By Joe Christensen
In coming days, we can weigh the merits of trading Torii Hunter, who will be a Type A free agent, meaning if one of the top 15 finishers from 2007 signs him (the Yankees, etc.), they would send the Twins their 2008 first-round draft pick, and the Twins would get an additional compensation pick between the first and second rounds. If a bottom 15 team signs him (the White Sox, etc.), the Twins would get two compensation round picks.
Luis Castillo might be a Type A free agent, too, bringing two more picks. And Carlos Silva could be a Type B (bringing one compensation round pick). These are determined in mid-October by the Elias Sports Bureau, which uses a formula ranking the players at each position based on their statistics from the previous two years.
Personally, I like the idea of not waving the white flag just yet. If it all goes the way so many of you are sure it will (straight into the tank), then arm this scouting department with upwards of 5-6 of the first 50 picks in the 2008 draft and take your chances. In 2005, the Twins grabbed Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey, Brian Duensing and Ryan Mullins — by the end of the third round.
For those in the Trade Joe Nathan Camp, I think that’s the worst idea floated yet. The Twins should do this only if they have no intention of contending in 2008, which could well be Johan’s last season, and the end of this proverbial window of opportunity. Last I checked, All-Star closers do not grow on trees. So who closes, Pat Neshek? Fine, roll the dice. And who gets him the ball in the 7th and 8th inning?
Jesse Crain will be coming back from shoulder surgery. Juan Rincon doesn’t exactly look dependable these days. Matt Guerrier has been terrific, but beyond him, who can this team trust in a late-inning role next year, Julio DePaula?
In any of these deals, it’s feasible Terry Ryan could get back players who fill holes for 2008 and beyond. Maybe he’d find Neshek’s set-up man or the next closer that way. Maybe he could address third base. But that’s a pretty big maybe. And the risk of an entire 2008 season crumbling because of an unsettled bullpen is too great.