Thursday, July 30, 2009

On the Twins and the Deadline

So I've been called out. Or called upon. Or called something.

And in stark contrast to the caller-outer himself, when that happens, this guy responds. Or he is this time. I mean, you know, he's not making any promises.

The question: what should the Twins do with the rest of this season? Buy? Sell? Nothing (which we all know is what really will happen)?

My answer: well, it's complicated. First, of course you don't pack it in right now, especially since, as TCM notes, there aren't all that many sellable commodities anyway. I'm writing this with the added perspective of one extra game over TCM, but it was (or felt like) a pretty huge game--they completed the sweep over the White Sox and jumped past said stockings into second place. still just two games behind the Tigers (and six out of the wildcard, but with four teams in front of them, two of which are clearly better teams). The Twins aren't particularly good, but the Tigers and Sox aren't either. The Twins and Tigers are separated by two games in the standings and one in expected W/L; they're separated in run differential by a single big blowout (currently 11 runs). And I don't see the Tigers or Sox getting any better this year either. There's absolutely no reason not to do everything within reason to win this year (for your sanity, three additional uses of the word "reason" have been omitted from this sentence).

That said, I don't think you should ever engage in a big buying spree unless you (a) feel like you have a great chance to win it all and (b) are pretty sure you're gonna suck for the five years after this anyway (old team, expiring contracts and so on), and neither of those things are in place here.

Moreover, the realistic middle infield options are pretty well gone; I doubt the Mariners are moving Lopez at this point; Jays GM Riccardi has shown himself to be a useless trading partner, so Marco Scutaro is probably out; and my favorite target, Freddy Sanchez, just went to the Giants (and for waaaaaayyyyy too much). If they're going to get significant middle infield help, it's going to come from Mark Grudzielanek (which, as I've said before, isn't nearly as unlikely as people seem to be assuming it is). And for God's sake, Just Say No to Orlando Cabrera.

But what the Twins both (a) need and (b) can feasibly get is another pitcher. With Slowey gone for the year, they could use a starter, and as weird as the Mariners' last couple days have been, I bet Jarrod Washburn is still available. But even he might cost too much for what he's likely to bring them (I sure hope they're asking, though).

My answer, then; be buyers, but for only one thing: a dependable relief pitcher who won't cost any big prospects. Arthur Rhodes. John Grabow. There are probably ten or twelve of these guys who will or should be available, and they're all pretty fungible, because they all have equal amounts of the one quality we're looking for here: that elusive quality of not being Jesse Crain. If a team wants too much for one of these guys, you forget about him and move on to the next guy on your list.

Matt Guerrier's and Jose Mijares' ERAs look awfully good right now, but I just don't trust those numbers (and neither does FIP--both are 1.5 to 2 runs higher than their ERAs). And with the starters struggling the way most of them are, another bullpen arm for depth--regardless of whether he slots into the 6th-7th behind those two or in the 8th in front of them--would really help.

So that's it. Get a relief pitcher. Hope Grudzie gets ready quickly to provide some much needed league-averageness. Don't go crazy just trying to "make a move" and thereby give away anything you're going to miss a bunch later (like, say, Danny Valencia). Catch the Tigers. Leave the White Sox in the dust. Win the Series. 'Kay?


  1. I just had to look up the word "fungible," you crazy lawyer you. With your crazy lawyery words.

    I hope to see a crazy-long-name embroidered on a Twins uniform post haste, so they can bench Casilla where he belongs...

  2. That was germane to the conversation, without being an absurd piece of jactitation.

    That probably doesn't really work, but it's a funny word.