November 9, 2009

Twins Notes: Hardy, Gomez, Cabrera, Pavano, and Cuddyer

  • Before settling on Carlos Gomez the Brewers were apparently deep in J.J. Hardy trade talks with an assortment of teams. For example, the Boston Globe reports that they turned down the Red Sox's offer of Michael Bowden, insisting instead on either Clay Buchholz or Daniel Bard. According to the Toronto Globe and Mail they requested either Adam Lind or Travis Snider from the Blue Jays, but new general manager Alex Anthopoulos wouldn't bite.

    Hardy is coming off arguably the worst season of his career, so there's no doubt that the Brewers sold low, but obviously he still had plenty of value around baseball and Milwaukee clearly wasn't just looking to dump him. Bowden is a solid pitching prospect, and guys like Buchholz, Lind, Bard, or Snider are all very promising young building blocks. Gomez got a bum rap in Minnesota and is underrated in terms of current value and future upside, but I'd probably have traded him for any of those four players.

  • As you'd expect, Ron Gardenhire had some good and some not-so-good things to say about Gomez following the trade:
    He irritates people. Sometimes me. We've been trying to get him to calm down and get him to control the situations, and sometimes the situation controls him. There are times when you're like, "Go-Go, you have to see what we're trying to do here." We just had a 25-pitch inning from our pitcher, and he goes up and falls down swinging on the first pitch.

    Those things get you irritated as a manager, because we want him to recognize what we're doing in a game. But he can play, and he's fun to watch. He's very, very talented and has a lot to learn, yes, but like I said, when you see him out there in center field covering all that ground and then some of the offensive things he can do that other people can't do, that's why the guy is in the big leagues.

    Sounds about right. I'd have loved to see how differently things may have turned out for Gomez had he spent 2008 and perhaps even part of this season at Triple-A, but thanks to the Mets rushing him to the majors and the Twins feeling like they needed something immediate to show from the Johan Santana trade we'll never know. Certainly many of those issues that Gardenhire brings up would've been worth working on against International League pitchers. Oh well.

  • One of the bonuses of trading for Hardy was seemingly that it would keep the Twins from re-signing Orlando Cabrera, but we may not be out of those woods quite yet. Sid Hartman's latest column quotes Gardenhire as saying that he'd still like to bring Cabrera back to play second base, with Nick Punto at third base. Seriously. Ideally the Twins would demote Punto to a backup role, but if Gardenhire intends to start him somewhere second base is the lesser of all evils. Punto and Cabrera is just a bad idea.
  • Yesterday the Elias Sports Bureau released the annual compensation rankings for free agents, with some potential points of interest for the Twins. Cabrera qualified as Type A, but under the terms of his contract the Twins can't offer him arbitration and thus aren't eligible to get draft picks if/when he signs elsewhere. Possible middle-infield targets Orlando Hudson, Placido Polanco, and Marco Scutaro are also Type A, which no doubt lessens whatever odds the Twins had of signing them.

    Carl Pavano ranked as Type B, which is good news. Based on reports that the Twins are interested in re-signing him they seem likely to offer Pavano arbitration if needed, in which case they'll receive a draft pick between the first and second round if he opts to leave. Possible infield targets Felipe Lopez, Mark DeRosa, Adrian Beltre, Ronnie Belliard, Troy Glaus, and Melvin Mora are all also Type B, so the Twins could potentially pursue them without putting their first-round pick at risk.

  • Michael Cuddyer's contract forced the Twins to make a decision on his 2011 status within five days of the World Series and as expected they exercised his $10.5 million option. He's unlikely to actually be worth $10.5 million as a 32-year-old in 2011, but if healthy he should be worth something reasonably close to that and either way there was zero chance of the Twins choosing a $1 million buyout instead. If you're curious, Fan Graphs pegs Cuddyer as being worth about $9 million this year.
  • Baltimore claimed Armando Gabino off waivers after the Twins dropped him from the 40-man roster. When the Twins added Gabino to the 40-man roster a year ago I wrote that it was "confusing" because he "doesn't induce tons of ground balls or miss tons of bats and his control is spotty, which makes him look like a potential middle reliever at best." Since then he put together a solid season at Triple-A as a 25-year-old, but he flopped in a spot start for the Twins and isn't worth protecting with a roster spot.

    Justin Huber was also removed from the 40-man roster, but unlike Gabino he passed through waivers unclaimed and may choose to remain with the Twins on a minor-league deal. Huber is a useful player to have around as organizational depth and hit .273/.356/.482 with 22 homers in 121 games at Triple-A this season, but players like him are readily available for the most part. He's more or less the definition of a replacement-level first baseman.

  • In addition to dropping Gabino and Huber the Twins added Juan Morillo to the 40-man roster, which is interesting given that they claimed him off waivers from the Rockies in April only to pass him through waivers unclaimed two weeks later. Morillo racked up 87 strikeouts in 67 innings at Rochester and has a rare legitimate high-90s fastball, but his career-long control problems led to 51 walks in those same 67 innings and teams have had plenty of chances to claim him already. He's intriguing, but a long shot.
  • Hardy and Joe Mauer have apparently been friends since playing together on a junior national team as 15-year-olds and he seems very happy to be coming to Minnesota. He'll have to change his uniform number, though.
  • Stumbling across this stuff is always fun: Six years ago I ranked the top 50 prospects in baseball for The Hardball Times, and Hardy and Delmon Young were back-to-back at 30 and 29. Also of interest to Twins fans from that list? Huber at 44, Jesse Crain at 34, Justin Morneau at 12, and Mauer in the top spot with a write-up that began: "This is what a great prospect looks like."

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