- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
The Minnesota Twins haven't been getting very much from their shortstop position since, hmm ... since they traded Jason Bartlett to the Tampa Bay Rays before last season. How's Delmon Young workin' out, anyway? But that's a separate issue. The Twins have been getting a .632 OPS from Nick Punto and Brendan Harris, so acquiring Orlando Cabrera from the Athletics represents an upgrade. However, it's not as if this move makes the Twins playoff-dangerous, either.
Cabrera is hitting .280 and can run a bit, but the last time he hit more than 10 home runs in a season was 2004. For pure fantasy purposes, Cabrera isn't one of those shortstops you have to own, as evidenced by the fact that he's a free agent in nearly half of ESPN.com standard leagues. He's ranked No. 17 at the position on our Player Rater and is on pace to finish the season with six home runs, 66 RBIs, 18 stolen bases and 66 runs scored. His value doesn't change much in this trade to a contending team. If you didn't want to add him before, I can't say this move makes him much more attractive.
The Twins have been using Denard Span and Joe Mauer in the first two spots in the batting order, and adding Cabrera's .318 on-base percentage shouldn't alter that line of thinking. Assume Cabrera will hit at the bottom of the order, where his run-scoring potential will not improve. Yes, the Twins score more than the Athletics, but 366 of Cabrera's 414 at-bats this season had come from one of the first two spots in the batting order. Not anymore. Cabrera has been hitting better since the All-Star break, with a .381 batting average and four stolen bases, but he's nothing special. Neither are Punto and Harris, utility men who should remain that way. This move could signal the end of a major league run for second baseman Alexi Casilla, a monumental bust this season, as Punto and Harris could and should usurp his playing time.
Oakland picks up Tyler Ladendorf, a shortstop who was Minnesota's second-round draft pick in 2008. Ladendorf profiles as a strong defender in time, and he was hitting .322 at two stops in the minors this season, most recently in the Class A Midwest League. Yet he's at least two years away from the bigs. The Athletics likely will give Bobby Crosby a chance to play shortstop regularly, but the former rookie of the year just can't hit anymore. Crosby is batting .222 this season with a .636 OPS. The team should try out a kid at the position, but nobody who is major league-ready jumps out at me as deserving a chance.
• One other trade to report: The Dodgers traded Claudio Vargas to the desperate Brewers for utility guy Vinny Rottino. Vargas has battled an elbow injury this season and has barely pitched. He won 11 games for the Brewers in 2007 and helped the Mets some last season, but his career ERA is 4.89. Injuries to Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan have left the team in dire straits for help. Well, these are dire straits. You don't want Vargas in a fantasy league, and Rottino is 29 years old and lacks a natural position. It's doubtful the Dodgers will promote him to the majors.