December 10, 2010

Twins trade J.J. Hardy to Orioles for James Hoey and Brett Jacobson

Speculation about trading J.J. Hardy steadily increased after the Twins placed the high bid for exclusive negotiating rights to Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka last month and yesterday they pulled the trigger, sending Hardy, Brendan Harris, and $500,000 to the Orioles for minor-league relievers James Hoey and Brett Jacobson. Nishioka and the Twins are negotiating, but moving Hardy shows they're very confident in signing him before the December 26 deadline.

However, even with Nishioka expected to sign shortly the decision to part with Hardy is a very questionable one for several reasons. First and foremost is that Hardy is simply a good player at a key position and tends to be underrated by those who don't recognize the full value of his defense, don't appreciate the lack of offensive production generally found in shortstops across baseball, or focus solely on the time he missed with a wrist injury.

Hardy is certainly not without flaws and some of them are prominent, but a deeper look at his performance clearly shows an above-average shortstop the Twins could have retained without having to make a multi-year commitment. He hit .268/.320/.394, which may not look like much but is actually better than the MLB average for shortstops of .262/.319/.371. And after coming back from the wrist injury Hardy hit .302/.356/.436 in 64 games.

Among the 28 shortstops to play at least 100 games this season Hardy ranked 11th in batting average, 13th in on-base percentage, 10th in slugging percentage, and 11th in OPS, making him above average for the position offensively no matter how you slice it. Toss in outstanding defense that Ultimate Zone Rating pegged as MLB's best at 12.8 runs above average per 150 games and Hardy was one of the top 12 shortstops in baseball even while missing 60 games.

Beyond underrating Hardy relative to other shortstops the trade also shows a level of faith in both Nishioka and Alexi Casilla that makes me nervous. Investing about $15 million for three years of Nishioka is a sound move, but like previous Japanese imports he's a question mark at the plate and is also coming off a career-year above his track record. And while he won a Gold Glove at shortstop in Japan, opinions are mixed at best on if he can thrive there in the majors.

Casilla is also an option at shortstop after faring well there in limited action subbing for Hardy, but he hasn't played the position regularly since 2007 at Triple-A and has never even graded out strongly at second base. He's also far from reliable offensively, or at least far from reliably good offensively. Casilla has hit well at times, but owns a career line of .249/.306/.327 in 1,073 plate appearances. To put that in some context, Nick Punto is a career .247/.321/.322 hitter.

Turning over the middle infield to Nishioka and Casilla has the potential for disaster, especially given that the primary backup options at this moment are Matt Tolbert and Trevor Plouffe. It doesn't shock me that the Twins have undervalued Hardy, but unless there's another move up their sleeve it does surprise me that they're so willing to go into 2011 with a pair of question marks atop the depth chart and a pair of replacement-level players as fallback options.

In speaking about the trade yesterday general manager Bill Smith made it very clear that the move was made largely because Ron Gardenhire wants to add more speed to the lineup and Hardy, despite his excellent range defensively, is one of the slowest shortstops in baseball. In a vacuum adding more speed is obviously a good thing, but in this case adding the speed may come with getting worse on both sides of the ball and being faster isn't that vital to winning.

Of course, the deal wasn't just about dumping Hardy and in fact the Twins chose to tender him an arbitration offer last week specifically because they felt confident about getting something in return for him via trade. Smith admitted to discussing Hardy with at least six teams and the decision to settle on the Orioles' offer of Hoey and Jacobson makes the Twins' targets in those talks crystal clear. They wanted bullpen help for 2011 and beyond in the form of power arms.

For the most part the Twins' longstanding, organization-wide focus on drafting and developing pitchers with better control and command than raw stuff has served them well, but at times it has also left them short on the flame-throwing relievers many other teams prefer to rely on in late-inning roles. Neither pitcher acquired from Baltimore fits the Twins' typical mold, as Hoey and Jacobson are both big guys with power fastballs and shaky command.

Jacobson was the Tigers' fourth-round pick in 2008 and was traded to the Orioles for Aubrey Huff in mid-2009. He spent this season repeating high Single-A at age 23, making his 2.79 ERA and 67-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 71 innings less impressive than it looks. His first crack at high Single-A included a 4.13 ERA and 55/26 K/BB ratio in 65 innings, so while being 6-foot-6 with mid-90s velocity gives Jacobson some upside his performance so far hasn't been special.

