Will Twins trade winds blow calm?
As the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline nears by the day, I expect the Twins trade winds to blow with all the alacrity of balls flying out of Target Field. Which is to say that the breezes of transaction will prove mellow for the club.
Sure, it's fun to imagine the Twins renting Cliff Lee for three months, just as it's entertaining to conjure images of Roy Oswalt in a TC cap. But I don't see it.
Lee is playing out the club option season of the 4-year/$15 million deal his signed with the Indians back in 2006. Come next season, the '08 Cy winner will be among the prizes of the free agent market and will surely command a crazy contract worth well over $100 million. To grab him for the stretch run, the Twins would need to ship some real prospect value (likely Wilson Ramos) to last-place Seattle. But even considering the club's newfound proactivity this offseason, I don't see them parting with their longtime tenet of keeping sanguine big league talent in-house.
Per Oswalt, he's still in the midst of a 5-year/$73 million extension he inked with Houston in '06. For the Twins to acquire his arm, they'd be on the hook for approximately half of the $15 mil he's making this year and for the $16 million he's due next year. Oswalt's contract also has a $16 million club option for 2012, for which he'd be dude a $2 buyout.
Again -- this stuff is fun to rap about. But even if the Twins were to acquire a stud arm, whom that Ace would replace is another matter. Surely, both Lee and Oswalt are better than any of our current five, but my simple math head sees that adding a guy means subtracting a guy. Which starter would lose his gig?
Carl Pavano -- who's two crappy starts away from being a Cy candidate in his own right this season? Francisco Liriano -- who ranks in the A.L.'S strikeout leaders? Scott Baker, whom the Twins signed to a 4-year/$15.25 million deal last March? Nick Blackburn --whom they inked to a similar deal similar to Baker's on the same March calendar date of 2010? It's true that Blackburn has had a brutal June, but he's still the guy who went 5-0 last month and, historically, the Twins allow guys to redeem themselves from failure and aren't the types to
toss cash about sans patience.
That leaves Kevin Slowey, whose right the Twins control for the next three years. It's been well-rumored this season that Slowey -- should he prove capable in coming back from last year's wrist injury -- will receive a contract similar to his starting brethren that would take him through is arbitration years. While the control freak sports a bulky 4.58 ERA, he's still second on the club in wins (7) and, at 33-19 lifetime, owns a career win clip of .634. Trending back toward imagination for a moment: should Slowey double up on that career mark, he'd have the seventh-best winning percentage among active pitchers.
Really, I don't see the club showing the bullpen to any of these healthy starters.
Moving off of the mound, any acquisition, in my mind, tilts on the ultimate availability of injured J.J. Hardy. When healthy: Hardy has committed just a lone error in his 35 starts at short and the club is 23-12 in those games. But with Hardy's absence contributing to a slew of injuries, the Twins' defense has evidenced cracks to echo Gardy's necessary shifts in position. While the club had just nine errors through their first 39 ballgames, they've made 15 more in the 33 contests since.
Should Hardy prove a gimp in his comeback from the D.L., one name that I'm looking at is Baltimore utility infielder Ty Wigginton, who could play third with Nick Punto at short.
Wigginton -- who has been connected to Twins' rumors in years past -- surely wouldn't keep up the club's season-long errorless streak at the hot corner, but he'd prove a better option than running Michael Cuddyer out there and would add the pop to the lineup that the Twins seek when putting Cuddy there in the first place.
Wigginton isn't signed past this season (for which he's making $3.5 mil) and has had a respectable year for the woeful O's, batting .270 with 13 bombs. Again, he'll never be confused with Brooks Robinson out there, but the option is realistic, even considering that, according to FOX's Ken Rosenthal, Baltimore seeks a young shortstop in return.
Trade deadline time is a perennial exercise in mental masturbation here in the Bread Basket. The club is solid, holes are evident, cost is a concern, and it seems the polished puzzle is just a piece away. Best advice: despite the $30+ million rise in payroll and the ubiquitous party at Target Field, let's remain realists and recognize that even though it would be great to own a thoroughbred, a plow mule requires less cost, loss, and maintenance.
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