Gut reactions to the Minnesota trades

30 Jul

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It’s possible that fans of every professional sports team will echo this sentiment, but it seems to me that Minnesota teams are never involved in blockbuster trades. It’s a real bummer. Maybe the Herschel Walker nightmare scared everyone off (which is understandable), but for years, every season in every sport came and went without the Minnesota squads making the Big Move. So you can imagine the excitement we fans felt today as both the Timberwolves and Twins pulled off significant trades seemingly out of nowhere.

Now, the KG move is roughly 500 times more significant than the Twins’ trade of team leadoff hitter/space cadet Luis Castillo, but each move sparked a gut reaction on the state of the team involved. A few impulsive thoughts on the moves:

Kevin Garnett traded to the Boston Celtics

(As I write this, the deal is still pending, which might make this post irrelevant if it falls through at the last minute. But I’m going to proceed like it’s reality, which seems to be what everyone else is doing.)

This strikes me as the sort of deal that will bum out the casual fans (who likely see KG as the only recognizable figure on the team) but will be noted by the diehards as an unfortunate obligation. I could be wrong, but that seems to how the reactions are shaking out. The casual camp sees KG as one of the last decent guys in a sport overrun with overpaid thugs (not my opinion, but whatever). He plays his heart out, he’s incredibly charitable, refreshingly humble, and he’s maintained a fierce loyalty to Minnesota. Next to Kirby Puckett, he is this state’s most beloved athlete. (With good reason. I personally have an obscene man-crush on him. KG gives me a “sports boner” like no other.)

The diehards recognize the same thing, but point to issues like the salary cap, expiring contracts and the need to attain young talent as reasons to trade KG. The Wolves organization is a sinking ship, and getting rid of the biggest contract on said ship is usually seen as the easiest, most surefire option to stop the drowning. It’s not personal, it’s business, and if fans want to see a Wolves championship someday, they’ll understand the need to let KG go.

I fall in the latter category. I’m not in love with this pending trade (though I think Simmons’s giddiness is a bit overboard), but Minnesota is snagging a potential franchise player in Jefferson and two draft picks (though they won’t be lottery) with which to continue to seek out the next superstar. And with our young, fairly promising nucleus of Jefferson, Foye, Brewer and McCants, along with the potential of another lottery pick next year, not to mention the multi-millions in cap room that can lure a big name … who knows. The Wolves might be competitive again in a couple years.

But the real problem is that it’s all a crapshoot. Will Jefferson continue to develop into a premier player? Will Foye improve? Is Brewer the real deal? Is KG out of his prime? Will McHale be able to pull off a few smaller moves to continue to free up cap room? Is it acceptable for me to wear a KG Celtics jersey on dates? No one knows any of these things, which is why the fans seem so divided on the trade.

There is only one truth that each side can agree on: the Wolves were not going to win a championship with KG on their roster. That was a certainty. They were too handicapped by Frankenstein McHale’s moves to legitimately contend. And since the current roster wasn’t going to get the team anywhere, a move had to be made. This may not have been the right move – the jury’ll be out for a couple years on that one – but it was definitely, if unfortunately, a step in the right direction.

**********

Luis Castillo to the Mets

This trade was both blatantly predictable and slightly perplexing. Everyone knew Castillo was gone at season’s end (and that Alexi ‘Lil Vin Diesel’ Casilla is primed to step in as the ’08 starter), so he was a perfect late-season rental for a contender. And while I trust Terry Ryan’s trading skills *cough*Pierzynski*cough* I’m still not understanding the prospects we got in return. The main guy in this deal appears to be Drew Butera, who looks like a solid player … except that he’s a catcher. A catcher. What are we going to do with a catcher? I feel like Wayne Campbell right now, with Butera playing the role of gun rack.

I’m cool with getting a decent prospect no matter the position at this point, and at the very least trading him away or relocating him to a different position, but was this the only deal the Twins could’ve made? How does Butera help our 2008 plans? Are we gearing up for ’09? Furthermore, if there were other players in the Mets’ system that better fit our needs, why not throw in one of our many young pitchers to snag him (especially considering our gaping holes at third and the outfield)?

I’m not saying this was a bad deal (especially since I found Castillo to be slightly overrated to begin with), but it’s just strange to trade for a catcher. Old what’s-his-face currently behind the dish seems to be a pretty decent player, and I imagine he’ll be sticking around for a while.

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