Twins Trade JJ Hardy; Could Quietly Kill 2011 Season

On a day that will be marked by the signing of Carl Crawford, the Twins made perhaps a more monumental move in trading away starting shortstop JJ Hardy. I am not trying to say that Hardy is a better player than Crawford, for he is not, but if the Red Sox had not signed Crawford, they would still be able to replace him with Jacoby Ellsbury or someone similar, whereas the Twins will be filling Hardy’s spot with a 27 year old who has not proven himself to be more than a utility infielder yet, and a player making his North American debut.

In return, the Twins get a pair a pitchers – Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey. Hoey is a marginal reliever, with strikeout rates in the double digits the last three years, but also has walked a ton of guys. He is also 27 and hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007. Jacobson is another reliever who has middling strikeout rates and decent enough walk rates. And at least he is only 24, so he still has a chance to turn into something.

There is also the matter that Hardy will probably make around 6 million this year. By trading him the Twins will be able to spend that money on relievers, platoon guys, etc. but regardless there is no way that the Twins will receive the roughly three wins that Hardy is worth back in those signings.

This is a horrible trade, and to see just how bad let’s look at it through my favorite tool – the trade value calculator courtesy of Sky Kalkman

Notes: to show just how bad of a deal this is, I have overestimated Hardy’s salary and underestimated his production. He put up a 2.4 WAR in only 375 plate appearances last year, which were by far the fewest of his career. I strongly believe that he is at least a 3 win, and probably even closer to a 4 win player.

One more important thing to note is that this TVC is not for 2011. That means that the average cost per marginal win in the model is lower than it will end up being by the time the offseason is over. In layman’s terms, Hardy is even more valuable than is being shown here. (and if I screwed up in any of this it’s 1 AM and I am on about 2 hours of sleep).

From Erik Manning’s table (compiling Victor Wang’s research) showing how much prospects are worth, the Orioles gave up 2 Grade C pitchers 23 years or older, worth 3 million total. In other words, the Twins contributed roughly $7 million more in value than the Orioles did. It might not end up being remembered like the Garza/Delmon trade, and it probably won’t end up being as bad given that Hardy will be a free agent next year (and hey, the Twins could always try to sign him then), but this is a horrible deal.

The issue of the fact that Chicago and Detroit are clearly pushing, with the Victor Martinez/Paul Konerko/AJ Pierzynski/etc deals, to win in 2011, whereas the Twins are a little but more set up for the long term. I don’t like doing a lot of sweeping statements for my rebuttals, but the team is going to have a 110 million or so dollar payroll. There is no excuse as to why they can’t win in 2011.

I have to think that either the Twins training staff knows something no one else knows about Hardy, or someone like Joe Mauer really doesn’t like him, because there is no way that Bill Smith made this trade based on how he values the three players’ on field contributions. If he did we are all in trouble.

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