Happy Fourth of July! Happy Independence Day! Happy Colonial Insurrection Celebration! Honestly, though: my boss at the publisher I worked for in the UK insisted on calling it the Colonial Insurrection. He did not believe in the fight for independence. Naturally, I allowed him to say whatever he liked. He owned the business.
Suffice it to say that IN AMERICA there will by no such hijinks. Today at Twinkie Town we are celebrating America's birthday with baseball. Which makes it just like every other day at TT but don't worry about that. Let's wrap up those Twins talking points, shall we?
Perkins has long been thought to be the number one chip this season, at least in terms of players who are theoretically available since the front office has consistently denied that they'd be willing to trade him for anything short of a haul that would include the other team being raked across hot coals. The real question is whether or not the Twins need the luxury of one of the best closers in baseball in a season where they are not going to contend. That answer is, of course, no.
Going a step further, the Minnesota bullpen has been one of the best bullpens in the league this season. I'll mention Casey Fien later, but teams hungry for improvement in their relief corps will also be looking at Brian Duensing and Jared Burton. Certainly the Twins won't trade all of those players, and more than one of those three are capable of turning into this team's next closer.
Last season, the Twins might have made a mistake by not trading Josh Willingham when his value was as high as it had ever been in his career. There are similarities between Willingham in '12 and Perkins this season: in the middle of a career year, under a wonderfully attractive and team friendly contract, a luxury that a non-contending team could part with for the right price. Maybe the Twins never had that price offered to them for Josh, and maybe they won't get the right offer for Perk either, but they should be listening.
For reference, think about this. In 2006, Joe Nathan had the best year of his career for the Minnesota Twins. He'd finish fifth in Cy Young Award voting by posting a 0.79 WHIP, 12.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 36 saves (his lowest total in a full season with the Twins). Perkins has a 0.789 WHIP, 12.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and is on pace for about 40 saves this season. Can you think now of the haul the Twins could have received for Nathan during the prime of his career? Because that's how you should be seeing Perkins right now.
A few days ago Morneau hit his fourth home run of the season and, as a result, finished June with a .298/.344/.476 triple slash. Of course he's gone 0-for-11 since and is still slugging under .400 on the season.
But Justin will still constitute an upgrade for somebody. In New York, the Yankees have a right field porch that Morneau loves (that .922 OPS will look pretty good for a team looking for a little help). In Oakland, the Athletics could do with another player who knows how to get on base by getting a base hit - and they could move players around to make sure Justin got enough plate appearances. In Pittsburgh, where the Pirates somehow have the best record in baseball, Gaby Sanchez is still getting most of the plate appearances at first base.
As we get closer to the deadline and certain teams get a bit desperate in looking or that one piece that can push them over the top, Morneau is going to look better and better. He could be a nice supplementary offensive battery for somebody. The calls are already coming in, so the only question is whether or not the Twins will pull the trigger on a life-long franchise player.
Steve Adams covered this topic the other day, and it's no surprise that his analysis was spot on so I won't rehash it too much here. All I'll say is this: Correia is the perfect pitcher to balance the back of a playoff contender's starting rotation. He's been effective enough even if the peripherals aren't pretty. For a team on the cusp, whose back end is weak and needs the best chance to win every fifth day, Correia loos good. If he's not traded before the July deadline, he's the kind of guy who could also be traded through waivers in August.
As awkward as it sounds, Pelfrey might have similar value to Correia. The Orioles have been tied to Pelf on a couple of occasions. If he comes off of the disabled list soon and turns in a couple of decent performances, it could be enough to convince a team to take him on as a way to lend stability to the back end of their rotation. I admit that it still seems unlikely at this point, but the talk is there.
For all of the talk surrounding the Minnesota bullpen, Fien's name has actually been tied to a specific team: the San Francisco Giants. Fien's numbers have been impressive again this season (9.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 0.85 WHIP) though, so he's going to be an attractive target for anybody.
So will Jared Burton, in spite of his recent struggles. And so will Brian Duensing.
When it comes to trading members of the bullpen, the only question to ask is: who will bring the best return? Perkins has the best track record, but a guy like Fien is less expensive and any team could sign him to their own contract when the season is over. That's how good Casey has been this season.
But that's something the Twins will be aware of, too. Perkins, as stated above, as a premier closer in this league is a luxury for a team not in contention. Could Minnesota be looking at Fien and Burton as potential closers for the future? If they're serious about restocking the farm system and giving this team the best chance to compete in the years to come, then they should be.