Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Good-bye, Kintzler

The Twins traded Brandon Kintzler to the Washington Nationals in the final hour before the trading deadline Monday. It was a rational move, but that doesn't mean I have to like it, and I don't.

It really wasn't any more of a "white flag" trade than the Jaime Garcia trade Sunday, but it feels more like it. Garcia's departure still leaves the Twins with their three best starters this year and with the rotation plan for the future intact; with Kintzler gone and Taylor Rogers suddenly addicted to the gopher ball, I have no idea how Molitor is going to find outs late in games.

Molitor's bullpen handling is a topic for other posts and columns; today I mourn Kintzler's departure, which is something I could not have imagined 18 months ago. He was a minor league free agent when I first saw him pitch, in spring training 2016; he leaves as an All-Star.

But ...he's 32, his strikeout rate is bizarrely low for a pitcher of his effectiveness, he's a free agent to be, and it's a good guess that "Falvine" isn't interested in committing to him as the back end of the bullpen in the future. So they cashed him in for a Class A lefty named Tyler Watson.

Watson is 20 and he has put up truly impressive walk and strikeout rates at Low-A Hagerstown (South Atlantic League). He is said to have an advanced changeup and breaking ball but is a bit light on velocity. The Twins presumably think/hope he can add some power to his repertoire as he matures (listed at 6-5, 200 pounds).

All that is well and good, but the return seems too light for what Kintzler means to the current team. We've had four months of playoff aspirations with this team; despite the debacles of the past week, I'm not emotionally ready to relinquish those ambitions.

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