I'll need to study up on Jacobson before determining a ranking, but if he cracks my annual list of the Twins' top 40 prospects it'll likely be just barely. Hoey has fewer than 50 career innings in the majors and has spent the past two seasons exclusively in the minors, so technically he meets my qualification for "prospect" status too, but he also turns 28 years old in a few weeks and made his big-league debut way back in 2006. He's more of a project than a prospect.

Hoey was selected by the Orioles in the 13th round of the 2003 draft and emerged as a top relief prospect after putting up some incredible minor-league numbers in 2006 and 2007, but then blew out his shoulder and missed all of 2008 following surgery. He initially struggled so much after coming back in 2009 that the Orioles dropped Hoey from the 40-man roster and he passed through waivers unclaimed.

He remained in the Orioles' organization at Double-A and put together a decent 2009 despite struggling to throw strikes, but was left off the 40-man roster last offseason and wasn't picked in the Rule 5 draft. Hoey began this year back at Double-A, but earned a midseason promotion to Triple-A and combined for a 3.25 ERA, .196 opponents' batting average, and 70 strikeouts in 53 innings between the two levels.

His control was awful with 34 walks in 53 innings and the great numbers aren't much different than what Anthony Slama has done in the high minors, but Hoey's velocity has bounced back enough post-surgery that his raw stuff is superior to Slama's. As a 28-year-old "prospect" with a surgically repaired arm he's by definition a long shot, but Hoey's numbers this year show the potential for dominance and unlike Slama he has the mid-90s heat and power slider to match.

Hardy and Nishioka starting with Casilla as a backup would've been the best chance to win in 2011. Instead they focused on Hardy's flaws, trading an above-average shortstop under team control at a palatable one-year price and turning to two question marks in the name of getting faster. It makes them worse in the short term, perhaps by a lot, and the haul from Baltimore isn't impressive, but clearing Harris' salary off the books is nice and at least Hoey is intriguing.

  • Old Twins Cap

    The Twins decided to cut bait on Hardy after one partial year (what? 102 games) because, while he is strong on Defense, his bat and speed are lacking, and his durability is in question. Maybe he deserves $6+ Million, but, long term that ain’t going to cut it, and they already have a JJ in the wings named Trevor Plouffe. So, they take a chance on some speedy MIs, knowing they got a kid who gives them everything JJ had, and maybe a little more at a lot less $$$. I don’t understand all the hand-wringing on Hardy. He had a year to prove himself, and frankly, all things considered, he was average, with an above average salary. Maybe we in the modern baseball era have become jaded, but, I remember when a $6 million dollar man was a high-tech, cutting edge televison series — not a league average shortstop.

  • boynk

    while I agree that this trade is something that short term hurts the twins. Hardy is a head case and had a very fragile psyche. The twins will miss him. but maybe not as bad as it seems.

  • http://6-4-2.blogspot.com Rob McMillin

    Aaron — regarding this –

    He hit .268/.320/.394, which may not look like much but is actually better than the MLB average for shortstops of .262/.319/.371.

    Is that among starting shortstops or all players who got at-bats at the position?

  • mike wants wins

    I’ve already made any cogent statements I can make, so I’ll just say “boooooooooooooooooooooooooo”. Epic fail.

  • Brooklyn Twins Fan

    Why gleeman has such a hard-on for Hardy, we may never know.

    What we do know is while this trade isnt flashy, and you can argue what exactly the Twins got in return, it does free up around 7M Hardy would’ve gotten through arbitration, and the Twins get some power arms and will find out really what kind of player Casilla is. I dont see the harm in that.

    Sure Hardy can field and hit (sometimes), but 60 games is a significant portion of games to be without his services. He wasnt that great, and was not missed all that much when he was on the dl.

    Good riddance jj herpes. The servers at toby keith’s will miss you.

  • Ted

    Ummm, the Twins aren’t the Royals; they aren’t in the middle of rebuilding, they are trying to compete. And downgrading at two positions so that you can find out what kind of player Casilla is does not help the team get to the World Series. Also, Casilla isn’t much of a mystery anymore, in 1000+ PA, he has managed a meager 249/306/327 hitter and been a mediocre-to-average fielder.

