Soon enough, quarterback Brett Favre will give John David Booty some Wrangler jeans, and be wearing No. 4 in Mankato at Vikings' training camp. When this happens, casual sports fans will lose interest in my preferred team, the Twins. On the surface, this shouldn't be a big deal, but my hope is - attendance and viewership increases, not decreases as the season continues, enough so to strongly convince owner Jim Pohlad to add payroll via a trade.
The Twins' payroll currently is at $65 million. In 2007, it was $71 million. In other words, with $20 million plus coming their way from revenue sharing, a sweetheart local radio deal, and increased ticket sales, among other money generating avenues, they should have some payroll flexibility whether attendance goes up or not, but the more the merrier.
Whether general manager Bill Smith utililizes his power, and gets permission from Pohlad to complete a meaningful transaction, is a separate debate. But the anticipation, and in some ways, expectation, is he will make a significant deal before the July 31 non-waiver deadline. That might be based more on a gut feeling than anything else, but I think Smith is feeling some pressure.
The American League Central is the weakest division in all of baseball. 86 wins, at most, will allow you entry into the playoffs and once there, is there any team that truly worries you? Ok, maybe the Yankees, especially if they have homefield advantage, but in that division they're far from a lock for the postseason.
With an addition, or two, the Twins can be playoff bound, but minus, at minimum, one major change, Detroit will finish with more victories.
It's obvious after a losing record in May with Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer posting absurd numbers, that something has to be done. Someone needs to be added that can add some life offensively to the middle infield.
If Kenny Williams and the White Sox can pop up in every rumor at mlbtraderumors.com, why can't the Twins show up occassionally? Why can't Smith be proactive like Williams?
The conversation can be had that pitching, not an offensive-minded second baseman or shortstop is needed, but the belief here is - Scott Baker is done tipping his pitches and Francisco Liriano will figure out his release point and start to throw more changeups - and both will right themselves. And a trust factor is starting to develop with relievers Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares, while Joe Nathan remains a top-seven closer. I do worry a bit though that Guerrier come late August and September could wear down from too many innings thrown.
But for the sake of making this entry a bit shorter than what Malcolm Gladwell produces regularly, let's focus on the middle infield.
The guy I would make multiple phone calls about is......Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada. I would settle for Freddy Sanchez of the Pirates.
Tejada, for all we know, is 45 years old, not 35, but he can still put up big-time numbers. Houston has no chance in the National League Central, but the issue is - you have to make an offer that is better than the two compensatory draft picks they can get if Tejada signs elsewhere next winter. Almost assuredly, he will gain Type-A free agent status.
He's due roughly $9.5 million dollars the rest of the season. But the Twins should have room to add payroll, and if you make a good enough offer, maybe Houston would pick up a portion of that.
They reportedly are after pitching. The Twins, throughout the organization, have arms to offer. Who would top those two high draft picks?
Smith would have to start with a major-league-ready starter. That could be Glen Perkins. To get them to pick up a tiny portion of Tejada's contract, he could throw in Double-A pitcher Jay Rainville, or someone of comparable value, but not Jeff Manship, Shooter Hunt, or Carlos Gutierrez.
Tejada would thrive here in the two hole and add some spark in the clubhouse. Everything I've heard and read indicates that he's a solid teammate.
I get that some readers probably stopped when I wrote...But the anticipation, and in some ways, expectation, is he will make a significant deal before the July 31 non-waiver deadline. Maybe my idea of any trade happening is foolish, but spending a few minutes typing out my thoughts beat the alternative on a Monday night - watching The Bachelorette with the boss of the house.