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  1. A.J. Pierzynski has not been a Minnesota Twins player in 20 years, but the team he was drafted by is still reaping the rewards of his return thanks to a favorable trade lineage the Twins have had in that time frame. Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn, USA Today Sports A.J. Pierzynski is a complicated player in Twins' history. He played a big part in keeping the Twins here and was an all-star catcher on the 2002 team that won the division and beat the Moneyball Oakland A’s. Over the course of his six seasons as a Twin, he spent half that time as the starting catcher, hitting .301 with 26 home runs and 193 runs batted in. Pierzynski’s promise to continue as an all-star catcher was there going into the 2003-2004 offseason, but the Twins had a local kid named Joe Mauer, that had much more to offer for the team’s future. On November 14, 2003, the Twins took into favor the promise of Mauer and shipped Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser. Pierzynski had a one-and-done year with the Giants and signed with the White Sox the next off-season. The Twins, however, are still reaping the benefits of acquiring these three pitchers as their acquisition of Liriano brought forth the opportunity to bring Jhoan Duran into the Twins organization. Nathan needs no reminder of his impact on the Twins. Not only did he become the best closer in franchise history but also one of baseball's best relievers of the 2000s. Bonser was a cult hero with the Twins as a rookie in 2006 making 18 starts and finding success at home in the Metrodome. The success of his rookie year was short-lived as it never carried over into the next two seasons. Bonser spent 2007 as the Twins fifth starter and split time between the rotation and bullpen in 2008. Following an injury that kept him out all of the 2009 season. The Twins flipped Bonser to the Red Sox for minor-leaguer Chris Province who was out of baseball after one year between Double-A and Triple-A. Then there is Liriano, the key figure of this trade and the leg of the trade that lives on today. Liriano was a staple to the Twins' rotation until the 2012 trade deadline. While he was struggling to be consistent at that time after his 2006 Tommy John surgery, the White Sox still called the Twins, seeing value in the lefty. In return for Liriano, the Twins received LHP Pedro Hernandez and infielder Eduardo Escobar. Hernandez was around for the 2013 season with the Twins making 14 forgettable starts and accounting for a 6.83 ERA on the season. He went 8-3 over 16 starts for the Saints in 2015. Escobar didn’t immediately become the player that most Twins fans remember him. Once he became an everyday player for the Twins in 2014, that’s when fans began to notice him as a utility infielder that could certainly help this team flourish. Escobar’s time as a Twin was most memorable in the 2017 Wild Card season when he hit 21 home runs, drove in 73 runs, and posted a career-high (at the time) with a .758 OPS. As Escobar built off his success in 2017 the next year, the Twins were not able to do so as a team seeing themselves as sellers during the 2018 trade deadline. On July 27, 2018, the Twins traded Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks and in return received a couple of outfield prospects and a pitcher named Duran. Jhoan. Duran. While Jhoan Duran worked his way through the minors as a starting pitcher. In 2022, Twins fans came to know Duran as their best rookie and best reliever. His time with the Twins looks to be certain until he is eligible for free agency in 2028. A lot can still happen between now and then though. There is a possibility the Twins continue growing branches of this trade history lineage tree, in hopes a player of Duran, Escobar, Liriano, or Nathan’s caliber is received in return. View full article
  2. A.J. Pierzynski is a complicated player in Twins' history. He played a big part in keeping the Twins here and was an all-star catcher on the 2002 team that won the division and beat the Moneyball Oakland A’s. Over the course of his six seasons as a Twin, he spent half that time as the starting catcher, hitting .301 with 26 home runs and 193 runs batted in. Pierzynski’s promise to continue as an all-star catcher was there going into the 2003-2004 offseason, but the Twins had a local kid named Joe Mauer, that had much more to offer for the team’s future. On November 14, 2003, the Twins took into favor the promise of Mauer and shipped Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser. Pierzynski had a one-and-done year with the Giants and signed with the White Sox the next off-season. The Twins, however, are still reaping the benefits of acquiring these three pitchers as their acquisition of Liriano brought forth the opportunity to bring Jhoan Duran into the Twins organization. Nathan needs no reminder of his impact on the Twins. Not only did he become the best closer in franchise history but also one of baseball's best relievers of the 2000s. Bonser was a cult hero with the Twins as a rookie in 2006 making 18 starts and finding success at home in the Metrodome. The success of his rookie year was short-lived as it never carried over into the next two seasons. Bonser spent 2007 as the Twins fifth starter and split time between the rotation and bullpen in 2008. Following an injury that kept him out all of the 2009 season. The Twins flipped Bonser to the Red Sox for minor-leaguer Chris Province who was out of baseball after one year between Double-A and Triple-A. Then there is Liriano, the key figure of this trade and the leg of the trade that lives on today. Liriano was a staple to the Twins' rotation until the 2012 trade deadline. While he was struggling to be consistent at that time after his 2006 Tommy John surgery, the White Sox still called the Twins, seeing value in the lefty. In return for Liriano, the Twins received LHP Pedro Hernandez and infielder Eduardo Escobar. Hernandez was around for the 2013 season with the Twins making 14 forgettable starts and accounting for a 6.83 ERA on the season. He went 8-3 over 16 starts for the Saints in 2015. Escobar didn’t immediately become the player that most Twins fans remember him. Once he became an everyday player for the Twins in 2014, that’s when fans began to notice him as a utility infielder that could certainly help this team flourish. Escobar’s time as a Twin was most memorable in the 2017 Wild Card season when he hit 21 home runs, drove in 73 runs, and posted a career-high (at the time) with a .758 OPS. As Escobar built off his success in 2017 the next year, the Twins were not able to do so as a team seeing themselves as sellers during the 2018 trade deadline. On July 27, 2018, the Twins traded Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks and in return received a couple of outfield prospects and a pitcher named Duran. Jhoan. Duran. While Jhoan Duran worked his way through the minors as a starting pitcher. In 2022, Twins fans came to know Duran as their best rookie and best reliever. His time with the Twins looks to be certain until he is eligible for free agency in 2028. A lot can still happen between now and then though. There is a possibility the Twins continue growing branches of this trade history lineage tree, in hopes a player of Duran, Escobar, Liriano, or Nathan’s caliber is received in return.
  3. Jhoan Duran has put himself on the map during his rookie season with a seemingly unhittable repertoire of pitches. Where does his best pitch rank among the top pitches in Twins' history? Baseball continues to evolve as technology and training regimens allow players to reach levels never previously imagined. Pitchers can put an unprecedented spin on their offerings while reaching higher velocity levels. Here are some of the most dominant pitches in team history. Jhoan Duran's Splinker Earlier this week, Jhoan Duran became the first player in MLB history to throw an off-speed pitch over 100 mph. Boston's Xander Bogaert's left the batter's box after being utterly baffled by what he had just seen from Duran. His triple-digit fastball helps to set up his dominant off-speed offering. In his rookie season, Duran has posted an 11.6 K/9 while limiting walks (2.1 BB/9) and compiling a 201 ERA+. It's hard to fathom where the 2022 Twins would be without Duran. He is in his first year transitioning to a relief pitcher and has been the team's most reliable bullpen option for most of the season. Johan Santana's Changeup Johan Santana learned his dominant changeup after joining the Twins organization and used the pitch to become one of baseball's most dominant pitchers. He won two Cy Young Awards and should have earned a third if the voters did value wins in 2004. From 2004-2006, he led the AL in strikeouts, WHIP, K/9, ERA+, and FIP. An argument can be made that Santana deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but injuries shortened his career. Francisco Liriano's Slider Johan Santana won the 2006 AL Cy Young, but he wasn't even the best pitcher in the Twins rotation in the season's first half. Francisco Liriano started the year in Minnesota's bullpen and eventually entered the rotation. In 28 appearances, he posted a 2.16 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP and 144 strikeouts across 121 innings. It seemed like the Twins would have a dominant one-two punch for the playoffs, but Liriano's elbow didn't hold up. Tommy John surgery forced him to the sideline until 2008, and he never reached his previous level of dominance. Bert Blyleven's Curveball One of the first dominant pitches in franchise history was Bert Blyleven's curveball. As a 19-year-old, he burst onto the scene and played part of 11 seasons in a Twins uniform, including the 1987 World Series squad. Blyleven played in an era when strikeouts were not as prominent, but his longevity allowed him to compile 3,701 strikeouts for his career. Even if it's hard to compare Blyleven's curveball to some of the pitches mentioned above, he used this pitch to orchestrate a Hall of Fame career. There are many ways one can attempt to rank these pitches, from overpowering to strikeout totals. Santana gets the top spot because he dominated baseball for multiple seasons, with his changeup being a strikeout weapon. Duran's splinker is nearly impossible to hit, especially considering its velocity and movement. When it comes to Liriano, he had a chance to top this list if his peak had lasted more than a partial season. Blyleven's curveball was a good pitch, but even he tended to leave one over the plate. Pitch Ranking 1. Santana's Change-Up 2. Duran's Splinker 3. Liriano's Slider 4. Blyleven's Curveball How would you rank the pitches listed above? Would you add anyone else to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  4. Baseball continues to evolve as technology and training regimens allow players to reach levels never previously imagined. Pitchers can put an unprecedented spin on their offerings while reaching higher velocity levels. Here are some of the most dominant pitches in team history. Jhoan Duran's Splinker Earlier this week, Jhoan Duran became the first player in MLB history to throw an off-speed pitch over 100 mph. Boston's Xander Bogaert's left the batter's box after being utterly baffled by what he had just seen from Duran. His triple-digit fastball helps to set up his dominant off-speed offering. In his rookie season, Duran has posted an 11.6 K/9 while limiting walks (2.1 BB/9) and compiling a 201 ERA+. It's hard to fathom where the 2022 Twins would be without Duran. He is in his first year transitioning to a relief pitcher and has been the team's most reliable