State of the Team
2000 Record: 69-93, 5th in the AL Central
2000 Overview: They totally nailed their Pythagorean W-L!
2001 Outlook: If this team wins 86 games I'll eat my hat.
Players Lost - Free Agency
Over the course of the previous decade, the Twins were racking up losses and as a result, racking up high draft picks. Around 1999, the Twins started to integrate their young talent onto the MLB roster. Therefore, during the 2000 off-season, the Twins only lost three players of any sort of significance to free agency. Even then, for two of those players, the word significance would have to be in quotation marks.
Ron Coomer was the non-sarcastic free agent loss, and even he was 34-years-old and coming off of three straight seasons with an OPS+ around 80. A first baseman with little defensive skill, Coomer wasn't going to help this young team. He was jovial though.
Mike Lincoln went 0 and 3 with a 10.89 ERA in 20.2 innings with the Twins in 2000. They decided they didn't want that anymore and he left for Pittsburgh. Lincoln had a couple of decent seasons as a reliever with the Pirates, but that's about all.
Marcus Jensen was one of about fifty backup catchers on the Twins' 2000 roster. He was picked up prior to that season, played 52 games with the Twins and left without a trace. Master detectives tracked him to Boston, because that was where he signed his next contract.
Players Gained - Free Agency
I hope you're sitting down. As I wrote earlier, the Twins were working through a rebuild. You can understand why they didn't want to bring in big-name, expensive free agents. They wanted to see what the young guys could do and whether or not Joe Mays was worth a bad contract. Therefore, the three best players signed after the 2000 season were Tom Prince, Damon Hollins and Hector Carrasco.
Hollins never played for the Twins, but he did have MLB experience. He hit pretty well at AAA and was sent to Atlanta as part of a conditional deal. The conditions of that deal were "we like money."
Hector Carrasco also had prior MLB experience. In fact, he had prior Minnesota Twins experience, as he had been on the 1998, 1999 and 2000 teams. In September of 2000, the Twins traded him for Lew Ford. Yep, THE Lew Ford. Having acquired their future left fielder, the Twins decided to sign Carrasco once more, this time at the end of 2001 Spring Training. Carrasco gave the Twins a 98 ERA+ in 73.2 innings, his worst season as a Twin, but also his oldest. He ages normally.
Tom Prince was awesome. He was like 60 when the Twins signed him. He hit .219 in 139 games as a Twin, spread over three seasons. His main contributions came from how awesome he was. His sixth most similar player according to Baseball Reference?
Chad Moeller! Chad Moeller and Tom Prince were both long-time backup catchers. Of course, Moeller was 26 when the Twins traded him during Spring Training to the Diamondbacks for Hanley Frias. Prince was 68 and aging rapidly. Frias was a super utility player and he was not super. He had hit .235 in parts of three seasons with the Diamondbacks. By the time he was traded to the Cardinals in July, Tom Prince was 78 years old.
Tom Prince, who is now 194 years old.
The Twins didn't lose anyone notable after the 2000 season. However, I've actually heard of Ron Coomer and he left for Chicago after the season. I guess the Twins could have brought him back as a broadcaster or something.
My Own Personal Heartbreak
I'll be honest, by this year of Twins baseball, I had almost no favorite players left. I liked Brad Radke (same name, slim) and I was starting to enjoy some of the younger players, but there wasn't a player on the roster who could break my heart at this point.
Arbitrary Overall Assessment: F
If you're scoring at home, we have now had three straight off-season duds. Yet, if you know Twins history, you are aware that the 2001 season was the season when things really turned around for this franchise. In a lot of ways, it shows that the Twins were able to build a successful team through good drafting, smart in-season trades and good player development. While that proved to work, it certainly made for some boring and frustrating winters.
In fact, the process was insufferable. It took eight years to build the team that way. The Twins of the 90s used free agency as a way to fill bench spots and bring in MN-born players. They were nearly contracted. Thank goodness the current Twins regime (basically the same major players) decided that another eight-year lull is too much to bear.
Next Monday, we'll look at the 2001 off-season. See you then!