At the halfway point of the season the Minnesota Twins have finally crawled out of the basement of the American League and are currently 1.5 games ahead of the Mariners. They still find themselves in the basement of the AL Central, but are within striking range of the Kansas City Royals.
With the record sitting at 35-46, the good news is that if the Twins continue to play at this pace— a .432 winning percentage—they will finish at 70-92, seven games better than last season.
The bad news is the Twins had the identical record after 81 games last season, and finished the last 81 games with a .345 winning percentage. Only a 1-0, complete-game pitching performance from Carl Pavano prevented the season ending with 100 losses.
Either way, the Twins are in no position to make any historic moves, despite being only nine games back of the division-leading White Sox.
General manager Terry Ryan needs to rebuild the Twins as quickly as possible. In only their third season in the new ballpark of Target Field, the dreadful performance on the field is inexcusable. The justification for a new ballpark was to allow the Twins, who won five division titles in the eight seasons before moving to Target Field, to compete in the postseason.
The goal was to finally get out of the divisional round of the playoffs, not produce back-to-back 90-loss seasons.
Instead, the team has badly regressed to their horrid days at the formation of the AL Central in 1994. Between 1994 to 2000 the best the team could manage was a fourth-place finish in the division.
Very much in the midst of rebuilding, Ryan and the Twins need to be sellers as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
The future of the franchise rests in the hands of outfielder Ben Revere, infielders Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe and pitchers Scott Diamond, Alex Burnett and Glen Perkins. They are a very capable nucleus of players that Ryan needs build the future around.
In order to find that talent, Ryan needs to deal some of the current stars for high-level prospects who can make an impact at the major league level within the next couple of seasons.
Here are eight possible Twins who could be dealt before the end of July.
The Twins keep waiting for Liriano to pitch like he did as a rookie in 2006 when he was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA.
Since coming back in 2008 after recovering from Tommy John surgery, he is 36-44 with a 4.68 ERA. This season he is 2-5 with a 5.40 ERA this season.
Since he is a free agent after the season, the Twins should be in contact with every team interested in Liriano to find the best deal available.
Carl Pavano has been the Twins' workhorse since he was acquired from the Indians in 2009. He's led the team in innings pitched the last two seasons.
After being placed on the disabled list on June 2 with a strained shoulder, that trend will not continue for a third straight season.
Because of his shoulder, he has struggled all season. He is currently 2-5 with a 6.00 ERA in 11 starts.
The problem will be if Pavano, who has just started throwing again, can make the return to the active roster before the end of July.
Like Francisco Liriano, Pavano will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Matt Capps could leave the Twins in the same way he arrived—a deal right before the trading deadline.
The shoulder soreness suffered by the Twins closer could not have come at a worse time. Not because the he leads the Twins with 14 saves in 15 opportunities this season, but because of the proximity to the non-waiver trade deadline.
After he joined the Twins in 2010, he promptly established himself as the closer. For the Twins, he converted 16 of 18 save opportunities and finished with a 2.00 ERA.
Last season he struggled with nine blown saves in 24 opportunities. His ERA also increased to 4.25.
This season, he has been a reliable closer again with only one blown save along with a 3.42 ERA.
In his absence, Glen Perkins and Jared Burton have been doing a very good job tag-teaming the closer role.
When the Twins signed Jamey Carroll to a three-year contract last November, there was no way that Carroll was going to be a long-term answer at shortstop.
A career .275 hitter, Carroll is having one of his worst seasons at the plate—currently hitting .241.
At 38 years old, and in his 11th major league season, his days as an everyday player might be over. Opening the season as the shortstop, he was moved to second in favor of rookie Brian Dozier, and has since played at second and third.
According to a report from mlbtraderumors.com, last year there were three teams interested in acquiring Carroll as the trade deadline approached. Perhaps there could be some offers for the veteran infielder this year.
Unfortunately for the Twins, Justin Morneau has not been able to hit like he was before a concussion wiped out the second half of his 2010 season. At the time, the 2006 American League MVP was leading the Twins with a .345 batting average, 18 home runs and 56 RBIs.
It ended four consecutive seasons with at least 100 RBIs for Morneau.
His struggles continued into 2011 with various ailments that limited him to 69 games last season. Morneau hit only .227 with four home runs and 30 RBIs—the lowest totals since his rookie season in 2003.
He is slowly turning things around with a .238 average, 10 home runs and 35 RBIs in 61 games this season.
With Chris Pamelee ready to take over first base, the time might be right to trade the 31-year-old Morneau.
The Twins find themselves once again with two center fielders.
The last time it was between Carlos Gomez and Denard Span, a battle Span won when the Twins traded Gomez to the Brewers for J.J. Hardy after the 2009 season.
Last season, Ben Revere established himself more than a capable center fielder when he filled while Span was recovering from a concussion.
Span has been a solid contributor all season with a .273 average as the Twins leadoff hitter. In 75 games he's hit three home runs. He also has 31 RBIs and nine stolen bases.
Even though the Twins signed Ryan Doumit to a two-contract extension that will pay him $3.5 million over the next two seasons, there could still be some teams looking to add his depth defensively—as well as his bat.
As of Wednesday, the switch-hitting Doumit is batting .279 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs.
He's played in 64 of the Twins games this season, alternating mostly between catcher and DH, but has also seen some action in right field and took one turn at first base.
His flexibility has allowed the Twins to carry three catchers for most of the season, something the Twins have coveted for a while.
It will take a lot to pry him away from the Twins, but general manager Terry Ryan should still be willing to listen.
One of the bright spots this season has been Josh Willingham. If not for the surprising power display of third baseman Trevor Plouffe, Willingham would be the story for Twins.
Willingham has proved that last season was not a fluke as he hit career highs with 29 homers and 98 RBIs. He's backed that up with a pace that projects him to hit 30 home runs and 120 RBIs.
Having played in 78 of the Twins 81 games, he is hitting .269, with 18 home runs and leads the team with 59 RBIs.
As noted on the slide for Denard Span, the Twins have no interest in trading Willingham. However, with back-to-back seasons demonstrating his home run power, there could be some playoff-contending teams that would welcome his bat.
If the price is right, the Twins should listen to their offers.