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Happy Delmon (Young) Day! Andrew Kneeland, who was the master mind behind Nick Punto Day a couple of months ago decided that May 12 would be Delmon Young Day.
But before diving into today’s blog (or re-blog), be sure to listen to last night’s Twins Minor League Weekly. Travis Aune and I talked for 80 minutes about the goings on throughout the Twins farm system. We were joined by BJ Hermsen, who was promoted to Beloit yesterday, for a ten minute interview. We answered some phone call questions, and then discussed the Twins minor league affiliates. We spent time talkinga bout all of the transactions, and I kind of got a little revved up when discussing my disappointment that Matt Tolbert was promoted instead of Trevor Plouffe. The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get. But I will be OK. Anyway, it was a fun, informative show. For information on last night’s minor league games, be sure to listen. If you haven’t listened previously, try it out. And as always, if you have any feedback, please let me know.
SethSpeaks Tuesday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Trevor Plouffe – Rochester Red Wings
SethSpeaks Tuesday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Carlos Gutierrez – New Britain Rock Cats
Alright, I am going to semi-mail it in tonight after the lengthy podcast last night. I am going to post what I blogged on November 28, 2007, the day that the Twins made the trade with Tampa that sent Delmon Young to the Twins. Before that, I will just share some thoughts.
When the Twins acquired Delmon Young, I was very excited. I knew that giving up Matt Garza was a risk, but I also knew that the Twins were very happy to be rid of him. I was higher than most on Jason Bartlett, so I really hated to see him gone, but replacing him with Brendan Harris (who was coming off of a 12 HR season) would be a decent replacement. The part of the deal that I was most disturbed by was the loss of Eduardo Morlan!
One thing that has always bothered me is the continual comparison to Garza. Garza, of course, had decent seasons for the Rays the last two years, but nothing spectacular. For the Twins, he would have been a #3 or #4 starter. However, when the Rays played the Red Sox in the ALCS in 2008, Garza pitched two great games and was named series MVP. The other side of Garza showed up in World Series when he was lit up by the Phillies. He has been up and down the last two years. He, along with winner Francisco Liriano, were considered the top choices for April Pitcher of the Month. Likewise, the Rays success in 2008 made them a huge story. When Jason Bartlett was named the team’s MVP, it was a joke. Why? He missed a ton of time that season with injury, and truth be told, he was outplayed by Nick Punto. That said, I was not at all surprised by how well Bartlett played in 2009. That said, I don’t think he can sustain it. In all, I think that Garza and Bartlett are both very good players, but the value of each was greatly enhanced by their team’s success in 2008. Secondly, I never understood the level of disdain for Delmon by many fans and bloggers. He played with the Twins for the first two years as he had for the Rays. The numbers are incredibly similar. It was never Delmon’s fault that many fans (myself included) had some expectations for so much more… and I still expect that Young will get to those levels in time.
Young was just that, he was so young. He was still just 22 years old when he debuted with the Twins. He could hit .290, but he simply refused to walk, even in Tampa Bay. His first-pitch swinging was really frustrating. Young was second in the AL in Assists during his final year with Tampa Bay… to the Twins Michael Cuddyer. The Twins decided that it would be best to move Young to LF and keep Cuddyer in RF. It’s always interesting to see a player play every day. I don’t think Twins fans realized that Young was so shaky defensively. Now I would argue that he isn’t as bad as some would say. He is not smooth out in left field, but he doesn’t make a lot of errors. There is no questioning his arm strength.
2009 may have been a turning point for Young. He was hitting .300 when he left the team to be with his mother. He went on the bereavement list. His mother passed away, and when he came back, Young clearly wasn’t himself. He struck out more than every other at bat for a couple of weeks. He then lost a lot of playing time. But when Justin Morneau’s season came to an end, Young played every day in LF and played very well. He was a huge part of the Twins playoff push.
This past offseason is why I think that Delmon Young has now turned the corner. I know people like to see that Delmon Young has lost weight. In the outfield, he has been able to make a lot more plays and cover more ground. But for me, it is about the effort and the resolve. To lose 30 pounds requires a commitment, and Young showed that throughout the offseason. He came to camp in shape, and he showed up with a smile. It was really the first time that we have seen smiling Delmon, and it’s been great. Along with the improved range, it is great to see the extra hustle that Young has shown on the base paths. Ground balls to the left side of the infield are no longer easy outs. Force outs at 2B have become tough plays. As important, it appears that Young is being more patient at the plate. No, he’ll never be Joe Mauer. He won’t ever walk a ton, but there seems to be an effort, and honestly, it’s great to see. It’s all we can ask for as fans.
