Thursday, July 18, 2013

20 Minnesota Twins Trades: Todd Walker and Butch Huskey: Friends Forever

It's the year 2000.  The Twins had finally moved on from the Knoblaucle (Chuck Knoblauch debacle) and had replaced him with a new, productive second baseman.  There's no way this second baseman could get upset and want to leave Minnesota at all costs.  No way, no how.  All is well!  Oh, come on?  Seriously Todd Walker?

The Trade:  BREAKDOWN!

The Minnesota Twins traded Todd Walker and Butch Huskey to the Colorado Rockies for Todd Sears and $$. 

Walker only played 142 games for the Rockies as they traded him just one year and four days after acquiring him.  He did post an impressive .304/.363/.514 triple slash in those 142 games.  Huskey played 45 games for the Rockies that season and posted a .348/.432/.565 triple slash and then he never played another MLB game.  How strange.  He didn't try to run through any of Colorado's outfield walls.  Sears lasted all of 31 games with the Twins before being traded to the Padres for nothing. 

How did I feel at the time?

I remember this being a bigger deal than I now think it really was.  I guess I thought Todd Walker was some sort of superstar, but I can't find a lot of information about this trade.  In fact, it all seems pretty minor and some label it as the Butch Huskey trade.  That seems crazy to me.  However, I do remember being annoyed at the time because I did like Walker and I thought he should not have been sent to the Minors.  I did not care about Butch Huskey.  No one did.

Why make the trade?

First, and interesting tidbit from this AP story:

"The New York Yankees, worried about Chuck Knoblauch's throwing problems, are trying to trade for Minnesota's Todd Walker as a backup for their troubled second baseman."

Wow, the Yankees really dodged a bullet there.  Instead, they went with Luis Sojo and then inserted 
Alfonso Soriano as their second baseman full-time in 2001.  Crisis averted, back to the trade!

It's telling that the author of this AP story wrote about Huskey first.  It's odd because no one cares about Butch Huskey.  Anyway, here is a nice checklist of reasons why the Rockies wanted Huskey:

"The Rockies, who have lost 10 straight -- the second-longest skid in team history, hope Huskey can provide some needed power off the bench."

Has power.  He hit four home runs in 45 games for the Rockies.  Check.

"Although he hit just .223 and struck out 49 times before being sent to Triple-A Salt Lake City, the 28-year-old outfielder has four career home runs at Coors Field."

Had four career Coors Field home runs.  Check.

''Huskey gives us a guy that can play first, third and the outfield,'' Rockies manager Buddy Bell said. ''And he's got some juice.''

Has some juice.  Check.  Also, gross.

Perhaps there will be actual good reasons why the Rockies wanted Walker:

"Walker, 27, appeared to be the successor to Chuck Knoblauch at second base for the Twins, hitting .316 with 12 homers and 62 RBIs in 1998. He hit .278 last year, but he was sent to Salt Lake City in May after hitting .234 in 77 at-bats this season.  Soon after his demotion, Walker demanded a trade."

Well, buying low on a post-prospect isn't a bad idea.  Walker was annoyed that he was demoted and the Twins were happy to deal him away.  Walker did rebound and hit extremely well for the Rockies after the trade, so they were on to something.  Here's more:

''I just know this guy can hit,'' Bell said. ''In Todd Walker's case, it's something that's long-term, rather than short-term. It's something that makes our organization stronger. He's still relatively young. We're looking for guys that can do more things.''

And then they traded him a year later.  I found nothing in any article that indicates if Walker has juice or not.  

Here's a Reuters story that might give you some perspective from the Twins' side of the trade:

"The 24-year-old Sears, a first baseman, was batting .303 with 21 doubles, 12 homers and a league-leading 72 RBI in 85 games for Carolina of the Southern League. He also leads the league with a .434 on-base percentage."

Headline:  Twins embrace sabermetrics; trade for on-base machine/department store.


The Twins had Jay Canizaro to play second and he was short like a second baseman is supposed to be.  Plus, Luis Rivas was just around the corner!  In all seriousness, Walker wasn't a great player.  He was a good offensive player in 1998 and then he wasn't in 1999.  He wasn't playing well when he was demoted in 2000.  He also was a pretty poor defender.  He might have been a bit of a pain in the rear too.  Who really knows?  He was certainly in Tom Kelly's doghouse, but maybe he earned that spot.  He posted some good offensive numbers after leaving the Twins, but never on a consistent basis. 

No one cared about losing Butch Huskey. 

The trade made sense for the Rockies as they were able to acquire a second baseman who could hit and an outfielder who had some hype prior to completely falling apart with the Twins.  All they had to give up was a middling prospect, so it made perfect sense.  Both players performed very well for the Rockies that year.  Although, the Rockies did basically give Walker away roughly one year later, so maybe he was a pain in the rear.  Huskey retired after he couldn't make the Indians team out of Spring Training in 2001.  No one cared.  

I was strangely enamored with Todd Sears.  I didn't think Doug Mientkiewicz hit enough dingers!  Sears had power, or at least that was what I was told.  Anyway, Sears wasn't needed as Mientkiewicz was a nice player and Justin Morneau was lurking.  I am guessing that Sears was not a pain in the rear though.

Who won the WAR?

Walker for the Rockies:  2.3
Huskey for the Rockies:  0.7
Sears for the Twins:  0

WAR won by the Rockies!

One Sentence Summary

The Todd Walker/Butch Huskey/Kohls trade was pretty meaningless.

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