By La Velle
What do the Twins need to help their playoff chances?
Based on e-mails, responses on these blogs and callers into KFAN when I’m in the studio, many fans want a third baseman. San Diego’s Kevin Kouzmanoff and Colorado’s Garrett Atkins have been mentioned by fans, and the intrepid Joe. C reported on Wednesday that the club has had internal discussions about Seattle’s Adrian Beltre (by the way, who cares about internal discussions? That doesn’t mean they are going after that player.)
Third base isn’t the most glaring need. Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris have shown enough to suggest that they won’t be horrible there.
I feel the Twins need a bullpen arm, preferably a power guy to match up with the bashers in the eighth inning. And there’s at least one Twins official who agrees with me.
The Twins’ bullpen is far from a pushover but I think it can be improved. After Tuesday’s loss, they are 40-4 when leading after seven innings. You can look at it two ways. A 40-4 record looks great in most cases – but the four losses match their 2007 total.
Pat Neshek’s injury has been a huge blow. He doesn’t throw 95 but his quirkiness made up for that.
Juan Rincon’s demise is unfortunate. He used to throw 95 with the slider from you-know-where but his stuff – and confidence – took a beating over the last two seasons.
Righthander Jesse Crain can be that guy but he’s not used in the eighth inning all the time - and he hasn’t been used on successive days since June 8 and 9.
Righthander Matt Guerrier has taken the ball in a variety of roles over the years, which makes him valuable, but he’s not the power arm you want.
Righthander Brian Bass is a rookie and should be worked in the way Guerrier was worked in a couple years ago.
The Twins need some heat coming out of the bullpen, someone who will make opponents worry about dialing it up late in games – although someone without a mid-90′s fastball who’s still a proven set up man could work too.
I recently spoke with a Twins official who felt the same way, but indications were that no trade talks were heating up. And there’s doesn’t appear to be anyone in the minors ready to step in and help. Philip Humber recently was moved to Class AAA Rochester’s bullpen – because he’s walking too many people.
What I’m suggesting is hard to pull off because good set-up men aren’t always available and, if they are available, could cost a lot in return. I’m not sure how deep the potential reliever pool is. I scanned a few rosters and found a bunch of unrecognizable names (what’s an Osiris Matos?). Mlbtraderumors.com took a stab at it last month.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Twins looked around for bullpen help before the July 31 deadline for trades without waivers. They could use another big stick in the lineup, but blowing eighth-leading leads can crush a team in a pennant chase.