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Updated: July 6th, 2010 9:16pm
Twins flex muscles in 7-6 win over Blue Jays as Cliff Lee rumors heat up

Twins flex muscles in 7-6 win over Blue Jays as Cliff Lee rumors heat up

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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The Twins fell behind early in Toronto on Tuesday night, but home runs by Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and Joe Mauer, followed by a go-ahead single by Denard Span lifted the squad to a 7-6 victory.

Carl Pavano pitched well for the first four innings, but Lyle Overbay and Dewayne Wise each hit home runs in a four-run fifth. Pavano served up another home run to Edwin Encarnacion in the seventh inning and was pulled from the game after 6 1/3 innings. He allowed six earned runs on eight hits and no walks, while striking out two.

This was Pavano's worst start since his last trip to Toronto on May 18, when he also gave up six earned runs.

The shellacking on May 18 led to Pavano growing a mustache. We'll see if he keeps it after seemingly coming full circle in Toronto.

Cliff Lee fodder

As if there wasn't enough Cliff Lee speculation over the past few weeks, two more reports came out on Monday night linking the Twins -- and in one case, specific players -- to a deal involving the Mariners' stud left-hander.

Jeff Fletcher from AOL Fanhouse tweeted that an MLB source hears the Twins offered top prospects Aaron Hicks and Wilson Ramos in a deal for Lee.

Jon Heyman from Sports Illustrated reported that talks between the Twins and Mariners are "getting interesting," but that a deal has not yet been reached.

ESPN's Buster Olney used similar terminology on Tuesday night, although he didn't specify the Twins.

It would be extremely un-Twins-like to trade two top prospects for a pitcher, Lee, who would likely only stay in Minnesota until the end of the season before signing a multi-year deal elsewhere. Sure, the Twins would receive two first-round draft picks as compensation, but Hicks and Ramos would be a steep price to pay for a rent-a-pitcher.

This subject warrants a separate, lengthier post altogether (and I'll probably provide one at some point), but here are some of the main discussion points:

- It seems unlikely that the Mariners would accept a package that revolves solely around Ramos. Hicks and/or Ben Revere are likely prerequisites for acquiring Lee. Would things be different if Ramos wasn't hitting .208/.244/.319?

- By all accounts, Hicks is the real deal. On top of the fact that he is a "five-tool" player, he also shows uncanny plate discipline at age 20 with the 52 walks he's drawn at Beloit so far this season in only 341 plate appearances. That's incredibly rare.

- Fans seem to be clamoring for the Twins to pull the trigger and move "all in" just once, regardless of which prospects are involved. While Lee may very well push the Twins over the top as World Series contenders, he doesn't come with any guarantees. Neither do the prospects though. That's why this is such a murky scenario.

- Lee is likely to command $20 million per year over five or six years, which is not a price the Twins are in position to pay. He is a rent-a-pitcher, plain and simple.

Just for fun, Bodog released odds on Cliff Lee's trade destinations:

Texas Rangers - 5/2
Minnesota Twins - 7/2
New York Mets - 7/2
New York Yankees - 11/2
Philadelphia Phillies - 11/2
Any Other Team - 2/1

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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