Yesterday it was Kevin Kouzmanoff, today it is Mark DeRosa.
If we are learning anything from the Winter Meetings, it is that the Twins are focusing on the third base market, while shirking second base. A development, that hardly comes as a surprise.
The question all along seemed to be whether the Twins would focus on acquiring a third baseman or a second baseman, with Punto handling one of the two positions. And seeing how the Twins seem prefer Punto at second (although optimally, they would prefer him on the bench) it makes sense they are looking to acquire a third baseman.
Assuming the Twins have made the (albeit poor) decision to pursue only a third baseman, Mark DeRosa is a far superior choice to Kouzmanoff.
As I mentioned yesterday, the Twins need a two hitter. Essentially, the Twins need someone who will get on base in front of Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, and Cuddyer.
Unlike Kouzmanoff, DeRosa would give the Twins solid OBP production batting second. And, while DeRosa may or may not "handle the bat" (aka bunt and slap ground balls) up to the Gardy two-hole (note: not a poop joke) standard, he strikes me as at least being a gamer and/or battler.
Regardless of the Gardy standard, all the Twins really need in a two hitter is someone who will get on base. Enter DeRosa and the following OBPs:
Yes, DeRosa's OBP in 2009 was obviously way down, but it was also misleading. Before being traded, DeRosa put up a .342 OBP with Cleveland, a number almost equivalent to his career OBP of .343 (only one percent off!). A few days after the trade, DeRosa suffered a wrist injury, and posted a dismal .291 OBP the rest of the way with St. Louis.
Assuming DeRosa is completely healthy – which becomes even dicier when dealing with a hitter’s wrist – it would be reasonable to expect DeRosa to put up numbers closer to his career line. Assuming he can post an OBP in the .335-.350 range, DeRosa would be a vastly superior option to the allergic-to-the-base-paths Kouzmanoff.
The biggest issue with DeRosa would be money. He is currently seeking 3 yrs/$27 million, an absolutely absurd number, especially considering the most coveted infielder on the market (Chone Figgins) received 4 yrs/$36 million. If that number comes down, which it almost inevitably will, DeRosa becomes a much more attractive option in the 2-3 yrs/$6-7 million per year range.
Since it appears the Twins are content with acquiring just one infielder, DeRosa is one of the better fits at third base. The best case scenario, however, is still signing both a third baseman and a second baseman.
In that sense, Kouzmanoff and a second baseman would be a much better move than signing only DeRosa.