Hardy To The Twins

If there was one guy who was definitely getting traded this winter, it was J.J. Hardy. The Brewers had turned over their starting shortstop job to Alcides Escobar, their infield is crowded, and Hardy wasn’t interested in moving to another position. The only solution was to move him to another team, and that’s what the Brewers did today, sending him to Minnesota for Carlos Gomez.

The Twins seem to be betting on Hardy rebounding to the form he showed in 2007 and 2008, when he was a +4 to +5 win player and one of the best shortstops in baseball. His power disappeared and his BABIP went in the tank in 2009, causing his offensive value to fall apart. However, the Twins don’t need Hardy to go all the way back to what he was to make this a good deal, because even the 2009 version was a decent player, thanks to his defensive value. Hardy can really pick it at shortstop, and was a +1.4 win player in less than a full season in 2009, even with the offensive problems.

Assuming some bounce back, Hardy should project as something like a +3 win player for 2010, making him a significant value at a salary that should come in around $5 million or so. He’s easily worth twice that, and if his offense returns, he could be worth $15 to $20 million to the Twins in each of the next two years.

To acquire Hardy, the Twins gave up Gomez, an outstanding defender in his own right. Milwaukee apparently wanted a premium defender to replace Mike Cameron in center field, but they’re taking a pretty big hit offensively in the swap. Gomez strikes out too often to make the slap hitting gig work, and his inability to bunt himself on base in 2009 caused his average to sink to unacceptable levels.

Even with his elite range in the outfield, Gomez is going to have to improve offensively in order to be worth a starting job. With infields taking away the bunt, he’s going to have to get himself on base in other ways, because it’s nearly impossible to justify starting an outfielder with a .286 career wOBA when you’re trying to make the playoffs.

Gomez is still young and will make the league minimum next year, so the Brewers save some cash, but this still strikes me as a very light return on a quality player. Gomez has some potential, but he’s a work in progress, and the Brewers aren’t really in rebuilding mode. If they go into 2010 with him as their starting CF, they’re going to be taking a pretty significant risk.

Big thumbs up to the Twins here, who got better in a hurry. The Brewers had their hands tied a bit due to the logjam at SS, but it’s still hard to imagine this is the best they could do.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


78 Responses to “Hardy To The Twins”

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  1. chuckb says:

    I agree. This seems really light for the Brewers. Remember, Hardy was basically sent down in order to push free agency back a year, thus making him more valuable. How could the Brewers then not get more for him? As bad as last year was, he’d have been nearly a 2 win player if he hadn’t been sent down solely to postpone free agency.

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  2. Teej says:

    Pretty much summed up my thoughts. You have to figure someone could have offered something better than Carlos Gomez. Trading from depth doesn’t mean you have to offer a discount — especially this early in the offseason.

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    • Fresh Hops says:

      My thoughts exactly. Hardy seems like the kind of guy who would have commanded a pretty good price if they had shopped him around just a little bit. How many premium defensive short stops with a 20 homer season are on the market this year? Young ones? Hardy could have commanded a better price than they were paid.

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  3. Paul says:

    Hardy’s career BABIP is .280. Last year was probably an extreme outlier, but so could have been his 2008. Agreed that his defensive value is more than adequate to cover the offensive issues, but expecting much of a bounce back offensively may be pretty optimistic.

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  4. HH says:

    The Brewers apparently felt that Gomez was about as good as they could do to fill the CF void they had. Nice pick up for the Twins.

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  5. MFG says:

    Teej has the critical point here: why would Bernie Brewer make this deal 48 hours into the offseason? You have to imagine they could’ve pulled the trigger on a Gomez swap at the owners’ meetings or even later, after the trade market had solidified itself a little more.

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  6. larry1sss says:

    Tom Haudricourt seems to think Gomez qualifies as a Super-Two.

    http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/69379917.html

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  7. mymrbig says:

    When he was a prospect, Gomez was always referred to as being pretty toolsy. Maybe the Brewers are banking on being able to unlock a little more power. Gomez is listed as 6’4″, 215 lbs., so he isn’t built like the typical slap-hitting burner. And there isn’t much downside in trying to rebuild his swing, because his hitting can’t get much worse.

    But yeah, unless they have strong beliefs that they can get more out of him offensively, this move is pretty questionable from the Brewers standpoint.

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    • JH says:

      I think there’s virtually no chance the Brewers made this move thinking that Gomez was a finished product offensively. I don’t think he’s a great bet to reach even 60% of the upside that was discussed 2-3 years ago, but I’d put good money on the fact that the Brewers disagree with me.

