In a couple of weeks, this blog will have its tenth anniversary. It's been a lot of fun growing and learning with all of you, and uniting on a common love of all things Twins. I've ran a few quasi-regular features over the years, and one of my favorites has always been the ex-Twins team. Again, we missed doing this in 2007 and 2012, but for the eighth time in ten years I'm happy to present to you a visceral reminder of the good players the Twins let go...and a happy reminder of the rest. If you're interested, here's a look at previous incarnations of our ex-Twins teams.
I feel it's important for you to know not just who didn't make the cut, but how many of them didn't make the cut. There are a ton of ex-Twins in the league. At least there are no regrets on the rejects list.
- Steve Pearce
- Delmon Young
- Sam Fuld
- Garrett Jones
- Chris Parmelee
- Rene Rivera
- Grant Balfour
- Yohan Pino
- Anthony Swarzak
- Sam Deduno
- Deolis Guerra
|Francisco Liriano||31||31||186.2||3.38||1.21||9.9||2005 - 2012|
|Kyle Lohse||37||22||152.1||5.85||1.46||6.4||2001 - 2006|
|Matt Garza||26||25||148.2||5.63||1.57||6.3||2006 - 2007|
This might be our worst rotation since the 2009 team. It's nice to have Dickey and Liriano out in front, but there is absolutely zero depth here. I had no choice but to go with Lohse and Garza, who I'm sure the Brewers would have loved to have been without this year based on their reactions to getting pulled from Milwaukee's real life rotation. Sam Deduno and Yohan Pino barely pitched this year, and when they did they were mostly used out of the bullpen. That's why we're lucky to have Worley as an unreliable number five.
|LaTroy Hawkins||42||0||38.2||3.26||1.32||7.9||1995 - 2003|
|Pat Neshek||66||0||54.2||3.62||1.12||8.4||2006 - 2010|
|Jeff Manship||32||0||39.1||0.92||0.76||7.6||2009 - 2012|
|Craig Breslow||45||2||65.0||4.15||1.42||6.4||2008 - 2009|
|Liam Hendriks||58||0||64.2||2.92||1.08||9.9||2011 - 2013|
Poor Joe Nathan managed 0.1 innings this year. He struck that batter out, which was good enough to give him a negative FIP (-2.87). I feel that's probably similar to the rules of physics breaking down at an event horizon. At any rate there's no Nathan or Balfour in the bullpen this year. Nathan had been on both lists he's been eligible for since departing Minnesota, and Balfour has been a member of every bullpen except our first one way back in 2006.
We still get some familiar names. LaTroy Hawkins has been on every single ex-Twins team except 2010. Pat Neshek has made his third team in a row. Joe Beimel was a bullpen regular in the early days of this exercise, and has now made back-to-back teams after missing a pair in the middle. Craig Breslow has now made six teams in a row which, for those keeping track, is every year since he left.
As a group I don't think it's a terribly intimidating group, but it's competent enough and provides a bit of depth for a team lacking in quality starting pitchers. Manship, Hendriks, and Gilmartin (who never made a Major League appearance with the Twins, but still) all have starting experience, for example. Hawkins, as the elder statesman, may be the closer by default - even if this crew might be better suited for closer-by-committee.
|Drew Butera (C)||55||120||1||0||.196||.252||.252||2010 - 2013|
|Justin Morneau (1B/DH)||49||182||3||0||.310||.363||.458||2003 - 2013|
|Michael Cuddyer (UT)||117||408||10||2||.259||.309||.391||2001 - 2011|
|Chris Colabello (1B/COF)||101||360||15||2||.321||.367||.520||2013 - 2014|
We struggled to put together a starter at short, second, and third, and that's reflected in our bench options. Michael Cuddyer, for example, would probably be asked to back up all three of those positions. Justin Morneau is a limited bench option but makes it because of his bat. Chris Colabello can at least play a corner outfield spot. I know there isn't a backup center fielder here, but the good news is that all three of our starting outfielders could play the position pretty well. Oh, and look: a Drew Butera in the wild!
