Friday, July 19, 2013

20 Minnesota Twins Trades: 2 for 1 in 2001

2001 was the first season in what would become a nearly decade-long turnaround of the Twins' franchise.  For the first time in ages, the Twins were in a position to buy at the trade deadline, rather than sell.  This exciting season was about to get more exciting!  Two separate trades signified that the Twins were going to finally do whatever it takes to give Twins fans a taste of the postseason. 

The Trades:  BREAKDOWN!

The Minnesota Twins traded Mark Redman to the Detroit Tigers for Todd Jones.

The Minnesota Twins traded Matt Lawton to the New York Mets for Rick Reed.

Jones would spend just one half-season with the Twins.  He only threw 19.1 innings and recorded just two saves.  He would leave for Colorado as a free agent at the end of the season.  Reed posted an ERA over five in 12 starts with the Twins in 2001.  In 2002, Reed won 15 games for the Twins and posted a 3.78 ERA.  He regressed in 2003, at the age of 38, and did not pitch another MLB game after that season. 

Redman was injured when traded, so he only started two games for the Tigers in 2001.  In 2002, Redman threw over 200 innings and posted a nearly league-average 101 ERA+.  Redman had his finest season in 2003, posting a 117 ERA+ in 190.2 innings for the World Champion Florida Marlins.  Lawton posted a .246/.352/.366 triple slash in 48 games for the Mets in 2001.  He was traded to the Indians that off-season, and had a couple more productive seasons with the Indians.  He played his best baseball as a Twin.   

How did I feel at the time?

It was cool, I have to say.  I liked Matt Lawton, so I was sad to see him go.  However, I was excited that the Twins were seemingly trying to win more games rather than save more money.  Since these trades happened just two days apart, it was hard to separate them.  The upgrade from Redman to Reed was significant, and I knew that.  Jones was a welcome addition from me, as I hated the Twins bullpen at that time.  LaTroy Hawkins was a train-wreck and Bob Wells is my all-time least favorite Twins player.  Todd Jones was a proven closer, and I didn't know any better when I was 18. 

Why make these trades?

The Jones trade came first.  Terry Ryan clearly explained why he made this trade in this AP story I found on ESPN:

"We need some immediate help," Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan said. "This is a situation where we have a chance to win and we want to take it. It's a good feeling to be on this side, looking to add rather than to subtract."

It was a good feeling.  The Twins were good.  They weren't great, but they were good.  They were just a game out of first place and adding a decent pitcher to the bullpen made a lot of sense.  Redman was just 27 and was a former first-round pick.  However, Ryan explains why he was expendable at that time:

"Unfortunately, what he's going through now, he can't help us," Ryan said. "You've got to give him time to heal. It's too long for us to wait."

It's a bit surreal to see this in print.  The Twins putting the future aside at the expense of the present?  It was not the M.O. of the front office prior to this season.  In a way, this gives me hope for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, if the Twins can get things together a bit.  Todd Jones didn't seem impressed with Mark Redman, according to this story from The Blade (awesome name):

“I'm mad I wasn't able to bring the Tigers a little more in a trade,” Jones said yesterday after being dealt to the Minnesota Twins for left-handed pitcher Mark Redman. “That's my fault.”

Hmm, good thing they weren't going to be teammates.  Redman was quite a bit better than Jones the following year, so maybe Jones should have been more happy about the deal.

Two days later, the Twins traded away Matt Lawton.  Here's the rationale, from an AP story I found on CNNSI:

"We're looking to stabilize our pitching staff," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "We've struggled since the break. We felt like Reed was the best available. If you're going to get pitching of his caliber you have to give up something."

"He's savvy, he throws strikes, he's a veteran," Ryan said. "He's been through the postseason and the World Series."

The rationale makes sense to me.  The Twins had other outfielders, and were reportedly still trying to trade for Dmitri Young.  The Twins didn't have enough pitching, so getting Reed and his veteran savvy was savvy in itself. 

The Mets were happy to add to their offense:

"I think we have had enough pitching to keep us in the game but not nearly the offense," GM Steve Phillips said. "We need to address that. I understand the importance of pitching to winning, but if we don't score runs at a pace that allows the pitching to be rewarded, it doesn't matter."

The Mets' offense was putrid.  Only Mike Piazza posted an above-average season.  Their outfield was Benny Agbayani, Jay Payton and Timo Perez.  Yikes, that's gross.  I'd definitely rather have Lawton than those dudes.  


Both of these trades made sense.  The Twins' bullpen was poor.  Eddie Guardado was good, but every other arm was poor.  Tood Jones was not poor.  A reliever really can't have a ton of impact in two months, but Jones certainly performed better than an injured Redman.  Plus, adding Reed two days later pretty much negated any hole that Redman's departure could have possibly created.  Reed wasn't The Franchise, but proved to be a solid starter the following season and an important piece on the Twins' first playoff team since their 1991 World Championship. 

Redman's loss was never really felt.  His 109 ERA+ as a rookie in 2000 was promising, but he only eclipsed that number once in his career.  I remember Lawton as a popular player.  He had great on-base skills and was a decent power/speed player.  He was also 29 and the Twins replaced him with Brian Buchanan, who posted a really solid .274/.342/.487 triple slash in 2001.  Lawton's loss was probably felt more by the fans than the team. 

Who won the WAR?

Jones for the Twins:  0.3
Redman for the Tigers:  2.7
WAR won by the Tigers!

Reed for the Twins:  3.6
Lawton for the Mets:  0.3
WAR won by the Twins!

One Sentence Summary

The Twins were on the verge of an eight-year stretch of good baseball, these trades didn't affect that a whole lot but signified a new direction for the Franchise.  

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