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  8. SBG says:

    Now, if the Twins can just sign Eric Hinske to play third base…

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  9. Kampfer says:

    I don’t understand why Boston didn’t go after Hardy.
    J.J. seems to be a great and cheap solution for the BSox’s problem, and he is relatively young too.

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    • 080808 says:

      Hardy’s a greater defensive player as “to his left side” than “to his right side”.

      To complement the resident Boston 3B “Mike-the statue-Lowell”, it might be better to have SS greater “to his right side”.

      That’s the best consolation I can think of.

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    • Steve C says:

      Hold out hope for Adam Everett I guess.

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    • R M says:

      I just said that on the other Dave’s article….I’ve been hoping they would grab him this offseason. I guess they didn’t act soon enough.

      And 080808, what are you talking about? What you said makes little sense. FIrst of all, how do you know which side Hardy is a better defender to? And second of all, Lowell has been a well above average defender in every year with the Sox except 2009.

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      • 080808 says:

        “how do you know which side Hardy is a better defender to? ”

        FB plus/minus system separates infielder’s runs saved values into three categories: to his right, straight on, and to his left.

        Hardy has been stronger on “to his left” (+16. +18, +8 last three years) than “to his right” (-14, -1, -1).

        Mike lowell has been atrocious “to his left” -17 (2009) and never been good on that part. He has been always gained his defensive values over “to his right” and “straight on”.

        I think Jon lester had every right to whine about biggest gap in MLB history between Lugo (to his right -8, only playing 400 innings 2009) and MLowell.

        Does it make sense now?

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      • B says:

        Could positioning be a factor in those numbers? I don’t know the process, but if they divide it into zones and record left/right/straight based on observation and see which zones they do best it, it would seem to me that positioning would be a huge factor affecting those results. If a guy regularly played farther left than other players at his position, his left side stats would be very good in this example, even though it doesn’t mean he actually goes to his left more effectively.

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      • 080808 says:

        B:

        first, I’m no expert in generating process. All I know about these systems are BTF’s original explanations about UZR and JDewan chat @SOSH in 2009 (explains a lot about plus minus).

        I think what you’re saying in comment is probably right. However, I don’t think the term “to his left” does not literally mean lateral ranging motions of the fielders (maybe I’m wrong) but the statistical region represented. From what I can understand is these (+/- or UZR) are all performance-based metric in nature.

        Whether their initial positions are wrong or their ranging actions are not fast enough, red sox probably lost more than 25 runs by grounders between 3B and SS.

        I’ve been always curious about the ideal initial positions for 3B in Fenway park because there is practically no foul regions behind the 3B. For example, later in the game, keeping the baseline would mean little bit different for 3B or not. If Mike cannot move- apparently so, he can move a little bit more to the left and save more grounders..

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      • R M says:

        I see what you’re saying….I’m not sure how they do it I just can’t picture how you would quantify that….

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    • Judy says:

      Apparently the Red Sox did go after Hardy, the Brewers just weren’t interested in what the Red Sox were offering.

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  10. Southsider says:

    SSS aside, hopefully Escobar can pick up his numbers vs righties, minor league numbers included.

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  11. Haze says:

    I have to imagine that Felix Pie could’ve gotten this deal done for the Orioles. Even in a year where he got sent to the minors Hardy was more valuable than Izturis, and the difference in upside is obvious.

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  12. HH says:

    It’s easy to forget that Gomez is only 23. This may not be lost on the Brewers and they may be projecting upside when everyone else has already made up their mind about the guy. He wouldn’t be the first to make it to the majors and be given up on and then provide an upside surprise.

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  13. Adam W. says:

    This trade makes no sense for the Brewers. How is Gomez any better of an option than Tony Gwynn Jr? Hardy was a valuable trade chip.

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    • Steve says:

      ” Hardy was a valuable trade chip”

      well, apparently he wasn’t.

      unless we seem to think Melvin only spoke to one GM about Hardy?

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      • R M says:

        It’s not like he could have had much time to talk to people, it being 2 days into the offseason.

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      • Steve says:

        not sure i understand, is there a rule that you can’t talk to other teams until the World Series is over?

        didn’t we have a thread earlier in the week about Iwamura and the Pirates?

        it’s probably frowned upon by MLB for teams to make big announcements during the World Series, but there is nothing to stop teams from talking.

