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Twins sign Dylan Bundy; have plenty of work left to do after lockout

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Twins sign Dylan Bundy; have plenty of work left to do after lockout

Three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer is now a Met. Reigning American League Cy Young winner Robbie Ray will call Seattle home for the next five years. All-Star left-hander Kevin Gausman is going north of the border to Toronto.

Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, two of the top infielders on the market, both landed mega-deals with the Texas Rangers, and Javier Báez wound up with division-rival Detroit Tigers.

Many of the premier free agents have flown off the board in recent days in anticipation of a lockout. A flurry of activity marked the period of time ahead of the sport’s first work stoppage since the players’ strike of 1994-95.

The Twins made a move Wednesday, too, agreeing to a one-year, $4 million deal with starting pitcher Dylan Bundy. Bundy’s deal comes with a club option for $11 million in 2023 and a $1 million buyout. Minnesota’s seven-year, $100 million contract extension with center fielder Byron Buxton was also made official Wednesday.

And now, all will be quiet.

At 10:59 Wednesday night, the sport’s Collective Bargaining Agreement expired, with recent negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association failing to produce a deal.

Rosters are set until the lockout ends, transactions frozen for the foreseeable future. So, what shape is the Twins’ roster in at the moment?

Extending Buxton was a major offseason objective, and the Twins have now accomplished that. But aside from that, the Twins still have needs that must be addressed before spring training begins.

Bundy became the first free agent addition to the Twins’ rotation this offseason. The right-hander, who was selected No. 4 overall by the Orioles in the 2011 draft, has a career 4.72 earned-run average. With the Angels last season, he was 2-9 with a 6.06 ERA in 23 games, including 19 starts.

Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said the club had targeted Bundy as a trade candidate in the past.

“He dealt with some injuries towards the end of this year which I think caught up to him a little bit, but we feel like with a full offseason and a good plan going into spring training, this is a guy we think has real bounce-back ability, and (he’s) a guy we’ve always liked,” Falvey said.

While the free agent pitching market has been especially active and the Twins have been engaging in discussions, Falvey said they’ve looked at the trade market “maybe more so” than at free agents, having conversations with other teams about potential fits to bolster their rotation.

Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan, both rookies last season, figure to be in the rotation. But plenty of question marks remain.

“It’s always hard to find quality pitching and enough depth there,” Falvey said. “I think that’s going to be a big part of the rest of our offseason, continuing to find ways to add to it, both at the minor league level and at the major league level, the non-roster level and all of the above, to try and get as much depth as possible to help us through a season.”

The Twins remain in need of an answer at shortstop. Andrelton Simmons is a free agent. Top prospect Royce Lewis isn’t ready to assume the mantle yet. The Twins weren’t expected to be players at the top of a very strong shortstop market, but it’s still a position that will need to be addressed.

Buxton and Bundy aside, the only other moves the front office has made thus far have been minor. The Twins declined their mutual option on relief pitcher Alexander Colomé. They cut ties with pitchers John Gant, Danny Coulombe and Juan Minaya and utility player Willians Astudillo, among others. Outfielder Jake Cave was outrighted to St. Paul.

Roster subtractions have been happening since October. Roster additions will need to happen after the lockout ends. And when that time comes, whenever it might be, there’s still plenty left for the front office to accomplish.

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Letters: Legislators, hear the catalytic-converter call

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Letters: Legislators, hear the catalytic-converter call

Legislators, we need catalytic-converter help

While it is gratifying to see that the St. Paul City Council has addressed the issue of catalytic converter thefts, for myself and many others it is too little and too late.

In the middle of last year my car’s converter was stolen while the vehicle was in a locked, underground apartment garage. Later, my RV’s one was taken while it was in a locked, fenced storage lot.

Since these thefts were not in St. Paul, I don’t think this city ordinance would help.

As suggested in the Jan. 20 article, it is hoped that the state will also investigate this problem.

Also, why haven’t the insurance companies made complaints about the lack of laws concerning these thefts?

