Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gauging the trade market

There has been no shortage of complaints, here and elsewhere, about the Twins failure/inability to upgrade their middle relief corps.

In that light, the trade Tuesday in which the Chicago White Sox acquired Tony Pena (right) from the Arizona Diamondbacks is instructive.

Pena is a generic middle man. Nothing particularly outstanding —a good fastball, but not a particularly noteworthy strikeout rate. The Snakes used him a lot to protect leads — 30 holds in 2007, 23 in 2008 — but the ERAs aren't all that good.

To get him, the Sox surrendered Brandon Allen, an impressive power prospect who has split this season between AA and AAA.

The Twins don't have a minor leaguer directly comparable to Allen — a first baseman, nearly major league ready, with significant power. The closest would probably be Chris Parmelee, and he's only in High A ball. Would the Twins give up Parmelee in a trade for a mediocre set-up guy? I have my doubts.

Seeing the D'backs move Pena reminds me of another Arizona relief pitcher who came to the AL Central for this season: Juan Cruz. There were people unhappy this spring when the Twins decline to meet Arizona's price for Cruz, who wound up with Kansas City — where he has walked 18 in 36 innings and racked up a worse ERA than Luis Ayala.

Moral: The Twins haven't pulled the trigger on a bullpen arm. That hasn't necessarily been a mistake.

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