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Twins likely sellers at trade deadline for first time in a decade

May 16, 2011, 1:20 PM EDT

ron-gardenhire-twins AP

In the decade since Ron Gardenhire took over as manager the Twins have won six division titles, compiled an 815-682 (.544) record, and finished below .500 just once, when they were 79-83. And they’ve never been sellers at the trade deadline.

There’s still a chance to avoid that fate again this season, but time is quickly running out with an MLB-worst 12-26 record and an MLB-high 12.5-game deficit in the division. They’re on pace to go 51-111.

Unfortunately they don’t have a ton of valuable players to shop. I won’t bore everyone here with all the details, because I realize there’s only so much Twins stuff you guys can stomach, but in breaking down the various possibilities I think Jason Kubel, Matt Capps, Francisco Liriano, Delmon Young, and Kevin Slowey are the most appealing pieces that realistically may be moved.

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are likely untradeable on several different levels and everyone else is young and cheap enough to be part of the Twins’ plans or just not all that valuable in the first place. Strange times in Minnesota.

  1. Joe - May 16, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    What should happen: Trade Cuddyer for whatever they can get; keep Kubel for 2 more years.

    What will happen: Re-sign Cuddyer for too much money because he’s “the team MVP”.

    • purdueman - May 16, 2011 at 4:06 PM

      Reports out of Minnesota is that Cuddyer is likely out of the Twins target budget, and as such is the most likely guy to be traded.

      The Twins have had a remarkable run, but as a White Sox fan, I’m not shedding any tears for them either. The one variable that the Twins never counted on is how moving into a new park would affect their team, and while it’s clearly been good for attendance, it’s not been good for the current makeup of their roster.

      Who knows if Morneau will ever get back to the level he was at prior to his concussion? Who knows if Mauer’s bad knee and leg will allow him to ever become a full time catcher again? Target Field has clearly psyched both of them out, power wise too.

      The Twins though are now stuck between a rock and a hard place, due to the big long term contract extensions that they’ve given out (most notably to Mauer and Pavano). The Twins also made a huge mistake by basically letting 75% of their former very dependable bullpen walk as free agents this offseason too.

      The Twins GM has done a remarkable job at evaluating young talent; if I were the Twins GM right now, if I could land some good prospects in return, I’d be getting ready to back up the truck.

      • hgulkkcaj - May 16, 2011 at 5:27 PM

        As a White Sox fan, you have your own team to shed your tears over right?

      • purdueman - May 16, 2011 at 5:45 PM

        “As a White Sox fan, you have your own team to shed your tears over right?”

        hgu… on the surface I can understand why non Whte Sox fans would think that, as thusfar it’s been a very disappointing start of the year for the team.

        There’s no panic yet, however, for several reasons:

        1) The White Sox won all three just completed series on what’s usually a dreadful west coast road trip;
        2) The White Sox have their annual trip to Yankee Stadium out of the way;
        3) The White Sox managed to avoid most of Chicago’s dreadful April weather this season and have played far more road games than home games and the team is built for their home park;
        4) The starting rotation has really come around;
        5) Peavy appears to be back and Humber has been a terrific find in the starting rotation;
        6) It’s a very veteran laden team offensively, and these guys are just too good to all have bad seasons (Konerko being the exception thusfar), at once; and
        7) Nobody believes that the Indians are for real, the Twins are done already and the Tigers look very inconsistent.

        In addition, the Cubs thankfully aren’t going anywhere this season either!

  2. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - May 16, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Talk about a Twin Cities meltdown 2010-2011. The Vikings were supposed to do well and flopped, just like the Twins are doing now. Rough time for MN for sure. The T’Wolves have been sad for years. I think they might have a hockey team in MN, but who cares. I like MN and most of their teams, I wish instead this were happening to all of the Sconi teams. If Green Bay, Bucks and Brew Crew all fell off (or fell further), I’d be much happier…especially Green F’ing Bay.

    • kopy - May 16, 2011 at 1:46 PM

      Why the hate for Wisconsin?

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - May 16, 2011 at 1:52 PM

        Because I live in Chicago…Although, I’m definitely a fan of Milwaukee and cheese of all types. Gotta find someone to hate on.

      • cusoman - May 16, 2011 at 2:58 PM

        Because they won’t pay MN back.

