Let's face it, the Twins have no discernible, MLB-ready alternative at shortstop to Alexi Casilla, who has proven himself, again and again, not-quite-ready-for-primetime. Trevor Plouffe, playing shortstop tonight against the White Sox, could very well be an improvement over Casilla, but I am not convinced that he is the shortstop of the future on a team that should be contending for a division title and World Series. Although Casilla's 2011 may be a small sample size, it's enough to convince me that Casilla is never going to be a MLB starter (forget the fact that he is right now). I'm not big into the minor league system (and for that reason I appreciate Seth's analysis over at SethSpeaks, but I do know that there is no fantastic alternative in our system, no guy that can come in, bat a consistent .270 and play good defense. If such a player existed, he probably would have been called up already.
I want the Twins to make a statement: I want them to get Jose Reyes from the Mets. It's no secret that the Mets, set to lose $70 million this season and sell a minority stake in their ownership, probably will be shopping Reyes this season, and it's no secret that the Twins haven't had a great shortstop in many years. Middle infield has been one of the most significant weaknesses in otherwise competitive Twins lineups. There's obviously a fit, at least from the Twins' standpoint. My question, though, is what would it take for the Mets to deal him to us?
Certainly, there will be several interested teams, and I have no doubt, given the fact that Reyes will be a free agent after this season, that the Mets will want at least one MLB starter in return, plus prospects. Who would we give up? I would give up Denard Span, not because I think he's a weak link or anything (in fact, I really like him, his attitude, and his 2011 play thus far), but because the Twins have more depth in their system in outfield positions than in other areas. Similarly, I would give up Delmon Young, and I would be willing to listen to a conversation about any of our starting pitchers. If, for some reason, the Mets were interested (presuming they also get rid of Carlos Beltran this year), I'd give up Michael Cuddyer or Jason Kubel. As far as prospects, I am only (and admittedly, shortsightedly) unwilling to discuss Kyle Gibson and Alex Wimmers. Let me reiterate, though, I would give up 1 starter and prospects. No more, of course.
Reyes is being paid $11 million this year, and will be 28 in June. He has a lifetime .286 batting average, a .335 on base percentage, and 341 stolen bases. He could be a fixture in the Twins' lineup for a number of years.
Will Bill Smith even place a courtesy call to the Mets? Probably not. It was a bad sign on Monday, the day off following a horrible week of Twins baseball and the end to an awful first month of games, that the Twins did nothing in terms of personnel moves. Casilla could have been demoted to a bench role, but was not. Sending him to 2B in no way diminishes the fact that he is not a good fielder and cannot hit. I think, out of the 5 tools, that he might have 1.
I expect that Young, Thome, Valencia, Mauer and Morneau will start hitting sometime this year. When these guys start contributing, the lineup will be very good again. But, Casilla/Plouffe/Tolbert or any AAA player at shortstop is a glaring weak link for this lineup. Although a move to get Reyes will cost money, let's be real and note that seats at Target Field will be empty the second half of this year if the Twins fail to compete. That's millions each night in lost revenue. I doubt the Twins will get Reyes, but I want to see something that tells me that this team will try to compete in 2011, notwithstanding the unlucky string of injuries that has befallen our guys.