Tuesday, July 12, 2005
TWINS TRADE FOR BOONE
As a Twins blogger, I feel obligated to talk about the Twins acquisition of Bret Boone from the Seattle Mariners yesterday. Obligated is probably the best word. Now, had the Twins acquired Boone two years ago, it would have been exciting. That they acquire him now simply means that they have yet another replacement level 2B option.
A huge key to whether I actually like this trade has to do with the specifics. According to what we have read, the Twins receive Boone and cash in exchange for the ever-popular Player to be Named Later. We know what we are getting in Bret Boone. A name. A player who was great from 2001-2003. Even in his off-season of 2004, he provided the Mariners with 30 doubles, 24 homers and 83 RBI. This season, his average dropped to .231 and he had just 7 homers and 34 RBI before the M's released him eight days ago.
To put that all into the context of the Minnesota Twins, let's look at it this way:
His fifteen doubles would be tied with Shannon Stewart for third on the Twins, behind only Torii Hunter's 22 and Lew Ford's 19. His seven home runs would be sixth on the team, behind Torii Hunter (14), Justin Morneau (11), Shannon Stewart and Jacque Jones (10), and Matthew LeCroy (9). His 34 RBI would fall below Hunter (54), Morneau (44), Jones (41), Stewart (38) and tied with Lew Ford. Let's just try not to focus in on the fact that his .684 OPS ranks below everyone with significant playing time with the exception of Juan Castro and Luis Rivas.
So, what is Ron Gardenhire likely to do with Boone? My guess is that not only will Boone play almost every day, but that he will hit in the middle of the lineup. That's how Gardy works. He seems to give a lot of benefit to the terms 'veteran' and 'experience.' Fact is, if you look at statistics like OPS that measure production, Luis Rodriguez and Nick Punto both deserve to play ahead of Boone. However, if you look at things like years in the league and All-Star appearances and how good he was for those three years, Boone will have the advantage.
Shannon Stewart LF
Lew Ford DH
Joe Mauer C
Torii Hunter CF
Jacque Jones RF
Bret Boone 2B
Justin Morneau 1B
Michael Cuddyer/Nick Punto/Luis Rodriguez 3B
Juan Castro SS
And maybe there is something to that, particularly in August and September in a real pennant race. Maybe Boone's "veteran-ness" will make a huge difference when the heat is on. Maybe. As Twins fans, we can hope.
And maybe the Twins and their fans can take solace in the fact that Boone has now said that the Twins are the team he wanted to be with all along.
Maybe Boone can revert back to his 2001-2003 production levels, even if just for one more half season. Maybe this will be the move to spark the Twins to either another AL Central title or at least a Wild Card berth. Maybe I will be able to run a marathon... You just never know, right?
But there is something for Twins' fans to lay their hopes on. Boone has been average at best the past year and a half for the Mariners. The Mariners have been a well below average team the past year and a half. Maybe what Boone needed was a change of scenery. Maybe the heat of a pennant race with spark Boone into playing out of his mind for the next three months. There is something to be said about that. It is hard to focus on every at bat when they are really meaningless.
Maybe. We can hope, right?
There are two other parts to this trade, however, that are equally important to deciding whether this is a good trade.
The first is "Cash" as in, the Twins acquired Bret Boone AND CASH. How much cash? Boone was scheduled to make about $9 million in 2005. Since we are a little more than half-way through the season, it is fair to surmise that he is owed another $4 million for this year. If the Twins would have just made this trade and taken on that contract, I would say NO WAY is this a good trade. However, had the Mariners not made this trade, they would have been on the hook for the entire contract anyway. So, my assumption is that the M's sent the Twins at least half of that $4 million, and probably closer to the full amount.
Why? Well, again, had their not been a trade, they would have lost Boone's services and had to pay his contract and received nothing in return. By making this deal, they have lost Boone's services, they will pay a majority (but likely not all) of Boone's remaining contract, and they will receive that Player to be Named Later.
That brings us to the final piece of the "Do I like this trade?" puzzle, the Player to be Named Later. The Twins minor league system is very important to their success. We have seen that over the past two or three seasons when players have come up and contributed right away to the team. What we have not seen is that minor league depth used to acquire players to help right now.
So, who will this Player to Be Named Later be? I have no idea. My assumption is that it would not be any of the team's Top 10 prospects. A half-season of Bret Boone is not worth that. My assumption is that it will also not be a mid-level prospect either, particularly not a position player. The Mariners will want a pitcher and the Twins have a lot of pitching depth throughout their system. My guess is that the Player to be Named will be a mid-to-low level pitching prospect. It is possible that the value of that player will be dependant on how Boone does for the Twins. If that player will not be traded before the end of the season, I am sure there are conditions worked out. For instance, if Boone tanks and the Twins release or trade him before July 31, the Twins will send the M's a low level prospect, maybe someone along the lines of a Colby Miller. If Boone is the catalyst that leads the team to the World Series, they will receive a second-tier prospect, maybe as much as Boof Bonser.
If Boone helps lead the Twins to a playoff run and/or a World Series title, I am fine with losing that type of prospect. I think that we all would be.
So overall, I don't think that the acquisition of Bret Boone will have a huge impact on the Twins season. He has won a number of Gold Glove awards, but clearly even his defense has suffered this year. Maybe it is simply motivation and he can really turn it up with the Twins. Maybe he is just completely done at the age of 36.
Assuming that the Twins will not have to pay much of Boone's salary and that they will not have to give up one of their Top 20-25 prospects to acquire him, this trade will not hurt the team. And Terry Ryan has proven in the past that he does know what he is doing in trades. We have to trust him and his scouts to not make this deal just to acquire a name at a good price. We have to assume they see something left in his tank, something that can help the Twins win this season.
Maybe. Just Maybe!
And for the record, Bobby Abreu is a stud, but I think we all knew that already!!!