Friday, January 20, 2012

Dissecting the Bill Smith Era: Other trades of 2011

Jose Morales hit .297
in his three partial
seasons with the Twins.
When: Dec. 16, 2010
What: The Twins sent catcher Jose Morales to Colorado for left-handed pitcher Paul Bargas
Value: Bargas not only hasn't reached the majors, he didn't pitch at all in 2011 because of a brain tumor. Morales opened the season as the Rockies' No. 2 catcher but had only 71 plate appearances (-0.1 WAR, 1 win share). He was nontendered this offseason and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Twins motivation: Open a spot on the 40-man roster

The Twins traded Morales because they needed roster space to re-sign Jim Thome and Carl Pavano, because he was out of options and would have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors, and because they had decided they prefered Drew Butera's defensive chops to Morales' batting average.

Bargas reported to camp with an obvious health problem and was quickly found to have a brain tumor. Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune earlier this month wrote about Bargas, who expects to be in camp this spring. (As a sign of how much I like the piece, I link to it despite the Strib's paywall). I don't know enough about Bargas' talent to be optimistic about his future as a pitcher, but I sure will root for him. (Update: Fixed the link.)

When: Jan. 26, 2011
What: Claimed left-handed pitcher Dusty Hughes off waivers from the Kansas City Royals
Value: Hughes was awful with the Twins (9.95 ERA in 12.2 innings; -0.4 WAR, 0 win shares)
Twins motivation: What I call Craig Monroe Syndrome: He had gotten Twins lefties out while with K.C., and the Twins took this as an indication of his talent.

I still remember seeing one particularly wicked breaking ball Hughes threw in a spring training game to freeze Carl Crawford; that single pitch had me briefly convinced he was a shrewd pickup (and a silly discard by the Royals). He didn't throw enough such pitches, however.

He was outrighted in May. He has signed a minor league contract with Atlanta.

Rob Delaney wasn't
even deemed worthy
of a draft pick as an
amateur player
When: Jan. 28, 2011
What: Lost right-handed pitcher Rob Delaney on waivers to Tampa Bay
Value: Delaney made four appearances for the Rays with an ERA of 10.80; no win shares and -0.2 WAR
Twins motivation: Created a spot on the 40-man roster for Hughes.

Delaney, like Anthony Slama, put up good numbers in the minors for the Twins, but the Twins were unwilling to give him a real chance in the majors. The Rays designated Delaney for assignment in September to open a spot for phenom Matt Moore; it's unclear to me if Delaney is still in their system or if he's a free agent he signed this month with Miami.

When: March 20, 2011
What: Lost right-handed pitcher Pat Neshek on waivers to San Diego
Value: Neshek worked 24.2 innings for the Padres with an ERA of 4.01; more tellingly, he walked 22 (and struck out 20) in those 24.2 innings. He had 1 win share and 0.0 WAR.
Twins motivation: They wanted to open a spot on the 40-man roster.

It was significant that the Twins dumped Neshek even though he still had an option left; that indicates that the organization either had concluded that he was unlikely to regain his pre-injury effectiveness and/or didn't want him around.

He was up and down with the Padres, and he is currently a free agent.

When: Aug. 25, 2011
What: Lost designated hitter Jim Thome on waivers to Cleveland
Value: He had 13 win shares total for the season, 0.5 WAR with the Indians.
Twins motivation: Cleared his salary off the books for the last six weeks or so of the season, gave him a chance to be at least in the fringes of a pennant race and an opportunity to make amends with the fans of his first major league team.

Jim Thome pretended
to play third base for
one pitch against the
Twins in a September
Big name, exceedingly minor deal. It was originally announced as a player-to-be-named trade, but once it was obvious that the Indians weren't making the postseason they changed it to straight cash and not much of it.

Thome has signed with Philadelphia for 2012, and the Phillies are making noises about playing him at first base on occasion. Good luck with that.

When: Sept. 27, 2011
What: Claimed right-handed pitcher Esmerling Vasquez off waivers from Arizona
Value: The Twins did not add him to the active roster for the final week of the season.
Twins motivation: He's a power arm bullpen possibility.

The Diamondbacks needed to clear space on their 40-man roster, and lopped Vasquez, who has pitched in 141 major league games for the D'backs (137 innings, 80 walks, 120 strikeouts). Good arm, uncertain control. The Twins are collecting a bunch of this kind of arm and hoping one of them can figure it out.

When: Oct. 31, 2011
What: Claimed right-handed pitcher Jeff Gray off waivers from Seattle.
Value: Has not pitched for the Twins
Twins motivation: Another bullpen option.

I'm including this transaction and the following one with the 2011 season because they came just before Bill Smith was removed from the general manager's job, and they ought to be included.

Gray is a knock-around reliever who has been in the majors with Oakland, the Cubs, the White Sox and Seattle. I'm not particularly enthused about him, and would expect that Vasquez and Lester Oliveros (and others) are ahead of him on the totem pole, but Gray is on the 40-man roster, so he's got a chance to make the team this spring.

When: Oct. 31, 2011
What: Claimed left-handed pitcher Matt Maloney off waivers from Cincinnati
Value: Has not pitched for the Twins
Motivation: Provides some depth for the starting rotation.

Maloney hasn't established himself as a major leaguer, and his stuff isn't all that impressive, but he's put up good numbers in Triple A. Maybe he's what's derisively known as a Quadruple A pitcher, but I suspect he'd be an improvement over Nick Blackburn if given a shot. Of course, Blackburn has two more years and some $10 million left on his contract, so he's got dibs on the rotation berth.

1 comment:

  1. Rob Delaney signed a minor league free agent contract with Miami earlier this month