Minnesota Blunder, Twins Keep Diamond by Dealing Bullock

As a Royals fan, I’m used to WTF moments. As a matter of fact Dayton Moore has WTF moves down to a science when it comes to trying to compile a 25-man major league roster. Fortunately for the sanity of Royals fans everywhere, he seems to be pretty adept at building a farm system. But as a Twins fan, I’m not used to seeing WTF moves. At least not of this nature.

If you’re a regular reader of Puckett’s Pond content, you know I have been on board with most – perhaps even all – of the moves the Twins front office has made this offseason. It’s not because I am a complete shill for the organization. Rather it is because I see the logic in the moves and choices they have made and it is logic that I agree with by-and-large.

The honeymoon between the Twins front office and myself came to an end this afternoon when word came out that the Twins had swung a deal with the Atlanta Braves to retain Rule 5 pick and fellow southpaw Scott Diamond. That right there set me off. Diamond, while fitting the Twins’ classic profile offers the organization absolutely nothing of value that countless other guys in the in the organization don’t already bring to the table. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. He fits what they like, but there is something to be said for variety and one can only have so many crafty, finesse guys in the mix.

Of course that is only half of the trade … to retain the services of Diamond, the Twins sent Billy Bullock to Atlanta. My mind immediately flashed back to the day the Kansas City Royals signed Jason Kendall to a 2-year deal. My brain blew a fuse and I’m pretty sure I blacked out for a few minutes after that.I can’t believe I am writing this but … WTF Twins?

For weeks I have been scared they were going to deal Kevin Slowey – a pitcher who I feel has quite a bit of value to the Twins as a starter or reliever – for a run of the mill mediocre middle relief guy. I figured that was going to be the first WTF move of the offseason. Instead I’m faced with wrapping my brain around this Billy Bullock for Scott Diamond exchange.

Honestly I don’t think I can do it. I don’t have it in me to grasp at straws and justify how in the world this is a good idea for the Minnesota Twins either today or in the future. I can, however, take solace in two things.

One, Kevin Slowey was not the one traded and remains a part of the organization. Two, I’m not alone in thinking the Twins got absolutely hoodwinked in this deal. Misery loves company after all.

Call to the Pen front man, Nathaniel Stoltz, published an article this afternoon which included the following on this deal:

But a 24-year-old with a 5.3 K/9 in Triple-A? Sorry, but that just isn’t a guy worth holding on to if the price is a player with actual impact ability, even if said player is a righthanded relief pitcher with spotty command.

I simply fail to see any angle in which Scott Diamond is a superior player to Billy Bullock. Heck, Bullock put up a 3.20 FIP in Double-A last year, while Diamond’s was 3.15, so they basically performed equally. Of course, Diamond was a starter while Bullock was a reliever, but a) Bullock’s 18 months younger, b) his “stuff” is far better, and c) he’s got more room to improve on his polish, whereas Diamond is close to maxed out.

In Baseball America’s write up of this trade they termed Diamond as Triple-A “rotation insurance.” It’s a completely accurate assessment, but last I checked, the Twins have 6 legit starters for 5 rotation spots. Kyle Gibson isn’t far off, essentially giving them 7 starters for those 5 spots. On top of that, I’d take my chances with Glen Perkins or Anthony Swarzak back in the rotation before I turn to Diamond. While we’re at it, you may as well throw Jeff Manship into that group as well. That’s 10 guys off the top of my head on the 40-man roster who can provide the Twins with more than Scott Diamond brings to the table as a starter. Want to view him as a reliever? That’s fine, but that opens up an even larger group of pitchers I’d rather hand the ball to. He may be rotation insurance, but Minnesota is one of the few teams that doesn’t need rotation insurance right now.

Baseball America went on to define Billy Bullock as a “power arm” who “profiles as an intimidating closer who reached Double-A in his first full season.” (This is really hurting my head to write about).

Prospect rankings aren’t the end all be all but Billy Bullock was the Twins #15 prospect and had a 14.7 K/9 last season for New Britain. Scott Diamond was the Twins #29 prospect who doesn’t do anything exceptionally well aside from his ability to avoid offering up gopher balls to opposing hitters.

I pride myself on being generally objective in my writing but this one has pushed me beyond that. In poker terms, I’m on tilt. While this trade isn’t likely to impact the 2011 season – it could have a negative impact in 2012, 2013 and beyond. Bullock’s absence may come back to haunt the team in a few seasons, especially if Billy learns to harness his stuff. He has plenty of time to do that at just 23 years of age.

If Scott Diamond is the answer, I sure as hell don’t want to know what the question was.

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Billy Bullock Minnesota Twins Scott Diamond

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