TwinsCentric was formed by Twins super-bloggers Seth Stohs, Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman and John Bonnes. Together they publish at TwinsDaily.com and have authored books, e-books and magazines that provide independent and in-depth coverage of the Minnesota Twins from a fan's perspective. You can contact them at TwinsCentric@gmail.com.
Buyer or Seller?
A year ago, many fans believed that the Oakland A’s and the Baltimore Orioles snuck into the playoffs. Most thought that there would be a return to reality in 2013. Apparently the reality is that both teams are pretty good. The A’s are currently 62-43 and have a five game lead in the AL West. The A’s have been linked to the likes of Jake Peavy in recent days, although that seems unlikely at this point, but the A’s are certainly buyers, with several needs.
What They Need
Of all the things that the A’s need, it would not appear that pitching is one of them. As of today, the A’s lead the American League in ERA (3.60) and WHIP (1.19). They are second to the Detroit Tigers in Quality Starts with 64. They trail only the Tampa Bay Rays in Batting Average Against (.241). It’s interesting that Oakland is atop of the league in most pitching categories, yet them rank just 12th in the league with just 6.86 strikeouts per nine innings.
Yet, the A’s were believed to be a leading candidate for Jake Peavy. Is it possible they are just planning for time without All Star Bartolo Colon? The A’s bullpen is led by former Twin Grant Balfour. Pat Neshek has been good for them as well. They may want some bullpen depth.
As strong as the A’s pitching is, the hitters have been no better than league average. As a team, they are hitting .243 (11th)/.321 (6th)/.395 (10th), with a .694 OPS (11th). The outfield is strong with Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Chris Young. The left side of the infield is good, with Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie. However, the A’s could use and 2B (Eric Sogard) and catcher (Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt).
What Might Work
With Jared Burton, Casey Fien, Brian Duensing and other bullpen arms likely available, there could be a match with the A’s. There could be a match with a bullpen arm.
It may make some sense for the A’s to consider a veteran influence such as Jamey Carroll in their infield. He could be an upgrade to current utility man Adam Rosales.
The A’s system appearas to be pretty middle-of-the-pack. Young shortstop Addison Russell is at the top of the list, but he likely is not available, even in a Glen Perkins deal. So, here are some guys that the Twins could potentially realistically target.
2B Chris Bostick (Low-A)
The A’s took infielder Chris Bostick with their 44th round pick in 2011 out of his high school in Rochester, New York. To say he has been a pleasant surprise is probably an understatement. This year at Beloit, the 20 year old is hitting .293/.368/.488 (.855) with 19 doubles, seven triples, 13 home runs and 76 RBI. He is also 21 of 28 in stolen base attempts. The Twins actually have a nice group of middle infield prospects at this time, but based on history, it never hurts to add more.
SP Seth Streich (Low-A)
Streich is a Twins-type of pitcher. He was drafted just last year out of Ohio University. This year, he is 10-5 with a 3.78 ERA for the Snappers. In 104.2 innings, he has given up 107 hits, but he’s walked just 39. He’s also only struck out 81. Not a real high ceiling here, but enough command of three pitches to have a chance to move up. He also is aware of the Twins farm system as his brother Tobias was in the minor leagues from 2009 through spring training of 2012.
C Bruce Maxwell (High-A)
At 6-2 and 235 pounds, Maxwell is a sturdy catcher. He was the A’s 2nd round pick in 2012 out of Birmingham-Southern where he was a teammate of former Twins minor leaguers Drew Leachman. He began this season with the Beloit Snappers where he hit .286/.360/.387 (.747) with 14 doubles, two homers and 28 RBI. He was promoted to High-A Stockton recently and he’s hit .236/.310/.348 (.658) with four doubles, two homers and six RBI. He is known to be a very good defensive catcher with a strong arm.
P Raul Alcantara (High-A)
Alcantara came to the A’s from the Red Sox organization in the Andrew Bailey deal. He began this season with Beloit and went 7-1 with a 2.44 ERA. In 77.1 innings, he walked just seven and struck out 58. He moved up to Stockton where he has gone 3-2 with a 3.28 ERA. In 35.2 innings, he has walked eight and struck out 27. His fastball sits anywhere from 90-95 mph, so there is some upside.