Alinda Wengenroth, Inver Grove Heights

 

Where the blame belongs

Why do the media blame the president for issues he has no control over? If the Republicans were really interested in preserving our democracy, they would be on board to support the nation’s voting integrity. Evidence of changing voting laws to disenfranchise voters in 19 states is very well known. If they wanted to make sure that we retain our right to vote they would be supporters of the bills.

The two Democrats who oppose ditching the filibuster are not the fault of the president. It seems no matter how much he pleads to change their position they seem to believe the Republicans will come around and negotiate. It isn’t going to happen. And when the Republicans take charge of congress, they will certainly get rid of the filibuster because it will suit their needs.

When you have a public that is brainwashed by pundits and the former president and his political allies concerning vaccines and masking against the procedures, the fault is not Biden’s. The opponents talk about the rights of the individual and are certainly not concerned about the health of the nation’s citizens.

The media should put the blame where it belongs.

Gary Spooner, Cottage Grove

 

Plowing problems

On Friday Jan. 14 we received a snowfall of over 3 inches. The snow emergency routes were plowed but not the side streets.

On Tuesday night, Jan. 18, at 11 p.m. a snowplow came through, four days after the snow fell.

Because no one was notified cars weren’t moved so after the plow came large ridges of snow surrounded the vehicles. Imagine if that is a vehicle belonging to a nurse or doctor attempting to go to work the next morning.

Are we saving money with this “new” snow removal plan? Paying someone to plow at 11 p.m.? Waiting four days after a storm for plow service?

My taxes are going up. Could things maybe improve? Someone in charge needs to address this ineptitude.

Carol Dey, St. Paul

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Rosario: A conversation with now ex-Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo

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Rosario: A conversation with now ex-Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo

I asked a veteran Minneapolis cop of color recently what he thought of Medaria Arradondo’s tenure as police chief.

“He underwhelmed,” said the cop. “I expected more.”

I got a different take from another police officer I know, also of color.

“He was good. He tried,” said the officer. “With the police union and political resistance, no one person can reform a culture that in many cases needs to change.”

And that pretty much sums up the major camps of views on Arradondo, 54, a South Minneapolis native, 32-year police veteran and divorced father of two who announced last month that he would not seek a third term as chief. His last day in office was Jan.15.

Most newly appointed police chiefs in recent years, particularly those of color, have been promoted or elevated to the top in response to high-profile police-involved shootings, excessive-force incidents or other crises that have further frayed trust between police and communities of color. It is not that surprising that a spate of them — from Dallas to Seattle to Sacramento to now Minneapolis — have left the job in the past two years.

But arguably few have faced more challenges in a short time — the George Floyd murder, a destructive riot, a rise in violent crime, a manpower shortage and a wave of cops retiring early or leaving the force in the midst of a pandemic — than “Chief Rondo.”

He became the first Black chief in the department’s 155-year history following the July 2017 fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk, a white woman, by a cop of Somali descent. Public outrage and demands for accountability and substantial police reform both locally and nationally reached an unprecedented crescendo in May 2020 after the world witnessed Derek Chauvin snuffing out the life of Floyd at the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue — just a few blocks from where Arradondo grew up and first dreamed of becoming a cop in his hometown.

If Chauvin and the MPD became the face of police brutality in America, Arradondo became at that moment the face of the progressively minded police chief in America. He reached out personally to Floyd’s relatives. He knelt in reverence and lowered his hat as Floyd’s casket passed by. He testified against one of his own at the Chauvin murder trial and he may potentially do so again in St. Paul in the federal civil rights trial of the three other former Minneapolis cops charged in Floyd’s death.

He also tussled with a city council that resisted his efforts to hire more police officers and that also backed a controversial plan to essentially eliminate the police department in its present form and replace it with a vaguely detailed Department of Public Safety. A majority of Minneapolis voters rejected that plan at the ballot box in November, by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin. Some critics of the chief lambasted him for “campaigning in uniform” and partly blamed his public opposition to the proposed change for its failure at the ballot box.

He has received some praise for, among other steps, revising rules limiting high-speed pursuit chases that have resulted in deaths, eliminating low-level marijuana police stings, banning neck- and choke-hold restraints, and calling for a need to tweak union contract and arbitration agreements that in his view make it difficult to discipline officers.

