Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Gaining momentum

With all the trade speculation circulating this week much attention has been drawn away from one of the biggest series of the year.  Everyone wants to know where Doug is going and we grow impatient for Kris Benson to finally be in a Twins uniform.  In the meantime the Twins have  come out punching against their rivals, the White Sox.  The way the Twins have played the first two games it almost appears that no moves are  needed.  They have played with a fire that was lacking in previous meetings.

Last night Johan Santana continued to pitch like a man from another planet and for awhile it looked like it wouldn't be enough.  Then in the fifth inning the Twins came alive with a big two out rally.  Things are generally going in the right direction when a team is scoring with two outs in clutch situations.  The Bitch(copyright Batgirl) Sox were not ready to concede the game and finally made Santana look human in the 7th inning with a Carlos Lee homer, a walk and a hit batter.  For the first time in 10 starts Santana looked tired before the 8th inning.  Never fear, Juan Rincon came in and conquered his previous demons to get the Twins out of the jam.  It was all business after that with the Twins winning 7-3. 

This series has been huge for the team.   They are finally sending a message that they aren't going to back down to the White Sox.  It's no longer good enough for them to just stick around, they are now in a position to surge ahead in the division.   Suddenly, even the national media is back on the bandwagon.  The Twins have shown that there is life in their bats and that their top two starters are above and beyond that of the White Sox.  They don't have to make the big deals that the White Sox made because they can call up guys like Justin Morneau who make a big impact.  The return of Shannon Stewart to the lineup has also helped.  The Twins are showing why they have won the last two years and should have been favored all along this year.

Meanwhile, the Sox have already fired all their bullets.  They have made their big trades and now must face the reality of playing without two of their best hitters.   Ozzie Guillen has closed the gap but all that means is that the final standing will be closer.   Granted, the Twins have only won the last two games and could very well lose tonight but the White Sox had the chance to put them away a long time ago.  Now that task is getting harder by the day and the Twins seem to only be getting stronger.

A major trade should go down between now and the deadline.  Rumors circulated all day about Kris Benson coming to the Twins in exchange for Doug Mientkiewicz and a prospect(Restovich).  Still three days have passed since we learned Doug was to be traded and no deal has transpired.  Twins official have started hedging their bets and backing off their statement.  They say there is a chance he isn't going anywhere which might have been the best decision all along.  Meanwhile Doug sits in limbo on the bench not contributing.

The Twins need to be leery of making a deal just to make one.   Kris Benson has been very good for about 10 starts.  The rest of his career has been inconsistent with nothing that should lead anyone to think he is ready to pitch in big games.  There is an argument circulating that Doug and Resto need to be traded.  That it is the right thing to do so that they can play.  Of course they deserve to be in a situation where they play every day but that is no reason to not get full value for them. 

Last year the Shannon Stewart deal was questioned.  People believed the Twins gave up too much potential in Bobby Kielty.  No one has mentioned anything to that effect in a long time about that deal.  Kris Benson is no Shannon Stewart though.  He is not going to come in and change the attitude of the team.  He is more of a Rick Reed.  The good news is that neither Doug or Resto are likely to make the Twins regret giving up on them.  They are not David Ortiz.  Both will probably go on to be solid players and will most certainly be a part of any deal the Twins make before the deadline. 

It is a great time of year to be a Twins fan.  Since the Twins were built from within and so many of their prospects had to pan out for them to be where they are today, it is only natural for us to be leery of trading them away.  We have grown attached to players who came up through the organization especially when they have succeeded at the major league level.  To win the big one risks need to be taken.  Many of the best prospects don't pan out, the well dries up and the window of opportunity closes.  Unless you win it all during those years, you are left with nothing.   Nobody will care that the Twins paid too much for a third starter if they win it all. 

The situation with Doug Mientkiewicz seems to be getting wierder.  Yesterday reports had him all but traded to the Pirates.  Then last night he was penciled into the lineup before later being taken out, normally the sign of a trade.  Then it seemed momentum started to shift in the other direction.  Reports of the Pirates lack of interest in Doug and his salary began to surface and Doug apparently did not play for another reason.  Right now there seems to be too much speculation and not enough actual knowledge.  Both teams are trying to swing the very best deal possible and it appears the deal is not done yet.  It is too bad that in the meanwhile everyone is left holding their breath.  Twins Chatter will continue to follow the situation tomorrow and right up until something goes down.  We will continue to update the situation.