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For some, the trade deadline is an event. For me, it’s a sickness - a compulsive obsession that starts in March and builds until I’m in the throws of a semi-conscious twitch over the last few days of July. I’m only partially exaggerating. I couldn’t be happier it’s over, like the morning after my bachelor party.
The queasy feeling I have reminds me of that morning, too. The Twins mostly sat on their hands, and no matter how much I want to justify it, there’s no way to deny the disappointment. This team looked like it was in a position to do some things, and there were things left to do.
It’s forgivable to not get another starting pitcher. Not that they didn’t need one; it was their biggest need. I’m as bullish on the Twins minor league pitching as anyone, but Brad Radke’s last start should have Twins fans, coaches and management concerned. If he tries to “battle his way through this thing” and stinks, there is NO shot for the Wild Card. But there just wasn’t much out there worth pursuing, and what little there was mostly stayed with their own team.
More disappointing was not adding a right-handed power bat to the mix. I know, I know, Torii Hunter is back and hit a home run last night. And Michael Cuddyer continues to impress. But neither really belongs in that spot between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. There were a few players available who might have fit that mold, and at least two of them were traded yesterday.
The one who wasn’t was Alfonso Soriano, and again, Terry Ryan gets a free pass on that one. The Washington Nationals GM, Jim Bowden, has often come up short on change when trying to board the clue bus. Remember that contract he gave Cristian Guzman? Dealing with incompetence is always a crapshoot, since you can’t save someone from himself. If it’s true that the Twins were willing to give up Scott Baker and Jason Kubel for Soriano, and Bowden turned it down, well, you can’t say Ryan didn’t try.
On the other hand, two lesser names with big right-handed power WERE moved, and they were moved for next to nothing. Craig Wilson, the streaky right-handed slugger for the Pirates, was traded to the Yankees. Ryan Shealy, a right-handed slugger for the Rockies AAA team was traded to the Royals. Neither is a great fit for the Twins defensively, since neither could play left field here, but both would have provided some right-handed pop, even if it was just as insurance policies.
Ryan appeared on the Twins broadcast last night to talk about the deadline, and it sounds like he is having trouble making tradess because of the Twins past deals. He was asked if he had any GMs call him today out of the blue who hadn’t talked to him previously about a trade. He said he had, just an hour before today’s deadline, and he was very interested in the deal. Which resulted in the other GM immediately withdrawing the offer, afraid he had made a Sabean-ormous sized mistake.
He added that he liked having Wayne Krivsky acting as the GM of the Reds, since Krivsky knows that the Twins aren’t trying to pull any fast ones, while other GMs might be more cautious. I wonder if Krivsky will feel the same way in a couple of years, because the one trade the Twins made looks like a real steal from Krivsky’s crib.
When the Twins traded away Kyle Lohse to the Reds yesterday, they acquired Zachary Ward, who looks to be ten times the prospect I thought they would receive. I hadn’t heard of Ward before yesterday, but there’s a lot to like from his profile. He was a third round pick last year, he has a high strikeout rate, has only give up two home runs in over 100 innings pitched. There’s some anecdotal evidence that he tends to induce ground balls, and with twelve hit batters this year, it looks like he’s not afraid to pitch inside. Finally, his splits show that he’s improved every month in Low-A ball.
Everything about him sounds great, except for those last two words. He’s absolutely dominated that level for the last two months and he’s 22 years old, so the Twins are likely to start moving him aggressively through their system. I wouldn’t be shocked if he jumps High-A ball and starts out in New Britain immediately, though the Twins may want to see what they have first.
Ward is more evidence (and there was plenty before this, I assure you) that I should be careful about pointing fingers too much in Ryan’s direction today. If the worst news is that they didn’t get Wilson and Shealy (two names which most Twins fans probably have never heard), that’s not such bad news. Maybe good enough to help me recover from this post trade deadline hangover.