedside book is "Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" by Michael Lewis ("Moneyball"). So far, it studies the rise of left tackles in the NFL, while following the life of a promising athlete from the mean streets of Memphis.

Alan Schwarz - Upenn alum. I think Robothal is too.

I would have no interest in Hall. He is pretty terrible. Enough said.

I would have an interest in Joel Pineiro, as a reliever that is. He has great stuff. The times that I have seen him pitch, he has been hampered by the one big inning. If you could keep him to one or two innings as a reliever, there may be some hope for him. He did better in that role when Seattle put him there last season. I doubt he would be Ryan Franklin (Part 2). And if he is, we ship him out for whatever we can get.

Nothing jumps out from this list but the Phils do need to bring a veteran catcher who would except an assignment to T-AAA to start the season. Jamarillo just isn't ready yet. Sadly, I am willing to bet that a few teams take a flyer on Hall. Maybe even Lopez.

Also wouldn't mind seeing the Phils bring into a veteran pitcher like Claussen or Piniero either. See if they are willing to except a long-relief spot in the pen and possibly a chance to start if Phils have an injury or two in the rotation.

If we're doing Hot Stove book recommendations, here's my short list:

1) Crash - the Life and Times of Dick Allen by Tim Whitaker (yeah, the Phila. Weekly editor)

2) Any oral history compendium by Lawrence Ritter or Donald Honig

3) Two terrific books about professional baseball scouts: Dollar Sign On the Muscle by Kevin Kerrane, and Prophet of the Sandlots by Mark Winegardner. Both prominently feature the Phillies' organization.

4) The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. (You heard me.)

5) Ball Four, of course.

Ryan Franklin in relief for Phils, 2006:
53 IP, 25 SO, 10 (!!!!!) HR, 4.58 ERA

Joel Pineiro in relief for M's, 2006:
24.1 IP, 20 SO, 4 HR, 4.81 ERA

Normally I'm all about the bring in the cheap, random bullpen vets. But this guy really looks like he's lost it to me - maybe it was the injuries, maybe it's in his head, who knows. But I think I'll pass.

RSB, thanks for mentioning Ball Four. I thought of it after I posted it. I still have my dog eared copy that I read somewhere around high school or college. At the time it was pretty scandalous, the first tell all book about how ball players really are, especially about the hallowed better-than-all Yankees.

Marcus was banged up last year and Brian now plays at Petco Park. I don't know if these guys were 'juiced' or not, but it's a little too easy and convenient to have this knee-jerk attribution of production dropoff to previous steroid use. Brady Anderson came out of nowhere to hit 50 HRs in 1996, and then never hit half as many again - so it must have been steroids. Meanwhile, Davey Johnson hit 43 HRS in 1973, and never hit half as many as that any other season - so it must have just been a fluke. My point is that baseball had always had its cases of sudden ascensions and plummetings. I'm not pretending that there weren't a whole lot of players between 1990 and 2005 whose performances were less than legitimate - but that doesn't mean this kind of wholesale speculation and casual slander is therefore justified.

RSB, I'm not surprised you have James on there...even though he is like a god to stat-heads, most of his writing is of the old school variety, good stories. I've always found him to be a more interesting historian than a stat guy.

Also, I remember he had an Ozzie Guillen award, which was for the guy who contirbuted to a team winning even though you couldn't detect it in the stats (i.e., intagibles).

Ball Four is of course great, probably up there with "The Great American Novel" and "The Boys of Summer" as my favorite baseball book.

Crash sounds good, I'll check it out; Allen was before my time so all I realy ever hear about is the legendary "dirt" story. He is probably one of the most underated hitters ever.

RSB, it's not just spikes in performance that set off steroid accusations, it is also change in body type. Giles looks way smaller than he used to (much like Giambi and Pudge and, of course, Bonds and Sosa).

And much like Brady Anderson. I see the O's on cable every year, and Brady was as overinflated back then as Lenny Dykstra was in '93. Everyone covering and rooting for the team made the assumption, but remember it wasn't illegal then -- it was don't ask, don't tell.

And Mav, I'm surprised at your read on Piniero's stats. Let's look again:

Ryan Franklin in relief for Phils, 2006:
53 IP, 25 SO, 10 (!!!!!) HR, 4.58 ERA

Joel Pineiro in relief for M's, 2006:
24.1 IP, 20 SO, 4 HR, 4.81 ERA

The difference that jumps out at me is the strikeout rate. Among other peripherals, he game up 19 hits, only 5 unintentional walks, meaning his WHIP was 1.0, his K/BB was 4:1 -- I dunno, that doesn't look so bad to me for a guy just converted to the bullpen, though of course the sample size is absurdly small. I rather doubt he'll take a job as a reliever, but depending on his salary demands I sure as heck would take a flier on him -- he's in the same league as Adam Eaton and Ted Lilly, that's for sure, and figures to come a heckuva lot cheaper than either one.

