Notepad Scribbles, 8/3/11

Hello all. I apologize for the lack of posts over the past week and a half, as I was on vacation in Maui. I learned how to surf, rode on some harrowing one lane roads, and am sporting some amazing sunburns on my shoulders, but I’m definitely happy to be back in Minnesota again. Next time, I promise to leave a warning before I disappear off the face of the earth.

Plenty of Rumors, Not So Many Trades For Twins

After starting the season 17-37, the Twins have ridden a 34-22 streak to claw out of MLB’s cellar and somewhat back into the AL Central race. However, they’re still only 51-59, and this meant that the Twins were caught in limbo between buying and selling at the deadline. While common sense would suggest they should sell, GM Bill Smith announced that the Twins were contenders based on that hot streak.

Instead, the Twins did nothing at the non-waiver trade deadline, which is both good and bad.

Selling

Here, the pros are that if the Twins are indeed to climb back into the division race, they will still have their heavy hitters. Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Jim Thome were all rumored to be traded at various points during this season, and the Twins did actually discuss trading Denard Span with the Nationals. Trading any of those hitters likely would have made the Twins worse this season, but that’s the point of selling, to sacrifice the present to improve the future.

On the flip side, the cons of not trading away some pieces are that exact same reason. Cuddyer and Kubel could have brought back some useful young players – not necessarily top prospects, but like I said, useful players. Span could have done the same, and the Twins did ask for Nationals closer Drew Storen (a much better closer than Matt Capps) and minor league infielder Stephen Lombardozzi. Kevin Slowey has also seemed all but gone ever since he was put on the 15-day disabled list for an “abdominal injury,” so the Twins must not have been impressed with the offers they were receiving for him.

Buying

Similar to the pro/con of selling, the pro of failing to buy any players to improve the roster meant that the Twins were able to keep their young talent in the minor leagues. Aaron Hicks, Miguel Sano, and Kyle Gibson were likely considered untouchable, but this also means that Liam Hendriks, Joe Benson, and another dozen or so prospects you could think of remain in the Twins system. It’s frustrated Twins fans in the past and will continue to frustrate us/them now, but I really believe now was not the time to be buying.

The cons though are that if the Twins are indeed better than we believe and they pick up more ground in the AL Central, that they may not have enough firepower to win the Central or make it past the 1st round in the playoffs. The Twins do have plenty of holes on the pitching side and on the bench, but improving the bench and bullpen wouldn’t help the team significantly.

Just like in the offseason, the Twins witnessed the teams around them make deals while they remained stationary. I’ve linked to this post of mine several times already, and I’ll do it again. I didn’t think this would be the Twins’ year, and it’s been looking like that almost the entire season. Hopefully they’ll be able to trade away some players before the August 31st deadline if they’re clearly still not in contention, because it would be one waste of a season if they don’t make the playoffs and fail to improve the teams in 2012 and beyond.

One final thought: On Twitter, I once mentioned a fellow usher at Target Field that had suggested the Twins trade for Clayton Kershaw AND Matt Kemp. Beyond the fact that a trade of that magnitude would strip your entire minor league system down to nothing (I did tweet, “Does this guy not know how baseball works?”), the Twins have not acquired a perennial All-Star in a long time. I’ve also had several people tell me that the problem with the Twins is that they refuse to pay for an ace,* and that’s why they can’t beat teams like the Yankees.

* I was told by one fan that the problem with the Twins is that they didn’t try to sign Cliff Lee last offseason. Sir, every team in the majors would LOVE to have Cliff Lee, but the Twins weren’t the only team that refused to pay for his services.

The reason why I’m doing this mini-rant is because I’m afraid these talks will start up again now that the Indians acquired Ubaldo Jimenez. As much as the Twins could use a real ace (while Scott Baker emerging this season is nice, the Twins haven’t had a perennial ace since Johan Santana), there’s just no way they’ll pull off a similar trade to what the Indians did. So if you’re one of these people, please be reasonable. If you want the Twins to acquire an ace or big bat in your lifetime, you’re rooting for the wrong team.

Injury Woes

As if the injury bug hasn’t been enough of a problem for the major league club, it was just announced today that minor league pitchers Kyle Gibson and Anthony Slama will be coming to Minnesota to have their right (throwing) elbows checked out. Immediately, we have to fear the worst that both pitchers will need Tommy John surgery.

Slama’s been having problems with his arm all season, while Gibson has been struggling all year (4.81 ERA), despite having a career best 8.59 K/9. The Twins have seemingly never trusted Slama’s stuff despite the fact that he’s dominated minor league hitters at every level throughout his career, so losing him might not make much of a difference (as much as it pains me to admit that, as I’d love to see him get a legit shot with the Twins), but losing Gibson could be a bigger problem. His high ERA has probably kept him from making his major league debut this season, but he still had a good chance of seeing some time in Minnesota next season.

Hopefully there’s nothing wrong with either pitcher, but I have to think that it’s most likely that both will require surgery on their elbows.

Finally…

… I encourage you to check out the blog TC Huddle. If you’re looking for opinions on sports, but crave more than just Twins baseball, this is a great place for you to visit. However, I am a Twins blogger, so I’ll link to one Twins post in particular, and that is that due to steroids, Jim Thome’s road to 600 home runs is not being celebrated as much as it might have been in the past.

My personal, one sentence, non-steroids take? The reason is that #600 is as likely to happen as a season-ending back injury for Thome.

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