  • rover27

    This is what happens in the “New Joe Mauer Era”. You are not going to get a really good team in Minnesota with a $23 million contract for one player…unless that $23 million is going for a true game-changer and difference maker. Pujolis, Hamilton, or Cabrerra-like production would justify that type of salary in Minnesota. Mauer-type production for $23 million definitely doesn not.

    This contract will hamstring the Twins for a decade. 2010 will go down as the best Twins’ season for a long time. For $23 million you need much more in return. Minnesota isn’t New York or Boston.

  • KC

    I hope you “Hardy stinks” guys will come back here when Yoshi’s struggling to hit major league pitching and Casilla sucks (again) and admit you were wrong. Hardy’s not great but be careful what you wish for.

  • Hank Gleen

    It doesn’t shock me that the Twins have undervalued Hardy

    Have you considered that you overvalue Hardy? 6 teams were interested. The market dictated what he was worth.

    underrated by those who don’t recognize the full value of his defense, don’t appreciate the lack of offensive production generally found in shortstops across baseball

    You seriously think the Twins are incapable of evaluating his talent? He’s worth what teams are willing to give up. We now know the best package that a team was willing to trade for him.

  • Brooklyn Twins Fan

    @ TED

    Yea, because Hardy put the team on his shoulders in october vs. the yanks, do’k!

    Downgrading at 2 positions? What is the other one?

    If october taught the twins anything, it should’ve taught them that a left-handed intensive hitting lineup, with mediocre “control” pitchers, and light-throwing bullpen arms will NOT get the job done.

    Yanks are poised to add another lefty in Lee, and IF the Twins happened to play them again with their current roster? Pack a lunch, again.

    JJ Hardy will NOT be missed this season. You think Milwaukee misses him either? Shah.

  • Steve Johnson

    Maybe he deserves $6+ Million, but, long term that ain’t going to cut it, and they already have a JJ in the wings named Trevor Plouffe.

    Plouffe is going to be 25, has yet to show much ability to be a successfull hitter in the minors, and the few comments I’ve heard about his defense aren’t all that flattering. the Twins really have little infield depth in the system, apart from run-of-the-mill utility types like Plouffe, tolbert, etc.

    i think the Twins lack of assigning proper value to Hardy has more to do with clubhouse issues and positional stereotypes by Managment than scouting reports and statistics. I think Hardy detractors fail to assess that wrist injuries tend to nag for awhile, effect power, and is probably what fueled Hardy’s much-derided request for days off.

  • Ted

    Brooklyn Twins Fan: You are right, the Twins should make all personnel decisions based on three games in October. How silly of me.

    Two positions: SS and 2B. Hardy and Nishioka was probably the best middle infield option. Nishioka at SS (or 2B) and Casilla at 2B (or SS) downgrades both positions both defensively and offensively.

  • David Burden

    The Twins weren’t going to compete with or without Hardy, so why pay him? Subbing in mediocre middle infielders may help you get to the playoffs, but you’re not going to go any further without the arms of the Giants or some real offense at 3B/SS/2B.

  • Gendo

    Apparently no one bothered to read Aaron’s sound case on Hardy.

  • Ted

    I love the picture at the top of this post.

    Also, I will miss Hardy. Just like I will miss Hudson, and probably Pavano and Thome (I say probably because I expect them to be gone, not because I doubt their contributions).

    This team cannot afford to part with so much talent and expect to compete. Not possible.

  • Fran

    Toss in outstanding defense that Ultimate Zone Rating pegged as MLB’s best at 12.8 runs above average per 150 games and Hardy was one of the top 12 shortstops in baseball even while missing 60 games.

    Hmmm. That means JJ would be a potential upgrade for about 15 or 20 teams. Why didn’t one of them swoop in and trump the Baltimore offer?

  • Dean

    Bill Smith = Brad Childress

    Enough said. This clown made 1 good trade in 5 years? Gomez for Hardy. Now the dips___t trades away Hardy for nothing.

  • Chris Kruschke

    I have to commend you for being evenhanded and relatively unbiased in your comments. To say the least, I thought your review of the trade was… “generous”.

  • JB

    Aaron, you have to hammer them on this one. the twins now have nobody to play ss or 2b. we know casilla is terrible and if nishioka is better than kaz matsui, i will jump up and down.

    ultimately, if they need to save 7M, fine. i just hope they don’t put it in to a two year 15 million dollar deal for thome. he’ll regress and we’ll eat it all, but with carlos pena getting 10M, i can’t imagine what thome is looking at.

    also, keeping him will DESTROY our newfound team speed.

