Welcome to the Tuesday edition of The Cooler. Let’s get going:
*One of the most lopsided trades in the wrong direction in Twins history happened in the 2015 offseason, when Minnesota traded outfielder Aaron Hicks to the Yankees for catcher John Ryan Murphy.
At the time, it seemed like a reasonable swap. Hicks had a .225 batting average and .655 OPS in nearly 1,000 plate appearances with the Twins, and Minnesota had a steady stream of promising young outfielders — led by Byron Buxton — knocking on the door to replace him. Murphy was coming off a good year in part-time duty for the Yankees, and the Twins very much needed a long-term catching solution.
With the Yankees, though, Hicks has become a version of the player the Twins always hoped he could be. From the start of 2017 until now, he has 20 home runs and a .365 on-base percentage while being an above-average outfielder. Those numbers would look pretty good in Minnesota right now.
Murphy? He played in 26 games at the start of the 2016 season, and his hitting was so dreadful the Twins banished him to the minors. The only memorable thing about his time here is that he had an excellent walk-up song (“No Diggity” by Blackstreet).
He never returned to the big club and was traded to Arizona in the middle of last season. I kind of forgot about Murphy at that point and assumed his career would just fizzle out. But I was watching a random Diamondbacks game Monday night, and who do I see at the plate? Murphy.
Not only that, I see his stats flashed on the screen: 8 home runs and an OPS of nearly .900. Then the ESPN broadcasters start talking about him and announce that he has the most home runs per plate appearance of any player in the majors this season.
Here’s verifiable evidence of Murphy hitting one of his eight blasts this season:
If you’re counting at home, he has 8 homers and an .887 OPS in 91 plate appearances this year for the D-Backs.
He had 1 home run and a .413 OPS for the Twins in 90 plate appearances.
The Twins lost the first Murphy trade. It’s too soon to say they lost the second one, since they actually snagged promising young reliever Gabriel Moya in last summer’s deal. But yeah, they definitely bought high and sold low on Murphy.
*NFL.com is counting down the top 100 players in the NFL, as voted on by the players, and Vikings WR Adam Thielen came in at No. 36 — further evidence not only of his ascent on the field but also of the increased respect he is getting around the league. Here’s Thielen talking about the distinction:
.@athielen19 is honored to be ranked #36 by his peers.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) June 5, 2018
*There were MANY strong reactions to President Trump’s statement un-inviting the Eagles to the White House, but we’ll leave Philadelphia’s Chris Long to have the final word about the whole situation:
You’re complicit in PLAYING America. This is just another day at the office for you, though. Most players (and there were many players, many players…) that wanted to opt out had decided long b4 the anthem rule came down. It wasn’t discussed once in our meetings about the visit.
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) June 5, 2018