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Take Josh Willingham off your trade deadline tracker

Jul 16, 2012, 8:52 AM EDT

Josh Willingham Getty Images

Which reminds me. We should probably put up some sort of trade deadline tracker. Anyway:

Josh Willingham is having a monster season for a non-contender which, under most circumstances, would make him a prime trade candidate. But it seems that a trade is not in the cards. Phil Mackey:

Sources say the combination of Willingham’s exceptional production and team-friendly contract makes him one of the most valuable assets in the organization, which is why it would take a lopsided offer to move the Twins off their current stance. The Twins also don’t want the reputation of signing players to long-term contracts and trading them away shortly after the ink dries.

One would think that they’d like to not have the reputation as a team that looses tons and tons of ballgames too, but I guess it’s better to be vet-friendly. Whatever.

  1. darthicarus - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    Next year when Willingham’s production declines to more standard numbers the Twins front office will likely regret the decision to not trade him…oh wait never mind, they’ll just continue on in their state of denial that the current blueprint for the team will work. But at least Liriano is tradeable!

    (grammar nazi believes it should be losses)

    • sabatimus - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      You DO realize grammar nazi is wrong, right?

  2. spellingcops - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    …a team that looses tons and tons of ballgames…
    At least he’s getting paid for this.

  3. yahmule - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Since he’s the only power hitter the Twins have ever had who isn’t mentally defeated by Target Field, I understand the reluctance to deal him.

    • senatorsguy - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      Jim Thome says “hi”.

      • yahmule - Jul 16, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        Please tell Jim I shouldn’t be quite so glib.

  4. kkolchak - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    An older player who is injury prone but having a great year who has a team friendly contract…maybe the Twins are just establishing their negotiating position. They absolutely should consider dealing him if the price is right.

  5. Francisco (FC) - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    but I guess it’s better to be vet-friendly

    They have Veterinarians at the stadium now?

    • wlschneider09 - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      Screw the pooch as many times as this team does and you’re gonna need a vet or two.

  6. rooney24 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    Listen, I understand that the Twins stink right now. But, they shouldn’t trade Willingham. If you want fans to show up, you need to sell some hope. With Willingham in there, the lineup at least resembles a professional, major league lineup. The offense isn’t great, but they also aren’t the worst, with five other AL teams scoring less. The Twins have the worst run differential because their starting pitching mostly stinks.

    MLB is a business. Having Josh on the team helps fill the seats, even with a bad record overall. Based on his salary, it makes more sense to keep him. Also, as previously posted, he is one of the few Twins not scared to hit at Target Field. By the way, it says something that his contract (3 years, $21 million) is the largest the Twins ever gave to sign a free agent that wasn’t a re-sign of their own player. In today’s baseball, $21 million isn’t that much. Pujols got more per season than the Twins have ever given as a total on a contract to someone that wasn’t their own player.

    • kkolchak - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:16 AM

      That seemed to be the Nats’ philosophy back when that clown Jim Bowden was still GM. It was the justification for giving contract extensions to Dmitri Young and Cristian Guzman when they had All Star season for terrible Nats teams in 2007 and 2008 rather than dealing them. All Bowden managed to do was delay the Nats rebuilding process even longer.

      Yeah, it sucks when your team has no hope. As a Nats fan I’ve been there, done that. But trading vets for prospects is the only way to get better sooner rather than later. See All Star Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos (2010), for example.

      • natstowngreg - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:19 PM

        Not to mention, enduring all that bad baseball for the rights to draft Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.

      • Cris E - Jul 16, 2012 at 3:24 PM

        Nice answer: easy logic, nice prose, follows approved thinking. It’s not right though. “The Only Way To Get Better” is a steaming pile of assumptions that is most suitable for scattering across fields of generalities and doesn’t really reflect the particulars of this case. For example, there is hope in MN whenever a starting pitcher goes five innings.

        The Twins have no starting pitching. They had very little to begin with, and what there was either lost its mind for ten weeks (Liriano) or blew up and crashed on the DL (Baker, Pavano) or was not very good (Blackburn) or was Jason Marquis, whose quick cut was a miss on the part of the front office. But in general the bullpen has been OK, the offense is OK, the defense is OK, so really what you need to do here is address a specific concentration of trouble in the rotation. If you add two or three starters (depending on what you do with Liriano) you can vault right into the 2013 AL Central race. Diamond, Gibson, Baker and the rest can fill the #4 and #5 spots if the front three are even average.

