Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A third opinion

As I'm sure you've noticed, I've had a bit of a one track mind lately, trying to figure out what the Twins should do as we head into July. I had a personal identity crisis as I proposed that the Twins take it easy this summer, not doing anything major. Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune had a different opinion, thinking that the Twins needed to undo what they did this offseason, trying to rely more on home grown talent. Both Souhan and I certainly want the same thing for the team, victory in the near and long term, I thought it would be best to consult with someone who knows their stuff, but might not be as biased as Souhan or I. In that spirit, I asked Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors his thoughts on what the Twins should try to do before the trade deadline.
It turns out, he had a third opinion. Rather than standing pat or giving a more prominent role to the youth on the team, Tim suggests something a little bit different. His ideas are seen below:
The Twins are currently just 1.5 games back of the White Sox. They're four games over .500. The Twins have a middling offense, especially against southpaws. Their starting pitching has been lousy, the bullpen average. Defense has been poor. The good news: there are many avenues to improve the team.
Carlos Gomez, Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, Adam Everett, and Mike Lamb have all been drains on the offense. Tons of easy outs. The Twins could improve the team without giving up the farm - players like Casey Blake, Dallas McPherson, Kenny Lofton, Matt Murton, Juan Rivera, Randy Winn, and Brian Giles are available. I'd even consider Barry Bonds. If you're only 1.5 games out you have to go for it, but half the lineup needs a makeover. Even some league average bats could give a boost.
Livan Hernandez is done. I would look to bring in a veteran starter to fill his spot. Guys like Kevin Millwood or Randy Wolf would make sense if the Sabathias and Bedards cost too much. Freddy Garcia might be able to provide a September boost.
You can't acquire players for nothing, of course. Bill Smith should make the tough decision to give up one of his young pitchers. I think the Twins should go for it, but they'd have to commit to many upgrades rather than hope internal options pan out.

Looking at his logic, I like what he's thinking. It wouldn't be a huge drain to add any of the bats he suggests, even when it involves adding salary, as the squad cut so much leading into this season. Also, if we're in the market to trade prospects, I'm all for trading pitching prospects, since they are a bit more volatile.
In my perfect world, if the Twins acquire two players of Tim's list, I would go with Matt Murton, simply because he is still young and bound to improve, and Kevin Millwood, because, as Tim said, Livan is likely done. Wolf would be fine if the Twins needed a third or fourth starter, but I think the team needs someone to take the lead of the rotation late in the year. Of course, I'm not sure what the Cubs or Rangers are asking for those particular players.
Given the problems that Tim spelled out in the beginning of his comments, if Bill Smith agrees with Tim's course of action, Twins fans could be in for an active July.
Thanks again to Tim Dierkes for helping out!



Blogger thisisbeth said...

Y'know, with all the comments that the Twins need to trade for pitching, the staff hasn't been *that* bad. They were off to a bad start, granted, but we've got three starters presently with ERAs under 4. The bullpen ERA is under 4 (3.75), but that includes the stats from guys no longer in the bullpen. Of the guys in the bullpen, they have an ERA of 3.36 (note: not including Breslow's stats prior to joining the Twins). Without Boof, it's down to 3.03 (which is not to say that I'm advocating dropping Boof. Rather, I'm just noting that his bullpen performance thus far has been less than impressive). I'd be happier if we had better optoins in the minors to call up in case of emergency, but right now, I think our pitching staff is hanging on okay. Livan won't be great (or even good), and he'll continue to wear those pixie vests, but he's what we have right now. The reality is that he's just holding a spot for Liriano, who may or may not be ready to be called up this year.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would agree, the pitching is not that bad. You take out Livan and Boofs inflated ERA's the rest of the team is at 3.77 which is 4th in the league. 2 or 3 bad eras from starters can throw that off. People tend to look at overall numbers and not look individually

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Tim, and MLBTradeRumors, but he makes it sound as easy as a video game to make all those moves.

The starting pitching hasn't been nearly as bad as he's making it out to be--Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker and Glen Perkins have all been effective. And instead of dumping dead weight like Livan and then wasting valuable prospects (such as they may or may not be in the Minnesota system), bring up Francisco Liriano. He's come a long way since going back to Rochester, and he's a lot closer to being ready. If we're trying to balance winning now versus winning for the future, bringing in a guy like Millwood isn't the answer.

In the bullpen, the only real problem is that there are two guys competing for the mop-up role: Brian Bass and Boof Bonser. The Twins have relief pitchers in Rochester that can remedy this.

For position players, Tim lists Everett and Lamb as being drains on the offense: Everett's on the DL and Lamb has one at-bat since June 14th. While Brian Buscher has stepped into the void at third base (in the short term, anyway), it is Harris (as he mentioned) that's sucking up PA's at short. This is one clear area that the Twins could try and upgrade somehow, but there aren't a lot of SS alternatives out there that can hit. The best option here is to move Casilla to short, and go back to Baltimore in regards to Brian Roberts.

