Twins All-Decade Team

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By Andy Weise

The 2000’s could be called the “Revival of the Minnesota Twins.” A team once offered up for contraction started up the decade with Ron Coomer at first base and Matt LeCroy playing catcher. They will end the decade with MVP’s Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer and a new stadium, returning baseball to the outdoors in Minnesota.

SP – Johan Santana: This one is kind of self-explanatory right?

SP – Brad Radke: 12 straight seasons for the Twins with at least 20 starts. The guy was Mr. Reliable for most of the decade and retired a month before he turned 34 in 2006. Many young arms on the team like Slowey, Baker and Blackburn have fallen under the “they’re like Radke” line.

SP – Eric Milton: 42-26 from 2000-2003 with the Minnesota Twins. He pitched the last twins no-hitter in ’99 and was an all-star in 2001 with Guzman and Mays. Injuries derailed him at the later point in his Twins career but he held down a rotation spot for handful of years.

SP – Kyle Lohse: Here’s a guy who was 13-8 and 14-11 his first two seasons with the Twins (in the rotation). He kept his ERA below 5 until 2004 and could never really find consistency. You could make a case for a guy like Kevin Slowey in this spot although it’s a little early right now.

SP – Scott Baker: The current staff “ace.” Baker had trouble trying to find a spot in the majors until the Twins had no other choice but to allow him to work out his issues at the major league level. Baker doesn’t overpower many people but he relies on control, the Twins way if you will. Baker is probably a No. 2 or No. 3 starter on a championship team but he will continue to hold down a spot in the rotation for awhile.

CP – Joe Nathan: Not much needs to be said, Nathan has become one of the top closers in baseball. While he will likely decline as he gets older, he’s provided the Twins with one of the most consistent closers, right up there with Mariano Rivera. As good as Rivera? No but the Twins have been lucky to have him since 2004.

SU – Juan Rincon: We all know the story here. Rincon was busted for steroids in the middle of the decade and was never the player after. His 11-6 record in 2005 along with 106 K’s in 82 innings propelled him into the discussion of top set up guys. He kept his ERA under 3 the next two years before flowing up in 2007.

RP – JC Romero: J.C. was a big reason the Twins had a great bullpen at the beginning of the decade. When the Twins got into the 7th inning, Romero, Hawkins and Everyday Eddie could usually win the game. Romero kind of fizzled out towards the end of his Twins’ career but has managed to stick in the league and have success.

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1B – Justin Morneau: The only knock on him was defense and he’s become a solid defender. Morneau was the 2006 MVP and runner up in 2008. He probably would have won in ’08 had Mauer not finished fourth and probably taken some of Morneau’s voters. Justin is locked up for another four years and he wants Mauer to stay with him.

2B – Nick Punto: You could make a case for others but Punto is a top notch defender and his versatility has been a benefit for the Twins. His offense is as inconsistent as they come but you can never question effort with Punto.

SS – Christian Guzman: Part of the Twins revival teams at the beginning of the decade. Guzman was the leader in the infield and even made an all-star game 2001 (he did in 2008 with the Nationals too). Guzman, like many other former Twins, took a bigger payday elsewhere and the Twins have never really found a consistent replacement. Which leads me to..

3B – Corey Koskie: I’ll never forget Koskie taking out a page ad in the local paper thanking Twins fans for his team in Minnesota. Koskie is the true definition of a professional and had his career cut short because of a head injury. He was pretty much the only third basemen during the decade that had success both on the field and at the plate. The Twins have tried anybody and everybody except Morneau and Mauer at third now.

C  – Joe Mauer: At the beginning of the decade he was a three sport athlete in high school here in St. Paul, MN. Now he’s a three-time batting champion, two-time gold glove winner and the 2009 MVP. He’s in line to get a nice payday too.

OF – Torii Hunter: Kirby’s heir, Hunter was always fantastic in the field with his leaping above the wall catches in center field. His plate discipline could be called into question but as he’s entered the second part of his career, his batting numbers have matched his defensive play. He took a contract worth double what the Twins were offering in 2007. My guess is he ends up back in a Twins uniform for a season before he retires.

OF – Michael Cuddyer: A big time prospect going through the minors has spent most of the decade on the major league roster but not until the last few years did he find his home as a right fielder. Cuddyer, like Hunter, doesn’t always show great plate discipline but he brings a lot of other things to the table. In 2009, Cuddyer had a career high 32 home runs and filled in admiraly for Justin Morneau at first as the Twins won the division.

