The Twins were in the process of shutting out Houston on June 7 when reports surfaced that they had reached a deal with free agent Kendrys Morales that would pay him $7.4 million for the remainder of the season.
The Twins were 29-31 and five games out of first place in the bunched American League Central after that victory. They took a shot.
OK, it was a long shot, but what the hey? Maybe Detroit wasn’t going to get its act together. Maybe Ricky Nolasco would, and Morales could enliven an attack that had started to sag, and the Twins could hang close to .500, and this wouldn’t be a fourth straight season to end in a full-blown death march.
The long shot didn’t come close. The Tigers picked it up. Nolasco went from bad to worse to the disabled list. Morales sneaked in some hits early, eventually got to 100 at-bats and still showed none of his former power.
The Twins went 17-23 in the one-fourth of a schedule that they had Morales. They were now 11 out in the Central and 13th overall in the American League.
Trade the veterans. Bring up the kids. That was the battle cry from Twins followers, a dwindling group that ranged from cynical to hostile after 100 games of another lost season.
On Thursday, the Twins sent Morales to Seattle — his 2013 team that had made a $14 million qualifying offer to Kendrys last winter — for Stephen Pryor, a pitching prospect turned suspect after missing the 2013 season because of shoulder surgery.
There’s another veteran hitter with unimpressive numbers that followers want traded: Josh Willingham. Fair enough, but this is what the Twins are going to get, a 25-year-old who might come back from a damaged shoulder, or some 22-year-old stuck in high Class A ball who once was considered a prospect.
Kurt Suzuki? The speculation is that the catcher wants more in a contract extension than the Twins are willing to offer, so they might as well move him, you say? Yadier Molina is out for a few more weeks in St. Louis and Matt Wieters is out for the season in Baltimore.
Those contenders have to want Suzuki. Right? Actually, the Cardinals seem perfectly willing to hold on until Yadier returns, and Baltimore’s priority at the trading deadline has to be a starting pitcher, not a catcher.
If all you’re going to get for Suzuki is a couple of suspects, say a 2014 version of Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson, there’s no reason to move him. And here’s the logic:
Suzuki can catch. Josmil Pinto, now in Rochester and still advertised by many as the heir apparent, can’t catch.
Lefty Logan Darnell will get a start Saturday and might stick around. Trevor May should join the rotation next month. Suzuki could perform a long-term service by giving those guys a fair shot to break in with some effectiveness.
The Twins could trade Suzuki and let Eric Fryer do the bulk of the catching, but last I checked, they still are charging for tickets at Target Field.
Again: If you can get a player that ranks among a team’s top seven or eight prospects, make a deal for Suzuki. If not, push end on the cellphone.
The opinion here is that the Twins couldn’t get much for starter Kevin Correia or reliever Jared Burton. There could be decent offers for Brian Duensing and Casey Fien, the relievers in front of closer Glen Perkins.
That’s the “trade the veterans” part of the theory. As for “bring up the kids,” it’s a grand idea, but if you’re endorsing it, please stop sending messages to local media types complaining about Oswaldo Arcia’s rate of one strikeout per three at-bats.
Arcia is 23. He has thumped Class AAA pitching in his time in Rochester. He’s further along than Kennys Vargas or Eddie Rosario or any other hitter, and right now, Arcia has got more than he can handle against big-league pitching.
You always hear it at this time of a lost season: Trade the vets. Play the kids. Get something.
Except when “something” is really “nothing,” and you already have plenty of that, why bother?