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  1. This part of the deep offseason can be full of a lot of downtime for baseball fans. Lucky enough for readers of this site, I have been offering up profiles of some of the worst players in the history of the Twins franchise. So far, the series has covered Butch Huskey, Rondell White, and Scott Klingenbeck. Huskey offered some entertaining moments in his brief Twins tenure. White had an All-Star career but his time in Minnesota was lacking. Klingenbeck showed some positive signs in the minor leagues before bottoming out at the big league level. In all three of the previous posts in this series, I have asked for readers to chime in with their picks for the worst Twins of all-time. This week's featured player got plenty of votes over the last couple weeks and it made it tough to ignore his terrible time with the Twins. Introducing, the latest installment in the "Worst Twins of All-Time Series"... Matt WalbeckWalbeck was drafted into the Chicago Cubs organization in 1987 as an eighth round pick. The California native joined the professional baseball ranks straight out of high school. For his first season in the minor leagues, he was only 17-years old and he did well in the rookie leagues. Over the next three seasons, he tried to find his swing at the Low-A level. After playing over 90 games in 1988 and 1989, he missed a chunk of time in 1990. An injury-plagued season meant he made it into only 25 contests but he was now 20-years old and it was time to move up. The Cubs consistently moved him for the next three seasons and he made his MLB debut in 1993. In 11 games with the Cubs, he hit .200/.226/.367 with one home run and two doubles. He had put together decent numbers in back-to-back years in the minors so there was some hope for the future. The Twins liked what they saw in his minor league numbers and they traded for Walbeck and Dave Stevens in exchange for Willie Banks. Walbeck became the team's primary catcher over the next two seasons by playing in 97 and 115 games. There were some struggles at the plate as he tried to adjust to being a full-time player at the big league level. In 1994, Walbeck hit .204/.246/.284 with 17 extra-base hits over 359 plate appearances. Not exactly the best start for the Twins' new backstop. He made some adjustments for the 1995 season and he compiled some of his best numbers as a professional. His 115 games played were a career high and he batted .257/.302/.316. It was the only season of his career where he compiled over 100 hits. The 1996 season was the last for Walbeck in a Twins uniform. He lost the designation as the primary catcher to Greg Myers and he still struggled to make consistent contact. At the end of that season, he was hitting .223/.252/.298 and it was time for the Twins to part ways with Walbeck. During the offseason, the Twins sent Walbeck to the Tigers for Brent Stentz. It was an interesting journey for Walbeck during the rest of his career. The Tigers used him sparingly during the '97 season before being sent to the Angels in a deal that included future Twins player Phil Nevin. He made it into over 100 games in the next two seasons and put up numbers that were higher than his career average. His career ended in 2003 after spending his last two professional seasons back with the Detroit Tigers. There were plenty of problems in those last couple years for a catcher with a lot of miles on his knees. His last season he batted .174/.197/.239 with six extra-base hits in 144 at-bats. Walbeck makes this list of all-time worst Twins because of his ineptitude in the batter's box. He had a negative WAR in all three seasons with Minnesota and this added up to a -2.0 WAR for his Twins tenure. In all three seasons, he hit .230/.271/.300 but there were some positives on the defensive side of the ball. He had a positive defensive WAR in each of his three years and he led the AL in base runners caught in 1994. Since his retirement, Walbeck has turned his attention to being a manager. He got his first job with the Low-A Tigers affiliate and he guided them to the 2004 Midwest League title. His team would again win the Midwest League in 2006 and it was time for a promotion. He was bumped up to the Tigers Double-A affiliate, the Erie SeaWolves, in 2007 and things really took off from there. The Eastern League named him Manager of the Year for 2007, a great honor for the former catcher. He was also named 2007 Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America. Following that season, the Texas Rangers hired him as third base coach. This job would be short-lived, as the club fired him after one season in the position. He landed back on his feet with the Pirates organization 2009. He was sent back to a familiar league, the Eastern League, to resume his managerial career. He drove the Altoona Curve to the 2010 championship and he was named EL Manager of the Year for the second time. In a surprise move, the club fired him after the season. It seemed there were some disagreements about his managerial style. His most recent coaching job was with the Rome Braves, an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves organization. He led them to a terrible first half record and he was fired in the middle of the season. This was the first time the Rome Braves had made a midseason change at manager. Walbeck now runs the Walbeck Baseball Academy in California. With only a few more weeks until pitchers and catchers report, who else do you want to see profiled? