It's 1 AM, and I don't have a lot of time to post, but let's touch on today's events, because I think the tone needs to be more optimistic than pessimistic. Let's start with the bad stuff and work our way forward...
1) Pirates trade Freddy Sanchez to someone else
This is bad news, and it's made worse by the revelation that he offered to sign a 3-year contract with the Pirates for a reasonable $20 million. How much would Twins Territory like the NL Batting Champion batting second over the next three years? The Giants got him, and it cost them a promising AA pitcher who is in the top 30 prospects in the minors according to Baseball America. To match that, the Twins would've either needed to raid their starting rotation or offer up some multiple prospects, so it's not like they couldn't match it.
But the national view on this is that the Pirates did very well, and maybe even plundered the Giants. Which suggests that either some teams like the Twins were in this thing and driving up the bidding (which would be good news), or that Giants GM Brian Sabean just isn't that bright (that's who the Twins traded AJ Pierzynski to). Either way, the Twins are off the hook for that one.
2) Cleveland has decided that they will suck - and not just this year.
Trading away Mark DeRosa, Ryan Garko and Rafael Betancourt is one thing. Trading away Cliff Lee is another thing entirely. He's the reigning Cy Young winner, he was under contract next year, and the Indians most critical need for next year is starting pitching. The only way he's traded is if GM Mark Shapiro is throwing in the towel for next year as well as this year. And apparently Shapiro has admitted as much.
So looking at 2010, you have a Royals team that is an offensive (both meanings) mess. The Tigers are getting older and can't likely sustain that stratospheric payroll. And now the Indians look like they won't really be trying. That leaves the White Sox, who have done a great job of rebuilding while staying competitive, and the Twins, who are clutching their prospects like a dog on a bone.
The future looks wide open. Maybe it is a good idea to hang onto the kids.
3) Twins win!
Hanging onto kids might be especially prudent considering it looks more and more like the Twins can take this thing without much help. Last night's win moved the Twins to 7-5 versus the White Sox, and they're 6-2 versus the Tigers. In the era of the unbalanced schedule, that's the sort of thing that makes a huge difference, and the Twins have so far been better head-to-head against either of the other competitive AL Central teams.
The Twins have the easiest schedule the rest of the way, and have 10 games that they get to still play against the Tigers. Making up ground will not be a problem....
And it's also reassuring to see that the heroes of tonight's game were Alexi Casilla (who we all hope recovers his stroke enough to eventually bat second in the order, Jesse Crain (supposed to be the answer to the 8th innings setup dilemma) and Brian Duensing (who could help provide depth to the rotation or be trade bait.)
The trades today set up those players and this team to win their 5th postseason appearance this decade (or 6th if you include last year's one-game playoff). It's often preached that one should "zig" while the rest of the world "zags". On one of the busiest trading days this decade, the Twins did just that. And while we didn't get the big name we wanted, this organization looks awfully well positioned for the future.