Many people thought Justin Morneau was a goner at last week's MLB Trade Deadline.
The Minnesota Twins were one of many Major League Baseball teams that had a quiet trade deadline last week. While there were several reasons why this could have been, the fact remains that it was pretty a boring season across the league.
Even for a rebuilding team like the Twins, there was an opportunity to move past a roster that is on its way to a third straight 90-loss season and build for an exciting future that includes many of the game's top prospects.
A lot of scenarios could be considered "video game" moves (as only a computer-generated general manager would be crazy enough to agree to them), but they weren't far fetched enough that real life counterpart Terry Ryan couldn't have had them tossing in his head leading up to the trade deadline.
With the Twins sitting on their hands (outside of trading the immortal Drew Butera to the Los Angeles Dodgers), it's fair to ask what could have happened and what should have happened leading up to the deadline.
When assessing the Twins' roster, there isn't much that a contending team would want. Starting pitching is always a valuable commodity, but the rotation has combined for the worst earned run average in baseball.
There also weren't many bats or bullpen arms that had opposing GMs tripping over each other to add them to a contender.
However, there was one name that could have brought something rich to the Twins in their closer, Glen Perkins.
Perkins was the Twins' best trade chip after making a trip to the All-Star Game earlier in the month. However, he also is under the Twins' control until after the 2016 season (if a team option was picked up).
Trading a reliever for any meaningful prospect is a good idea, but with the way Perkins has solidified the closer role for the Twins at a cheap price it made sense for the team to pull him from trade talks.
As mentioned before, some moves can be called "video game" moves in that it's too crazy to be deemed an option in real life. Still, the Twins would have been wise to dangle Trevor Plouffe's name in trade talks.
On July 19, Plouffe had a respectable line of .266/.326/.444 with ten home runs and 36 runs batted in. That kind of pop isn't something that would lure a top prospect, but it's enough to get something for a team that was struggling for production from the middle of their lineup.
Alas, Plouffe's stats (and maybe his trade value) has plummeted since then as he hit .104/.157/.125 from July 20 through August 4. That combined with his atrocious play at third base defensively meant that he would be staying with the Twins once the calendar turned to August.
Despite him being on the roster now, I don't think it will be long until the Twins send Plouffe away for something. With Miguel Sano tearing through the organization, he just doesn't have a long-term position on the team and could bring back something surprising from another team that still believes in him.
Trading a starting pitcher with a 4-9 record and 5.23 ERA in 20 starts for something useful also looks like a "video game" move. But, with a pitcher that's starting to find his stride after Tommy John surgery, it's not as bizarre as you would think.
Let's be honest. Pelfrey was terrible in April and May. With a 3-6 record and 6.66 ERA at the end of May, he was a candidate to be designated for assignment complete with a bust next to Jason Marquis in the Terry Ryan Free-Agent Hall of Fame.
Pelfrey would then make three straight starts over seven innings before going on the disabled list in June, registering a 3.81 ERA between his June and July outings.
A lot of the time, teams may look for the hottest hand to help the back end of their pitching staff post-deadline and make a deal for a cheap investment like Pelfrey. Yet, teams may have been scared off at the end and decide the risk wasn't worth taking.
As it stands now, Pelfrey will play out the rest of the season (and the one-year contract he signed last winter). If he pitches well, he has a chance to get a more lucrative deal this upcoming offseason and leave the Twins with nothing in return.
Like starting pitching, teams could spend way too much on acquiring a setup man that helps bridge a bullpen for a couple months.
The Twins had an opportunity to cash in on this as their bullpen ranks 3rd in baseball with a 2.90 ERA. An asset would be great to have on a winning team, but if the right GM is crazy enough to do it, it can be a gold mine for a team in the bottom half of the standings.
Casey Fien, Brian Duensing and Jared Burton were all candidates to get moved as the July 31 deadline approached, but the Twins either couldn't find someone willing to meet their demands or couldn't find anybody to talk to them about the players they were shopping.
Odds are there were some names thrown around, but nothing could sweeten the pot enough to make a deal.
As the trade deadline approached, I was in the class that thought that the Twins were going to trade their former franchise cornerstone Justin Morneau for pennies on the dollar.
Morneau hasn't been the same player since the day he took a knee to the head that ended his MVP-caliber season in 2010 and has left him scrambling for answers in the following three seasons. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, it seemed like the time was now to strike a deal and build for the future.
Like everything else on the trade market, that didn't happen.
Morneau enters the final months of his six-year, $80 million contract on a team that's not heading anywhere in regards to October baseball, so why didn't the Twins pull the trigger?
In all likelihood, it was that teams had seen the rapid decline of the 2006 American League Most Valuable Player and didn't want to take the risk of paying $5 to $6 million for someone who could be on the disabled list after hitting his head on the clubhouse door.
Morneau represents the problem that the Twins had with most of their trade chips. They all had something against a potential deal whether it be health, money or their amount of time under contract. There just wasn't anything that Ryan could do in order to make this team better.
Now, the Twins find themselves heading into a pair of quiet months in August and September that will lead to some tough decisions this winter.
It's possible that Morneau could sign an incentive-laden deal in a return to the team for 2014, but it's just as likely he'll leave to play in a ballpark that doesn't handicap left-handed power hitters.
Whatever happens, the Twins may regret not taking what they could get for Morneau.