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  2. Walbeck was drafted into the Chicago Cubs organization in 1987 as an eighth round pick. The California native joined the professional baseball ranks straight out of high school. For his first season in the minor leagues, he was only 17-years old and he did well in the rookie leagues. Over the next three seasons, he tried to find his swing at the Low-A level. After playing over 90 games in 1988 and 1989, he missed a chunk of time in 1990. An injury-plagued season meant he made it into only 25 contests but he was now 20-years old and it was time to move up. The Cubs consistently moved him for the next three seasons and he made his MLB debut in 1993. In 11 games with the Cubs, he hit .200/.226/.367 with one home run and two doubles. He had put together decent numbers in back-to-back years in the minors so there was some hope for the future. The Twins liked what they saw in his minor league numbers and they traded for Walbeck and Dave Stevens in exchange for Willie Banks. Walbeck became the team's primary catcher over the next two seasons by playing in 97 and 115 games. There were some struggles at the plate as he tried to adjust to being a full-time player at the big league level. In 1994, Walbeck hit .204/.246/.284 with 17 extra-base hits over 359 plate appearances. Not exactly the best start for the Twins' new backstop. He made some adjustments for the 1995 season and he compiled some of his best numbers as a professional. His 115 games played were a career high and he batted .257/.302/.316. It was the only season of his career where he compiled over 100 hits. The 1996 season was the last for Walbeck in a Twins uniform. He lost the designation as the primary catcher to Greg Myers and he still struggled to make consistent contact. At the end of that season, he was hitting .223/.252/.298 and it was time for the Twins to part ways with Walbeck. During the offseason, the Twins sent Walbeck to the Tigers for Brent Stentz. It was an interesting journey for Walbeck during the rest of his career. The Tigers used him sparingly during the '97 season before being sent to the Angels in a deal that included future Twins player Phil Nevin. He made it into over 100 games in the next two seasons and put up numbers that were higher than his career average. His career ended in 2003 after spending his last two professional seasons back with the Detroit Tigers. There were plenty of problems in those last couple years for a catcher with a lot of miles on his knees. His last season he batted .174/.197/.239 with six extra-base hits in 144 at-bats. Walbeck makes this list of all-time worst Twins because of his ineptitude in the batter's box. He had a negative WAR in all three seasons with Minnesota and this added up to a -2.0 WAR for his Twins tenure. In all three seasons, he hit .230/.271/.300 but there were some positives on the defensive side of the ball. He had a positive defensive WAR in each of his three years and he led the AL in base runners caught in 1994. Since his retirement, Walbeck has turned his attention to being a manager. He got his first job with the Low-A Tigers affiliate and he guided them to the 2004 Midwest League title. His team would again win the Midwest League in 2006 and it was time for a promotion. He was bumped up to the Tigers Double-A affiliate, the Erie SeaWolves, in 2007 and things really took off from there. The Eastern League named him Manager of the Year for 2007, a great honor for the former catcher. He was also named 2007 Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America. Following that season, the Texas Rangers hired him as third base coach. This job would be short-lived, as the club fired him after one season in the position. He landed back on his feet with the Pirates organization 2009. He was sent back to a familiar league, the Eastern League, to resume his managerial career. He drove the Altoona Curve to the 2010 championship and he was named EL Manager of the Year for the second time. In a surprise move, the club fired him after the season. It seemed there were some disagreements about his managerial style. His most recent coaching job was with the Rome Braves, an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves organization. He led them to a terrible first half record and he was fired in the middle of the season. This was the first time the Rome Braves had made a midseason change at manager. Walbeck now runs the Walbeck Baseball Academy in California. With only a few more weeks until pitchers and catchers report, who else do you want to see profiled? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  3. The Baltimore Orioles drafted Scott Klingenbeck in the fifth round of the 1992 amateur draft. His college experience helped him to travel quickly through their farm system. He pitched well in the low minor leagues and he made his debut during the 1994 season. In that game, he threw seven innings and allowed three earned runs to earn the victory. Klingenbeck had a strong start to the 1995 season at the Triple-A level for the Orioles. He posted a 2.72 ERA and a 3-1 record. This left the club little choice but to call him up during the middle months of the season. There were a few bumps in the road on his return to the big leagues. His ERA jumped to 4.88 and he posted a 1.596 WHIP over five starts. This was only be the beginning of the bad. The Twins traded for Klingenbeck at the beginning of July in the deal that sent Scott Erickson to the Orioles. Erickson hadn't been able to regain his form from the first couple of years in the big leagues. He was