Gardenhire On Twins’ Trade Philosophy

4:26pm: MLB.com's Kelly Thesier has more from Gardenhire, who says that he and GM Bill Smith are aware of who's out there and talk casually about trades up until the All-Star Break, when they typically sit down to discuss potential moves in a more serious manner.

1:57pm: Mired in a four-game losing streak, and having lost six of their last ten games, the Twins find themselves with just a half-game lead on the AL Central as they square off against their former ace Johan Santana in New York today.

Since Santana's trade following the 2007 season, the Twins have lacked a definitive ace atop their rotation. Francisco Liriano has shown flashes of brilliance and looks to have returned to form somewhat in 2010. However, it seems a long shot that he'll ever recapture the dominance he exhibited in his 2006 breakout, which was cut short by Tommy John surgery.

Currently relying on Liriano, Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, and Nick Blackburn, the Twins' rotation has begun to falter over recent weeks. Slowey and Blackburn in particular have struggled of late, posting ERAs of 5.18 and 9.47 over the last month, respectively.

The combination of need and the presence of blocked catching prospect Wilson Ramos have led many to believe the Twins to be the front-runners to acquire Seattle's Cliff Lee.

Knowing that the Twins are a front-runner for Lee and that they've explored a trade for Houston's Roy Oswalt, Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune spoke with Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire today regarding the club's trade philosophy. If the Twins are pursuing Lee, who is rumored to be available immediately, Gardenhire isn't tipping their hand:

"This organization’s pretty set in its ways about not ever giving up your system for a rental, as they say. We haven’t done that in the past, and I wouldn’t think they would be leaning that way now."

Gardenhire's comments aren't necessarily entirely accurate. While the Twins haven't dealt elite prospects for talent in the past, they did trade for two rentals last season when they acquired Orlando Cabrera from the Athletics and traded the Indians for Pavano's services in August. Pavano remains a Twin after accepting arbitration this past offseason.

Gardenhire does concede that "things happen" and mentions increased revenue from the sellout crowds every game at the Twins' new home, Target Field. He's quick to cover that admission, however:

"But it still goes with the philosophy of the organization and that’s develop and bring these guys to the big leagues — and that’s never going to change here, I don’t believe."

The one hole in Gardenhire's statement? Ramos, ranked as the game's 58th-best prospect by Baseball America in late February, won't supplant AL MVP Joe Mauer, making it impossible to see him being brought to the big leagues as a regular — at least in a Twins uniform.

While those comments may leave the door more open for Oswalt, the Astros recently called up their own elite catching prospect, Jason Castro. There's also the issue of Oswalt's contract. At $16MM in 2011, it will be a considerable burden to any club looking to acquire the Houston ace, making Lee a far more logical target for Minnesota, despite its past philosophy.


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18 Comments on "Gardenhire On Twins’ Trade Philosophy"


Nicolas_C
5 years 2 months ago

I think the odds are very high that the Twins get Lee. As mentioned in the this post, the Twins (and Astros) have no room for Ramos, but the Mariners are in a huge need for a catcher now, and Ramos is ready to contribute in the major leagues already (though I’m not sure if the Mariners have some high ceiling catchers in the lower levels).

boy9988
5 years 2 months ago

Seattle already has a catcher who has an even better minor league track record than Ramos. Adam Moore has not been given enough playing time to really show what he can do. Seattle doesn’t need Ramos.

$1529282
5 years 2 months ago

Moore’s also already 26 and just breaking into the Majors. I wouldn’t say he has Ramos’ upside, even if Wilson has struggled in 2010. A couple of years ago, the Mariners “didn’t need catchers” either because of Jeff Clement.

Not saying Moore can’t or won’t pan out by any means, but Ramos has more potential.

Nicolas_C
5 years 2 months ago

Wow what the heck are the Mariners waiting for then? He’s 26 and has had enough experience in the minors to be playing every day. It’s not like they’re contending or have another decent catcher. Maybe he would be able to play first and Ramos would catch. Unless, of course, they have a big first base prospect.

twins33
5 years 2 months ago

The rumors are that the M’s want a pitcher in return, though there seem to be several different ones out there. I’d do one of Blackburn/Duensing/Manship/Swarzak. Obviously, other pieces, but I wouldn’t do it for any other pitcher and I hope the Twins wouldn’t either.

