Friday, July 29, 2011

Trade Deadline Chatter

A few thoughts on the midseason hot stove, as seen from 1 Twins Way:

* Unsurprisingly, the wayward Twins haven't been prevalent in trade speculation with the non-waiver deadline approaching on Sunday. One annoying rumor that wouldn't go away was that the Twins and Nationals were discussing a swap of Denard Span and Drew Storen. The rumblings stemmed from a Ken Rosenthal report and picked up steam when Jim Bowden tweeted that the two sides were "working hard" on getting a "multi-player deal" done.

I don't really understand how such a move would make sense from either side. After suffering a concussion earlier this season, Span's health status is very much in flux. The Nationals would have to feel pretty confident in his recovery to offer up something worthwhile.

Assuming that's the case, the Twins are not in a position to trade yet another valuable up-the-middle starter for a relief pitcher. While Storen would certainly represent an ideal long-term closing solution, Span isn't really an expendable piece at this point.

The center fielder is under control through 2015 on a very team-friendly contract, while Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel are on the verge of free agency and Delmon Young will be heading into his final year of arbitration eligibility.

Span ranks third on the team in on-base percentage. In 2009, he ranked first. In 2008, he ranked second. Setting aside his mediocre 2010 campaign, Span has basically been an ideal leadoff hitter, whereas last night in his absence the Twins started Ben Revere (.294 OBP) and Tsuyoshi Nishioka (.269 OBP) in the first and second spots preceding Joe Mauer. Yuck.

While I like Ben Revere, the jury is out on whether he can be an everyday player in the majors, much less a leadoff man. By unloading Span, the Twins would risk creating the type of headache in center field that they've already created at shortstop and catcher through similarly misguided moves.

* Ultimately, I'd guess that the chatter regarding Span's trade availability has mostly come out of Washington's corner, and the center fielder will stay put through the weekend. I do, however, expect that Kevin Slowey will be gone by Monday.

I'd prefer to the see the Twins try and utilize Slowey rather than moving him, but at this point it seems clear that bridges have been irreparably burnt. If he has to go, I just hope something palatable can be had for him.

The Twins could certainly do worse than right-handed reliever Rafael Betancourt, whom La Velle E. Neal III mentioned as a possible target in noting that the Twins and Rockies have discussed a Slowey deal.

Betancourt's 4.28 ERA this year understates his effectiveness. He holds a fantastic 43-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 40 frames, and over the past three seasons he's posted a 3.47 ERA while averaging 11 strikeouts and two walks per nine innings.

A reasonable $4.25 million option in 2013 makes Betancourt, 36, especially desirable considering the Twins' bullpen uncertainty going forward.

Still, it'd be a shame to lose a good young talent like Slowey for him.

* I wrote earlier this week about the miserable options Ron Gardenhire is facing at the shortstop position. Now, with Alexi Casilla landing on the disabled list after pulling a hamstring on Wednesday night, the manager's dilemma grows even more gruesome.

Meanwhile, J.J. Hardy has bashed four home runs this week, pushing his season total to 18. Hardy is hitting .280/.330/.519 for the Orioles, making Bill Smith's offseason decision to dump the shortstop for little return look predictably awful.

Also, for all the grumbling about how "injury-prone" Hardy is (and all the chiding I received when he landed on the DL with an oblique strain back in April), he's played in more games than all but three Twins players.

(Oh, and for the swarms of people who are sure to complain about another reference to Hardy: his name hasn't been mentioned in a post on this blog since April. Simmer.)

* One additional note: next Wednesday I'll be participating in a sports trivia contest at Gabe's by the Park in St. Paul. Also competing will be Tim Allen of the Timberwolves blog Canis Hoopus, Nathan Eide of the Wild blog Hockey Wilderness, and David Erickson of Minnesota Vikings Chat.

The event will feature food specials and opportunities for the audience to take part in the action, so if you've got no plans, come on by and watch me finish last.


Anonymous said...

I've finally figured out how to become a Minnesota Twins blogger in the pround tradition of Nelson and Gleeman. Just link back posts you made where you were right about something.

Hope NBC or roto gives me a job for my crack analysis and in depth blog.

SadPanda said...

Nick I agree with you about Span and Slowey. I think trading Span would be completely idiotic, I like Revere a lot but he isn't even close to Span.

I like Slowey too and wish we could have utilized him but that does seem impossible at this point.

We are all sick of hearing about Hardy but not because you mention him a lot but because he is brought up nearly once a week in the comments thread. He is a hot button issue that gets people fired up and is an easy example of a dumb off season move. I wish we would have kept him, but we didn't so I would rather just move forward.

Anonymous said...

My man Anonymous is right on. Takes some kind of dick to root for his team to suffer so he can write smugly on his blog about how right he was.

Chris said...