SP Sonny Gray (Triple-A / Majors)
Now, in a Glen Perkins deal, we know that Addison Russell is not likely available, and it may even be a bit optimistic to think that Sonny Gray would be either. He was the A’s first round pick in 2011 out of Vanderbilt. He raced through the A’s system. This year, in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, he is 9-7 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. He has given up just five home runs in 112 innings (or one every 22 innings). He has made two appearances with the A’s, and has given up just two hits and a walk (while striking out six) in four innings.
Head on over to Twins Daily where we have reviewed the possibility of Twins trades with almost all of the organizations. Check out what happened yesterday in the Twins minor league system. Former Gopher and current New Britain Rock Cat infielder AJ Pettersen wrote about the superstitions of the Rock Cats bullpen.
Buyers or Sellers
Everyone was excited about the Pirates last year when they led the NL Central as late as the middle of the July. That was a great story, but this feels completely different. This year the Pirates are 20 games over .500 and were the first team in MLB to win 50 games. Of course, last year they were sixteen games over .500 on August 1st – and STILL managed to finish below .500 for the 173rd consecutive year.
So they’re buyers, but they don’t have a ton of needs. That might work out well, since they’re reportedly hesitant to give up too much of their farm system. Limited expectations work out well when considering a trade with the Twins.
What They Need
Offensively, like last year, the Pirates have been in the lower half of runs scored in the National League. Things have been particularly ugly in right field with a batting average of .227 and an OPS of 656. By ways of comparison, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier has a 684 OPS. So it would be nice if the Twins had a corner outfielder to offer, especially if he was a right-handed slugger to team up with left-handed hitting Pedro Alvarez.
Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop taking prozac.
There is also some thought that they could use starting pitching, because they aren’t sure if AJ Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez will be returning soon.
What Might Work
It’s going to have to be a small deal, probably involving a starting pitcher. But don’t expect it to be Kevin Correia – he was a Pirate last year and was demoted to the bullpen by them. I guess that leaves Mike Pelfrey, though I suppose they might be interested in a cheaper younger option like Scott Diamond or Sam Deduno. After all, this is the team that turned around Francisco Liriano, who has a 2.23 ERA with the through 10 games.
Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.
As for the outfielder, the other name that might have made sense is Ryan Doumit – except that he was also a Pirate and I doubt there’s more appetite there for him. The best fit I can come up with is sending them Trevor Plouffe and move him to right field.
On TwinsDaily.com, we're also listing a few sleeper targets the Twins might target from the Phillies organization and one "Dream Target." You can find them here.
Buyers or Sellers
Last year, the Nationals won 98 games, the most of any team in baseball. And though they didn’t make it past the first round of the playoffs, it was supposed to mark the beginning of an era, fronted by top shelf, super young and (maybe most importantly) affordable talent like 24-year-old Stephen Strasburg and 20-year-old Bryce Harper.
Viewed through that lens, 2013 has been a disaster. But without those expectations, there is still plenty of hope. The Nationals are slightly over .500, 6.5 games back of the division leader and 4.5 games back in the race for the wild card. Strasburg and Harper are back after some injury scares. And it’s not like the Braves, who Washington is chasing in the NL East, have a recent history of rising to the occasion.
What They Need
If you listen to their GM, Mike Rizzo, they don’t need anything. “We’d like to get a big, left-handed bat. His name is Harper,” says Rizzo. “He’s on the horizon. We’d like to get a right-handed hitting catcher named [Wilson] Ramos. He’s on the horizon.”
But that isn’t entirely genuine. Nationals scouts have been tied to starting pitchers, such as the Cubs’ Matt Garza. The team sports three of the top starting pitchers in the National League – Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez – but the last two spots, particularly the one filled by Dan Haren, have struggled.
The Nationals have also lacked consistent right-handed power. Rizzo hopes that Ramos might be able to provide some of that when he returns from an injured hamstring later this week. Ideally, that power could also come from the well-compensated Jayson Werth, but he only has 201 plate appearances due to various injuries.
What Might Work
In case the name “Ramos” doesn't ring a bell, the Nationals and Twins have danced at the deadline recently more than once: besides the Ramos-Matt Capps trade, two years ago there were rumors about the Twins trading Denard Span to the Nationals. The Twins would probably love to pluck some talent from the Nationals well-regarded farm system, but its not clear they have the pieces the Nationals need.