only 27-years old but the Twins wanted to get some younger prospects for him. Klingenbeck had looked good during his minor league career but things would quickly go south in Minnesota. He made 18 appearances with the Twins in 1995 including four starts for the club. His ERA was a hefty 8.57 with an ugly 1.924 WHIP. He didn't exactly have control of his pitches as he walked 24 batters, hit four batters, and had five wild pitches over 48.1 innings. It was beginning to look like the Twins had given up a king's ransom to acquire a lackluster pitcher. For the start of the 1996 season, the Twins sent Klingenbeck back to the minor leagues to try to find himself. He improved by posting a 3.11 ERA and a 9-3 record over 22 starts. By the middle of the season, the Twins needed some help at the big league level and Klingenbeck was the guy. He struggled again with the transition and posted a 7.85 ERA and a 1.814 WHIP. This was his last trip to the big leagues with the Twins. At the start of the next season, Klingenbeck was sent back to the Triple-A. The Twins dumped him on Cincinnati, his hometown team, as part of a conditional deal. He got one more brief taste of the majors in 1998 and he looked a little better with an ERA close to 6.00 and a 1.456 WHIP. The next year was his last in professional baseball before retiring in 1999. Klingenbeck's numbers in the minor leagues made it seem that he could be able to transition into at least a back of the rotation starter. That was one of the reasons the Twins traded for him but this hope never came to fruition. His time in the Twins organization translated to a 1-3 record, an 8.30 ERA, and a 1.883 WHIP. He also put together a -1.7 WAR in his Twins tenure. Following his professional baseball career, Klingenbeck opened a sports bar and grill in Cincinnati. That venue is no longer open but it sounds like it was a decent place to eat. In the end, Klingenbeck will be more remembered as the man the Twins got back for Scott Erickson because his time in a Twins uniform was very unmemorable... What other players should be featured in this series? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  4. Before the start of the 2000 season, the Twins were looking to add a player with DH experience. They threw half a million dollars at Huskey and gave him the role. The 28-year old had spent multiple seasons with the Mets before coming to the AL to play with Seattle and Boston. The Twins had a young David Ortiz who would also be fighting for at-bats at DH but the experience factor mattered for Minnesota. Huskey was a career .268/.313/.437 hitter and he averaged 13 home runs a season before joining the Twins. He had a couple of seasons where he hit 20 home runs and the Mariners gave him a contract for over $1 million in 1999. He would last less than a season with Seattle before being dealt to the Red Sox. Huskey was traded for Robert Ramsay, a left-handed relief pitcher who would only pitch parts of two big league seasons. During the 2000 season, Huskey made it into 64 games for the Twins and he hit .223/.306/.353 in 215 at-bats. He had 13 doubles and five home runs while playing 36 games at DH, 15 games in RF, and nine games at first base. His best offensive performance might have been a 3-for-4 game on April 20th when he had a double, a home run, and two runs scored. This was in the middle of a seven game hitting streak for the DH. In his last ten games with the Twins, he didn't get a single hit and he ended his Twins tenure with a -1.1 WAR. As mentioned before, Huskey was brought in to serve as an experienced DH with the club. David Ortiz would actually finish the season as the Twins primary DH. On Opening Day, it was Huskey batting clean-up for the club with Ortiz not in the line-up. 2000 Opening Day Line-Up 1. Todd Walker, 2B 2. Christian Guzman, SS 3. Matt Lawton, RF 4. Butch Huskey, DH 5. Corey Koskie, 3B 6. Ron Coomer, 1B 7. Jacque Jones, LF 8. Matt LeCroy, C 9. Torii Hunter, CF In an interesting bit of trivia, Huskey would become one of the last players in franchise history to wear the number 42. Major League Baseball had retired the number to honor Jackie Robinson and his contributions to the game. All of the players that were already wearing the number got grandfathered in and they could continue to have the #42 on their backs. Huskey wore the number as a tribute to Robinson before having to switch away from it with the Rockies. With Ortiz starting to get more playing time at DH and Huskey not exactly performing well, the Twins sent him to the Rockies along with Todd Walker. The Twins got back Todd Sears and cash from Colorado to complete the deal. It was starting to look like the beginning of the end for Mr. Huskey. He finished out the rest of his MLB career with the Rockies during the last few months of the 2000 campaign. Huskey improved his batting numbers to .348/.432/.565 along with 12 extra-base hits in 45 games. In 2001, he spent the entire year at the Triple-A level for the Rockies before deciding to call it a career. One of the more entertaining moments in the career of Butch Huskey happened at the Metrodome. Pay special attention to the futuristic jerseys that each club is wearing. Sorry for the quality of the video but it was the best that is available.While Huskey's Twins tenure was lacking length, there is no shortage of other players who have struggled for longer (and shorter) times for the Twins. Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion about who else should be covered in this series.
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