OF – Jacque Jones: This guy spent six seasons in Minnesota this past decade and provided a lot of energy in the outfield and at the plate. Jones was generally a top of the order batter with plenty of legs to cover RF or LF, whichever was asked of him.

DH – Jason Kubel: Kubel has finally given the Twins a dependable power bat at the DH position. Though he’s another lefty like Morneau and Mauer, he provides protection behind Morneau or Cuddyer as another big bat. Some injuries hampered the early part of his major league career but his best is yet to come.

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Second team

SP – Francisco Liriano: We’ll never forget the electrifying phenom coming into his own in 2006. Liriano and Santana were probably the top duo but Liriano’s delivery ended up cutting his season short and he’s never regained his dominating form.

SP – Kevin Slowey: Brad Radke 2.0, or so we were told. Slowey was injured in 2009 but he has shown enough that Twins fans will enjoy having him in the rotation for awhile.

SP – Carlos Silva: Many Twins fans weren’t disappointed when he left, he was a decent groundball pitcher who earned a hell of a payday from Seattle. They gave him 48 million over 4 years and Twins fans still laugh to this day.

SP – Joe Mays: An all-star with a 17-13 record in 2001 with a 3.18 ERA and 123 K’s. Mays had the injury bug after that and Tommy John followed in 2004.

SP – Nick Blackburn: One of the younger arms on the Twins currently. Blackie is a solid pitcher who doesn’t have overpowering stuff but he pitched in some big games down the stretch the past couple years. Blackburn gets the nod over Rick Reed

CP – Eddie Guardado: Everyday Eddie took a payday in Seattle and ended up back with the Twins in 2008. Before he found his spot as a starter he did about everything for the pitching staff.

SU – LaTroy Hawkins: Eddie’s setup guy. Similar to Guardado, Hawkins was once a starter but could never develop consistency. He found his role as a hard throwing right-hander in the pen. He’s still playing fairly well now.

RP – Matt Guerrier: Has emerged as a steady, reliable reliever after Pat Neshek has missed basically the last two seasons. Guerrier doesn’t have overpowering stuff and probably isn’t a closer in the future but dependability is key for relievers — and he has that.

1B – Doug Mientkiewicz: Dougie held down first base for awhile until Morneau was ready. His glove was awesome but the Twins needed power from that position.

2B – Luis Castillo: Castillo was one of those famous piranhas in 2006, one of the most memorable seasons for a Twins fans in the decade. Castillo gave the Twins a solid leadoff hitter and was ultimately dealt away for prospects which caused Johan Santana to get upset.

SS – Jason Bartlett

3B – Nick Punto: Yes, Punto was listed on the first team and he’s the only player outside of Koskie who spent more than a season’s worth of time at 3B. Brian Buscher, Casey Blake, Terry Tiffee, Joe Crede, Tony Batista, Mike Lamb… plenty of guys shuffled through there.

C  – AJ Pierzynski: Like Dougie, he held a spot warm for a future MVP. AJ was a well-liked Twin and now probably the most hated player when he comes to Minnesota. You can’t discount the solid numbers he put up and the package that the Twins landed for him: Nathan, Liriano and Boof Bonser.

OF – Shannon Stewart: A mid season trade of Bobby Kielty for Shannon Stewart proved to be the difference maker in 2002 as the Twins won the AL Central, the first of five division titles in the decade.

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OF – Denard Span: He was a first round pick in 2002 and was the heir apparent to Torii Hunter until Carlos Gomez showed up. In the two years together, Span dominated Gomez in head-to-head performance and gave the Twins a true lead off hitter heading into Target Field.

OF – Lew Ford: LEWWWWWWWWWWWWW, solid all-around player who’s play digressed every year he was with the Twins.

DH – David Ortiz: He batted .234 in 2001 and finally showed some of his potential in 2002 by hitting .272 with 20 home runs and 87 RBI. The Twins decided to save some money by letting him go and putting Matt LeCroy in his spot the next year. We all know how that turned out.

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Comments

  1. Randy Pena says

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  2. Peter Christian says

    Punto over Castillo? No way. Castillo was a better offensive and defensive player than Punto will ever be.

  3. I have to go with Castillo too. Where’s Matt Lawton?

  4. LMAO, Castillo is better at defense than Punto? You’ve gotta be kidding me Pete. I mainly only gave Punto the spot because he was here for a year and a half. I completely disagree about defense though.

  5. Lawton, like Castillo, played a year and a half with the Twins during the decade. I suppose you could put him over Lew Ford but he just wasn’t around a lot.

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