If Washington is looking for an innings-eater to plug the hole at the back of their rotation, someone like Kevin Correia might be of interest, but they’re not going to pay much for him. And while the Nationals’ interest in a right-handed masher might have sounded promising last year, unless Josh Willingham can get healthy in a hurry, he’s no better (and in fact is quite a bit worse), than Werth.
There is one area the Twins might be able to fill, though the Nationals haven’t been rumored to be pursuing it. Despite having a strong bullpen highlighted by Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, they really don’t have any reliable left-handed relievers.
On TwinsDaily.com, we're also listing a few sleeper targets the Twins might target from the Braves organization and one "Dream Target." You can find them here.
Baseball's trade deadline has become an event unto its own. Twenty years ago, the deadline was there, but it certainly was not followed the way it is today. Heck, it wasn't followed to this degree five years ago. Is that a good thing? You decide.
Blogs have certainly added to the rumor mill. John Bonnes (Twins Geek) started blogging about eight years ago and was the first Twins blogger. I started my blog (SethSpeaks.net) just over seven years ago. MLB Trade Rumors blog came into existence a few years later and has taken over the role as the place to go for any and all rumors around baseball. They get their rumors from the sites of teams' beat writers, national scribes and credible bloggers.
And in the past two years, Twitter has taken over as the site most followed for rumors and trade information. The immediacy of Twitter, and how quickly information, factual or not, can spread is absolutely amazing.
Yet another example of that happened last night when a 'tweet' from a Detroit radio station indicated that a deal between the Twins and Mariners involving Cliff Lee was about done. The rumor spread like wild fire for the next hour. Meanwhile, beat writers and national scribes had to call all of their contacts to verify the legitimacy of the rumor.
In the end, it turned out to be more talk that fact. In fact, late last night, the Star Tribune's LaVelle E. Neal tweeted, "Nothing close on Lee. Twins source tells me. Still guessing that talks are fluid. "
Soon after, a report came out that the Twins had offered Aaron Hicks and Wilson Ramos to the Mariners for Lee. Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse said an "MLB source" provided that information.
So, how do we muddle through all of these rumors? That is all they are at this point. The reality is that until there is a trade (And I do believe that there very well could be), we will not know for sure. We can guess and argue over who it would take for the Twins to land Lee. We can discuss the value he would bring to the Twins. We can ask if anything shy of a World Series championship would be satisfactory if the Twins acquire Lee. And we can ask the age old question, "would you rather win a World Series once every dozen years and be non-competitive in between, or would you rather have a team that is competitive year in and year out?"
I think that the trade deadline brings out the best and the worst in some fans, in some who use social networking, some beat writers and some bloggers. One thing is for certain, it shows the passion that so many fans have for their team, and how much they want their favorite teams to succeed.
With the Twins having spent more this past offseason and the increased revenues that Target Field provides, the fans expect the team to be active at the trade deadline. The biggest need this team has is to find a top-of-the-rotation starter. Roy Oswalt's name has been mentioned. Dan Haren could be dealt. I'm sure other names will arise as well.
So in your own mind, you need to consider who the Twins should target. You also need to think about which minor leaguers (or maybe major leaguers) you would be willing to trade. The we need to realize that the other team will not accept most players that teams are willing to trade. In other words, it would be great if the Mariners were willing to take Nick Blackburn and his contract in a deal for Cliff Lee. But believe me, the Mariners have zero interest in Blackburn. Realize that you are going to have to part with at least two very good prospects. Who is untouchable in your mind? For me, the names of Kyle Gibson, Miguel Sano and Joe Benson may be the only untouchables. Who would be yours?
If you are looking for a good source for trade deadline information, look no further than TwinsCentric. The group has worked with some of the best bloggers and independent writers to provide information on each team's needs, tradeable players, impact rookies and more, and put it into electronic book form. Later this week, you will be able to order your copy of the 150+ page e-book with all of the information you need to know. It is quote thorough and would be a great resource for any baseball fan wanting to know what's going on in July, and probably through August too. We'll let you know more here later in the week how to get your copy.
TwinsCentric will be hosting another Viewing Party at Park Tavern in St. Louis Park on Wednesday night. 1500 ESPN will be on hand to host their pregame show. Former Twins catcher and current FSN contributor Tim Laudner will also be at Park Tavern between 5 and 6, talking to Twins fans. It should be a fun night with prizes and an opportunity to enjoy a Twins game with many Twins fans.
Before then, here are some other TwinsCentric items to peruse and consider:
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