So, the trade deadline came and went, and...
While I wasn't surprised, I'm a little disappointed that the Twins didn't try a little harder for one of the infielders that hey had been rumored to be in taks for. Adrian Beltre would have been a huge pickup, and one more strong shutdown reliever would have been nice to get (though trades for relievers often turn out poorly). If Alexi Casilla is truly done for the season (and I sincerely hope he isn't), we'll be trotting a lineup with at least 3 of the following players every game: Nick Punto, Brian Buscher, Brendan Harris, Mike Lamb, or Adam Everett.
* Buscher's really playing well, but he's really a replacement level player, and he needs to be platooned against lefties.
* Punto's redeemed himself after his abysmal 2007 season, but even the most optimistic fan has to realize that his stats will level off to some extent (my bet is that it'll happen faster, now that he'll be batting second with Casilla out).
* Harris is an okay hitter (I stress okay), but he's an anchor in the field. With him playing shortstop for the foreseeable future, Twins fans can get ready to hear "just missed the double play" a lot.
* Lamb has been a tremendous disappointment, both in the field and at bat. He's wayunder replacement value, and is looking like he's losing motivation rapidly.
* Everett was touted as an mazing defenseman, but injuries, an awful record at the plate, and even some extremely shaky defense had him almost DFA'd (until Casilla's injury). Who knows how much time he'll get to play.
Casilla's injury hurts the Twins drastically. If a trade for an infilder was important before, it became crucial once Casilla made that ill-fated headfirst slide into second. The Twins stood pat, and while I still think they can make some waves, and possibly win the division, any lineup that has to feature 3 of the aforementioned group is on shaky feet.
Gardy has to fill out just such a lineup card pretty much every game for the rest of the year if Casilla's injury is as bad as advertised.
On to brighter news. Thursday's game against the Sox was a joy to watch. Scott Baker had an abnormally rough outing, but still struck out 8 in 6 innings and kept the Twins close. Morneau hit a 3-run homer to bring us within one, setting the stage for one of the wildest innings I've seen in some tme.
Denard Span led off the 7th inning, and during a bunt attempt, he pulled his bat back (as replays showed) very much in time to avoid commiting to the pitch, which ended up hitting him. As he trotted down the line, suddenly the home plate umpire called him back, saying that he had gone too far. A horribly missed call, which Gardenhire immeadiately came out to argue. Gardy was ejected almost instantly, which sent him into a fury. After giving up on the umpire, he vented some frustration by dropkicking his cap. Unfortunately, doing this prompted the already agitated home crowd to start throwing their caps onto the field (a poor choice... those things are expensive), and when they ran out of caps, they started throwing whatever else they could get their hands on. Ozzie Guillen (rightfully) got his players off the field, and (bizzarely) got into a shouting match with a couple fans above the visiting dugout. The dome announcer threatened that if everyone didn't stop, the Twins would have to forfeit, but eventually, order was restored. Span came back to bat and ended up coaxing a great walk, then took second on a wild pitch, and scored the tying run on a hard ground ball which Orlando Cabrera wasn't quite able to snag. Jason Kubel tacked on a 3-run homer later in the inning. The Sox got a couple back in the 8th, but the Twins picked up 3 more in the bottom of that inning, securing a win.
Overall, it was a hard fought game against our biggest rival (a game which happened to bring us to 1/2 game back of said rival in the central division standings). It was the type of game that reminds a person why baseball is sch a great game...