Sunday, July 30, 2006

Needs Evident as Deadline Looms

The Twins got a couple two-run homers and kept things close to some degree last night, but for the majority of the game it was pretty clear that they stood no chance against a relentless Tigers team that just would not stop scoring. A three-run seventh inning for the Twins cut Detroit's lead down to one, but the Tigers responded by adding a run in each of the last two innings and smothering a ninth inning rally en route to an 8-6 victory. Friday night the Twins couldn't score more than two runs against an unspectacular rookie in Zach Miner, and last night they hit grounder after grounder against Nate Robertson and were unable to string hits together at any point. Nick Punto ended his 18-game hitting streak by going 0-for-5. Luis Castillo was afraid to swing the bat with the game on the line in bottom of the ninth, striking out looking with two on and no outs. Michael K-ddyer struck out three times in the game. Even with the two-run homers from Justin Morneau and Josh Rabe that kept the game close to some degree, on nights like this the Twins really look like they could use that one extra bat. With the trade deadline approaching tomorrow, their only real chance to add an impact hitter for the rest of this season is about to arrive.

A few of the Twins' options may have come off the market on Friday, when the Brewers dealt left fielder Carlos Lee to the Rangers and the Dodgers sent promising young third baseman Willy Aybar to the Braves as part of the Dannys Baez/Wilson Betemit deal. The big name still on the market in an area of need for the Twins is Alfonso Soriano, but I'm disinclined to believe that Terry Ryan will make an agressive effort to acquire him. The asking price is likely to be too high for a guy who may simply be a two-month rental (although many analysts believe that acquiring Soriano would make the Twins possible World Series favorites).

Instead of giving up several valuable players to obtain Soriano from the Nationals, the Twins could make a play for a less high-profile player such as the Pirates' Craig Wilson. Wilson is a pretty good hitter who would no doubt cost considerably less than Soriano, but on the downside he is a nearly identical player to what Michael Cuddyer has become. Wilson is a couple years older than Cuddyer and has a career .268/.360/.486 line in six major league seasons (Cuddy is hitting .267/.351/.488). Both are right-handed hitters that strike out a lot and don't walk much, both hit for decent but not great power, and both play first base and the corner outfield positions.

With that said, Wilson is a solid player, and if Pittsburgh was willing to give him up at a reasonable price, I think he would be a nice addition to the lineup who could provide the Twins a boost for the remainder of the season without forcing them to sell out their future.

Speaking of trades, Kyle Lohse likely made his last audition to the rest of the league before the deadline last night, and it was not a particularly impressive one. Lohse came on in relief of Brad Radke, who the Tigers chased from the game after just three innings, and promptly proceeded to give up a brutal two-run homer to Curtis Granderson. Outside of the home run, Lohse ended up pitching three solid innings, but the damage was done. I have to imagine Ryan is pretty desperate to get rid of Lohse, so it will be interesting to see what kind of return there is if he's dealt tomorrow.