Wednesday the Twins pulled off a blockbuster trade with Tampa Bay, acquiring OF’s Delmon Young, Jason Pridie, and IF Brendan Harris (all ML level) for SP Matt Garza, SS Jason Bartlett, and minor league P Eduardo Morlan. Earlier rumors suggested that MR Juan Rincon would be included rather than Morlan, but that fell through when the Rays expressed concerns regarding the condition of Rincon’s elbow. Operating under the idea that you know all you need to know about Garza, Bartlett, and company, here’s what you should know about your new Twins:
What should be taken from the deal? Well, for the Twins, they gain an incredibly talented 22 year old OF who may or may not be capable of playing CF in Young. Whether or not Young can play CF doesn’t really change the value of the trade, primarily due to the fact that LF/DH was another spot the Twins needed to fill with a quality regular, something that Young would appear to do. There is a chance, however, that the Twins fell in love with a name. Young is a former first overall pick, back in the 2003 amateur draft. That alone can gain a player some instant notoriety, and a veritable plethora of undeserved chances to prove yourself. Think Dewon Brazelton. As for Delmon, Young’s Triple Crown stats of .288 13 HR and 93 RBI will make the less informed baseball fan feel warm inside, but there’s little in the way of positives to glean from an overall mark of .288/.316/.408. Add to the fact that he’s got a history of less than stellar isolated discipline (.047 in 1413 minor league AB would be a pretty good indicator here), and he’s probably going to have to post a .320 average year in and year out (nearly impossible to do) to have an OBP worth telling mom about. Is he still a potential, perhaps even probably franchise cornerstone, especially given that next season will be his age 22 season? Heck yes, but perhaps we should temper the enthusiasm for next year, anyway.
Brendan Harris poses an offensive upgrade and a defensive downgrade to Bartlett. This is, of course, if the Twins view him as a SS going forward. Harris graded out nearly 30 runs below replacement level last year, but apparently projects well at either 2B or 3B. While producing a .286/.343/.434 line, Harris smacked 50 extra base hits and drove in just a shade over 60 runs. He would probably look pretty good in the 2 hole, and would be a smart solution for the 2B or 3B problem if the Twins felt Casilla could handle the load at SS at least for now. It’s a real shame Plouffe isn’t a bit closer, otherwise he’d provide some stiff competition for Casilla in camp.
Jason Pridie was property of the Twins for a short time prior to the 2006 season, having been selected by the club during the 2005 Winter Meetings. Pridie was strangely stronger in AAA last year in AA, especially since his AA numbers (.290/.331/.441) are pretty much exactly in line with his minor league numbers to date (.279/.327/.432), especially more so than his AAA numbers (.318/.375/.539). This was the first time since Pridie was an 18 year old in Rookie Ball back in 2002 that he posted an OPS higher than 900 in any significant amount of time. Sounds an awful lot like Brian Buscher. Pridie could make a good, cheap option to start in CF (certainly light years better than Tyner and Span) as long as the Twins don’t stop here with the additions, and make an upgrade at the 3B/2B spot, whichever isn’t filled by Brendan Harris.
From this writer’s standpoint, the deal is pretty good for both clubs. The Rays have a horde of young, useful OF, so it makes sense to thin the herd by dealing for a weak spot. Strangely, though, they dealt their seemingly most valuable asset, a very, very cheap and talented OF who could be the next Twins OF darling, on the coattails of Torii Hunter and the late Turkey Bucket, *ahem* Kirby Puckett. Garza looks to be a solid 2 or at worst a 3 in this league with a ceiling rivaling perhaps Ian Kennedy, and perhaps a bit higher than fellow prospect pitchers Jon Lester, Glen Perkins, and Kevin Slowey. It remains to be seen if Garza will live up to the hype, but he’s joining a stable of SP anchored by Scott Kazmir that is young and improving. Don’t sleep on the Rays this year.
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