bullpen option for most of the season. Johan Santana's Changeup Johan Santana learned his dominant changeup after joining the Twins organization and used the pitch to become one of baseball's most dominant pitchers. He won two Cy Young Awards and should have earned a third if the voters did value wins in 2004. From 2004-2006, he led the AL in strikeouts, WHIP, K/9, ERA+, and FIP. An argument can be made that Santana deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but injuries shortened his career. Francisco Liriano's Slider Johan Santana won the 2006 AL Cy Young, but he wasn't even the best pitcher in the Twins rotation in the season's first half. Francisco Liriano started the year in Minnesota's bullpen and eventually entered the rotation. In 28 appearances, he posted a 2.16 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP and 144 strikeouts across 121 innings. It seemed like the Twins would have a dominant one-two punch for the playoffs, but Liriano's elbow didn't hold up. Tommy John surgery forced him to the sideline until 2008, and he never reached his previous level of dominance. Bert Blyleven's Curveball One of the first dominant pitches in franchise history was Bert Blyleven's curveball. As a 19-year-old, he burst onto the scene and played part of 11 seasons in a Twins uniform, including the 1987 World Series squad. Blyleven played in an era when strikeouts were not as prominent, but his longevity allowed him to compile 3,701 strikeouts for his career. Even if it's hard to compare Blyleven's curveball to some of the pitches mentioned above, he used this pitch to orchestrate a Hall of Fame career. There are many ways one can attempt to rank these pitches, from overpowering to strikeout totals. Santana gets the top spot because he dominated baseball for multiple seasons, with his changeup being a strikeout weapon. Duran's splinker is nearly impossible to hit, especially considering its velocity and movement. When it comes to Liriano, he had a chance to top this list if his peak had lasted more than a partial season. Blyleven's curveball was a good pitch, but even he tended to leave one over the plate. Pitch Ranking 1. Santana's Change-Up 2. Duran's Splinker 3. Liriano's Slider 4. Blyleven's Curveball How would you rank the pitches listed above? Would you add anyone else to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. The Twins are no strangers to having rookies on the verge of becoming superstar players go down for a long stretch of the season due to injury. The latest of this collective is Twins top prospect Royce Lewis. Today it was announced by manager Rocco Baldelli that Lewis has a partial tear to the same ACL he injured in February of 2021. The surgery will keep Lewis out until the middle of next season at the earliest. With the news of Lewis out for another year, Twins Daily will take a look back at lauded Twins rookies that have had career set back by major injuries. Here are three other former Twins superstars that found themselves in the same boat as Lewis has today. Joe Mauer, 2004 Left Medial Meniscus Joe Mauer was no stranger to IL stints throughout his career. Most famously Mauer landed his first stint on the IL during his second game as he tore the left medial meniscus in his knee which forced him out until June of 2004. Mauer returned only for a month with the Twins until the knee injury forced him out for the season. This would only be the beginning of many knee injuries that would set back Mauer throughout his career. But the injury did not keep Mauer from becoming one of the best catchers in his generation that set him on a hall of fame trajectory. Twins fans do not need much of a reminder on where Mauer's career went following this injury. He still lived up to the potential of his career and did not start to experience decline in his performance until 2014 during his age 31 season and full-time move to first base. Francisco Liriano, 2006 Tommy John Talk about an extensive injury that kept a player out longer than expected. Francisco Liriano looked to be the second coming of Johan Santana during his 2006 rookie campaign, posting a 2.16 ERA in 16 starts. But he strained his ulnar collateral ligament midyear, ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery and was on the shelf until 2008. Today, pitchers receiving their first Tommy John Surgery usually recover quicker than Liriano did at the time, but it still kept a promising future star for the Twins rotation on the shelf for a year and a half, and Liriano never turned into the next Santana. Liriano still had a few solid seasons with the Twins in 2008 and 2010, and rebounded with more success later with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2013-15. Even with later success, Liriano never met his full potential after that first Tommy John surgery. Jason Kubel, 2004 Knee Injury Jason Kubel had a delay to the start of his MLB career just like Royce Lewis. After appearing in 23 games with the Twins in 2004, Kubel found himself in the Arizona Fall League playing every day. That was until he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss all of the 2005 season. The injury set back Kubel's chances to play for the Twins full time until 2006 when he found himself as a backup outfielder to Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, and Lew Ford. Then in 2007, Kubel finally had his breakout season with the Twins as an everyday outfielder hitting 20 home runs, driving in 72 runs, hitting .272 with a .785 OPS. Kubel's best years were only ahead of him with the Twins following the 2005 injury. Kubel was arguably the most crucial bat in the Twins lineup behind Mauer and Morneau from 2008-2011. He hit an average of 20 home runs, 83 RBI, a .340 on-base percentage, and .810 OPS over that time span. Kubel's knee injury that kept him out all of 2005 still could have dented a lot of potential he had for the Twins over the years. Commonalities Even with these injuries dealt to such great players, Mauer, Kubel, and Liriano all found success in the latter half of their careers to some degree. Does this mean the second ACL tear to Lewis could set him back even further with his potential like it did for those who came before him? It’s too early to tell. Lewis just turned 23 last Sunday but will likely be 24 by the time he returns from this injury. Both Mauer and Liriano were younger than Lewis was during the time of their injuries in their career and still turned into all-star level players after those injuries. For now, Twins fans can still hope for a great season even without their top prospect playing until next year.
  6. Royce Lewis has once again torn his ACL and will be shut down for the remainder of the 2022 season. The Twins are no strangers to a history of superstar players taking major injuries just as it is their turn to shine. Here is a look back at some of those cases for the Twins in recent memory. The Twins are no strangers to having rookies on the verge of becoming superstar players go down for a long stretch of the season due to injury. The latest of this collective is Twins top prospect Royce Lewis. Today it was announced by manager Rocco Baldelli that Lewis has a partial tear to the same ACL he injured in February of 2021. The surgery will keep Lewis out until the middle of next season at the earliest. With the news of Lewis out for another year, Twins Daily will take a look back at lauded Twins rookies that have had career set back by major injuries. Here are three other former Twins superstars that found themselves in the same boat as Lewis has today. Joe Mauer, 2004 Left Medial Meniscus Joe Mauer was no stranger to IL stints throughout his career. Most famously Mauer landed his first stint on the IL during his second game as he tore the left medial meniscus in his knee which forced him out until June of 2004. Mauer returned only for a month with the Twins until the knee injury forced him out for the season. This would only be the beginning of many knee injuries that would set back Mauer throughout his career. But the injury did not keep Mauer from becoming one of the best catchers in his generation that set him on a hall of fame trajectory. Twins fans do not need much of a reminder on where Mauer's career went following this injury. He still lived up to the potential of his career and did not start to experience decline in his performance until 2014 during his age 31 season and full-time move to first base. Francisco Liriano, 2006 Tommy John Talk about an extensive injury that kept a player out longer than expected. Francisco Liriano looked to be the second coming of Johan Santana during his 2006 rookie campaign, posting a 2.16 ERA in 16 starts. But he strained his ulnar collateral ligament midyear, ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery and was on the shelf until 2008. Today, pitchers receiving their first Tommy John Surgery usually recover quicker than Liriano did at the time, but it still kept a promising future star for the Twins rotation on the shelf for a year and a half, and Liriano never turned into the next Santana. Liriano still had a few solid seasons with the Twins in 2008 and 2010, and rebounded with more success later with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2013-15. Even with later success, Liriano never met his full potential after that first Tommy John surgery. Jason Kubel, 2004 Knee Injury Jason Kubel had a delay to the start of his MLB career just like Royce Lewis. After appearing in 23 games with the Twins in 2004, Kubel found himself in the Arizona Fall League playing every day. That was until he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss all of the 2005 season. The injury set back Kubel's chances to play for the Twins full time until 2006 when he found himself as a backup outfielder to Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, and Lew Ford. Then in 2007, Kubel finally had his breakout season with the Twins as an everyday outfielder hitting 20 home runs, driving in 72 runs, hitting .272 with a .785 OPS. Kubel's best years were only ahead of him with the Twins following the 2005 injury. Kubel was arguably the most crucial bat in the Twins lineup behind Mauer and Morneau from 2008-2011. He hit an average of 20 home runs, 83 RBI, a .340 on-base percentage, and .810 OPS over that time span. Kubel's knee injury that kept him out all of 2005 still could have dented a lot of potential he had for the Twins over the years. Commonalities Even with these injuries dealt to such great players, Mauer, Kubel, and Liriano all found success in the latter half of their careers to some degree. Does this mean the second ACL tear to Lewis could set him back even further with his potential like it did for those who came before him? It’s too early to tell. Lewis just turned 23 last Sunday but will likely be 24 by the time he returns from this injury. Both Mauer and Liriano were younger than Lewis was during the time of their injuries in their career and still turned into all-star level players after those injuries. For now, Twins fans can still hope for a great season even without their top prospect playing until next year. View full article
