November 6, 2009 – The Twins announced today that they have traded outfielder Carlos Gomez to the Milwaukee Brewers for shortstop JJ Hardy. Carlos Gomez was the center piece in the Johan Santana trade with the New York Mets several years ago and came to Minnesota along with Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra. Gomez is the second player of that group that has now been traded as Mulvey was sent to Arizona in the trade for reliever Jon Rauch earlier this year. Humber and Guerra remain in the Twins minor league system. The fleet footed Gomez never hit enough to win the center field job outright and often looked like he had no clue with the bat but the Twins will miss his speed, his ability to play center field and his unique character.
The Twins outfield was crowded in 2009 with Cuddyer, Span, Young, Kubel, and Gomez all fighting for playing time and almost always Gomez turned out to be the one sitting on the bench. Now it appears that GM Bill Smith and the Twins are finally admitting that they had too many outfielders which I have been saying for over a year on this site. These guys need to come to the ballpark knowing where they will be playing and where they will be hitting and only Cuddyer knew that he would be in right field game in and game out, at least until Justin Morneau got hurt.
James Jerry Hardy better known as JJ is 27 years old, about 6’2” and 180 pounds and has been with the Brewers since 2005 but he sat out most of 2006 with an injury. Hardy was drafted by the Brewers in the second round of the 2001 draft and won the starting shortstop job with the Brew Crew in 2005. Hardy has been inconsistent during his career and late in 2009 appeared to have lost his starting shortstop job to Alcides Escobar and was actually sent to the minors by the Brewers this past season for 18 games. The 2007 season was arguably Hardy’s best season when he made the NL All-Star team and hit .277 with 26 home runs and 80 RBI’s. Although Hardy has a .262 career average, he has bounced around hitting .247, .242, .277, .283 and .229 last year. His rate of strikeouts has also increased the last 3 years and in 2009 he struck out once every 4.87 at bats. Hardy is not a base stealing threat as his career numbers are 5 steals in 11 attempts, maybe Gardy can get him running. Hardy has a career .323 OBP and yet most of his Brewer at bats have been in the number 2 spot in the batting order. Actually Hardy’s OBP compares very favorably to Orlando Cabrera and Nick Punto who have an OBP of .322. Nothing to jump up and down about there but Hardy does have some pop as he has shown in 2007 when he hit 26 out of the park and 24 in 2008 but in 2009 he fell to 11 home runs. In the field, Hardy is about average from a fielding percentage perspective.
On the salary front, Hardy made 4.65 million in 2009 and will be under team control in 2010 and 2011. It will be interesting to see what number will be assigned to Hardy as the Twins number 7 is currently being used by someone who I think will not be parting with it in the near future. When I first heard about the trade I was really excited and now that I have had the time to look at the numbers that Hardy has put up, I am still excited but I have to admit I am a bit apprehensive about his average and lack of speed.
Bottom line though, I go down on the positive side of this trade and think it is a very good move because the Twins have plugged a hole at short and traded an outfielder so now the line-up can be more consistent and each player knows his role in the line-up. If Hardy can play up to his ability, then I can live with Punto at 2B if need be but acquiring a 2B would still be nice. Mr. Smith still has work to do, but this is a nice start to the off season.