Bring up Hardy every day as far as I'm concerned. It was an incredibly stupid move by Smith and yes, most informed fans and bloggers called it at the time. Add that to the Capps and Delmon trades, which were both also similarly decried at the time they happened, and maybe the din will finally get loud enough for Twins ownership to realize they hired the worst GM in baseball. Personally, I was so mad when that trade happened, I thought about picking a new team to be a fan of - not because I am the world's biggest Hardy fan, but because I almost could no longer stand to see Smith single-handedly (or maybe with Gardy's help) destroy the Twins organization.

Chris said...

Lest I forget the Santana trade. I have no idea if a better offer was available - but that's not the issue. If that was the best offer, the Twins had nothing to lose but to keep Santana one more year, try to make a World Series run, and then take the draft picks they would have gotten. There was NO reason they had to trade the at the time best pitcher in baseball for two mediocre prospects and two non-prospects.

micah b said...

Five days in a row? Nick is on a heater!!!

Anonymous said...

Trading Span isn't a bad move it's just not a good move for Storen. The Twins have lots of outfield depth in the minors. Next year or in 2013 Joe Benson could be playing the position and he is a top prospect. His numbers aren't as good as say Cuddyer in AA for hitting (still good) but he is 3x the fielder. Aaron Hicks is playing well to. He could be around in 2014 and is better than Benson. Ben Revere might be a 4th outfielder overall but he can play CF better than Span and if he had to play the position in 2012 so be it. If he sucks it's short term. The Twins have other holes they could fill by trading Span. They can fill Span's place internally. I haven't even mentioned Arcia who is now considered a top prospect and Miguel Sano who may need to move to the OF. It seems based on the chatter that Washington really wants Span so if they really do you should be able to get a better return than just Storen.
A good infield prospect and a long term closer would be ideal. If they don't bite then keep Span, but if you can get a good return then you trade him. If you want to make the trade bigger that's great to. Take a shot at Espinoza and Storen. Offer Gibson along with Span and another prospect. Espinoza is really filling a long term need and the Nats have another 2B waiting to come up from AAA ball.

Anonymous said...

Twins messed up with Hardy. They lost 2-3 wins this year by trading him and got nothing in return. At the very least keeping Hardy would have caused Nelson to shutup about Trevor Plouffe... The next post wiil probably be about Matt Tolbert playing 2B or SS while poor Plouffe rots on the bench. On a side note - The Orioles got lucky as giving Hardy a long term deal was dumb so they didn't know what they were doing when they traded for the guy. They aren't going to be contenders next year so trade him for some value instead of giving him a 3 year deal which he didn't deserve based on 3 solid months of play. His trade value probably will never be higher than it is now. I doubt he continues this level of play for the next 3 years and then they will end up trading him for guys like Hoey and Jacobson while finishing at the bottom of the standings once again.

Nick N. said...

I've finally figured out how to become a Minnesota Twins blogger in the pround tradition of Nelson and Gleeman. Just link back posts you made where you were right about something.

Wah. WAHHHHH. :(

Takes some kind of dick to root for his team to suffer so he can write smugly on his blog about how right he was.

If I was rooting for the team to suffer then I'd have been perfectly peachy with the Hardy move from the start.

Anonymous said...

If you were perfectly peachy with the Hardy move, you'd be rooting for Hardy to fail.

Anonymous said...

If you were perfectly peachy with the Hardy move, you'd be rooting for Hardy to fail.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind an occasional Hardy reference, Nick...just don't turn into PMac anytime soon. I swear his Twitter's turned into the JJ Hardy watch. That's the schtik that gets old.

As far as trade discussions, I think the Span move would be a mistake if the Twins don't get blown away w/ a package. Getting Storen would let them free up payroll by letting Capps/Nathan walk (especially w/ Perkins resurgence in the pen). But unless they get some prime position talent as well I think they're plugging one hole while ripping open another. If they're adamant about dealing a CF, I'd rather they accept a lesser package and move Revere.

You bring up an interesting point about Span's injury. I wonder if that's the major sticking point. Perhaps the Nats don't think it's as bad as the Twins do. Maybe the Twins know something or have extended concerns based on their familiarity w/ Span's health. I'm sure any trade for a player on the DL involves full disclosure on the part of the giving team, but at the same time...there's that leaving me wondering.

What's the FA market look like for OFs? Let's say the Twins deal Span and let Capps/Nathan both go. Is there a CF agent that they may have in mind for 2012?

Going back to Slowey, I think the bridges are burned on both ends. The Twins wanted him out of the pen, he didn't want to. There's no point in trying to force a guy into a role he doens't want, that leads to attitude problems which tend to show up in the performance. I look at Perkins as an example of what can happen if the team and player are on the same page, and Lohse/Romero as to what can happen when they aren't. If Slowey won't accept a bullpen role, then get him out of here and find somebody who will. Even if the trade ends up being Slowey for somebody who's essentially Slowey.