  3. spudchukar - May 16, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Nathan is the one Twin I know I would be interested in. I would imagine he could still bring a fairly reasonable prospect, despite his salary, which expires with an option this year. If the Twins would be willing to pick up another 1/4 of his 2011 salary, he could well be an interesting target.

  4. uyf1950 - May 16, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    First dibs on Liriano, for the right price. Which by the way he’s pitched should be pretty cheap. I think he wants out of the Twin Cities that’s why he hasn’t pitched to well so far. And he’s a lefty and pretty darn cheap if he can turn his season around and still has one year of arbitration left, if I’m not mistaken.

    • Andrew - May 16, 2011 at 2:23 PM

      I don’t think there’s any evidence to suggest that Liriano wants to leave Minnesota.

    • spudchukar - May 16, 2011 at 2:31 PM

      UYF, my Bud, this might be a good opportunity for you. I am sure at this point the Twinkies regret not moving him to you before the season started. Despite his no-no, he has probably devalued somewhat. But with the sparse, starting pitching options the Yanks may be forced to compete with other suitors. My guess is the pitching needy Twins would demand either Betances or Banuelos, but perhaps a defensive catcher could do the trick.

      • uyf1950 - May 16, 2011 at 2:49 PM

        My friend, I don’t think there is any doubt that Liriano would have brought a higher price before the season. I still don’t see the Yankees giving up either of the pitchers you named. Banuelos, no way as for Betances, Liriano would would probably have to do a complete turn around from the way he’s pitching right now for the Yankees to even consider that and even at that I would think it’s less than 50/50 chance. I can see the Yankees giving up one of the other pitching prospects though. We shall have to wait and see what comes of this, but I still wouldn’t be surprised to see “other” pitchers become available at or near the trade deadline from one or 2 other AL or NL Central teams that have played their way out of contention. As for catchers, I would think anyone except Montero, Sanchez and of course Martin would be fair game. That’s just my opinion.

      • spudchukar - May 16, 2011 at 4:08 PM

        My Chum, I doubt if the Twins would be interested in Montero, they need a legitimate catcher, they have DH’s to spare. See how you like this deal, Cuddyer, Capps, Liriano and Slowey for Banuelos and Sanchez.

      • uyf1950 - May 16, 2011 at 4:24 PM

        spudchukar, my friend. Not going to happen. Banuelos is untouchable and Sanchez is probably as close to untouchable at this point in his career as there is. At least that’s my opinion. I can see Banuelos being in the Yankees starting rotation for sure in 2011 and Sanchez is probably going to be the Yankees starting catcher if all goes according to plans come the 2014 season. A lot can happen between now and then but I just don’t see the Yankees moving or trying to move him at this point. At least not as part of the package you mentioned. That’s just my opinion.

      • purdueman - May 16, 2011 at 4:49 PM

        ufy…. For the most part, I agree with your post. The only way that the Yankees would trade Betances unless they got a #2 left handed proven veteran starter in return who would then agree to a long term contract extension. Mark Buehrle (who’s only 32 and has a rubber arm), might be such a starter (as the White Sox have one to many starters and need to move one).

        As for Montero? Everything I’ve read from scouts says that they doubt he can be a big league catcher and is more suited to DH. I read that during spring training he had a very difficult time even catching the ball from the Yankees veteran pitchers.

        Twins fans can dream, but I agree with you in that the Yankees (nor anyone else), at this point is going to give up a top prospect in any package for Liriano.

      • uyf1950 - May 16, 2011 at 5:19 PM

        purdueman – I’ve read pretty much the same articles, and they may or may not be right. But I go back to the trade deadline of 2010 when pitchers like Lee etc were being shopped. Without exception every team I can think of wanted Montero in the package the Yankees were offering. That tells me something. Even if we take at face value the “scouts” opinions that he isn’t destined to be a full time catcher. There are probably at least 3 other positions on the field aside from DH that he could play with some practice (1st base, and the 2 corner outfield positions). After all if Rick Ankiel can go from pitcher to the outfield I see no reason why Montero can’t switch positions if necessary. That’s just my opinion.

