This year, after taking 3 of 4 in ChiTown, the Twins enter the break in 4th place, 6.5 games behind Detroit. Are we contenders? Are we pretenders? Well, the first homestand (KC, DET, CLE) after the break will go a long way towards answering that question. If we come out flat, we’ll likely never be able to make up the necessary ground. However, a good homestand would beg the question of whether or not the Twins should make a deal at the deadline.
Our biggest need right now is a solid arm out of the pen. The starters are what the are, and the offense can only get better (heck, if we can win with Tosoni, Hughes, Rivera, etc. we can win with anyone!), but the ‘pen is where the help is sorely needed. Barring further setbacks, Joe Nathan should quickly supplant Matt Capps as closer, with Capps sharing setup duties with Perkins. Beyond that, however, the pen is barren. Phil Dumatrait has been good for a rookie, but who knows, really. Alex Burnett and Jose Mijares cannot be consistently counted on to get the job done.
Thus, here is how I see the trading deadline scenario playing out in my head: The Twins package Delmon Young (the most expendable outfielder) and perhaps a Kevin Slowey for a decent bullpen arm. Then, as we always seem to do, we either call up another ready rook, or pick a guy (remember how we got Pavano in ’09?!) from the scrap heap in September.
If I didn’t think the Twins had at least a decent chance of winning the division this year, I would say “trade a few more guys and replenish the minors”. However, considering that Detroit ALWAYS chokes in the second half, the Indians are fading, and we OWN the White Sox, a division crown (though not easy by any means) is no doubt within reach.
Preview (41-48, 4th, 1.5 GB CWS): Bruce Chen (5-2, 3.26) vs. Francisco Liriano (5-7, 5.06).