July 24, 2008

Decisions, decision Pt. 2: Set-Up Man

Over the weekend, I discussed a few trade scenario's in which I'd like to see the Twins make. Many of them are what you would call a "pipe dream" and likely will never happen. But really I guess my point is just to get the juices flowing as the trade deadline is just over a week and a half away. Ron Gardenhire has made it known that he wants two different additions; one being a setup man and the other being a right-handed bat who can hit against left-handed pitching.

Even though his numbers look bad, Pat Neshek was the only setup man that the Twins have had this season. After going down with a season-ending shoulder injury in the beginning of May, the Twins still have yet to find a replacement. So it's only right that Gardenhire would ask for a setup man for his all-world closer, Joe Nathan.

The only problem with trading for a reliever is that their trade value is inflated due to the high demand, low quantity (or quality) at the deadline. All teams in the hunt for October are looking to sure up their bullpen and every year relievers are traded for much more than they probably should be, however when push comes to shove, a team has to do what a team has to do.

The Diamondbacks recently traded for Jon Rausch who was closing games for the Washington Nationals, and they got by giving up just the light-hitting Emilio Bonifacio who by no means is a scrub, but is also not a can't-miss prospect. So in my opinion, that could set the bar in terms of other relievers being traded which in relation to the Twins is a good thing since they didn't have to "give up the farm" for a good, cheap reliever. The reliever market is not swarming with great pitchers, but there are a few who should be able to fit the job description.

Ron Mahay, 37, Royals
Mahay is signed for $4 million in 2009 which if he returns could give the Twins two very capable setup men next season with Neshek set to return, but we all know that it will likely take Neshek a while to get back into the swing of things. The Royals would probably like to keep him in case they make current closer Joakim Soria into a starter next season, but if they can grab a mid-level prospect while shedding a little salary I'm sure they might be enticed.

Chad Bradford, 33, Orioles
Bradford has been mentioned on here before, and really it's just because he is likely available and would seem to be a good fit. He's a submarine-type pitcher with solid control and keeps the ball in the park which is something our relievers have not done all season. He is set to make just $3.5 million next season which (like Mahay) is within the Twins budget. The Orioles may sell big at the deadline with guys like Melvin Mora, Aubrey Huff, George Sherrill and others departing, so Bradford is more than likely available if we are willing to give up a mid-level prospect.

Damaso Marte, 33, Pirates
Marte is more than likely out of the Twins price range for obvious reasons . He has a club option of $6 million next season and would likely cost at least two top prospects as it looks like he may very well be a Type-A free agent when he hits the market. Since it likely would cost so much, I don't see the Twins even taking a look at Marte.

Brian Fuentes, 33, Rockies
Fuentes is a lot like Marte, his value is inflated greatly due to the fact of the timing of the trade. The Rockies seem to want a kings' ransom in return for Fuentes and I am sure someone will likely bite, I just hope it's not the Twins (and I doubt it will).

George Sherrill, 31, Orioles
Sherrill won't go anywhere unless the Orioles are blown away with a trade, and I don't see the Twins overpaying (at least not that much) for a reliever when in essence they really only need them for the remainder of the season. Sherrill is under team control through 2011. The Orioles would likely want 2-3 good prospects in return. I bet a deal of Trevor Plouffe, Kevin Mulvey and Rob Delaney would do it, but I think that's too much for the Twins liking.

Eddie Guardado, 37, Rangers
Could it be? "Everyday Eddie" back in M-Town? It could be a possibility. The Rangers want to start looking at next year and since Guardado doesn't appear to be in their plans, they will look to move him. Supposedly the Rangers are very interested in Tyler Robertson who's currently on the shelf with a sore arm, but we all know that would be way too much for the oft-injured reliever. Perhaps a deal involving Hank Blalock could net the Rangers Robertson, who's the son of Jay Robertson, the Special Assistant to the GM of the Rangers. The Twins have been high on Blalock for a while, but he has been injured and doesn't necessarily fit the description the Twins are looking for at third base (which is to hit lefties).