The Mariners' baavasi is a stoned cold moron.. He already has Broussard to DH and he gives up Snelling .. though injury prone , is a 25 yr old OF with 20-25 HR potential for a 32 yr old guy who's OPS has gone down steadily (along with knee,ankle,hamstring injuries) for at least the last 3 yrs

Um, "gave up," not "game up," obviously.

we just lost livingston to the reds.

mlb voided the devil rays acquiring him becuase they immediately traded him. that stinks.

Why is it so wrong to observe that Giles was smaller last season, and that over their careers, the Giles brothers seemed unnaturally powerful for their size? Why should one pretend not to observe such a thing?

Considering how much baseball's performance enhancing drug problem has been exposed, such a reaction is part of the territory now. Should I personally hold off because I maintain a high-traffic blog?

I see no reason. Maybe if somebody in the press piped up about the problem earlier, we wouldn't have a decade+ of bogus records/championships/memories.

That cloud is the price these players pay because of baseball's neglegence. Everyone gets smeared, from Giles, to Joe Roa, to Ryan Howard.

It just so happens that we've seen Marcus Giles before. His type anyway. His name was Lenny Dykstra. His name was Brett Boone. His name was Brady Anderson. His name was Benito Santiago. Isn't it odd for Atlanta to give up on a former all-star this way, in this market, when he's still their property? RSB might be right that his poor season was due to injury, and the papers may be correct that Atlanta just wanted to save money. I just believe those reasons are baloney.

Brian Giles dropped a hell of a lot in his power this year too, but I figured it was just due to age than anything else. Still, I kept him on my fantasy team way too long.

Joel Pineiro sucks, but moving to an NL bullpen might not entirely suck for him. And I wouldn't be too surprised to see Gillick go after another one of his old players, like he has been doing. Just keep in mind that it's spelled P-i-n-e-i-r-o :)

As for books, I finally got around to reading Mike Schmidt's book Clearing the Bases a few weeks ago, and I definitely thought it was pretty entertaining, worth reading if you haven't yet. I'm currently in the middle of also-amusing "The Curious Case of Sidd Finch", and just finished "The Only Game In Town", an oral history book edited by Fay Vincent, which you should avoid for the better works of the aforementioned Honig or Ritter. There's also a pretty good oral history book with a bunch of 1950's Phillies in it, edited by Cynthia Wilber, daughter of former Phillies catcher Del Wilber.

And everyone should read Robert Whiting's books (specifically "The Meaning of Ichiro" and "You Gotta Have Wa") so that they get an understanding of Japanese baseball. Really, you'll be glad you did.

RSB -- were you actually able to read through all of the BJ Historical Abstract? I mean, when I tried to read it a few years ago, I got about 700 pages in before I just couldn't keep going. But the decade summaries part is pretty awesome.

That wasn't my observation about Giles. What I notice is that he's having a harder time making contact. The ball still jumps off his bat when he gets his pitch. I can think of plenty of players who were a lot stronger than their size would indicate: Mel Ott, Kirby Puckett, Joe Morgan - even Jimmy Rollins. Hey, Jason, you may well be right about Giles. But I don't agree with you about all players necessarily having to be cast under a skeptical light because of the actions of selected others. This was something which was debated with Ryan Howard's emergence, and here we are again.

Deanna: Thanks for checking in, and for your comments on Bavasi in the last thread. It's always good to hear from you, especially when it comes to getting an insight from that part of the country, and teams we don't get to see much. I've been enjoying your blogs on the Japanese league BTW.

To All: And while I'm in the spirit, thanks to everyone for keeping the conversation lively this offseason, and a hearty welcome to all new readers. The hot stove always attracts a crowd, and in a weird way, I look forward to blogging this time of year the most.

For what it's worth, there's no chance I'm spending cover price for Mike Schmidt's book. Sorry, Mike. You're not getting my hard-earned $25 for your thoughts on baseball. That's library material or bust for me, or, I'll do what I did with the Canseco book and skim it in one sitting at a Barnes & Noble.

I kind of liked "Juiced..." Jose spins a good yarn.

Deanna, I did read the whole thing, but haven't gotten my hands on the revised edition yet. Schmidt's book, as you say, isn't bad. I'd love to see that '50s Phillies book. Have you read the ones recently put out by Robin Roberts? They are gems, some of the most essential Phillies literature that will ever be.

