Friday, July 31, 2009

Final Countdown

Last hours of the non-waiver trade deadline on the horizon.  If you get the opportunity, please download our e-book (TwinsCentric Trade Deadline Primer 2009) to use as a reference to follow along with all of the massive chaos spewed at you from every which direction.  $9.95.  Besides, it's Friday.  What else are you gonna do?
I'll be here regurgitating and disseminating some of the latest blips and bleeps on the radar throughout the day so check back frequently.  For those of you that have purchased the book, feel free to leave comments here or emails ( letting us know what you did or didn't like about it. 
  • Fox Sports says the Twins and A's have made progress towards Oakland sending 34-year-old shortstop Orlando Cabrera to Minnesota. Cabrera gets a far from resounding endorsement, but "progress" could either mean that the A's are willing to back down from from the Danny Valencia request or the Twins are willing to increase their offer as Charley Walters told that it was way too little. Meanwhile La Velle tweets that he believes it is looking less likely that the Twins will make any move at the deadline.
  • A's GM Billy Beane quoted in the San Jose Mercury: "You always remain optimistic.  You're trying to bring on as many young players that are going to be around for a while as you can. I wouldn't say anything is necessarily imminent. But along those lines, we still remain active in conversations."
  • Charley Walters writes that the Twins are inquiring about David Eckstein from the Padres and Adam Kennedy from the A's - the former Angels up-the-middle combination that helped bounce the 2002 playoffs. Eckstein, like Cabrera, is 34-years-old and has seen his better days behind him.  Like Everett and Punto, he's got that scrappiness that appeals to the manager.  A line drive hitter that doesn't walk (6.6 pct) or strikeout (7.7 pct) which are traits that have been coveted within the organization.  His defensive is suspect as his arm strength and first-step have failed him in recent years - making double plays almost non-existent.  Kennedy is having an aberration of a season, hitting well above his career numbers after being acquired by Oakland from Tampa in a minor league deal.  Like Eckstein, Kennedy is a line drive hitter but strikes out more frequently.  His .434 slugging percentage this season, compared to a career average of .392, is inflated by a career-best 9.0 HR/FB percentage.  Both are inexpensive and can been jettisoned after the season with minimal scar tissue however neither really provide a true upgrade.   
  • Interesting tweets from La Velle to follow up his original statement suggesting that he believed that the Twins were not going to make a move.  Said the Star Tribune beat writer, "All I know is that BS [GM Bill Smith] sounded FAR from optimistic when I spoke with him around 10 pm.  One phone call changes everything, but....For Twins' fans' sake, I hope I'm wrong.  Right now.  I don't see it..."
  • From Tom Powers at the Pioneer Press:  "Cliff Lee didn't cost the Phillies too much, relatively speaking, and would have looked great in a Twins uniform." Spahuh?  Lee cost the Phillies their number two through four prospects (Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald) and the number ten (Jason Knapp).  This would be the equivalent of the Twins giving up Ben Revere, Wilson Ramos, Jose Mijares and Angel Morales.  What this shows is the depth of a system like Philadelphia versus the shallow pool of the Twins.  The Phillies can move those four prospects and still retain top prospects in Dominic Brown, Michael Taylor and Kyle Drabek.  If the Twins sent a similar package, the system would be effectively purged.  Powers then continues to encourage the Twins to pursue a like deal for Seattle's Jarrod Washburn, who is on the final year of his contact.  Giving up that kind of prospect talent for less than half a season of Washburn would be selling the proverbial farm - a fact that Kelsie Smith across the newsroom from you had wrote about saying the Twins were not going to do.  Mr. Powers, please stick to commenting on happenings at the X, we'll keep an eye on things this side of the river.   
  • La Velle says the phone lines were humming at the Twins front office well past midnight trying to get something done.  Probably a west coast team judging from the hours...
  • Orlando Cabrera definitely understands how the trade deadline game is played.  "The thing is, if you wait until the last moment and see if other teams get desperate, you might get more added onto a deal," said Cabrera, who has an 11-game hitting streak.  Cabrera's hot month of July (41-for-110) seems bolstered by a high amount of groundballs finding holes (54 percent GB rate). 
  • Tom Haudricourt says that Brewers GM Doug Melvin's conversations with Seattle's GM, Jack Zduriencik, led him to believe that Jarrod Washburn is staying put. “It looks like he’s going to keep Washburn,” said Melvin. “He’s going to try to win as many games as he can. Arizona appears to be that way, too, (with pitchers Doug Davis and Jon Garland).”