  • Arnold4321

    Brooklyn, the Twins downgraded at both SS and 2B. And re: the Yankees, JJ is a RH bat with some pop.

    You realize you are saying Alexi Casilla is going to outperform JJ Hardy next year, right? Just want to be sure.

  • liner

    I think Steve Johnson nailed it… Gardy couldn’t stand Hardy’s whining for days of, so “he gone”. His numbers don’t matter… Gardy doesn’t care about that. He only knows Hardy drove him crazy, so he went to Bill Smith with a demand. Get him out of here.
    I can understand that, sometimes you’ve got to get rid of people with good results when they have poor behavior that can negatively impact your other good performers.

  • Jeff

    I dont think it is a matter of if the middle infield fails, but how soon in the season it all falls apart. We all know what we got in Casilla, a good utility guy but somone who is not suited to be an everyday player. I believe Nisho is an even bigger question mark than Casilla. Would the Twins ever consider trying to make a move to get Brendon Ryan from the Cardinals, I think he is on the trading block since they aquired Theriot.

  • TMW

    ‘Ultimate Zone Rating pegged as MLB’s best at 12.8 runs above average per 150 games and Hardy was one of the top 12 shortstops in baseball even while missing 60 games.’

    Right, but he was only on the field for 102 games so dropping UZR/150 is moot.

    I have to say John Bonnes’ post in the Strib is more convincing than AG’s. Of course, the fact is that Hardy can’t be trusted to stay healthy and there is an adjustment he needs to make in his plate approach and swing. He’s solid and all, but $7 million is for a 12.8 run AVERAGE and not actual runs.

  • pk

    Everyone’s wrong here.

    First.
    Bill Smith is the GM of the Year after watching how teams tripped over eachother this winter to give too many years and too much money to good but not great players ie Werth & Crawford. Maurer’s deal looks better with every FA signing. Congrats to Bill Smith and the Twins.

    Second.
    Hardy’s decent but not good. All you need to know is Milwaukee dumped him for Carlos Gomez. The Twins dumped him for two minor league long shots.

    If Casilla fails, Plouffe can’t do it, the japanesse guy doesn’t hit, and Punto is playing in Philly, all the Twins need to do is go trade for an Orlando Caberra type midseason. These guys will certainly be available and predictabily for very little in exchange.

    Also, if trading Hardy keeps Pavano in the Twins uniform then I’m all for it.

    Go Twins.

  • scott

    I know Im in the minority, but I think the twins are going to look hard at Plouffe. He’s still very young, and has spent 3 years at AAA. Think about that, he was in AAA at 22. Lets just see more of him in spring training and such.

  • TMW

    I agree with Scott. I think the circumstances with which they gave Danny Valencia a chance and he ran with it makes me think the Twins might be more willing to try this Hughes and/or Plouffe around June 1 if Casilla doesn’t get the job done.

  • http://twins.gearupforsports.com/blog/ Steve L.

    Bottom Line: Twins were 63-38 with J.J. Hardy in the lineup, 31-30 without him. Tell me again how some of us are overrating what Hardy brought to the team and that this isn’t a bad trade?!? I’d rather have Hardy than Pav’s. Instead of limiting the questions and holes in the lineup and on defense, the Twins are creating more.

  • Arnold4321

    Bill is GM of the Year for not offering contracts he can’t afford to players he doesn’t want? You, my friend, need to drastically adjust your expectations for a general manager. Then you promote signing an aging pitcher to a ridiculously overpriced contract.

    You can disguise your name, Bill, but we know it’s you.

