Twins and Trade Deadline

Now that the hullabaloo of the non-waiver trade deadline has passed without the Twins making any deals, other than the trade this past weekend of Francisco Liriano to the White Sox, it might be time to enjoy a little baseball again.

Following the various speculations and rumors of trades via Twitter this year was at times almost hilarious. The hyperventilation of some fans and bloggers/commenters, unseemly as it was, provided a window into what the baseball world in conjunction with social media looks like.

Although my first reaction was a bit of disappointment for how little the Twins got in return for Liriano, after more thought remembering he was going to be too expensive to keep under any circumstances and understanding the new CBA rules regarding compensatory picks, etc., I think the Twins got about the best they could get. Unlike a number of sports writers and bloggers, I do not think Terry Ryan blew this one. The market for a very inconsistent pitcher – despite his talent – is not very high when his salary is about to become outrageous. No matter how well he does with the White Sox, I expect him to test the free agent market and I do not think he will get anything near the $12.4 million the qualifying offer would have to have been. Right now my bet is he will get a two-year deal with some team for less than $12 million per year.

Likewise, I am not at all disturbed the Twins were unable to work out any deals approaching the deadline today. All of the players who were in some sort of demand are under contract for at least one more year. The Twins did not have to sell low as they did with Liriano. Judging from my cursory review of the flurry of trades, the Twins were not offered enough for what they would have to give up. The Twins need major-league or major-league ready starting pitching. Most teams do not have enough of that themselves, so their asking price is going to be high. I think the Twins will have a better chance for a good, balanced deal during the off-season than pulling the trigger now.

Meanwhile, tonight we get the intriguing match-up of Liriano vs. Nick Blackburn – two pitchers who have been wildly inconsistent and highly disappointing this year.

Post-Break Rotation Watch

Back to the reality of 2012 after that little foray into the future here yesterday.

Today the Twins made a necessary move to call up a starting pitcher for Saturday’s game in Texas. With the call up of Sam Deduno, the Twins now have a full 40-man roster having selected his contract and added him to the roster.

Starting pitching continues to be the major weakness of this year’s squad, although Scott Diamond continued his excellent work today going 7 innings allowing only two runs and leaving the game with a 3-2 lead. Thank goodness for at least one bright spot in the rotation. Unfortunately, the bullpen failed today and the Twins lost a game they should have won.

I’m looking forward to seeing Sam Deduno pitch for the first time. He appears to have good stuff based on his strikeout to walk ratio this year at AA and AAA. He can be a little wild, so we’ll hope for at least “effectively wild” if he doesn’t conjure up pin-point accuracy. He will be facing a tough lineup – a good test for a guy who has had only 6 relief appearances with two teams at the major league level. The Twins need him to do well, go deep into the game, in his first start.

The three-game, weekend series is the wrap-up of the traditional first half of the season. This year the All-Star break will be very timely for the Twins, giving them a few extra days to sort out what the rotation will be at least for a few weeks, if not the rest of the season.

Based on recent performances, only two starters can count on being in the rotation – Diamond and Liriano, who has been much better though not great lately. The other three spots are more or less up for grabs.

Pavano remains on the DL with no timetable for return, so he can be effectively ruled out. Most disturbing about that, as far as I’m concerned, is the fact that he will not be worth anything in trade at the deadline. Blackburn, Hendriks being sent down to Rochester to get straightened out, means he is also out of the running.

That leaves Brian Duensing (assuming his foot/heal injury is not serious) and Cole De Vries as the front runners for two of the spots.  If Deduno has a great debut, he might be given a shot to continue, but I think it is more likely that P.J. Walters will be reinstated if his rehab assignment this weekend goes well.

As the next few weeks play out, the rotation situation could get even more interesting if Liriano is traded away for prospects as many bloggers and sports writers, local and national, are speculating. If near major league ready starting pitching prospects are not part of the return, the Twins will have to rely on Pavano or Blackburn returning to form just to get through the season.

No matter what happens, the probability of the Twins making any kind of run for a division title are quite remote. That increases the likelihood of some roster shuffles via trade before August 1.

First Look At 2014

The game tonight (July 4) marks the midway point (game 81) in the season for the Twins. It also is the third game of the four-game series in Detroit to be followed by a three-game series in Texas to wind up the traditional first half of the season before the all-star break.

The Twins’ record is not good enough to realistically expect them to contend for the division title this year, but they remain close enough to the top (8 games back) to not rule them out completely. For many of the Twins fans who have consoled themselves by looking forward to a pre-trade deadline selling spree, this position is the worst one could hope for. Not close enough (not to mention too weak a rotation) to have real hope for a miracle finish, and not far enough out to trigger the full rebuild most of us believe is going to be necessary for the Twins to be competitive in the future.

Right now, 2013 looks like a bleak year mostly because the starting rotation is a disaster with little on the horizon in the upper minors to make one feel like there are reasonable options. We will know more in the next three to four weeks which direction the Twins are going to go the rest of this year. Most likely, it will be during the off-season that Terry Ryan gets serious about fixing the rotation for next year. That is of course assuming that Ryan remains the GM. All bets are off on that if the Twins collapse the way they did last year.

Just for the fun of it, I’m going to look ahead – beyond next year – and see what 2014 might look like, based on the players currently in the Twins organization who are either under contract extending through 2014 or likely to still be with the Twins. Where I see no close to worthy alternatives, I’ve indicated the need for acquisition via trade or free agency to fill the hole.

  • C Joe Mauer, Chris Hermann
  • 1B Chris Parmelee
  • 2B Brian Dozier
  • SS Pedro Florimon
  • 3B Trevor Plouffe
  • LF Josh Willingham
  • CF Ben Revere
  • RF Oswaldo Arcia
  • DH Ryan Doumit
  • Bench: Alexi Casilla, Darin Mastroianni, utility player
  • Starters: Scott  Diamond, Kyle Gibson, (Liam Hendriks), two or three via trade or free agency
  • Relievers: Glen Perkins (CL), Jared Burton, Alex Burnett, Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak, Lester Oliveros, several internal options (Tyler Robertson, Kyle Waldrop, Deolis Guerra, Anthony Slama, Esmerling Vasquez, Jeff Manship, Matt Maloney)