The Twins’ post-All-Star schedule should provide answers to these five pressing questions:
1. What’ll you give me? The Twins have some assets who might be worth moving before the July 31 trade deadline, especially righthander Kevin Correia, who has a 2.30 ERA in his past seven starts, and Sam Deduno, who has a 1.72 ERA as a reliever. Josh Willingham (.772 on-base plus slugging percentage) and Kendrys Morales (.582 OPS) are near career-low production, but contenders still might be enticed by their home-run potential. And lots of teams seek bullpen help for the playoffs; the Twins could make Jared Burton, Matt Guerrier or Brian Duensing available.
2. Who’s in the outfield long-term? It’s hard to call this season progress for Oswaldo Arcia, who leapt to the big leagues from Class AA a year ago. A wrist injury cost him a month, and his slugging has declined to .371, with only five homers. Good news: He’s only 23. The Twins will be patient. But Aaron Hicks, now in New Britain, and Chris Parmelee, resurrected once more, have cloudy futures.
3. Buyer beware? Ricky Nolasco is the richest free agent the Twins have ever signed, but he hasn’t yet been the good investment of $49 million the Twins expected. Turns out, though, the righthander was pitching through some elbow pain. When he returns, pressure will be on him to lower that 5.90 ERA to closer to his 3.70 mark of a year ago.
4. Say it ain’t so, Joe: An oblique strain interrupted the first signs of a turnaround for Joe Mauer, who has suffered injuries before, but never a season-long slump like this one: a career-low .271 batting average, with only two homers and 28 RBI. Can he recover his health and hitting stroke?
5. Rotation roulette: Lefty Logan Darnell and righthanders Trevor May and Alex Meyer are pitching well at Class AAA. When will the Twins be ready to slot them into their rotation?
LA VELLE E. NEAL III