Siberian Baseball

Friday, September 28, 2007

Goodbye Johan, Hello Barry?

Some things just don't fly here in Minneapolis. I can safely say that after two years in the Twin Cities, there are some things that will go over well and others that are so jarring to the pace of life that they are rejected out of hand.

Call it a side-effect of having that many stoic upper Midwesterners in one place.

Honking your horn in traffic, even if the elderly gentleman ahead of you has dozed off at the light, is considered bad manners here. So is directly placing blame, even on the most incompetent of people. In still other situations, things are considered to flashy or too over-the-top for Minneapolis or Saint Paul - it's not like the citizens are Amish - that they are ignored by the population as a whole.

Imagine my surprise then, that the team that drove off AJ Pierzynski for being a clubhouse distraction is not so subtly in the running for - wait for it - Barry Bonds. (Hat tip to Nick and Nick's Twins Blog.) And this hot on the heels of last night's rumor from Los Angeles that Johan Santana might need to sell his winter coats and snow tires. (Thanks to Bucs Dugout for this find.)

How the hell does anyone in the Twins' organization see this as a winning formula?

With a new ballpark on the way, why on earth would you trade one of the most marketable players on the team and a definite fan favorite before you open the doors on your new stadium?

More than that, why would you then trade for one of the most controversial players of the decade and try to place him in Minneapolis?

I would like to hear him complain about trying to start his car on a cold October morning and then blaming it on the media, though.

As for Santana, you'd be losing one of the faces of the franchise - second only to Joe Mauer - over a reluctance to pay him market value. In discussions today, the general consensus is that you need to sign four players -five tops - to keep Twins fans interested. Santana, Mauer, Torii Hunter, Joe Nathan and Justin Morneau are the cornerstones of the casual fan's acceptance of the premise that Minnesota is a contender.

Most teams can't find a top-shelf lefty even with a high price tag. Why the Twins would be involved in the discussions is beyond me.

Sure, it will be a staggering price tag, but given the spotty pitching that has dogged the Twins this year, the last thing they need to do is move Santana prematurely.

With a stable of talented young arms, there needs to be a stabilizing force in the rotation. Given the flameouts of Sidney Ponson and Ramon Ortiz, the help hasn't come from outside the organization this year.

The return of Francisco Liriano next year is a wild card, but what the team will need as the pitchers grow as ballplayers is a stopper to keep things from getting out of hand.

I know that the Twins pride themselves on thrift - such as the Pierzynski for Liriano, Nathan and Boof Bonser trade - but you can only play with fire so many times.

The sick twist to this situation of course is that it was Santana himself who called out the organization for keeping the team as a solid C+ type team that was just better than most, but not an overpowering squad. Shipping off older ballplayers - it was Luis Castillo who sparked Santana's outburst - in favor of young or sub-par talent like Alexi Casilla, Castillo's replacement and Nick Punto, the team's third baseman has not proven to be the right answer during this stretch.

So, while trade rumors are generally ridiculous, and these are more ridiculous than most, it's still scary to think that this is the way Minnesota is leaning.

That leaves one basic question left for skeptical fans: How is Brad Radke's arm feeling these days?

(Image from



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