15 July 2010
After starting the season with most everything clicking, the Minnesota Twins have experienced a rough couple of months. Injuries, rotten luck, and even simple incompetence has contributed to the Twins' drop to third in the AL Central, and the future doesn't look any better.
Of course, as does every blogger, I know exactly how to fix the team. Here are three steps Minnesota needs to take in order to have a successful second half of the season.
1. Send Kevin Slowey, Aaron Hicks, Carlos Gutierrez, and Yangervis Solarte to Arizona for Dan Haren
There were two major consequences of the Cliff Lee trade, and both aren't beneficial to the Twins: Lee will not be in a Minnesota uniform in 2010, and his trade significantly raised the current going rate for starting pitchers.
Texas essentially gave up a switch-hitting Justin Morneau for two or three months of Lee, which is far more than the Twins would have been willing to surrender. Now that a precedent has been set, Arizona will demand much more for Dan Haren.
The Diamondbacks need tons of help, especially in the pitching department. Slowey has proven to be an adequate middle-to-end of the rotation starter in the American League, and could be a solid #3 option on the Senior Circuit. Gutierrez has plenty of upside and will be a great relief option in a year or two. And Hicks' incredible amount of unproven upside will be very appealing to Arizona's depleted minor league system.
Minnesota gives up plenty, but will receive at least two and a half seasons of an above-average starting pitcher. (Possibly three and a half; Haren has a $15.5 club option for the 2013 season.) Haren's switch from the National League to the American League should cause some concerns, but the 29-year old has three years of AL experience under his belt.
Haren spent the 2005-2007 seasons with the Oakland Athletics and posted a combined ERA of 3.64. He struck out an average of 7.2 per nine innings, and walked just 2.1 per nine. Stats such as HR/FB, BABIP, and LOB percentage show that Haren wasn't benefitting from many lucky breaks, either.
Despite his slow start to the 2010 season, Haren would be a good top-of-the-rotation starter with the Twins and could help Minnesota re-take the division.
2. Move Delmon Young up to fifth in the batting order
Delmon Young has played in all but seven of the Twins' games so far this season. In 83 percent of the games he has played in, though, Young has batted in the 6-7-8 positions. Now, Young is no superstar and is certainly not worthy of usurping Morneau from the clean-up role, but there is no reason why the 24-year old isn't batting fifth.
In five of the six most common lineups this season, the Twins have batted Young seventh, behind both Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer. Young (842 OPS) has been a better player than both Kubel (787) and Cuddyer (766) this season, and should be moved up to the 5th spot in the batting order in order to give him more RBI opportunities.
3. Sit back and wait for the magic of regression to take effect.
I'm not excusing poor performances when I say that the Twins have suffered from a great deal of bad luck so far this season.
It's a fact that the Tigers and White Sox have benefitting from outstanding and very unsustainable performances from Paul Konerko, Alex Rios, Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch, and Miguel Cabrera. These players' performances will almost certainly decrease to something more along the lines of what they have put up over the course of their careers.
The Twins, meanwhile, have dealt with poor performances due to bad luck (see: Mauer, Joe) and poor performances due to injury (see: Hardy, J.J.; Hudson, Orlando).
There are still a lot of games left in the season, and there is a good chance things will eventually even out. Minnesota is still the most talented team in the division.
But adding a front-line starting pitcher would make things a whole lot easier.
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