Joe Christensen's Sunday Insider: Twins win some trades, lose some

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 28, 2012 - 11:27 PM

 For every good trade that Twins GM Terry Ryan has made in July, there's one that he might like to have back.


Kyle Lohse left Minnesota on unhappy terms in 2006 but since has turned his career around with the Cardinals.

Photo: Lynne Sladky, Associated Press

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July isn't Terry Ryan's best month.

It might be an exciting time for fans, with all the maneuvering before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline. But most of Ryan's best moves in his first tenure as Twins general manager, from 1994 to 2007, came in other months.

The Chuck Knoblauch trade, which netted Cristian Guzman and Eric Milton, came in February 1998. The Johan Santana Rule 5 coup came in December 1999, and the A.J. Pierzynski trade (for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser) came in November 2003.

Leading up to July 31, Ryan has made some successful deals, along with some duds. Here's a look back at key players moved in those July trades:

Three best

1) Bobby Kielty to Toronto for Shannon Stewart (July 16, 2003).

The Twins were sputtering and desperate for a table-setter. Stewart lifted them back to the playoffs, batting .322 with a .384 on-base percentage. Kielty never blossomed, getting traded again that November.

2) Brian Buchanan to San Diego for Jason Bartlett (July 12, 2002).

Buchanan had fallen behind in the outfield pecking order, so the Twins swapped him for a Class A shortstop. Bartlett blossomed by 2006 and went on to even more success for Tampa Bay after being shipped with Matt Garza for Delmon Young.

3) Rick Aguilera to Boston for Frankie Rodriguez (July 6, 1995).

Ryan traded four 1991 World Series members that month, later moving Scott Erickson to the Orioles (for Scott Klingenbeck), and Kevin Tapani and Mark Guthrie to the Dodgers (for Ron Coomer and three others).

Kirby Puckett and Chuck Knoblauch were furious, but the Twins had fallen to 20-44. Aguilera was a premier closer with a 2.52 ERA, and Baseball America had Rodriguez ranked as the sport's No. 36 prospect entering 1995.

Rodriguez never reached his potential, posting a 5.20 ERA in four seasons with the Twins, but Aguilera helped Boston reach the playoffs before re-signing with Minnesota for three years, $9 million.

Three worst

1) Kyle Lohse to Cincinnati for Zach Ward (July 31, 2006).

The Twins viewed this as addition by subtraction. Lohse had taken a bat to manager Ron Gardenhire's door the previous season and was in the bullpen with a 7.07 ERA.

Ward was 7-0 with a 2.27 ERA for Class A Dayton before the deal, but he never advanced beyond Class AA. Lohse turned things around in 2008 after signing with St. Louis and is flourishing now, at age 33.

2) Greg Swindell to Boston for Matt Kinney (July 31, 1998).

Swindell was a lefthanded reliever with a 3.58 ERA in 65 appearances, but the Twins liked Kinney's potential as a starter. The righthander was the hardest thrower in the organization when he reached the majors in 2000, but he had poor control and wound up getting traded to Milwaukee in 2002. Swindell went on to help Arizona win the 2001 World Series.

3) Todd Walker to Colorado for Todd Sears (July 16, 2000).

Walker was a first-round pick in 1994, but his defensive struggles kept him in then-manager Tom Kelly's doghouse. Walker went on to thrive as a second baseman for the Rockies, Reds, Red Sox and Cubs, finishing with a .289 career batting average, 1,316 hits and 107 homers.

Sears was a power-hitting first base prospect, but he got passed up by another one -- Justin Morneau. The Twins traded Sears to San Diego, and he played just 40 career games in the majors.

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