  • Chris

    It’s amazing how many people can’t look beyond their own personal biases and even make ridiculous comments that prove they didn’t even read your post. Hardy was the BEST defensive shortstop in baseball based on UZR this year. And while that’s not the end all, I challenge you to find any person directly involved in MLB or even any knowledgeable sportswriters who will not agree that at minimum, he’s a well above average defensive shortstop. And by all reports, Casilla is even a terrible defender at second base meaning he’s likely worse at shortstop. Oh yeah, and he hit .302 with a .446 SLG in the second half when his wrist started to feel better. And two seasons with unrelated injuries does not make you injury prone – besides, 102 games is still almost two thirds of the year. If he stays healthy and repeats his second half numbers next year, he’s a top five shortstop in all of baseball. And lest we forget, even mediocre shortstops do not grow on trees. Hardy’s one of the best we’ve ever had at the position. And for that, we got two guys who’ll likely never contribute anything at the Major League level. And calling the potential replacements in house “replacement level” players is extremely generous. I’d say they are way below replacement level. If it’s speed they so craved, why did they trade the fastest player in the league for Hardy in the first place?!!! Especially since Gomez is a great defensive outfielder and our outfield defense was in actuality the teams biggest weakness in 2010. I’m so incredibly angry with this trade, not just because I think Hardy is extremely undervalued (not talking money), but because this organization has hit a new low of stupidity.

  • mike wants WINS

    I always wonder if the people that say Hardy wasn’t good last year actually look at the statistics generated by other Shortstops? What, exactly, are people comparing Hardy to that they don’t think he’s good?

  • Large Canine

    Hardy/Casilla infield in 2011 = 6-7 mil total. Casilla/Nishi infield in 2011 = 5 mil plus 500k for Casilla plus 3 mil (estimated) for Nishi =8.5 mil. If Hardy stays healthy there is potential for him to hit .275-.280 with 20 hr’s. My estimate is Casilla hits .255 with 3 hr’s and Nishi hits like .265. Where are we hiding these 2 in the BA? 8 and 9? 2 and 9?

  • Dave T

    This is a salary dump. Twins are devaluing the SS position with their collection of utility guys (Casilla, Tolbert) and minor league shortstop (Plouffe). Whatever else you think of him, Hardy is a major league shortstop. The Twins are back to square one.

  • Steve Johnson

    if the Twins have to “take a hard look at Plouffe”, things will have gone quite badly indeed. It will mean that either/both Nishi and Casilla have flopped and the club is kicking the tires on a guy who’s only minor league noteworthyness is the excuse, “he’s been young for his league”, ala Luis Rivas.

    ..and picking up O-Cab again would from a talent perspective be fairly indistinguishable from simply letting Tolbert start.

    Hardy was without question the best realistic option at short this season. Casilla\Nishioka were the plan B. Now Plan A is an erratic former prospect and a guy who is comming off a highwater season playing against a level of competition skilled somewhere between double and triple-A. Plan B currently is now essentially replacement level players in the infield.

    The Twins traded away from a position where they have very tenuous depth. While the relievers they recieved in return are intriguing, they have a number of other relief options internally and on the market. It further makes the Ramos\Capps situation look like confused missmanagement.

  • Kunza

    Bill Smith is a complete idiot. Giving Pavano any type of contract is a complete lack of foresight again by Bill Smith. Those high draft picks are like gold. We should have never traded Santana, but instead taken the draft picks. In the 3 years since he has been gone, those 2 first round draft picks would be here right now ready to contribute.

    We’re talking about giving a starting pitcher who is 35 years old a multiple year deal? Idiotic. Stupid. Dumb. Ridiculous.

  • Tom

    Someone brought up a point earlier that I think is telling in all this–Milwaukee traded him to the Twins for Gomez, and now the Twins have traded him basically for a middle reliever. Two teams have unloaded him in less than a year for parts, despite the fact he puts up decent stats. That’s a big hint that he’s got some issues. Maybe they’re health related, maybe he’s got a bad attitude, maybe he’s bad in the locker room, whatever it is, two teams have decided that he’s more trouble than he’s worth, no matter his UZR.

  • mike wants WINS

    Tom, it is certainly true that there may be something going on that we don’t know about, but since we don’t know about it, we can’t really comment on it.

    As for your other point: You may be making a bad logical leap. Trading a guy does not imply that you think the guy is bad. It is possible that Milwaukee thought the combination of Gomez and their new SS was better than Hardy plus their old CF. As an example, did the Twins trading Santana mean they thought he wasn’t any good? Does anyone think that Carlso Gonzalez wasn’t good just because he was traded?

  • Josh

    Clearly this is a case of Gardy dictating the roster. Gardy wants speed guys in the middle of the infield, guys that fit his image of what a SS/2B are, and so Bill Smith is giving him what he wants. This is telling about who is calling the shots on the baseball side.