It’s not like Lee is going to stay. He’ll go to a team that’ll give him more than the 3/60 he turned down. We could be down three pitchers next year: the one we trade, Lee and then Pavano. That would be extremely, extremely hard to replace….and still be at minimum divisional contenders. I think it’d be very hard to trade someone on the current 25 man roster.

I’d be disappointed if they traded Duensing, but it wouldn’t be a deal breaker. I kind of go back and forth about this. I want Lee, but I’m not sure it pushes us over the top. Pitching hasn’t been our problem in the playoffs. Yes, we have guys struggling and very likely do need another starter, but I don’t think that automatically means we make it out of the first round.

We’re going through a really bad stretch right now with pitching and hitting. We still need a 3B since the Twins are scarily putting Cuddy over there instead of Valencia. Valencia needs to be our 3B or traded. He’s getting old and it’s about time that he gets a chance. We might need a 2B next year, though I’d be fine with Hughes.

Trade for Lee and we could be down three pitchers, a second baseman and a third baseman. Next year really sounds scary.

mauerfan
5 years 2 months ago

Actually we’d be down 4 pitchers…Kyle Gibson should be ready to step in and take Pavano’s spot. Duensing could always be put in the rotation as well since he proved he could do it last year. Nick Punto will play either 3B or 2B. Plus who’s to say Hudson won’t resign with us. For 3B we could look at Cantu, Wigginton, or Atkins. Atkins isn’t ideal but he has ok power. Jorge De La Rosa, Dave Bush, Kevin Millwood or even a Jake Westbrook are also SP options. I’m not too woried at all to be honest.

$1529282
5 years 2 months ago

1. Let’s hope Punto’s option isn’t picked up. I realize he’s a fan favorite (for some reason), but even if you want his defense around, a $5MM option is excessive. If they’re set on keeping Nick, they should buyout the option and re-sign him for less.

2. Doubtful Hudson re-signs with us unless we give him a multi-year deal. I could see it, possibly, but there will be – as always – lots of teams in the market for middle infielders.

3. Garrett Atkins isn’t an option for anyone. You may as well bring back Tony Batista. He cannot hit. Bring him on a minor league deal and see if he makes the club? Ok, but he shouldn’t be counted on as an everyday 3B option.

twins33
5 years 2 months ago

Hudson could re-sign, but we don’t know that for sure. Which is why I said we “could” be down such and such.

I don’t want to rush Gibson like Garza, except that was for the Liriano injury. I hope the Twins don’t rush him. I’d like him to maybe spend a half-season next year in the minors at least. He’s hit a wall right now, which he’ll probably get out of, but he’s still hit a wall.

I don’t mind Punto as a starter as long as we have a 2B or 3B that are good. I’d want Cantu over Wigginton, just because he’s younger. I’m not jumping up and down about either though. And I don’t want Atkins ever, guy can’t hit away from Coors and has been declining for years. We might has well just put Harris there in that case.

And none of those SP options are anything to get excited for, especially Bush.

$1529282
5 years 2 months ago

By and large I’ll agree, though I think De La Rosa is tremendously underrated. The numbers he’s managed to put up in Coors Field of all places over the past year are impressive. Sure, he’s on the shelf right now, but he’s a guy worth getting reasonably excited for, I’d say.

Also, Gibson would have a full year and a half in the minors if he were up to start 2011, while Garza barely got one year. Obviously, it all depends on his stats, but I certainly don’t think it’s a stretch to say he can be ready by 2011.

Some combination of Liriano/Baker/Slowey/Blackburn/Duensing/Gibson/Manship/Swarzak/One free agent will be able to carve out a respectable rotation.

mauerfan
5 years 2 months ago

Jorge has been solid in Colorado. While I doubt he’d sign with us it’s possible. Milwood was doing decent in Baltimore. The problem with him is that the O’s haven’t given him ANY run support. While I’m tired of the old guys he isn’t that bad..

$1529282
5 years 2 months ago

Cuddyer is only playing 3B for Valencia because they want to keep he and Kubel in the lineup in interleague. He’ll have a month-long tryout at 3B I’d imagine, before the club decides on whether or not to make a trade.

If they do, I’d bet on acquiring Wigginton for Trevor Plouffe.

twins33
5 years 2 months ago

I know why they are doing it, but Gardy seems to love the idea of keeping him there. I don’t want a month long Cuddy at third. I’ll live with it for the next game, but honestly it’s scary with him there. He sucked there in 2005 and I believe that will just continue.

