As Second Half Starts, Twins Will Test Organizational Depth
By Hayden Kane
When the MLB playoffs begin this fall there will be a second Wild Card team. As such, teams promise to be more hesitant when it comes to embracing the dreaded “seller” label when the trade deadline arrives at the end of July. With that said, a few teams know already that they will trade established players to contenders in an effort to build for the future. The Twins are one such team.
Among the players mentioned are starting pitchers Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano. As AAA Rochester manager Gene Glynn noted in an interview with the Pioneer Press, many of his pitchers have already been shuffled up to the big league club out of injury-created necessity. If the Twins do move Liriano and/or Pavano, then more might see action by design as the organization assesses its options for the future.
Glynn was asked what Twins players might get the call or be able to contribute later this season. His response was a rather vague response: “We have guys that can help when called upon.” On the one hand it is understandable to not place any players above the rest; hopefully that is the reason for his non-specificity and not a lack of an impact player. On the other hand, the Twins have already learned the volatility of expectations, or lack thereof, for players when they are called up (see Diamond, Scott). Knowing that and knowing that a handful of players will get a chance, both pitchers and position players, it might be best to just let each guy have his shake in a situation evacuated of low or high expectations.
Baseball is always a delicate balance of individual and collective success. Players constantly fight to strike that balance, understanding the flimsiness of a 4-4 day at the plate if the team loses just as they understand not to cry about an 0-6 day if the team is victorious (OK, they might cry a bit if they go 0-6). When teams fall out of contention, the focus necessarily tilts towards the individual half of this division. The organization needs to “see what they have” in certain players going forward. Fans watch to gauge their excitement level for certain players and perhaps to keep track of their fantasy team.
Players called up from the minor leagues in situations like this likely understand that focus. They know that the call to “help the team” is partially a call to showcase individual talent and provide hope for the future. Due to their place in the standings, it is already assumed that a number of players will get that opportunity in Minnesota. Pending trades at the end of this month, that number might grow. Hopefully each guy can help.
Valencia and Nishioka Updates: Worth footnoting here were Glynn’s comments about Danny Valencia and Tsuyoshi Nishioka. He lauded Nishioka as an “exciting player…defensively especially” who is a “lot of fun to be around.” As for Valencia, he simply stated that he has been a hard worker, “…trying to get his game back and be ready when they call on him…”
Doesn’t that sound like a complisult? Like when a girl tells a guy that he’s “pretty funny?” When a player has been demoted to AAA, isn’t that kicking him when he’s already down? I’m just reading the tea leaves, Danny, but that doesn’t sound like great news for you.