GameChat – Twins @ Tigers, 6:05

I gotta tell you, I don’t hate that Lee is with the Rangers.  *laugh*  I do think it will mean that the Twins will work a little harder to nail down one of the other pitchers that are available – because there are several – and I don’t think they will be pressured to overpay for one of them the way that it seems everyone else was willing to do for Lee.  That being said, I am ECSTATIC that one 24 hour period as seen an end to both the speculation regarding Lee AND LeBron.  THANK GOD!  I don’t mind trade rumors, fact is, I believe I mentioned being a trade rumor addict during the off-season.  BUT the sheer level of the ridiculous that was attached to these players due to current, or impending, free agency was mind-numbing.  So, I wonder who the Twins are turning their attention to?  I don’t hate Roy Oswalt and I love Dan Haren…  hmmm… 😉

Now to focus on tonight’s game – how about we try WINNING on the road and, especially, let’s beat the Tigers!  Not sure what it is about the Twins but they seem to do better when they they are fighting to catch up rather than being in the lead.  Well, then get your butts in gear and fight to catch up because you are in 3rd place in the division, boys!  Since this is our last series before the AS break, I think it would be a good time to win and go on the break with that motivation.

Justin Morneau is still battling headaches so he is not only not in the lineup but Gardy says he’s not available, period.  There are some questions whether or not he’ll even be able to play the AS Game.  It kind of sucks if he managed to get voted into that starting spot and then has to give it up to yet another Yankee if he can’t play.  But no, I don’t want him to play at all if he has any lingering effects period.  It’s just not worth it.

In order to lift everyone’s mood before the start of the game, I’m sharing this tweet from Seth Stohs who is in Detroit with the folk on TwinsTrain“Right now in BP, Cuddy at 1B, Gardy at 2B, Mauer at SS. Ha!” GREAT mental image!

Minnesota @ Detroit
Span, CF   Jackson, A, CF
Hudson, O, 2B   Raburn, LF
Mauer, C   Ordonez, DH
Thome, DH   Cabrera, M, 1B
Kubel, RF   Boesch, RF
Cuddyer, 1B   Guillen, C, 2B
Young, D, LF   Inge, 3B
Hardy, SS   Laird, C
Punto, 3B   Worth, SS
  Liriano, P     Verlander, P


  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 3 11 0
Detroit 2 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 x 7 11 1


Is it the all-star break yet?  No???  Crap.  *sigh*

So, What’s Next?

UPDATE: OK so maybe I was premature in handing Lee to the Yankees, since NY Post reporter Joel Sherman is now (at 2:44 pm) tweeting that the Ms are going in “another direction.” the Rangers have acquired Lee from the Mariners in a deal that is somewhat puzzling, but sure looks to me they paid a VERY high price. Nevertheless, while my comments about the Yankees below are now virtually irrelevant, my views about the Twins needing to just get busy and move on to other targets remain as strong as ever. – JC

UPDATE #2: Interesting stuff. Seems the Yankees are pissed off. This is interesting, in that the Yankees were frustrated with the Ms just a year ago when they were trying to trade for Jarrod Washburn. The Ms did get two of the Rangers top 20 prospects in addition to two lesser minor leaguers, one of which (2B Josh Lueke) has some past “character issues” (to say the least). -JC

I’ve always been a big fan of TV’s “West Wing” series. Throughout the seven seasons that Martin Sheen portrayed the fictional President Bartlet in that series, I’m pretty sure he uttered the question, “What’s next?” more than any other phrase. It virtually became a catch phrase. In one episode, he expounded on the phrase in a terse admonition to his staff. “When I ask, ‘What’s next?’, it means that I’m ready to move on to other things. So, what’s next?”

I’m not sure I can describe my feelings about the impending Cliff Lee to the Yankees trade much better than that.

Yes, I was all in favor of making a deal to bring Lee to the Twins, even if it meant overpaying in prospects a bit. But Cliff Lee is going to be a Yankee. OK, fine. I’m ready to move on to other things. So, what’s next?