Jason, why do you presume that both Mgmt and the MLBPA pretend to claim that it is a big deal, all the while slyly passing a new CBA in which any new drug testing is not even broached? I'm with you, at this point, I'm not so much worried about falsely claiming a player was 'roided up (has a single suspected user ever even sued, let alone won a lible suit?). I'm more worried about baseball as a sport becoming a laughingstock due to it's blind eye and suspect numbers/records. Couple the controversial stat debates with the ridiculously inflating salaries and fans will soon be turned off in a bad way - think Hockey.

Kdon, there is a really good book that is out of print that is a compilation of different sportswriters writing about the Phillies. I dates back to the earliest of days of the Phillies to about 1997. I dont have it here with me, it is in Memphis, but I will look online and see if I cant locate a title. The takes on the 1993 WS brought me back in a way that no sports book has in a while. I'll see if I can find it.

Kdon, it is Phillies Reader by Richard Orodenker. Really good and I learned a lot about the Phillies teams from way back. If you can find it I highly recomend it. I found it on, typing in Philadelphia Phillies under book search.

"Clearing the Bases" was just brutal, nothing but a bunch of platitudes and name dropping. I was actually able to read it in its entirety in the bathroom!

Schmidt may be the most boring person alive and I challenge anyone to explain the coherence of his argument on steroids...the records are a "sham" according to his title, but he then says that steroids didn't help anyone.

The other recomendations sound good though, Deanna, especially the oral history books.

Thanks Parker, I actually own that one and I recommend it as well.

Schmidt seems to be consistent in his approach to steroid users until he comes to his pal Barry Bonds, at which point he begins hopelessly prevaricating. Come on, though, he isn't nearly as boring as George Will.

Never read Will, the guy is an ass when it comes to politics, so I assume he wouldn't be very enlightening on baseball.

I do try to read Roger Agnell every once and a while (his World Series reviews in the New Yorker are usually very good), but for the most part, I don't like the official baseball guys like Halberstam or Will.

Back to Pieiro. He may have had a 4.81 ERA in 24.1 IP in 15 ganes of relief, but if you take out 4 runs in 1 IP on Sept. 23 vs. the White Sox, his ERA was definitely more manageable (in the lower 3's). I'd take a chance on him, plus he would be nice insurance should Eaton or Moyer went down.


Man, I cannot spell tonight. Pineiro!!

Pineiro can make way more money as a starter and will sign as a starter somewhere. But he looks like damaged goods to me.
His stats indicate a loss of velocity: K/9 has decayed from 7.10 in 2004 to 5.10 in 2005 and 4.73 last season.
H/9, meanwhile, has risen from 9.21 in 2004 to 10.67 in 2005 and 11.35 in 2006. These are the numbers of someone with arm trouble. It's not a location problem, since his walk rate has remained pretty steady.

Easy come easy go?

Livingston is no longer a Phil. I weep.

I weep.

Rick Ankiel, OF

Wow last time we saw him he was pitching for the Cards and struggling with control.
He then switched to be a hitter. How about a platoon with Burrell and replce Rhodes

Since we were talking about books. I think I have seen this book advertised here by the sponsors, but I think it is called "Veek, as in Wreck." Has anybody read this. I dont even recall who Bill Veek is but I heard something about him once recently and it made me want to read it. If anybody can comment I appreciate it.

Bob, that was the best comment I think I have ever read on here. Rick Ankiel to replace Burrell and Rhodes. And aside from the pure comical nature, I'm not sure that it wouldnt half be true.

I like your idea Bob.

The only problem is that Ankiel didn't play organized baseball in 2006.

3 Nights in August is another book. (which I didn't like too much by the way) Schmidt's book was horrendous, especially his argument why Bonds is the best hitter ever. Because he's left-handed? Is Ricky Ledee one of the best hitters ever too, Mike? "Juiced" was an amazingly entertaining book but I have a hard time believing all of it. The Phillies Reader has an updated version which features articles about everyone's favorite Pat Burrell. It discusses why fans, like the people on this blog, forgive The Bat for all his slumps but boo others.

This is vaguely connected to RSB's mention of Ball Four, and tangential in the extreme, but has anyone else seen Altman's The Long Goodbye? Aside from being one of my favourite chandler novels, it cracks me up to this day that Jim Bouton was cast as Terry Lennox, the louse who Marlowe sticks with to the end because he thinks he's a good guy.

Knowing altman, I was always convinced this was both a compliment and a nod to Bouton's pariah status following Ball Four.

