David Ortiz hit the big ALCS grand slam that was nearly caught by a toppling Torii Hunter. It was a reminder of how many former Twins players had strong 2013 seasons. Each of the four remaining teams have at least one former Twins player.
Very little annoys me more than people complaining about former Twins players succeeding with other organizations, forgetting the back stories of when they left the Twins. Sure, letting David Ortiz go looks horrible in retrospect, but at the time, it was a ho-hum decision. Seeing AJ Pierzynski still playing and contributing bothers some yet, who did the Twins get in that trade? Torii Hunter? Yes, he has defied normal aging and been very good. There are bad losses in this group. Everyone loved the Carlos Gomez for JJ Hardy, and no one understood (or understands) what the thinking was when the Twins traded JJ Hardy for Jim HJoey and Brett Jacobson. And, the Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps deal… Yeah. I think we all know the reasoning behind Joe Nathan and Michael Cuddyer leaving the Twins organization, but come on, no one was disappointed when the Twins let RA Dickey go.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing. No question. But, I enjoyed all of these former Twins players during their time in Minnesota, and there’s no reason not to enjoy their continued success. But maybe I’m in the minority and I should just be bitter. Maybe?
Here is a look at some of the top performances by former Twins in the big leagues in 2013!
AJ Pierzynski ($7.5M) – Texas Rangers - .272/.297/.425 (.722) with 24 doubles, 17 homers and 70 RBI.
Wilson Ramos ($0.5M) – Washington Nationals - .272/.307/.380 (.717) with 9 doubles, 16 homers and 59 RBI.
A pretty nice lefty-righty platoon opportunity. Sure, neither gets on base, but both do show some power. Pierzynski was traded way back before the 2004 season to the Giants. Ramos was traded during the 2009 season to the Nationals.
David Ortiz ($14M) – Boston Red Sox - .309/.395/.564 (.959) with 38 doubles, 30 homers and 103 RBI.
Garrett Jones ($4.5M) – Pittsburgh Pirates - .233/.289/.419 (.708) with 26 doubles, 15 homers and 51 RBI.
JJ Hardy ($7M) – Baltimore Orioles - .263/.306/.433 (.738) with 27 doubles, 25 homers and 76 RBI.
Nick Punto ($1.5M) – Los Angeles Dodgers - .255/.328/.327 (.655) with 15 doubles, 2 homers and 21 RBI.
Danny Valencia ($0.5M) – Baltimore Orioles - .304/.335/.553 (.888) with 14 doubles, 8 homers and 23 RBI.
Ortiz miraculously had another spectacular season. The Twins non-tendered him more than a decade ago and no other teams claimed him. Boston decided to give him a chance in spring training. The rest, as they say, is documented, in various reports. Garrett Jones never really had a chance with the Twins since Jason Kubel was the DH, Justin Morneau was at 1B, Michael Cuddyer was in RF and Delmon Young was in LF. He had some good years with the Pirates, though not this year. Hardy had his injury-plagued season with the Twins, and I’m sure they’d love to have given him another shot. Punto remains one of baseball’s better fielders. He played all over that Dodgers infield this year. Valencia was up and down between AAA and the big leagues, but given a chance to play against left-handed pitching and came through.
Michael Cuddyer ($10.5M) – Colorado Rockies - .331/.389/.530 (.919) with 31 doubles, 20 homers and 84 RBI.
Torii Hunter ($12M) – Detroit Tigers - .304/.334/.465 (.800) with 37 doubles, 17 homers and 84 RBI.
Carlos Gomez ($4.3M) – Milwaukee Brewers - .284/.338/.500 (.843) with 27 doubles, 10 triples, 24 homers, 73 RBI, 40 SB.
Denard Span ($4.75M) – Washington Nationals - .279/.327/.380 (.707) with 28 doubles, 11 triples, 4 homers, 47 RBI, 20 SB.
Ben Revere ($0.515M) – Philadelphia Phillies - .305/.338/.352 (.691) with 9 doubles, 3 triples, 0 homers and 17 RBI.
Delmon Young ($1.2M) – Phillies/Rays - .260/.307/.407 (.715) with 16 doubles, 11 homers and 38 RBI.