      • purdueman - May 16, 2011 at 5:38 PM

        ufy… scouts are saying that MAYBE (and it’s a big maybe), Montero can eventually become a serviceable first baseman, but I’ve not read anywhere where any scout thinks that he can even play a credible outfield. Since the Yankees are set for the long term at IB with Texeira, if I were Cashman, I’d be looking to deal Montero now, rather than run the risk of being stuck with him as a one dimensional DH later.

      • uyf1950 - May 16, 2011 at 5:48 PM

        purdueman – there is no need to trade him now, especially if the right opportunity isn’t out there. I still go back to my comment that there is a reason virtually every club the Yankees had trade talks with in 2010 requested Montero as part of any deal. Perhaps they know something the “scouts” don’t or aren’t willing to admit. Also, as for him DH’ing. The Yankees will need a DH after this year Posada’s done. Neither A-Rod nor Tex will be slotted in the DH position for at least 3 more years. I can’t think of better position for the Yankees with Montero then to DH him in 2011 and 2012 at ML minimum cost and use him as a part time catcher if that how it turns out. He’s only I believe 23 there is plenty of time to decide what they have in store for him.

      • purdueman - May 16, 2011 at 7:04 PM

        ufy… Gas stations amd grocery stores all over the country employ a lot of former “can’t miss” prospects; the trick is knowing when to hold ’em and when to move ’em.

        The Angels for example, likely missed one more (if not two), world series appearances because their then do nothing GM Bill Stone-less wouldn’t trade any of his “can’t miss” foursome of “hot” prospects… Kochman, Mc Pherson, Mathis and especially “can’t miss five tool guy” Brandon Wood.

        Well, Kochman wouldn’t be in the big leagues right now were it not for Man-Ram’s sudden “retirement”. Mc Pherson is now 30, languishing in AAA. Mathis has been a bust and Wood has been an even bigger bust (having been waived earlier this month).

        The Yankees wouldn’t be the first team to be buy into all of the hype surrounding one their prospects (or another teams player), nor will they be the last. I still have a good laugh every time that I think of Joe Torre’s stunned comments after the Yankees had traded Jose Contreras for Estaban Loiaza and Loiaza had just gotten bombed for the 5th or 6th time in a row.

        Torre was practically mumbling to himself as he said: “I thought we were getting a Cy Young winner”. Trouble is, Joe and Cashman both were buffaloed because they thought that they were getting the Cy Young award one year wonder from the year before, not the washed up model.

        The Yankees don’t need a twenty something one dimensional DH who may or may not pan out (A-Rod’s days at 3b don’t appeared numbered, but Jeter’s as SS sure do). Best to move him now while there are still GM’s out there who still believe all of the hype and press clippings, or the Yankees very well may find themselves with the next Brandon Wood. JOMO.

      • uyf1950 - May 16, 2011 at 7:42 PM

        purdueman – I guess we will have to wait and see. But until the right opportunity presents itself to the Yankees I’m sure Montero isn’t going anywhere. I don’t think there is any need to rush into anything with him. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that in Double A in 2009 he batted .317 in 2010 in Triple A he batted .289 and so far this year in Triple A in 30 games he’s batting .336
        Can he fall flat on his face at some point in the future? Sure. But it’s much more likely that based on his performance to date (at every level of the minor leagues) he will have success when he’s given the opportunity in the ML’s. That’s just my opinion.

      • purdueman - May 16, 2011 at 8:10 PM

        ufy… nothing certainly wrong with taking a wait and see approach on Montero; I’m merely suggesting that if it turns out the only thing Montero can do at the big league level is DH, better to move him sooner than later before other GM’s realize his defensive limitations (which one more spring training could expose).

        Anyway, this all started as a Twins fan wanting to unload Liriano for one or more of the Yankees best prospects, and I think we can agree that that’s not likely to happen any time soon! I don’t think that the Twins can get anywhere’s near what their fans think that they can for Nathan right now either, as the jury’s still out as to whether or not he’ll fully recover from TJ surgery.

        Twins best bet is to trade Cuddyer and Capps, both of whom are pending free agents, but neither is likely to command what they should unless they first agree to contract extensions as part of any deal.

      • uyf1950 - May 16, 2011 at 8:39 PM

        purdueman – actually spudchukar is a Cardinals fan. Him and I go round and round all the time. It’s pretty much harmless banter most of the time. I think he was just pulling my chain at least that’s the way I took his post.

  5. senatorsguy - May 16, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    Wisconsin sucks.

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