Stop With the Premature Trade Talk Already

I know Twins fans aren’t quite accustomed to dealing with having their team be uncompetitive right out of the gate, but that’s no excuse for being rediculously stupid.

It seems like some folks just don’t know how to enjoy the rare good performance when they see one. No, it has to be immediately followed by, “Let’s trade him!”

Justin Morneau

Justin Morneau’s wrist is feeling good and he’s hitting the ball well! Let’s trade him NOW!

Ryan Doumit’s had some clutch hits! He should be traded while he’s hot!

Denard Span is getting on base and playing a decent center field! Trade him for a boatload of pitchers, right now!

Josh Willingham hit a walkoff home run! It’s time to trade him, NOW!

Listen carefully, please… May 30 is never “the time” for a non-contending team to trade productive veteran players for prospects. Why? Because Major League GMs are not idiots… in May. They aren’t going to see one home run in May and think, “Wow. I want that guy and I’ll trade away my best pitching prospect to get him!”  At least not for another several weeks.

Ryan Doumit

Should Twins General Manager Terry Ryan be listening to offers for most of his productive veterans? Absolutely. There’s nobody on this roster that should be “off limits” right now. Some of the contracts may make certain players (that would be you, Mr. Mauer) untradeable for all practical purposes, but that doesn’t mean Ryan shouldn’t listen if a fellow GM thinks he has an idea that would work.

But May 30 is for listening… for determining which teams might have interest in certain players… but not for trading.

Frankly, nobody is desperate (read: stupid) enough to give enough in return, yet.

The Red Sox, Tigers and Angels are off to slow starts, but they are far from being desperate… yet. The Indians and Orioles, although finding themselves in better positions than they perhaps expected heading in to the season, still have some holes to fill. But they are far from desperate… yet.

It’s desperation that makes for unequal trades and we all know that fans… Twins fans in particular, it seems… tend to overvalue their players and thus expect more for them in return for a trade than other teams are likely to be willing to give up. There is simply no trade Ryan could make on May 30 that would make anyone in Twinsville happy, unless it happened to involve a player that a particular fan has some screwy personal grudge against.

First, you have to at least get past the upcoming draft. Until then, neither the Twins nor potential trading partners know for sure what their respective organizatinal needs are, nor where they have sufficient depth to afford the luxury of trading away a decent prospect or two.

Perhaps more than any other professional draft, the MLB draft is a crapshoot. Players can’t be counted on to make an immediate impact at the Major League level and, in fact, they can’t really be counted on to ever play Big League ball. So, despite all the fan chatter about how teams need to draft pitching or power hitting or speed because of the perception that the organization’s current MLB roster is short on that particular talent, teams almost always draft what they believe is the “best player available” when their turn comes around. You simply don’t know with any level of certainty what your organization’s needs will be by the time a particular kid is ready to play Big League baseball.

As a result, it’s only after the draft is over that you can judge with any precision what kind of talents you should be targeting in the trade market… and it’s only after the draft is over that you or potential trade partners can accurately judge which talents they may have a surplus of and can thus afford to send off in a trade.

That’s when phone lines between GMs start to warm up.

Denard Span

Even then, real interest doesn’t often reveal itself until July rolls around and desperation doesn’t kick in until later that month. That’s when teams convince themselves that they need a toolsy lead-off hitting center fielder or a versatile switch-hitting back up catcher with a little pop, especially if they’ve got team-friendly contracts.

For guys with big contracts, the “time” to trade them might not come around until August, after the non-waiver deadline passes. That’s when desperation really sets in and teams become willing to take on big contracts and overpay in prospects, if they think the guy could help them bring home some sort of championship this year.

I think we all understand the reality of 2012. Every GM in baseball will have Terry Ryan on speed dial and Ryan is going to make some deals. I don’t especially like that, but it’s the reality that comes with being an underperforming last place team. But that doesn’t mean I want him giving away every veteran on the ballclub without getting guys who are pretty damn close to being Major League ready in return.

Some people may be willing and even eager to ship current players off for a couple of “organization players” who will never be more than roster fillers for Rochester or New Britain (or whoever next year’s AAA and AA Twins affiliates are). I am not one of those people.

I want… I expect… to see a much better product on the field next season and if Ryan can’t get players in trade that should be expected to contribute to this team being more competitive in 2013, then I’d just as soon see the Spans, Doumits, Morneaus and Willinghams still wearing Twins uniforms next year.

And nobody is offering that level of talent, especially the potential top of the rotation pitching talent the team desperately needs most, on May 30.

So how about we just stop with the, “Twins need to trade so-and-so right now,” crap? No, they don’t.

