Jim Souhan: Winning year is possible, if Ryan doesn't stand pat

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 8, 2007 - 10:44 PM

The Twins GM could learn some from his deal-making White Sox counterpart.

CHICAGO - They got the deal done. The Midwestern team that angered fans by letting a popular player dangle in contractual purgatory made a splash Sunday afternoon.

It won't surprise you that it was the Chicago White Sox, not the Minnesota Twins, who took the dive into the deep end of the spending pool, because when it comes to in-season negotiations with star players, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan is still wearing water wings.

The White Sox announced they had agreed with lefthander Mark Buehrle to a four-year, $56 million deal right after they beat the Twins 6-3 on Sunday, a day filled with bad omens for Ryan.

Again, Sox GM Kenny Williams acted boldly, getting the Buehrle deal done when most observers thought it was dead. Williams swings and misses a lot; he also hits the sweet spot often enough to have won a World Series.

Again, the Twins' lineup looked two or three bats shy of competent.

Again, the Twins' engines stalled just as they promised to take off, leaving them 5-6 on a daunting road trip that could have turned into a launching pad had they beaten a good pitcher or even Kei Igawa.

The Twins enter the All-Star break closer to last than first. Between now and the July 31 trading deadline, Ryan will need to make one of the toughest decisions of his tenure. Should he trade pitching for a rent-a-bat that could transform his lineup -- the type of deal to which he is philosophically opposed -- or give up on a disappointing season and trade pending free agent Torii Hunter while he still can?

Standing pat with this roster will not allow the Twins to win this year or reload for the future. Hunter and the Twins have had no productive contract negotiations. If the Twins are not determined to keep Hunter long-term, team doctrine would suggest trading him for affordable players and prospects.

That would be logical -- and typical -- and a grave mistake.

Perhaps never before have the Twins possessed so much frontline talent. Perhaps only while winning World Series have they enjoyed such immense popularity. With a new stadium scheduled to open in 2010 and the divisional competition increasingly daunting, this is no time to revert to small-market thinking.

What the Twins lack is lineup depth. What they possess is organizational pitching depth. Ryan needs to sacrifice the latter to improve the former. If he's smart enough to pick the right prospects from other organizations when he makes a trade, he's smart enough to trade away the right prospects in this kind of a deal.

The suggestion here has been to acquire Devil Rays third baseman Ty Wigginton, a relatively affordable player in an organization desperate for young pitching and relief pitching. Wigginton would improve lineup depth and team power and allow Nick Punto to become an invaluable utility player.

To my colleagues and readers who have suggested trading Hunter and quitting on the season, one question: How do they translate that Vince Lombardi quote in Minnesota schools? Winning isn't everything ... so why even try?

The only way the Twins should trade Hunter is if they can improve the big-league roster. That's not likely.

In 2003, the Twins were 7½ games out of first at the break. Ryan made one of his best deals -- Bobby Kielty for Shannon Stewart -- and the Twins won the division. Last year, the Twins were 11 out at the break and they won the division.

Giving up is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you aren't going to try to win when you have the likes of Johan Santana and Hunter, what's the plan -- to wait until the AL Central turns mediocre again?

With the White Sox, Indians and Tigers spending money and oozing ambition, when will that be?

The Twins looked tired and depressed Sunday. Does Hunter think this team needs another All-Star break trade? "I think so," he said. "We need some kind of spark."

  • related content

  • Consistent crowd-pleasers

    Sunday July 8, 2007

    CHICAGO - Hearing the criticisms of White Sox General Manager Ken Williams in this town prompts a question: Which team...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 86 FINAL
Indiana 93
Washington 81 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Golden State 113 FINAL
Toronto 89
New York 121 FINAL
Detroit 115
Orlando 88 FINAL
Atlanta 95
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Boston 106
LA Clippers 97 FINAL
Memphis 79
Brooklyn 98 FINAL
Houston 102
Miami 102 FINAL
New Orleans 104
Minnesota 89 FINAL
Chicago 96
Utah 104 FINAL
Denver 82
San Antonio 107 FINAL
Sacramento 96
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
Oklahoma City 112 FINAL
Portland 115
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Washington 0 FINAL
Carolina 3
Chicago 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Colorado 5 FINAL(SO)
Dallas 4
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 65 FINAL
Canisius 72
Manhattan 75 FINAL
Iona 79
Saint Peters 67 FINAL
Marist 69
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 58 FINAL
Akron 70
Dartmouth 84 FINAL
Columbia 71
Valparaiso 56 FINAL
Cleveland State 53
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
Canisius 54 FINAL
Siena 58
St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
NJIT 78
Western Carolina 86 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 80
Colorado 66 FINAL
Arizona 51
Southern Ill 72 FINAL
Bradley 66
Drake 59 FINAL
Wichita State 80
Indiana State 71 FINAL
Evansville 53
Illinois State 53 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 67
Northern Iowa 70 FINAL
Missouri State 72
Utah 42 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 46
Providence 62 FINAL
Villanova 71

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close