Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Goodbye, Willingham

Josh Willingham (16) leads Sam Fuld (1) off the field
late last month. Neither remains on the Twins.
The Twins clearance sale continues, with Josh Willingham dealt Monday to Kansas City. He follows Kendrys Morales, Sam Fuld and Kevin Correia out the door.

I am struck by the notion that the best return so far has been for Fuld. The Twins got a established, but not old, major league starter (Tommy Milone) for the career fourth outfielder.

Willingham brought a minor league pitcher, Jason Adam. This scouting report on Adam says he has a decent fast ball and slider, but struggles with his curve and change. The Royals had moved him to the bullpen, and he was doing well in Triple A after struggling at Double A for a year and a half  as a starter.

So naturally the Twins are sending him back to Double A to be a starter. I speak sarcastically, but there is method to this madness. Starters are more valuable than relievers, and maybe somebody in the Twins operation thinks they can get him the offspeed pitch he needs to be a starter.

Baseball America rated Adam the ninth best prospect in the Kansas City system during the past offseason. I rather doubt he'll be in the Twins top 20 this winter.

So he's a lottery ticket. That's fine. Willingham's contract runs out at the end of the year, and I don't imagine the Twins will strive to bring him back. He's 35 and over the past two seasons he's hit .209 with a slugging percentage of .380. Getting somebody with a chance to be something for seven weeks of Willingham is a good move.

The Royals are emphatically in go-for-it mode, and they should be. They moved ahead of the Tigers in the standings Monday night. Anibel Sanchez is already on the disabled list, and Justin Verlander left his start Monday after two innings with shoulder problems. Suddenly the vaunted Detroit rotation doesn't look so darn imposing.

It's a good bet that Willingham will be limited to DHing with the Royals. Alex Gordon, the KC left fielder, is their best player; Willingham isn't moving him aside. The Royals' regular DH, Billy Butler, might wind up playing a lot of first base now than Eric Hosmer is sidelined. So there's a place for the Hammer.

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