10 Former Minnesota Twins the 2011 Team Could Really Use
Is it just me or are there former Twins everywhere?
In the last few days former Twin Nick Punto hit a game-winning triple in the 11th inning to lead the Cardinals, former Twin Brian Fuentes recorded his seventh save for the A’s and former Twin Wilson Ramos knocked in three runs to lead the Nats past the Mets.
At nearly every position an ex-Twin is having a better season than the current Twins.
Granted, the injury bug has hit the 2011 team—Delmon Young joined Joe Mauer, Kevin Slowey and Tsuyoshi Nishioka on the disabled list this week and several others are day-to-day. Of the regulars only Denard Span and Jason Kubel are hitting above .250 and the pitchers have the highest ERA in the American League.
With the worst record in baseball, I can't help but wonder what could have been if the Twins had some of these former players right now.
Here's a look at some ex-Twinkies who could fill some huge holes right now.
Nick Punto, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals
Letting Nick Punto get away couldn't have been easy.
The man who won the 2010 Heart and Hustle Award last year for the Twins is exactly the kind of player Minnesota could use right now.
He would be perfect to fill in at second while Nishioka's broken leg heals, and when the former Japanese star returns, he could add a little more bat at short than Alexi Casilla is giving.
Punto, who is back on the Cardinals roster after abdominal surgery, could, most importantly, add some inspiration to a Twins team that hasn't been able to get itself together yet.
Wilson Ramos, C, Washington Nationals
I think the jury’s still out on whether the Ramos for Capps trade last year was a good one for the Twins. At the moment, Ramos’ .358 batting average would be a vast improvement over Drew Butera’s .114.
Of course, if Mauer gets healthy, Ramos is wasted on the bench, but how long will the Twins let Mauer take a beating behind the plate? Having Ramos as a backup for now and a starter later would be a nice situation for the Twins.
Ramos hit two homers in a game earlier this week—nobody on the 2011 Twins roster has more than three for the season. Ramos is battling Ivan Rodriguez for the starting position in Washington, which shouldn’t be too long in coming.
Garrett Jones, 1B-OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Among the many deficiencies the Twins have so far this year, one is home run production. They currently have the fewest in the Major Leagues.
The Pirates have former Twin Garrett Jones hitting third and he is leading Pittsburgh with five dingers already this season.
In fact, Jones, who played for the Twins in 2007, has hit 21 HRs each of the last two years. While Mike Cuddyer has filled in well at 1B since Justin Morneau’s concussion, Jones’ HRs would be a very welcome addition right now.
Brian Fuentes, P, Oakland Athletics
With Joe Nathan trying to regain his All-Star form and Matt Capps struggling, the Twins could use Fuentes.
The Oakland left-hander, who spent part of last year in Minnesota, already has seven saves (including one against the Twins on April 9th).
The Twins current bullpen, which was supposed to be the weakest link this year, has actually not been that bad aside from the closers. Having Fuentes to set-up would be very nice this year.
Jesse Crain, P, Chicago White Sox
While Benedict, er, Jesse Crain would be hard to take back from the evil empire in Chicago, he too could be used in the Twins bullpen.
He made the second-most bullpen appearances for the Twins last year with an ERA just over 3.00 and this year he's already pitched more innings than any Twins reliever other than Matt Capps.
Crain has an ERA of 1.50 thus far in 2011 with 12Ks, and is one of the few relievers on Ozzie Guillen's staff that has been reliable.
If nothing else, it would be good to keep the White Sox from having him.
Jon Rauch, P, Toronto Blue Jays
I never understood why the Twins went out and got two All-Star relievers to replace Jon Rauch as the closer last year. He did a great job, saving 21 games and keeping the Twins in first place most of the season. He finished the season with a 3.12 ERA but was not retained.
He’s continuing to be very solid this year—of course in a Blue Jays uniform—with a 1-1 record and 2.45 ERA.
I’m not exactly sure where the best place for him would be if he were still with the Twins, but he’s having a much better year than Nathan, Capps and nearly every other Twin reliever, having saved five games in five opportunities.
Rauch was a great pick-up for Toronto, and they’re sitting just 3.5 games behind the Yankees in the AL East.
Orlando Cabrera, 2B, Cleveland Indians
Cabrera is another guy having a solid year who plays both middle infield positions, which the Twins sorely need help with.
A double play combination of Cabrera and Nishioka would be a vast improvement as Alexi Casilla has struggled both at the plate and in the field.
Cabrera is helping the first-place Indians shock the rest of baseball with a .283 average, 16 RBI and 14 runs.
Cabrera had a great year with the Twins in 2009 hitting in 16 straight games at the end of the regular season and then hitting a huge HR in the one-game playoff with Detroit to clinch the Division title for Minnesota.
Livan Hernandez, P, Washington Nationals
Hernandez, had the astonishing distinction of being the Twins Opening Day pitcher in 2008 and being designated for assignment by that same August.
He’s bounced around a lot during his career, but the two-time All-Star and former World Series MVP is having a good year so far in 2011 and would be a nice addition to the Twins staff.
He is 3-2 after beating the Mets this week allowing two runs in seven innings and lowering his ERA to 3.23. Minnesota starters Pavano, Blackburn and Liriano all have ERAs well over 5.00.
Matt Guerrier, P, Los Angeles Dodgers
I was surprised that more of an effort wasn't made by the Twins to keep Matt Guerrier around when his contract expired after last season. Manager Ron Gardenhire called on him constantly in 2010.
He was third among AL pitchers in appearances last season (twice pitching on three consecutive days) and led the AL in appearances in 2008 and 2009.
Guerrier has already appeared in 13 games for the Dodgers and is 2-2 with a 4.11 ERA. He is the one bright spot in a struggling bullpen in Los Angeles—just the type of player the Twins bullpen could use right now with Kevin Slowey on the disabled list.
Kyle Lohse, P, St. Louis Cardinals
Lohse is 4-1 with a 1.64 ERA. At this point he hasn't allowed a run in 19.1 innings. The Twins could really use Lohse right about now.
He seems to be having a resurgence after forearm surgery and even threw a complete game shutout last week.
He's hot and the Twins are not.