The Twins need right-handed relievers. You know this. I know this. The front office, the coaches and the players know this. It’s become a priori; even Kant knows it. It’s transcendental.
What I don’t know, and haven’t seen, is exactly what the Twins can do about it. So let’s do a little a posteiori analysis on eleven names that could be available this trade deadline. While we’re at it, we’ll rank them from the least to the most desirable. We’ll group them by what it might take to land them.
NOT NOTHING, BUT NOT SOMETHING, EITHER
11. Juan Cruz
The 32-year-old bounced back a little this season with the Rays after two miserable years with the Royals. It’s nice that the Rays were to get a 3.44 ERA and 21 hits in 34 inning from a guy they signed to a minor league deal. Unfortunately, Cruz is still having troubles with his control (he also has 21 BB) and now he’s sidelined until after the deadline with a strained groin. It’s a shame, because in some ways he’s having a better year than the next two guys on the list, but he wouldn’t cost a team nearly as much thanks to how the Collective Bargaining Agreement rewards teams that lose free agents. (See, Francisco, Frank.)
10. Frank Francisco
He’s the former closer for the Rangers and was supposed to be the closer for the Blue Jays. He started the year on the DL with some pectoral/shoulder problem, came back, was given the closing duties and has now lost them again.
If you take nothing else away from this story, take away this: you can tell a lot about the year a reliever is having by looking at his WHIP (Walks + Hits/Inning Pitched). 1 is awesome. 1.5 is very bad. Francisco’s is 1.725. If the Twins go after him, it’s because they think they see something they can fix.
The Blue Jays shouldn’t need to be talked into selling off their relievers since their team sits 9.5 GB of the wild card. Indeed, it almost looks like management assembled their bullpen with the express purpose of selling at the trade deadline. Francisco is a free agent at the end of the season, so you might think he could be had at a reasonable price. But that’s where the Collective Bargaining Agreement comes in.
Currently, Francisco is on track to be a “Type B” free agent, meaning the team that he leaves would receive a supplementary draft pick after the first round if they offered him arbitration. Provided he finishes the year fine, he’s a safe bet to offer arbitration, so the Jays will get a good draft pick by NOT trading him. That’s why a team will need to give up a decent prospect to get him.
9. Kerry Wood
Gawd, what a winding road it has been for this 34-year-old. He looked like he bounced back last offseason, accepted a $1.5M offer just so he could pitch with the Cubs again, but has struggled (1.516 WHIP) in the right-handed setup role there. His control has been especially shaky, and lately he’s been dealing with a blister.
The Cubs will be selling, and Wood will be a free agent this offseason, but he will also cost a team a decent prospect for the same reason Francisco will – he’s on track to be a Type B free agent.
8. Jon Rauch
Yep – same scary neck tatoo guy that you know. He signed with the Blue Jays and has gotten a fair number of saves while Francisco has struggled. As with the Twins, he hasn’t been especially dominant: 27K in 39.1 IP and a 1.271 ERA. Whichever team trades for him can also bring him back next year at $3.75M, which seems fair. He also projects as a Type B free agent, so letting him walk could conceivably net a supplementary pick – unless the team was worried his saves would jack up his arbitration case.
I’ll just say this for the last time and then let it drop: Rauch will have similar stats to what Matt Capps had when the Twins gave up Wilson Ramos for him last year, including the “closer” experience that some deemed so valuable. He’s also on pace to finish the season with stats similar to what Capps has last year; the same performance that convinced the Twins to pay $7M so he would return in 2011. And one can expect just about the same out of Rauch in 2012 that one could reasonably have expected out of Capps this year.
Some might think that piling on Capps at this point is gratuitous, but that misses the point: I’m not piling on Capps at all. I’m piling on the front office’s infatuation. They repeatedly tried to acquire him, finally paid a premium price, and then compounded the mistake by overpaying so again in the offseason. And the entire time they defiantly told critics that we were missing something.
Turns out, we are. We’re missing Wilson Ramos, $7 million and seven blown wins.
So, if you were a big fan of the whole Matt Capps move, I present to you: Jon Rauch. While I’d like to say there is almost no chance ohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giff him coming back, who knows what the front office will favor?
We’ll get to #7 through #4 tomorrow (in part because I’m not quite sure how I’ll rank them) and then finish up the list on Monday. And if you have any other names you would like me to make sure are included, let me hear about them in the comments section. Or, follow me on twitter and send me a tweet with the names you want to hear.