Saturday, July 18, 2009


The All-Star game has passed and now and now begin all the rumors and discussion of what the Twins will do. The consensus among talking heads seems to be that the Twins need to do something. There also seems to be agreement that regardless of what they should do, they will not do anything. Realistically, I cannot see how any deal could significantly improve the team.

What weaknesses could they address? Second base is a black hole on offense, but they do have enough bats in the lineup to afford one weak-hitter provided he plays solid defense. The best chance of improvement at second would be if Casilla can conquer his fear of the ball and "hit the cover off the ball" in the Majors like he did in Rochester. In the outfield, Span plays great defense and reliably reaches base for Mauer and Morneau. Cuddyer, although strike-out prone, supplements the middle of the order as well as anybody. Gomez and Young have played better lately, and the Twins should be able to expect a strong second half from one of the two.

This leaves pitching as a hole to fill. Unfortunately, there is no way the Twins can trade for what the staff needs. They need Brad Radke. The current rotation consists of solid 3rd or 4th starters. They're missing the reliable ace who pitches reliably and always throws his best games when they're most needed. Ideally, they would have at least two pitchers like that. They do not have nearly enough depth in the farm system to trade for a pitcher of that caliber.

This highlights another weakness. They have no depth. Tolbert and Buscher are lousy even by "quadruple-a" standards, and they have nobody in Rochester who could hold down the fort over a 15-day stint on the DL. Back in '02 when both Koskie and Mientkiewicz were hurt, they still had David Ortiz, Michael Cuddyer, Matt LeCroy, Casey Blake, and even Bobby Kielty to play the corner infield.

A change-of-scenery trade with some combination of Gomez, Young, and Casilla might be the only legitimate option, but it's too early to give up on their potential. Regardless, the best a trade can do is improve their chances of embarrassing themselves in the division series again. The best a non-trade could do would be if Gomez, Young, and Casilla play well in the second half, a pitcher or two grows into the "ace" role, and one of the fresh faces adopts the role of a strong set-up man. That's the big "ifs" that could make the Twins a legitimate contender for an AL pennant. Unless of course they want to trade Punto and Tolbert for some magic beans. I'd be find with that.

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