  • Marco Scutaro might not be an option anymore.  Richard Griffin at the Toronto Star writes that "Since the Halladay domino still stands, then so will those of Scott Rolen, Marco Scutaro and Barajas."  Scutaro, unlike Cabrera, Eckstein and Kennedy, demonstrates the ability to get on base via a walk (13.3 percent in 2009) and rarely chases a bad pitch (12.1 out-of-zone swing percent) while being a consistent line drive hitter and playing three infield positions well.  If a selection among these four for number two in the batting order was to be made, I'm going on record as saying Scutaro.
  • Going back to La Velle's comments regarding the Twins front office on the horn under past midnight, Bill Center at the San Deigo Union-Tribune says that the Padres GM Kevin Towers was still in his office working the phones well past 10 pm Pacific Time.  It could be safe to assume that Smith was trying to bang out an Eckstein deal but hopefully the topic wandered over to closer Heath Bell.
  • USA Today's Bob Nightengale is confirming what Doug Melvin already suspected that the Mariners will not part with Jarrod Washburn unless they get an overwhelming offer.  Based on his contract, age and the fact that a vastly improved outfield defense is behind his improved numbers, I'd say that should take him off the boards for the Twins. 
  • Nightengale notes that the A's and Twins were in a late night conversation regarding Cabrera and that Oakland's asking price was crazy-loco.   
  •'s Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers nabbed Jarrod Washburn from Mariners for Luke French and Mauricio Robles.  Good move for the contender that truthfully had zero to offer.  However, the terrible outfield defense for the Tigers will bring Washburn's second-half numbers skyrocketing.  Better move by Seattle who recieves a substantial younger, cheaper version of Washburn in the 23-year-old French who has been an extreme flyball pitcher in his brief stint with Detroit and will benefit greatly from the revamped Mariner outfield. 
  • With Washburn off the market, the Twins should consider acquiring left-handed starter Doug Davis.  So far, Arizona has had little action but if those who were infatutated with Washburn wants a like-product, they should be looking towards the desert.  Davis, one year Washburn's junior, is owed $2 million less than the Wisconsin native and has provided similar output the past three seasons.  The last three years Washburn has thrown 480 innings, had an ERA of 3.9, a 23-35 record while posting a 5.2 K/9 and a 2.8 BB/9.  Davis meanwhile, has tossed 463 innings with a 4.14 ERA, a 24-30 record along with a 6.9 K/9 and a 4.3 BB/9. 
  • Sussie Slusser at the San Francisco Chronicle is saying that Orlando Cabrera could be with the Twins in the "next hour or so".  UPDATE: Valencia NOT a part of the deal.
  • Interesting, Slusser also says Justin Duchscherer's rehab start in AAA Sacremento was scrapped with no reason give.  Could the 31-year-old lefty from Aberdeen, SD be in play as well for another arm for the Twins?
  • UPDATE Nightengale confirms: Cabrera for Tyler Ladendorf.  Upgrade?  M'eh...Potential undefinable clubhouse injection that gets the team rolling?  Possibly. 
  • A shortstop with Beloit, Ladendorf, in his second year in the organization, had a good start in Elizabethton, hitting .410/.500/.721 with four home runs and a nice 11/7 BB/K ratio.  The promotion to Beloit saw his line drop to .233/.292/.267 in 60 at-bats with a 4/13 BB/K ratio.  The Twins were trying to tweak his batting stance and scouts believe that when he grows into his frame he will be forced out of the shortstop position.
  • Joe Christensen says we're going to see Cabrera in a Twins uniform tonight Saturday wearing number 18 and playing against his former team. 
  • Cleveland continues to dismantle their franchise.  Victor Martinez is heading to Boston says Nightengale.  Even with the firesale, the Indians have a good crop of young players in the minors (LaPorta, Santana, etc) making their "rebuilding" time just a few seasons (as opposed to decades like Pittsburgh). 
  • UPDATE Slusser says that Cabrera won't be able to get a plane out of the Bay Area until tomorrow morning since the team had a late arrival back following a series in Boston. 
  • Jeff Fletcher at AOLFanHouse says that the A's wanted to take Ladendorf with the following pick before the Twins snapped him up.
  • Cabrera's contract calls for him to recieve a one-time "assignment bonus" of $250K if traded.  Slusser believes that that is the amount the Twins will be getting from Oakland to complete the transaction.
  • Nightengale says the Twins and A's are talking about Michael Wuertz while ESPN's Buster Olney says the Twins are looking at Heath Bell.
  • UPDATE:  Padres want too much for Bell.  Twins are probably out writes Nightengale.  Talks fired up with Diamondbacks regarding Jon Rauch
  • Slusser says she spoke with Michael Wuertz at 3 PM and he was still a member of the Oakland Athletics. 
  • Christensen says that's it.  We've got Cabrera who addresses...clubhouse need?  There's still the waiver trade deadline of August 31st for the Twins to potentially grab another arm.