  7. April can be challenging for batters and pitchers with cold weather and other adverse conditions. These pitchers posted impressive numbers even if those numbers didn't translate to the rest of the season. Here are the top-4 Aprils for starting pitchers in Twins history. 4. Bill Krueger (1992): 4 GS, 32.0 IP, 0.84 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 16 K, 4 BB, 0.99 WPA Bill Krueger is probably a very unfamiliar name to younger Twins fans, but he got off to a tremendous start to the 1992 season. Minnesota was coming off a World Series title, and they wanted to start the season on the right foot. During his first four starts, batters hit .165/.195/.220 (.415) against him as he pounded the strike zone. He picked up the win in all four appearances, but his fifth win didn't come until May 24. He'd pitch closer to his career totals over the next few months, and in August, the Twins traded him to the Montreal Expos for outfielder Darren Reed. 3. Francisco Liriano (2010): 4 GS, 29.0 IP, 0.93 ERA, 0.97 WHP, 27 K, 10 BB, 1.02 WPA The 2010 season was a special time in Minnesota as Target Field opened, and the Twins played to packed home crowds that entire season. Liriano got out of the gate quickly as he averaged more than seven innings per start that month and his three earned runs all came in his first start. He collected over 200 strikeouts by season's end while leading the AL in HR/9. After the calendar turned to May, his ERA quickly started going in the wrong direction, but he pitched close to 200 innings and helped the Twins win the AL Central title. 2. Joe Ryan (2022): 4 GS, 23.0 IP, 1.17 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 25 K, 6 BB, 0.92 WPA Starting pitching continues to evolve, and Ryan is one of the biggest success stories of the current regime. His 0.6 fWAR ranks in the top-20 among all starters, and he leads all of baseball in H/9. All of the runs scored against him have come off two home runs in his first two outings. He's also showing he can rely less on his fastball as he used it over 65% of the time last season, and he is down to 52% in 2022. It's doubtful for Ryan to keep these numbers for an entire season, but his performance level is far above what one would expect from a rookie. 1. Ervin Santana (2017): 5 GS, 35.0 IP, 0.77 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 26 K, 10 BB, 1.44 WPA Santana's tenure with the Twins didn't end ideally, so fans may forget how dominant he was at the beginning of the 2017 season. He averaged seven innings per start and pitched a complete game shutout in his third appearance of the year. Even though this is only five seasons ago, it seems like a lifetime when looking at Santana averaging 100 pitches per start. Later in the season, he was named to his second and final All-Star team. He led all baseball with five complete games and three shutouts, and he finished seventh in the AL Cy Young voting. How would you rank these players' April performances? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  8. Joe Ryan just finished a fantastic month of April, where he ranks near the top of the AL in multiple pitching categories. Where does his first month rank against other terrific starts in Twins history? April can be challenging for batters and pitchers with cold weather and other adverse conditions. These pitchers posted impressive numbers even if those numbers didn't translate to the rest of the season. Here are the top-4 Aprils for starting pitchers in Twins history. 4. Bill Krueger (1992): 4 GS, 32.0 IP, 0.84 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 16 K, 4 BB, 0.99 WPA Bill Krueger is probably a very unfamiliar name to younger Twins fans, but he got off to a tremendous start to the 1992 season. Minnesota was coming off a World Series title, and they wanted to start the season on the right foot. During his first four starts, batters hit .165/.195/.220 (.415) against him as he pounded the strike zone. He picked up the win in all four appearances, but his fifth win didn't come until May 24. He'd pitch closer to his career totals over the next few months, and in August, the Twins traded him to the Montreal Expos for outfielder Darren Reed. 3. Francisco Liriano (2010): 4 GS, 29.0 IP, 0.93 ERA, 0.97 WHP, 27 K, 10 BB, 1.02 WPA The 2010 season was a special time in Minnesota as Target Field opened, and the Twins played to packed home crowds that entire season. Liriano got out of the gate quickly as he averaged more than seven innings per start that month and his three earned runs all came in his first start. He collected over 200 strikeouts by season's end while leading the AL in HR/9. After the calendar turned to May, his ERA quickly started going in the wrong direction, but he pitched close to 200 innings and helped the Twins win the AL Central title. 2. Joe Ryan (2022): 4 GS, 23.0 IP, 1.17 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 25 K, 6 BB, 0.92 WPA Starting pitching continues to evolve, and Ryan is one of the biggest success stories of the current regime. His 0.6 fWAR ranks in the top-20 among all starters, and he leads all of baseball in H/9. All of the runs scored against him have come off two home runs in his first two outings. He's also showing he can rely less on his fastball as he used it over 65% of the time last season, and he is down to 52% in 2022. It's doubtful for Ryan to keep these numbers for an entire season, but his performance level is far above what one would expect from a rookie. 1. Ervin Santana (2017): 5 GS, 35.0 IP, 0.77 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 26 K, 10 BB, 1.44 WPA Santana's tenure with the Twins didn't end ideally, so fans may forget how dominant he was at the beginning of the 2017 season. He averaged seven innings per start and pitched a complete game shutout in his third appearance of the year. Even though this is only five seasons ago, it seems like a lifetime when looking at Santana averaging 100 pitches per start. Later in the season, he was named to his second and final All-Star team. He led all baseball with five complete games and three shutouts, and he finished seventh in the AL Cy Young voting. How would you rank these players' April performances? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  9. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes explore the most memorable moments of the 2005 season: Johan Santana unfairly losing the Cy Young to Bartolo Colon, Kyle Lohse infamously taking a baseball bat to manager Ron Gardenhire's door, Carlos Silva's minimalist complete game, and more.
  10. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes explore the most memorable moments of the 2005 season: Johan Santana unfairly losing the Cy Young to Bartolo Colon, Kyle Lohse infamously taking a baseball bat to manager Ron Gardenhire's door, Carlos Silva's minimalist complete game, and more. View full video
  11. Baseball America became the first place to rank prospects on a national level in 1990. Since that time, other national outlets like Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com have also grown in popularity. The top-5 prospects in Twins history were all considered among baseball's top-10 prospects at some point in their professional careers. 5. Francisco Liriano Top-100 Peak: 6 Liriano came to the Twins in one most lopsided trade in franchise history. He was a top-100 prospect entering the 2003 season, but his 2005 minor league campaign put him on the prospect map. As a 21-year-old, he posted a 2.63 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 11 SO/9 at Double- and Triple-A. He was electric at the beginning of his career as he was an All-Star in 2006. Unfortunately, his elbow gave out, and he missed the end of 2006 and all of 2007. Some have argued the 2006 Twins had a chance to win the World Series with Johan Santana and Liriano at the top of the rotation. 4. Royce Lewis Top-100 Peak: 5 Expectations are high for any player taken with the first overall pick. After a .788 OPS in his pro debut, Lewis was a consensus top-30 prospect. His 2018 performance moved him even higher as he posted an .803 OPS at Low- and High-A. Unfortunately, Lewis struggled through parts of the 2019 season, and he hasn’t played a professional game since that year. A knee injury took away his 2021 season on the heels of the pandemic canceling the 2020 campaign. His stock has dropped this winter as many evaluators have moved him off top-100 lists. Now, he will have plenty to prove when the lockout finally ends. 3. Miguel Sano Top-100 Peak: 4 Sano may or may not have lived up to his expectations, but he was clearly among the best prospects in Twins history. He appeared on national top-100 lists for five consecutive offseasons, and multiple lists included him as a top-15 prospect for consecutive seasons. Sano was an easy prospect to be intrigued by with light-tower power and a .932 OPS throughout his minor league career. His big-league career has had ups and downs, but the power he showcased as a prospect has been his greatest tool. He has the 12th most home runs in franchise history, and seven home runs this season will move him into the top-10. His .491 slugging percentage only ranks behind Harmon Killebrew in team history. 2. Byron Buxton Top-100 Peak: 1 Buxton‘s five-tool talent was evident early on in his professional career. All three national prospect rankings ranked him number one entering the 2014 season. Over the remainder of his minor league career, some ranking dropped him to second behind Chicago’s Kris Bryant. However, there were some tremendous prospects in the minors simultaneously as Buxton, including Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, and Lucas Giolito. Many of these players scored big contracts over the last couple of offseasons. Thankfully, Minnesota was able to work out a deal to keep Buxton in a Twins uniform for the prime of his career. 1. Joe Mauer Top-100 Peak: 1 Minnesota selected Mauer as the number one overall pick in 2001, so plenty viewed him as one of baseball’s best prospects. Baseball America immediately included him in baseball’s top-10 prospects as he ranked seventh entering the 2002 campaign. He ranked as baseball’s top prospect in two consecutive off-seasons. He’s the only player in Twins history to accomplish this feat. Mauer went on to a tremendous career as he is considered one of the best players in Twins history. Do you feel like these are the best prospects in Twins history? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POST IN THE SERIES — Prospects 6-10 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. There are times when expectations need to be tempered, and there are times when players more than live up to the hype. Here’s a look back at the top-5 prospects in Twins history. Baseball America became the first place to rank prospects on a national level in 1990. Since that time, other national outlets like Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com have also grown in popularity. The top-5 prospects in Twins history were all considered among baseball's top-10 prospects at some point in their professional careers. 5. Francisco Liriano Top-100 Peak: 6 Liriano came to the Twins in one most lopsided trade in franchise history. He was a top-100 prospect entering the 2003 season, but his 2005 minor league campaign put him on the prospect map. As a 21-year-old, he posted a 2.63 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 11 SO/9 at Double- and Triple-A. He was electric at the beginning of his career as he was an All-Star in 2006. Unfortunately, his elbow gave out, and he missed the end of 2006 and all of 2007. Some have argued the 2006 Twins had a chance to win the World Series with Johan Santana and Liriano at the top of the rotation. 