The Twins must upgrade their roster if they hope for a turnaround in 2013, but they didn't get much accomplished by Tuesday's nonwaiver trade deadline.
Free agent-to-be Francisco Liriano was dealt to the White Sox -- who defeated the Twins 4-3 Tuesday, helped by Liriano's eight strikeouts in six innings in his first start for his new team -- for two minor leaguers. That's the right thing to do with a player in a walk year. But the Twins elected to not aggressively pursue deals involving other players under contract who could have netted them talent -- namely pitching -- they sorely need.
Let's face it: The construction of the 2013 roster has begun. And if the Twins want pitching or help in other areas, they will have to make tough decisions in the coming months on whether they are willing to part with Denard Span, Josh Willingham or even Justin Morneau -- good players under contract -- to get what they need.
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan has expressed concerns about spending big on the free-agent market. That puts the spotlight on him to make a definitive move. It will be difficult to pull off at the end of August, because players must clear waivers to be dealt. But the offseason will be a critical point in this club's hope to return to competitiveness.
If you're grouping teams as winners or losers at the trade deadline, you have to list the Twins as losers for what they didn't accomplish. Here's a look at four other teams who made news -- positive or negative -- at the trade deadline:
Biggest winner: Angels
Texas looked ready to run away with the AL West early on, but not so fast. The Angels, by adding the coveted Zack Greinke, significantly boosted the rotation and took the spotlight off Ervin Santana's ghastly season. They now have a formidable rotation to go with an offense that has taken a quantum leap forward with the impact of Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, plus Albert Pujols' awakening. The Rangers are getting reeled in. If the Angels do make the playoffs, Greinke's the ace-type pitcher who makes them a threat to win it all.
They didn't get the starting pitcher they wanted, but they did land former Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez, who could be nudged to take his game to another level in the heat of the playoff race (no Hanleywood signs, please). They would have loved to make a move for Willingham if the Twins were serious about trading him, but they added a good athlete in outfielder Shane Victorino. And Brandon League will bolster their bullpen. Is it time to dream of a I-5 all-L.A. series?
Biggest loser: Marlins
Miami is the featured team this season on the Showtime production "The Franchise," and the series couldn't have found a bigger mess to chronicle. The Marlins got off to a poor start in Ozzie Guillen's first season as manager. They turned things around and were in first place on June 4 and dealt for Carlos Lee on July 4 to help the cause. By the end of the month, they were trying to deal him away as they fell eight games under .500. They did deal Ramirez to the Dodgers and righthander Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers. Could a team have a worse season in its first season in a new ballpark? Makes for good television, though.
Theo Epstein is the new majordomo in Chicago, and he couldn't have had a rougher deadline. He appeared to have a trade worked out with Atlanta for righthander Randall Delgado, but Ryan Dempster played his no-trade card and wanted to be steered to Los Angeles, where he could rejoin his biking buddy, Ted Lilly. It went down to the last minute before Dempster could be moved to Texas. Teams were ready to pounce on pitcher Matt Garza, but he landed on the disabled list. And outfielder Alfonso Soriano is still there with his fat contract. They did send lefthanded starter Paul Maholm to Atlanta -- not for Delgado, but for righthander Arodys Vizcaino, who's coming off Tommy John surgery. And they better hope catcher Geovany Soto doesn't rediscover his swing in Texas.
La Velle E. Neal III • firstname.lastname@example.org