I think it’s fair to say that some of those former Twins outfielders came through with big seasons. Cuddyer was healthy and won the NL Batting Title. Hunter continues to defy the aging process and hit well with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder hitting behind him. Gomez has finally put it all together, all those tremendous tools. He has become the five-tool talent that the Twins acquired from the Mets but didn’t see. Denard Span had a solid inaugural season with the Nationals, though it’s fair to assume he’ll want a higher on-base percentage. He did a great job of patrolling the team’s outfield, with no errors on the season. Revere got off to a very slow start in Philly, but after losing some playing time, he took off, and as things were getting really good, he unfortunately broke his foot and missed the rest of the season. Delmon Young wasn’t very good, but did show some power. The Phillies DFAd him, and he re-signed with the Rays.
Francisco Liriano ($1M + up to $3.75M in incentives) – Pittsburgh Pirates – 16-8, 3.02 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, 9.1 K/9
Kyle Lohse ($11M) – Milwaukee Brewers – 11-10, 3.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 1.6 BB/9, 5.7 K/9
RA Dickey ($5.5M) – Toronto Blue Jays – 14-13, 4.21 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 7.1 K/9
Matt Garza ($10.25M) – Cubs/Rangers – 10-6, 3.82 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, 7.9 K/9
Jason Marquis ($3M) – San Diego Padres – 9-5, 4.65 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 5.2 BB/9, 5.5 K/9
I’d say it is fair to say that Liriano exceeded all expectations in 2013 with the Pirates. Of course, we’ve seen this before. Liriano put up very similar numbers in 2010, so it will be interesting to see if Liriano has truly flipped a switch, or if he’s having another good year. Of course, he was set to make much more money, but it got reduced when he hurt his right arm scaring his kids. Lohse signed late, but he proved worth the contract, at least in its first year. Dickey came back down to earth a bit with his move to the American League, but he still ate a ton of innings. Garza has been really solid since coming up with the Twins in 2006, but he is yet to take that next step to be an Ace, yet.
Joe Nathan ($7M) – Texas Rangers – 6-2, 43 Saves, 1.39 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 10.2 K/9
Grant Balfour ($4.5M) – Oakland A’s – 1-3, 38 Saves, 2.59 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, 10.3 K/9
Craig Breslow ($2.325M) – Boston Red Sox – 5-2, 1.81 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 5.0 K/9
Jesse Crain ($4.5M) – Chicago White Sox – 2-3, 0.74 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 11.3 K/9
LaTroy Hawkins ($1M) – NY Mets – 3-2, 2.93 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 1.3 BB/9, 7.0 K/9
Pat Neshek ($0.975M) – Oakland A’s – 2-1, 3.35 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 6.5 K/9
Matt Guerrier ($3.75M) – Dodgers/Cubs – 4-4, 4.01 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, 6.3 K/9
Joe Nathan has completely returned from his Tommy John surgery at this point to be just as good as he was when he was younger. Balfour was hurt so often during his time with the Twins. He had Tommy John surgery and shoulder surgery within a two year time period. But he has come back strong, ten years later, and become and intimidating closer. Breslow has been one of baseball’s best left-handed relievers since his days with the Twins. Crain figured out something in May of 2010 and he has been as good as any reliever in the game since that time. He did miss the final three months of this season with shoulder problems. LaTroy Hawkins is another guy who defies age. He had his best season in years in 2013!
ALL FORMER TWINS LINEUP
Denard Span LF ($4.75M)
Carlos Gomez CF ($4.3M)
Michael Cuddyer 1B ($10.5M)
David Ortiz DH ($14M)
Torii Hunter RF ($12M)
JJ Hardy SS ($7M)
Danny Valencia 3B ($0.5M)
AJ Pierzynski C ($7.5M)
Nick Punto 2B ($1.5M)
Francisco Liriano SP ($1M)
Closer – Joe Nathan ($7M); RH Set-Up – Jesse Crain ($4.5M); LH Set-Up – Craig Breslow $2.325M).
Total salaries ($76.875 million) for 13 players.
Total salaries for the 25 player roster mentioned above? $123.565.
That’s a pretty impressive roster. I didn’t include Justin Morneau since he was only gone for a month. I didn’t include Jason Kubel, who made $7.5 million in 2013 and played horribly after a tremendous 2012 season. It didn’t include the $5 million that the Cubs gave to Scott Baker for three starts and 15 innings. It didn’t include Philip Humber, who went 0-8 with a 7.90 ERA before being DFAd by the Astros.
It’s fun for me to see former Twins players sticking around and being very successful with other organizations. There have been plenty to follow!