November 9, 2007

Rolen & Young, Twins?

The off-season's Hot Stove is here, and it will not disappoint. As the general managers leave Florida after spending this week talking amongst each other about different issued in baseball, there is talk that teams were rumored to be talking to other teams about potential trades. There rarely is ever a trade that happens during these meetings, but the Houston Astro's and Philadelphia Phillies did work out a trade that sent closer Brad Lidge to "The City of Brotherly Love" in exchange for speedy outfielder Michael Born who highlight the 5 player deal.

The Twins were also rumored to be discussing a few trades over the break. A couple which I covered on Wednesday, and now there are a few other's that I feel are worth mentioning.

Late yesterday afternoon, Buster Olney of ESPN Magazine gave a rumor that the Twins and Cardinals were discussing a trade that would bring third baseman Scott Rolen to Minnesota in exchange for a young pitcher or two from the Twins. Shortly after this made it's way through the internet, the Star Tribune's Joe Christensen quickly disputed this rumor by saying:
I know another media outlet has reported that the Twins and Cardinals are discussing a deal that would bring Scott Rolen to the Twins, but I just spoke with two Twins officials who said they have had no discussions about Rolen whatsoever.
That's not to say that Olney is right over Christensen, or visa versa, but I have to trust Joe Christensen first and foremost since he's been very trustworthy this season and since he covers the Minnesota Twins. Sometimes a reporter will talk to a representative of their team and it still is wrong, but I'm not saying either are right on this one.

The deal makes sense because Rolen would like to be traded out of St. Louis because of his relationship with management and the Twins need a third baseman. Rolen, 32 is a career .282 hitter with a .878 OPS and has been a reliable run producer in his career, although he mostly known for his extremely good defense, which is backed up with 7 gold gloves.

Rolen in my mind is a good fit for the Twins. I feel the organization is pretty confident in Danny Valencia's future and I think that Rolen would be a good fill-in for a year or two before Valencia is ready. But Rolen's due $36 Million over the next 3 seasons and is currently rehabbing from shoulder surgery that he underwent in September. He's had a lot of injuries in his career, so the Metrodome probably isn't the best place for him.

It will be interesting if anything comes about from this rumor.

Another rumor which I find very interesting is that the Twins and Tampa Bay Rays are in talks about a deal of some sort. It's rumored to be a deal involving outfielder Delmon Young of the Rays and pitcher Matt Garza of the Twins.

There's nothing certain about this rumor, but it's believed that we could see a deal surrounded around those two players. It's just not sure if it would be a straight up trade, or if other players are involved. It's known that the Rays have a pluthera of young hitters, particularly outfielders and the Twins have a pluthera of young pitchers.

Here is a closer look at the two players that are rumored to be involved....

Delmon Young is a 22 year old outfielder who has the potential to be the most feared hitter in all of baseball. He was the first overall pick of the 2003 draft and went straight to Low-A ball. He later skipped AAA, but it doesn't look like it's effecting him at all anyways. In his 3-year minor league career, he batted .317/.363/.517 with 149 extra base hits (59 home runs) and 272 RBI's. Unfortunately, he's probably most well known for this unfortunate incident which involved Young throwing a bat and striking an umpire, which resulted in a 50-game suspension. He's clashed a few times with Ray's management, including a blowup with manager Joe Maddon at the end of the season. Maddon pulled Young for not giving full effort on an infield grounder. They patched things up, but it's still known that Young isn't happy playing in Tampa.

The biggest part of Young's stats in '07 weren't his 64 extra base hits (13 home runs), nor his 93 runs batted in or his .288 average in his rookie season. It's the fact that he played in all 162 games in the season. That number is huge for the Twins who have been hit by the injury bug a lot the last few years. If Young can play 162 times next season, or even 150, I think that he will put up big numbers for the Twins in his 2nd full year in the majors.

23 year old Matt Garza also flew through the Twins minor leagues in just a little over a year. He was the 25th overall pick in the 2005 draft for the Twins. He was a college pitcher (Fresno State) which made his transition a little easier, although it was still very impressive to see him dominate each level like he did. After starting the 2007 season in AAA Rochester, Garza was frustrated with the decision and he let his emotions get the best of him. He quickly matured and finally got the call a couple months later. He showed promise this season that some day he could be a potential ace, but he still has a lot to learn. But the potential is good enough for the Rays to be interested.

The Rays who have a fairly weak rotation right now, could have one of the best young rotations in the next few years if they acquired Garza. First overall pick, David Price is the next potential flame thrower of MLB and should progress quickly through the Rays farm system. Garza teamed with southpaws Price and Scott Kazmir would give them a very strong 1-2-3 spot in the rotation.

The deal in my mind would mostly benefit the Twins who would essentially be trading a pitcher who does have a lot of talent, but the Twins have a lot of young pitchers with great deals of potential. They'd be filling a spot in the lineup that is a need (center field... if Torii Hunter leaves) and would be acquiring a very good young right-handed bat. They'd also be doing so with spending no money that could be used to sign a free agent or resign a current Twin.

A potential lineup as it stands heading into the season could be this:

SS Jason Bartlett
LF Jason Kubel
C Joe Mauer
RF Michael Cuddyer
1B Justin Morneau
CF Delmon Young
DH Luis Gonzalez?
3B Brian Buscher?
2B Nick Punto

Even if the Twins did resign Torii Hunter, that wouldn't be a bad thing either. It could push Young to #2 in the order or just make the bottom of our order much more improved, it would also give the Twins 3 of the strongest arms in the league roaming the outfield at the Dome. I don't think a single team would feel comfortable running on our very own "Murderer's Row." With Hunter, the Twins would be able to move Jason Kubel to DH, which would take care of another hole for the team, leaving just 3rd base as the only question mark.

Joe Christensen also notes that the Twins are also interested in Tampa Bay infielder/outfielder B.J. Upton, Padre's third baseman Chase Headley, and Mets outfielder Carlos Gomez.

Upton started his career at short stop, he moved to third base, he started this season at second base and finally ended as the starting center fielder. He is likely going to stay in the outfield, wherever he goes, but he too has a lot of potential in this league. He is just 23 years old and had a very impressive '07 campaign where he hit .300/.386/.508 with 24 home runs, 25 doubles, 82 RBI and 22 stolen bases.

Headley is a 23 year old third baseman who is one of baseball's best 3rd base prospects. He hit .330/.437/.580 with 58 XB hits (20 home runs) and 78 RBI's at AA. He could be a potential all-star or he could be a potential bust. His numbers are impressive, but I would prefer to trade for more of a proven player.

Gomez is just 21 years old (soon to be 22) and could be ready for the majors next season. He played 58 games with the Mets, although his stats weren't overly impressive, he showed promise that he could develop into a very promising outfielder. He will be a dangerous player on the basepaths, but his sub-.400 SLG% isn't promising for the power-less Twins.

The Twins definitely have options, and it's nice to see new General Manager Bill Smith taking a very aggressive approach so far this off-season. But I'm not going to get my hopes up on any of this ever coming though. Although it is fun to speculate!


Anonymous said...

Nice article, but when I read the name "Nick Punto" in your batting order for next year, I threw up in my mouth a little.


Josh's Thoughts said...

Yeah, it's definitely not something that I would prefer (Casilla would be fine with me), but I tried to make it realistic and knowing Gardy, he'll find a way to keep Punto in the lineup.