So apparently I chose one of the most insanely active weeks to move continents. At this point in the season for a team like the Twins, I though I might miss a waiver trade or two, but the Delmon Young trade wasn't even on my radar. And of course I'd been waiting to see Jim Thome blast homer number 600 all season, so he naturally did it just hours before I was getting on a plane at Heathrow so I had no opportunity to see it.
It's good to be back in the States. I'm still getting settled but I just wanted to throw down a few notes that have been running through my head since I landed.
- I know Jim Thome hasn't been with the Twins long and that a vast percentage of his home runs were hit prior to his arrival in Minnesota, but it's hard to put into words how awesome it was seeing the replay of home run number 600. I've been spending a lot of time with The MLB Network, really just immersing myself in baseball in a way I haven't been able to to in years, and there was a short segment on Thome and his mammoth achievement. The swing on a pitch low and away, the sheer power and force of the swing, the name Thome draped across the shoulders above number 25, the hop step and the ball arcing through the night. Baseball has a long history, but he's still just the eighth player in the game, EVER, to reach 600 homers. To the best of our knowledge, he's the sixth man to do it cleanly. Congrats one more time to Jim, because when a great of a guy as Thome reaches such an historic milestone, that's the best.
- The Delmon Young trade is a move that's going to have fallout over the next few seasons, but especially this winter. You look at Cole Nelson, who isn't all that great, and you look at Lester Oliveros, who's actually the better player in this deal if you ask me, and you look at Delmon and his potential non-tender after the season, but the biggest factor in all of this as far as I'm concerned is what the Twins do with that money in the off-season. Ridding themselves of Delmon now allows them to play Denard Span and Ben Revere in the same outfield of course (if we could keep players healthy, which this season is impossible anyway), but the Twins were already in a position where they'd have a lot of money to play with this winter. Depending on payroll allowances, the Twins now have another $7 million that they can play with. Yes, they could have achieved that through a non-tender this winter, but now they got something in return.
- That "return" probably isn't what everyone was looking for. My dad wasn't too pleased with it, that's for sure. And if you look at Nelson on his own, it's a terrible return...even for a waiver trade in August. But Lester Oliveros is a very intriguing baseball player. In triple-A in his age-23 season, he's had a cup of coffee in the Majors already, and he's a strikeout machine. He still needs some seasoning, because he's only recorded 33 innings at triple-A in his minor league career, but he looks like he could be a very useful bullpen arm at some point next season if his secondary stuff translates to the Majors and he can work on his command a little bit. Stay tuned, but this one is interesting.
- Kevin Slowey didn't do too well in his return to the Twins, but he's not alone. Hopefully Gardy keeps him in the rotation through the end of the year so we can see how he comes along, because right now it looks like Minnesota will need starter options next spring.
- Speaking of Gardy, he's made a couple of interesting comments over the last week or so. He's brought up the idea of bringing in free agents on two occasions, and one time specifically mentioned starting pitchers. He went as far as saying that both Nick Blackburn and Brian Duensing could be shunted to the 'pen if the Twins landed another starter or two. We've been waiting for something like that to happen now, although it hardly matters at this point. Right now my 2012 rotation for the Twins includes Liriano, Baker, Pavano and Slowey, but that will no doubt change drastically as we get out of the hell that's been the 2011 season. Going back to the first time that Gardy brought up free agents, the context led me to believe he was talking about position players although he didn't get into specifics. Hopefully this summer's campaign has taught the front office a hard lesson about depth, because even without all the injuries the Twins were sorely lacking in quality backup options.
That's all for now. Myah will be up soon with your game thread and recap for today, and mucho thanks to her for holding down the fort this week. Thanks to everyone for the well wishes, and I should be back to regularly scheduled programming this week!