The Franchise 1998 (Pitchers)

SP Brad Radke 5.2 WAR
Most of Radke’s 1998 numbers weren’t too far off the pace he set for himself in 1997. The major difference was 12 wins in 1998 versus 20 in 1997, which is also the difference between gaining Cy Young and MVP votes and not being considered at all for post season awards. It was also the difference between an organization that felt comfortable they had a top of the line starter and one that was in near-panic mode because Radke was struggling. During a long stretch in which Radke won only a pair of games, there was speculation that hitters had learned how to deal with Radke, and that the 25-year-old was having more 19 and 20 pitch innings than in the past. That talk quieted a bit when Radke finished the season with a few strong outings. Radke had enough success that he was a subject of trade talks and rumors during the offseason, and the speculation was that Terry Ryan might be able to get several prospects for Radke. In the end, Radke remained a Twin.

SP LaTroy Hawkins 2.1 WAR
The Twins were hoping that, given a secure starting spot, LaTroy Hawkins would turn a corner. Instead, he had an up and down season that, while an improvement over his 1997 performance, left more questions about his long term role than answers.

SP Eric Milton 2.0 WAR
Milton, the lefty who came over in the Chuck Knoblauch trade at a time he was considered the top pitching prospect in the Yankee organization, made his major league debut in April of 1998. Milton created quite a buzz early with a 1.75 spring training ERA and two very good starts in his first two games. He came back to earth a bit in his third start, allowing 7 earned runs to the Seattle Mariners in 3 2/3 innings pitched. Milton had spells where he was very good, and spells in which he was very bad. Overall, there was a lot of hope after his rookie season.

SP Bob Tewksbury 3.3 WAR
SP Mike Morgan 3.7 WAR
When 37-year-old Bob Tewksbury and 38-year-old Mike Morgan went down with injuries in the middle of the season, the Twins were in second place in the AL Central, 11.5 games out (as of July 14). By the end of the season, they were in 4th place and 19 games back. Morgan was traded to the Cubs in August, and Tewksbury retired following the season.

CL Rick Aguilera 2.0 WAR
On April 21, a 37-year-old Rick Aguilera blew his 3rd save of the season. With only two successful saves under his belt at the time, he had an ERA of 4.97 and there was a lot of speculation that he had nothing left in the tank. By the end of the season, his ERA was still high by his standards (3.65 – 113 ERA+), but he had converted 38 saves in 47 opportunities.

RP Mike Trombley 2.8 WAR
Trombley became a different pitcher after he learned the forkball in 1996. He went from being below average in relief to very solid. He had another very good season in 1998.

RP Greg Swindell 1.9 WAR
Swindell continued to be an effective reliever, and the Twins dealt him for prospects at the July trade deadline. He came to the Twins on the heels of a five year slump in which he wasn’t a particularly effective pitcher. He left as one of the better relievers in baseball and pitched effectively for the Red Sox and Diamondbacks until he retired after the 2002 season.

RP Eddie Guardado 1.2 WAR
Guardado appeared in 79 game in 1998 and had another solid season.

RP Hector Carrasco 1.5 WAR
Carrasco was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 1997 expansion draft but ended up being available for the Twins on waivers just prior to the start of the 1998 season.

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