Patrick Reusse: Said it before, saying it again: Sell, Twins, sell

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 28, 2007 - 4:16 PM

The Old Ball Sage was right all along: the team has no shot at the postseason and should be looking to build for the future.

Condemnation proceedings for the Twins finished on Wednesday. And there was also the conclusion of an arbitration hearing that will set the price for the condemned ditch in which the Twins' new ballpark will be located.

The combatants in the land price squabble — the county vs. Houston developer Hines Interests — made their final arguments before a three-arbiter panel on Wednesday morning at the Hennepin County Courthouse.

The county submitted a written offer for $13.8 million when it went ahead with condemnation in early April. The lawyers for the opponents, the company started by Houston billionaire Gerald Hines, see the ditch as somewhat more valuable — say, $60 million to $65 million.

There is an opportunity for appeal by either side, if it finds distasteful the price that the arbitration panel now plans to announce on Aug. 15.

As for the 2007 Twins, there is no appeal available — not after being condemned to also-ran status on Wednesday afternoon with a 13-1 loss in Toronto.

There have been repeated complaints from the local media and the team's followers about the Twins' lack of consistency. What are you talking about?

The Twins scored five runs in being swept in three games by Detroit last week, and they scored five runs in being swept in three games in Toronto.

You couldn't ask for more consistency than that: 1.67 runs per game in the biggest series on the schedule, followed a week later by 1.67 runs in the series that started a 10-week death march to the end of the schedule.

The Old Ball Sage (OBS) has been trying to tell you folks for several weeks not to get yourself in a lather over the idea that if only General Manager Terry Ryan would find one hitter, this would be a juggernaut worthy of challenging Detroit in the AL Central race or Cleveland and others in the wild-card race.

Way back on June 20, the OBS looked at the overwhelming evidence of the Twins' mediocrity and said Ryan's strategy should be clear: Trade Torii Hunter for all the GM could get.

The Twins have to sign Justin Morneau to a long-term deal, whatever the cost. They must at least make a run at Johan Santana. Clearly, the payroll won't support those things, along with $13 million-plus per year through 2012 to the 32-year-old Hunter.

The propaganda that the Twins were a contender continued into the All-Star break, requiring the OBS to again remind people that the Twins did not have the lineup nor the pitching staff of a contender.

The younger media types ignored this wisdom and went on asking Ryan to trade pitching prospects for one bat — Dmitri Young, Ty Wigginton, maybe Mike Piazza — that would turn Gardy's noble warriors into a force.

The OBS could only smirk in the direction of these whippersnappers and say, "Tsk, tsk. Why don't you understand the Twins should be sellers rather than buyers?"

There was never a pennant race for the '07 Twins — not with major gaps in the lineup, starting staff and bullpen — and finding reinforcements for 2008 has been the inevitable goal for this team as the trading deadline arrives.

Free agents Hunter, Carlos Silva and Luis Castillo should be available. And so should closer Joe Nathan, if teams such as Atlanta or the L.A. Dodgers are willing to part with two or three players who can help the Twins by next season.

It was unpopular when the suggestion to trade Hunter appeared here, and unpopular when the reasons for ongoing pessimism were outlined again during the All-Star break.

And now that the Twins weren't even able to impersonate a lively corpse during three days in Toronto, it's obvious that the Old Ball Sage was right all along, which should come as a surprise to no one.

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