My belief all season has been, and remains, that it's the bullpen depth.
Friday's 11th inning meltdown (six runs) underlines that belief.
Bobby Keppel: A leadoff four-pitch walk, two singles, no outs. Gone.
Jesse Crain: Three singles, one walk, no outs. Gone.
R.A. Dickey: A single, then — finally — three outs.
The first two guys are the top alternatives to Jose Mijares and Matt Guerrier, who have been quite good this year but are in danger of being overworked.
I don't have a serious argument with the Orlando Cabrera trade; obviously, the middle infielders (Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert, even Brendan Harris) haven't hit.
But I have more confidence in Punto and Casilla than in Keppel and Crain.
The Twins weren't the only AL Central contender wheeling and dealing Friday before the nonwaiver trade deadline.
The Washburn trade doesn't strike me as much of an upgrade for the Tigers. They gave up Luke French , like Washburn a left-handed flyball pitcher, and a minor leaguer who didn't figure to be a factor for Detroit this year.
Washburn, unlike French, has a track record. He's racked up far better numbers this season than in recent years (2.64 ERA). Washburn has been aided considerably this year by the Seattle outfield defense, which frequently features three legit center fielders. The Detroit stadium is just as spacious as Seattle's, but the Tigers' outfield speed, especially in the corners, don't compare.
The Twins were hot for Washburn last year, a notion that struck me then as borderline insanity. He's been far more effective this year, but even if he maintains his current success, I won't criticize the Twins for staying away this summer.
The Peavy trade may not do anything to help the Chisox this year. The former NL Cy Young Award winner has been on the DL since early June with a strained tendon in his foot; before the trade, his agent said there was no timeline for his return. Now Peavy is talking about being ready by the end of August.
Meanwhile, the White Sox lose a piece of their current starting rotation in Clayton Richard. And a first-rate pitching prospect in Aaron Poreda.
And Peavy has benefited mightily from pitching in a very pitcher-friendly home park in San Diego. Last season, for example, he had a home ERA of 1.75 and a road ERA of 4.28. Now he's going to have a launching pad for a home park.