My Thoughts on the Trade Deadline
1.) I mentioned the Luis Castillo trade yesterday in a stub post, but haven't fully expanded on my thoughts. I view this trade as a net positive for the Twins, and here's my reasoning:
First, let me start by saying that I think the Twins needed to strongly explore trading Luis Castillo. The most obvious reason is that Castillo is a free agent at the end of the year -- and with all of the hand-wringing over whether or not the Twins will be able to afford to keep Torii Hunter, it was pretty obvious that the Twins were not going to re-sign someone like Castillo who is relatively expensive and also fairly replaceable. After all, Castillo's numbers don't exactly blow you away: his .304 batting average is nice and all, but it's fairly empty -- his .709 OPS ranks 8th amongst qualified AL second basemen, his 18 RBI's are dead last (although to be fair this isn't entirely his fault -- the Twins 7-8-9 hitters, who Castillo would be driving in, have been out to lunch all year), and he hasn't scored many runs (again, not entirely his fault). The OPS numbers are worrisome enough before you factor in his defense, which is great when he can get to balls -- and downright bad when you factor in things like Range Factor, where Castillo comes out 11th out of 11 qualified AL second sackers.
Now, I don't know what the formula that determines whether a player is a Type A or Type B free agent is -- but I'd be willing to guess that having nothing more than a pretty good batting average while having a downright terrible OPS and poor defensive numbers probably doesn't classify you for either. It's possible that Castillo would have squeaked through as a Type B (if you think he's an A, you're hallucinating) -- but I rather doubt it. In other words, in my view the Twins would have received nothing for Castillo in the absence of a trade. By making the deal, the Twins got a terrible offensive catcher who nonetheless supposedly has the defensive skills to someday be a Major League backup, and an unproven outfielder at the High A level. In my book, that's not bad for a guy who was going to leave. Consider also that the Mets didn't have any competition for Castillo -- they were the only team that was remotely interested, and that drove down the cost.
So, really, the only argument that I think can be made in favor of keeping Castillo a Twin and then letting him walk after the season is the argument that the Twins are in the playoff race, and the Twins shouldn't have exchanged a veteran (Castillo) for a rookie (Casilla) in the middle of the race. To this I say "humbug." Castillo is not an important enough piece to make a significant difference in the race, and the Twins may as well try out Casilla. Taking all of this into account, I think that the Castillo trade made sense, and was as good as the Twins were going to get given the circumstances. You can't turn water into wine -- and anyone expecting more out of Castillo was hoping for that kind of miracle.
2.) The Castillo trade led to one of the more interesting trade deadline developments -- and it didn't even have anything to do with an actual trade. I'm referring to the griping that has come from the Twins locker room (supposedly) about this deal. Now, I think the players have every right to speak their mind, and I think it's touching that they cared enough about Castillo to be sad to see him go. Bottom line, however, is that the players and the GM have very, very different jobs. Players can afford to get to know and like a player, and to be disappointed when he's traded. That is a liability in a GM. Terry Ryan had to look at his options dispassionately, and when he did so he made the same conclusion that I made -- Castillo needed to go. He then got the best deal he could in a market that was against him. It would be very, very foolish for the players to get so upset about Castillo heading to the Mets that they stopped playing -- and I don't think they will. The locker room is angry now, but these guys are professionals, and they'll get over it.
3.) What about not making a trade today? This, perhaps, was the thing that upset fans more than anything at the deadline, and as I said above, I wasn't immune to that. I don't know what kind of deals the Twins discussed as the deadline drew near, but I guarantee you that they looked at a number of options. In the end, I think deals were brought down by a combination of factors: the unavailability of quality pieces at the positions the Twins needed (Morgan Ensberg was a horrible option, Mike Piazza didn't want to play here, etc.); the Twins resistance to trading away prospects for rent-a-players; the apparent disinterest around the league for players like Juan Rincon or Carlos Silva.
What's interesting to me is how many Twins fans were clamoring for Ensberg -- a player who has been absolutely wretched for some time now. The fact that people are upset at Ryan for not picking him up mystifies me, and demonstrates that many people seemed to be interested in making a trade solely for the sake of making a trade. That's foolhardy, and I'm glad the Twins resisted.
Finally, let's also not forget that the Twins will be getting Michael Cuddyer back soon, which will help the team significantly, and also that there is still a chance to make moves during August through the waiver process. I don't know if the Twins will make any moves in August or not, but the opportunity will be there.
4.) One more thing to consider -- the Twins division rivals didn't do a lot at the deadline either. The Tigers made no moves, although they considered (for some reason) adding Jack Wilson from the Pirates, and the Indians added Kenny Lofton last week but made no other moves. It's not like the Twins put themselves in a major hole relative to the rest of the division by doing nothing but trading Castillo. For that matter, the Yankees and Angels didn't do a whole heck of a lot either.
5.) It's completely meaningless, but it's interesting to note that in their first two at-bats post-trade, Luis Castillo is 0-for-2 for the Mets while Alexi Casilla is 2-for-2 for the Twins. Just a note of interest that I don't believe has any significance whatsoever.
6.) The Braves were obviously very aggressive, and I think they made some great moves. The Pirates picking up Matt Morris is just mystifying. Finally, I'm frankly stunned that the Cubs didn't do anything to give themselves more of an edge against the fading Brewers, and that the Dodgers didn't do more than pick up Scott Proctor from the Yankees.