Five teams — including the Yankees — are interested in Jeff Francis

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Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mets, Nationals, Pirates, Rangers and Yankees have shown interest in Jeff Francis, who most recently pitched for the Rockies.  Some of those other teams have been mentioned before, but this is the first time anyone has reported the Yankees’ interest.

As Drew noted over the weekend, Francis was rusty at times last year, but he improved in the second half and his velocity was up.  He could be a good candidate for sharp improvement in 2011. There aren’t a lot of teams who he couldn’t help in some capacity, even if it’s just as a fourth or fifth starter.

Twins hire Baseball America’s John Manuel to work in the pro scouting department

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John Manuel of Baseball America announced via his Facebook on Tuesday that he has been hired by the Twins to work in the club’s pro scouting department. Manuel started working for Baseball America in 1996 and has been an editor for the publication since 2005.

The Twins have been among the slowest teams in baseball to modernize, but a recent reconstruction of the front office helped the team reach the postseason as a Wild Card team. Manuel will work with a front office that includes president of baseball operations Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine.

The Twins aren’t the only team to poach baseball writers. The Astros’ front office, for example, includes former Baseball Prospectus writers Kevin Goldstein, Mike Fast, and Colin Wyers. So it’s not surprising to see Manuel get a job with the Twins.