Faceoff: Twins finally restock the farm system

Brian Dozier
Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier acknowledges the standing ovation by fans after it was announced during the baseball game against the Detroit Tigers that he was named to the American League All-Star team, replacing injured Blue Jays' Jose Bautista, Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

PHERSY:Feldy, I’m sure you celebrated my birthday last weekend by dancing wildly following Brooks Koepka’s victory. OK, maybe not, but that was definitely a fitting birthday present. My favorite player shouldbe considered a top 5 (I’d be lying if I didn’t say I believe he’s the best, period) player on the planet, even if many casual golf fans still couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. But I digress, Feldy. Let’s talk about the Twins. Yes, they’re out of the playoff race, but we have yet to discuss their trade-deadline moves. So, Feldy, what were your thoughts about the fire sale? I, for one, appreciated the fact that they went into full-on sell mode, rather than tip-toeing into the trade market. Yes, the Twins lost some fantastic players, but they finally restocked the farm system, which was greatly needed.

FELDY: Twins fans wanted GM Thad Levine and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey to be different from their predecessors. They are most definitely different. In that sense, I appreciate the fact that they dealt away six big-leaguers and brought in younger guys with great potential. It’s tough to see guys like Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar go, but we’ve waited a year and a half for Falvey and Levine to start really putting their stamp on this team. The purge had to happen. The Twins want to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox. They can’t even compete with the Indians right now.

PHERSY: Trading Dozier is the one move that stung many Twins fans. But Dozier is over 30 years old, and he’s going to command a lengthy, expensive contract following this season. The Twins can’t afford to be pumping more cash into players on the wrong side of 30. So yes, it stings losing a player like Dozier, but losing him and receiving nothing in return following the season wasn’t an attractive option. ... Feldy, you mentioned Escobar. He will be a free agent following the season, and there’s talk that the Twins may pursue him. Wouldn’t that be a nice twist?

FELDY: You mention veterans nearing 30 years of age, and Escobar will turn 30 in January, but he likely won’t command the kind of money that Dozier will. And he’s a fan favorite here, so, yes, bringing him back would apply some salve to the wounds of some disgruntled Twins fans. With the young roster the team will have over the next few years, a veteran such as Escobar could be invaluable in the clubhouse. He’s the one guy the team traded away who I wish they would have held on to. The rest of the guys they sent away weren’t going to be of much value to the club. Many of them are going to be free agents at the end of this season. Escobar is no superstar, but he’s a steady .270 hitter whose versatility would help the team in many ways.

PHERSY:It’s a move I’d applaud, assuming he’s affordable. Next year, this team could take a big step forward. The Twins will have Jorge Polanco for an entire season, and they’ll get a healthy Byron Buxton. Also, Miguel Sano has looked fantastic since returning from the minors. If this version of Sano sticks around next season, that’s a huge boost to a team desperate for superstars and sluggers. Tyler Austin is a player acquired in that trade-deadline fire sale, and I see him taking over Logan Morrison’s spot next season. That’s another upgrade. No, the Twins won’t have the firepower of the Red Sox, Yankees or Astros, but the lineup has loads of potential. Now, about that pitching staff ...


FELDY: Stop it. That pitching staff would rock it at Class AAA Rochester. Or AA Chattanooga. Or A Fort Meyers. Or maybe it wouldn’t. Some good news: This fire sale will allow the Twins to get a long look at some up-and-comers, some guys who wouldn’t sniff the bigs if the team was in a pennant race. The bad news is, if you sort the Twins pitchers’ stats by ERA, there are a lot of crooked numbers. They’ll have to let some of the new faces — Oliver Drake, Kohl Stewart, etc. — take some lumps (or hopefully not) over the next month-and-a-half, then start building a MLB-worthy staff as soon as free agency opens. It’s a position — both starting rotation and bullpen — Falvey and Levine will have to work some magic with in the offseason.

PHERSY:It’s my biggest concern moving forward. Jose Berrios, when his breaking ball is moving, is an elite talent, a top-of-rotation arm with swing-and-miss stuff. But the dropoff after Berrios is significant. When you look at a team like the Astros, they are loaded with starters, so much so that many of their top would-be starters are in the bullpen. That’s a luxury this organization hasn’t had in my lifetime. If this team can find a way to sign or trade for a legit No. 2 starter in the offseason, I’d feel much better about the Twins’ chances moving forward.

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