After an up and down season for Justin Morneau, what do you think you can expect from him this year? -- Steve A., Brooklyn Park, Minn.
We'll have a better idea when Morneau gets to Spring Training. If he stays healthy all winter and is able to do all of the working out he wants to do, we'll know he has a good physical foundation to have a productive year. However, there's a mental side that will need to be conquered as well. There were a lot of expectations on Morneau in 2005, and he probably put too much pressure on himself to meet them. If he is able to put the physical and mental ends of his game together, a lot of baseballs could be clearing the fence via No. 27's bat.
Isn't it better for the Twins to sign Paul Konerko, who is 29-30, instead of Mike Piazza, who is 37? Free agents aren't going to get cheaper, and Konerko can DH and play first base for the Twins for five to six years and possibly hit 200-plus home runs in that time period. By then the Twins will have the new ballpark built. -- Louie M., Salem, Mass.
Sure, it would be better for the Twins to sign Konerko. But, I think every other team would like to sign him, too. A team that often passes on high-end free agents, Minnesota won't win too many bidding wars. Especially after his superb postseason, Konerko will be one of the game's most sought after free agents and should command more money than Piazza.
I don't think it would be such a bad idea to trade Joe Nathan for a big bat. I know we could get a lot for him, it would free up money and Jesse Crain seems to be good enough to fit in at closer. What do you think? -- Kyle E., Farmington, Minn.
Not only do I think that it's a bad idea, I think it's a very bad idea. In just two seasons as a closer, Nathan has 87 saves and two All-Star Game invitations. He's also an experienced veteran. As far as freeing up money, he will make $3.75 million next year and $5.25 million in 2007 -- those are not exactly payroll-busting figures. Crain did an excellent job in his setup role, but he's still rather young, and I don't see him moving up to the next role just yet.
And finally, an award to this player who received the most buzz in this week's mailbag:
What are the chances of seeing Nomar Garciaparra in a Twins uniform in the 2006 season? -- Brett D., Breckenridge, Minn.What is the Twins' stance on Nomar? He would be a good fit offensively. What is he asking for in terms of a contract, and could the Twins accommodate him? I know health-wise he has been banged up, but to me, he seems like a good fit in Minnesota. -- Mark, Mitchell, S.D.Why not go after Nomar Garciaparra? Is he even on the Twins' radar? Aren't the Twins looking to upgrade offensively up the middle? Nomar is a lifetime .320 hitter, and with his value down, now would be a great time to go after him. -- Kent L., Eau Claire, Wis.Recently the Cubs told Nomar Garciaparra that he does not fit into their future plans. What are the chances the Twins will sign Nomar to man second or third base next season? I realize he has had multiple health issues over the past several seasons, but maybe they could sign him to an incentive-based contract. Nomar is still a fabulous hitter and a respectable fielder. -- Pete R., Saint Paul, Minn.
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Any truth to the rumor that the Twins are interested in Nomar Garciaparra? I think Nomar would be a great fit in the Twins' infield and provide leadership to this young squad. -- Brandon H., Lakeville, Minn.Do you think the Twins will try to pick up Nomar Garciaparra? -- Joshua M., Nevis, Minn.
Those were just six examples, but my inbox had many more similar sentiments this week after the story broke about the Cubs telling Garciaparra to shop around for a new club. Terry Ryan is not the type of general manager to share who's on his radar screen openly, but there are reasons this signing might work, albeit with some pretty clear risks.
With Jason Bartlett likely to get another opportunity to be the starting shortstop, the Twins still have a need at third base. Garciaparra has already shown a willingness to move from his usual shortstop position. He played 34 games at third for the Cubs in 2005.
Although he played in just 62 games, he was a productive offensive player (.283, nine homers, 30 RBIs) when he was healthy. Unfortunately, he missed over three months with a groin injury and endured time on the disabled list with the Red Sox in 2004.
He had 28 home runs and 105 RBIs as recently as 2003, and he could give the club the right-handed power it craves. He made $8.25 million during his one-year contract. That figure wouldn't be out of range for Minnesota, and it could even come down or be worked out through incentives.
I'm not really sold on the leadership angle that the one fan mentioned -- Boston players and reporters often complained about Garciaparra being rather aloof while he was there.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.