Patrick Reusse: At trade deadline, it would be a gas to be the Yankees

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 1, 2010 - 12:08 AM

The Twins were again reminded that when it comes to quality of roster, there will never be a team in the big leagues that can match what the Yankees have.

Newly-acquired New York Yankees' Lance Berkman met with the media before playing against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.

Photo: Jim Anderson, Associated Press

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The Twins were halfway through batting practice late Saturday afternoon when manager Ron Gardenhire walked from the field to the dugout to conduct his pregame media session.

There was the daily request for an update on the condition of Justin Morneau. Gardenhire had no fresh information on the first baseman's condition before the game. After the Twins' 4-0 victory, he revealed that Morneau will take batting practice Sunday for the first time since he suffered a concussion on July 7.

Pregame, Gardenhire confirmed the Twins were unable to join in Saturday's final hours of action, leaving closer Matt Capps as the meaningful addition to the roster before the trade deadline.

There were a couple of questions concerning Capps' first outing on Friday night, and then a reporter said to Gardenhire:

"While you were occupied on the field with batting practice, the boys from the Bronx were only able to get Berkman, Wood and Kearns.''

This was a reference to the New York Yankees' acquisitions of Houston's Lance Berkman, a switch-hitter with a tremendous track record; Cleveland reliever Kerry Wood, still a hard thrower when healthy; and Washington's Austin Kearns, a righthanded-hitting option for the outfield.

There was a bit of exaggeration in this comment. The Yankees had made the deal for Kearns on Friday night. Only the trades for Berkman and Wood had been announced during the 90 minutes that Gardenhire was on the field for early and then pregame BP sessions.

The Twins manager shook his head at the comment, started to talk, stopped and shook his head some more. Finally, he said, "That means a lot of different hotels."

The best reporters could figure was that Gardy was suggesting the Yankees had to go through several hotel desks to talk with their new players.

The latest Yankees moves were to address shortcomings that might have been more perceptions than actualities.

The Bombers didn't have an established, everyday designated hitter, so they brought in Berkman, a five-time All-Star. The Bombers had occasional disappointments with bullet-thrower Joba Chamberlain in the setup role, so they grabbed Wood as an alternative. And the Bombers were disappointed with Curtis Granderson against lefties, so they traded for Kearns.

The Yankees can expend the dollars to fill such small gaps, because the payroll is basically unlimited. And the Yankees can expend the prospects to make such deals, because if they run out of talent at a position it can be filled with a highly compensated free agent.

General Manager Bill Smith held a post-trade-deadline briefing with reporters Saturday. There were a few Capps questions and then Smith was asked if he was "frustrated'' to see the Yankees, the defending champs with an Opening Day payroll of $213 million, add three veterans at the deadline.

Smith gave a look that was a cross between a smile and a grimace and said: "I don't know. ... [Those players] are going to be in roles that are different than they have been. You can never tell how it's going to work out.

"We've never apologized for what we are. We try to develop players, bring them through our system and give them a chance in the big leagues. Hopefully, the next two months will go well for us, and we'll see what happens."

In other words, Smith is more aware than anyone that if the Twins succeed in again winning the AL Central, the odds are strong they would open the playoffs in Yankee Stadium for the fourth time since 2003.

The Twins are 0-3 in the prior playoff series aginst the Yankees. As the White Sox have gone on a 2 1/2-month surge, large numbers of Twins fans and selected media members have concerned themselves with the team making a bold move (Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt) in order to better compete with the Yankees in October.

We learned again Saturday that neither the Twins nor any team can compete with the Yankees. Barring injuries or unexpected declines by former All-Stars, the Yankees always are going to have deeper talent and fewer holes.

The task for the 2010 Twins is to outlast the White Sox and the Tigers. And if you then draw the Yankees, hope for a hot week and an upset. That's the only shot because you will never have a better roster than the Bombers.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP. • preusse@startribune.com

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