That said, this Span deal confuses me. The Nats came to the why wouldn't they expect to be asked for a sizeable package when they're trying to pry a guy away who the team has shown no signs of wanting to give up?

Anonymous said...

With everything that has happened over the last couple years... Is Bill Smith on the chopping block?

LJ said...

I visited Fenway Park last season to see a game amongst some of the most devoted, knowledgeable fans in the game (all due respect to the Twins loyalists). After speaking with several members of the crowd, and having various conversations with the locals, I was surprised by their level of content with the way the season was going (this was mid-August FYI). It appeared to me that they just accepted the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen for them that year, and were just enjoying their time at the ballpark to see a game, with the thoughts of 2011’s potential feeding their enjoyment.

At a certain point, can we all agree that this just isn’t the Twins year? Over the season we have seen a relentless carousel of over-extended DL stints, a considerable decrease in performance from nearly the entire roster relative to the 2010 season (Perkins, Baker, Span and Cuddyer being the exceptions) and a considerable level of just plain misfortune.

Perhaps this is the perfect season to just make a couple uncharacteristic moves and shake the organization up a bit. To be brief, can we all just admit (even the overly optimistic Twins who never say die), that the Twins have no shot at contending with the pieces in place? Why not deal Cuddy and Kubel before the deadline and reload our thin farm system? Both players have an expiring contract this year, and what’s to stop them from just coming back next season anyways? I will go as far as saying maybe even switching up a few of their coaches to potentially put a fresh set of eyes on some players. Or how about dealing some of our rotation fixtures who have proven to be nothing more than average at best, and taking a chance on some unproven players with some possibly more electric stuff. The market appears to be very sell-friendly at this point, and the Twins possess some prime commodities that contending teams appear to be ready to pay handsomely for.

If they end up missing their mark, at least it was worth a shot, wasn’t it…..?

Maija said...

You're right, the Twins should not trade Span and I honestly don't think they have any plans to. It seems more like a small rumor, that was then repeated over and over by shocked and displeased fans, to the point where everyone is repeating it and it seems like a big deal.

Nick N. said...

If you were perfectly peachy with the Hardy move, you'd be rooting for Hardy to fail.

This made no sense, but thanks for double-posting it to add emphasis.

Nick...just don't turn into PMac anytime soon. I swear his Twitter's turned into the JJ Hardy watch. That's the schtik that gets old.

Sort of ironic since P-Mac's reaction was the first I heard (I was listening to the radio in my car when I learned about it) and he was actually defending the package that the Twins received.

It seems more like a small rumor, that was then repeated over and over by shocked and displeased fans, to the point where everyone is repeating it and it seems like a big deal.

It'd be easier to ignore if Ken Rosenthal -- a well respected reporter -- didn't continue to report that discussions are taking place.

USAFChief said...

Nick: Although I disagree with you at times, I very much appreciate the time and effort you put into giving me, and many others, a place to read good, solid Twins content, discuss or even argue, and further our enjoyment of our favorite team.

For. Free.

Some of the comments here are embarrassing. Just ignore the idiots. There's an old saying: never mud wrestle with a pig. The pig enjoys it and you both end up dirty.

Back on've been saying all summer Revere is a lock to man an OF spot full time going forward. Change your mind? I've never been on board with Revere, and I don't see how they can entertain trading Span unless they think Benson will be ready by 2012.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, he'd have a lot more fun mud wrestling with JJ Hardy

Nick N. said...

Some of the comments here are embarrassing. Just ignore the idiots.

Thanks Chief. You've been a very valuable contributor here and one of the folks who makes the comments section worthwhile.

Don't worry, I don't take the backlash too seriously. You know what they say: If you got haters, you must be doing something right!

Yeah, he'd have a lot more fun mud wrestling with JJ Hardy

But then he'd get injured right?? Derp. :)

matthew0211 said...

If they thought Benson was close to being ready for 2012, wouldn't they have him playing at AAA by now?

Nick N. said...

Back on've been saying all summer Revere is a lock to man an OF spot full time going forward. Change your mind?

I feel he's a lock to man a full-time spot on this team at some point (not necessarily as soon as next year), only because of Gardy's affinity for his profile. I don't necessarily think he's a lock to be a great starter or a top-of-lineup presence, which is why trading Span right now would be a major risk.

Anonymous said...

Why arent the twins shopping Kubel, yes, he WAS the team leader before he got injured, but he is so up and down and seems to consistently have nagging injuries. Kubel could be thrown in with slowey in a possible Ubaldo jiminez trade... I think that Could be a steal.. but pitchers can always backfire.. anyway.. trade kubel and maybe slowey and get a number one starter

Mike said...