    And I think it’s a bad sign. Gardy has serious flaws as a manager, but they are ones that can be camouflaged/reduced by good roster management. Letting the manager dictate who is on the roster just doubles the pain. (I’m now expecting an offer to Punto for 2 more years at 3M per any day now)

    I could live with this trade a little better if I had more confidence about the bullpen arms that are coming back. Hoey’s lack of command is worrisome, but if that’s just a symptom of his coming back from a serious injury, maybe he’s the power arm we need. But he’s still a question mark. Jacobson is a longshot. I have to wonder if we couldn’t have done better with an asset like Hardy.

    Dumping Harris is a nice treat; he’s turned into a disaster, but his contract and “veteran status” would cause him to get opportunities in camp and there would be pressure to keep him on the roster. While he might have been able to produce in a limited role, Gardy’s managing style doesn’t fit well to putting guys in limited roles. I figure the $500K was akin to a buyout on his contract, so we’re still getting roster flexibility.

    It sounds like the Twins wanted the money they were going to spend on Hardy to cover their costs on Nishioka, or to free up money for a multi-year offer on Pavano. If it turns out they drop $30M on Pavano over 3 years the offseason just gets worse. because while Pavano might be worth it next year…I doubt he will in year 2 and definitely not in year 3.

    I was really hoping we’d keep Hardy (who plays excellent defense and has some pop in his bat from the right side) to pair with Nishioka, with Casilia as the utility guy. Let Pavano go somewhere else for too much money, and use the savings to bring back Thome, find a RH-platoon partner for Kubel and a couple of decent bullpen arms.

  • Brian

    you’re saving $1.25M on Harris. Hardy is going to get $7M or so in arbitration. You got a couple of other pieces that may or may not work out, but have some value. How much is having Hardy worth? because unless it’s $12M+, I don’t see how this trade is lopsided one way.

    I think it’s probably right around $10M, mostly because there’s a scenario where he goes 0.300/0.350/0.450, stays healthy, and nets you draft pick compensation next year when he leaves. But that’s a 1 in 10 scenario.

  • mike wants WINS

    If you never pay for quality, and deal it when you are “contending”, how do you get over the top? I mean, if you aren’t going to keep a guy like Hardy when you are supposedly entering the heyday of your payroll, and your C and 1B are superstars in their prime, when will this team ever keep a guy like Hardy?

    btw, exercising the option on Cuddeyer pre-maturely looks worse and worse right now….imagine keeping Hardy and saving even more money on Cuddy…

  • Tom

    This is one of those times when people can get so caught up in their numbers that they fail to step back and look at the big picture. And that big picture is, this isn’t that big a deal. Some people are acting like they just traded Babe Ruth. JJ Hardy isn’t Babe Ruth. He’s a good-not-great shortstop. In 10 years, when we look at the history of Twins trades, this one will be remembered in the same breath as the Roy Smalley to the Yankees trade. In other words, it won’t.

  • Zack

    Adding speed to the lineup is fine, but the knee jerk reaction of “we need more speed!” due to how TF played in 2010 is stupid. Especially considering the Twins had a fantastic home record. If this money is being cleared for a good move, I’m fine with it. Extending Pavano is not a good move. The talk of extending Pavano, and then trading Slowey is completely stupid. Slowey will give you pretty much the same value as Pavano over the next three years for probably 1/3 the salary.

    The team is still the class of the Central, but I don’t forsee any deep playoff runs with the Manager/Front Office making stupid decisions like this. There’s no points for degree of difficulty, guys.

  • mike wants wins

    No, we are acting like they traded a legit top 10 SS for two middle relievers, when they have a guy that has 1000 PAs and been bad, a guy coming over from Japan, and a bunch of AAA/AAAA players behind them. No one is saying that this cost the Twins their season. We (many of us) are saying it was a bad trade.*

    *it would be a good trade if they also dealt Kubel, and then acquired a legit, in his prime, RF/LF who was RH and could hit and play D…..or traded slowey, blackburn and a prospect for a legit ace type and used the money saved to sign him….but the odds of those happening are tiny. super tiny.

  • Hinkseams

    @ Boynk, speaking of fragile phyches and headcases, I would like for the Twins to avoid going after Grienke this offseason. His issues are well documented and he seems like a flash in the pan to me.

  • haplito

    @Hank Gleen

    Your dedication to the simplest and most easily undermined concepts of market economics is remarkable.

