I was going to write today about the deficiencies of Ron Gardenhire as a manager, but in light of yesterday's trading bonanza around the majors, I figure I should voice my annoyance with yet another completely uneventful July 31 for Terry Ryan and the Twins.
Predictably, the only move the Twins made was dumping Kyle Lohse, sending him to the Reds in return for pitching prospect Zach Ward. I suppose there wasn't much demand for Lohse considering the abysmal season he's having, and getting rid of his contract and attitude is a bonus in and of itself, but I don't like this trade. Ward looks like a fine prospect and all (7-0 with a 2.29 ERA and a 95:37 K/BB ratio in 114 IP for the Reds' Single-A affiliate) but now we can just go ahead and add him to the list. It's been said that you can't have too many good pitching prospects, but that's not necessarily true. There are five spots in a major league pitching rotation, and if all goes to plan, two of those will be occupied by Francisco Liriano and Matt Garza for the next decade. Hopefully, Johan Santana will be locked in for several more years as well. If that is the case, you have two spots in the pitching rotation left open for the foreseeable future, and there are already a number of arms in the Twins' organization that have serious major league potential. Scott Baker, Boof Bonser, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, Jay Rainville, Adam Harben, Justin Jones, Anthony Swarzak... all very nice prospects who probably aren't more than a few years away. Ryan's reluctance to deal any of these guys and the notion that he in fact chose to deal Lohse for yet another pitching prospect are quite inexplicable to me. It would seem that having such an abundance of pitching prospects at a time when many teams in the league are starved for young hurlers would put the Twins in a great position when it comes to trades, but the fact is that Ryan simply has shown a complete unwillingness to part with any of them.
What else could the Twins have gotten for Lohse? Who knows if Ryan even had talks with any GM other than his buddy Wayne Krivsky, but it seems that Craig Wilson could have been had. The Pirates traded Wilson, who I wrote about here just two days ago, to the Yankees in return for pitcher Shawn Chacon. I have trouble believing that any team would rather have Chacon (28 years old, 5.09 career ERA) than Lohse (27 years old, 4.88 career ERA), so it seems like the Twins could have gotten him without much trouble. As it stands, Wilson will be a bench player for the Yankees rather than starting in left field for the Twins and almost certainly providing more production offensively than the White/Tyner/Rabe trio.
Apparently, the Twins did make a strong bid for Alfonso Soriano as the deadline approached, reportedly offering Jason Kubel and Scott Baker. I wouldn't have had a problem with that trade, presuming the Twins made an effort to re-sign Soriano. The fact that the Nationals didn't take the deal, and in fact did not trade Soriano at all, has Nats GM Jim Bowden looking pretty bad. You'd think he would have learned his lesson from the Rangers, who refused to deal Soriano at the deadline last season and wound up getting poor value for him in an off-season trade with Washington. Now, assuming the Nationals don't sign Soriano to a long-term deal (and they most likely won't), they will let him walk at the end of the season for a couple of draft picks, when they could have (allegedly) received a couple good ML-ready players in Baker and Kubel.
With all that being said, I'm relatively apathetic about the Twins' inactivity on the trade market, a strong contrast to last year when I was livid that Ryan failed to make a move. The fact is that the Twins have a good team right now and showed last night that their current lineup can hit the ball around pretty good as it is. An extra bat would have helped over these next couple months, but this isn't like last year when the Twins' offense was a laughing stock.