Au revoir, J.J.
Sometimes in life, things happen that you just don't understand. Sometimes in baseball, a front office has to make what will be a very unpopular decision. Well, the Twins didn't have to make that decision, but they did anyway.
At first glance this looks like a classic coal-raking, with the Minnesota front office getting the back side of their expensive suit trousers getting singed: they just traded one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, and one of the better offensive shortstops in basball, for a pair of minor league relievers and half a million dollars. How much clearer can you get: "We don't like you, J.J. Hardy, and we don't like you so much we'll pay another team to take you off our hands."
But the money isn't for Hardy. The money is for Brendan Harris; about one third of what he'll be paid in 2011.
Instead, this is a deal about Hardy and the two arms the Twins are receiving in return: Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey. Two career minor leaguers, two power arms, two guys who aren't getting paid more than the Major League minimum. Hoey, who will be the one who plays for the Twins if either of them do, offers a mid to upper-90s fastball as well as a changeup and slider. We talked this morning about his strikeout track record in the minor leagues: it's amazing. It looks like it's Anthony Slama-type amazing, but they're good numbers nevertheless. Jacobson, meanwhile, is projectable but 24 and about to pitch in double-A for the first time.
It's obvious that the Twins didn't like something about Hardy. If I can make it ever more plain: the Twins just didn't value Hardy. As an organization, they were clearly looking at the future and decided that Hardy wasn't going to be in their plans beyond 2011. In fact, I believe that if they had made a pros and cons list for this trade, it would have looked something like this:
Keep Hardy: 1 year eligibility, great defense, .750 OPS, cost of $6 million, no compensation at year's end
Trade Hardy: 1 year of Casilla, average defense, .700 OPS, 2 power arm relievers, plus team control, cost > $2 million
And when you look at it like this, it's not quite so bad. It's a business decision involving trade-offs of talent, production, money and even a return on investment: Hardy would have to have a pretty big year in 2011 to become even a Type-B free agent. I'm not trying to do anything regarding urine while telling you it's raining, but it's not like this trade is the end of the world.
Do I think it's a bad deal? Definitely. But I also see why the Twins made the decision. After days of agonizing over what was going to happen, now it has, and I at least sort of get it. Even if I vehemently disagree with the decision.
Best of luck to J.J. Hardy and Brendan Harris.