It's below zero and the hot stove is burnin'.

Did anyone else think that the Twins were a little quick the other day to dismiss speculation that Michael Young would be a good fit? The Twins need another reliable right-handed bat to balance their left-heavy lineup and Young is one of eight teams on the current list to which the Texas veteran would accept a trade.

Now, Joe Christensen reports that the Twins don't think of Francisco Liriano as a long-term part of their plans. I have to admit to being a bit surprised by that news, but I don't doubt it.

The Rangers really, really wanted to keep Cliff Lee. But the lefty escaped to Philadelphia.

The Twins have acknowledged that Young's name has come up in trade talks from time to time.

The fact that manager Ron Gardenhire has talked about the need for more speed in the middle infield is all well and good. But when you have the chance to replace Alexi Casilla with Michael Young, this is a time when you sacrifice speed and some defense and go for the bat. Casilla would make a fine fifth infielder.

And as Jim Bowden, the former Reds and Nationals GM, said on his XM/Sirius show Wednesday afternoon, the Rangers are in a position where they won't get 100 percent value for Young.

In a deal with the Twins, that would mean Texas picking up a big chunk of Young's salary. For the Rangers, it means getting a lefty pitcher who doesn't have Lee's credentials, but brings a lot more to them than other options. (Somehow, I don't think that signing ex-Brewer Dave Bush is viewed as a replacement for Lee.)

Rangers beat writer Evan Grant wrote the other day that "right now, about all you can get (for Young) is a bad contract." The Rockies had been talking about a Young deal that included second baseman Eric Young Jr.

So Liriano totally blows away anything that's been discussed -- which is why the Rangers have so far dismissed what's on the table.

In the short run, the Twins would be adding some salary. But if the Rangers pick up half of Young's remaining contract, the Twins get him for $24 million over three years, which is reasonable. Liriano signed this season for $4.3 million and, if he performs modestly well and stays healthy, would make similar money (and quite possibly more) in the 2011-13 time period -- which includes his first year of free agency.

So money shouldn't be an issue on this one.

Then it'll be time to think about getting that top-of-the-rotation starter at midseason who can make the right things happen in October. I have a name in mind. It would likely have to be a Young type of deal -- with his current team picking up salary -- but if you can find a guy who was lights-out in his final 11 starts of 2010 and is on a team that usually goes nowhere, you'll know who I'm talking about.

The other teams on Young's list are the Angels, Dodgers, Yankees, Colorado, Houston, San Diego and St. Louis. (And the Cardinals don't need him because they signed Nick Punto, right?) That list is in effect until May, when Young becomes a 10-and-5 player (10 years in the majors, 5 with his current team) and can veto any deal.

Span, cf; Nishioka, ss, Mauer, c; Morneau, 1b; M. Young, 2b, D. Young, lf; Thome, dh; Cuddyer/Kubel, rf; Valencia, 3b.

I'll have some of that.

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