The Franchise 1997 (Part 1)

April 22, 2014

1997 Minnesota Twins

Manager Tom Kelly 12th season (12th with Minnesota 853-885)
68 W 94 L 772 RS 861 RA 4th AL Central 18.5 GB (Cleveland 86-75)
4.77 RPG (AL = 4.93) 5.00 ERA (AL = 4.56)
.681 DER (10th AL)

All Stars (1) Chuck Knoblauch

Franchise (1901-1997) 7133-7801-110; 27-29 Post Season; 19-21 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-1996) 2915-2937-6; 19-18 Post Season; 11-10 WS

If there was some hope for Twins fans based on 1996, it was dashed in 1997. The team suffered through its most miserable season since 1982 while marking the 10th anniversary of the 1987 World Series. There were some things that went right, including Brad Radke’s great season, but for the most part 1997 was forgettable. Terry Steinbach was the big offseason addition, but he failed to produce as he had the year before. Chuck Knoblauch had another great season but demanded a trade, and, perhaps worst of all, there was this.

1997 was the start of regular season interleague play. The Twins played their first game against a National League opponent on Friday, June 13 with an 8-1 victory over the Astros in Houston. Overall, the team went 7-8 in interleague play, but outscored NL opponents 76-59.


The Franchise 1996 (Pitchers)

April 15, 2014

SP Brad Radke 3.5 WAR
In just his second season, Brad Radke had already established himself as the team’s ace pitcher. Despite a an ugly 11-16 record, Radke improved in just about every other area. Radke walked 2.2 batters/9 inning pitched in 1996 – a very strong number, but the last year in Radke’s career in which that number would be north of 2.0.

SP Rick Aguilera 0.8 WAR
See previous post. Aggie had a mediocre season as a starter, but injuries and other factors may have been involved. He returned as a closer in 1997.

SP Frankie Rodriguez 1.3 WAR
Prior to the season, the Twins felt they had three solid starters: Radke, Aguilera, and Rodriguez. Frankie, of course, came to the Twins in the Aguilera trade. This would be Frankie’s best major league season, and his last as a full time starter.

SP Rich Robertson 1.5 WAR
Lefty Rich Robertson was selected off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates after the 1994 season. He didn’t have a lot of playing time with Pittsburgh, making just 17 appearances in two seasons. Roberston split time between AAA and the majors in 1995 before being made a member of the rotation in 1996. As a starter, the Texas native could be an iron man. He led the league with three shutouts in 1996, and led the Twins with 5 complete games.

SP Scott Aldred 1.0 WAR
Aldred was already a veteran when the Twins plucked him off the waiver wire in May of 1996. The 28 year old had pitched for three different major league teams.

CL Dave Stevens 0.4 WAR
When Aguilera was traded to Boston in the middle of the 1995 season, Stevens became the team’s closer. He held the position for most of the 1996 season, but started to be used in fewer save situations as the season wound down. The problem was solved in 1997 when Aguilera was moved back to the bullpen. After pitching part of the 1997 season with the Twins, Stevens was taken off waivers by the Chicago Cubs.

RP Greg Hansell -0.1 WAR
Hansell, who was originally drafted by the Red Sox in 1989, came to the Twins as a part of the Kevin Tapani trade. He made his major league debut with the Dodgers in 1995, and pitched his first and only full major league season with the Twins in 1996.

RP Eddie Guardado 0.2 WAR
Guardado appeared in 30 of the team’s first 50 games. For a while he was well on pace to break the major league record for appearances in a season. Though he fell off the pace for Mike Marshall’s record of 104 appearances, he still played in 83 games in 1996.

RP Mike Trombley 2.1 WAR
Trombley learned the forkball prior to the 1996 season, and the results were immediate. He improved in almost every category as a pitcher, including better strikeout, walk, and home run rates. The results earned him a two-year contract extension.

RP Dan Naulty 0.9 WAR
Naulty was drafted by the Twins in 1992. He made his major league debut in 1996, and was the top reliever on the team until his season was cut short in August due to circulatory problems in his arm. An offseason surgery that removed a rib was expected to fix the problem, and there was even talk of Naulty taking over as closer before the decision was made to move Aguilera back to his old job.

 

 


1996: Twins Re-sign Aguilera

April 13, 2014

One of the objectives of our organization was to try to add a veteran pitcher who would come in and help some of our younger pitchers. With Rick, we are very familiar with what we have to go upon. We asked if he would consider starting, and he responded favorably.

-Terry Ryan, quoted by Scott Miller in The Sporting News, 12/25/1995

Rick Aguilera did not want to be traded to Boston during the 1995 season. He was in the midst of a career season, even by the high standards he had set since the early 1990′s. It was hard to argue that the 33-year-old was not the top closer in baseball. Still, the Twins needed young starting pitching, so General Manager Terry Ryan sent Aggie to Boston for Frankie Rodriguez and a prospect in July of 1995.

