To Trade or Not to Trade? It's Not Really a Question...
By now every Twins fan worth his salt (and any that come here for their news) should have read the Blotter post or heard that Torii Hunter spouted off to the New York Daily News about trade rumors. He added that he'd love to be in New York, or Boston, to play in what old friend David Ortiz called the "Super Bowl" of baseball (and that, in my mind, is the epitome of damning with faint praise). Local pundits are all weighing in; I might as well join the fray.
What do I want? I want Torii to stay because he's having an awesome year. I want Carl Pohlad to open his purse strings and make the team better. Despite his minions' complaints, the aged one is making money hand over fist, both from his numerous business affairs, and from the Minnesota Twins. I'll spell it out for you: there is no evidence whatsoever that the Twins have lost money recently. Or ever. A few years back there was a MLB Blue Ribbon Panel report (meaning, I guess, that it's important, not that it's sponsored by the famous beer) that showed that all the teams that didn't have new stadiums were going broke, and that the Yankees were rich. It was utter bullshit, totally unsubstantiated by any facts.
I mention this because I think it's obvious that the Twins do have money to spend, and I wish they'd keep "Spider-Man" (as the NY papers called Torii), get Sammy Sosa from the Rangers for some money and a few arms in the minors, and maybe a third baseman who can plug the ball well. And then I wish they'd really contend. I think they would with a few big-name additions, like Sosa.
You know what else I wish? Why, I wish that Torii Hunter might say "I really love Minnesota, would love to win a championship with the team, and the other night I was out driving around and realized how grotesque it is that I'm making all these millions while teachers and policemen and firefighters and nurses struggle to stay afloat. So I'll play here for whatever the Twins can afford."
We all know that ain't ever going to happen. In fact, we really know, deep down, that none of these rumors are going to pan out at all. The team you see now is pretty much the one you'll see at the end of September.
Our paradigm is as set in stone as the Ten Commandments. With the Minnesota Twins that means we claim poverty and try to win with players coming up through the minor leagues. Terry Ryan probably won't trade Hunter; he won't bring anyone in; things will remain roughly the same year after God-damned year. Maybe once in awhile he'll get lucky and get a guy like Shannon Stewart, a fellow who comes for cheap, helps out a bit, and looks so much better than he really is that he gets a few MVP votes (which was pretty amazing when you think about it.) It's exciting watching the new talent grow--grant the Twins a flair for making each season seem promising. And this is a much better model than, say, the Baltimore Orioles practiced over the last decade, throwing good money after many bad players.
Like every year, trade rumors mean little or nothing here in Minnesota (and elsewhere, really--when do they ever meet reality?). Chucking Hunter might just shake up the team, and make them realize their jobs are always on the line--firing Gardy if they don't produce might also work. But that's not our M.O. When it comes to moving the excess of minor league players the Twins grow, when it comes to buying a free agent or taking a risk on an aging big-bopper, complacency rules in Twins Territory. No matter what your wish, you can bet that the Twins will be sitting on their hands come the trading deadline.