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      • sbmke says:

        Melvin was apparently in talks with 6 teams on Hardy, per radio interviews aired through the day in Milwaukee. Was looking for SP or CF, but the SP offers weren’t of interest/quality.

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    • Jim says:

      “How is Gomez any better of an option than Tony Gwynn Jr?”

      Well, he’s better in the sense that Tony Gwynn, Jr. wasn’t an option *at all* for the Brewers anymore, since he was sent to the Padres earlier in the 2009 season. ;)

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      • Adam W says:

        That’s exactly my point. Why are you trading your best asset for basically the same guy that you traded to get Jody Gerut four months ago?

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      • lookatthosetwins says:

        Gerut was coming off a huge year, although the signs were there he was going to repeat.

        So I went to check the assertion that Gomez is “basically the same guy” as Gerut, and the resemblance is pretty remarkable. They have almost identical career wOBAs and UZR/150s, with both spending most of their time in center, and some at the corner spots. Gwynn had a much better offensive season in 2009, but Gomez probably has more projectability and is 3 years younger.

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  14. jwilli7122 says:

    as a Twins fan, love the trade, but am somewhat disappointed to see gomez go rather than cuddyer. he’s a gold glove caliber CF and has a really strange/unique skillset on offense that should lead to something better than it has so far.

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    • Steve says:

      what is so unique about having a ton of speed coupled with no power or plate discipline?

      he’s Joey Gathright.

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      • Not David says:

        Gomez has plenty of power, his problem is putting the bat on the ball.

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      • Steve says:

        yes, i used a little bit of artistic license with the Gathright comparison.

        he has a little more than “no power”, but i’m not sure Carlos Gomez has “plenty” of anything other than defense. he’s pretty terrible.

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      • Not David says:

        Carlos can hit the ball a long way in BP, you don’t do that if you don’t have mad power!

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      • sbmke says:

        Melvin noted on Milwaukee radio interviews that he sees Gomez as having good power – mentioned BP power.

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  15. Not David says:

    I’m a big fan of this deal for the Twins.

    Unfortunately the outfield defense is guaranteed to be horrendous every single game now, that’s not good news for a team that lead the league in FB%.

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    • lookatthosetwins says:

      I agree completely, but it is important to remember how little Gomez played last year. so this is a plus overall for the defense… replacing casilla and Ocab with a full year of hardy.. and replacing a small amount of games for Gomez with a small number of extra games for Delmon

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    • lookatthosetwins says:

      So I ran some numbers…

      using some quick projections (you can argue with them if you want), and assuming Delmon and Hardy take most of Casilla, Ocab, and Gomez’ innings from last year (I realize Casilla plays a different position, but I adjusted for it) I got it to be about a wash. I got 1 extra defensive run for the 2009 squad, which is way smaller than the measurement error, so basically nothing. With the Twins FB heavy staff though, this probably tips the scales slightly to it being a downgrade defensively.

      The UZR/150 numbers I used were
      Casilla -9
      Cabrara -4 (some would say generous, but was a +13 as recently as 2008)
      Gomez +15
      Delmon -12
      Hardy +11

      Like I said, you can argue with those if you want, but they are basically career UZR for everyone but Cabrera, and a 3 year projection for him.

      So, the defense maybe gets a slight downgrade, but obviously this is a pretty large offensive boost. Delmon + Hardy >>>Cabrera+Casilla+Gomez offensively. Definitely a big boost for the team.

      I do realize that if Gardy would have just played Gomez every day, that this would be a large downgrade, but I’m just talking about 2008 Twins vs. 2009 Twins. And I would have guessed gomez would have played even less after Delmon’s hot finish.

      Big win for the Twins, at least for 2009 and 2010.

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      • lookatthosetwins says:

        Wow.

        “1 extra defensive run for the 2009 squad” should read “1 extra defensive run for the 2010 squad”

        “but I’m just talking about 2008 Twins vs. 2009 Twins.” should read “but I’m just talking about 2009 Twins vs. 2010 Twins.”

        Guess I’m living in the past…

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  16. B says:

    Why would Brian Sabean go after a guy like Hardy when he already has Renteria? Seeing the price Hardy costs (very little)…I really wish the Giants had been in the bidding somehow. But then again, like I said, with Sabean running things I can’t say I’m surprised…

    Sigh.

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  17. joser says:

    Well, if you think of this as a very-delayed throw in (the Player to be Named Very Later?), this makes the Santana deal look a little better for the Twinkies.