While Aguilera was interested in returning to Minnesota as a free agent after the 1995 season, the Twins were not interested in acquiring a closer. What Ryan said the team needed was a veteran starter. Though Aguilera had not started a game since 1989, he was willing to make the move in order to return to Minnesota.

He was penciled in to the number two spot in the rotation, behind Brad Radke. A spring case of tendonitis in his wrist put off Aguilera’s first start, but he finally made it on April 20, a 7-6 loss against the New York Yankees. Aggie was on a pitch count and lasted just three innings. It turned out the start came too early, and the veteran was placed back on the disabled list. After a rehab assignment, Aggie made his next start on June 11, when he allowed five runs in the first inning to the Seattle Mariners. He finally got his first win in his next start against the Tigers.

Aguilera ended the season with an 8-6 record in 19 starts for the Twins. His ERA+ as a starter was 94 (compared with a 188 ERA+ as a closer the season before). In the winter, Aguilera told Terry Ryan that he preferred to stay in the starting rotation, but ultimately was moved back to the closer role by the end of spring training 1997.

It is difficult to say how much of Aguilera’s mediocre performance as a starter in 1996 was due to the wrist injury that he never really shook. Nagging inuries continued to plague Aggie in 1997, but as a closer he was well above league average (121 ERA+), though not as dominant as he had been.


The Franchise 1996 (Position Players)

April 8, 2014

C Greg Myers 1.1 WAR
C Matt Walbeck -0.7 WAR
A comparison:
Walbeck 1994-1996 OPS+/WAR 37-0.7;  61/-0.1; 38/-0.7
Drew Butera 2010-2012 OPS+/WAR 46/0.2; 24/-1.5; 53/0.2

Even with the poor performance the prior two years and the signing of free agent Greg Myers, the catcher position was considered Walbeck’s going into the season. The 30-year-old Myers wasn’t great, but was an improvement over Walbeck. Following the season the Twins traded Walbeck to Detroit. He hung around the majors until 2003, and did have some better seasons.

1B Scott Stahoviak 1.4 WAR
Stahoviak had his career season at the age of 26. He didn’t grab many headlines, but quietly it seemed that he was positioning himself to be there first baseman for the near future. An injury plagued 1997 ended that, but it is easy to forget that Stahoviak seemed to be on a path towards being a solid player.

2B Chuck Knoblauch 8.6 WAR
As Knoblauch had another outstanding season, the noise in the papers was mostly about potential trades. The Twins put him through waivers at the trade deadline, but the Yankees made a claim to block potential playoff opponents from acquiring the 27-year-old. The trade talk quieted a bit when Knoblauch signed a five-year deal with the Twins in late August. 1996 was the on-field peak of Knoblauch’s career. Over the course of his time with the Twins, Knoblauch had a .416 slugging percentage. In 1996, he slugged .517 while leading the league with 14 triples and setting a then career high mark with 13 home runs. In 1994 and 1995, his K/BB rates were 1.37 and 1.22. In 1996 it was 0.76.

SS Pat Meares 0.5 WAR
Meares was the quintessential light-hitting good-glove shortstop. The only problem was, in 1996, he was simply a +1 shortstop.

3B Dave Hollins 3.1 WAR
Dave Hollins may have been one of the best moves the Twins made in the late 1990′s. Hollins signed as a free agent in January, and proceeded to be a solid third baseman who provided some power that the Twins lacked elsewhere. At the end of August Terry Ryan traded Hollins to Seattle for a player to be named later. The Mariners completed the deal in September by sending minor leaguer David Ortiz to the Twins.

LF Marty Cordova 2.6 WAR
Cordova’s power numbers took a small hit from his ROY season, but he improved his strikeout rate and knocked in 111 runs.

CF Rich Becker 4.3 WAR
When Alex Cole was released prior to 1996, the Twins made it clear that this was the year that Becker would be given the chance as the full time lead off man and center fielder. He did not disappoint. While he had an average-looking 103 OPS+, he got on base at a .372 clip and was a +12 player in center field (-2 in LF and RF combined). Becker changed to a full-time left-handed hitter in 1996. He did get off to a slow start with the bat, but recovered in the summer months.

RF Matt Lawton 0.6 WAR
Lawton also had a slow start at the plate. He blamed it on tinkering with his stance in the Arizona Fall League before the season. In particular, he said, the St. Louis Cardinals batters were to blame because they convinced him to crouch lower.

DH Paul Molitor 3.7 WAR
I wrote this a few years ago:

Paul Molitor had signed with the Twins before the 1996 season excited to play for his hometown team and looking forward to being in the same lineup with Kirby Puckett (which of course didn’t work out). He came into the season with 2,789 career hits. The Twins started a nine-game home stand on September 6 with Molitor 13 hits away from the milestone. While it appeared unlikely that he would reach it in front of the Metrodome crowd (the Twins started a nine-game road trip immediately following the homestand), there was some hope.