Since both Morneau and Colabello are on the bench, you'll understand that our ex-Twins team is fairly deep at the first base/designated hitter spots. I couldn't stretch reality enough to fit them into a lineup somewhere else. Where this offense will really struggle is not in opportunities for offense with a late-game pinch hitter, but rather who has to then play those defensive positions when the club takes the field. Pinch hitting for the shortstop, second baseman, or third baseman will make things get interesting pretty quickly.
|Denard Span (CF)||61||275||5||11||.301||.365||.431||2008 - 2012|
|Ben Revere (RF)||152||634||2||31||.306||.342||.377||2010 - 2012|
|Kendrys Morales (1B)||158||639||22||0||.290||.362||.485||2014|
|David Ortiz (DH)||146||614||37||0||.273||.360||.553||1997 - 2002|
|Carlos Gomez (LF)||115||477||12||17||.255||.314||.409||2008 - 2009|
|A.J. Pierzynski (C)||113||436||9||0||.300||.339||.430||1998 - 2003|
|Danny Valencia (3B)||105||378||18||2||.290||.345||.519||2010 - 2012|
|J.J. Hardy (SS)||114||437||8||0||.219||.253||.311||2010|
|Yangervis Solarte (2B)||152||571||14||1||.270||.320||.428||Pre-MLB|
This isn't a terrible lineup, but our ex-Twins teams rarely do. The 2010 offense wasn't great, but on the other teams there always seemed to be a good collection of on-base players or power hitters...and sometimes both. While this starting nine is definitely a little old, it does strike a good balance between speed, getting on base, and hitting for power. Per Baseball Musings' lineup tool, this offense would score 5.042 runs per game - or 817 runs per year. That's pretty good, but it only ranks sixth of our eight ex-Twins teams.
Ideal lineups, per Baseball Musings' lineup tool, bat Span first, Pierzynski third, Hardy eighth, and Revere ninth. Players hitting in other spots move around a bit more, but because the tool doesn't take into account sample size or player history it tends to see Danny Valencia in a much more optimistic light than the rest of us. The best lineups score 5.148 runs per game - or 834 runs per year. That's about a win and a half better than my lineup.
Solarte, for those who don't remember, was a Twins' signing out of Venezuela in 2005. This was my big stretch this year, simply because I couldn't fill out a legitimate lineup without him. I'd have had to plug in Cuddyer at second or third and play Valencia at the other position, and of course the bench would be absolutely barren for middle infield help at that point. This way, at least Solarte could potentially back up both short and third.
Bonus: Background on Yangervis Solarte
Solarte was granted free agency after the 2011 season, floating between the Rangers and Yankees until the trade deadline last year when he was sent (with Rafael De Paula) to San Diego for Chase Headley. In the Twins' minor league system he was a slow mover - having signed in 2005 and debuting in 2006 - until his last two seasons in the organization. He hit .292/.328/.401 between the GCL Twins (R), Fort Myers (A+) and New Britain (AA) in 2010, his age-22 season, and then hit .329/.367/.466 in 2011 at Double-A at age 23. He became a six-year minor league free agent, and signed with Texas.
Solarte never made any of our Twins prospect lists during his time in the system, never showed up on a prospect list from Seth Stohs, and he certainly never appeared on any Top 100 lists. It's perhaps unfortunate that the Twins let him go when they did, but nobody saw this level of success coming - much less whether or not it will continue. At the time, the Twins could not guarantee him Major League playing time and Solarte took the opportunity to sign with a club that gave him an invitation to spring training.
Where does our 2015 All Ex-Twins team sit in relation to the other seven incarnations we've seen through the years? The bullpen isn't bad, but the rotation is probably one of the worst and the offense - while not awful - doesn't look like it would score enough runs to make this team much of a threat. I'd say this club might win 75 games. How do you think it would do?