Young came to the big leagues with a bad reputation. There was the 50 game suspension while he was in the minor leagues for throwing a bat at an umpire after a called third strike. There was his very vocal disappointment when he was not called up as a 19 year old. But he was also touted as one of the top prospects in baseball from the time he was the first overall draft pick in 2003 until he debuted with the Rays in 2006. The talent is clearly there. Likely, baseball came easy to him, and it became questionable as to whether he was willing to work to get better and make adjustments. 2009 had to be a hard year for Young. His mom suffered from cancer for awhile, and that was weighing on his mind. When he came back, it had to take awhile to be himself again.
That’s why seeing the smile this spring is a very good thing. That’s why hearing reports that he is a different person, more relaxed and a better teammate is a good thing. I had the opportunity to chat with Delmon Young a few times throughout the offseason. He was very personable and friendly, nothing like the persona so many would seem to expect.
Let’s see where the numbers end up .Who knows what he’ll do. But if nothing else, Young has clearly put in the time and the effort that he deserves the chance to play and see what he can become. 2010 is a huge year for him as well. It is his first arbitration season and he got a nice raise from last year. If he puts up another year similar to the last two, he will get another raise. If he has the type of season that I think he is still capable of (since he is still just 24 years old until September), then he could make a lot of money. Either way, the Twins will need to decide how those numbers affect what they want and need to do this offseason. With Ben Revere and Rene Tosoni likely ready sometime in 2011, what will they do? Michael Cuddyer is signed through 2011, and the Twins will most likely pick up the 2011 option of Jason Kubel. It will be very interesting to see how 2010 plays out for Delmon Young, and what it means for the upcoming off season.
Feel free to discuss Delmon today and share your thoughts as well. I am going to re-post the blog I wrote the day of the trade, two-and-a-half years ago, just for fun. Leave your comments here.
Wednesday Afternoon, November 28, 2007
Twins Get Young (and More)
UPDATE – The deal is complete. Unfortunately, Juan Rincon’s elbow made the Rays shy on him, so he was replaced in the trade by Eduardo Morlan. Instead of feeling really pretty good about the deal, I am now a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong. I think getting Young is great, and Harris may be a little underrated. But I also believe that Garza may be a little underrated, and so is Bartlett. So, unless Jason Pridie becomes the Twins starting CF, it’s a little more difficult to be overly excited about the deal anymore. To me, Morlan would have been the Twins next great closer. 21 years old, a strikeout machine, a guy who wanted to close. Disappointing! Not a bad trade, just a little less excitement right now.
La Velle is reporting that the Twins are close to acquiring Delmon Young from the Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Garza. The deal is believed to include more, but those are the principles. The Twins would also acquire SS Brendan Harris and CF Jason Pridie. The Twins would also send Jason Bartlett and Juan Rincon to the Rays. So, without diving into numbers and stats and really, just hearing this now, here are some thoughts:
This trade can be broken down three ways:
1.) Matt Garza for Delmon Young – Matt Garza has “ace” potential. Once every five days, he could give the Twins a chance to win. He is still quite young and although he hasn’t dominated yet, but he will. Delmon Young has the type of bat that could develop into a .300 hitter with potentially 35 homers or so. (and he refuses to walk, so maybe a .310 OBP?) Of course, he comes with some concerns, or baggage. High potential young pitcher for high potential young hitter. It’s a challenge trade and the winner probably won’t be known for a couple of years. However, as of right now, the advantage goes to the Twins. This also officially ends the Terry Ryan era!
2.) Jason Bartlett for Brendan Harris – I am a big Bartlett guy. I’ve always liked him. But look at the numbers, Harris is not really a step down. In fact, he provides a little more home run potential than Bartlett. However, he is not the defender that Bartlett is. That is why one of the Rays’ goals this offseason was to find a defensive shortstop and why Bartlett is an asset to them. In reality, this is a pretty even portion of the trade. If there has to be an advantage given, I would give it to the Rays, but not by a lot.
3.) Jason Pridie for Juan Rincon – This isn’t really a comparison at all. The Twins took Pridie, whose brother pitched in the Twins system for several seasons, in the Rule V draft two years ago. He went to spring training, but did not stick with the team. He spent 2006 at AA, and 2007 at AAA. Suddenly this season, he became a bigger prospect. So, is he the Twins CF of the future or is he Jason Tyner II? The Rays need bullpen help, so maybe Rincon makes sense to them. From a Twins fan’s perspective, this part of the trade is very pro-Twins just by ridding themselves of Rincon, who has a year of arbitration left.
So, by itself, this is a good trade for the Twins in my opinion. It doesn’t answer all of the Twins questions. It creates new and different questions. But it is the start and there is more to come, I’m sure.
So, what does this all mean? Is Harris their SS or is he a 3B option too? Does Alexi Casilla move to SS? Is Trevor Plouffe ready? Does Delmon Young play CF or LF? Can Jason Pridie play CF for the Twins in 2008, and what does this mean for Denard Span? If Garza is gone and Silva will sign elsewhere and Johan Santana is traded, what will that Twins rotation look like in 2008?