I’m sure tonight many Twins fans are again ruing management’s decision to send Matt Garza to the Rays before the 2008 season. The deal has definitely played out better for the Rays so far, and the Twins could sure use Garza’s strong right arm this season. Nevertheless, Twins fans still have plenty to be hopeful for in this deal.
One of the things that frustrates me about fans and the media is their inability to see the long term—beyond the present season or the next season at most. The key piece in this deal for Minnesota was obtaining Delmon Young.
While he was disappointing his first two seasons (and he really wasn’t that bad either season), he’s now hitting .328 with an .895 OPS after tonight’s 19-1 pounding of the Royals in which Delmon had four hits including two doubles. The thing is, Delmon’s still only 24-years-old.
As I said, the Rays got the better end of this deal, because Garza has been the best player of the bunch. Going forward from this moment, I’d still rather have Garza than Young, because, even though Garza, as a pitcher, has a higher probability of getting hurt, he may have an additional season before he becomes a free agent. I’m also concerned about whether Young can be consistently good as an offensive player due to his inability to draw walks.
With that being said, Young’s talents are obvious, and he could easily be an All-Star each of the next two seasons. Young had a reputation as a hot-head early in his career, mainly due to an incident in the minors in which he earned a 50 game suspension for throwing his bat into the chest of an umpire.
However, the fact that he’s still in Minnesota after two-plus seasons with the Twins, who highly value “character” and don’t put up with a lot of guff in the clubhouse, suggests Young has matured considerably.
As for the rest of the deal, it has been kind of a wash. Jason Bartlett had a great year in 2009 (.879 OPS), but his OPS as a Ray in 2008 was a mediocre .690, and he has a meager .665 OPS this season. At age 30 this year, he isn’t likely to reach a .775 OPS again in any full season going forward.
Brendan Harris has now played his way out of the majors this season, but he had a solid season for the Twins in 2008. Although his defense wasn’t particularly good anywhere, he gave the team some flexibility by playing 2B, SS, and 3B that year.
The final players in the deal, OF Jason Pridie and RHP Eddie Morlan, are no longer with either team. Pridie is 26 this year and now playing for the Mets' top farm club, the Buffalo Bison. He doesn’t look like a future major leaguer, but he’s close enough and young enough that he could get lucky.
The Rays released Morlan after a poor start at AA Montgomery, which doesn’t really make sense given that Morlan is only 24 this year. The Brewers picked him up and he’s now pitching pretty well for their AA team in Huntsville. Given his age, he’s still a prospect, but he hasn’t shown any improvement since reaching AA ball in late 2007.