What the hell is it about this team and West Coast Road trips in June? Last year it proved to be the final straw before wholesale changes were made to the left side of the infield. This year, the minor league callups have mostly already happened, but would anyone be shocked if the recent offensive mis-, er, display prompted the Twins to make some moves to bolster the offense?
So let's continue yesterday's research on the bats the Twins could/should chase from seven non-contending teams. We'll continue working our way up the ladder from worst record to best...
Cincinatti Reds (22-36)
The Reds have lately been called the National League Twins because of their penchant for picking up former Twins players, but they really bare a scary resemblance to the Rangers. Fifth best offense in their league, but the worst pitching, just like the Rangers. One difference is that their starting pitching isn't nearly as bad as the Rangers, but they also don't have a staff ace, either. Or at least, not yet. They hope to gain one this weekend when uber-pitching prospect Homer Bailey makes his major league debut on Friday.
Instead, they need bullpen help. They're desperate enough to be pining for the return of recovering 36-year-old Eddie Guardado. Not that I don't pine for Eddie and ... oh, god, what was that song? How can I not remember that song? I'm a bad fan, a very bad fan. Anyway, they need bullpen help, which the Twins really aren't in a position to provide, but there might be a couple of young pitchers that could interest the Reds.
They're also similar to the Rangers in that they could make some big names available, arguably too big. Ken Griffey Jr. has been in all kinds of rumors with the emergence of Josh Hamilton, but I think he would have veto rights for a deal because of his 10 and 5 status. You might think that his contract would get in the way, but he's only signed through 2008, it's at $12.5 M per season, and the payments are deferred at a low interest rate, so it's real value could be closer to $10 million.
Beyond the financial stuff, we all know about his injury history, but he's healthy this year and would be playing DH in the dome. And if Torii leaves next year, he could replace him in CF for a good chunk of the time. He's a veteran, and we know how the Twins love veterans. Unfortunately, he also bats left-handed, which is a significant disadvantage for this team. A trade for Griffey certainly has it's flaws, but it has enough things right with it that it's hard to dismiss it.
I should touch on two other names that have been talked about. I talked about Edwin Encarnacion a couple of weeks ago, and John Sharkey also mentioned him on GameDay's Writer's Blog recently. Since those entries, Encarnacion has been called up from AAA and hitting the cover off the ball. He won't be available, if he ever was.
The other big name that will be mentioned is slugger Adam Dunn. The problem with acqiring Dunn is his contract. If he's traded before 2008, he can opt out of the last year of that contract, which is also 2008. So any trade of him this year means he'll likely turn into a free agent, which limits what he's worth in a trade. The Reds aren't going to trade him for Scott Baker, and the Twins aren't going to trade away anyone more significant that for two months of Adam Dunn. (He's also left-handed and strikes out a lot, which doesn't make him a great fit for this team.)
It's late, and I really need to get some sleep this week. I meant to touch on a player that will undoubtedly be available, is a right-handed slugger, is even cheap and will be visiting us this weekend. You almost have to wonder why he isn't on this team already. You'll need to come back tomorrow as we explore the possibilities of adding Dmitri Young to the roster.