An Opportunity Arises
Usually, when teams get frustrated with one of their own underachievers, they don’t get a chance to trade that guy away and get anything of value back. It either turns into a dump-the-contract kind of situation where the team gives the player away, or they go in another direction and just let that guy sit on the bench while everyone regrets the situation.
Thanks to a move by the Minnesota Twins this afternoon, a window may have just opened for the Mariners.
The Twins, more than any other team in baseball, value contact hitting. They hate strikeouts – it’s an organizational philosophy that is preached at their kids from day one. They want aggressive, high contact guys who hit for average and are willing to sacrifice power to get that. They also care very little for statistical analysis, and give no heed to any of the newer defensive metrics out there. They evaluate defense by scouting reports and tools. They’re a small ball, speed and defense kind of team, and as long as Ron Gardenhire‘s the manager, they always will be.
There’s not a team in baseball more apt to value Yuniesky Betancourt than the Twins. He fits all of the things they like in a player – he’s fast, he’s got good defensive tools, he’s almost impossible to strike out, he hits the ball on the ground, and he’s a high average hitter. The things that he fails at – drawing walks, working counts, living up to his defensive reputation – are the things that the Twins value less than anyone else in baseball.
Betancourt and the Twins are a match made in heaven. He’s their kind of player. No other organization in the game will see as much value in Yuni as the Twins.
And as of today, the Twins could use a middle infielder.
They just demoted starting second baseman Alexi Casilla to Triple-A, as he’s gotten on Ron Gardenhire‘s last nerve. He made some fundamental mistakes over the weekend, dropping a throw on a relay from the outfield, and has always struggled to live up to Gardenhire’s expectations. The fact that he’s hitting .167 to start the year didn’t help.
To replace him on the roster, the Twins called up Matt Tolbert, who is more of a corner infielder than a middle guy. They’ll give Casilla’s playing time to Brendan Harris, but he profiles more as a utility player than anything else. A Punto-Harris middle infield tandem is not exactly the stuff that the Twins dream of.
Jack, get on the phone. Call Bill Smith and tell him that you’d like to talk about acquiring Casilla. Point out that your team is too right-handed, and you wouldn’t mind adding a switch-hitter to the roster. Do the whole change of scenery thing. When Smith asks what you’re willing to give up, make it sound like it kills you to part with your starting shortstop, but throw out the old “I know I have to give something to get something” line, and see if he’ll throw in Jose Mijares just to make it easier on you.
Alexi Casilla isn’t a great player – he’s basically a switch-hitting Yuni with a few more walks – but there’s no doubt that this team is better with Cedeno at SS and Casilla as the utility guy than they are with Betancourt at SS and Cedeno backing him up. You ship out the biggest defensive liability on the team, replace a hacking right-handed bat with a slightly more patient left-handed one, and shed some future contract obligations in the process. If Smith is willing to give you a decent second piece to “even the deal”, all the better.
Yuni to Minnesota. Make it happen, Jack. Gifts like this don’t come along all that often.