Friday, January 8, 2010

Twins All-Decade team

With little in the way of news with the Twins lately that I find interesting. With the new decade beginning I thought it would be interesting to look back at the last ten years with some of the good things and also some bad things. Hope you all enjoy and will leave your comments in the comment box if you agree or disagree or you can shoot me an email at

  • Positives
  1. Twins win 5 division titles in 10 years which is most of any team in the division.

  2. Twins after many years of trying accomplish the impossible and gain funding for Target Field.

  3. Twins have 3 batting champions, 2 MVP's, and 2 Cy Young awards in the decade most awards by any one team in baseball.

  4. Twins with the first pick in the draft acquire some local boy from Cretin-Durham Hall and turn him into the best player in the game.

  • Negatives
  1. The Polaids tired of trying for a new stadium try to sell the Twins to major league baseball so they can be contracted.

  2. With 5 playoff appearances the Twins are only able to win one playoff series.

  3. Losing the likes of Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, AJ Pierzynski, Luis Castillo to big market teams.

  • Without any further adieu it is time for the Travis Talks all decade team from 2000-2009. I hope this will create some discussion and hopefully not everyone will agree with my picks.

Catcher-Joe Mauer- Easy choice as he won 3 batting titles, 3 gold gloves and an MVP in the decade

Average season with Twins during decade: .327 avg 17 hr 92 rbi .408/.483/.891 split

1st base: Justin Morneau- Another easy choice as Morneau won the 2006 MVP award and shown the durability Twins fans have been waiting for.

Average season with Twins during decade: .280 avg 30 hr 116 rbi .350/.501/.851

2nd base: Luis Castillo- To be quite nice the Twins have struggled at 2nd base since Chuck Knoblauch left the Twins in the mid 90's. Castillo was only a Twin for a year and a half, but he led the Twins to a division championship in 2006 when he hit .296.

Average season with Twins during decade: .300 avg 2 hr 34 rbi 17 sb .357/.361/.718 split

Shortstop: Christian Guzman- Guzy came over from the Yankees in the Chuck Knoblauch trade and played a steady shortstop. He was with the Twins for six years and appeared in three postseasons for the Twins along with an all star appearance.

Average Season as Twin during decade: .265 avg 6 homeruns 48 rbi's 17 sb .303/.379/.682 split

Third Base: Corey Koskie- Corey Koskie proved to be better than most Twins fans thought he was going to be by looking at him. Played a very good 3rd base and had some big hits for the Twins along with some good seasons as he helped the Twins get back on the map. If not for injuries he may have had a very good career, but anyways he had a solid career that he can look back on with pride.

Average Season as Twin during decade: .280 avg 14 hr 62 rbi's .375/.465/.840 split

Designated Hitter: Jason Kubel: Jason Kubel came up as a can't miss prospect as an outfielder and that all changed on an afternoon in Arizona. That is when he tore his knee up and ended his days as an everyday outfielder. He made the best out of that situation by embracing a job as a designated hitter. It took him a while to get his stroke back, but the last couple of years he has been as good a offensive power hitter in the Twins lineup as they could of dreamed.

Average Season as Twin during decade: .278 avg 23 hr 88 rbi's .339/.474/.813 split

Left Field: Shannon Stewart- I know all you Jacque Jones fans are going to be what about him and the biggest reason I went with Stewart is the fact that when he arrived in Minneapolis the Twins were floundering and coupled with his energy and skill he found a way to help the Twins to the division title. He was only a Twin for 3 and a half years but he was a part of 3 division champion teams even though in 2006 he only played in 44 games due to injury. His impact was enormous and that is why he made this team.

Average Season as Twin during decade: .298 avg 7 hr 35 rbi's .359/.418/.777 split

Center Field: Torii Hunter- Torii Hunter will go down as one of the greatest centerfielders in Twins history. He was one of the key cogs in the Twins rejuvenation in the early 2000's. With his stellar defense and power hitting the Twins always had a chance. If he wasn't getting rug burns from stealing basehits he was stealing homeruns. He never got the credit he deserved for his hitting ability. He had his negatives as he was a free swinger and would swing at his share of pitches in the dirt, but he would also hit his fair share of homeruns and be the clubhouse leader.

