This lack of news has everyone talking, almost literally--nearly every blog, every paid scribe, ESPN, etc. have weighed in on the Twins failing to move. Or successfully avoiding a trade, if that's how you choose to spin the thing.
In the wake of dropping 2 of 3 to the lowly Oakland A's and their anemic offense, our local nine didn't exactly make it seem as if they're on the verge of making a playoff run. Mix that with their mediocre July record (16-13) and failure to gain any ground on the first place Tigers, and you have to wonder about this season.[jump]
Though I have to admit that it seems wise to have avoided landing a player to help the Twins make a race for the postseason. Like 2007, which I had the great misfortune to cover, fans kept a rather candy-coated hope alive that the team would contend. The great comeback of 2006 kept the fever going strong.
Last year doesn't compare, in part because the Twins didn't make as dramatic a comeback, and the Tigers and White Sox simply weren't as good (not to mention the damned Indians.)Most of the conversation about team improvements focused squarely on Denard Span. The Washington Nationals were interested in Span, but thought we would go for middle reliever Tyler Clippard and his awesome glasses.
But GM Bill Smith wanted closer Drew Storen, and with that the talks went nowhere. So the Twins didn't get some needed arms and the Nationals missed out on the majesty of Denard Span.
I like that, because I think it's foolish to trade away good players to turn this season's pig ear into a silk purse to hold your postseason D & D dice. The reality of the situation is that the Twins are pretty much out of contention, and if they can squeeze out a playoff berth, they should do it with the guys on their roster.
And maybe Smith agrees. Because he also could have sent pitcher Michael Cuddyer, Beastie Boys fan Jason Kubel, or Great Gatsby reader Delmon Young for prospects that might improve the club next year or 2013.
Despite my adoration of Young, and respect for Cuddyer and Kubel, I often wonder if the Twins miss great opportunities trading good players before they bolt rather than trade 'em early and get future heroes.
Then again, there's always the waiver wire. That's the rub in baseball: for all the hoopla surrounding the trading deadline, teams have until the end of the month to put a player on waivers and go through the process, which is essentially a trade.
How does it work? A team puts a player on waivers, and every team can get a chance at grabbing the guy. It goes in reverse order of the standings: if the Tigers put Justin Verlander on waivers, the Houston Astros and their abysmal 35-73 record would be the first in line for that incredible arm. (However, if both Houston and Baltimore--the AL's worst team--make the same claim, the team with the worst record in the same league wins.)
When a team finally claims that player, three things can happen. We'll use the prior example: say Verlander goes through every club until Seattle finally says "yes, we'll take him." At this, the Tigers can say "forget it," take Verlander off waivers, and things go back to normal.
If the Tigers bite, then they can work out a trade within 48 hours of the claim. Or, the Tigers can just ignore both options, and Seattle gets Verlander essentially for nothing, except having to pick up paying the guy where the Tigers left off.
There is actually no deadline for a waiver trade, but if you get a player after August 31, they can't play for you in the postseason.
Got that? Good.Bottom line is that the Twins still have a month to get something good for Cuddyer or Kubel before they become free agents, most likely to seek greener pastures elsewhere (though Cuddyer's rep as a super Twin might be reflected in his accepting a lower salary here.) But if ESPN is to be believed, keep your eye out for some last-minute trades... like Jim Thome. Let's just hope he hits his 600th before the door hits him on the ass.