July 9, 2008

Clubs making moves, what should the Twins do?

Update (11:55 AM): According to Joe Christensen of the StarTrib, the Twins have had "internal discussions" about adding Adrian Beltre, but that they haven't discussed anything with the Mariners. I believe that it's more just to show that they're discussing a few different options, but I doubt anything comes of this. Still Beltre was one of the guys I was going to list, but being that he has a fairly big salary for next year it may be unrealistic. Then again, the Twins have the funds to add his contract and it'd probably mean that the team doesn't have to give up "an arm and a leg" to acquire the 29-year-old third baseman.


Hey everyone. I don't have the desire to talk about yet another gut wrenching loss for the Twins against the Red Sox, so you'll have to settle for something else... SPECULATION!

Longtime readers of the site (if there are any...joking...hopefully) probably know that I'm a huge fan of speculating on things such as potential for minor leaguers as well as possible trades/free agent signings. So with the trade deadline approaching quickly, I think it's appropriate to address what I believe the Twins need and what I think they should do.

Two contending teams in the NL Central have already made huge splashes in acquiring a top-of-the-line starter in both cases. The Brewers acquired Twins nemesis C.C. Sabathia for top prospect Matt LaPorta while the Cubs acquired Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin for a slew of young ML-ready players.

Both teams expect there to be a fight to the finish and the race could come down to the very end. In regards to the AL Central, the Indians and Royals are clearly out of it which leaves the Tigers, White Sox and Twins. The White Sox have had a great first half and figure to continue their success in the second half. There's a reasonable chance that both teams could acquire a difference maker prior to the deadline, as both teams have a history of trading while having the "win now" mentality. If the Twins want to stay with it, I believe that they'll have to do something, although knowing the Twins' history of deadline moves, that seems very unlikely to happen.

Problem: The Bullpen

Since the loss of Pat Neshek, the Twins have had to rely on Matt Guerrier for all of their setup duties (don't laugh at "duties") and I believe this team could really use another setup-type reliever which could allow the Twins to either jettison Boof Bonser or Brian Bass.

Options: (in no particular order)

Doug Brocail, Astros: Although he's 41-years-old, he still has proven to be very effective and would really help bolster our bullpen. It's likely his last season, and with the Astros unlikely to compete for a playoff spot, he could be on the move.

Chad Bradford, Orioles: Bradford would be the perfect addition to our bullpen. With one submarine pitcher on the shelf, we could bring in another in Bradford. The Orioles don't have a chance at contending and Bradford is due $3.5 million next year. He also could be on the move.

Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks probably won't want to get rid of Qualls, but he'd be a good fit for this team. He's about to turn 30-years-old and is still very cheap. He was the centerpiece of the Jose Valverde trade, so it may take a little more to get him.

Problem: Third Base

The Twins signed Mike Lamb in hopes that he'll be at least serviceable until they can find a replacement from their minor leagues (Danny Valencia or Deibinson Romero), but after a terrible first half he has now found himself on the bench and has only played a handful of games in the last month and really has no business on this team anymore. With Brian Buscher playing well and now it looks like he'll be platooning with Brendan Harris while Nick Punto continues to play very well at shortstop, Lamb continues to fall further and further on the depth chart. As much as I've enjoyed watching Brian Buscher he is definitely unlikely to continue playing at a high pace and has already started on somewhat of a downward slide, hitting .192 over his last 7 games.

Options: (in no particular order)

Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers: Although the Dodgers may now be inclined to keep Garciaparra around due to the lack of health in their middle infielders, he certainly makes sense as a trade candidate. He's always been a favorite player of mine and if he can stay healthy (which I admit is a big "if") then I think he'd provide a great veteran bat in this lineup.

Casey Blake, Indians: The Indians are most definitely going to "sell" which is evident with the trade of C.C. Sabathia. Casey Blake doesn't seem to be in their long term plans, and just seems like a "Twins-guy." I think he'd fit in very nicely and this team needs guys that can hit against left-handers as the team is currently hitting .261 with a terrible .683 OPS vs. southpaws.

Dallas McPherson, Marlins: He's back on his "power surge" this season as he leads all of the minor leagues with 31 home runs and although the homer happy Marlins probably could use his bat, they have not promoted him due to his terrible defense. He'll likely only be a DH in the majors, but I think he's worth a shot regardless of his defense if his bat is as good as advertised. But buyer beware, he's shown great numbers throughout the minors but hasn't shown up in the majors. Then again, he's had chronic back problems which definitely played a role in his lack of production in the majors.

The team certainly does not have a glaring need at any position, but they certainly could benefit greatly with a couple upgrades. And really, I could get into upgrading nearly every position, but these two are the ones that really worry me.

I doubt the Twins make a big move prior to the deadline. The only moves I could see happening is them making room on their roster by parting with one of the following players:

Mike Lamb, 3B
Craig Monroe, OF/DH
Brian Bass, RHP
Boof Bonser, RHP
Craig Breslow, LHP

None of them would surprise me, although I'd prefer to hold onto both Breslow and Bonser. The only reason why I'm mentioning Breslow anyways is because of his lack of playing time and although he's preformed very well, he just isn't being used.

I also think that the club needs to make a few internal changes. Things like changing up the batting order and possibly changing positions.

Carlos Gomez is proving each and every at bat that he does not deserve to bat leadoff, and although the Twins want to give him as many at bats as possible, at this point they need to do what is best for the team and not just Carlos Gomez. Denard Span on the other hand showed that he could bat leadoff while at Rochester this season and is continuing to prove it since his latest promotion. I propose the Twins switching Span and Gomez as I think it'd benefit the entire team.

Also, with Denard Span playing so well both at the plate and in the field, it's going to cause a "problem" when Michael Cuddyer is finally healthy. Now, I know what I'm about to say is not going to sit well with quite a few readers, but I'm just listing it as an option. I propose the Twins to move Cuddyer back to third base and let Span continue to start in right field. Cuddyer was dreadful at third base his first time around, but that was also when he was still unsure of his roster spot (even though he started most of the games). Now his roster spot is 100% secure, which we may or may not agree with, and I think his experience as an everyday player over the last few years would allow him to be at the very least serviceable at the hot corner. Heck, if the Twins were fine with the way Mike Lamb played there, I think Cuddyer would be just fine.

Those are really the two moves I'd like to see the Twins make prior to the deadline, and if they don't seem to be working out, then perhaps make a move which can keep us in contention. However, I expect another very slow trading day for the Twins.