For the first time since the Bobby Kielty-Shannon Stewart swap in 2003, the Twins have made a deadline deal in order to improve the team for this year.
They added Orlando Cabrera in exchange for Low-A shortstop Tyler Ladendorf. Ladendorf was the highest-ranked SS in the system, but that speaks to the shallowness of the system as it stands right now rather than to an extreme amount of skill on Ladendorf's part.
My thoughts on O-Cab remain much the same, but you have to give Bill Smith some credit here; Billy Beane wanted Danny Valencia (the third-ranked prospect in the Twins system), and Smith held fast.
Ladendorf was tearing up the Appalachian League this season, hitting .410/.500/.721 in 17 games, but in 15 games after getting promoted to Low-A Beloit, he hit just .233/.292/.267.
He's definitely not a .400 hitter, but he's also probably better than a .233 hitter. Posting his Maximum Likelihood Estimation (MLE) would not be beneficial, since he's played all of 15 games at the lowest possible level.
According to Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus' prospect guru, Ladendorf has plus speed and decent power but probably not enough range to stay at SS.
The Twins believe that, in Justin Morneau and Valencia, they have their corner infielders of the future, meaning unless Ladendorf started out-hitting either of them, he was going to be a trade piece someday anyway.
Ultimately, I like this deal for the Twins and the A's, which makes it a rare deal indeed.
The Twins received their bat for right now, one of the hottest hitters in the AL and a player who knows how to play defense, even if his range has diminished over of the years. To get him, they gave up a player whose future in the organization was limited, and that's not a terribly high price.
The A's acquire a player with some decent upside for a player who had no future in their organization beyond this season, and given that they've now dealt both Matt Holliday and Cabrera, it's safe to say that they've bailed on this season.
What remains to be seen is if Cabrera reverts to his early season form (.228/.322/.289 in May) or continues his post-May performance (.373/.400/.500).
If it's the former, the Twins will be better off playing Brendan Harris and allowing Cabrera to ride the bench.
If he can stay hot, he may well bring enough to the table to push the Twins into a serious playoff chase.
At worst, this move brings bench depth to the Twins, and that's something they sorely need.
The last thing that has to be mentioned in this deal is that it was made in no small part due to the pressures put on the front office by Joe Mauer (and others, but, seriously, they're focused on keeping Mauer happy).
Whether Cabrera pushes the Twins into the playoffs or not, the Twins will see the benefit of showing Mauer that they are serious about winning.
If trading Ladendorf was the price for being able to sign Mauer this offseason or next, that's a swallowable pill for the organization.