If you happened to catch the Twins game Sunday, you might've noticed something hanging in the air. Not the roar of the cheering crowd, and not the acrid smell of spilled beer and popcorn, though that was there.
But something more like a question mark was looming over the ballpark. And you could almost trace a line to its source, up to a spectator box over the field. That's where Twins General Manager Terry Ryan was making some elliptical comments about whether the team would make a trade -- and what kind of trade it might be.
"There are some people who think we need to add a pitcher, and there are some people who think we need to add a hitter. So consequently we could probably go both ways and not go wrong," Ryan said.
There's a lot more at stake right now than just whether the Twins could use a new hitter versus a new pitcher. To a large extent, what's really on the line is whether the Twins should even bother to look elsewhere for talent, or instead continue to draw from the ranks of the minor league teams they run.
Those teams are part of what's known as the Twins' farm system. The Twins are well known for successfully cultivating strong players in the minor leagues and then advancing them to the major league.
Terry Ryan says the farm system has served the Twins well. He points to the players out on the field.
"Almost all those guys you see out there for the most part came through the system, and they allow us to be competitive year in and year out," Ryan said.
And there's a big danger in trading away a minor league player that shows a lot of potential. Kevin Hennessy, a reporter for the sports statistics Web site Stats LLC, says any team willing to give up a hot star would probably demand a top minor league prospect in return. Hennessy says that would be too costly for future Twins teams.
"So they don't want to give up prospects. They've been building for the future, they build from within as much as possible," said Hennessy.
So there's the question of whether the team can risk depleting the ranks of its farm system. And then there's the question of whether bringing in a hot shot late in the season will really do any good.
That's a question Twins pitcher Brad Radke has been mulling.
"From years past, statistically, I read in the paper that most of the time it doesn't really help," said Radke.
But Radke follows up with a coy smile. Turns out he's a little conflicted, and wouldn't mind the team getting some new blood.
"Being a pitcher, why not add more offense?" Radke said. "I mean, I'm not the general manager, but you can always use a little more."
Radke says the team has been on a roll lately, but overall the season has been pretty up and down. It started weak, then the Twins rallied and started winning.
They faltered a bit during a three game series against the Detroit Tigers, losing two games. The Twins then beat the Tigers at Sunday's game.
Twins manager Terry Ryan says the two recent losses are just bumps in the road, and they won't play a big role in any decisions about a trade.
"I'm going to do what's right for the organization short term and long term. Regardless of whether we win or lose, I'm not gonna change my approach," said Ryan. "It's more important to keep in mind what you're trying to accomplish short term for this season, but probably more importantly, what things look like in the future."
And from the perspective of Twins fans, like Brandon Kelly of St. Paul, there's no point in jinxing the good thing the Twins do have in the here and now.
"They've been streaking lately, and why break up a good thing. Things have been rolling well for them, and making a trade would just disrupt the flow," said Kelly.
The Twins' next game is against the Texas Rangers Monday night at the Metrodome.