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Hedging the Bet

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Unless the Twins get off to a hot start in the second half, there won't be any chance of Terry Ryan pulling a trade for a big bat.  Would Minnesota be able to hedge their bets by picking up young hitting talent from the minors?

It's all speculation, let's get that out of the way.  Taking young talent from other teams is never easy unless you're offering exactly what the other team wants, and even then pulling the trigger can be hard.  All the same, inexpensive, unproven talent can often cost less than the expensive talent with a track record.  It's a long shot that any of these guys could be snatched away from their teams, but just the same here are a few names that could bolster the bottom half of the lineup.

Delwyn Young, Las Vegas 51s (LA Dodgers, AAA)
Age:  25  B/T:  S/R  Pos:  OF


Year   Lvl   AB    H  2B  HR  BB  SO   Avg   Obp   Slg
2004    A+  470  132  36  22  57 134  .281  .364  .511
2005    AA  371  110  25  16  27  86  .296  .346  .499
2005   AAA  160   52  12   4   8  35  .325  .361  .475
2006   AAA  532  145  42  18  42 104  .273  .326  .457
2007   AAA  333  112  35  13  25  75  .336  .381  .583

Young had a brief callup in '06, just five at-bats with the Dodgers.  Unfortunately for Young this year looks pretty much the same, as Kenny Lofton, Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are all getting a lot of at-bats.

Much like Botts, Young is racking up the doubles, has some home run power, walks a little bit and strikes out often.  Because of the depth the Dodger organization currently has in the outfield (Jason Repko, Luis Gonzalez in addition to the above listed), Young could be available for the right package.  What plays against the Twins is that the majority of what they have to offer, Los Angeles already has.  Their rotation looks good (Penny, Lowe, Hendrickson), but you could make the argument that just one game out of first could use a guy like Silva.  In the bullpen things are pretty solid as well (Broxton, Beimel, Seanez, Saito, Tsao).  Minnesota would have to find a creative way to get it done.

Chris Carter, Tucson Sidewinders (Arizona, AAA)
Age:  24  B/T:  L/L  Pos:  1B


Year   Lvl   AB    H  2B  HR  BB  SO   Avg   Obp   Slg
2004    A-  256   86  15  15  46  34  .336  .438  .578
2005    A+  412  122  26  21  46  66  .296  .370  .522
2005    AA  128   38   4  10  19  11  .297  .397  .563
2006   AAA  509  153  30  19  78  69  .301  .395  .483
2007   AAA  346  115  29   9  36  40  .332  .395  .500

Carter would be a good pickup as a designated hitter, and a guy who could spell Morneau at first base when he needs a day off.  He also spent time in the outfield in Arizona's farm system, giving him additional versatility in that aspect.  Offensively he's a doubles guy with some pretty good pop, definitely a prize out of the 17th round for the Diamondbacks.

While he is a left-handed hitter, and it seems like the Twins should be attempting to pick up a right-handed bat (if not a switch), the bottom line for Minnesota at this point should be "Can he hit?"  Carter can hit, and he's incredibly patient at the dish.  If there was a way to package a pitching prospect or two along with Juan Rincon, this should be done in a heartbeat.

Jason Botts, Oklahoma RedHawks (Texas, AAA)
Age:  26   B/T:  S/R  Pos:  OF


Year   Lvl   AB    H  2B  HR  BB  SO   Avg   Obp   Slg
2004    AA  481  141  25  24  77 126  .293  .399  .507
2005   AAA  510  146  31  25  67 152  .286  .375  .522
2006   AAA  220   68  19  13  31  61  .309  .398  .582
2007   AAA  327  104  33  12  63  91  .318  .424  .554

Botts, my one American League prospect, has had cups of coffee with the Rangers in 2005 and 2006, with neither stint amounting to much in regards to playing time or positive results.  He turns 27 in late July, and with Sammy Sosa possibly on the trading block, Victor Diaz not putting up the best numbers and Frank Catalanotto struggling mightily, the Rangers are probably coveting Botts and his gaudy minor league totals.

Defensively Botts has a reputation for being a sub-standard fielder, and was shifted from first base to outfield on a mostly permanent basis as recently as 2005 because of Mark Teixeira.  However, with Teixeira just about to return from the 15-day disabled list, it isn't a stretch of the imagination to see Botts being called up to spot start at first base for awhile.

While I do think he'd be a difficult pickup because of the situation Texas finds themselves in at the break, if he was available, his age could decrease his overall value.  He hasn't been able to stick with the Rangers at the Major League level, didn't make the team coming out of spring training, and while he's launching major lines (33 doubles!!), he's launching those lines against pitchers largely younger and less developed than he is.

Conclusions

I was going to go into another three or four players, but it's late, and it's all speculation at this point anyway.  The Twins are going to have a tough time making the playoffs as a team mere inches above even.  If they can't make the significant trade for an established hitter because we haven't made a push on our own first, maybe this is another way to go.  Each of these three players looks, on paper, to be an upgrade over anything the Twins could do internally to bolster the bottom third of the batting order.

What it will all come down to is the cost.  What will the Twins be willing to give up?  Making that "one big deal" is a move for teams trying to put themselves over the top.  It doesn't make sense for the Twins to do it now, since the move would be made in an attempt to merely help close the gap between us and our division leaders.  Perhaps the Twins split could the difference by acquiring minor league hitting instead.