4. Royce Lewis Top-100 Peak: 5 Expectations are high for any player taken with the first overall pick. After a .788 OPS in his pro debut, Lewis was a consensus top-30 prospect. His 2018 performance moved him even higher as he posted an .803 OPS at Low- and High-A. Unfortunately, Lewis struggled through parts of the 2019 season, and he hasn’t played a professional game since that year. A knee injury took away his 2021 season on the heels of the pandemic canceling the 2020 campaign. His stock has dropped this winter as many evaluators have moved him off top-100 lists. Now, he will have plenty to prove when the lockout finally ends. 3. Miguel Sano Top-100 Peak: 4 Sano may or may not have lived up to his expectations, but he was clearly among the best prospects in Twins history. He appeared on national top-100 lists for five consecutive offseasons, and multiple lists included him as a top-15 prospect for consecutive seasons. Sano was an easy prospect to be intrigued by with light-tower power and a .932 OPS throughout his minor league career. His big-league career has had ups and downs, but the power he showcased as a prospect has been his greatest tool. He has the 12th most home runs in franchise history, and seven home runs this season will move him into the top-10. His .491 slugging percentage only ranks behind Harmon Killebrew in team history. 2. Byron Buxton Top-100 Peak: 1 Buxton‘s five-tool talent was evident early on in his professional career. All three national prospect rankings ranked him number one entering the 2014 season. Over the remainder of his minor league career, some ranking dropped him to second behind Chicago’s Kris Bryant. However, there were some tremendous prospects in the minors simultaneously as Buxton, including Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, and Lucas Giolito. Many of these players scored big contracts over the last couple of offseasons. Thankfully, Minnesota was able to work out a deal to keep Buxton in a Twins uniform for the prime of his career. 1. Joe Mauer Top-100 Peak: 1 Minnesota selected Mauer as the number one overall pick in 2001, so plenty viewed him as one of baseball’s best prospects. Baseball America immediately included him in baseball’s top-10 prospects as he ranked seventh entering the 2002 campaign. He ranked as baseball’s top prospect in two consecutive off-seasons. He’s the only player in Twins history to accomplish this feat. Mauer went on to a tremendous career as he is considered one of the best players in Twins history. Do you feel like these are the best prospects in Twins history? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POST IN THE SERIES — Prospects 6-10 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  13. Francisco Liriano announced his retirement from Major League Baseball today. After 14 years, 419 games, and over 1,800 innings, he’s calling it quits. As a Minnesota Twins fan, though, it’s worth wondering what could have been thinking back to 2006. Having made his Major League Debut in 2005, Liriano had just 23 2/3 innings under his belt coming into the 2006 season. Ron Gardenhire put Liriano on his Opening Day roster, but the talented lefty was set to begin out of the bullpen. He made his season debut in the second game, throwing two innings of relief against the Toronto Blue Jays. Minnesota won that game 13-4, and Liriano tallied his first three strikeouts of the season. From there, Gardenhire used Liriano mainly for late-inning work. Across 12 games, Liriano pitched 22 1/3 innings of relief work, compiling a 3.22 ERA and impressive 32/4 K/BB mark. Of the eight earned runs given up, five came in a three-inning clunker against the Detroit Tigers. Minnesota lost that game 18-1, and it was the lone stain on Liriano’s relief work. Then the switch happened. On May 19, 2006, Francisco Liriano took the ball to start for the Twins against the Milwaukee Brewers. He didn’t relieve a game again the rest of the way. Against the Brewers, Liriano went five strong innings giving up just one run on two hits while striking out five. A few turns later, this time against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 16, 2006, Liriano punched out double-digit batters for the first time in his career. Notching 11 strikeouts against the Buccos, Liriano improved to 6-1 on the season, and his ERA sat at just 2.16. Facing the Brewers again on July 2, 2016, Liriano set a new career-high in strikeouts with 12. Throwing eight shutout innings, Liriano pushed his ERA down to 1.99. After a couple more wins, Liriano then put a bow on his early work with a 10 and 12 strikeout performance against Cleveland and Detroit, respectively. Then things changed. Making a start against the Tigers on August 7, 2006, Liriano threw just 67 pitches while allowing four runs on ten hits before being lifted. He was scratched the start prior with forearm inflammation and then lifted against Detroit with what was called a left elbow injury. After an MRI revealed only inflammation on July 31, Liriano was set for another one and told reporters he was more scared this time, saying, “it bothered me. It’s getting worse you know.” Liriano returned for a start on September 13, 2006, but lasted just 27 pitches before his season was over. He had suggested hearing a pop in his elbow. The 1st place Minnesota Twins would be without one of their top arms, ultimately falling to the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series. Discussing the MRI’s Liriano had undergone, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said, "The MRI came back exactly the same as the previous one. He has a ligament strain, but there is no structural damage. That's the good news.” On September 15, 2006, surgery was not the planned course of action. Fast forward less than a month, and on November 6, 2006, Francisco Liriano underwent Tommy John surgery. Working on getting back from his procedure, Liriano returned to the mound for Minnesota on April 13, 2008. It was his first start in more than a year, and the rust showed. He allowed four runs on six hits and didn’t make it through the 5th inning. Throwing his fastball at just 91.9 mph, he’d lost nearly 3 mph off the 94.7 mph he averaged in 2006. The All-Star and third place Rookie of the Year finisher didn’t look the same and ultimately never would. Those 121 innings from a 22-year-old Liriano in 2006 were among the highlights of the Minnesota Twins during the 2000s. Paired with Johan Santana, Ron Gardenhire appeared to have a duo of lefties that could mow down even the best opposing offenses. Playing 12 more seasons and putting up a 4.28 ERA is hardly something to scoff at, but there’s no denying that this is a talent you have to wonder what could have been. Liriano doesn’t have a shot at the Hall of Fame, but maybe he would have. Perhaps the Twins wouldn’t have flipped him for Eduardo Escobar in 2012. His career was solid but ultimately defined by a “what if?” Outside of Liriano as a player on his own, it's worth wondering how the 2006 Minnesota Twins season would've ended had he been a healthy part of the Postseason rotation. The Twins were ultimately swept by a good Oakland Athletics team, but they had to start Boof Bonser in game 2 and turned to Brad Radke in game 3. The Twins came in with home field advantage and have not won a Postseason game dating back to 2004. Just another part of the what could've been story. Do you remember back to that first season of Francisco Liriano? What did you think the Twins had in him? What are some of your favorite memories? View full article
  14. Having made his Major League Debut in 2005, Liriano had just 23 2/3 innings under his belt coming into the 2006 season. Ron Gardenhire put Liriano on his Opening Day roster, but the talented lefty was set to begin out of the bullpen. He made his season debut in the second game, throwing two innings of relief against the Toronto Blue Jays. Minnesota won that game 13-4, and Liriano tallied his first three strikeouts of the season. From there, Gardenhire used Liriano mainly for late-inning work. Across 12 games, Liriano pitched 22 1/3 innings of relief work, compiling a 3.22 ERA and impressive 32/4 K/BB mark. Of the eight earned runs given up, five came in a three-inning clunker against the Detroit Tigers. Minnesota lost that game 18-1, and it was the lone stain on Liriano’s relief work. Then the switch happened. On May 19, 2006, Francisco Liriano took the ball to start for the Twins against the Milwaukee Brewers. He didn’t relieve a game again the rest of the way. Against the Brewers, Liriano went five strong innings giving up just one run on two hits while striking out five. A few turns later, this time against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 16, 2006, Liriano punched out double-digit batters for the first time in his career. Notching 11 strikeouts against the Buccos, Liriano improved to 6-1 on the season, and his ERA sat at just 2.16. Facing the Brewers again on July 2, 2016, Liriano set a new career-high in strikeouts with 12. Throwing eight shutout innings, Liriano pushed his ERA down to 1.99. After a couple more wins, Liriano then put a bow on his early work with a 10 and 12 strikeout performance against Cleveland and Detroit, respectively. Then things changed. Making a start against the Tigers on August 7, 2006, Liriano threw just 67 pitches while allowing four runs on ten hits before being lifted. He was scratched the start prior with forearm inflammation and then lifted against Detroit with what was called a left elbow injury. After an MRI revealed only inflammation on July 31, Liriano was set for another one and told reporters he was more scared this time, saying, “it bothered me. It’s getting worse you know.” Liriano returned for a start on September 13, 2006, but lasted just 27 pitches before his season was over. He had suggested hearing a pop in his elbow. The 1st place Minnesota Twins would be without one of their top arms, ultimately falling to the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series. Discussing the MRI’s Liriano had undergone, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said, "The MRI came back exactly the same as the previous one. He has a ligament strain, but there is no structural damage. That's the good news.” On September 15, 2006, surgery was not the planned course of action. Fast forward less than a month, and on November 6, 2006, Francisco Liriano underwent Tommy John surgery. Working on getting back from his procedure, Liriano returned to the mound for Minnesota on April 13, 2008. It was his first start in more than a year, and the rust showed. He allowed four runs on six hits and didn’t make it through the 5th inning. Throwing his fastball at just 91.9 mph, he’d lost nearly 3 mph off the 94.7 mph he averaged in 2006. The All-Star and third place Rookie of the Year finisher didn’t look the same and ultimately never would. Those 121 innings from a 22-year-old Liriano in 2006 were among the highlights of the Minnesota Twins during the 2000s. Paired with Johan Santana, Ron Gardenhire appeared to have a duo of lefties that could mow down even the best opposing offenses. Playing 12 more seasons and putting up a 4.28 ERA is hardly something to scoff at, but there’s no denying that this is a talent you have to wonder what could have been. Liriano doesn’t have a shot at the Hall of Fame, but maybe he would have. Perhaps the Twins wouldn’t have flipped him for Eduardo Escobar in 2012. His career was solid but ultimately defined by a “what if?” Outside of Liriano as a player on his own, it's worth wondering how the 2006 Minnesota Twins season would've ended had he been a healthy part of the Postseason rotation. The Twins were ultimately swept by a good Oakland Athletics team, but they had to start Boof Bonser in game 2 and turned to Brad Radke in game 3. The Twins came in with home field advantage and have not won a Postseason game dating back to 2004. Just another part of the what could've been story. Do you remember back to that first season of Francisco Liriano? What did you think the Twins had in him? What are some of your favorite memories?
