Over and Out...
So the Minnesota Twins lost their third game in a row to the division leading Detroit Tigers. What now? 9 games out at this point, pretty much the same as last year. Unfortunately, the optimists' club is looking at one year ago, when the Twins were still 9 games behind the Tigers. Of course, they were on a serious roll, winning most of their games as opposed to sweeping one team and being swept by the next. I say 'unfortunately' because looking to the past is the only thing that's keeping this club from moving forward. This season's over.
I'm for moving forward, hoping to sell off parts and bringing in others to shore up this club for next year, or perhaps sitting on the cash to buy a decent slugger at third or the DH. The difference between this year and last is that the Tigers will not fold as they did last season and Cleveland (and Seattle and, suddenly, the Yankees, who are tied with us in the Wild Card race) stand between here and a postseason berth. A few pundits have weighed in on this subject, most notably (in my mind), The Rake's Brad Zellar (scroll down), who argues for dumping Johan Santana. His arguments are sound, if not intriguing and entertaining to ponder. I don't like it from a sheer entertainment perspective, because I love great pitching and Johan is the best in the business now, and probably will be for a long time. Zellar suggests that pitchers don't usually last long, and that's true, but it's also true that some (Clemens, Nolan Ryan) last very long. Keeping Santana is a risk I'd be very willing to take.
I also wholeheartedly agree with Zellar about dumping Hunter and Joe Nathan, although I'm frankly irritated because I wanted to write this myself as if I were the first person to come up with this notion, and I still think I am because it's well known that this guy can be psychic. Anyway, with the depth of pitching the Twins have, it is the height of stupidity to me not to unload some of it for a few bats. Terry Ryan's been called a genius, and I have to disagree, and quite strongly. He's smart, and a great GM. But I look at Dave Dombrowski, with Detroit, and I see a guy who develops talent and also buys it, trades for it, and creates a balanced team. The Tigers may have more money, but the Twins are getting their stadium, and it's time to show some goodwill for that. Ryan is incapable of doing so either because he's limited by the Pohlads or because he's intent on staying true to his philosophy. This might also be called 'stubborn' when such a philosophy fails. And I believe this is failing.
To summarize: trade Hunter. Trade Nathan. Trade some minor league pitching. Get some bats in the DH hole and third base. We cannot rely on Rondell White or Nick Punto anymore. Of course, this is all mere fantasy, but it's worth hoping for. The Central Division is not getting weaker; in fact, it's getting stronger. Are the Twins going to settle for being the best third place team in the league forever?