And then there was Terry Ryan, whose Twins' club sat out the deadline trading frenzy once again. After last night's victory over the Royals, the Twins sit five games out in the AL Wild Card race and six games out in the AL Central standings, and yet their heavily flawed offense continues to struggle mightily. Their savior at designated hitter is a player who has arguably been one of the worst in the league since the beginning of the 2006 season, and who is unlikely to remain healthy for the rest of the season. They have no clear starter at third base or in left field. They will be giving the majority of playing time at second base to a rookie for the remainder of the season. They've won four consecutive games only because they have gotten ridiculously good starting pitching during that stretch -- once the rotation starts to look more human, the Twins will go right back to being the mediocre .500 club they have been all season, unless the offense can turn things around. The addition of a hitter may have provided a jolt for this lifeless offense, and more importantly, it would have shown the Twins' players that the front office is committed to winning.
This all leads me to an article penned by Joe Christensen for today's Star Tribune, in which Johan Santana basically states that Ryan's timidity on the trade market and his unwillingness to make sacrifices and improve the team have put the two-time Cy Young winner's future with the team in serious doubt. An excerpt:
"We've been close," Santana said. "And in all those times, we seem to be a couple players away from winning it all. So I respect all the decisions they make, but I won't say that they're right all the time.Many players who could have filled needs for the Twins were dealt for relatively small returns within the past week, including Ty Wigginton, Betemit, Hairston and Ensberg. The Twins whiffed on some other players they were reported to have interest in, such as Colorado's Garrett Atkins and Oakland's Mike Piazza. Many such players could have figured into the Twins' plans beyond this season, making the unlikelihood of a 2007 playoff berth irrelevant.
"They protect their young players. They protect their organization, their roots, everything. But I guess I won't be a part of it. A lot of guys don't feel like they can be part of it, and they have to move on."
Instead, the only move Ryan could muster was to trade away the team's veteran leadoff hitter for a pair of non-prospects in order to save a couple million dollars that, in the end, will probably remain in the owner's pocket.
I'm not overly frustrated that Ryan didn't make a move to bolster the Twins' chances this year, because they have an extremely difficult road ahead of them in order to make the playoffs as it is and adding one hitter probably wouldn't be enough to make the difference. But if the Twins wanted to throw in the towel on this season, it makes no sense to hold on to Carlos Silva, who will walk at the end of the season for no return.
As a huge fan of Santana, reading his words in Christensen's article hit home pretty hard with me, but in reality I can't blame him for feeling the way he does. He and his teammates are playing their hardest and trying to get back to the post-season, but they clearly need some help because there is not enough offensive talent on this roster to put together a complete lineup. Instead of aggressively trying to fulfill those needs, by all accounts Ryan continues to guard his prospects and hang the team, as it currently stands, out to dry.
Does Ryan's inaction singlehandedly eliminate the Twins' chances for a post-season berth? No, but it's clear from reading the quotes in the paper that the morale of the players has taken a hit. Instead of a new player or two, the Twins have at least one grumpy superstar and an offense that last night scored upwards of four runs in a game for just the fifth time since the All-Star break (and they were aided in doing so greatly by some poor defensive play from the Royals).
Johan, I feel your pain.