More Affordable for Twins
Look for the Twins front office to
aggressively try to improve the team roster before major league
baseball’s July 31 trade deadline. The Twins have a playoff contending
club and the right acquisition could be the difference in at least
advancing beyond the first round of the post-season.
There’s nothing new about the Twins
wanting to improve themselves but what’s different now is the revenue
from the new ballpark. Although this doesn’t come from ownership or
management, there have been reports the Twins could generate $40 million
or more per season at Target Field than at their previous home, the
That sort of revenue jump moves the
franchise from baseball’s have nots to a much more competitive financial
position and creates opportunities to increase player payroll including
at mid-season. The front office shopping list might include a ninth
inning closer and power hitting right-handed batter, preferably someone
who can play third base.
Closer Jon Rauch looks like a
conundrum for the Twins. He’s tied for first in the American
League with 16 saves. He’s only walked three batters in 25 innings
and his ERA is okay at 2.52. But opposing batters are hitting .278 against him.
While frequently giving up a line drive hit or two, Rauch can send Twins
fans reaching for antacids in the ninth inning.
Nathan, out for the season following Tommy John surgery and the man Rauch is
trying to replace, had a 1.33 ERA in 2008 and 2.10 last season.
Opposing hitters batted .171 against Nathan in 2009 and .179 the year
Delmon Young’s improvement has added another productive right-handed bat to the
lineup but with Michael Cuddyer the total only reaches two.
Left-handed batter Jason Kubel is only hitting .200 against left-handed pitching, something the Twins see a lot of with their left-handed
heavy batting order featuring Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.
The lack of productive right-handed
hitting has been exaggerated too with the games missed by shortstop
J.J. Hardy, now back on the disabled list with his injured wrist.
The Twins meager hitting infielders include Nick Punto, .221,
Matt Tolbert, .152, Brendan Harris, .160 and Alexi
Casilla, .256 . Combined they have one home run and 24 RBI.
The addition of a productive right-handed
batsman would brighten prospects for an already outstanding team. The
Twins are more than one-third through the schedule, have a 36-27 record
and lead the Central Division by 2.5 games. Baseball’s power rankings
list them among the top six or so teams.
Will the Twins be a better team by
October? The front office will try to make that a reality.