Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
It’s not likely that the Twins and GM Terry Ryan will specifically be thinking of Sir Isaac as they approach Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but that law does capture the spirit of where the Twins are right now. It’s easy to say “trade anyone and everyone” because the team is not going anywhere for a fourth consecutive season.
But the opposite reaction to dealing Kurt Suzuki, Josh Willingham, Brian Duensing or any of a handful of other players who might have value and are of use to the Twins currently is that they will damage their ability to win games in August and September.
If they’re not going to make the playoffs, who cares?
Well, yes. But there also comes a time when a team has to take a step forward not just in player development — which would be done through trades, in both acquiring younger players for the future and most likely giving young players more opportunities in the present — but in the standings.
The Twins are 47-57, which is a pace that would see them go 73-89. That’s not good. It is also far from a guarantee that they will even keep up that bad pace, since as we have noted multiple times they have reached the 100-game mark each of the past three seasons and taken a nose dive from bad to worse to finish with 99, 96 and 96 losses, respectively.
Is it worth it to hang onto Suzuki in hopes of winning, say, 75 games? Practically speaking, it isn’t. If he’s not going to be here next season, and it sure sounds like he won’t, then why try to inflate this year’s record and hold back other players in the process? The opposite reaction to that, though, is again that there is value in trying to change a culture of losing. And yes, 75-87 or 73-89 would still be a losing record, but would a better chance at a 7-to-9 game improvement and any positive feelings (and possible good will) be worth more than a mid-level prospect acquired in a trade?
We honestly don’t know the answer to that. One way of thinking is logical, the other is more abstract. Smart GMs are probably able to think both ways and understand the big-picture needs of a ballclub in both directions. If the Twins’ clubhouse really is a more confident place than at any point since 2011, as Glen Perkins told us Friday, then there is something to be said, we suppose, for continuity. But if the long-term plan is for Perkins to make the playoffs sometime before his option year of 2018 is done, as he also said, then the emotionless decision is to work toward 2015 and beyond without regard to how this year winds up.
It will be interesting to see which way the Twins go. Suzuki and Willingham, in particular, are guys in the final years of deals who would seem to fetch at least a decent prospect in return. Willingham has the best OPS of any Twins player with at least 200 plate appearances. Suzuki has been their most consistent hitter and a capable handler of pitchers. Take them away and the team is worse. Trade them away and maybe a future team is better.
Action. Opposite reaction. And so on.