State of the Team
1999 Record: 63-97, 5th in the AL Central
1999 Overview: At least fans were only subjected to 160 games.
2000 Outlook: Welcome to the Jay Canizaro era!
Players Lost - Free Agency
As has been the case for the last few off-seasons, the Twins didn't lose anyone of substantive value because they barely employed anyone of substantive value. After the 1999 season, the following "notable" names left for greener pastures: Brent Gates, Tony Fiore, Gary Rath, Shane Bowers and Kevin Ohme. Sweet mix.
A few reasonably notable players did leave after the '99 season including a reliable reliever, a local catcher and a former ROY. The Twins drafted Mike Trombley way back in 1989. At his peak, he was a decent, but not great reliever who could throw a lot of innings and get some strikeouts. He peaked in 1996 and at well over a million bucks per season, he was a luxury not needed on a very crappy team. He left for Baltimore and never looked back...until he returned in 2002 for four innings.
Marty Cordova was also drafted in 1989 and won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1995. In his five seasons with the Twins, he hit .277/.348/.451, providing great value as a former fifth-round pick. He never had a season as fine as his rookie season, and at times he was pretty brutal. All in all, not bad for this era. Cordova signed a free agent deal with the Red Sox and didn't make their team out of Spring Training. Yikes. He did latch on with the Blue Jays the next day and played four more seasons in the Majors.
Terry Steinbach was drafted in 1983 and signed with the Twins before the 1997 season. He was coming off of a monster '96 season and he didn't really match his '96 numbers in his three combined seasons with the Twins. That said, it was fun to have a local boy on the team. I guess. He retired after the '99 season.
Players Gained - Free Agency
Are you ready?!? JASON MAXWELL! BOBBY AYALA! BUTCH HUSKEY! TODD RIZZO! ROBIN JENNINGS! RICK GREENE! MARCUS JENSEN! Let's get physical! The Twins went ape this off-season, right?
Maxwell spent his 2000 season as a utility man, playing games at second, short and third. He also hit .243/.298/.324, meaning he had no utility at the plate. Not to fear, he was signed to just a one-year deal and there's simply no way the Twins would bring him back. Oh wait, they did. They spent over $400,000 on Maxwell over two seasons, money that would have easily been better spent on eWorld stock.
Butch Huskey is likely best remembered for his heroic quest to tear down the Berlin Wall. He even went so far as to show the danger of walls when he crashed skeleton-first into the left-field wall at the Metrodome. Sadly, no one had the heart to tell poor Butch that the Berlin Wall had been torn down over a decade earlier. Oh well, at least he hit .223/.306/.353 in 64 games before being traded as PART of a deal that netted the Twins "The Immortal Todd Sears."
We'll get to Ayala in a minute.
TRADEZ!/Rule Five Madnezzz!
The Twins had the very first pick in the Rule 5 draft. This was their trophy for finishing dead last in all of Major League Baseball in 1999. With that first pick, the Twins selected Jared Camp, a walk-heavy, 24-year-old reliever who pretty much sucked.
Now, the next part can be looked at in two ways. One, the Twins realized their mistake and quickly worked out a deal with the Florida Marlins, who had selected a 20-year-old dude named Johan Santana. The Twins would get Santana and some cash and the Marlins would get Camp, the pitcher they truly wanted.
Or, you can look at it very cynically and deduce that the Twins really wanted Santana, but they really, really wanted more cash. Therefore, they slow-played the Marlins for extra chedda.
However it went down and however you want to look at it, the trade for Santana was probably the best deal the Twins have ever made. Santana blossomed into the best pitcher in recent Twins' history, won 2 Cy Youngs, earned 2 more and basically won the hearts of all of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Manitoba, and parts of Wisconsin that should really just cheer for the Brewers.
Kidding...or am I...I am...but wait, what if...no I love Wisconsin...I just hate those shirts that say "Bucky" more than anything...Not because of the University, because I think those shirts are stupid...
Bobby Ayala didn't play a single game for the Twins and therefore, he was the best signing of the off-season. By simply not playing and not providing negative value, he was the best player the Twins acquired in the off-season. Way to go, Bobby!
Sorry, can't count the Santana move, there's simply no way the Twins had any clue it would work out as it did. No credit! NONE!
A crap-way tie for everything. What a bummer of a Fall/Winter/Early Spring. If you have to pick one, it's Huskey because I think the Twins reasonably thought he could be useful, coming off of a decent '99 season. He was useful in testing the structural integrity of the Metrodome.
My Own Personal Heartbreak
I always hated Tony Fiore and he wasn't around to complain about any longer. Does that count?
Arbitrary Overall Assessment: F
Consecutive Fs! Not only did the Twins appear to have no interest in actually fielding a competitive team, they didn't seem to have any interest in fielding a merely bad team. Look at the moves that were made this off-season! That's a stack of garbage placed between two slices of rye bread (editor's note: Brad hates rye bread). In 2012, the Twins were ripped when Kevin Correia was their best free agent pickup. Kevin Correia blows this garbage sandwich out of the water. I lived these moments and I can't remember how it felt to be a fan at this time. Then again, that might just say it all.
Next Monday, we'll look at the 2000 off-season. See you then!