Yet some Black community members and activists who aggressively lobbied for Arradondo to be named chief four years ago have expressed disappointment that he did not do enough to rein in or boot out problem cops like Chauvin. They point out the group of SWAT cops seen and heard on body-camera videos during the riots “hunting” for protesters in an unmarked white van. In one incident captured on surveillance video, they fired rubber bullets at and kicked and punched a protester, Jaleel Stallings, a St. Paul truck driver and Army veteran, after Stallings fired his licensed firearm at the van in self-defense. Stallings, who said he was not aware that the shooters inside the vehicle were cops and feared they might be white-supremacist vigilantes, was charged with several counts of attempted murder. He was acquitted in October after a jury trial. He has filed a civil lawsuit against a city that has paid out a combined $47 million alone in out-of-court settlements in the Ruszczyk and Floyd deaths.

Although an internal affairs probe was launched, none of the cops in the Stallings case have reportedly faced any discipline. There are also underway separate city and federal civil rights probes into whether the Minneapolis Police Department historically engaged and still now engages in a pattern of discrimination and excessive force. The results of those probes, including a possible consent decree, could lead to substantial reform changes.

But Arradondo’s popularity with most residents, particularly those who live in neighborhoods most affected by a surge in homicides not seen in a generation and other violent crime, is without question.

A Star Tribune poll conducted last September found that more than half of Minneapolitan respondents had an unfavorable view of the scandal-scarred department. Yet, only 22 percent had an unfavorable view of Arradondo.

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Literary pick of the week: ‘The Boy With Four Names’

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Literary pick of the week: ‘The Boy With Four Names’

What happened to the kids who had to start new lives because their families fled Germany when the Nazis came to power?

“The Boy With Four Names,” by Doris Rubenstein (iUniverse, $13.99),  is a young adult novel based on a real-life family the author met when she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador from 1971-73 and became familiar with the Jewish community there, especially the family of Enrique Cohen whose family left Germany when he was a toddler.

The book is a reminder of the days leading up to World War II when millions of Jews were killed at death camps such as Auschwitz and we are highlighting it today in advance of Holocaust Memorial Day on Jan. 27.

It’s probable not many North Americans know that the little South American country of Ecuador, nestled between Colombia to the north and Peru, with a 1930s population of little more than 2 million, welcomed some 3,000 Jews when other countries, including the United States, were limiting their numbers or refusing admittance.

Enrique, the boy with four names, was born Enrico, which is Italian for Heinrich, because his parents admired the German poet Heinrich Heine. Then his name became Enrique, Spanish for Enrico. When health problems plagued him he was sent to his paternal grandmother in Ohio, where he was Hank. And when he returned to Ecuador to make his Bar Mitzvah, his Hebrew name was Tzvi ben Avraham.

The novel begins in the mid-1930s with the boy’s father, Abraham Cohen, fleeing Germany because he accidentally killed a policeman who wore a Nazi pin. He got out of the country as fast as possible with help from relatives in Holland and an old friend in Milan, Italy. He and his wife, Herta Sauer, ended up working and living on a grape farm in Italy.  Herta longed for her parents and hatched a plan to smuggle them out of Germany in huge wine vats. Abie was terrified of returned to Germany, where he would surely be killed, but he did it and in an exciting chapter, the Sauers were reunited with their daughter.

This story shows the resilience of kids, even when they move to a country in which they can’t communicate. Enrique tried to learn the language and participate in boys’ sports whether in Italy or the U.S. He seems like he was a happy kid, but in the background were letters and tears as his family learned of loved ones who were never heard from again.

This is a fast-paced, easy-to-read story that would make a good jumping-off point for a school project; there are many stories on the internet about Jews in Ecuador. Two things might need to be explained to younger readers; Herta’s water breaks when she’s ready to have the baby, and why it was important for 12-year-old Enrique to have a circumcision in the hospital prior to his Bar Mitzvah.

The author’s previous books, “You’re Always Welcome at the Temple of Aaron” and “The Journey of a Dollar” were award-winners.

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