Average Season as Twin during decade: .271 avg 21 hr 79 rbi's 14 sb .324/.463/.787 split

Right Field: Michael Cuddyer- Cuddyer started out the decade playing all over from 3rd base to 2nd base to first base before finding a home in Right Field. When he found that home he took off and showed everyone why the Twins thought so highly of him. Cuddyer has it all he has a great arm in right field and can hit for average, hit for power and drive in runs.

Average Season as Twin during decade: .270 avg 21 hr 82 rbi's 7 sb .344/.457/.801 split

  • Bench

Utility Infielder: Nick Punto- Nick Punto has done a good job when he has been asked to be the utility infielder. The problem is the Twins often have asked him to do things that he is just not capable of doing. He is not an everyday player and the Twins have often asked him to be one. If you look at his stats when he is coming off the bench and when he is expected to be the starter they are much better when not much is expected. So for this team I felt like he would be the perfect utility infielder for this team.

Average Season as Twin this decade: .250 avg 2 hr 32 rbi's 15 sb .325/.329/.654 split

Extra Outfielder: Jacque Jones- Jacque Jones was a solid competitor for the Twins in their hayday in the early 2000's. His career took a detour after leaving the Twins, but when he was a Twin he was a good outfielder that combined solid defense with a solid bat. He was not spectacular, but put up solid numbers. He was also very versatile as he played all three outfield positions when he was with the Twins. The memory I have of Jacque Jones was the first game of the 2002 season after the Twins were almost contracted against the Kansas City Royals when he hit the first pitch of the season out of the park. It just showed the mental toughness that the Twins showed in the decade as they would not give in whether it was contraction or a big deficit in the division.

Average season as Twin during decade: .278 avg 21 hr 72 rbi's 11sb .327/.453/.780 split

Backup Catcher: Mike Redmond- Mike Redmond was a good guy to have on the team. He kept the whole team loose and when called upon was a very good offensive catcher. He defense was never great, but it was adequate. However, his value to the team was more than hitting .300 every year and hitting those bleeders to right field. His true value to the Twins was that he was the heart and soul for some very good Twins teams. He was the one that would take the bullet on bad days and the one who would do the naked streaks through the lockeroom to keep everyone loose. Mike Redmond's value can't be judged by numbers as his true value was that he found a way to help the team win no matter the circumstances.

Average season as Twin during decade: .294 avg 0 hr 21 rbi's .336/.356/.692 split

Utility Infielder: Doug Mientkiewicz- In the early 2000's Doug Mientkiewicz was a key cog on three division champion teams for the Twins. With his stellar defense at first base he kept the Twins in some games. His hitting was sporatic, but his defense was the best in baseball at first base. During those years he was the heart and soul of the Twins and would sit on the dugout floor cheering on his teammates. That was his biggest contribution was how he kept the team together and that is not saying how he saved error after error at first base. His contributions will never be forgotten in Twins fans hearts that appreciate everything he did for the Twins.

Average season as Twin during decade: .278 avg 10 hr 57 rbi's .371/.417/.788 split

  • Pitching Staff

Starter # 1: Johan Santana- Johan Santana turned out to be one of the best starting pitchers in Twins history. His combination of power as he threw 93-94 with a very good slider, but when he developed his killer changeup he developed into a great Twins pitcher. He won two cy youngs during the decade and showed how good he was as a Twins pitcher. Long after he is gone Johan Santana will be known as the greatest pitcher in Twins history.

Average season as Twin during decade: 15-7 2.94 era 197 innings 215 strikeouts 1.05 whip

Starter # 2: Brad Radke- Brad Radke was the epitomy of the overachieving Twins. By looking at him there was nothing special and his minor league numbers. With his great changeup he found ways to get hitters out. He was an awesome big game pitcher who got the job done when they really needed him. The memory I have of Brad Radke was pitching for weeks with a broken shoulder to keep the Twins in the pennant race. He is the epitomy of someone that you hope you can see again with the Twins. He was all guts and would not give in no matter the circumstance.

Average season as Twin during decade: 12-10 4.21 era 195 innings 115 strikeouts 1.25 whip

Starter # 3 Eric Milton- Eric Milton had a solid career with the Twins. He may not have lived up to the promise that we all thought he would be, but he did have a solid career with the Twins. He helped the Twins to the 2002 AL Central division championship. He also pitched a no hitter when the Twins were not very good. He had good stuff with a nice curveball and is one of the keys to the Twins turnaround in the early 2000's.

