Wanted: An Everyday Shortstop

Is there a good one even available?

The easy answer there is that someone is always available...it just depends on whether the team doing the shopping is willing to pay the price and if the targeted player is actually an improvement.  After a bit of research, for your review I present what I believe to be the three best chances for the Twins to upgrade.

Jack Wilson, Pirates:


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2008 - Jack Wilson 35 133 10 42 5 1 0 11 6 11 2 2 .316 .357 .368

Pittsburgh's like Kansas City in that they're proverbially in the hole.  They're actually right in the middle of the NL Central, but that still doesn't mean they're in any sort of hunt.

Wilson, 30, is having his best offensive year since '04, but spent most of April on May on the disabled list.  Since his return he's struggled to manage extra-base hits, and is yet to hit a home run on the season, but he rarely strikes out and is a pretty decent contact hitter.  While "another contact hitter" isn't an ideal pick up, he's still an upgrade over the Harris/Punto/Everett round table.  He hit .296/.350/.440 last season, and as you can see is holding up pretty well this season, too.

What makes Wilson a good idea is that he's signed through next year, and is far from a superstar at the plate, which is something that would inflate his price tag.  I think he's a better bottom-of-the-order hitter than top-of-the-order, but in an insane world I'd like to think Gardenhire could try Casilla/Wilson at the top of the order and slide Gomez into the 9-hole.

Ryan Theriot, Cubs:


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2008 - Ryan Theriot 77 302 47 93 12 1 1 22 39 29 15 8 .308 .390 .364

Theriot, 28, is having one hell of a season for the Cubs, and has been their starting shortstop for a majority of the games this year.  With Chicago bearing down on a division title, under realistic circumstances it'd be next to impossible to tear a starting shortstop away from a contending team.  Luckily for me, I can play Devil's Advocate.

Chicago's likely "shortstop of the future" could be Ronny Cedeno, 25, who's had his share of starts at both second base and short this year.  He's hitting .271/.343/.357 in 129 at-bats, which is still better than anything the Twins could throw out there.  Additionally, while Theriot certainly isn't a bad hitter, this would be a great situation for the Cubs to sell high:  He's a .286/.356/.374 career hitter.

But in spite of Theriot's profile, which suggests he probably wouldn't carry too high of a price tag, snagging him this season under his (and Chicago's) circumstances would mean he's near untouchable.  Even if he wasn't untouchable, the Twins wouldn't have any worthwhile major league talent to ship in exchange.  Also, just because Ryan would be easier to tear from the Cubs than Ronny, that doesn't mean it's realistic.

Oh well.  It sounded good in my head.

Brian Roberts, Orioles:


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2008 - Brian Roberts 82 325 53 96 31 7 6 31 42 58 22 7 .295 .373 .489

I know, I know...Roberts isn't a shortstop.  That's why he would be our second baseman and Alexi Casilla would slide over to short.  And I know, I've been over this before.  But I still think it's a good idea.  In reality, whether Baltimore decides to foolishly turn into buyers or really commit to rebuilding an ancient team, we know that Roberts is for sale.  We know Andy MacPhail approached the Twins in the off-season.

Roberts, at 30, is in the prime of his career on both sides of the ball.  Not only is he a very good player, but he's signed through 2009 at a not unreasonable price, would give the Twins a great lead-off hitter, and as an added bonus has stolen more bases than Carlos Gomez.  And look at those extra-base hits:  31 doubles.  Playing the scenario on Roberts out to the end, the Twins would have a couple of options.  First, they could always trade him if the team isn't condending.  Second, they could let him walk after next season as he enters his likely declining years and collect a pair of draft picks from whoever signs him as a free agent.  Neither of those options sound daunting.

The real trick in getting him would be whether or not Bill Smith and the Twins would be willing to pay the price.  I believe Minnesota has what it would take to pry him out of Baltimore, and up to a certain point I think Roberts would be worth the risk.

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