Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend Recap and Trade Considerations

By Matt Tschida

After it appeared the Twins had figured a few things out, the past five games looked awfully similar to their early-season woes. While Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing and Scott Baker all pitched well enough to win, the offense (with many starters still out and Mauer and Nishioka still trying to find their timing) came up empty, scoring just eight runs during their five-game losing streak.

Is there still a glimmer of hope? I think so, but it’s fading fast, and the next 13 games will likely determine the fate of this season. Playing 21 of their next 25 games at home will finally even out the season home/road splits. To have a decent shot, the Twins will probably need to win at least nine of their remaining 13 games going into the break. Moreover, they'll likely need to scratch 17 or 18 wins out of this 25-game stretch. The only way I see this happening is if the healthy starting pitching can continue to give the club strong efforts, carrying the injury-depleted lineup on their backs.

Trade Position: Sellers?
It appears that at this point the Twins will (or probably should) be sellers. At second glance, however, they may be better off sitting on their hands (even past the trade deadline). Their top trade candidates – Cuddyer, Kubel and Capps (impending free agents) have been moving up the Elias player rankings. Why is this important? Bill Smith's trading record is an absolute train wreck, and the fact that the Twins could land two or three extra first round compensatory picks if these players leave via free agency probably makes standing pat a more logical decision.

As of a couple weeks ago (before winning 15 of 17), I felt that Cuddyer needed to be traded. Not because of his play, but because of his contract situation and the fact that he wasn’t even ranked as a
Type B player at the time. Now, after a month of being one of the hottest hitters in baseball, Cuddyer has leapt into Type A status. Jason Kubel is sitting at the top end of the Type B plateau, only percentage points away (just below Tampa Bay’s Matt Joyce) from qualifying as a Type A player. One could easily argue that had Kubel been healthy the last 2-3 weeks and continued to produce at his current rate, he would be in the Type A class. Matt Capps, even without a great first half, is right in the middle of the Type A relief pitcher rankings.

Just a refresher for those not familiar with the
Type A/Type B rankings – this link explains it well.

Why do the
Type A/Type B rankings matter when determining whether a team will trade a player or not? Well, let's look at Cuddyer, now considered a Type A player. If the Phillies (a team that reportedly has interest in Cuddyer) want to trade for him and the prospects they offer are rated lower than what the Twins scouts think they could get in next year’s first round, then they might decline the trade. Conversely, if Cuddyer was still ranked lower than Type B and he declined arbitration, the Twins would not receive any compensation this offseason if he were to decline arbitration and walk.

The Twins can actually use this information as leverage when negotiating deals. Going back to the Cuddyer/Phillies example – The Twins can argue that the Phillies are getting Cuddyer for the rest of this season, plus they’re getting a 2012 first rounder if he declines arbitration and signs elsewhere.

So, do I think the Twins should trade Cuddyer, Capps or Kubel? If they can find an aggressive buyer, as other teams have in recent years, then sure. However, I don't think they should sell just because these players are impending free agents. Bill Smith has had a lot more success building this team’s minor league system (see Gibson, Hicks, Gutierrez) than he has making major league trades. Stay tuned — later this week I'll be breaking down recent comparable trades for these three players, as well as other possible Twins who could be moved at the deadline.

No comments:

Post a Comment