All the news this morning is pretty distasteful to The Common Man. LeBron is gone. The Twins lost for the fourth time in five games last night. And now it looks like Cliff Lee is off the table, poised to go to the New York Yankees for Jesus Montero and other pieces. This, of course, leaves the Twins again in the lurch, two games back, with two teams in front of them, and floundering. So where do the Twins go from here? Obviously, this is a roster that needs to be improved, so who might the Twins want and who will buy what they are selling?
Lilly’s available, and like Lee does not require a long term salary commitment, as he’s a free agent after the season. That said, he’s not as good a pitcher as Lee, and while he’s unlikely to require the same package to acquire, the Twins might not match up well with the Cubs. Wilson Ramos is the player the Twins should be most willing to deal, but the Cubbies is set at catcher for the long term with Geovanny Soto. And TCM doesn’t think that Lilly is worth giving up an elite talent like Aaron Hicks or Kyle Gibson. As such, the Twins are left with Ben Revere and a pupu platter of pitching prospects, which doesn’t seem likely to get it done.
Oswalt has requested a trade to a contender, and the Astros are likely to deal him. That said, he’s very expensive through 2011, and the Twins probably can’t take on that kind of salary. To get the Twins to pony up any decent prospects, the Astros would probably have to eat a lot of money, which they may not be in a position to do. Houston could use pitching and a catching prospect like Wilson Ramos. Outfielder Joe Benson may also be a possibility.
Ken Rosenthal argued earlier this week that D-Backs interim GM Jerry DiPoto is unlikely to have the freedom to make a big splash at the deadline with some of his more exciting players. But if the Twins overwhelm DiPoto, he could potentially sell the team ownership to deal built around Ramos and either Benson or Angel Morales.
Hey, the Yankees don’t need him anymore, apparently, and would love to unload the pitcher. There is no commitment beyond this year, and Vazquez has proven to be a quality pitcher everywhere he’s played that isn’t the Bronx. The Yankees are undoubtedly hoping to unload him for something to help this year, which the Twins can’t really offer (unlike the Phillies, who could (but probably shouldn’t) offer Jayson Werth). But the Twins could offer Ramos (even with the Yankees impressive catcher depth in the minors, they’re dealing one of them for Lee, Cervelli has struggled recently, and Austin Romine is still a year or two off). The Twins could also presumably build a deal around Aaron Hicks. That said, the Yankees don’t really deal for prospects, nor do they seem likely to strengthen a team who is a potential playoff opponent for the current season. Alas, Vazquez probably isn’t available to Minnesota.
The A’s aren’t going anywhere and have a surplus of outfielders. The Twins have been dying for a decent RH backup outfielder who can play CF (no, Jason Repko doesn’t count). Crisp also doesn’t require a significant capital outlay, as he’s got a $500K buyout for next year, and will make about $2 million for the rest of the year. If the Twins can get him for a minor prospect, he’d be a nice addition.
Despite early success in 2010, the Jays have dropped 11 games back and are at .500, and need to look into dealing players. Bautista has shown a lot of power and patience this year, and actually leads the majors in homers (and has already bested his career high by 7). He’s playing way over his head, but the Twins could really use his right handedness and positional flexibility to hold down 3B, and sub in at 1B, and the OF corners as needed. Bautista is cheap, but is arbitration eligible next year, and will be due for a raise, but could be non-tendered if necessary. The Twins could look into giving up Chris Parmelee (the Jays could use a 1B prospect) and maybe a AAA pitcher like Swarzak to acquire him.
Like Crisp, Kearns would give the Twins a strong righty bat off the bench, and a good RH backup outfielder. He would be stretched in center, unfortunately, but is especially cheap (he’d cost around $300K for the rest of the year, and there are no commitments in 2011). The Indians are definitely motivated sellers, and Kearns shouldn’t cost too much in terms of prospects. The Twins could deal someone like Luke Hughes for him, giving the Indians a stopgap 3B in 2011 until Lonnie Chisenhall is ready. If Cleveland was willing to include Fausto Carmona, the Twins could probably bump the offer to include Ben Revere, Joe Benson, or Angel Morales, plus a pitcher.
Jeffrey Loria has made noises about still wanting to get in the race, but that’s just saber rattling. These fish are fried. The Marlins could use an advanced catching prospect, so Wilson Ramos would be a good fit here. Ben Revere would also provide some nice insurance in case Cameron Maybin never puts his considerable tools together. Uggla would be a great fit for the Twins, if he’s willing to move to 3B. He’s a right-handed slugger who will be arbitration eligible next year for the final time. Unfortunately, he will be expensive to hold onto long term, but that’s exactly why the Fish won’t want him. If the Twins can also pry away Leo Nunez with the addition of another prospect, that would give the Twins another cheap and reliable option at the end of games.
Hold on to your butts people, but what if the Twins reacquired Christian Guzman? The former Twins offers a great deal of positional flexibility, is a switch hitter who has always had more success against lefties, and will come unbelievably cheap from the Nats. Alright, maybe that’s crazy. But it’s better than another round of Plouffe, Tolbert, Casilla, and Harris, isn’t it? Isn’t it? A bucket of baseballs should be enough to get him.
No, no, a thousand times no. Tejada’s looked old and slow this year, and has not adjusted well to his shift to 3B. He’s not even hitting lefties right now.
That’s better. Wigginton’s shown a great deal of flexibility this year, sliding over to 2B to cover for Brian Roberts’ injuries. He’s a bad fielder, but would provide the offense the Twins have been lacking at the hot corner all year, and would provide a viable option at 2B and 1B when Morneau or Hudson are hurt or need time off. He’s signed only through the end of the year, and the O’s would probably take a Chris Parmelee for him.
Alberto Callaspo or Mike Aviles
Callaspo is a switch hitter, while Aviles bats righty. Both have historically done well against lefties. Callaspo has more experience at 3B than Aviles, but Aviles is capable of playing SS, which Callaspo is not. Both would be a good option to start at 3B or at least be a good right-handed bat off the bench. Neither make a prohibitive amount of money. With Alex Gordan seemingly ready to get back to the majors and Mike Moustakas absolutely wailing on the ball at AA, the Royals can jettison one of them for Ben Revere and a pitcher with little risk.
And that’s it that’s available right now that seems to make sense for the Twins. They could use a starting pitcher and a right-handed bat, preferably on the left side of the infield, but flexible enough to take over other roles in case the club is bit by the injury bug again. A real reserve outfielder would be nice too. Also, the club probably doesn’t need to carry three lefties in its bullpen and could use either a dominant righty on the back end or could (ideally) just open up an extra spot on the bench. TCM's preference would be to acquire Crisp and/or Wigginton, and to view all the pitchers as prohibitively expensive at this point, and instead try to solve the problem that is Blackburn from within the organization. Also, the club needs to banish Butera back to the minors and call up Jose Morales yesterday.