Posted at 9:29 AM on June 15, 2006
by David Zingler
Although itís only been a three game winning streak and the team is still double digit games out of first place, there seems to be a real sense of optimism about the Twins. The main reason for that is youth. Justin Morneau (25) is finally looking like the power hitter weíve been waiting for since Bill Clintonís first term (how about hitting him clean-up??), Joe Mauer (23) is becoming the 21st Century version of Kirby Puckett, Jason Kubel (24) looks like an everyday player with a high ceiling, Jason Bartlett (26) has replaced Tony Batista on the roster and last, but not least, Francisco Liriano (22) is pushing Johan Santana to another level (if thatís possible).
Santana meanwhile, at 27, is hardly an old man and Michel Cuddyer (also 27) is finally showing us why he was a #1 draft pick and top prospect. So, letís dump Rondell White, trade Shannon Stewart, shop Torii Hunter and let the kids play. These Twins are all about the future Ė with Stewart, Hunter and Brad Radkeís sizable salaries likely off the books next year, Terry Ryan should have a little money to play with this off-season. Oh yeah and, if you havenít already heard, thereís also a new stadium on the way...
No, Torii Hunter is the new Kirby Puckett. Big smile, big defense, medium offense.
Letting the kids play is fine, so White's a good guy to let go, but who are the kids who are gonna replace Torii and Shannon? (Please don't say Lew Ford, he makes me cringe). Maybe by 2008 Denard Span might have figured out how to hit and play defense.
Kirby with medium offense?? That's crazy...don't give me the "8 base hits a month" theory either...that's 48 hits over an entire season...
Well, I would hope that out of Jason Tyner, Josh Rabe, Denard Span, Alexander Romero (and perhaps even Danny Santiesteban), that at least one of those guys will develop into a solid major leaguer. All of them have been good at some level.
Good point. And if they were to trade any of the above players, they could receive a functioning major league outfielder in return. Nobody wants to give Hunter away, but he's not going to be back next year so they might as well test the market.
they can get him back next year for the same price they have him for this year. all they have to do is pick up the option.
48 hits per year is 48 hits. in the cases of hunter and puckett, those extra hits didn't translate into more runs. and it's runs, not hits, that win ball games. kirby puckett's numbers look an awful lot like placido polanco's. just because there hasn't been a good hitter in minnesota since the 70s doesn't make puckett anything more than a pity-choice for the HoF
none of those guys are ready for the majors. that's not to say they'll be solid eventually.
Hunter's option for '07 is $12 million. He makes $10.75 this year and will want a multi-year deal even if the team does pick it up. Someone else will be willing to give him at least a 3 year contract.
As for Kirby, the 'pity' choice -- hits do drive in runs and Puckett drove in over 110 three times and 99 twice. He didn't play long enough to amass eye popping career numbers and the Hall voters definitely gave him the benifit-of-the-doubt, but you have to think he would have reached the 3,000 hit plateau.
Just for the record: baseball-reference.com lists Don Mattingly and Cecil Cooper as the hitters most comparable to Puckett. Palanco did not make the list.
Polanco's in the same hat as Mattingly and Cooper. All average and light on the power and speed. I know hits drive in runs, I just mean that Hunter and Puckett have almost identical RBI per 162 games numbers. So in this case, the extra hits Puckett got didn't mean a thing. Hunter makes up for the extra hits with slightly more power. Anyway, this isn't a Kirby/Torii debate, I just don't see many similarities with Mauer and Puckett.
Puckett and Mauer are completely different players -- Mauer has the potential to be as popular and have the star power Puckett did.....these stat heads can't see the forest throught the trees.......