Inbox: Could Twins be buyers at Trade Deadline?
Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger responds to fans' questions
The All-Star break is already almost upon us and the Twins are still hanging around in the American League Central.
The Twins weathered a 10-game losing streak in May and have bounced back since then with better pitching, especially in June.
The question now becomes whether the Twins can keep this up, or if they'll fade like the last two seasons, when they struggled down the stretch to end up with the worst record in the American League.
July should be interesting for the Twins, who spend most of the month on the road and will have important decisions to make regarding the Trade Deadline, which brings us to the first question of this edition of the Twins Inbox:
The Twins are off to a better start than expected this year and are hovering around .500, so will they be buyers or sellers at the Trade Deadline?
-- Mike O., Maple Grove, Minn.
The Twins are still under .500, so they certainly haven't played great baseball this season but it's an improvement on the last two years -- when they lost 99 and 96 games, respectively. And given the fact they were nearly universally picked to finish last in the division before the season, it's enough that ESPN's Buster Olney recently called them his surprise team this year.
There's still plenty of time before the July 31 Trade Deadline, but the Twins have already been in contact with clubs about potential trade matches. Considering the Twins are still building for the future with such a strong farm system and the fact that the Tigers are still heavy favorites in the division, that means they'll listen in on potential trades that will make them better in the future. So in that sense, it's hard to see a scenario in which they'll be buyers.
Some potential players that would interest other clubs include Justin Morneau, Kevin Correia, Glen Perkins and Josh Willingham. But it appears highly unlikely that the Twins will trade Perkins, because the Twins see him as a cornerstone player moving forward.
Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony also said last week the Twins haven't decided if they'll be buyers or sellers just yet.
"We'll let the next month dictate that," Antony said. "We really don't have a good idea when we're [four games] under .500 right now."
But if the Twins continue to hang around .500, Antony admitted it would be tough to throw this year away, especially with the two Wild Card spots and the fact that surprise teams such as the A's and Orioles made the playoffs last year.
"You're trying to figure out what you want to hang on to, what you're building around and what you're willing to part with," Antony said. "But you'd be really hard-pressed to give up on the season."
What took the Twins so long to call up Kyle Gibson?
-- Jim J., Plymouth, Minn.
Gibson was finally recalled on Sunday night to take the place of right-hander Mike Pelfrey, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain.
Gibson was solid at Triple-A Rochester, with a 3.01 ERA, 79 strikeouts and 28 walks in 92 2/3 innings. His last start was also a strong one, as he allowed only an unearned run over seven innings on Thursday.
The Twins kept preaching that they wanted more consistency out of Gibson earlier in the year, as he didn't turn in back-to-back quality starts until mid-May. But he's now strung together four straight quality starts and has a 2.35 ERA over his last nine outings with two shutouts.
The deadline for Super Two status also passed, so if the Twins were holding him back for that reason, they don't have to worry about an extra year of arbitration anymore. Now, it'll be interesting to see how he's handled in the Majors, as he's expected to still be on an innings limit this year because he's coming off Tommy John surgery. Heading into the season, Gibson was expected to be limited to about 130-140 innings.
Prospects Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario were both promoted to Double-A New Britain recently, so when should we expect them in the Majors?
-- Ryan S., Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Considering Aaron Hicks made the jump straight from Double-A New Britain to the Majors this year, Sano and Rosario shouldn't be too far off as long as long as they produce at Double-A.
But so far, both hitters are off to slow starts at New Britain after impressing at Class A Advanced Fort Myers.
Sano, 19, hit .330 with 16 homers in 56 games with the Miracle, but is hitting just .171 with a homer in 11 games with New Britain. Rosario, 21, batted .329 with six homers in 52 games at Fort Myers, but he's batting .256 with two doubles in 10 games at New Britain.
So there is still going to be a learning curve at Double-A for both hitters, but both could reach the Majors by next year if they continue to hit the way they have throughout their Minor League careers. There's a small chance that one or both could be September callups, but it appears much more likely they'll appear in the Majors next year.
Who do you think will represent the Twins at the All-Star Game? Will it just be Joe Mauer like last year?
-- John H., St Paul, Minn.
With a sizable lead in the balloting among AL catchers, Mauer is essentially a lock to represent the Twins as an All-Star for the sixth time in his career, and deservedly so.
He was the club's lone representative last year and could very well be again this year, considering the Twins don't have any other position players worthy of the honor.
But closer Perkins certainly has a case to be an All-Star, as he's been one of the better relievers in the AL and has been a strikeout machine this season. So we'll see how if that happens, but it would be pretty cool if the Twins had two representatives for the Midsummer Classic who are both Minnesota natives.