Average season as Twin during decade: 14-9 4.67 era 197 innings 146 strikeouts 1.24 whip

Starter # 4: Kyle Lohse- Most Twins fans really did not appreciate how good his stuff was as a member of the Twins. His inconsistancy led to his departure in the mid 2000's along with the incident where he punched a hole in Gardy's office door. However, he was one of the most consistant pitchers on the staff. Got as high as the number 3 pitcher in the 2004 playoffs. Even though he never lived up to his promise he was still a solid pitcher for the Twins and someone that Twins fans should remember.

Average season as Twin during decade: 9-10 5.19 era 130 innings 80 strikeouts 1.26 whip

Starter # 5: Scott Baker- Scott Baker got off to a rough start for the Twins as he was up and down in his early years with the Twins. Even though he had some good minor league numbers he just could not transfer it to the big leagues. However, the last couple years he has been the staff ace for the Twins which got him a nice 4 year contract with the Twins. If he can continue what he is doing and improve a little bit he will be higher on the list for the next decade.

Average season as Twin during decade: 9-7 4.36 era 131 innings 100 strikeouts 1.28 whip

  • Relievers

Closer: Joe Nathan- When Joe Nathan arrived in the AJ Pierzynski trade in 2004 we had no idea how good of a pitcher he was. He had injury problems with the Giants so no one knew how good he could really be. Looking at him now we now know he is the best closer in Twins history. He has the Twins record for saves in a year with 47 and when he is all done he will hold the career record for saves. Not only is he the relief pitcher of the decade he would likely be the closer of the franchise.

Average season as Twin during decade: 4-2 1.87 era 41 saves 70 inn 86 strikeouts 0.93 whip

Reliever: Eddie Guardado- "Everyday Eddie" really came on in the decade after being basically a lefthanded specialist in the 90's to being one of the top closers in team history. He had a bulldog mentality that the fans enjoyed so much. With that being said it doesn't give him credit for the stuff he did have with that sweeping breaking pitch that many waved at. Eddie always made things interesting, but at the end of the day he got the job done and that is all that is important.

Average season as Twin during decade: 5-3 3.32 era 27 saves 66inn 62 strikeouts 1.10 whip

Reliever: Jesse Crain- Many Twins fans may not agree with Crain being on the team. However, all Twins fans have to admit that he was the most consistant relief pitchers during the decade for the Twins. He may not have lived up what most Twins fans were expecting going into the season, but in my mind he has been one of the most consistant pitchers in the bullpen during the decade.

Average season as Twin during decade: 6-4 3.30 era 57 games 60 inn 38 strikeouts 1.26 whip

Reliever: Latroy Hawkins: Even though Latroy Hawkins was not a very good closer he turned out to be a perfect set-up guy. For a 2-3 period he was absolutely dominating out of the Twins bullpen as he set-up Eddie Guardado. During those years if you were behind going into the 8th inning it was over. I don't think the Hawk gets the credit that he deserves for being as good of a set-up guy as he was.

Average season as Twin during decade: 5-3 3.34 era 67 games 74 inn 58 strikeouts 1.33 whip

Reliever: Dennys Reyes- Reyes was another guy that did not receive the credit he deserved. "Big Sweat" was one of the most consistant relief pitchers on some good Twins teams. He consistantly got big leftys out in the 7th and 8th innings. You could always count that Reyes would find a way to get the job done.

Average season as Twin during decade: 3-0 2.40 era 64 games 42 inn 36 strikeouts 1.35 whip

Reliever: Matt Guerrier- Matt Guerrier saw his role change through the decade. He started the decade as the long reliever that did not pitch very much. He then took on a middle innings role, and finally took on the 8th inning role the last couple years and has done a good job. I know he does not get the credit he deserves because he ran out of gas in 2008 and the fact that he doesn't throw 95 so people think he is not that good. However, the bottom line is Matt Guerrier might be the most consistant pitcher in the Twins bullpen this decade no matter what role you put him in.

Average season as Twin during decade: 3-3 3.33 era 62 games 76 inn 51 strikeouts 1.27 whip

Reliever: Francisco Liriano- Even though he did not spend a lot of time in the bullpen for the Twins he has made such an impace with the Twins I felt he needed to make the team. His 2006 season is one of the best rookie performances in team history. If he can get back to where he was he will be an ace for the future and even if he doesn't quite get to that level he has a promising future ahead of him.

Average season as Twin during decade: 8-7 3.96 era 24 games 111 inn 111 strikeouts 1.31 whip