After the 2009 season, the Twins decided to make a smart move and deal from outfield depth to address a position that had been a weakness on the team for the better part of 20 years. Just one year later, the Twins decided, "meh, shortstops are for dorks" and traded that same player away for a couple of relievers. Buckle up folks, it's very hard to be even remotely positive about this trade.
The Trade: BREAKDOWN!
The Minnesota Twins traded J.J. Hardy and Brendan Harris and cash to the Baltimore Orioles for Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson.
Harris and Jacobson never played for their new teams, so we can just move past them.
Hoey was one of the worst Twins relievers in recent memory. He only threw 24.2 innings for the Twins. In those innings, he posted a 5.47 ERA, which was actually a career low! He walked 13 batters and only struck out 14. He nearly posted a 2.0 WHIP. He was brutal.
After a disappointing 2010 season with the Twins, Hardy bounced back in 2011. He hit 30 home runs for the Orioles and was worth 4.3 WAR. His offense slipped to an 82 OPS+ in 2012, but his defense and power helped make him a 3+ WAR player anyway. In 2013, He has been somewhere in between 2011 and 2012, but would still be much better than Pedro Florimon and Tsuyoshi Nishioka sharing a uniform and trying to use their four arms to their advantage.
How did I feel at the time?
Not pleased. I thought acquiring Hardy was a very smart move and I wasn't happy that the Twins gave up on him after a season. I was not on the Nishioka bandwagon at all and I didn't think that trading away a power-hitting shortstop is the kind of thing a good team does. I'm not going to state who was right or wrong.
Why make the trade?
That is a question that I can't really answer. Here's an ESPN.com article that tries it's best to make sense of the senseless.
"We're looking for a little more offense to our regular shortstop position, and we're confident he can provide that," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. "We also talked to other shortstop targets."
I love it! Adding a great offensive shortstop is a great way to improve a team. We sure are lucky that MacPhail is back and making shrewd moves. Wait. This is what the Orioles did. Oops. Well, I'm guessing the Twins were targeting some high upside arms, right?
Hoey and Jacobson are two hard-throwing minor leaguers who could eventually help replenish Minnesota's bullpen.
Yeah! Hard throwing. Now I get it. Let's bring in some hard throwing relievers. They will certainly match the value of a good shortstop. They'll pitch like 60 innings apiece and all will be well. The question remains: who are these people?
The 27-year-old Hoey was 4-0 with a 3.38 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk. He pitched for Baltimore in 2006-07, going 3-5 with an 8.13 ERA.
Well that doesn't look promising. Although, there was nowhere to go but up, I suppose. What about the other guy?
The 24-year-old Jacobson was 8-1 with one save and a 2.79 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 71 innings at Class A Frederick. The Orioles got him in August 2009 from Detroit in a trade for Aubrey Huff.
Hmm. Not terrible. Of course, this ignores the fact that Jacobson was 24 and repeating A ball. Whatever, the Twins needed relievers, as they were about to lose Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier. Of course, the Orioles needed relievers too, as evidenced here:
The Orioles also reached a preliminary agreement with pitcher Koji Uehara on a one-year contract for $3 million. The deal is pending a physical. The 35-year-old Japanese righty was 1-2 with 13 saves and a 2.86 ERA in 43 games for Baltimore last season.
Three million was only slightly less than what the Twins were going to pay Nishioka. Uehara was only good as an MLB pitcher, not good as a class A pitcher. So, it just depends on which league you value more.
If you want to even try to make sense of this move, then you are trying very hard to be positive. However, the logic behind the move must have gone like this: Nishioka is coming, Guerrier and Crain are gone, this will balance things out. Hardy wasn't great in 2010 and the relievers acquired were young. There is a hint of logic there. A hint. I'm not willing to go any further than that.
The reality is that the Twins finally had a decent shortstop and they basically gave him away. They gave him away much like they gave Jason Bartlett away just a few years prior. It seems that the Twins aren't able to see a good defensive shortstop, unless it is very obvious. As I type this, Pedro Florimon is manning the Twins' shortstop position and he certainly is defense-only. However, Bartlett and Hardy might not make their defensive prowess as apparent as Florimon does. They were both extremely solid but maybe didn't always look the part. Whatever the issue was, the Twins let two very valuable players slip away.
Of course, Hardy wasn't defense-only. He has great power at a premium defensive position. Hardy could bat 5th, play short and probably do so for another 3-4 years. He'd be around when the Twins get good again. Instead, the Twins will likely have a gaping hole at the position for the foreseeable future. That being said, he's not a superstar. True, the Twins let him get away, but he isn't without some major flaws. He's inconsistent and he doesn't get on-base at even an above-average rate. He's still a whole lot better than Nishioka, Hoey and Jacobson.
Who won the WAR?
Hoey with the Twins: -0.6 WAR
Hardy with the Orioles: 10.9 WAR
WAR won by the Orioles!
One Sentence Summary
Did anyone really think that the Orioles lost anything related to this trade?