Whispers: Twins lucky to retain Pavano

The Twins breathed a sigh of relief that the Pirates were the only other team to offer Carl Pavano a two-year deal, allowing them to re-sign him and partially salvage a shaky offseason. But catcher Joe Mauer's raise from $12.5 million to $23 million has cut into the team's depth, with the rebuilt bullpen a major concern. The Twins are suddenly a fragile team, with much invested in successful returns by Justin Morneau (concussion) and Joe Nathan (elbow surgery). … Infielder Nick Punto is a good signing for the Cardinals. He's not the most talented player, but his max-effort approach makes him another piece the Twins will miss. … Tom Gorzelanny grew while with the Cubs, thanks largely to time spent with Greg Maddux, and could have a long run with the Nationals. He will be missed if Carlos Zambrano goes back into the tank, but GM Jim Hendry made a good deal to get three prospects (especially Double-A outfielder Michael Burgess) for a pitcher he acquired from the Pirates alongside lefty reliever John Grabow. One of the benefits of the deal was opening a spot to evaluate pitching prospects Casey Coleman, Andrew Cashner, Jeff Samardzija and maybe even Trey McNutt. … Scott Podsednik, hero of the White Sox's Game 2 victory in the 2005 World Series, is among the large group of free-agent outfielders still without jobs. … Scouts from the Yankees and other teams needing starting pitching could spend a lot of time watching the Nationals this spring. Gorzelanny joins an eight-man competition in which only Jordan Zimmermann and Yunesky Maya are assured spots. John Lannan, Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, Ross Detwiler and Chien-Ming Wang are expected to go to Florida healthy and ready to pitch in the majors. … Don't be surprised if Rafael Soriano opts out of his Yankees deal to become the Mets' closer in 2012.

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