ST Mailbag & Home Run Derby

Hello again everybody...

Welcome to the start of another week. The slowest sports week of the year thanks to the MLB All-Star break. Both the DFT's are off til Friday. But tonight we've got the Home Run Derby and tomorrow's the Mid-Summer Classic itself.

Today I'll bring you the latest nugget from the Sports Take Mailbag, plus a preview of the Home Run Derby. Off we go!

When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men's minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind.
-Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC), Roman orator, author and politician

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Of course, Cicero ended up getting decapitated by his political enemies. So maybe he should've talked a little more. Who knows?

Today's Sports Take Mailbag question comes from Kurt in Eau Claire, WI:

The Twins have the makings to be a very good team, way better then they've been. If you were the GM or coach, what would you do to make the Twins a contender? What player or players would you bring in, (make sure you talk about players that the Twins could get!), and how would you use them?

July 31st is the non-waiver trade deadline, so the All-Star break is an appropriate time to talk trades. I've written plenty of times about what the Diamondbacks need to acquire in a trade, but I haven't written about the Twins in that fashion.

So here goes. When I look at the Twins' roster, I see two glaring needs. One, they could really use some help on the left side of their infield (shortstop and/or third base), particularly of the right-handed-hitting variety to help balance their line-up a little. Two, they could use another relief pitcher, especially with late-inning experience.

So if I was Twins G.M. Billy Smith, I'd be on the phone with the Colorado Rockies trying to figure out what it'd take to land 3B Garret Atkins. According to the Rockie Mountain News, Atkins is one of the players that the Rockies are shopping. Colorado's always looking for pitching help, so I'd dangle Francisco Liriano (who'll likely never have better trade value than he does right now) in front of them and offer up a lower-level prospect in addition if it helps get the job done.

Atkins is a 29-year-old, right-handed 3rd baseman. He's hitting .304 with 14 home runs and 54 RBI this year on a team that's struggling mightily. And he's not a bad fielder either. For his career he has a .954 fielding percentage. This year he's made 9 errors in 195 attempts for a .964 fielding percentage.

The best part for the Twins is that Atkins won't become a free agent for 2 years, so they know it won't be a standard rent-a-player situation. The other edge of that sword however, is that it'll put the Rockies in a position where they can ask for more in terms of prospects for that same reason. But it's my hope that putting Liriano in the deal will counter-act that somewhat.

As far as the bullpen goes, there aren't a lot of great options out there. Between Dennis Reyes and Craig Breslow, the Twins are set for situational lefties, so they'd be looking for a right-handed reliever who could step into the set-up role. This eliminates lefty Brian Fuentes of Colorado, who's perhaps the best relief pitcher on the market.

So my short list of options would be: Jason Frasor of the Toronto Blue Jays, Saul Rivera of the Washington Nationals and Eddie Guardado of the Texas Rangers. Yes, I'm suggesting taking a look at Eddie G. I know he's left-handed and I just said the Twins don't need a lefty, but Eddie's intangibles overcome that contradiction. Plus it would be a nice homecoming for him. Frasor would be my first choice. But I'm not offering anything above a AA prospect for any of them.

For the record, the latest Twins rumor-mill has them talking to the Mariners about 3B Adrian Beltre. Beltre had a monster year in 2004 for the Dodgers when he hit .334 with 48 home runs and 121 RBI. That season earned him a large free-agent contract with Seattle. But since 2004, Beltre hasn't hit above .280, hasn't topped 30 home runs in a season, and hasn't reached 100 RBI. For my money? I'd rather pay a little more and get a Garret Atkins on the way up, rather than pay a little less and get Beltre on his way down.

So Kurt, I hope that adequately answers your question. Thanks for sending it in! Remember, if you have a question you want answered, send me an email at:

Next up it's the Sports Take preview of this year's All-Star Home Run Derby.

Here are tonight's participants:

For the American League: Josh Hamilton, Tex (21 HR), Evan Longoria, TB (16 HR), Justin Morneau, Min (14 HR), and Grady Sizemore, Cle (23 HR).

For the National League: Lance Berkman, Hou (22 HR), Ryan Braun, Mil (23 HR), Dan Uggla, Fla (23 HR) and Chase Utley, Phi (25).

So on the surface, the National League should have a clear advantage. But anyone who's seen Derby's in the past knows that it doesn't much matter how many Home Runs you come into the contest with. It's more about your ability to relax in the face of the glare of so much attention and having the right batting practice pitcher.

That said, my pick to win the contest this year is ..............

Chase Utley of the Phillies. Utley's a veteran player who won't be phased by being the center of attention. And his swing is so smooth and pure, that he shouldn't have any problem hitting enough out in the early rounds to get him through to the late stages.

The sexy pick this year is Josh Hamilton of Texas. And while he's a great story, and can hit some monster shots, I'm concerned about his pitcher. The story is that he's going to have a former little-league coach of his throwing to him. Now maybe the guy will surprise me and be able to consistently put the ball where Hamilton wants it, but my fear is that he'll be nervous and all over the place and that will cost Hamilton his shot.

The homer in me would love to see Justin Morneau make a deep run, since I don't think he gets the national attention that he deserves as a former MVP and strong candidate for this year's award.

But if I have to make a pick, it's Utley. Which I guess means that I should apologize to Philly fans since I probably just put the ST-whammy on the guy. Sorry about that!

That's all for today folks. Back on Wednesday with... well, I don't know what yet. Like I said, it's a slow time of the year. But rest assured I'll come up with something! Until then, thanks as always for reading!


  1. Yeah, you totally whammy'd Utley.

  2. Yeah, I totally did.

    Fortunately, as far as I know, there's only one person who potentially reads this and is *also* a Phillies fan.

    I hope!