  15. After 1,813 2/3 innings and more than 13 seasons at the Major League Level, Fansided reports that Francisco Liriano is hanging it up. Let's reflect on the career that was for the former Twins southpaw in a player retrospective. Francisco Liriano was signed as an international free agent in 2000 by the San Francisco Giants before being sent to the Twins in the A.J. Pierzynski trade following the 2003 season. At the time, Liriano was the 83rd ranked prospect in baseball, per Baseball America via Baseball Cube, and was the headliner in a trade that also netted the Twins Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser. Liriano would spend the majority of the next two seasons dominating at AA-New Brighton and AAA-Rochester before exploding onto the scene in 2006. Liriano started the season with the Twins as a reliever where he was quite effective posting a 3.22 ERA and a 32:4 K:BB over 22 1/3 innings pitched. On May 15th, the Twins decided to move struggling right-hander Carlos Silva to the bullpen and promote Liriano to the starting rotation where he went on to make 15 dominant starts with a 1.96 ERA/2.85 FIP, 3.9 K/BB ratio, and held opponents to a .238 wOBA. This stretch included being selected for the All-Star Game and bookended with back-to-back starts of double-digit strikeouts against Cleveland on July 23rd and the Detroit Tigers five days later. Ultimately, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, Liriano was shut down due to a strained ligament in his throwing arm after his start on August 7th. He needed Tommy John surgery after lasting just two innings against Oakland on September 13th. Despite starting the season in the bullpen and losing the last two months of the season to injury, the Twins rookie phenom affectionately dubbed “The Franchise” finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. It was 578 days between Major League starts for Liriano. He lasted just three starts before being sent to AAA-Rochester until August of 2008. He showed flashes of his old self in the last two months of the season, but it was clear he wasn’t the same pitcher from 2006. In fact, it wasn't until the 2010 season when the Twins got consistent, effective production from the former budding star. He even received Cy Young Award votes, but alas, that season ended up being a one-off. Aside from a (messy) no-hitter on May 3rd, 2011, the lefty struggled over the next 48 starts leading to him being dealt to division rival Chicago White Sox at the 2012 trade deadline for star-to-be Eduardo Escobar (thanks again, A.J.) and LHP Pedro Hernandez. His tenure with the White Sox lasted just two months and he spent the next three-and-a-half years with the Pittsburgh Pirates where he enjoyed a bit of a resurgence making 86 starts from 2013 to 2015 and posting a 3.26 ERA/3.23 FIP and a 9.6 K/9 but struggled with control walking 3.8 batters per nine innings. These control issues only got worse in 2016 which led to him being dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays at the trade deadline and then again a year later from the Blue Jays to the Houston Astros. He spent 2017 with the Detroit Tigers making 26 starts but with a decreasing fastball velocity and K/9 coupled with an increasing BB/9, ERA, and FIP, it was clear that his run as an effective starter was over at 34 years old. Back in Pittsburgh for the juiced 2019 season, he had a bit of a renaissance as a reliever where he made 69 appearances with a respectable 8.10 K/9 and 3.47 ERA/4.14 FIP. He signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia in 2020 before being released ahead of the start of the season and then, in 2021, a minor-league deal with Toronto before being released ahead of that season. In his 13 roller coaster seasons, Francisco Liriano made 300 starts and 119 relief appearances. As a starter, he ended with a 4.16 ERA/3.88 FIP, striking out 1,682 batters, while as a reliever he had a 4.08 ERA/3.94 FIP and sitting down 133 hitters. He’s the ultimate “What Could Have Been?” story, but gave Twins fans one of the best 15 game stretches in franchise history. So with that in the forefront, let’s wish Francisco Liriano a happy and healthy retirement from Twins Territory by leaving your favorite story or memory in the comment section. View full article
  16. Francisco Liriano was signed as an international free agent in 2000 by the San Francisco Giants before being sent to the Twins in the A.J. Pierzynski trade following the 2003 season. At the time, Liriano was the 83rd ranked prospect in baseball, per Baseball America via Baseball Cube, and was the headliner in a trade that also netted the Twins Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser. Liriano would spend the majority of the next two seasons dominating at AA-New Brighton and AAA-Rochester before exploding onto the scene in 2006. Liriano started the season with the Twins as a reliever where he was quite effective posting a 3.22 ERA and a 32:4 K:BB over 22 1/3 innings pitched. On May 15th, the Twins decided to move struggling right-hander Carlos Silva to the bullpen and promote Liriano to the starting rotation where he went on to make 15 dominant starts with a 1.96 ERA/2.85 FIP, 3.9 K/BB ratio, and held opponents to a .238 wOBA. This stretch included being selected for the All-Star Game and bookended with back-to-back starts of double-digit strikeouts against Cleveland on July 23rd and the Detroit Tigers five days later. Ultimately, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, Liriano was shut down due to a strained ligament in his throwing arm after his start on August 7th. He needed Tommy John surgery after lasting just two innings against Oakland on September 13th. Despite starting the season in the bullpen and losing the last two months of the season to injury, the Twins rookie phenom affectionately dubbed “The Franchise” finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. It was 578 days between Major League starts for Liriano. He lasted just three starts before being sent to AAA-Rochester until August of 2008. He showed flashes of his old self in the last two months of the season, but it was clear he wasn’t the same pitcher from 2006. In fact, it wasn't until the 2010 season when the Twins got consistent, effective production from the former budding star. He even received Cy Young Award votes, but alas, that season ended up being a one-off. Aside from a (messy) no-hitter on May 3rd, 2011, the lefty struggled over the next 48 starts leading to him being dealt to division rival Chicago White Sox at the 2012 trade deadline for star-to-be Eduardo Escobar (thanks again, A.J.) and LHP Pedro Hernandez. His tenure with the White Sox lasted just two months and he spent the next three-and-a-half years with the Pittsburgh Pirates where he enjoyed a bit of a resurgence making 86 starts from 2013 to 2015 and posting a 3.26 ERA/3.23 FIP and a 9.6 K/9 but struggled with control walking 3.8 batters per nine innings. These control issues only got worse in 2016 which led to him being dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays at the trade deadline and then again a year later from the Blue Jays to the Houston Astros. He spent 2017 with the Detroit Tigers making 26 starts but with a decreasing fastball velocity and K/9 coupled with an increasing BB/9, ERA, and FIP, it was clear that his run as an effective starter was over at 34 years old. Back in Pittsburgh for the juiced 2019 season, he had a bit of a renaissance as a reliever where he made 69 appearances with a respectable 8.10 K/9 and 3.47 ERA/4.14 FIP. He signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia in 2020 before being released ahead of the start of the season and then, in 2021, a minor-league deal with Toronto before being released ahead of that season. In his 13 roller coaster seasons, Francisco Liriano made 300 starts and 119 relief appearances. As a starter, he ended with a 4.16 ERA/3.88 FIP, striking out 1,682 batters, while as a reliever he had a 4.08 ERA/3.94 FIP and sitting down 133 hitters. He’s the ultimate “What Could Have Been?” story, but gave Twins fans one of the best 15 game stretches in franchise history. So with that in the forefront, let’s wish Francisco Liriano a happy and healthy retirement from Twins Territory by leaving your favorite story or memory in the comment section.