As for Young and Gomez being drains on the offense--A) Young has seen amazing improvements in his production at the plate, even withou the HR power, and B) not all offensive positions need to be productive. Young is fine, but maybe Gomez just shouldn't be hitting at the top of the batting order. Moving him to the 9-hole is a better option here than bringing in a Lofton.

Finally, the Barry Bonds idea is an intriguing one. There you could DFA Monroe and sacrifice some of Kubel's DH at-bats.

Tim is right in general--the Twins do need to make a move because they're in contention, I just believe he was a little off in his assessment of what could realistically be done. DFA/trade Lamb, Monroe, Hernandez. Trade pitching for Brian Roberts, move Casilla to short, try signing Barry:


Bass or Bonser



That's not too shabby!

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have to almost agree with Jesse opinions on what the Twins should to better their team. However, I would be strongly against bring in Bonds to DH. Last year Kubel had a very strong second half and his bat is starting to heat up again this year, so I would be fine with him at DH. I do like the Roberts deal and moving Gomez to the bottom of the lineup. I would try to dump Lamb, Monroe, Hernandez, and Everett. Then bring up Span, Liriano and possibly Macri (platoon with Buscher) if the starting pitching continues to improve and take the bullpen down to six. However, if we did not get Roberts I would stick with Harris at short, because he has been doing pretty good over there besides the range.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Doofus said...

Livan has done exactly what he was brought over here for which was to chew up some innings. The fact that he has an 8-4 record is amazing with his ERA. I don't necessarily feel that we need to get rid of him at this point. Although if we could get a better pitching option then him, I'm all for it.

The big position of need in my mind is SS. I think aquiring Roberts is the way to go there since there doesn't seem to be too many IF that can hit. I also think that maybe giving Span another chance is a better option and letting Gomez visit AAA for a while.

The problem with getting rid of Lamb is what happens if Buscher starts to tank? Lamb has a track record and should be able to get back to a better level of hitting.

The only other thing I can think of is to get another reliever. Say Chad Bradford comes to mind. so we could send some prospects to the orioles for Roberts and Bradford....Bonser, Guerra, Swarzak or Manship and a player to be named?

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Getting Roberts seems very un-Twin-like; I'm all for it! The rest of the players on Tim's list, aside from Bonds,are just average. Replacing average players with other average players doesn't make much sense.

Are Murton, Rivera, Winn or Giles really that much of an upgrade over Delmon Young? The McPherson reference is really puzzling. He rips Young and Gomez for being easy outs yet McPherson K's once every three AB's.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Folks, let's be Real, After the Twins traded Johan did anyone really expect them to be a half game out of first on June 25th ?? I say, let the kids play . . . It was supposed to be a re-building year and they are doing well for now. A Veteran Starter would help anchor the Staff but the rest of the names I hear are average at Best. Bonds would be an absolute Circus . . . I would let young and Gomez play and gain the much needed experienceI would let Young and Gomez play. When Liriano comes up, maybe we catch Lightning in a Bottle and go after a Starter that would make a difference . . .

2:45 AM  
Blogger thisisbeth said...

Liriano, I think, still benefits from being in Rochester. A number of good starts in a row made people very optimistic about him, but his last start was nothing to write home about. He's still re-learning to pitch after a year away from the mound. Give him the time he needs so he's clearly ready when he comes up. After his brief stint in the majors earlier this year, it was said he lost confidence. Bringing him up again before he is ready could do more damage than good (mentally, not physically).

Right now, I'm in the mode to stand pat. Previously discussed, our rotation is okay. Hernandez isn't that good, but he's been eating innings. Most teams have a pitcher like that hanging around. Our offense has it's ups and downs, but the young kids are learning. And the old guys are veteran examples. Monroe hasn't been well, but he was brought in to be a threat on the bench. He's hit more home runs per plate appearance than anyone else on the team, so he's doing his job.

Then again, I don't like losing players. I like gaining players, though, so it's all mixed-up.

8:39 AM  
Blogger twinsfan1313 said...

Go get Barry Bonds!!!

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's be honest with ourselves, given the Twins' midseason history, they're probably more likely to do something uninspired like acquire Brett Boone and hope for a miracle than get a big difference maker :(

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Twins would be smart to look into getting Jason Bay or Matt Holiday. Both seem to be on the trading block, and the Twins could put together a package of Cuddyer (as much as I like him), Bonser, Humber, Duensing and Pridie. Both are signed through 2009 I believe and removing Cuddyer's salary gives them the options to work on raises for the new RIGHT-HANDED POWER HITTER that they so desperately need...and would get in the instance.

2:59 PM  

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