    • Jeremiah Graves - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:21 AM

      You’re right, MLB is a business. That’s why it is a sound business decision to trade a 33-year-old in the midst of a career year. Especially when he has a history of back problems and is–in all reality–a DH that the Twins have got stuck in LF.

      Yes, he hits for power. Yes, he’s very popular in the Twin Cities already. Yes, he’s one of the few bright spots on the club this year. He’s also the EXACT TYPE OF PLAYER you trade when his value has peaked. Look at his career numbers, he’s not going to suddenly become a consummate All-Star in his mid-30s. If someone offers the Twins a good return for Willingham, they should take it. He won’t be around or, at the very least, effective when the club is legitimately ready to contend again.

      No one on this team should be untouchable right now. Is it going to help the club at all to have a guy hit 30 home runs on a last place ball club in 2012 when they could move that guy for a player or two who contribute to the next winning, playoff-contending Twins team in two or three years?!

      Trading him now, before he gets hurt or reverts to his career norms is pretty much the smartest thing the Twins could do. His value has never–at any point in his career–been higher than it is right now. As much as I like the guy and as much as I’d love to see him crush home runs for the next couple of years, those homers mean nothing on a last place club. It’s better to sell high and build for the future, because they sure as hell aren’t going to win a pennant when Willingham is with the club.

      The dude has only topped 140 games played twice since becoming a pro and that was back in 2006 and 2007. Since he became a regular he’s averaged 128 games per season with 22 HR, 72 RBI, 26 2B, 64 R, and a .262/.361/.478 batting line. Those solid numbers, but are they worth missing out on a handful of prospect who could actually help the next contending club? People always complain about weak farm systems, well, this is how you build a farm system. You sell high on players like Willingham and stock the cupboards for the future.

      Willingham has been worth between 2 and 3 wins a season. Is that going to be enough to put the Twins over the top and into the postseason at any point during his contract? It doesn’t look like it given the current construction of the team. If they can move him–while his value is at its absolute peak–for some younger guys who will be around to help the club when we’re ready to contend again, wouldn’t that be more beneficial in the long run than winning 67 games in 2012 instead of the 64 or so we’d win without him?!

      • wlschneider09 - Jul 16, 2012 at 3:36 PM

        I agree with this in principle, but I suspect other GMs are fully aware of Willingham’s age, defensive skills, injury history and production history as well. I wouldn’t imagine that the Twins would get much of an offer for Willingham, and I suspect that they are unlikely to move Willingham just for the sake of making a move. Who knows.

        P.S. You are aware that WAR is just an arbitrary number yes? It doesn’t actually mean wins.

      • Jeremiah Graves - Jul 16, 2012 at 7:11 PM

        I feel like this is the appropriate place for a “your mom in an arbitrary number” joke, but it feels like low-hanging fruit. Yeah, I get that, but the point still stands, Josh Willingham is not the difference between this Twins team making the playoffs or not making the playoffs. They’re a last place club with or without him.

        I have no doubt that other GMs know what they’re getting in Willingham, but we’ve seen ridiculous trade deadline deals a million times before (see: Casey Blake for Carlos Santana) and I’m sure we’ll ‘em a million more times.

        I’m not saying the Twins HAVE to move Willingham. If there’s not a solid offer out there, well then don’t pull the trigger, but his value is at it’s peak right now…if someone makes a big offer that helps the club in the future, they’d be ill-advised to pass.

      • wlschneider09 - Jul 16, 2012 at 8:01 PM

        Agreed

  7. poohman1975 - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Grammar Nazi is wrong as well, it would actually be “loses”.

  8. randygnyc - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    I’m torn about this as the twins are the other team I root for, albeit, quietly. Willingham is not only producing, but the fans like him. And as currently constituted, the twins aren’t a very likable team. The fans don’t expect anything from Mourneau any more and have lost faith in the “baby Jesus” with his gigantic contract. Keeping Willingham gives fans something to cheer about. I expect Span to get traded for pitching. I expect liriano to get traded for younger pitching.

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