  17. It feels like it may be time to shake things up with this Minnesota Twins roster. One way to accomplish that would be by making a challenge trade, swapping big league pieces for big league pieces. It’s a risky endeavor. Let’s take a look back at some of these deals. There are quite a few of these challenge trades in fairly recent Twins history, but this current Twins front office really hasn’t explored this avenue. The Kenta Maeda deal was close, but Brusdar Graterol only had 10 big league appearances to his credit. He was still a prospect. Possibly the LaMonte Wade Jr. trade qualifies as a minor challenge trade, as he had 113 plate appearances and Shaun Anderson had 46 career games pitched at the time of the swap. Considering how that one went, maybe it’s good there haven’t been more challenge trades of late … These deals are risky, but when a team has a surplus or is motivated to make room at the MLB level for a younger player they can make sense. With Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez already in the third base/second base equation and Jose Miranda waiting in the wings, this current Twins roster could be ripe for a challenge trade. There’s another possible option but I don’t want to ruin your day quite yet. Let’s take a look back at some of these types of deals from past Twins seasons. All of the trades below were completed during the offseason and included established MLB regulars on both sides of the deal. Nov. 14, 2003: A.J. Pierzynski traded to the San Francisco Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser We’re starting out this list on a high note. One of the ironic elements to this deal is part of its motivation backfired to a degree. In moving AJ Pierzynski, the Twins were making room behind the plate for 20-year-old Joe Mauer. He ended up playing just 35 games in 2004 due to injuries and Henry Blanco ended up as the primary catcher. The Twins still won 92 games that year in part due to Joe Nathan saving 44 games. He had 128 MLB games to his credit at the time of this deal. We’re focusing on the MLB pieces, but I’d say the prospect side of this package also worked out pretty darn nicely for the Twins. Dec. 3, 2003: Eric Milton traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Carlos Silva, Nick Punto and Bobby Korecky Milton was only a year away from free agency and Carlos Silva had pitched 130 games for the Phillies. Though he only had one career start prior to the trade, Silva was actually a better rotation piece than Milton right out the gate. I’d say that worked out pretty well. Toss in Punto, who also had some MLB experience at the time of the trade (though only 111 plate appearances) and this one was also a success. Kinda nuts that after back-to-back division championships the Twins made these two big trades and took the central again in ‘04. Nov. 28, 2007: Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza and Eddie Morlan to the Tampa Bay Rays for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie This was a pretty crazy trade under new GM Bill Smith. A starting shortstop and budding rotation piece for the former No. 1 overall pick and reigning runner-up in Rookie of the Year voting. Plus Brendan Harris and all of his Brendon Harris-ness! This was an incredible trade … for the Rays. They went from 96 losses to 97 wins and a World Series appearance. Delmon had a great 2010 season with the Twins but was dealt away the next year after fizzling out. Nov. 6, 2009: Carlos Gomez traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for J.J. Hardy Gomez went from centerpiece of the Johan Santana deal to trade bait in just two seasons. If you thought that tenure was short, Hardy only lasted one season in Minnesota before being dealt to Baltimore. Both players found much more success with their new orgs than they had in Minnesota. Man, the Twins made a lot of trades back during this time. Dec. 6, 2012: Ben Revere traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Vance Worley and Trevor May Terry Ryan was back in the GM role and cleared room for another former first-round pick. The Twins traded both Revere and Denard Span that offseason to open the door for Aaron Hicks in center field. Worley made 46 starts for the Phillies prior to the trade. His Twins tenure was, uh, less impressive. May ended up developing into a nice bullpen piece, of course, but Hicks struggled to take advantage of his opportunity. Speaking of which ... Nov. 11, 2015: Aaron Hicks traded to the New York Yankees for John Ryan Murphy The hope was Murphy would be the long-term solution behind the plate. He was not. I guess I don’t really remember the motivation to move Hicks. Byron Buxton missed most of the previous season and started the year in Double-A, so it was a bit premature to make room for him. The Twins opened the season with Jordan Schafer and Shane Robinson platooning in center. Ugh. Looking back, it’s kinda funny how many of these deals revolved around the center field position. I know most Twins fans don’t want to think about this, but it’s time to ruin your day. There’s a possibility of a Buxton challenge trade this winter. We all know it, but most of us don’t want to acknowledge it. I’m on team Pay Byron, but if they don’t extend him … who knows? What do you think? Should the Twins try to pull off a challenge trade this offseason? View full article
  18. There are quite a few of these challenge trades in fairly recent Twins history, but this current Twins front office really hasn’t explored this avenue. The Kenta Maeda deal was close, but Brusdar Graterol only had 10 big league appearances to his credit. He was still a prospect. Possibly the LaMonte Wade Jr. trade qualifies as a minor challenge trade, as he had 113 plate appearances and Shaun Anderson had 46 career games pitched at the time of the swap. Considering how that one went, maybe it’s good there haven’t been more challenge trades of late … These deals are risky, but when a team has a surplus or is motivated to make room at the MLB level for a younger player they can make sense. With Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez already in the third base/second base equation and Jose Miranda waiting in the wings, this current Twins roster could be ripe for a challenge trade. There’s another possible option but I don’t want to ruin your day quite yet. Let’s take a look back at some of these types of deals from past Twins seasons. All of the trades below were completed during the offseason and included established MLB regulars on both sides of the deal. Nov. 14, 2003: A.J. Pierzynski traded to the San Francisco Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser We’re starting out this list on a high note. One of the ironic elements to this deal is part of its motivation backfired to a degree. In moving AJ Pierzynski, the Twins were making room behind the plate for 20-year-old Joe Mauer. He ended up playing just 35 games in 2004 due to injuries and Henry Blanco ended up as the primary catcher. The Twins still won 92 games that year in part due to Joe Nathan saving 44 games. He had 128 MLB games to his credit at the time of this deal. We’re focusing on the MLB pieces, but I’d say the prospect side of this package also worked out pretty darn nicely for the Twins. Dec. 3, 2003: Eric Milton traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Carlos Silva, Nick Punto and Bobby Korecky Milton was only a year away from free agency and Carlos Silva had pitched 130 games for the Phillies. Though he only had one career start prior to the trade, Silva was actually a better rotation piece than Milton right out the gate. I’d say that worked out pretty well. Toss in Punto, who also had some MLB experience at the time of the trade (though only 111 plate appearances) and this one was also a success. Kinda nuts that after back-to-back division championships the Twins made these two big trades and took the central again in ‘04. Nov. 28, 2007: Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza and Eddie Morlan to the Tampa Bay Rays for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie This was a pretty crazy trade under new GM Bill Smith. A starting shortstop and budding rotation piece for the former No. 1 overall pick and reigning runner-up in Rookie of the Year voting. Plus Brendan Harris and all of his Brendon Harris-ness! This was an incredible trade … for the Rays. They went from 96 losses to 97 wins and a World Series appearance. Delmon had a great 2010 season with the Twins but was dealt away the next year after fizzling out. Nov. 6, 2009: Carlos Gomez traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for J.J. Hardy Gomez went from centerpiece of the Johan Santana deal to trade bait in just two seasons. If you thought that tenure was short, Hardy only lasted one season in Minnesota before being dealt to Baltimore. Both players found much more success with their new orgs than they had in Minnesota. Man, the Twins made a lot of trades back during this time. Dec. 6, 2012: Ben Revere traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Vance Worley and Trevor May Terry Ryan was back in the GM role and cleared room for another former first-round pick. The Twins traded both Revere and Denard Span that offseason to open the door for Aaron Hicks in center field. Worley made 46 starts for the Phillies prior to the trade. His Twins tenure was, uh, less impressive. May ended up developing into a nice bullpen piece, of course, but Hicks struggled to take advantage of his opportunity. Speaking of which ... Nov. 11, 2015: Aaron Hicks traded to the New York Yankees for John Ryan Murphy The hope was Murphy would be the long-term solution behind the plate. He was not. I guess I don’t really remember the motivation to move Hicks. Byron Buxton missed most of the previous season and started the year in Double-A, so it was a bit premature to make room for him. The Twins opened the season with Jordan Schafer and Shane Robinson platooning in center. Ugh. Looking back, it’s kinda funny how many of these deals revolved around the center field position. I know most Twins fans don’t want to think about this, but it’s time to ruin your day. There’s a possibility of a Buxton challenge trade this winter. We all know it, but most of us don’t want to acknowledge it. I’m on team Pay Byron, but if they don’t extend him … who knows? What do you think? Should the Twins try to pull off a challenge trade this offseason?
