The Pittsburgh Pirates are engaged in a salary dump that has surpassed the efforts of Twins owner Calvin Griffith in 1982 and Twins General Manager Terry Ryan in 1995.
There have been a couple of reasons for this: A) The purge started on June 4 with the Pirates at 24-28 and probably headed for a 17th consecutive losing season; and B) the pockets of principal owner Robert Nutting might not be deep these days, since he's in the newspaper business.
The Pirates continued to slash the payroll Wednesday. First, they sent shortstop Jack Wilson and pitcher Ian Snell to Seattle for four minor leaguers. Then, they left second baseman Freddy Sanchez behind in San Francisco, exchanging him for Class AA pitcher Tim Alderson.
The largest share of Minnesota's sporting public has spent its time getting worked up over the Brett Favre/Vikings melodrama. Still, there were enough sports folks remaining to direct venom at Bill Smith, the Twins general manager, for not making a move to improve his team's chances in the AL Central.
The critics' volume has increased this month due to comments found in the Star Tribune.
First, there was Justin Morneau's quote in a long Joe Mauer profile that he couldn't see his pal Joe staying here if the Twins failed to add high-buck talent.
Then, on Monday, Morneau, Mauer and Joe Nathan piled on Smith for following the Twins' recent history of doing nothing to help the cause.
Again, there was a suggestion this cautious behavior could lead to Mauer's departure, and now this has become a sacred truth with the mouth-frothing element of the Twins fan base:
Mauer is gone as a free agent after the 2010 season if Smith doesn't make a significant deal before this trade deadline expires Friday at 3 p.m.
The frothers badly wanted Sanchez, a mediocre second baseman but a productive hitter -- as evidenced by the National League batting title in 2006.
So, we ask ... no, we cry, we bellow, "How could the Twins not top San Francisco's offer of a Class AA pitcher for Sanchez?''
This is how: The pitcher was Tim Alderson, the Giants' No. 1 draft choice in 2007. He's a big kid, 20, and already winning in Class AA, and was in the second 25 of Baseball America's midseason ratings for minor league prospects.
The Twins don't have a minor league pitcher anywhere close to Alderson. The only comparable pitcher to offer was Anthony Swarzak, and he's now a necessity in the Twins' rotation.
There was a rumor the Pirates would have taken Danny Valencia, 24, the third baseman at Rochester. He's in line to be the Twins' third baseman in 2010, once Joe Crede has taken his MRI gold elite card to another locale.
"Sanchez can also play third,'' a fellow with a strong rooting interest in the Twins said. "Would you rather have Freddy to play second now and maybe third next season, or a minor league guy who might play third next season?''
The answer that counted -- Smith's -- was "Valencia.''
For sure, it would have taken a hardball soothsayer this spring to see second base as the area to traumatize Twins fans at the trading deadline.
Alexi Casilla took over at second on May 19 last season and became an important piece in an 88-victory season. He missed 25 games because of a thumb injury, then returned ahead of schedule for the September push.
He was solid in the field, batted second, scored 50 runs and drove in 58 in 395 at-bats.
"There were things you were worried about in the spring,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said on Wednesday. "[Second base] wasn't one of those. Young players, though ... they can struggle.''
Casilla was demoted to Class AAA in June. He came back during the All-Star break and still carried a .161 average into Wednesday's series finale with the White Sox.
"You just have to cut the season off and say, 'We start now,' and go from there,'' Gardenhire said before the game.
Then an odd thing happened: Casilla doubled home the game's first run, then had a soft, two-out single to drive in the winner in a 3-2 victory.
That put Casilla at .667 with two RBI, a stolen base and two double plays turned since Freddy Sanchez landed elsewhere and Gardenhire offered Alexi a new start.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 5:30-9 a.m. weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP. firstname.lastname@example.org