It’s good that we can get Kubel’s bat in there during interleague, but it’s countered by Cuddy’s bat which has been declining for some time now.

TwinsVet
5 years 2 months ago

Cuddy’s coming off a career season. “declining for some time now” may be a bit harsh – he’s just “off to a slow start” or “having an off year”. You wouldn’t say “Kubel has been declining for some time now”, yet his season has been far worse than Cuddy’s.

twins33
5 years 2 months ago

By “declining for some time now,” I meant hasn’t played well for the last month and playing at 3B is making it worse. Him and Young need to be switched in the batting order, but Gardy refuses.

Young has more rbi’s in 50ish fewer plate appearances. I think Cuddyer has had the most players on base for him than anyone else on the team and he ends up doing nothing with that most of the time. He should be at least second in rbi’s on the team, but he isn’t. Even though Kubel is having a worse season, he’s producing more rbi’s and is getting on base more. Young and Kubel have been insanely better with RISP than Cuddyer. Cuddyer should be the one batting seventh. I wasn’t even considering Cuddyer’s previous season. He shouldn’t get special treatment because he’s the vet of the Twins. If Delmon was doing this he’d be on the bench.

And I was all for Kubel being benched before he finally started hitting, especially since he was taking AB’s away from Young earlier in the season. Luckily, he’s gotten out of it. Cuddyer just keeps going down.

TwinsVet
5 years 2 months ago

Gardenhire had some good comments on Cuddyer on his radio show this
morning. He said Cuddy approached him and offered to play some 3B,
and Gardy is happy to obliged. He acknowledged Mike isn’t hitting his
best right now, but the guy is known to go on some torrid streaks, and
he’s confident he’ll end the season right where he always does –
20+HR, pushing 100 RBI, and around .285. I would give some “special
treatment” to the guy who is, by all accounts, the clubhouse leader,
has shown he can hit as well as anyone on the team, and is our most
versatile guy.

Young has been an incredibly pleasant surprise after being on Dierke’s
DFA hit-list. So far it looks like Gardy is finding effective ways to
get Kubel, Young, and Cuddy all in the lineup.

twins33
5 years 2 months ago

And he’s also known to go into longer streaks of bad than good. That’s what makes me uncomfortable. He says he’ll play 3B, which is good, but he isn’t good there. He looks uncomfortable out there and then he takes that up to the plate. Our offense is struggling enough the past few weeks, along with most of our pitchers.

I don’t think Young is that big of a surprise. I was more surprised that he was on the DFA list. The Rays rushed him and he’s only 24. Most people gave up on him pretty quickly. Justin Morneau didn’t start hitting until he was 25. He wasn’t as touted as Young, but still. I remember a few people wanted to get rid of Morneau when he was that young. It would have been really stupid.

nick1538
5 years 2 months ago

The Twins need to make a move for Cliff Lee for a number of reasons. 1. Detroit and Chicago have proven they are still in the hunt and Lee knows how to pitch in the AL Central from his time in Cleveland. 2. The Twins will ultimately face the Yankees in the playoffs and we know what Lee did against them last year. 3. The Twins have 2 MVPs in their primes and the only missing piece is an Ace at the top of the order. 4. The pieces required to make the deal are replaceable.

I think it would take more than one pitcher and Ramos, but even something like Slowey/Ramos/Swarzak would be a good move. Once Lee leaves in 2011 the Twins get 2 draft picks in a stocked draft which softens the loss of Ramos (who as stated is blocked by Mauer) and Slowey is replaced by Duensing in 2011 until Gibson (or Dave Bromberg) is ready. I don’t like the free agent idea, but if Pavano would take a 2-3 year deal at 8-10 million a year the Twins should definitely keep him around. If the Twins could also make a move for Kevin Kouzmanoff in Oakland, they would have a good option at 3B, moving Cuddyer back to RF and Valencia back to AAA. I am not sure what Oakland would want for Kouzmanoff, but they would definitively deal him once they are out of the hunt. Getting Ty Wigginton would be another option, but I like Kouzmanoff better.

twins33
5 years 2 months ago

I’ve always felt that Valencia was like Kouzmanoff. Kouzmanoff was way better in the minors, but it hasn’t translated to the majors. I feel like Valencia can put up the numbers that Kouz has so far in the majors.