La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Bill Smith on the trade

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: December 9, 2010 - 1:02 PM

The Twins and Orioles have announced the trade involving J.J. Hardy and Brendan Harris for two relievers.

The Twins will also send Baltimore $500,000, as the Orioles are taking on as much as $7 million in salaries

It will be Hardy's third team in three seasons.

``We talked to at least a half dozen teams over the course of the last couple of weeks,'' Twins general manager Bill Smith said. ``There was definite interest in him. We are certainly glad to find what I think will be a good home for him.''

.In exchange for Hardy and Harris, the Twins will receive righthanders Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson.

Hoey could step right into the Twins bullpen. Hoey, who turns 28 on Dec, 30, pitched 33 innings for the Orioles in 2006-07 before shoulder problems knocked him out of 2008. He began his comeback in 2008 and posted a 3.25 ERA between AA and AAA last season.

Hoey apparently throws hard. I asked an Orioles official if Hoey had a mid-90's fastball, and the official  raised hand repeatedly before saying, ``You have a chance to see some really big numbers from him.''

Jacobson, 24, throws hard too. But he hasn't pitched above A-ball yet.

Both have had control issues, so the Twins hope their strike-throwing philosophy meshes well with their power.

``J.J. was a five year player, so after this year he would be a free agent,'' Smith said. ``And there was a lot of interest in him. We had a chance to add a couple off hard-throwing relievers which we need. We don't have a lot of velocity in our system.''

How hard do they throw?

``They are both in the mid- to high 90's,'' Smith said. ``Both throw 95 and above. They have challenges with command and control and whatever but they bring velocity.

 ``Coming into our organization and our environment with all of the pitching coaches and adding them into our system, we will try and let our guys work their magic with them.''
 

 

 

Here is the Associated Press report on the trade:

Trying to add more pop up the middle, the Baltimore Orioles acquired former All-Star shortstop J.J. Hardy from the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.

The Orioles also got infielder Brendan Harris and $500,000 in the trade that sent minor league right-handers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson to the AL Central champion Twins.

The 28-year-old Hardy hit .268 with six home runs and 38 RBIs last season. He was an All-Star in 2007 with Milwaukee when he hit .277 with 26 homers and 80 RBIs.

"We're looking for a little more offense to our regular shortstop position, and we're confident he can provide that," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. "We also talked to other shortstop targets."

Cesar Izturis was Baltimore's starting shortstop last season. He hit .230 with one homer and 28 RBIs and since become a free agent.

The trade was the Orioles' second of the winter meetings aimed at getting more production from the left side of the infield. They got strikeout-prone slugger Mark Reynolds from Arizona for two relievers.

Hardy played in just 101 games in his lone year with the Twins while dealing with several injuries.

The 30-year-old Harris hit .157 in a limited role. The utilityman fell out of favor with the Twins and spent much of last season in the minor leagues.

Hoey and Jacobson are two hard-throwing minor leaguers who could eventually help replenish Minnesota's bullpen.

The 27-year-old Hoey was 4-0 with a 3.38 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 21 1-3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk. He pitched for Baltimore in 2006-07, going 3-5 with an 8.13 ERA.

The 24-year-old Jacobson was 8-1 with one save and a 2.79 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 71 innings at Class A Frederick. The Orioles got him in August 2009 from Detroit in a trade for Aubrey Huff.

UPDATE: The other shoe is about to drop.

Heard from a source that there is a good chance that Tsuyoshi Nishioka will fly to the Twin Cities next week for a physical. Like I wrote in today's paper, there's no way the Twins move Hardy unless they are close to a deal with the Japanese middle infielder.

It time for baseball fans in the Twin Cities to brush up on their Japanese..... 

MY THOUGHTS

The Twins are gambling that

 1. Nishioka can play: One NL East scout saw Nishioka late in the season and called him another Kaz Matusi, which isn't good. But others think he can play in the majors.

2. Casilla will hold down a spot. It's time for Casilla to prove he can be an every day player. I will say this, Casilla might need a hug sometimes instead of tough love if he makes a mistake in the field.

Injuires to either player puts Matt Tolbert or Trevor Plouffe in the lineup.

The benefits are that the Twins have better speed and a tad more range up the middle. The money they save should help them re-sign Carl Pavano. And they get two hard throwers in Hoey and Jacobson. They also rid themselves of Harris and $1.75 million.

If Hoey and Nishioka perform well, it's a good deal. Hoey needs to throw more strikes,

 

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