There are a couple of things you can do when you don’t get what you want. You can whine and cast blame on those who made the decision to deprive you of getting what you want (we’ll call this the Dan Gilbert approach, named for the Cleveland Cavaliers owner who pretty much provided a prime example of it with his reaction to being jilted by his prize free agent player last night). You can also throw a tantrum and set things on fire.

I’m just not sure those approaches are altogether productive and, fortunately, I can’t quite envision Twins GM Bill Smith going with those options either.

I prefer the “What’s next?” approach because, let’s be honest, the Twins need some help and the sooner, the better. So if Lee is not coming to town to help former team mate Carl Pavano deliver us all to the Promised Land (which, in this case, would be the World Series), then let’s focus on other options to get us there.

I know we’ve said a few times that it would be nice to have another option at 3B, but like it or not, I think Michael Cuddyer has become that “other option”. I’m not thrilled, but if it means we get more 420 foot HRs out of Jim Thome’s bat in the lineup, I’ll try to live with it. Frankly, the available 3B options on the market right now don’t exactly excite me anyway. So do your best out there, Cuddy, and try not to hurt yourself.

But for goodness sake, someone please find us some pitching. A top of the rotation starting pitcher like Dan Haren or Roy Oswalt? Terrific! The Cubs are supposedly about ready to start selling off spare parts, so let’s give them a call about Ted Lilly. He’s a rung below these other guys, but on this team, he’d be a marked improvement (but then, the list of pitchers that would constitute marked improvement over what we’ve seen on the mound lately wouldn’t be a short one).

Maybe we shouldn’t be content to settle for just getting one of those guys because, as long as we’re being honest, I think we have to admit we have more than one starting pitcher who isn’t exactly giving his team a great chance to win very often lately. And while we’re in a shopping mood, maybe we should think about a little bullpen help, too.

Is that asking for too much? I don’t think so! A year ago, there was a great deal of debate (and considerable skepticism) concerning whether Smith would make any deals significant enough to really be difference makers. In the end, he brought in Jon Rauch, Ron Mahay, Orlando Cabrera and Carl Pavano. While we could quibble about each player’s ultimate contribution to the Twins winning the Central Division title, there can be no questioning that the Twins were uncharacteristically active in their effort to strengthen their roster for the late season push.

I fully expect Bill Smith to be even more aggressive this month. The Twins can still contend for their Championship rings this season and if you take the time to really look at what their payroll and roster could look like next year and beyond, you recognize that this opportunity could be the best it’s going to get for a couple of years.

“But what about the F’ing Yankees?”, you ask, “Haven’t they wrapped up the World Series by trading for Cliff Lee?”

No. In my mind, they’ve not increased their chances of advancing in the playoffs much at all. What they HAVE done is increase their chances of reaching the playoffs. But wasn’t that pretty darn good anyway? Adding Lee to a rotation that already includes Sabbathia, Pettitte, and Hughes will make them tougher competition for the Rays and Red Sox over the second half of the season, but really what they did was save themselves a first round draft pick which they would have lost to Seattle (or whatever other team Lee ended this season with) by signing Lee in the offseason instead of trading for him now. Bully for them.

But once in the playoffs, they were going to have a tough starting pitcher every game, with or without Lee. It’s not like they were going to be trotting Javier Vasquez out there to start any games, anyway.

So frankly, if the Twins weren’t going to get Lee, I can’t think of many places (at least in the AL) where he would have a less problematic effect on the Twins than with the Yankees. The Twins are done playing the Yankees during the regular season and he’s not going to result in nearly the kind of upgrade to their rotation that he would have to the Rays, Rangers or, God forbid, the White Sox or Tigers.

So the proper response to this turn of events is not to wail about how the Yankees always get what they want (though they do) or to cast aspersions toward the Mariners for getting the Yankees to overpay in prospects even more than the Twins would have (though they did).

Instead, let’s fix our gaze toward Bill Smith and simply ask, “So, what’s next?”  -JC