In their final season under the Teflon roof, the Minnesota Twins find themselves right near the top of the American League Central Division with the opportunity to make a run at the playoffs.
After three months, the Twins have seen above-average pitching from starters Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey; Glen Perkins has begun to rebound after his injury; and both Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano seem to see light at the end of the tunnel.
The bullpen started off poorly but in the month of June posted numbers not seen in Minnesota in quite some time.
Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares have both been keys to holding leads in recent weeks, and even veteran R.A. Dickey has a sub-2.50 ERA to help stabilize a previously inconsistent bullpen.
With the recent performance, however, the search still goes on for one more late-inning guy to help set up the thus far incredible Joe Nathan.
The offense has been surprisingly powerful but lacks at least one bat. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau have put up All-Star numbers, Denard Span has been solid in the leadoff spot, and Michael Cuddyer, Joe Crede, and Jason Kubel have provided power and run-producing hits.
Brendan Harris has recently made the shortstop position viable in the lineup, but second base has remained a downfall. Alexi Casilla, labeled the second basemen of the future, has been demoted to the minors, while Nick Punto has hit just over .200, and Matt Tolbert still hasn't found that mark.
With the team's two major needs being one more setup man and a second baseman to hit behind Span and in front of Mauer, it comes as no surprise that the Twins have engaged in talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates regarding second baseman and former National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez, as well as relievers Matt Capps and John Grabow.
The Twins, according to Fox Sports, have been wrapped up in talks with Pittsburgh, and while it remains to be seen how far things have come, the Twins seem to have real interest in upgrading a position in the lineup that has lacked production.
Both Grabow, a lefty reliever with an ERA of 3.45, and Capps, a closer for the Pirates with 18 saves, could provide a possible upgrade. Neither is a sure thing, but the Twins have already tried many combinations from the minors through the first three months, and either pitcher could provide some relief help.
The big fish in trade discussions, however, would be Sanchez, a second baseman who has thus far hit .316 with six home runs and 33 RBI. With a contract at $8 million for the 2010 season if Sanchez exercises his option, the deal could be problematic if the Twins aren't willing to up the payroll (especially with a possible extension looming for Mauer).
Time will tell how serious talks are, but there is no doubt that Sanchez and a possible reliever could potentially put the Twins over the top in the Central.