But would packaging Slowey and Kubel together even be enough to bring in a top of the line starter? It seems that Twins fans are always calling for the team to go out and acquire a #1 starting pitcher as though it's a lot easier than it really is.

Take last year when everyone was so upset about the Capps trade. People were made and flooding comments sections on ESPN about how they should have traded Ramos for Cliff Lee. The problem was that that wasn't good enough for Seattle and they ultimately got a better offer (at least in their minds) and sent Lee to Texas.

To get a #1, a team would have to either develop one or trade a ton of valuable pieces away to get one. Or do like the Yankees/Phillies, etc and just throw enough $$ their way as FAs. Then once you get a #1 starter, you'll have to pay them like one or watch them leave. I'm not blaming the Mauer contract at all, but I don't think the Twins have the financial ability to take on a #1 pitcher's salary. So how could they keep one once they mortgaged the farm to get one?

Anonymous said...

LJ - The Sox fans are content in a down year now because it's extremely rare. They have become the Yankees North as their ownership now goes on a major buying spree every off-season. I'm tired of Red Sox hypocrisy toward NY in this regard. They're basically just as bad/good depending on your perspective.
Plus they get to watch games at Fenway (and pay $250 per ticket).

Regarding Twins fans - I've never found them very knowledgeable, but probably better now than in the past. Last game at TF I had a young couple sitting behind me who knew nothing about baseball and the idiot guy just kept talking about how great football was and how boring baseball was. Starting to see a lot of people at the ballpark because it's the cool place to be - ala Wrigley. Of course he was a dopey Packer fan so that I had to take that into account too.

Kelly V said...

Span... has shown enough ability to think he has a high ceiling. Keeper

Revere... surprisingly good this year, but weak arm and spotty slap hitter. Tweener

Cuddy. No way you trade a guy that gives a coach a half dozen options and is willing to sacrifice for the team every day. Keeper

Kubes... just a good guy. Carried team early. Keeper unless you get an incredibly high offer.

Delmon... another high ceiling guy who has holes in his game but when he gets hot... Its the Delmon Young Show.Keeper for now

Nishi, experiment gone bad.

Valencia, a futre perrenial all star. Way keeper

Morneau, former MVP that maybe could get a new start somewhere, but his upside is high and he is still young. Keeper for now.

All things considered, Nick I was wrong to bust you for the Hardy posts. I apologize. Hardy's 18 HRs would have put the Twins in conetention by now.

As for Kevin Slowrider, he is probably needing to go somewhere he fits better.

The fat guy relievers gotta go. and Nathan is back. Make Perk and Nathan a combined set up/closer depending on who is due up.

Others: Plouffe replaces Casilla right now. Nishi later

Tolbert, Repko, like there are not hundreds of guys with their game in the minors? But you need bench guys that can pinch run and play D in the 9th.

I just think Revere makes Repko expendanble when Span returns, and Ploufe makes Tolbert expendanble.

stay thirsty my friends, for Grain Belt beer

Anonymous said...

to mike: I think you are assuming a no.1 starter has to be a huge name.. not true. I'm sure the mets would be fine dumping some of their pitching right now..the major thing is to find someone to fill as no.1 for the rest of this season and next year. the twins have a lot of SP with a very high ceiling, but need to be consistent and show they can be, so a dominant no 1 for a year and a half to actually be an ace and show the younger guys how to pitch and develop into an ace. Baker, blackburn, and Deunsing are solid, but up and down. Liriano nobody knows what to make of him, but if he gets his stuff together he can be a solid no.1 If the twins got a true no.1 for a year and a half, it would be possible that one of these four step it up and become an ace. look at Cliff Lee and Sabathia, both waited in Cleveland until they clicked.. it is very possible that the Twins have a gem like them in their rotation, but need a little more developement.

USAFChief said...

Doing nothing is probably the thing I'm most comfortable with Bill Smith accomplishing.

Mike said...

@anon- They don't have to be a "big name" to be a #1 pitcher, but how many #1 pitchers are there that aren't "big names" that would command big value? I'm not sure they exist.

And if NY has some #1's on their roster, it begs the questions of why they aren't a better team. And I don't know why you would think that a team like NYM would have these supposed #1 pitchers, don't want to keep them, but are willing to trade them away for very little.

Like I said, to get them, you'd have to trade away a ton of MLB talent or top prospects and to keep them, you'd have to shell out money, money the Twins probably don't have to spend right now. If they were cheap, it just means you have to destroy your farm system even more to get them, but teams don't usually trade away Aces who are still cheap anyway.

If it was easy, they would have obtained an Ace by now. As it is, the price is really high. This is one of the few times I trust Smith to not make a move for an Ace because it would be too costly.

Mike said...

@anon- your Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia examples aren't very good. Lee won a Cy Young while with Cleveland. So did Sabathia. They were both considered dominant at least by the ends of their stints with Cleveland.