Hopefully you enjoyed yesterday's walk down memory lane, because here's a recap of the mid '00's.
July 31, 2004
In 4-team trade, Twins trade Doug Mientkiewicz to the Boston Red Sox; Justin Jones was sent to Minnesota by the Chicago Cubs
People had been discussing the future of first base all season, with supporters on both sides. On one side there were the supporters of Dougie Baseball, with his high sox, no batting gloves and tar-tainted helmet. People insisted his defense was irreplaceable, took a few walks, rarely struck out and, in spite of having the worst season of his career at 30 (he hit just .246/.340/.363 prior to the trade), had still been a .290/.382/.437 hitter in his three full seasons as the team's first baseman. Additionally, he was THE first baseman for the first competetive Twins team in a decade. People had a soft spot for him as a result.
On the other side there were the supporters of Justin Morneau. He'd just turned 23 when the Twins called him up in May, and he hit .290/.370/.542 with a pair of homers in 27 plate appearances before disappearing, but the whispers only got louder...the big Canadian had raked at every level in the minors, and the organization was desperate for a big hitter for the middle of the lineup. He was called up again in July, this time for good, and played nearly everyday until Mientkiewicz was dealt to Boston.
We know how amazing Morneau has been for us, so there's no doubt that the Twins flipped Dougie Baseball at the right time. Mientkiewicz continued to play until last season, when he finished as a 35-year old utility player in 20 games with the Dodgers. He never again hit as well as he did in '01 or '03, but the man was a professional baseball player and provided value wherever he went. His career ended with a .271/.360/.405 line.
The lost man in this deal is always Justin Jones. At the time of the trade Jones was a 19-year old southpaw strikeout pitcher who had retired 213 batters in 190.1 innings. Injuries stunted his growth after his arrival in the Minnesota farm system, so although he continued to have good strikeout numbers at New Britain in '06 it would be his last year with the organization. As of 2009 he was a 24 year old, in his fourth season at Washington's double-A affiliate; the strikeout rates were way down, but control was still an issue.
More after the jump!
August 31, 2004
Minnesota Twins trade B.J. Garbe to the Seattle Mariners for Pat Borders
This was the result of Joe Mauer spending a lot of time on the disabled list his rookie season. He'd hung around the minors into his mid-30s, popping up when Seattle needed a guy for a couple of games. Known as a decent defender, the Twins like their veterans and acquired him on the final day of the waiver deadline. Borders played in 19 games to spell Henry Blanco (did anybody else call him Hank White?), hitting a pleasantly surprising .282.
Garbe, meanwhile, was drafted 5th overall by the Twins in '99. He didn't hit at all, was dealt for a 41-year old third-string catcher, hung around the Seattle system for a year and a half, moved onto Florida and still couldn't do anything. He flamed out at age 25, in double-A.
July 11, 2005
Seattle Mariners send Bret Boone to the Minnesota Twins as part of a conditional deal
The condition, naturally, was that he stuck. He didn't. An obvious case for how quickly a player on steroids can cease to perform without them, Boone went from being an All-Star in '03 to "just having a bad year" in '04 to just plain terrible in '05. He was struggling with the Mariners, hitting .231/.299/.385 prior to the trade.
Minnesota, meanwhile, was trying to stay in the AL Central race. After play on July 10th the Twins were 48-38, but somehow nine games back of the surging White Sox. One of the bigger areas of concern was the middle infield, where Luis Rivas, Nick Punto, Juan Castro, Luis Rodriguez, Jason Bartlett and Brent Abernathy struggled with a combination of injuries and poor performance. Instead of trying to swing a big deal that would have cost a lopsided farm system to become even more depleted, the front office wanted to see how much Boone had left in the tank.
He had none. The Twins would falter, for a number of reasons, and finish the season in third place with just 83 wins.
But do you know what I really remember about the Bret Boone "deal"? I remember Bat-Girl's closer personal friend Anne Ursu writing this. It still makes me laugh.
June 15, 2006
Minnesota Twins trade Juan Castro to the Cincinnati Reds for Brandon Roberts
Nobody in Minnesota was sad to see this go down.
Known as a defensive player with soft hands, Castro was a .226/.269/.331 career hitter before signing with the Twins in November of '04. I can only assume that, with the departure of Cristian Guzman, the front office needed a warm body. That warm body hit .248/.271/.357 in 456 plate appearances with the Twins over a year and a half, while playing unimpressive but versatile defense. His departure followed that of Tony Batista, and they both cleared roster space for Jason Bartlett.
In return the Reds sent Brandon Roberts who, to be fair, wasn't hitting extremely well. But he was also just a year removed from the draft. And he immediately raised eyebrows among the Twins faithful, putting up a .316 batting average and .370 on-base percentage after his affival that year.
Roberts continues to be a good contact hitter with a good eye and a penchant for getting on base (currently sports a .417 OBP in New Britain), but at 25 doesn't look like he will make a large impact down the line. He currently profiles as a fourth outfielder.
July 31, 2006
Minnesota Twins trade Kyle Lohse to Cincinnati Reds for Zach Ward
As if his inability to keep runs from scoring wasn't enough, he busted up his manager's office. Time to be traded, Captain Primadonna. Especially with some kid named Francisco Liriano blowing everyone away and Johan Santana en route to his second Cy Young award.
At the time of the trade Lohse was still in just his age-27 season. And even though his peripherals insisted his future performance wouldn't be as apocalyptic as his 7.07 ERA, at some point you just have to go. Lohse didn't seem to appreciate the organization or how he was used, so a change of scenery was best for both sides. He'd go on to win 15 games for the Cardinals in 2008, but otherwise has been a combination of inconsistent and injured.
Ward, meanwhile, was the second '05 draft choice sent to Minnesota in six weeks by the Reds. Injuries slowed his progress with the Twins as well, and following last season is no longer with the organization. Largely this is due to his inability to avoid tons of walks.
August 31, 2006
Minnesota Twins trade Adam Harben to the Chicago Cubs for Phil Nevin
Another one of Terry Ryan's attempts at squeezing any remaining value out of a veteran, the Twins sent peanuts to the Cubs for former slugger Nevin. Nevin had, from 1999 - 2004, hit .291/.365/.515 with 147 home runs. In '05 something had obviously changed as his long-time employer the Padres sent him to the Rangers. Earlier in '06, those Rangers had sent him to Chicago where (thanks in some part to some singles simply dropping) he rebounded a bit. That didn't help him in Minnesota.
Nevin finished his career with the Twins, hitting just .190/.340/.286 in 54 plate appearances. The Twins didn't need him. They were 71-33 from June 8th onward, and won the division crown in dramatic fasion....if you remember. It was pretty awesome.
Harben had just turned 23 at the time of the trade. In spite of a good ERA at New Britain, he'd gone from a strikeout pitcher to...not one...and he just didn't have much control in general. He'd bounce around the very low levels of the Cubs farm system for a couple of years before fading away last year in the Seattle system, but he was never able to consistently find the strike zone again. In fact, he was much better at not finding it.