State of the Team
2001 Record: 85-77, 2nd in the AL Central
2001 Overview: WAIT, THAT'S MORE WINS THAN LOSSES!
2002 Outlook: This winning thing is foreign to me, although I do enjoy it.
Players Lost - Free Agency
The Twins lost five players who spent time on the MLB roster, but lost little at the same time. Jason Maxwell played two unimpressive seasons with the Twins in 2000 and 2001. He left for Texas, didn't make their team in Spring Training and never played in the Majors again.
Quinton McCracken had a really fun name and a really bad season with the Twins in 2001. He played just 24 games and each was poor (probably). He left for Arizona and played pretty well in 2002, hitting .309/.367/.458. It would be his finest season.
Chad Allen had an impressive rookie season, hitting 10 home runs and adding 14 stolen bases. He then shredded his knee in 2001 and was never the same. He left for Cleveland and played 5 games for them in 2002.
Hector Carrasco left again, and we really touched on his saga last week. Just read this; it's in there somewhere.
Finally, mid-season trade acquisition Todd Jones left for Colorado. You can read my analysis of the Todd Jones trade here. Basically, he never wanted to leave Detroit and it didn't seem like he wanted to come here. Thus, he left.
Players Gained - Free Agency
Oh man, the Twins went ape this off-season. They added four legit MLB players, including Kurt Abbott, Brian Meadows and Alex Prieto. I mean, we all remember their illustrious Twins careers, right?
Abbott had been a productive player once upon a time. Of course, that was in the mid-90s, back when the Twins had no use for productive players. Abbott was cooked by the time the Twins nabbed him and he was released during Spring Training.
Meadows was coming off of a 2001 season with the Royals where he posted a slick 6.97 ERA in 10 starts. He did strike out 21 batters in 50 innings, so that's impressive. Meadows was also released during Spring Training, but somehow caught on with the Pirates and played five more MLB seasons.
Prieto would actually play for the Twins, but not until 2003. He played 24 games for the Twins between 2003 and 2004. He posted a pretty dope .209/.255/.302 triple slash and actually managed a -52 OPS+ in 11 plate appearances in 2003. That was a pretty small sample. Maybe the Twins should bring him back.
The Twins signed Jose Mijares as an amateur free agent after the 2001 season. That signing did work out, as Mijares was a productive player for a short while. That said, everyone in Minnesota seemed to hate him and he actually got people to take Delmon Young's side in an argument. How odd.
They did sign one legit MLB free agent and he did work out. However, I want to make a joke about his name later, so he doesn't count.
The Twins made zero this off-season, so let's just talk a bit about jerking Casey Blake around instead. In May of 2000, the Twins selected Blake off of waivers from the Blue Jays. He played 7 games for the Twins in 2000 and didn't do much. The Orioles selected Blake off of waivers from the Twins in late September of 2001. Less than one month later, the Twins selected Blake off of waivers from the Orioles. The Twins wanted and didn't want Casey Blake numerous times in the early 2000s. We'll re-visit this saga next Monday. Foreshadowing!
The Twins signed the freaking King of Pop to pitch for them! I mean, he was a frail man with little non-dancing athleticism, but the PR was likely outstanding. I mean, he could have worn his glove and his glove. Think about it! What? It wasn't that Michael Jackson? The imposter Michael Jackson was fine I guess.
Ah, the Joe Mays extension. Mays had an awesome 2001 season. He was 17-13 with a 3.16 ERA and he threw 233.2 innings. Of course, back in 2001, we weren't really looking at things like his tiny strikeout rate, his .243 BABIP, and his 78.2% strand rate. The things that mattered were his traditional stats and his age (just 25). Mays never posted an ERA under 5.38 for the remainder of his career. This is something we would have seen miles away in 2013, but in 2001, we were young.
My Own Personal Heartbreak
Quinton McCracken is still one of my favorite names in Twins history. You can love that name just for what it is, or you can be a twelve-year-old and love it for the fact that "McCrack" is there. Either way, I was sad to see him go before the era when I had expendable money and could have bought his jersey. That era has not occurred yet, for the record.
Arbitrary Overall Assessment: D
The Mays extension was a nice idea, but it worked out about as poorly as possible. The Twins added some players who I had heard of, but also lost some players I had heard of. Of course, as I explained last week, the Twins didn't really need to be active during the off-season because they had so much cost-controlled talent under contract and would for many years. All they had to do was continue to draft and develop and stay the course. It would prove to work for many years and when the drafting and developing dried up, so did the wins.
Of course, back in 2001, the Twins didn't know they would be good for a decade and they could have beefed up the team with some good free agent signings. They didn't and that's why they get a D. D's get degrees though.
Next Monday, we'll look at the 2002 off-season. See you then!