Have you ever thought about how many former Twins are still playing in the Majors? You could fill an entire roster with them, and you’d have a decent team. Since Spring Training (and all the real Twins news) is still a few days away, let’s spend some time with the fictional ex-Twins team.
I’ll even break them down by position and compare them to the current Twins so we can see who’d win if they played a series. And just in case you’re wondering, I’ve also listed their age and 2012 salary, as reported by Baseball Reference.
Wilson Ramos, WAS, 24 years old, $500,000 (approx.)
A.J. Pierzynski, CWS, 35, $6,000,000
Ramos may be a rising star, and he finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year vote, so he gets the starting slot over Pierzynski. He has some power, as his .267/.334/.445 2011 line indicates. Twins fans love to hate Pierzynski, but he’s probably the most durable catcher in the game; he’s played at least 114 games in each of the last 11 seasons. We miss Ramos as much as we don’t miss Pierzynski, but the current Twins catcher is much better than either one (assuming he’s healthy). ADVANTAGE: current Twins.
Garrett Jones, PIT, 30, $2.5 million (arbitration estimate)
Casey Blake, COL, 38, $2 million
Nick Punto, BOS, 34, $1.5 million
Justin Morneau has been the Twins primary first baseman for eight years, so there aren’t any regular ex-Twin first basemen left in the Majors. At third base, the opposite is true. The Twins haven’t had a solid regular there in eight years, so none of the former Twins floating around at the Hot Corner are very good. Give the starting nod at first base to Jones, who is primarily an outfielder but plays some first base. He has moderate power with 58 homers in three years with the Pirates, but his .323 career OBP is pretty weak. Blake has had some good seasons, but he’s getting older, and he only played in 63 games last year. Punto could back up third base as well as short and second. The current Twins have big question marks at the infield corners, but it won’t take much to top this group. ADVANTAGE: current Twins.
Orlando Hudson, SD, 34, $5.5 million
J.J. Hardy, BAL, 29, $7 million
Jason Bartlett, SD, 32, $5.5 million
Hudson, the only ex-Twins second baseman who has an everyday job in the Majors, is declining but still competent at the plate and in the field. Hardy had his best season after being traded from Target Field to Camden Yards. He socked 30 homers there to go along with his stellar defense (11.7 UZR/150). Bartlett is probably past his prime, but he’s a great backup for the injury-prone Hardy. ADVANTAGE: Ex-Twins.
Michael Cuddyer, COL, 32, $10.5 million
Jason Kubel, ARI, 29, $7.5 million
Torii Hunter, LAA,36, $18 million
Delmon Young, DET, 26, $6.75 million
This is a very expensive outfield, and while the starters all have some power, I shudder to imagine how bad they would be defensively. Hunter used to be an automatic Gold Glover, but UZR has had him as slightly below average since 2006. Kubel and Cuddyer would man the corners, and they both lack range. The projected 2012 outfield of Ben Revere, Denard Span, and Josh Willingham is worlds better defensively, and Span and Willingham are probably better at getting on base, but the ex-Twins have much more power. ADVANTAGE: Toss-up
David Ortiz, BOS, 36, $14.6 million
Jim Thome, PHI, 41, $1.25 million
Even at age 36, Ortiz is still good for 30 homers and a .900 OPS, which is about all you can ask from a DH. With Ortiz in that role, Thome wouldn’t get many starts, but he was a world-class pinch hitter for the Twins. The current Twins will probably rotate players through the DH spot to rest them, but none of them will hit with as much power as these two. ADVANTAGE: Ex-Twins
Johan Santana, NYM, 32, $24 million
Matt Garza, CHC, 28, $9.5 million
Kyle Lohse, STL, 33, $11.9 million
Phil Humber, CHW,29, $500,000
Kevin Slowey, CLE, 27, $2.75 million
Garza has been on the cusp of greatness for the past three seasons, and he seems to be good for 200 innings and 200 strikeouts in any given year. Lohse has been up and down in his career, but in 2011 he was way up, and he helped the Cards to a World Series win. Humber’s successful 2011 may have been a fluke, but it’s good enough to earn him a lower rotation slot. Slowey is also a good fit in the number five role. Strangely, the biggest question mark this team has is its #1 slot, which is filled by a guy who didn’t pitch at all last year. Before his recent injuries, though, he was the best in the game. None of the current Twins-pitchers exceeded Lohse-level competence last season, so they enter 2012 as the underdogs. ADVANTAGE: Ex-Twins
Joe Nathan, TEX, 37, $7 million
Matt Guerrier, LAD, 33, $4.75 million
Jesse Crain, CHW, 30, $4.5 million
Jon Rauch, NYM, 33, $3.5 million
Brian Fuentes, OAK, 36, $5 million
Craig Breslow, ARI, 31, $1.8 million
Nobody knows how good Nathan will be this year, but he’s a fair bet to do at least as well closing for the Rangers as Matt Capps does for the Twins. If he faltered, Rauch would be his backup, thanks to the “closer experience” that the Twins value. Guerrier was merely competent for the Dodgers in his first year as an ex-Twin, but Crain thrived. Fuentes and Breslow are the lefty options. Breslow had a subpar 2011 in Oakland, but he thrived with the A’s in 2009 and 2010. The ex-Twins are much more stable and talented than the current Twins in the bullpen. ADVANTAGE: Ex-Twins
Charlie Manuel, PHI, 68, $8 million
The Twins tend to keep their managers around for a long time, so there aren’t any ex-Twin managers in charge of any other clubs right now. Manuel is probably the closest thing there is. He played for the Twins in the 70s and managed various Twins minor league clubs in the 80s. Now he is the very successful manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Manuel and current Twins manager Ron Gardenhire have remarkably similar career winning percentages (.537 and .534 respectively), but Manuel gets the nod here for winning two NL pennants and a World Series title. ADVANTAGE: Ex-Twins.
When you tally it up, it’s a little depressing. The Ex-Twins win in most of the categories, and they dominate the pitching competition. If the two squads played a seven game series right now, I think the Ex-Twins would win in five or six games.
But the Ex-Twins are much older, with most of the players in their thirties, and quite a few nearing 40 (plus 41 year old Thome, but he’s ageless). And they’re also a LOT more expensive. Add it all up, and the Ex-Twins have a payroll of almost $165 million. So it’s all right to feel a little bitter about Garza and Hardy leaving, but at least the team isn’t stuck paying $42 million to Santana and Hunter.
What do you think? Did I miss anyone? Do you disagree with my comparisons? Let me know in the comment section below!