Now to continue the series which I started last week, we will take a look at players on the senior circuit who previously spent time with the Twins.
Let me first start by noting a glaring omission, Grant Balfour.
Grant Balfour - Oakland A’s - 2.53 ERA, 74.2 IP, 8.7 K/9, 0.92 WHIP
Balfour has come a long way since playing for the Twins from 2001-2004, including enduring arm injuries and frequent control problems. He’s since righted the ship, allowing a ridiculous 4.9 hits per 9 this season, which does well to magnify his control which has improved from his Twins days.
Wilson Ramos - Washington Nationals - .265/.354/.398 (96 PA)
Ramos’ season ended far too early with a knee injury, but when he was on the field he was generally competent with the stick. Once Wilson is healthy, he may face a bit of competition from Kurt Suzuki -- who could be a non-tender candidate -- but generally speaking, the catcher’s job should be his from the day he’s healthy to get back behind the plate.
Jason Pridie - Philadelphia Phillies - .300/.300/.700 (1 HR, 10 PA)
Pridie got 10 more at bats this season than most Twinkie Town writers/readers will ever get in their lives. That’s about all that can be said.
R.A. Dickey - New York Mets - 20-6, 2.73 ERA, 233.2 IP, 8.9 K/9, 1.05 WHIP
In what has been an incredible career turnaround, the most interesting man pitching in Queens is probably deserving of the NL Cy Young award. I’ve actually heard people upset the Twins let him go, but consider this: When Dickey moved on from the Twins, he was 34, had a career ERA of 5.43, and a career WHIP of 1.57. Just let it go, man.
Johan Santana - New York Mets - 6-9, 4.85 ERA, 117 IP, 8.5 K/9, 1.33 WHIP
When asked who won the Johan trade -- and this still happens somewhat frequently -- I often have to say no one. Even when extrapolating the deal, what do the Twins really have left? Deolis Guerra? Eh. But for ~$102 million, Santana has provided the Mets with 717 innings of 3.18 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 1.20 WHIP baseball. To me, that’s about number two start statistics for definite number one money. Did the Twins get out while the getting was good? Probably.
Jon Rauch - New York Mets - 3.59 ERA, 57.2 IP, 6.6 K/9, 0.99 WHIP
Sort of seems like a lot of Mets were former Twins, doesn’t it? Rauch was his usual, non-overpowering self, but what he lacked in strikeouts he made up in baserunner prevention, as his WHIP would attest. He’s not a reliever worthy of a multi-year deal or big money, but he’s certainly a useful guy for the sixth or seventh.
Kyle Lohse - St. Louis Cardinals - 16-3, 2.86 ERA, 211 IP, 6.1 K/9, 1.09 WHIP
There was brief talk that he had a fair chance to win the NL Cy Young -- though take it with a grain of salt, as it was one of the non-sports personalities at ESPN 1500 -- but in effect, he was somewhere inside the top-20 for starters this year in the senior circuit. He won’t be re-signed by St. Louis, and he’ll probably get far too much on the free market, but good for him. He had a heck of a season.
J.C. Romero - Baltimore Orioles/St. Louis Cardinals - 9.00 ERA, 12 IP, 4.5 K/9, 2.00 WHIP
Proving the old adage about lefties -- have arm, will travel -- Romero has out-pitched his usefulness by about, well technically, eight years. The last season he was truly effective -- read: passable walk rates -- was probably 2004. This might be the end of the line for Romero, and if so, it was 14 seasons of.....service, I guess.
Carlos Gomez - Milwaukee Brewers - .260/.305/.463 (19 HR)
Gomez took a big step forward in Milwaukee this season, adding a slight bit of discipline to go with the power that many predicted would come from his huge frame. Gomez still won’t take a walk, but good pop, potential for 40 steals, and great speed to run gap-to-gap in the outfield still has value, as Carlos will be free agent-eligible after next season.
Livan Hernandez - Milwaukee Brewers - 6.42 ERA, 67.1 IP, 6.4 K/9, 1.49 WHIP (him?)
Hernandez just keeps finding work despite sporadic bits of success. When the Twins dumped him in 2008, I was convinced he was done. He has played for five (!) teams since then. Who was right? Well.....