We lost Livingston- that kinda blows! Essentially what the D-Rays are doing is bottom-feeding then turning a profit. See, because they suck so bad, they get to claim off waivers before other teams. They had no intent of keeping Livingston, rather they picked him up so they could then deal him to a team higher up on the waiver wire that wouldn't have gotten the chance to get him...good business tactic, but apparently shady as well.

You're right, Clout, about Pineiro -- as a starter. Mav was viewing him as a reliever.

"It discusses why fans, like the people on this blog, forgive The Bat for all his slumps but boo others."

happy Opposite Day, David!

Oisin - Altman's Long Goodbye is one of my favorite movies. I had never thought of Bouton that way before, but you just might be onto something...

I bought a book a few years ago off the discount rack at Barnes & Nobles about the Greatest Teams of All Time. It would have a chapters devoted to a particular team. The teams would have to have shown greatness over a three year period. I'll have to locate it this weekend to get the author and correct title. Since Katrina, all my stuff is in boxes or moved. I'll try to find it this weekend. It was a good book.

Parker: "Veeck as in Wreck" is a first-rate baseball book. He was owner of the Indians in the late 40s, the Browns in the early 50s and the White Sox in the late 50s (and again in the '70s.). He lost a leg in WW II, was a very controversial figure who repeatedly shook up the conservative baseball establishment, largely with his promotional stunts.

His most notorious was the signing of a dwarf to a Browns contract in 1951. He batted leadoff and walked in his only appearance as Tiger pitcher Bob Cain was unable to hit his postage-stamp sized strike zone. The commissioner invalidated his contract after 1 game.

Veeck figured in Phillies history as well. In the 1940s the Phillies owner, a guy named Cox, was caught gambling and forced to sell the team, which was the worst in baseball. A deal was made with Veeck until the commissioner (the racist K.M. Landis) learned that Veeck planned to stock the Phillies with several players from the Negro League (one was Philadelphia native Roy Campanella.) Landis blocked the deal and the team was sold to du Pont heir Bob Carpenter, whose views on race mirrored the commissioner's.

For old heads interested in late 1950s baseball, the first tell-all book written by a player was "The Long Season" by Jim Brosnan. I don't even know if it's in print any more, but it is as good as the Bouton book in terms of that inside-the-clubhouse feel.

As long as we are making book recommendations I'dlike to offer these:

Universal Baseball Association, Inc.: J. Henry Waugh, Proprietor, by Robert Coover, is a marvelous book that anticipates fantasy leagues decades before there emergence.

Roger Angell's first compendium, The Summer Game,is worth the purchase price for the first few entries alone, especially, "The Ball".

"their" emergence, too!!!

Tom, that Coover book is truly excellent.

in a similar vein, Philip Roth's "The Great American Novel" is very, very funny.

Tom Goodman - The second ever club football game I attended in the UK (QPR when they were in the first division/championship), my mate introduced me to an older guy and his wife, both bundled up in warm weather gear for a rainy day watching QPR against wolves. 'Tell him you're a phillies fan - he'll know what you're talking about.' Turns out it was coover, and a couple of weeks later I got a signed copy in the post.

He was a Pirates fan, I think, but my memory could be hazy. Great book - genius almost stream of consciousness narrative, like a stream of thrilling, never-ending innings, all played out in the mind.

Clout - two scenes always stick in my head about the long season - Brosnan's protracted wage negotiations in the offseason, thinking he could act tough with the team and getting nowhere, and the team discussing how to pitch aaron or mays (I can't remember which). Plus, if I recall correctly, isn't there one chapter where everyone scratches their head over haddix's incredible perfect game through 12, and laments what a gut-buster it would have been to have lost it in the 13th? Great picture of a very different era - first piece of baseball literature I was told to read by my ma.

Tom - I have to snag that Coover book the next time I see it. I haven't read any baseball fiction that I've really liked, but that one sounds like a winner.

Clout - at least you've got taste in literature. Those are two excellent recommendations.

RSB: If you cannot find it, let me know.

On the subject of the Phillies' attempts to trade Jon Lieber, this interesting item from today's Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Joe Christensen, who was discussing the Twins' need for more starting pitching, and said: "The Phillies aren't asking as much for the 36-year-old righthander." The excerpt from Christen's column is:

"Lieber Another No-Go
Don't look for the Twins to trade for Jon Lieber, either.

The Phillies aren't asking as much for the 36-year-old righthander. They want an eighth-inning specialist, which the Twins have in reserve with Juan Rincon, Jesse Crain and Pat Neshek.

But with each passing week, as the market continues to explode, the Twins are convincing themselves they'd be better off keeping their young pitching talent for themselves."

This information likely comes straight from Twins' management.

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