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Trade Bait: Jason Bay

Rumors of the Pittsburgh outfielder include names like Matt Garza (straight up), Scott Baker, Kevin fact, you could probably plug in a combination of a number of Twins pitching prospects.

Particularly at this awkward point in the season, rumors are just rumors.  Realistically, there's nothing that any team can do in regards to players on another team, but while most fans sit at home and watch a little October baseball the beat writers and story mongers of sports are out there doing their thing.  It's hard to say how much is based on founded speculation and how much is baseless drivel, but all the same, it makes for interesting conversation while we wait for some team from somewhere not in Twins Territory to take home the coveted crown.

I can't find the link, but the first place I saw this was last week in the Rumors and Notes section of  If I recall correctly, the note mentioned Pittsburgh sending outfielder Jason Bay to the Twins in return for the dynamic Matt Garza.

When glancing at the holes the Twins need to fill in the coming months, outfield is just as important as third base and designated hitter.  If the Twins don't re-sign Torii Hunter there's no guarantee they'll acquire one of the other coveted free agent center fielders, and by aquiring Jason Bay would have a nice jumpstart on the effort to replace Hunter's offensive contributions.  Of course Bay, largely a left fielder for the Pirates, wouldn't help fill the defensive hole in center.  This raises the question of what you would do with Jason Kubel.  You could DH Kubel; or you could DH Bay who, after having off-season surgery on his left knee prior to '07, experienced recurring pains (primarily tendonitis) in his right knee that aided his statistical drop-off in the second half of this year.

While Bay would be nice, but wouldn't be the best answer for the Twins, picking up Garza wouldn't necessarily be a cure-all for the Pirates, either.  Veteran Matt Morris is under contract for 2008.  Youngsters Ian Snell (25) and Tom Gorzelanny (24) turned in good years, each topping the 200-inning plateau and notching ERAs in the upper 3's.  Prospect Zack Duke will only be 24 in 2008.

Looking at what Pittsburgh brought to the table this past summer, they're in need of offense of any kind.  They were 10th or worse in the National League in the following categories:  runs scored, hits, walks, home runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.  Pitching wasn't anything special--14th best team ERA in the National League--but at least there's talent on that side of the ball.  If you were to look at both sides of the roster and pick which side had a better chance to improve and which side needed help, the pitching looks to be in a better position to hoist itself up off the matt.  Trading what might be your best offensive weapon doesn't make any sense.

It's easy to see how Jason Bay would look good in a Twins uniform.  He's right-handed, and if he can get healthy could very realistically provide the type of offense that Ron Gardenhire would like to drop in between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.  Bay is scheduled to make $5.75 million in '08, and $7.5 million in '09.  Rookie of the Year in 2005, All Star in 2006 and 2007, 93 homers in that span, career .281/.375/.515 hitter...(insert dream sequence here)...

SS  Jason Bartlett
C   Joe Mauer
DH  Jason Bay
1B  Justin Morneau
CF  Torii Hunter
RF  Michael Cuddyer
LF  Jason Kubel
3B  Brian Buscher
2B  Nick Punto my dream, the Twins re-sign Torii Hunter too...yes, I don't blame anyone for getting glossy eyes at the thought...

But the bottom line is that no matter how glamorous it looks in my mind, where it's safe and warm, it's just another deal that doesn't make enough sense.  Even if you acquire him for the sole purpose of filling the designated hitter position, trading Matt Garza isn't the best thing to do.  Johan Santana might not be around after '08, Carlos Silva isn't under contract and Francisco Liriano is going to have to prove himself all over again.  The front end of the rotation isn't as solid as it might be at first glance, and before the Twins go trading away a pitcher who could be an ace, they'd better find a long-term answer for the front of the rotation beyond next summer.

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