Well, the All-Star game has come and gone (yawn) and now it's time to turn our thoughts to the 2nd half of the season and the approaching July 31 trade deadline. After a less than stellar 1st three months, the talk throughout Tigerdom has been centered on what Dave Dombrowski can do now to make the team a better bet for a long playoff run in 2012. While the Huge radio mouth has made it no secret that he would like to see much discussed guys like Matt Garza from the Cubs or Justin Upton of the Diamonbacks and their expensive contracts come to town, they just don't seem like a good fit to me. Partly because the cost in salary & on-the-farm riches just seems too high. It also sounds like there are plenty of other suitors involved, and no one wins (except the Cubs & D-Backs) in a bidding war like that. Ditto Cole Hamels. Carlos Quentin is another name that has been favored by the local press lately, but he just seems to be another aging, injury plagued, all bat/no defense outfielder that we have seen too much of for the last few years. However, there is a team out there that we know all too well who seems to have a couple of guys who could help improve our team right now, and who just happen to be in desperate need of the one thing the Tigers seem to have in abundance. That being young, near Major League ready, cost controlled starting pitching. Yes, i'm talking about the Minnesota Twins.
LaVelle E Neal III, Twins beat writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran an article today saying the Twins will listen to offers for both Denard Span & Josh Willingham . Either of these guys would bring instant upgrades to the Tiger lineup while also improving the outfield defense.
Span is signed to a fairly team friendly contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015. He makes $3 million this year, $4.75 in '13, $6.5 in '14 with the option year salary at $9 million. He plays excellent defense in the outfield, but would have to slide over from center to right field for the Tigers. He would also bring his speedy legs & steady bat to the top of the order, allowing AJax and his emerging power to move to the 2nd slot, just in front of Cabrera.
Willingham is currently enjoying a career year in his innagural season with the Twins. He has 19 bombs & 60 RBI to go along with a lusty .376 OBP & .913 OPS. His glove will never get comparisons to Willy Mays, but he is steady, doesnt make many mistakes, and is a big improvement over Young or Boesch. While not exactly cheap, he signed a 3 year deal in the offseason for $7 million per, it's not close to the salary they would have to pay Upton. Put Willingham and his 44 walks in the 5 slot in the order and Prince would surely start seeing better pitches to hit.
So, what would it take to land either of these guys? According to Neal, the Twins and their league worst starting pitching ERA of 5.68 are in the market for young arms that they can deveolp without having to pay big salaries. It won't be easy, and the Tigers would surely have to part with either Drew Smyly or Jacob Turner, as well as a parcel of their other young hurlers. I think the Tigers would also gladly package one of their emerging young catchers in the deal too, as Joe Mauer and his balky knees begin to play more games at fist base while the Twins have nothing in the minors resembling a big league backstop.
Would Smyly/Turner, Casey Crosby, Rob Brantly and another lower level pitching prospect or two be enough to pry one of the Twins starting outfielders away? Is it worth the cost? Does it improve the team enough to significantly improve their chances in the post season? To me, the old adage of a bird in the hand (proven player) beats two in the bush (prospects) applies here.