  • ismist

    First, let me start by stating up front that I am not much of a stat-head. I like reading blogs by those who do, but I just have the time to devote to such thorough analysis. Therefore, what I am going to say next needs to be read with that context.

    Those who are claiming that this trade is “Gardy’s fault” boggle my mind. I realize second-guessing a coach is the new national pastime, but this is ridiculous. Casilla has been in the dog house for years. The common complaint against Gardy is that he babies his favorite, “scrappy”, light-hitting middle infielders. Yet, Casilla has been benched, demoted, and heavily criticized by Gardy in the media for being lazy and stubborn. If anything, Gardy has openly ripped Casilla (as much as Gardy rips any of his players). Also, it is ludicrous to suggest a solid shortstop would be traded JUST because the coach wants speedier guys on base. I mean, give these guys SOME credit.

    The Twins need to make a bold move, but they ain’t got a lot to work with (money or trade bait). Like it or not, the Twins are swinging for the fences with Nishioka. Personally, I think they can gamble a bit with the middle infielders, largely because that is not the strength of the team. The Twins’ hopes lie almost entirely with Mauer, Morneau and (hopefully) a resurgent starting pitching rotation. If those ingredients fail, so do the Twins. I realize every position is important, but neither short or second is critical to the Twins’ success in 2011. Rolling the dice with Nishioka is a gamble, admittedly, but something has to change. Last year’s formula didn’t work.

    So why not try a more proven formula, such as securing an ace starter through another trade or free agency? Because those options don’t really exist. PLEASE stop suggesting we trade Young for Halladay, Santana and Babe Ruth, or that we sign “an ace starter” without naming said mythical being. Over the past decade, who was the best free agent signing the Twins acquired? Pavano? Nice signing, but more luck than craft.

    If the Twins kept Hardy, they would start the season with Hardy at short and Casilla at second – a lesser combo than we had last year with Hudson. We all know how that season played out. Is the current strategy going to be a bust? Perhaps. But at least we are taking a chance with a part of our roster that is relatively expendable.

    Lastly, Smith is working on a roster that has life beyond next year. Hardy would be gone in a year, regardless. What would be the plan for 2012? The Twins can’t afford solid free agents (especially with the Mauer contract), so they either have to draft well or get lucky. If they avoid the temptation to sign Pavano, they will have a better chance with the drafting portion, and Nishioka could prove the be a fortunate move.

  • brian

    “Hardy and Nishioka starting with Casilla as a backup would’ve been the best chance to win in 2011.”

    I wish you would say “win more games” or “win the division,” AG, for clarity. A lot of people here might think that you are full of hubris.

    Oh I forgot. There are many who persist in thinking you are talking about the World Series.

  • Kurt

    “For the most part the Twins’ longstanding, organization-wide focus on drafting and developing pitchers with better control and command than raw stuff has served them well, but at times it has also left them short on the flame-throwing relievers many other teams prefer to rely on in late-inning roles. Neither pitcher acquired from Baltimore fits the Twins’ typical mold, as Hoey and Jacobson are both big guys with power fastballs and shaky command.”

    This is why I love this trade. Finally they bring in some power arms; now here’s hoping they do the same with their starting rotation.

  • Ted

    Kurt: power are easy to find. Really, they are. It is the power arms with control, the guys who actually, you know, get people out, that are hard to find. And nothing suggests that either of these pitchers is the latter sort; they are, as most have suggested, long shots.

    Now the Twins are looking at Brendan Ryan. I bet it takes more than a couple middling relievers to get him.

  • Josh

    @Kurt: if you don’t win the division, or a playoff series is doesn’t matter how well you’re built for the World Series. if you build your team to try and win a crap-shoot short series, I think you’re probably never going to get there.

    Also, the power arms are nice, but if they can’t throw strikes they won’t be pitching for the Twins. Come on, do you really think Rick Anderson & Gardy are going to call on a guy they think might consistently grant a free pass to 1B? (Let me be clear: I tend to agree with them on this point. Walks will haunt you, as the Dome scoreboard used to say all the time) So unless Hoey discovers some control they’re not going to pitch him.

  • mike wants wins

    ismit: ? I think most of us are arguing for Hardy and Nishi, not Hardy and Casilla. Casilla should be the utility guy in that situation, not Tolbert.