One interesting tidbit I thought I'd touch on is something I stumbled across while paging through the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus contributed an article discussing five hypothetical offseason trades. One of those trades involved the Twins:
Rockies trade 3B Garrett Atkins to the Twins for RHPs Anthony Swarzak and Eduardo Morlan. Ian Stewart (.304/.379/.478 at Triple A Colorado Springs) is ready to take over at third base for Colorado, which should be looking to add strikeout pitchers to a staff heavy on contact guys. Minnesota has a glut of young pitchers and desperately needs to add a bat to help Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Swarzak, 22, a starter who projects as a mid-rotation guy, is buried in the Twins' system. Morlan, 21, struck out 12.6 men per nine innings as a reliever in high A ball and could be a 2008 version of closer Manny Corpas.This deal bears a lot of similarity to one I suggested when writing up my offseason wish list back in late September. In that article, I proposed that the Twins send Swarzak and Oswaldo Sosa to the Rockies for Atkins, and at the time I confessed that I pretty much fabricated the deal on my own without having heard any rumors involving those specific names. As such, it is interesting that a well-respected guy like Sheehan would come up with such a similar idea.
When I brought up the Swarzak/Sosa for Atkins idea, several people felt that it was unrealistic because the Rockies weren't getting enough value. In that sense, Sheehan's proposal is a bit more realistic -- Morlan is a considerably better prospect than Sosa. If the deal was on the table, I suppose I'd do it, because I think Atkins would be a great addition; however, I wouldn't be happy about losing Morlan, who looks like a prime candidate to take over as the Twins' closer when Joe Nathan inevitably departs as a free agent after next year.
Then again, recent reports indicate that the Rockies may not be interested in trading Atkins, with the idea being that Stewart can slide over to second base, leaving free agent Kaz Matsui as the odd man out. I'm not sure I buy into Stewart as a second baseman and I still think that if the right deal came along, the Rockies would trade Atkins to add some pitching. We'll see how that storyline shapes up though.