Departed Twins: Where Are They Now? (Part 2)


So many things have contributed to this collapse that it’s hard to recount all of them. For me, the primary reasons are the seemingly endless rash of injuries and the disappearance of Francisco Liriano as an average starter let alone the top of the rotation guy he was supposed to be. Certainly there’s plenty of room for debate and discussion to figure out exactly what went wrong but we know for certain that 15 players that contributed last year were not in the organization on Opening Day this spring.

Would the team’s fortunes be different if any of these players remained on the roster? It’s impossible to know of course since one change could have a ripple effect. Perhaps if the Twins front office had kept the most minor of these guys, Liriano would have been the ace we were hoping for. Perhaps Morneau and Mauer would have managed to avoid the DL. The universe works in mysterious ways after all.

The point of this article isn’t to state, emphatically or otherwise, where the organization went wrong in it’s decision making, but rather just to check in on where each of these guys are and how they are doing in 2011. I hope you’ll follow along, enjoy, and maybe even recall some of the great moments from 2010 in the process.

This is Part 2 of 2. If you missed Part 1 of 2 click here.

2B Orlando Hudson -

Signed a 2-year, $11.5 million contract with the San Diego Padres on December 17th. Deal includes an $8 million club option for the 2013 season.

372 PA (95 G): 0.260/.345/.375, 22 XBH, 17 SB, 43 BB, 71 SO, 105 OPS+

Hudson just keeps doing what he’s done since he broke into the major leagues back in 2002. Namely that means being a steady and productive offensive 2B with an OPS+ between 87 (2003) and 108 (2009). His defense, according to UZR, has been up and down in his career. This year he’s slightly down with a -2.3 UZR/150. According to FanGraphs he’s been worth 2.08 WAR this season giving him a free market value of $9.1 million and making his current contract a bit of a bargain. Heading into the season many people felt that letting go of both Hudson and Hardy was a mistake. Given the production of both players and the struggles of Casilla and Nishioka, it’s hard to argue with that logic.

LHP Ron Mahay -

Signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers on February 3rd but was released on March 26th.

Minors – 23.1 IP (24 G): 5.01 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, 7.7 SO/9

Mahay’s brief 2-month preseason stint with the Dodgers was just the beginning of his travels in 2011. After Los Angeles he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks April 8th but was released on May 13th. He then had to wait for almost 2 months before he signed with his 3rd organization. On July 5th he signed a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals and released earlier this month (August 12th). His willingness to bounce around in the minors at 40 years of age is certainly admirable. In 14 seasons he’s logged 568.0 major league innings with an ERA+ of 120. He’s had a fine career, but it appears to be at an end.

C Jose Morales -

Traded to the Colorado Rockies on December 16th, 2010 for LHP Paul Bargas

71 PA (22 G): 0.267/.352/.317, 3 2B, 9 BB, 12 SO, 74 OPS+

On December 9th the Twins traded away J.J. Hardy for a bag of beans and followed that up by dealing Morales to Colorado just a week later. We can’t say the Twins gave Jose away because they did get a 21-year old lefty reliever coming off a nice season in A-ball as a result of the deal. Unfortunately Bargas was diagnosed with brain cancer this spring before the season ever got underway. The problem with the Morales trade isn’t the return, or what it could have been, but rather trying to figure out why in the world they were looking to deal a guy that seemed perfectly suited to be Joe Mauer’s backup for years to come. Especially after dealing away Ramos earlier in the season.

Predictably, Mauer has missed time this season and predictably the Twins were left without a viable backup catcher. Drew Butera and Rene Rivera have each put up a dreadful OPS+ of 25 this season while Steve Holm has a -5 OPS+ this season.  Meanwhile, Morales has been stuck behind Chris Iannetta and has seen limited playing time as a result.

There was no reason to trade Jose Morales this offseason and yet he was sent packing. The Twins have paid dearly for their decision.

RHP Pat Neshek -

Selected off waivers by the San Diego Padres on March 20th

Majors – 24.2 IP (25 G): 4.01 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 8.0 BB/9, 7.3 SO/9, 91 ERA+
Minors (AAA) – 26.1 IP (24 G): 4.10 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 4.4 SO/9

The results haven’t been pretty and Neshek remains a shell of his former self. At least as a pitcher. Then again his 91 ERA+ would be better than all but 5 of the 17 Twins who have thrown more than 10 innings this season. Obviously it is hard to sustain even slightly below average success when you walk almost a batter per inning, and watching someone pitch with that kind of walk rate would be awful, but I still miss Neshek.

IF Nick Punto -

Signed a 1-year, $750,000 deal with the St. Louis Cardinals on January 21st

131 PA (47 G): 0.271/.378/.402, 10 XBH, 19 BB, 15 SO, 119 OPS+

Punto’s 2011 season is a kick in the teeth to Twins fans everywhere. All who watched him in Minnesota were accosted with a maddening barrage of inconsistency at the plate. You never knew which Punto was going to show up at the plate from year to year and after 7 seasons with the Twins, everyone had more than their fill. Of course with the Cardinals he’s shown never before seen plate discipline and on-base skills. As a result he has been an above average offensive player cracking the 100 mark in OPS+ for the first time in his 11 year major league career.

Given that he’s made multiple trips to the DL this season and is currently sidelined with an oblique strain, he would have fit in very well with the Twins 2011 mash unit.

C Wilson Ramos -

Traded to the Washingon Nationals, along with Joe Testa, in exchange for Matt Capps on July 29th, 2010

359 PA (94 G): 0.248/.313/.416, 16 2B, 12 HR, 30 BB, 63 SO, 100 OPS+

Like Matt Fox, Ramos was actually sent packing during the 2010 season and while Capps has had his moments, I’d still very much like a do-over on this trade.

Never trade a starting catcher for a relief pitcher.

Never trade a starting catcher for a relief pitcher.

Never trade a starting catcher for a relief pitcher.

Did I mention you never trade a starting catcher for a relief pitcher?

Not only has Ramos been league average at the plate – which for a catcher is a feat in itself – he’s also thrown out 35% of runners attempting to steal. According to FanGraphs he’s been above average defensively and above average running the bases. So far in 2011 he’s been worth 2.0 WAR while the Twins are now without a catcher as Joe Mauer tests out other positions in the field. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention Ramos just turned 24 this month.

RHP Jon Rauch -

Signed a 1-year $3.75 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on January 18th. The deal included a $3.75 million club option for 2012.

50.1 IP (51 G): 4.47 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 6.3 SO/9, 95 ERA+

Remember how Neshek’s 91 ERA+ was better than all but 5 Twins pitchers this season? Well, Rauch’s 95 ERA+ is better than all but 3 (Baker, Dumatrait, and Perkins). His price tag wound up being far less than what the Twins had to give Matt Capps and Rauch has given the Jays slightly better production in a much tougher division.

While he would be one of Minnesota’s best if he was still around, 2011 has been his worst season in the majors since his rookie year with the White Sox back in 2002.

Conclusion:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this two-part series recapping how our departures have fared in 2011. When I started writing this, I was primarily blaming injuries as the key reason the Twins have underachieved this season. After recapping these 15 players it’s clear to me that poor personnel decisions played a major role in things as well. If you factor in the moves they didn’t make (like not trading Francisco Liriano) the front office is just as much to blame as the rash of injuries. You could argue for either side as the primary cause but it would be equivalent to arguing whether the chicken or the egg came first.

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Tags: Jon Rauch Jose Morales Minnesota Twins Nick Punto Orlando Hudson Pat Neshek Ron Mahay Wilson Ramos