Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Analyzing the Gomez-for-Hardy trade after six months

Posted by: Phil Miller under Twins transactions Updated: May 21, 2010 - 11:33 PM

I revisited the trade that sent Carlos Gomez to Milwaukee for J.J. Hardy tonight. Of course, when Gomez riled up his former teammates by showboating his eighth-inning home run, I had to do some rewriting.

This is an excerpt from my earlier column:

Six months later, the Gomez-for-J.J. Hardy trade doesn’t look too bad for either team. It would look better if Hardy were healthy, and the Brewers had used the money they saved on better pitching.

Gomez returned from the disabled list Friday after being out since May 5 with a strained left rotator cuff. He went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .287 and celebrated a three-run homer into the left-field second deck as if it were a game winner, when it actually trimmed his former team’s lead to 15-3.

It was another head scratcher for the 24-year-old Gomez.

“Why would I have hard feelings for the Twins?” he said before the game. “They gave me an opportunity, and I appreciate that. I want to see Milwaukee and the Twins in the World Series.”

At least he still has that imagination. Friday’s loss was the Brewers’ 10th defeat in 11 games, They have a $90 million payroll, about $7 million smaller than the Twins’, but haven’t gotten as much bang for the buck.

Hardy is making $5.1 million. After trading for Gomez (now at $1.15 million) the Brewers let go of Mike Cameron, who signed a two-year, $15.5 million deal with the Red Sox.

“[Hardy’s] a shortstop who can hit 25 home runs; that’s a commodity,” Macha said. “We had to do what we did to free up some money for our pitching staff. Plus we had [Alcides] Escobar to fill that [shortstop] role.”

What happened to the Brewers? Follow the money. They gave free agent Randy Wolf a three-year, $29.75 million deal. He’s 3-4 with a 5.10 ERA. They gave Doug Davis $5.25 million. He’s 1-4 with a 7.56 ERA.

They signed former Twins reliever LaTroy Hawkins. He’s got a 9.26 ERA. And they re-signed closer Trevor Hoffman for $8 million. He’s got a 13.15 ERA.

Hardy, 27, struggled mightily last year for the Brewers. Before landing on the DL with a bruised wrist -- on May 5, the same day as Gomez -- Hardy showed signs of putting those struggles behind. He is batting .250 with three home runs, 11 RBI and has yet to make an error in 107 chances.

“It’s the same kind of start I had last year, only it felt way different,” Hardy said. “Even though I wasn’t hitting, we were winning, and it just made it so much easier for me.”

Though Trevor Plouffe looked great in his major league debut Friday, the Twins are 18-7 in Hardy’s starts and 7-10 without him. No wonder Gardenhire sounds chagrined that Hardy might need a rehab stint to get his swing going. It sounds like he’ll return Tuesday, at the earliest.

“He’s solid,” Gardenhire said. “The other guys can play out there, but our defense was playing as well as anybody’s in baseball. We’re still playing good defense but the combination out there [with second baseman Orlando Hudson], and [Hardy] coming up with some big hits -- yeah, you miss him a lot."

Note: Check back here Saturday for the starting lineups, as the Twins play the Brewers again at 3:10 p.m.

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