  19. There is almost exactly nothing happening in baseball right now, so it’s a good time for some nostalgia. Follow me on a trip down memory lane to 2006 and the team that made me a baseball fan (and made me think Boof Bonser was good). As I write this, I’m two weeks away from turning 23 years old, which means I was seven when the 2006 Minnesota Twins won the American League Central. It also means I have no meaningful memory of a Twins playoff win, but whatever. I digress. The 2006 season was the first in which I really followed the sport on more than just a watch-guys-hit-ball level. It was that year that I figured out how the standings worked, what a wild card was, and how to calculate basic stats like batting average and ERA. So, of course, the Twins’ magical comeback from 10.5 games back in the second week of August to Division Champs on the last day of the season—their only division lead all year—made me fall in love with the team and the sport. But, the funny thing about falling in love with a team at seven years old is that the way I remember that team is very far from the reality of what actually happened. Obviously, I remember Mauer, Morneau, and Santana being awesome, and, looking back, that memory is absolutely correct; they were awesome. But things get a little more skewed as we move down the rest of the roster. As mentioned in the teaser, I remember thinking that Boof Bonser was some unique diamond in the rough that had a funny name but dominated on the mound. Turns out the opposite is true: he was a highly-touted first round pick that was always young for his level in the minors, but was never great in the bigs. His career lasted only four years and 2006, his rookie and best season, wasn’t even that great. In my mind, Luis Castillo (not the Reds starter, the other one) was THE Twins’ second basemen of the mid-aughts, and that he was one of the better hitters on the team. That just wasn’t true—he finished only seventh on the team in batting average (his main calling card) and Terry freaking Tiffee had a higher slugging percentage than him. Also, the 2006 season was his only full year in a Twins uniform, as he was traded to the Mets at the deadline in 2007. To this day, when I hear the word piranha, I think about Jason Tyner. Ozzie Guillen coined the term “Little Piranhas” to describe Castillo, Tyner, Jason Bartlett, and Nick Punto, but, for whatever reason, Tyner sticks in my head as the most piranha-like. And that’s weird, because according to WAR, he was the least productive of them all, probably because he only appeared in 62 games. And, as sacrilegious as it is to measure the Piranhas using WAR, it does show that he wasn’t nearly as big of a factor as I remember. I didn’t only remember guys for being better than they actually were, though. There were two guys in particular whose output was more significant than I remembered. I remember Nick Punto as a funny, light-hitting, loveable-loser kind of player, and I guess he was that in some sense, but he was a lot more. First, I was shocked to look back and see that he batted .290, and I was even more shocked to find out that he was fifth on the team in WAR, ahead of guys like Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, and Brad Radke. And he did so with one (1) homer. I guess that’s what 135 games of solid third base defense and not terrible hitting get you, but the idea of Punto being legitimately good (if only for a year) is still wild to me. Francisco Liriano will forever stick in my memory as the guy who gets arm surgeries and can’t throw strikes, but he was actually dominant in 2006. He only pitched twice after July and would get Tommy John the following winter, but he made the All Star team as a rookie and pitched to an ERA of 2.16, a WHIP of exactly one, and a K/9 rate of 10.7. His WAR was also third on the team, beating out AL MVP and 130 RBI man Justin Morneau. I also remember Kyle Lohse being an idiot, but I don’t think I’m wrong about that. There’s one more thing I misremember, though. I have very little recollection of the Twins getting swept in the playoffs. I’m sure I watched the games, but they just didn’t stick, though I think I remember my guy Boof starting one of them. That’s okay, though; I will always associate the 2006 Twins with good memories, even if those memories are completely wrong and I have no idea what actually happened. How do you remember the 2006 Twins? What's the first Twins season you remember? Let us know in the comments! View full article
  20. As I write this, I’m two weeks away from turning 23 years old, which means I was seven when the 2006 Minnesota Twins won the American League Central. It also means I have no meaningful memory of a Twins playoff win, but whatever. I digress. The 2006 season was the first in which I really followed the sport on more than just a watch-guys-hit-ball level. It was that year that I figured out how the standings worked, what a wild card was, and how to calculate basic stats like batting average and ERA. So, of course, the Twins’ magical comeback from 10.5 games back in the second week of August to Division Champs on the last day of the season—their only division lead all year—made me fall in love with the team and the sport. But, the funny thing about falling in love with a team at seven years old is that the way I remember that team is very far from the reality of what actually happened. Obviously, I remember Mauer, Morneau, and Santana being awesome, and, looking back, that memory is absolutely correct; they were awesome. But things get a little more skewed as we move down the rest of the roster. As mentioned in the teaser, I remember thinking that Boof Bonser was some unique diamond in the rough that had a funny name but dominated on the mound. Turns out the opposite is true: he was a highly-touted first round pick that was always young for his level in the minors, but was never great in the bigs. His career lasted only four years and 2006, his rookie and best season, wasn’t even that great. In my mind, Luis Castillo (not the Reds starter, the other one) was THE Twins’ second basemen of the mid-aughts, and that he was one of the better hitters on the team. That just wasn’t true—he finished only seventh on the team in batting average (his main calling card) and Terry freaking Tiffee had a higher slugging percentage than him. Also, the 2006 season was his only full year in a Twins uniform, as he was traded to the Mets at the deadline in 2007. To this day, when I hear the word piranha, I think about Jason Tyner. Ozzie Guillen coined the term “Little Piranhas” to describe Castillo, Tyner, Jason Bartlett, and Nick Punto, but, for whatever reason, Tyner sticks in my head as the most piranha-like. And that’s weird, because according to WAR, he was the least productive of them all, probably because he only appeared in 62 games. And, as sacrilegious as it is to measure the Piranhas using WAR, it does show that he wasn’t nearly as big of a factor as I remember. I didn’t only remember guys for being better than they actually were, though. There were two guys in particular whose output was more significant than I remembered. I remember Nick Punto as a funny, light-hitting, loveable-loser kind of player, and I guess he was that in some sense, but he was a lot more. First, I was shocked to look back and see that he batted .290, and I was even more shocked to find out that he was fifth on the team in WAR, ahead of guys like Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, and Brad Radke. And he did so with one (1) homer. I guess that’s what 135 games of solid third base defense and not terrible hitting get you, but the idea of Punto being legitimately good (if only for a year) is still wild to me. Francisco Liriano will forever stick in my memory as the guy who gets arm surgeries and can’t throw strikes, but he was actually dominant in 2006. He only pitched twice after July and would get Tommy John the following winter, but he made the All Star team as a rookie and pitched to an ERA of 2.16, a WHIP of exactly one, and a K/9 rate of 10.7. His WAR was also third on the team, beating out AL MVP and 130 RBI man Justin Morneau. I also remember Kyle Lohse being an idiot, but I don’t think I’m wrong about that. There’s one more thing I misremember, though. I have very little recollection of the Twins getting swept in the playoffs. I’m sure I watched the games, but they just didn’t stick, though I think I remember my guy Boof starting one of them. That’s okay, though; I will always associate the 2006 Twins with good memories, even if those memories are completely wrong and I have no idea what actually happened. How do you remember the 2006 Twins? What's the first Twins season you remember? Let us know in the comments!
  21. This was supposed to be a critical year for Royce Lewis. Back in 2019, he struggled for the first time in his professional career as the Twins were aggressive and pushed him up to Double-A. He was projected to head back to that level in 2021 with a chance to make his big-league debut before season’s end. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case and Lewis will go over 900 days without getting a professional at-bat. Minnesota is no stranger to top prospects being hit by the injury bug. Alex Kirilloff, Twins Daily’s highest rank Twins prospect, missed the entire 2017 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. Even with the missed season, he came back with a vengeance in 2018 as he was one of MiLB’s best hitters that season. Obviously, Kirilloff was able to recover and put himself back on the prospect map, which is something Twins fans can hope for with Lewis. Before Lewis and Kirilloff, Byron Buxton was widely considered the team’s top prospect and many national rankings had him as one of the baseball’s best prospects. Buxton’s injury history has been well documented as he was limited to 103 combined games between his third and fourth professional seasons. Those injury woes have followed him to the big-league level as he as he has only had one season where he has played more than 95 games. Prior to Buxton, Miguel Sano was the team’s top prospect, and he was widely considered one of baseball’s top-10 prospects. He was forced to miss all his age-21 season after needing Tommy John surgery. It still didn’t stop him from making his big-league debut the very next year and he’s been with the Twins ever since. Kyle Gibson had a short stint as the Twins’ best prospect, and he seemed to be rocketing to the MLB level. Entering the 2011 season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had him in their top-55 prospects. Unfortunately, he had Tommy John surgery in November 2011 and wouldn’t be back until the end of the 2012 season. Going further back, there certainly more examples of prospects hit by the injury bug. Francisco Liriano famously blew out his elbow while the 2006 Twins seemed like they would have been unstoppable in the playoffs. Joe Mauer’s career started on a bad note as he needed knee surgery shortly into his rookie campaign. One player some people might forget is Jason Kubel. He seemed destined to be a middle of the order power bat that could bring above average defense at multiple outfield positions. Entering the 2005 season, Baseball America ranked him as baseball’s 17th overall prospect. He was able to return from injury and have a decade long big-league career, but his outlooked was significantly changed after his leg injury. Many of the players on this list went on to have solid big-league careers, but there will also be questions about what could have been. How good could Kubel have been? Would the Twins have won the 2006 World Series with a healthy Liriano? How much better would Mauer’s numbers look with another full season? Lewis finds himself among some of the best Twins players in recent memory, but it is a list that he never wanted to join. