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.