A joke: What's the difference between a Dome Dog and a Fenway Frank? You can have a Fenway Frank in mid-October. That one-liner makes me think of Twins general manager Bill Smith. He needs to understand this: Even with the easiest remaining schedule of the teams that matter in the division (45 percent of their remaining games come against Oakland, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Cleveland), they will not make the playoffs with the status quo.
The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31. There are trades to be made. It's on Smith to get creative enough and pull the trigger. It would be anti-Twins to make a deal -- their last positive trade deadline move came in 2003 with the acquisition of Shannon Stewart -- but, Smith has to feel a sense of urgency.
For example, Justin Morneau in Jim Souhan's worthwhile feature on Joe Mauer in Sunday's paper: "We've been so close at the deadline so many times. If he feels like we're content being that team that is just good enough not to lose, but everybody is going to have to have a career year for us to scrape into the playoffs, I think that's going to affect his decision a lot." That decision relates to Mauer's contract expiring after the 2010 season and whether or not he'll sign an extension in the offseason.
That quote speaks volumes and makes these next two-and-a-half weeks the most important time in Smith's tenure next to the Johan Santana trade negotiations.
That's why, if you have a vested interest in the Twins, you need to order the e-book: TwinsCentric Trade Deadline Primer. Devoted Twins bloggers John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and Your Voices blogger Seth Stohs, who invest multiple hours a week in analysis of our favorite team for NO pay, provide 65 pages and 30,000 words on everything Twins related. They provoke debate - they can't convince me Boston's Julio Lugo is good defensively or that Baltimore's Aubrey Huff has no fit with the Twins - and elicit laughs. It's as thorough a breakdown as you will find on the web, with pages on each team, and how they relate to the Twins in association with the deadline. Think the San Francisco Giants are a bad match for Smith? Well, think again -- maybe.
It has unlimited information on the Twins' minor league system. They educate us on the team's strengths and weaknesses systemwide, so we in turn can figure out who is expendable and who isn't. It has pages dedicated to individual player dissection. Is Atlanta's Yunel Escobar a good fit? How about Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez? And what about relievers Chad Qualls of Arizona and Cla Meredith of San Diego? How much payroll flexibility does Smith have? We get lengthy, thoughtful answers to those questions...and much more.
The one knock: It fails to list page numbers. That can be overcome thanks to the endless amounts of tidbits. For $9.95, it's well worth the investment -- if you care about the Twins.