Tagged: Carlos Gomez
Hello Hardy, Goodbye Gomez
It didn’t take long for the off-season to get started for the Minnesota Twins. Less than two days after the conclusion of the World Series, the team put a dent in their to-do list with a trade.
With the infield filled with uncertainty outside of first base and Justin Morneau, it came as no surprise that the team’s first area of action was shortstop. In possibly the first of many off-season moves, the Twins sent Carlos Gomez up I-94 to Milwaukee and brought in 27-year old shortstop J.J. Hardy.
Gomez had arrived in Minnesota two seasons ago when the Twins sent Johan Santana to New York in exchange for four players. A speedy outfielder, Gomez showed signs of promise, but upon his departure, his skills at the plate remained a question.
Hardy meanwhile put up great numbers in 2007 to help earn a spot on the National League All-Star team. The numbers were matched again in 2008, but Hardy never rebounded from a slow start in 2009 and saw one of baseball’s top shortstop prospects, Alcides Escobar, take his spot.
Since the 2005 season, Minnesota Twins’ shortstops have hit a combined .253 with 31 homeruns, and 287 runs batted in over the course of five seasons and 810 games. In that same span, Hardy has hit .262 with 75 homeruns and 265 RBI in 571 total games.
Not only will the Twins potentially add power to the lineup, they’ll also add defense to the infield. Considered one of baseball’s best shortstop defenders, Hardy made eight errors last season giving him a .983 fielding percentage.
While Milwaukee adds a replacement for Mike Cameron, the Minnesota Twins have answered two questions. Come spring, there will be no questions regarding the state of the outfield; Delmon Young, Denard Span, and Michael Cuddyer will start.
Meanwhile, a position filled with uncertainty since Christian Guzman manned the spot in 2004 will now become more stable. Hardy is under the team’s control through 2011, and if he can rebound from a tough season, his tenure could last longer.
Second base and third base remain as two of many questions, but quickly into the off-season, the Twins have already addressed one of their biggest holes.
O-Cab Carries Leadership
Orlando Cabrera arrived in Minneapolis last Saturday after the Minnesota Twins made a deadline deal in an attempt to help shore up their middle infield and add production from the second spot in the lineup. Since his arrival Cabrera has without a doubt been a productive player. The veteran shortstop has went 10-20 at the plate in five games to give him a .500 batting average since his arrival, and he’s made several professional plays in the field.
The offense and defense are two things the team knew they had the chance of receiving when Cabrera was acquired, but there is one other thing that Cabrera carries – leadership. From the first time Cabrera stepped foot on the Metrodome turf, it was easy to tell the type of person he was away from the batter’s box.
After Cabrera grounded out to second base in his first at-bat as a Twin, he went to the dugout and let everybody know what the pitcher was trying to do. The next time up, Cabrera took a nearly identical pitch down the right field line for a double.
Veteran leadership is one quality that Cabrera carries, so too is his mentorship. From his first inning as a Twin through his 45th, Cabrera has been seen time and time again sitting and talking with youngster Carlos Gomez. The mentorship has paid off.
Gomez has gone 4-15 in four games since Cabrera’s arrival to give him a .267 average in the near-handful of games. The 23-year old speedster has shown more confidence, hit pitches he didn’t earlier in the season, and continued to make strong plays in centerfield.
If the Twins are playing meaningful baseball come October, Cabrera could be a key factor. His leadership and ability to communicate with young players such as Gomez however could have an impact on the many seasons ahead.
On Pace: Hitters
With a 5-hour, 16-inning game, the Minnesota Twins have played 81 games in the 2009 season; signifying the completion of half of the season. Through the midway point, the Twins find themselves one game above .500 with a record of 41-40 (compared to 44-37 last season).
The Twins have some work to do in the second half if they hope to make the playoffs. Some players will need to step up, while others will need to continue their first half production. After three months, many players are on pace for career numbers.
** Denard Span is on pace to hit for a .292 average, hit 9 homeruns, and drive in 58 runners. More impressive is his projection to walk 74 times, collect 171 hits and score 97 runs from the leadoff spot.
** Joe Mauer is on pace to knock out a career high 34 homeruns and collect 110 runs batted in. In addition to those eye-popping numbers, Mauer is projected to collect 201 hits despite missing the first month of the season. Some other key projections include a .390 average and 78 walks compared to only 69 strikeouts.
** Justin Morneau is on pace to reach a career high in the homerun department with 38 and in the RBI category with 131 runs batted in. Some other key projections include 191 hits and 42 doubles; all while hitting .311.
** Jason Kubel is on pace to hit a career high 28 homeruns and drive in a career high 90 runners. The career high projections also carry over into the hits and average categories where Kubel is on pace to collect 163 hits and hit for a .304 average.
** Michael Cuddyer is on pace to hit .280 with 25 homeruns and 92 runs batted in. The thus far healthy right fielder is also projected to collect 38 doubles and an astonishing 10 triples.
** Joe Crede is on pace to provide some of the best production from third base in quite some time. The powerful right-hander is projected to hit 28 homeruns, drive in 83 runners, and possibly most impressively, be the best defensive third basemen in all of baseball.
** Delmon Young has had a down year, but is starting to heat up which could alter his projections. The youngster is on pace to hit 8 homeruns, drive in 62 runners, and collect 124 hits in only 132 games.
** Brendan Harris is on pace for a solid year with projections of 9 homeruns and 48 runs batted in (compared to projections of 9 HR and 47 RBI midway last season) over the course of a projected 149 games. Harris is also on pace to tie a career high 149 hits and a .280 batting average.
** Nick Punto is on pace for 37 runs batted in, Matt Tolbert is on pace for 32 runs batted in, Brian Buscher is on pace for 6 homeruns and 26 runs batted in, Carlos Gomez is on pace for 2 homeruns and 26 runs batted in, Jose Morales is one pace to hit .356, and Mike Redmond is on pace for 16 runs batted in.
Due to lack of games, both Alexi Casilla and Jason Pridie were excluded from the list.
The second half of the “On Pace” series, the pitchers, is due up next.