    Yes, I’m kidding; no, I’m not suggesting trades be evaluated this way.

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  18. lookatthosetwins says:

    Well, if the Twins re-sign Crede, they might have the best infield defense (for the 90 games or so Crede plays) and the worst outfield defense in the league. Not exactly what you want with so many fly ball pitchers. Maybe they should trade for a Josh Johnson type? Or trade away Delmon + somebody for a competent outfielder?

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    • klbader says:

      They could start the bear mascot in LF and improve on defense. I would love to get rid of Delmon Young, but how can that happen after he had one of the worst seasons in baseball last year?

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    • Realist says:

      I’m curious if the Powers That Be know something about Target Field’s potential impact on fly balls that we don’t. In theory, it certainly wouldn’t seem to play like the M’dome.

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      • lookatthosetwins says:

        I would have a hard time imagining it would be better for outfield defense. If nothing else, the lack of short porch in right is going to showcase Cuddyer’s lack of range and make his arm less of an asset (no more holding batters to singles on balls off the wall). I would assume LF would be about the same as the metrodome, but I don’t know for sure.

        The one place it will help is on the ground – No more ground balls through the gap and off the wall. But that shouldn’t have a huge effect – turning doubles into outs is way more important than turning doubles into singles.

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  19. Joe R says:

    Hardy for Gomez?

    Brew Crew of my childhood is back!

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  20. lookatthosetwins says:

    Dave,

    not to bring up a sore subject for everyone, but do you think the Twins would rank higher on your organizational rankings now? Some big prospect signings, some clear signs of spending more money, and the downfall of Chicago and Cleveland? They are the clear favorites in the Central now, and are looking good for the future. I have a lot of trouble believing that TB, despite how stacked they are in every way, have a much better chance of winning a championship in the near future. And BS might not be quite as dumb as we thought. Things are looking up in Minnesota.

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  21. Drew says:

    Hardy for Gomez?

    Brew Crew of my childhood is back
    ——————–

    Are you 7 years old?

    j/k

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    • nate says:

      The brewers of the 90s were brutal. They developed few quality players
      , and those players would be traded before having their peak seasons. Guys like Sheffield, Greg vaughn, Jeff cirillo, even mark loretta. It is a reference to a very dark time in brewer history and a fear of returning there.

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  22. David says:

    It looks like Carlos Gomez is a ~2 win player if he plays full-time (assuming he doesn’t improve at all), while Hardy is somewhere between 2-4 wins (depending on how he hits). Looking at the other relevant players – Mike Cameron is a 4-win player, while Alcides Escobar should be worth at least 1 win (to be conservative).

    So the Brewers lose 6-8 wins while gaining 3-4 wins. However, there’s the salary to take account of. If I’m not mistaken, Cameron was paid $10 million while Hardy will make around $5 million. Gomez and Escobar between them shouldn’t make more than $1.5 million So the question is, can the Brewers make up 3-4 wins (preferably more) with the $13.5 million they save in salary? I think that’s what Melvin is banking on.

    I read a quote from Melvin where he said, essentially, no team had offered sufficiently valuable pitching. Nobody knows who was offered. Some people were speculating the O’s could offer Jeremy Guthrie – but he was only a 1 win player last season (with some worrying flyball rates). Dave wanted the Mariners to offer Brandon Morrow, who has never been worth even 1 win in a season. These are both decent ideas, but I wouldn’t blame Melvin if he turned them (and similar ones) down.

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    • lookatthosetwins says:

      I think its a win win when you take into account Escobar and Cameron, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a fair trade. A reasonable projection for Hardy would be 7 WAR over two seasons, and a reasonable projection for Gomez would be about the same over 4 seasons. Hardy should make about 12-13 million, and Gomez should make about the same in 4 years. Just looking at dollars and WAR, its almost exactly a wash. But I’ll take the WAR in two years over 4 any day. Also, Hardy has a much larger chance of being a type A free agent after 2011.

      I really don’t think you can complain on either side, but I’d give the edge to the twins on this one, and believe me, its been a long time since I’ve said anything like that.

