August 1, 2012
The Platoon Advantage
Remain Calm, All is Well in Minnesota
“What the hell?”
That's what I wondered all yesterday as the Twins sat on their hands, refusing to deal Denard Span, Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, Jared Burton, or Glen Perkins. As the Phillies divested themselves of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence: "What the hell?" As the Astros sent away Chris Johnson: "What the hell?" As the Cubs traded Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson, and Geovany Soto: "WHAT the hell?" As the Marlins sent Gaby Sanchez packing: "WHAT THE HELL?"
What the hell was Terry Ryan thinking? When were they finally going to pull the trigger? Why would they think that this team was fine as is? Who was responsible for this debacle? Where could I find them? How much prison time would I get?
It's not that they had to deal all of them. Indeed, there were significant reasons to hang on to most of them. Span is signed to a reasonable deal through 2015. Willingham has been the club's best source of power. Morneau didn't figure to bring much back in return. Glen Perkins is signed through 2016 and continues to be a fantastic weapon out of the bullpen. Burton is...well, ok, there was no good reason not to deal the oft-injured Burton before his shoulder exploded. To not trade some of them would have been understandable. To trade none of them is inexcusable.
Terry Ryan had his chances. There was significant interest in Span coming from Cincinnati especially. They really like Span, but Twins officials pointed out to the Star Tribune’s Joe Christiansen, "so do we." The Dodgers tried to get something done for Perkins, but the price was very high. Aside from dealing Francisco Liriano (who dominated his former team last night) for two young players who will almost certainly never be more than a win above replacement, the Twins essentially decided to stand pat with their club that is 14 games under .500, has the worst run differential in the American League, and has allowed the most hits, most homers, most runs, and struck out the fewest batters in the league.
The Twins aren't just bad, they are broken. They don't understand that they are not just losing games, they are a losing team. The current team, as currently constructed, isn't capable of being competitive even in the AL Central. But the Twins are Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House, insisting that all is well: