Two Transactions and Some Speculation
First, the Twins have called up Garrett Jones to replace Ramon Ortiz on the roster. My prediction earlier this year that Jones would be up and down like a yoyo this season has turned out to be true, but this is likely to be the end of that process. Jones is very likely to now be in the most important stretch of his Twins career, and possibly of his professional career; as I've mentioned before, this is Jones' last available option year, so the Twins will need to make a decision on what to do with him going into next year. If Jones performs well over the last 6 weeks of the season, he'll drastically increase his chances of making the team next season. If he doesn't, he'll have to prove himself in Spring Training next year (if he's still around), and that's usually not an easy thing to do (just ask Michael Restovich and J.D. Durbin).
Now, for the speculation -- I think that it's incredibly telling that Jones was called up rather than Lew Ford, and I strongly believe that this means its over for Ford as a Twin. Don't get me wrong -- he's bound to get a September callup, because it would make no sense not to have him available once rosters expand. But if Ford has fallen far enough down the depth chart to not even be the first outfielder called up, then there's really no reason to keep him. I wanted the Twins to nontender him last winter, but they chose to keep him around, and that decision didn't work out at all. This winter, the Twins are unlikely to make the same mistake this off-season. The Twins are undoubtedly asking around to see if anybody needs a spare part outfielder, but it's very, very unlikely that they'll find any takers. Instead, Ford will almost certainly hang on the roster until December, when he's finally non-tendered.
I could be wrong, of course. There are legitimate reasons to call up Jones even if the team intended to keep Lew Ford beyond this season. For starters, Jones is a left-handed hitter, and the Twins could have decided that they'd rather have a lefty off the bench rather than a righty. For another, as I mentioned earlier, the Twins are in full-on evaluation mode on Jones, while Ford is a known quantity. The Twins know that Ford will rejoin the team in 15 days, anyway, so they may have decided to bring Jones up early solely for evaluation purposes. I don't think that either of these explanations are the right one, though -- instead, as I mentioned, I think this spells the end of the Lew Ford era.
Finally, the Twins claimed infielder Chris Basak off of waivers from the Yankees. Basak is a 28 year old who was drafted in the 6th round back in the 2000 draft. His contract was purchased on June 5 of this year, but I've not yet had time to do any more in depth research to find out whether or not Basak was ever on a major league roster before. If not, then this season would be his first and only option year, so by claiming him the Twins will have bought themselves two more option years on a backup utility infielder, essentially. More info will be forthcoming if there's more info to give. For now, this claim makes perfect sense for the Twins -- although it means that the club has acquired two infielders in two days, which has to dishearten Matt Tolbert a little bit.