In which I use far too many words discussing the Miguel Sulbaran trade.
There's not that much to say about the game, really, especially since I didn't see much of it. Kevin Correia, who looks to be one of the Twins' least inadequate pitchers, struggled through 5.2 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits and two walks. Once again the second inning gave a Twins pitcher trouble, but this time the third did, too. The offense tried to hang in there, and it was 5-3 after three. Correia managed to right the ship for a while after that, retiring seven in a row, but a home run put an end to that and one batter later Correia was gone. Deduno pitched the rest of the game, which is very important since Gardy continues to be forced to scrape by with only twelve pitchers.
So, the trade. First, let's look at who the Twins gave up. Miguel Sulbaran is a twenty-year-old left-handed pitcher. He's been mostly used as a starter. He had a fine year in Class A in 2013, split between Great Lakes (Dodgers) and Cedar Rapids, going 9-4, 2.96, 1.26 WHIP with 32 walks and 101 strikeouts in 112.2 innings.
What does the future hold for him? Who knows? There are all kinds of reasons why he might never make it. He could get injured. He could fail to stay in shape (he's listed at 5' 10", 209 lbs.). He could have an attitude problem. He could fail to make adjustments as he moves up the ladder. He could just not be good enough--I'm sure there are hundreds of guys who are good in the Midwest League who never make the majors. But he has a chance to be a major league pitcher, and a chance to be a good major league pitcher.
Now let's look at who the Twins acquired. Eduardo Nunez will turn 27 in June. He's had 752 major league at-bats and has a lifetime batting average of .267, which the Twins are apparently emphasizing. However, his line is .267/.313/.379, for an OPS of .692. In AAA, in 627 at-bats, his line is .273/.319/.357, for an OPS of .676. Is that better than Pedro Florimon? Yes, a little. Is it good? No. His AAA numbers are remarkably similar to those of Eduardo Escobar (793 at-bats, .266/.312/.376, OPS of .688). They're not even that far off of those of Doug Bernier (.249/.347/.342, OPS of .689).
Add to that the fact that he's apparently terrible on defense. I'll admit to you, I really can't interpret defensive numbers very well, so I'm relying on what I've read. sean said Nunez has a -34 UZR/150 as a shortstop, which is worse than Trevor Plouffe's number there. Others have said he's a bad defender as well. So, any marginal offensive boost Nunez might give over Florimon will likely be offset by his defensive shortcomings.
So in sum, I hope I'm wrong about this, but it looks to me as if we just acquired a man who simply can't play baseball at the major league level. To get him, we gave up a man who has a chance to be able to play baseball at the major league level.
I wrote yesterday about how one of the things that makes a bad team a bad team is that it makes moves that make no sense. Another thing that makes a bad team a bad team is that it makes moves reacting solely to current circumstances, as opposed to making a plan a sticking with it.
It's not a surprise that Pedro Florimon can't hit. He didn't hit last year. He didn't hit the year before. He didn't hit in AAA. He didn't hit in AA. Everyone knew he wasn't going to hit. If the Twins thought it was a problem, they should have addressed it in the offseason. Players like Eduardo Nunez are always available in the offseason, if you want one. Instead, it appears that the Twins watched the first week of the season and said, "OMG, Florimon's 1-for-17, we've got to do something!" And they gave away a guy who has a chance to be a legitimate big-leaguer for a guy who doesn't, a guy who's not particularly better than the other shortstop options they have.
Again, I don't mean to over-hype Sulbaran. He's still in low A, and I have no clue whether he'll ever make it. All I can tell you is that he's succeeded so far. But that's the thing: there's no way the Twins can actually get the better end of this trade. The best they can do is get a draw. If Sulbaran doesn't make it, it hasn't cost them anything. But it can't gain them anything, because there's simply no evidence that Eduardo Nunez is a big-league ballplayer.
When Terry Ryan came back as GM, I had hopes that he would right the ship. And to be fair, the farm system has improved quite a bit over the last couple of years. But moves like this make me wonder if the people in charge really know what they're doing.
Luckily, though, any downside to trading Sulbaran will be in future years. For this year, the team remains the same. Which means we'll just have to settle for 158-4!