Garrett Jones - Pittsburgh Pirates - .274/.317/.516 (27 HR)
Jones set a career-high in home runs, and all-in-all was a pretty good player. Still, as a bad corner guy, he’ll need the power to stay to be any sort of asset. He’d probably make a really good bench thumper on just about any team -- a la Russell Branyan -- but that won’t happen until he starts showing he wears down or is completely worthless in the field. He’s getting close.
Matt Garza - Chicago Cubs - 5-7, 3.91 ERA, 103.2 IP, 8.3 K/9, 1.18 WHIP
Garza may soon find himself in another uniform, but that won’t be indicative of how he’s pitched on the north side of Chicago. He’s done well -- 8.7 K/9, 3.1 K/BB, and a 3.52 ERA are all career bests -- with the Cubs, but his direction ($$$) doesn’t mesh with what the Cubs are trying to do (cheap, young). It’ll be interesting to see if he moves before or after the free agent market picks up, as sometimes that first domino determines how the rest of the market falls. He’s proven he can pitch just about anywhere, so when he’s healthy he should be a hot commodity for Theo to peddle in hopes of rebuilding his woeful Cubs.
Eric Hacker - San Francisco Giants - 5.59 ERA, 9.2 IP, 7.4 K/9, 1.66 WHIP
Hacker was an ill fit for the Twins last year, and probably even more of one for a good-pitching team like the Giants this season. Hacker actually came to the Twins via the Giants, so it was sort of a full-circle thing there, as he tossed just under 10 frames of ‘meh’ baseball. He could probably hang on as a tweener for a bit, but as a righty I don’t know that his shelf life is much longer. `
Matt Guerrier - Los Angeles Dodgers - 3.86 ERA, 14 IP, 5.8 K/9, 1.07 WHIP
Guerrier hasn’t changed a ton since his Twins days; he still doesn’t strike anyone out really, but does well to work inside the strike zone with decent stuff, proving that sometimes it’s really just about throwing strikes. This year Guerrier lost most of the season to injuries, so pretty much everything -- such as his 4.5 BB/9 -- can be thrown out. Herein lies the issue with relievers and multi-year deals, however. Sometimes, guys get hurt.
Jason Kubel - Arizona Diamondbacks - .253/.327/.506 (30 HR)
As I predicted at FanGraphs, Kubel managed 30 home runs while not being all that particularly good overall (1.9 fWAR). Essentially, it seems as though Kubel realized he was moving to a launchpad, and modified his swing thusly to maximize power potential (60 XBH) while sacrificing discipline (151 whiffs). It wasn’t a bad approach for him, but it’s still hard to gauge exactly what his long-term future is in Arizona. The Snakes have Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton to work into their outfield, and both Kubel and Chris Young would be easier to deal than Justin Upton, so Kubel might be someone to watch this offseason. All in all, Kubel was the better of the outfielders whom departed Minneapolis last winter.
Jason Bartlett - San Diego Padres - .133/.240/.193 (good stats go here)
Bartlett basically fell apart, like his former-Twin double play counterpart Hudson did. However, unlike Hudson, Bartlett didn’t land anywhere after he was cut loose. Entering what would be his age-33 season, there’s a good chance he is done, but also a decent chance he could wrangle a minor league invite to camp. He’s been bad three years running, but stranger things have happened.
Michael Cuddyer - Colorado Rockies - .266/.317/.489 (16 HR)
Cuddyer was basically the guy he was with the Twins -- though in Coors, that’s actually a slightly below-average (99 OPS+) hitter -- rather than the guy whom people projected to suddenly hit 30 home runs and be a middle-of-the-order hitter. True enough, expecting someone to more or less re-invent themselves in their age-33 season is probably fool’s work, but Cuddyer’s eye inexplicably regressed, while the power somewhat expectedly improved. To make matters worse Seth Smith, the player who Cuddyer took over right field for, was quite good in Oakland (109 OPS+). Essentially, the Rockies paid for the milk when they already had the cow, and a cheap calf (Tyler Colvin) besides. This is why a team finishes in last place.
On a final note, I apologize for late posting today. To make it up to Twinkie Town readers, the first person to scour my two posts on AL and NL and find a player I missed will get some sort of prize from my vaunted baseball memorabilia collection. Happy searching! (Keep in mind, only someone who played with the Twins at the major league level.)