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    • Bodhizefa says:

      Where in the world is Melvin going to find those 3 to 4 wins on the market for $13.5 million? The Brewers don’t have an open spot on the field, so they’ll have to do it via pitching. Pettitte and Lackey are both going to cost more than $13.5 million (and Pettitte is unlikely to entertain going to Milwaukee). Unless Melvin trades for Roy Halladay, he is going to be very hard-pressed to find those lost wins on the pitching market this off-season. The only way the Brewers climb out of that hole is if they get a 4+ WAR season out of one of the Bedard/Harden/Sheets injury triumvirate, and that’s a pretty big gamble in my opinion. And they’d still need another arm to actually improve their team overall in comparison to last year’s already mediocre unit.

      This seems like the Brewers are taking a step or two backward in overall roster construction if you ask me.

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      • JH says:

        Only if you think that 3-4 WAR have to come in the form of 1 person or via FA. There are bargains to be had in this year’s FA crop, and I don’t think the Brewers are done on the trade market, either. Hardy was their most obvious chip, but he was far from their only one.

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  23. Paul says:

    Let’s not forget that Hardy is going to need to re-establish himself on offense in the Big Boy League for this to be a big win for the Twinks. I’d take the additional year of maturity for a 23 year old with big tools. Unlike what Gardy did, they need to play Gomez every day and see if he can make strides toward a 3-4 win player. They don’t have the pitching to think they are making a run this year anyway.

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  24. sbmke says:

    Melvin gave a pretty extensive interview on Milwaukee radio about the trade.

    On Gomez vs. Gwynn Jr. – Gomez has power and power potential. Gwynn didn’t have it and won’t.

    Age is a factor – Gwynn is what he is, a couple years older than Gomez, average on the bases. Gomez is a good baserunner. Melvin keeps alluding to power in speaking of Gomez. Must think the bat will come around. Speed guys take longer to develop.

    Says he profiles as a Michael Bourne type with power (or more power).

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    • Luke says:

      No, Gomez is fast and a bad baserunner. And if power was simply a matter of swinging very hard, he’d be very powerful, but after watching him for two years I saw pretty minimal ability to actually put the barrel on the ball. He’s very enthusiastic, but seems hard to teach. Anyway, a fun player, but talent-wise not one I’m going to miss on the Twins.

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  25. Steen says:

    Hardy’s LD% and contact% are both trending down. Are we sure his bat isn’t slowing down? That would explain why he was able to be had for so “little”.

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  26. Mike in MN says:

    Late to the part, I know, but this Twins’ OF defense might be the worst in baseball now. With this pitching staff, ouch. Love getting Hardy, hate having Young, Span, Cuddy as my OF defense. Hate it. Hate it.

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    • Sam A says:

      Agree about he OF defense. That could be brutal to watch everyday. I just remind myself that Gomez was not an everyday player, so we got the Young-Span-Cuddy combo half the time anyway.

      I’d rather have Hardy every day than Gomez every other day.

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  27. ralf says:

    Fangraphs is probably the wrong place to bring up something as unquantifiable is the influence of coaches, but I like the Brewers’ chances of turning Gomez into a decent hitter. The Twins’ philosophy seems to be that if you’re fast, you should swing at the first pitch, chop it into the ground, and hope to beat it out. Cristian Guzman, Luis Rivas, Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla, Carlos Gomez- very fast runners and totally useless hitters under Ron Gardenhire. Denard Span is breaking the mold by drawing walks and hitting with a level, line-drive swing, but I never saw any evidence over the last two years that Gomez was encouraged to do the same, despite the fact that his raw bat speed is probably better than Span’s.

    The Brewers have their share of free-swingers, but they seem aware, unlike the Twins, of something that should be obvious to every Little Leaguer: that it’s easier to hit while ahead in the count, and if you always swing at the first pitch you’ll almost always be behind (*ahem* Delmon Young). Maybe Gomez can learn from watching Prince Fielder what he should’ve learned from watching Joe Mauer. After all, he’s only 23 and he was rushed through the minors. Maybe he’ll learn to love the 2-0 count and the line drive. Or maybe he’ll just be coming in on a lot of double-switches.

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  28. John says:

    Hardy is a Starting Shortstop with power and good defense. Gomez is a CF who is a great defender who hasn’t hit at all in two full years and another 1/2 season with the Mets. Starting SS’s with power and DEFENSE- Maybe 10 in the Big Leagues total. Tons of weak hitting CF’s

    Twins A+ for filling a need and giving up a Defensive replacement OF

    Brewers D – CF’s who can’t hit and are great Defenders are a “DIME A DOZEN” Makes NO sense except to SAVE MONEY – IF they spend the SAVINGS from not HAVING Cameron or Hardy on the books to SIGN a LEGIT #1 Starter, than a C+_

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