Although I left Minnesota in 1989, I remain a part-time Twins fan. Call it KirbyPuckettitis. I was once rabid and have fallen back to your regular, ordinary buff. In reality, I truly and deeply love baseball, and the Twins are among the nearer objects of my affection - along with my poor, sad, adopted Oakland Athletics.
When I watch an offseason progress, I care not what four-letter networks report as breaking news in the Northeast. Neither does 90% of the American population, though, so I realize I'm not alone and do the best I can with what little I'm given (come back to the West, Pedro Gomez).
Among the many reasons that I love the Twins is that they are crafty chess players. They have become masters of the parlay. They sometimes get lucky (see AJ Pierzynski for Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano, and Joe Nathan). Sometimes, they are just dead right about a player who doesn't fit. Matt Garza remains a player with a bad attitude. Rumor has it he'll get moved by the Rays partly because he still Cadillacs it between starts. Grow up, child.
More often, they convert over time player after player in a fashion that would require ages to reveal the genius. Here we note that three regulars in the 2010 Twins lineup were results of the Chuck Knoblauch trade in 1998. Possibly even more brilliant is that they've recently renewed that cycle to net a minor leaguer with years of forward potential still... from Chuck Knoblauch.
Chuck Knoblauch begat Eric Milton, Brian Buchanan, Cristian Guzman, and Danny Mota. Eric Milton begat Carlos Silva and Nick Punto. Brian Buchanan begat Jason Barlett. Cristian Guzman, via free agency, gave the Twins pick 84 of the 2005 draft, resulting in Brian Duensing. Jason Barlett, with Matt Garza, begat Delmon Young, Jason Pridie, and Brendan Harris. Brendan Harris, with JJ Hardy, begat Brett Jacobsen and Jim Hoey.
Brian Duensing, Delmon Young, and Nick Punto all remained contributors on the 25-man roster throughout the 2010 season.
Unfortunately, their recent playoff runs have not been so remarkable. The offense seems to be there. The starting pitching might be the single easiest thing to which a fan could point as a shortcoming. The Twins' rotation is full of contributors. But for a World Series contender, these typical number threes and fours would not be on the frontline, with the possible exception of a recuperated Francisco Liriano.
The Twins need an Ace. The current rotation of Liriano, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, and Brian Duensing might cut it for 162 games, especially with Kyle Gibson waiting in the wings, but it won't mow down the wild card team in round one.
Rumor mills across the hot stove seem to have linked the Twins to Zack Greinke and Brandon Webb, current and former Aces. Here is my twist on this idea, Dearest Mr. Smith.
Get them all, and then some.
Trade Kevin Slowey, Aaron Hicks, and a third (and fourth?) player for Zack Greinke. Sign Brandon Webb to an injury-discounted contract. Push Blackburn back into the bullpen, ready to start at the first sign of a sore shoulder.
Even better, do all of the above and additionally trade with the Mariners for Erik Bedard in another injury-discounted deal.
The window is open. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and their supporting cast won't do this forever. Contending pressure from the White Sox and Tigers is sure to rise.
Take a shot at an Ace. Or three. Greinke, Liriano, Webb, Bedard, and Baker looks a heckuva lot scarier than Liriano and Co as they are today.
Please take the shot, Mr. Smith. I'll pay to see that rotation.