The Cardinals -- and former Twins Nick Punto and Kyle Lohse -- are the World Series champions, and now the baseball offseason is officially upon us.
The Twins currently have an exclusive window to negotiate with free agents Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Matt Capps and Joe Nathan after his $12 million option was declined on Tuesday.
But there's almost no chance the Twins sign any of their free agents during that window, which concludes on Wednesday, as all four are expected to test free agency. Players are free to sign with any team on Thursday, and so that's when things will start getting interesting.
So in the meantime, here's this week's Twins Inbox ...Chris Parmelee had a huge September for the Twins. We all know Justin Morneau has health issues, so what are the chances he starts with the big league club at the beginning of the year?
-- Bryce H., Cromwell, Minn.
Parmelee was one of only a few bright spots for the Twins this season, hitting .355 with a .443 on-base percentage and .592 slugging percentage along with four homers and 14 RBIs in 21 games.
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It was a very impressive showing to say the least, and it has the Twins excited about the former first-rounder's potential. But it's also important to note that he's never even played at Triple-A yet and has a more modest .266/.355/.436 line in 651 career games in the Minors.
So, I think the Twins would like to have him start out at Triple-A next season to get him some more experience before calling him up again. But if Morneau is relegated to designated-hitter duty because of recurring concussion symptoms, the Twins could very well keep Parmelee on the roster and see if he can build on his monster September showing.
Either way, the Twins feel a lot better about Parmelee's big league potential after he proved he can hit Major League pitching during his time as a September callup.Is there any chance that the Twins will try to pursue Roy Oswalt now that he is on the market? I can't imagine he would be much more expensive than Mark Buehrle.
-- Cal T., Northfield, Minn.
This has been a popular question among readers, especially after the Phillies declined Oswalt's $16 million option last week after he posted a 3.69 ERA in 139 innings in 2011.
The Twins could very well go after Oswalt, considering they were interested in acquiring him via trade in 2010 before he was ultimately dealt to Philadelphia.
But there are some risks, as the 34-year-old dealt with back problems last season that limited him to just 23 starts. The good news, however, is that it should bring down Oswalt's price tag enough to be in the Twins' range.
Oswalt would represent a major upgrade to Minnesota's rotation, especially if he can stay healthy, and the club would be smart to pursue him this offseason.
Is Ryan Lefebvre going to be hired for radio broadcasts to replace John Gordon?
-- Richard S., Minot, N.D.
The Twins have yet to announce Gordon's replacement, but it does appear that Lefebvre is the top candidate to take over play-by-play duties for the club's radio broadcasts. In fact, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Lefebvre could get an offer as soon as this week.
Lefebvre has experience in this market -- he called Twins radio and television broadcasts from 1995-98 -- before spending the last 13 seasons with the Royals. He played baseball at the University of Minnesota and has done broadcasts for Gophers' football, hockey and volleyball games.
I've heard good things about Lefebvre and all signs point to the fact that he would make a great hire, but as of now, nothing is official quite yet.
There seems to be a lot of talk about getting a veteran shortstop. If this happened, what exactly would that mean for Tsuyoshi Nishioka? Would he be a utility infielder or would he be sent down to the Minors? It just seems like we're paying him an awful lot.
-- Lance B., Bemidji, Minn.
The Twins are definitely interested in signing a veteran to take over at shortstop after Nishioka's struggles last season. So it's hard to say where Nishioka will start next season, as a lot of it depends on how he performs in Spring Training.
If he performs well, he'll likely make the club as a utility infielder, while a bad spring might mean that he gets optioned to Triple-A Rochester. The Twins could have a difficult decision to make regarding their infield, as fellow backup infielders Trevor Plouffe and Luke Hughes are out of options, meaning they can't be sent to Triple-A without first clearing waivers.
Nishioka is set to make $3 million next season, so the Twins are hoping he can contribute, even if it's in a limited role as a backup infielder given his experience at both second base and shortstop.
What compensation did the Twins receive from Cleveland in the Jim Thome trade?
-- Cheryl H., Hibbing, Minn.
The Twins traded Thome for a player to be named or cash on Aug. 25, and ultimately received $20,000 from the Indians on Sept. 18. The cash amount was part of the original agreement, and the Twins opted for the cash after both sides couldn't agree on a player.
With the amount of time Twins starters spent on the disabled list last year, do you see Scott Diamond getting one of the spots in the starting rotation?
-- Sidney T., Sartell, Minn.
Diamond could be in the mix to compete for a spot in the starting rotation, but is more likely to start the year at Triple-A Rochester or in the bullpen.
The left-hander struggled with Rochester last season, posting a 5.56 ERA in 23 starts. He actually fared better with the Twins with a 5.08 ERA in seven outings, including three quality starts.
But he's a better pitcher than his ERA indicated last season, and the Twins will definitely give him a long look during Spring Training.
Is it more likely that Kevin Slowey would be traded for bullpen help, or kept in the organization as a starting pitcher?
-- Leah T., West Fargo, N.D.
I don't think there's any chance the Twins keep Slowey in the starting rotation after he went 0-8 with a 6.67 ERA in 14 appearances, including eight starts, last season.
Slowey, who made $2.7 million last year, is also eligible for arbitration, meaning he's set to get a raise even though he struggled mightily last season. So there's a very good chance the Twins will simply non-tender Slowey, which would save them money and allow him to be a free agent.
The Twins could also take a chance and decide it's worth tendering him a contract, and then try to trade him, as another team might want to take a chance on the right-hander because he has had success in the past. But it appears more likely they'll end up non-tendering Slowey after his struggles in '11.