– JC

(All photos: Jim Crikket, Knuckleballs)

7 Replies to “Stop With the Premature Trade Talk Already”

  1. I agree with the sentiment of this post, namely, that teams will be more desparate to deal better prospects as we get into July. And I think that’s 100% true that it’s too early to trade away guys, unless there is an offer that blows you away.

    I think that you’re more optimistic than I am about the state of the 2013 Twins, though. I think the Twins can be better next year than they probably will be this year, but I think they will still pretty far away from a potential playoff team. So I’m not sure that we necessarily need players that are MLB ready for 2013 in order for moves this summer to be good.

  2. I retract my earlier comment.

    The Twins should trade Liriano before he comes on to pitch the 7th today.

  3. Agreed, Terry Ryan probably won’t be trading anyone at least for another few weeks. Just a note: Doumit is a free agent after the season. So, particularly if he continues to play like he has in the last month, odds are against him coming back next year.

  4. It’s a crapshoot. Teams are looking at the Twins. Yes, after the draft teams will re-evaluate many players in their systems. You look at where you have an abundance against what you need and such. Players suddenly become available. If you can trade for someone in June to keep them from someone else (as well as improve your team) you do it. The question on the other side is “How uch can I MAYBE hold-out for?” Do I wait or go if someone makes me an offer. Like buying/selling a house, walking into a Pawn Shop with something worth a grand and being offered $200….if I come back tomorrow, after they have a made a few calls, will they give me $300-400-500 or more…or nothing.

    The Twins need to look at every play and the situations they make. Trade Doumit, then does Willingahm DH and who plays the outfield. If we trade Span and DH Willingham, who plays two outfield spots. Is Plouffe on third or Valencia. And every name you look at, you are looking at where they will be not only in 2013 with the team, but probably 2014. Can we or do we wish to resign Morneau after 2013. If not, then what do we get for him. O do we want him, and does he expect, to end his carer as a Twin, and is that important.

    Do we stay with wannabes in the bullpen and rotation.

    The next question is adding to the roster, service time and such and how it relates not just to 2013 but also 2014 and beyond. The Twins are beyond plugging holes for a competitive season in 2013 (sorry, true….they can play good ball and all but a chance at the playoffs will not happen). They can dream about 2013, but so many factors come into play — can hey attract free agents (no), do they have up-and-coming superstars (no, just solid players). Can they trade for talent above the norm in their system but still raw (probably).

    It’s not an easy job, but someone will ask the Twins for a player or too waaaaay before July. Be interesting to see what happens.

  5. I don’t believe I wrote anything about expecting the Twins to win championships in 2013. What I wrote was that I expect the Twins organization to put a much better product on the field and to be more competitive than they are now. I don’t believe that’s expecting too much and I don’t believe Twins fans should expect any less.

    The current lineup, with even a moderately competent starting rotation, would not be a terrible team. I think some people are much too quick to demand that the team be “blown up.”

    It will certainly take more than just a few marginal improvements around the edges, but I do not believe they should be taking backward steps in 2013, just with the hope of competing in 2014 and beyond. This team should be looking to improve every year and fans should accept nothing less.

  6. How about we trade Trevor Plouffe to Cleveland for Hanahan and get the only gophers in MLB together? We can do that deal tomorrow and ante up 2 buckets of balls to go with.
    I just can’t take it anymore. The shoddy defense at ever position was always supposed to be tolerated because of his bat but realistically he’s got a great 4A bat and not much else. I’d rather either try Casilla out over there or bring Valencia back up.

  7. When Morneau has been in the lineup, the Twins offense has put up a respectable 4.56 rpg (the league average is 4.42 rpg). Of course, we don’t know if he can stay healthy, and Ryan will have to find a replacement for Doumit and get a new 3B and/or 2B, and Willingham is bound to regress… but, yeah, the core of a decent offense is there for next year, if Ryan wants to build on it.

    At the same time, Ryan has to consider that Morneau’s contract expires after 2013, Willingham is signed through 2014 (his age 35 season), and Span is signed through 2014 + a club option for one more year. The window for building around this lineup nucleus probably will be closing within a couple years. So, then Ryan has to ask himself, does he feel confident that he can fix that pitching rotation this winter? Are the right guys out there? Will he have the money to spend?

    If he can go get at least a couple good starting pitchers this winter, and maybe another one for 2013, great. Let’s see if we can enjoy one more contending team before Morneau’s contract is up, then. But if he knows that he can’t fix the rotation this winter, because the right guys aren’t available, he doesn’t have the budget, the organization prefers to build through a youth movement, or whatever, then he might as well trade away his veteran parts this summer, or whenever he can get back good value for them.