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Eight days ago, the Twins could have cut their deficit in the AL Central to just four games. Today, the Twins are ten games behind the Tigers and twelve games under .500. While celebrating the organization’s 1991 World Series championship team all weekend, the Twins were swept at Target Field by the White Sox, a team that they have dominated the last few seasons. In fact, in the three games, the White Sox outscored the Twins 18-4. Considering Jason Kubel hit a three-run homer in the 1st inning of Friday night’s game, it was all downhill from there.
We will be discussing where it all went wrong ad nauseum for the rest of the season and in the offseason. We will be discussing what the team should do in the offseason pretty much as soon as the season is complete. Today, I will be toss out some ideas for what the Twins should do in the next month.
- Call-up Kevin Slowey and have him start. Move Nick Blackburn to the bullpen.
- The 27-year-old right-hander simply did not adjust to the bullpen role that he was thrown into. Since his debut with the Twins in 2007, he has gone 39-21 with a 4.43 ERA. That’s an ERA+ of 95 which means it is slightly below average for that time frame. In Rochester, he is now 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA. In 38 innings, he has allowed 44 hits, walked four and struck out 29. These are not numbers that scream out that he deserves the opportunity. However, with trade rumors swirling constantly, they might as well bring him up and see what he can do to improve his trade status. Or, maybe he will show that he should be part of the Twins plans.
- Nick Blackburn has struggled. He is still owed a lot of money for afew more years, and no one will take that contract, but maybe he can find a role in the back of the bullpen.
- Flip-Flop Francisco Liriano and Anthony Swarzak.
- Swarzak has been terrific in spot starts and in long relief. Why not give him a six-week trial in the starting rotation and just see how he handles it. Liriano has been about as disappointing as anyone with the Twins in 2011. I know a lot of people want to see Brian Duensing moved to the bullpen, and I can understand that, but Duensing has been no worse than Liriano in 2011. I would send a message to Liriano and put him out in the bullpen for a few weeks. Duensing is at 132 innings this year. Last year, he threw 130 innings. His minor league high in innings pitched was 167. I would have Duensing make four more starts to build up that inning count, hopefully to around 155 or so. Then I would flip-flop Duensing and Liriano and let Liriano make those final four starts while Duensing pitches out of the bullpen.
- Call-up Luke Hughes and send Ben Revere to AAA Rochester.
- Ben Revere is exciting, but he should be playing every day. He’sstill just 23 years old. I’d send him to Rochester to play every day through Labor Day before he is brought back up. It is all about making him a better player. Luke Hughes can play several positions and is old enough not to need a regular role.
- Activate Alexi Casilla from the Disabled List and send Tsuyoshi Nishioka to New Britain.
- As Nick Nelson pointed out in this space last week, Nishioka is not ready for the big leagues. I know they paid a lot to Chiba Lotte to negotiate with him, and then gave him a three-year contract, but that’s all the more reason to send him down. We all need to consider the full three years of the contract, and this year is lost. Why not let him go down and work on some things out of the spot light. Some suggest Rochester. With that swing and that defense, I was thinking New Britain might be a better option (because Ft. Myers is probably too far down the chain). Casilla has been solid since early May for the most part. His defense at shortstop is better than Nishioka’s and his arm is so much stronger.
- Play Trevor Plouffe every day.
- Even if he is no longer in the plans to be an every day shortstop, his AAA production warrants an extended look, and he isn’t getting that right now. For the final six weeks of the season, I would like to see him play pretty much every day. And, I would like to see him used in that Super Utility role. He should get time at all four infield positions and the two corner outfield positions. That’s six positions meaning one game at each position each week. Yes, he will make mistakes, but it’s time to give him an opportunity.
- Place everyone on waivers!
- This has probably already been done. The Twins, and all MLB teams, put players on waivers sometime in August. If a player clears waivers (does not get claimed by another team), then they can be traded to any other team. If a player is claimed, the Twins will have 48 hours to negotiate a possible trade with that team. Their options are to 1.) make a trade, 2.) pull the player back, or 3.) let the other team have the player and his contract. I would put Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau on waivers. There are two teams that could absorb Mauer’s contract, the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Red Sox have Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the aging Jason Varitek as their catchers. The Yankees have Russell Martin, Francisco Cervelli, and Jesus Montero had a disappointing 2011 season in Triple-A. Of course, the return for Mauer or Morneau should be big, along with the salary relief. If I am reading most Twins fans, blog commenters, etc., correctly, many may see Mauer being traded as a positive. I’m not so sure! But it doesn’t hurt anything to put the players on waivers and see if you can accumulate some talent in return. If they don’t get what they want for a player, they can always pull him back.
There are six ideas, and I’m sure most Twins fans could easily come up with five more. I said in early June that the 2011 season was over and everything that they do should be in looking toward 2012. I was wrong then. But now it is mid-August, and I would LOVE to be wrong again, more than anything, but at this point, everything the Twins do should be with an eye to 2012.
- Today, Nick is contemplating Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel.
- Check out last night’s SethSpeaks.net Sunday Night Twins Podcast. Even Seth went a little bit negative!
- Seth will be a guest on 740 The Fan in Fargo today at 12:30, talking about the Twins!
Any thoughts?? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.