Checking In

With the Twins riding a more-than-modest six-game winning streak, I thought it'd be a good time to glance back at those we lost over the winter to see exactly how they're doing in their new homes.

Johan Santana, LHP, NY Mets
Contract:  Six years, $137.5 million
2008 Age:  29    Expiration Age:  34

2008 - Johan Santana 7-5 15 15 0 0 0 0 100.2 96 38 34 13 26 91 3.04 1.21

Of Johan's 15 starts this season, 11 have been quality starts, and another two might as well have been.  His two not-as-good starts:  a six-inning, five-run performance (four earned) on June 17, and a 6 2/3 innings performance with five runs (again, four earned) on April 12.  He's gone at least seven innings nine times.  Johan's had an exceptionally good start to the season, and if he heats up in July and August, Mets fans will start pissing themselves because they'll see exactly who they paid for.  Already his home runs allowed rate is down, he's still pretty stingy with the walks, and even though his WHIP is up he's still been very effective.

Would the Twins be better with Johan Santana?  Absolutely.  Well...I take that back.  The starting rotation would be better.  But would the team be better?  Maybe, but maybe not.  It'd mean no Carlos Gomez, which means we'd probably have Denard Span in center field right now.  And while we can never pick up Johan's stats (or Denard's or Carlos's) in '08 and lay them snugly into the Twins' (or Mets') season, we can reasonably guess how the players could have done.  The more difficult part of the guessing game is how their performances, or lack thereof, would have affected game results.  With both Johan and Carlos roughly meeting expectations with their new teams, I'd give this one a push.  The rotation would be better, but I'm not sure about the team.

The one thing I will say:  the Twins are better without that massive contract on their backs.  That much is certain.  Also, he's pitching tonight for the Mets.

Torii Hunter, CF, LAA Angels
Contract:  Five Years, $90 million
2008 Age:  32    Expiration Age:  37

2008 - Torii Hunter 72 275 38 76 21 2 9 37 20 51 9 3 .276 .337 .465

Hunter is on pace to hit just a smidge more than 20 home runs in 2008, but outside of that slight descrease he's had very little (if any) real regression from his career numbers of .271/.325/.468.  Both his walk and strikeout rates are up slightly but neither are worth anything more than just to be noted.  The doubles still come in bunches and, in general, he's been pretty much what anyone should have reasonably expected.


Would the Twins be better with this Torii Hunter?  This season, probably.  The Twins could use his bat behind Justin Morneau.  Additionally, while Hunter and Gomez are on opposite career trajectories at this point, I don't believe there's a significant difference in how their defensive capabilities would play to an advantage for either player.  Thinking of the future though, Hunter remaining in Minnesota might have meant no Delmon Young, and quite probably no Carlos Gomez either.  Who knows who'd have been leading off on opening day.  There'd have been no clear choice for the slot, so who knows what craziness could have ensued.

So, while the Twins may have been better on the whole with Hunter this season, I'll say the exact same thing I said about Santana:  the Twins are better without that massive contract on their backs.

Carlos Silva, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Contract:  Four Years, $48 millions
2008 Age:  29    Expiration Age:  32

2008 - Carlos Silva 3-9 16 16 0 0 0 0 92.2 122 63 61 13 16 36 5.92 1.49


HA!  Suckers.  There was no excuse for signing Carlos Silva to the contract they did when they did it, and looking at how he's performed the foolishness of that decision is staring the Mariners right in the face.  Granted, there was no way they could have predicted he'd have been THIS bad, but the four-year deal was at least two years too long and the $44 million contract was at least $20 million too much.  With a list of stupid deals belonging to Adrian Beltre (I don't care if he's a star in the field, a $64 million contract was too much after one breakout year), Richie Sexon ($50 million), Jarrod Washburn ($37 million), Jeff Weaver (one-year, $8.35 million) and even Brad Wilkerson ($3 million, cut one month in) it's no wonder the Mariners kicked Bill Bavasi out.  Add Silva to that list.  The Mariners should also be firing anyone who thought these ideas were good ones, because Bavasi couldn't have been acting alone.  While someone had to be ultimately responsible, it takes an entire organization to make bad decisions.

Would the Twins be better with Silva?  No.  Not even if he'd performed to his career numbers, because it would mean Minnesota had signed him to a long-term contract...even if it were worth a more reasonable sum, those years wouldn't be doing the Twins any favors.  That's why they brought Livan Hernandez in--to pitch like Silva for one season at $5 million.

Matt Garza, RHP, TB Rays
Contract:  Under Team Control
2008 Age:  24    Under Team Control Until:  27

2008 - Matt Garza 5-4 13 13 0 0 0 0 74.2 71 38 34 8 28 45 4.10 1.33

Garza has had his ups and downs already this season, between the lows of getting in a shoving match with his catcher and not getting the strikeouts you'd expect, to the highs of a pair of seven-inning, zero-run performances and a 10-strikeout game on May 28 against the Rangers.  He's currently seeking professional help for focus, but we know what Garza is capable of.  If he can find a way to harnass his aggression there's little doubt of what heights he could achieve.  So while he certainly isn't having the season you'd expect, he's still only 24 and will have plenty of opportunities to mature into the player he can be.


Are the Twins better without Garza?  It's a toss-up.  He and Young are both immensely talented and have high ceilings, although Matt hasn't been the power-pitcher and Delmon hasn't been the power-hitter the pundits think they can be.  Whether it's for this year or the future, I can't answer this question with any certainty.  Give them a few years to develop and we'll get back to that one.

Jason Bartlett, SS, TB Rays
Contract:  Arbitration Eligible
2008 Age:  28  Arb-Eligible Through:  30

2008 - Jason Bartlett 70 244 23 60 5 1 0 17 13 38 16 3 .246 .292 .275

Jason's troubles at the plate have been documented on this site recently, but for conversation that's a bit closer to him, head over to DRays Bay.  Suffice it to say his offense isn't what anyone would have expected it to be, and even if his defense is better than who he replaces, there's bound to be some disappointment not just from the fans and organization, but from Bartlett himself.


Are the Twins better without Jason?  Considering the way he's played, yes.  And although we can't be positive that he'd be just as underwhelming if he were in Minnesota, it's possible that there would have been no Delmon Young without his involvement.  There certainly wouldn't have been the need for Adam Everett or Brendan Harris.  I suppose my answer is that it's a cross between believing he'd be performing better with the Twins, and in saying that the Twins likely wouldn't be any better off with him simply because he's not an impact player with the bat...even if he wasn't sucking it up with a sub-.600 OPS.

The Others

There are just a few to skim through here.  Jason Tyner is 0-for-2 with the Cleveland Indians, and hitting .232/.326/.292 with triple-A Buffalo.  Luis Rodriguez is in the San Diego organization where he's been playing shortstop at triple-A, and is batting .314/.392/.443 in 70 at-bats.  He's on the Padres 40-man roster, but hasn't been up with the big club yet this season.  Of course there's Lew Ford, who's playing for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan.  He made their opening day roster on March 26, was dropped on May 2 for roster readjustment, and was subsequently re-added on May 17th to "strengthen the bench".  The Hanshin site has no stats, however, and I'm finding it impossible to find out how he's done this year.

Pretty sure the Twins are better without these guys.  Or, at least, we're not any worse.

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