Twins GM Bill Smith doesn't think he should consider the Pirates' interest in Jason Kubel approaching the non-waiver trade deadline in Major League Baseball. Incredibly, at seven games under .500 and six games back - in fourth place, where they've been all summer - Smith sees his Twins as a contender entering the dog days.
A cursory glance at trade rumors and their roster leaves an impression that players could be moved. Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Jose Mijares (before he imploded on the mound against the Rangers in a recent 20-6 loss), Kevin Slowey, and Denard Span have come up in trade rumors.
While I personally think it would be a long-term mistake to move Span, a few others could be added to that roster of ejector-seat candidates.
Francisco Liriano has only hurt his own trade value all season long and the Twins would have likely been better off to have moved him in spring training. Matt Capps could go. Carl Pavano could be sent to a contender in need of a number six or seven starter. Delmon Young becomes eligible for free agency after the 2012 season.
Slowey, Kubel, Cuddyer, Capps, Young. These five could bring a haul of five to ten prospects (or more, with the Twins' legacy of garnering the right players seemingly most of the time) worth considering as a long-term investment by the budget-conscious Twins.
Jim Thome gives the fans in Minnesota something to watch, especially on his push for home run number 600. It's hard to imagine, but even he might understand why the Twins would decide it is finally time to make some changes and allow his bat to go on to a bench for a contender in need of his considerable country-strong power.
This isn't exactly a rebuilding process. The core is solid. The pitching looks like it will keep coming from the minors thanks to some smart drafts and some decent luck.
But this is not going to be a penant year for the Twins. Cut bait now and get that roster refreshed with an injection of new prospects to add to the pool.
Otherwise, good luck, Bill Smith. You'll be staring up at third place in mid-September wondering why you didn't see this coming.