Heath Bell, 30, Padres
Since Bell is the likely replacement for Trevor Hoffman as soon as next year, the likelihood of his departure is slim to none. He was one of the best setup men in 2007 and although he is having a poor '08 campaign, the same can be said about the entire team. Although the Padres are probably still in position to contend next season, they may look to trade him for a young starting pitcher and a young outfielder. The Twins have both and although I seriously doubt they'd trade Denard Span right now, he could be a player the Padres may have interest in. I just don't see the Twins parting with Span and one of Kevin Mulvey, Jeff Manship or even Anthony Swarzak which is what else I think it'd take to get Bell in Minnesota.

Cla Meredith, 25, Padres
Meredith (like Bell) is having a down year and could net the Padres a decent prospect or two in return if they decide to sell low on him. I just think that they know his value could increase greatly and since he's under team control through 2012, they are certainly in no need to trade him right now. They just need to determine if he'll be able to bounce back eventually after getting progressively worse over the last 3 years because if he doesn't, they could miss out on a few good prospects in return.

Mike Adams, 29, Padres
Adams seems like a good fit for the Twins. He likely won't require a lot in return and has had a great season thus far in the majors. Adams missed all of 2007 with a knee injury and has had 3 microfracture surgeries in the last 2 years on his left knee. Still after a poor start in AAA, the Padres called him up and has since been a great addition to their bullpen. He currently has thrown just over 33 innings which we all know is a very small sample size, but it could be a glimpse of hope as to what is to come for the former closer. If the Twins want a low-risk, high-reward possibility, Adams could be the guy.

Huston Street, 25, Athletics
Although it is probably a "pipe dream" to think that Street could ever be a Twin, you can't put it past the A's to trade him, the only problem is that Billy Bean is going to demand multiple top 5-10 prospects in return, and rightfully so. Street's value is down greatly right now, but his name is all over the rumor mill. I think that any deal with Street would have to include one of Ben Revere, Carlos Gomez or possibly even Francisco Liriano and since the Twins don't even have a need at closer. And would the Twins even consider trading Gomez or Liriano? I seriously doubt it. And as stupid as it is to consider an A-Ball player as virtually untouchable, I think Revere is as close as it could possibly get. Although if a team waives a perennial All-Star in our face, I guess they might consider it. One thing is for sure, the A's are locked and loaded to take off in a couple years and what's sick is they continue to produce players who warrant "the farm" in return and Street is one of them (Justin Duchscherer is the other).

Scott Downs, 32, Blue Jays
Although his names hasn't come up in many rumors, I'm sure Downs is available for the right price. The only problem is that since he is having a stellar year, his value has greatly shot up and would likely cost the Twins an "arm and a leg" to get him. Still, if the Twins were that desperate (which for the sake of argument, I don't think they are) they could send the Blue Jays a few good prospects to get him in front of Nathan.

Mike Lincoln/David Weathers, 33/38, Reds
Both Lincoln and Weathers are reportedly available and since the Reds are going to be in complete rebuilding mode this off-season with the likely departures of Adam Dunn and probably also Ken Griffey Jr., so I'm sure that nearly anyone on their team older than Brandon Phillips is probably available. Neither should require all that much in terms of prospects and although neither are great, they are probably doable. Lincoln has a ridiculously low WHIP and already has Minnesota connections as he was drafted by the Twins in the 13th round of the 1996 draft. Weathers is not much better than Lincoln and also probably isn't the type of impact-pitcher the Twins are looking for as Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier are probably just as good as Lincoln and Weathers.

Other players the Twins might take a look at: Frank Francisco (28, Rangers), Alan Embree (38, Athletics), Mike Adams (29, Padres), Geoff Geary (31, Astros), Will Ohman (30, Braves) and Mike Gonzalez (30, Braves).

The only question with acquiring some of them is, are they better than what we have? For the most part, I would say yes, but since a lot of these guys are not current setup men it's hard to judge.