Minnesota Twins: When Is the Right Time to Start Trading Players?

Mikael Wiitala@@MikaelWiitalaContributor IIIJune 13, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 9: Denard Span #2 of the Minnesota Twins and Manager Ron Gardenhire celebrate a win during interleague play against the Chicago Cubs at Target Field on June 9, 2012 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minnesota Twins defeated the Chicago Cubs 11-3. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

With the Minnesota Twins' 11-7 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night, the team improved their record to 25-35 on the season.

While 8.5 games behind the first place Chicago White Sox, the Twins are 7-3 in June and have a record of 17-13 in their last 30 games.

Even the most optimistic fan would admit the playoffs are a long shot at this point, despite the improvement in play.

Most experts agree that the Twins' best course of action would be to trade away many of their veteran players in order to build toward the future.

Still, no one in the clubhouse or front office would admit this to be true and should not until the Twins are definitely out of the playoff hunt.

So, what if this hot streak lasts?

Most in Twins Territory have been resigned to the fact that this season is about rebuilding, but what if the team continues pile up series wins through June and into July?

Trading away players, such as Denard Span and Matt Capps, at that point would certainly be the front office waving the white flag on the 2012 season.

Looking back on the history of the American League Central Division gives us some indication of when the towel might be thrown in and players dealt away.

Since the AL Central was formed in 1994, the division champion has averaged 93.47 wins per season.

Of the 17 division champions crowned during that time, only four of those teams have won fewer than 90 games, the most recent being the 2009 Twins that won 86.

Since no team is currently running away with the division and Major League Baseball added a second wild card team, let us assume that the Twins need to win 92 games to make the playoff field.

That means the Twins would have to finish 67-35 in their remaining 102 games in order to reach the 92 win mark.

While that sounds improbable, it means the team has to win almost 7-out-of-10 games, which is exactly what the team has done to start June.

So, if the team can continue to win at their current pace they should make the playoffs.

Is this possible? Yes.

Is this probable? Not likely.

Realistically, general manager Terry Ryan will have to determine what to do with his current roster weeks before the July 31 trade deadline.

Barring injuries to key players, such as Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, the Twins should not return to playing sub-.500 baseball for any considerable length of time.

If they do start playing sub-.500 ball, the decision to pull the plug on the season will be an easy choice to make.

However, as long as the Twins continue to move their record closer to .500 and no one else in the division puts together a lengthy winning streak, the Twins are unlikely to make any major moves until much closer to July 31.

This may be bad news for Twins fans who long to see Nick Blackburn or Francisco Liriano tormenting a new fanbase, but it is good news for many of us who have already paid for tickets to see a Major League Baseball team play: not Triple-A Rochester.

Of course the Twins will continue to tinker with the roster and trades may even be made with role players like Alexi Casilla or Alex Burnett.

Just don't expect Justin Morneau or even Carl Pavano wearing a different uniform any time before July 1.

Who knows?

Maybe the Twins can continue their hot play, and we might be on the other end of trade speculation come July 31.

That scenario certainly has me more excited than the prospect of watching Joe Benson and Tsuyoshi Nishioka take the field in August and September.


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