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. Initial Deal: November 14, 2003 Joe Mauer was waiting in the wings to talk over as the team’s full-time catcher. During the previous minor league season, Mauer posted an .832 OPS with 37 extra-base hits while making it all the way to Double-A. He was widely considered baseball’s best prospect and Baseball America had awarded him their Minor League Player of the Year. Pierzynski was no slouch either as he was an All-Star in 2002 and he was coming off a season where he posted an .824 OPS with 49 extra-base hits. The three players acquired from the Giants were Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan. Nathan became one of the baseball’s best closers on the way to being inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. Liriano was electric in the minor leagues and he went on to pitch part of seven seasons for the Twins. Even Bonser pitched nearly 400 innings in Minnesota and he became the next branch in this transaction tree. Bonser Trade: December 10, 2009 As a 28-year old, Bonser was on his way out in Minnesota after the Twins designated him for assignment. Carl Pavano agreed to go to arbitration with the club and this made Bonser expendable. Also, Bonser missed the entire 2009 campaign following shoulder surgery, so it was a surprise the team was able to get anything for him. Bonser was dealt for a player to be named later that turned out to be Chris Province, a 2007 fourth round pick. He pitched well in the Arizona Fall League that season as a 25-year old, but his time in the Twins organization would be short-lived. In 2010, he pitched most of the season at Double-A where he posted a 5.58 ERA with a 1.65 WHIP. He made a few Triple-A appearances, but his career was done after a brief stint in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Liriano Trade: July 28, 2012 Joe Nathan would leave the Twins after the 2011 season as the team declined to pick up his $12.5 million option but paid him a $2 million buyout. This ended his part of the transaction tree, but the Twins were able to leverage Liriano to add some pieces to the organization. At the 2012 trade deadline, Minnesota dealt Liriano to the White Sox for Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez. Hernandez pitched just under 57 innings for the Twins and posted a 6.83 ERA with a 1.82 WHIP. He would only make one more big-league appearance and that came in 2014 with Colorado. Escobar was the key pick-up as he had 671 games in a Twins uniform while playing nearly every defensive position. At the plate, he posted a .729 OPS while getting on base 30.8% of the time. He was a solid contributor, but he was heading to free agency after the 2018 season. Escobar Trade: July 27, 2018 Minnesota was out of contention during the 2018 campaign, so the front office made multiple moves with the trade deadline approaching. Arizona sent three prospects to Minnesota in return for what could have been less than 200 at-bats from Escobar. He eventually resigned with the D-Backs, but that wasn’t a guarantee at the time of the deal. As I wrote about last week, Jhoan Duran was the biggest return for Escobar as he is considered one of the Twins top two starting pitching prospects. Ernie De La Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel have also added depth to the organization. When it comes to Duran, pitching prospects are never a sure thing. That being said, his ceiling seems to be a solid regular starting pitcher and if that doesn’t work, he projects to be a very good relief option. More than two and a half decades after taking Pierzynski in the 1994 MLB Draft, the Twins organization is still feeling the ramifications of his transaction tree. What are your thoughts on these deals? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Most Twins fans know about the trade that sent AJ Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants for a trio of players. In fact, it might be one of the greatest trades in Twins history. Minnesota made that deal back in November 2003 and the ripple effects of that trade are still being felt in the organization. Let’s examine the “AJ Pierzynski Transaction Tree.”Initial Deal: November 14, 2003 Joe Mauer was waiting in the wings to talk over as the team’s full-time catcher. During the previous minor league season, Mauer posted an .832 OPS with 37 extra-base hits while making it all the way to Double-A. He was widely considered baseball’s best prospect and Baseball America had awarded him their Minor League Player of the Year. Pierzynski was no slouch either as he was an All-Star in 2002 and he was coming off a season where he posted an .824 OPS with 49 extra-base hits. The three players acquired from the Giants were Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan. Nathan became one of the baseball’s best closers on the way to being inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. Liriano was electric in the minor leagues and he went on to pitch part of seven seasons for the Twins. Even Bonser pitched nearly 400 innings in Minnesota and he became the next branch in this transaction tree. Bonser Trade: December 10, 2009 As a 28-year old, Bonser was on his way out in Minnesota after the Twins designated him for assignment. Carl Pavano agreed to go to arbitration with the club and this made Bonser expendable. Also, Bonser missed the entire 2009 campaign following shoulder surgery, so it was a surprise the team was able to get anything for him. Bonser was dealt for a player to be named later that turned out to be Chris Province, a 2007 fourth round pick. He pitched well in the Arizona Fall League that season as a 25-year old, but his time in the Twins organization would be short-lived. In 2010, he pitched most of the season at Double-A where he posted a 5.58 ERA with a 1.65 WHIP. He made a few Triple-A appearances, but his career was done after a brief stint in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Liriano Trade: July 28, 2012 Joe Nathan would leave the Twins after the 2011 season as the team declined to pick up his $12.5 million option but paid him a $2 million buyout. This ended his part of the transaction tree, but the Twins were able to leverage Liriano to add some pieces to the organization. At the 2012 trade deadline, Minnesota dealt Liriano to the White Sox for Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez. Hernandez pitched just under 57 innings for the Twins and posted a 6.83 ERA with a 1.82 WHIP. He would only make one more big-league appearance and that came in 2014 with Colorado. Escobar was the key pick-up as he had 671 games in a Twins uniform while playing nearly every defensive position. At the plate, he posted a .729 OPS while getting on base 30.8% of the time. He was a solid contributor, but he was heading to free agency after the 2018 season. Escobar Trade: July 27, 2018 Minnesota was out of contention during the 2018 campaign, so the front office made multiple moves with the trade deadline approaching. Arizona sent three prospects to Minnesota in return for what could have been less than 200 at-bats from Escobar. He eventually resigned with the D-Backs, but that wasn’t a guarantee at the time of the deal. As I wrote about last week, Jhoan Duran was the biggest return for Escobar as he is considered one of the Twins top two starting pitching prospects. Ernie De La Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel have also added depth to the organization. When it comes to Duran, pitching prospects are never a sure thing. That being said, his ceiling seems to be a solid regular starting pitcher and if that doesn’t work, he projects to be a very good relief option. Download attachment: Transaction Tree.jpg More than two and a half decades after taking Pierzynski in the 1994 MLB Draft, the Twins organization is still feeling the ramifications of his transaction tree. What are your thoughts on these deals? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  24. Mauer’s Presence In the 2003-04 off-season, Mauer was coming off a tremendous minor league season. Between High- and Double-A, he hit .338/.398/.434 (.832) with 37 extra-base hits in 135 games. Baseball America awarded him the Minor League Player of the Year and he would be named the number one prospect that off-season. St. Paul’s hometown boy seemed destined to take his place behind the plate at the Metrodome. Blocking Mauer was Minnesota’s starting catcher in 2003, AJ Pierzynski, and he was coming off a strong season himself. He had an All-Star season in 2002, but the 2003 campaign might have been his best in a Twins uniform. He slashed .312/.360/.464 (.824) with 49 extra-base hits in 137 games. He would only have one other season with a higher OPS in his entire 19-year career. Minnesota was ready to hand the reins to Mauer, which left Pierzynski as a tradeable commodity. Trade Time From the Giants perspective, the trade didn’t look that bad on paper. Pierzynski was in the prime of his career as a 26-year old catcher that was coming off a 4.5 WAR season. To top it off, he had three years of arbitration left, so he wasn’t just a rental player. Regardless of his attitude problems, he was a very good player at a tough position that should have gotten quite the return. From the Twins perspective, well… it’s tough to know what they were thinking at the time. Joe Nathan was a 28-year old reliever that was coming off his first decent season in the bullpen. There had been previous concerns about his shoulder and the possibility of those things lingering. Liriano hadn’t pitched more than 80 innings in any season of his professional career and he had injury concerns of his own. Boof Bonser saw his strikeout rate and velocity drop in the year before the trade. At the time of the trade it looked like San Francisco had fleeced the Twins, but baseball is a funny game. Hindsight is 20-20 Twins fans know what happened after the trade. AJ Pierzynski played one season in San Francisco and hit .272/.319/.410 with 41 extra-base hits. He was worth 0.3 WAR that season. Even though, he could have been arbitration eligible for two more seasons, he had caused so many headaches for the Giants that they let him go at season’s end. He ended up in Chicago and helped the White Sox to the 2005 World Series title. Minnesota got quite the value from their cast-off pitching trio. Nathan would turn into one of the best relievers in the game and accumulate 18.4 WAR during his seven years with the Twins. Liriano exploded onto the scene in 2006 and it looked like the Twins would be unstoppable with a Johan Santana and Liriano combo. Tommy John surgery stopped that dream from becoming a reality, but Liriano was still able to accumulate 9.3 WAR in his Twins tenure. Bonser pitched over 390 innings for the Twins, including one playoff start, and was worth -0.3 WAR. Terry Ryan and Minnesota’s scouting department must have known what they were getting in Nathan, Liriano, and Bonser. They also knew what they were giving up in Pierzynski. What do you remember about this trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  25. July’s trade deadline is one way for clubs to bolster their roster to make a deep playoff run. However, the biggest trade in Twins history took place in the off-season, not at the trade deadline. Minnesota need to make way for Joe Mauer to take over as the team’s everyday catcher and the team was able to acquire three very good pieces that would help the Twins to multiple division titles. Here’s a look back at one of the greatest trades in Twins history.Mauer’s Presence In the 2003-04 off-season, Mauer was coming off a tremendous minor league season. Between High- and Double-A, he hit .338/.398/.434 (.832) with 37 extra-base hits in 135 games. Baseball America awarded him the Minor League Player of the Year and he would be named the number one prospect that off-season. St. Paul’s hometown boy seemed destined to take his place behind the plate at the Metrodome. Blocking Mauer was Minnesota’s starting catcher in 2003, AJ Pierzynski, and he was coming off a strong season himself. He had an All-Star season in 2002, but the 2003 campaign might have been his best in a Twins uniform. He slashed .312/.360/.464 (.824) with 49 extra-base hits in 137 games. He would only have one other season with a higher OPS in his entire 19-year career. Minnesota was ready to hand the reins to Mauer, which left Pierzynski as a tradeable commodity. Trade Time From the Giants perspective, the trade didn’t look that bad on paper. Pierzynski was in the prime of his career as a 26-year old catcher that was coming off a 4.5 WAR season. To top it off, he had three years of arbitration left, so he wasn’t just a rental player. Regardless of his attitude problems, he was a very good player at a tough position that should have gotten quite the return. From the Twins perspective, well… it’s tough to know what they were thinking at the time. Joe Nathan was a 28-year old reliever that was coming off his first decent season in the bullpen. There had been previous concerns about his shoulder and the possibility of those things lingering. Liriano hadn’t pitched more than 80 innings in any season of his professional career and he had injury concerns of his own. Boof Bonser saw his strikeout rate and velocity drop in the year before the trade. At the time of the trade it looked like San Francisco had fleeced the Twins, but baseball is a funny game. Hindsight is 20-20 Twins fans know what happened after the trade. AJ Pierzynski played one season in San Francisco and hit .272/.319/.410 with 41 extra-base hits. He was worth 0.3 WAR that season. Even though, he could have been arbitration eligible for two more seasons, he had caused so many headaches for the Giants that they let him go at season’s end. He ended up in Chicago and helped the White Sox to the 2005 World Series title. Minnesota got quite the value from their cast-off pitching trio. Nathan would turn into one of the best relievers in the game and accumulate 18.4 WAR during his seven years with the Twins. Liriano exploded onto the scene in 2006 and it looked like the Twins would be unstoppable with a Johan Santana and Liriano combo. Tommy John surgery stopped that dream from becoming a reality, but Liriano was still able to accumulate 9.3 WAR in his Twins tenure. Bonser pitched over 390 innings for the Twins, including one playoff start, and was worth -0.3 WAR. Terry Ryan and Minnesota’s scouting department must have known what they were getting in Nathan, Liriano, and Bonser. They also knew what they were giving up in Pierzynski. What do you remember about this trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
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