On November 28th, 2007, LaVelle E. Neal III reported a potential blockbuster trade between the Twins and the newly-renamed Rays. A day earlier, I had posted about some trade chatter involving the same two teams and Boof Bonser, but what actually occured was much different. The original trade was reported to be OF Delmon Young, IF Brendan Harris, and OF Jason Pridie to the Twins in exchange for SP Matt Garza, RP Juan Rincon, and SS Jason Bartlett. At the end of the day, some lingering injury concerns had forced Rincon out of the deal and pitching prospect Eduardo Morlan into the deal before it became official. At the time, many Twins fans were excited to get Young, who was immediately expected to replace Torii Hunter's bat and hit 30-40 home runs. Most people had no problem seeing Garza leave if it was in exchange for such a great offensive talent, especially with the supposed clashes that Garza had with the Twins' coaching staff. At the time, I wrote that "I liked Garza, but getting Young back for him is a great deal." Garza's clashes seemingly have continued, as evidenced by his on-field argument with catcher Dionner Navarro, but his results have made fans willing to overlook his faults. Garza has a 3.47 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 90.7 innings. His strikeouts are down so far this season, but he still has 2:1 K:BB ratio and has been especially excellent recently, throwing 29 innings in his last 4 starts while giving up 16 hits and 5 earned runs, walking 4, and striking out 24 (including a 1-hit, 10 K complete game).
Delmon Young, on the other hand, has a very dissapointing overall line of .284/.332/.385, but there are still some promising things underneath that underwhelming line. To start, Young's walk rate, and consequently his OBP, have significantly improved from last year, going from a .028 IsoD to a .048 IsoD. Also, he has heated up since the calendar turned to June, as his line since June 1 sits at .330/.354/.495 in 96 plate appearances. His walk rate was way down in June, but that could be due to a small sample size, just as his good numbers could be. The numbers show that he has been improving recently, but really all we know is that he was crowned as the next Frank Robinson way too soon, and then written off way too early after his early season slump.
The other four players in the deal have all underperformed for their new teams thus far. Jason Bartlett was placed on the DL today after struggling as the Rays' starting shortstop throughout the first half of the season. With an atrocious .256/.299/.293 batting line, you certainly can't give any of the credit for the Rays' turnaround to this former Twin. He has stolen 18 bases at an 86% success rate and his range as usual has been excellent, but there's really no excuse for hitting like he has unless you're Ozzie Smith. Harris, on the other hand, has been the only Twins' middle infielder to stay on the Major League roster the entire season, with Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert, and Adam Everett all hitting the DL and Casilla spending time in Rochester. Of course, Harris has used that opportunity to hit only a little better than Bartlett while playing much worse defense. For some reason, people have been under the impression that Harris has played better since moving to shortstop, but his OPS there is actually 63 points lower there than at second base. Also, his OPS in June was only .649, though that was 40 points higher than in May.
The final two pieces of the deal were two minor leaguers, Jason Pridie and Eduardo Morlan. After putting up his first decent year in the minors since 2004 last year, Pridie has returned to the ways of a career .742 OPS minor leaguer. He has hit .235/.272/.361 with 5 homers and 16 stolen bases in 84 games at Rochester. His counterpart in a sense, Morlan, has fared no better, though for a different reason. Morlan, who struck out 99 in 69.2 innings in 2007, threw only 14.2 mediocre innings at AA this season before being placed on the DL with an injury.
All in all, it is still too early to give answer the question of who got the better end of the deal. However, it is still clear that the stars of the deal were Garza and Young, as the other four players do their best to show that they are not major league caliber players. Despite the fact that Garza has had the much better results thus far this season, there is still plenty of time for Young to prove that he was worthy of his billing as the top prospect in baseball a couple years back.
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