Molitor ended up with 11 hits in the nine games, and took to the road with the team only two hits short. In the first game of the road trip at Kaufmann Stadium, Molitor became the first player to triple for his 3000th hit as mentioned by Souhan above; but also became the first player to reach 3000 in a year in which he had 200 or more hits on the season.

UT Ron Coomer 0.7 WAR
IF Jeff Roboulet -0.8 WAR
OF Roberto Kelly 1.2 WAR


1996: Kirby Puckett is Forced to Retire

April 3, 2014

I wrote this several years ago:

March 28, 1996

The concern over Kirby Puckett in the spring of 1996 was starting to change to optimism. Puckett took a Dennis Martinez pitch to the jaw at the end of the 1995 season, and there was some fear among Twins’ fans that Puckett may never be the same.

Spring training 1996 was a chance for Puckett to show that he was the same hitter he had always been. The spring numbers seemed to foreshadow another great season for Puckett. That all changed one day before the team planned to break camp.

On Thursday morning, March 28, Puckett woke up with a strange spot in the middle of his vision on the right side, and everything seemed just a bit blurry. From Jim Souhan’s story a few days later in the Star Tribune:

Puckett sounded doubtful that he will be able to play on Monday, when the Twins will open the season at the Metrodome against the Detroit Tigers.

“My right eye is my dominant eye,” he said. “If it was my left eye, then I think I’d be able to hit. But I need my right eye. I can’t hit right now. I’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

Puckett was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and all indication suggested that he would return when that time was up, April 12. As the date approached, it became more clear that Puckett’s vision problem was not going away as soon as expected.

The saga played out through the first half of the Twins’ 1996 season. Puckett was eventually diagnosed with glaucoma, and the severity was such that he ultimately retired from baseball in July.

Sources:

Baseball Library

Souhan, Jim. “Vision problems might keep Puckett from Twins’ opener” Star Tribune 3/29/1996.

Kirby Puckett retirement, though sudden and unexpected, ended up being a hero’s retirement in Minnesota. His career, though cut short, was good enough to get him elected into the Hall of Fame in 2001. For Twins fans, it would be nice if that is where the Kirby Puckett story ended.

That’s not where it ended, however. Frank DeFord detailed the sad facts and allegations in his 2003 Sports Illustrated report.

In the final analysis, all they really know now in Minnesota is that he was one whale of a baseball player. They’ll never be so sure of anyone else again. So, maybe that’s a tough lesson well learned. The dazzling creatures are still just ballplayers; don’t wrap them in gauze and tie them up with the pretty ribbons of Nice Guy or Boy Next Door (and certainly not of Knight in Shining Armor).

On the other hand, what a price did fans pay to lose their dear illusions. You see, when the hero falls, maybe the hero worshipers fall harder. After all, Kirby Puckett always knew who he was. Well, he probably did. Nothing seemed to faze him. It was all the other folks who decided he must be someone else, something more. Yeah, the lovable little Puck was living a lie, but whose lie was it?

While the story caused a bit of an uproar of defensiveness and denial among Twins fans, it was difficult even for the most ardent Puckett supporter to dismiss the allegations altogether. Kirby Puckett died after suffering a stroke in March of 2006, just before his 46th birthday. The public ceremony, though attended by some 15,000 at the Metrodome, was an awkward event in which baseball accomplishments were celebrated and speeches focused on a public image that was very much at odds with the picture of Puckett that the allegations painted.

Puckett’s legacy is still an uncomfortable one, particularly for people like me who grew up watching him play; who fell in love with baseball in part because of the enthusiasm that he exuded on the field.


The Franchise 1996 (Part 1)

April 1, 2014

1996 Minnesota Twins

Manager Tom Kelly 11th season (11th with Minnesota 785-791)
78 W 84 L 877 RS 900 RA 4th AL Central 21.5 GB (Cleveland 99-62)
5.41 RPG (AL = 5.39) 5.28 ERA (AL = 4.99)
.694 DER (1st AL)

All Stars (1) Chuck Knoblauch

Franchise (1901-1996) 7065-7707-110; 27-29 Post Season; 19-21 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-1996) 2847-2843-6; 19-18 Post Season; 11-10 WS

I found a Baseball Prospectus report on the 1996 Twins in a corner of the internet. Of interest was the author’s profile of Tom Kelly:

Tom Kelly has nothing to say to you, and if he did, he wouldn’t tell you. TK has a well-earned reputation for being close-mouthed, but there seems to be a method behind the taciturn demeanor. I think of him as Buck Showalter’s media doppelganger, in that like Showalter, he has no time to waste on rehashing the same tired old generalizations and observations that managers have been spouting for the public’s benefit since Cap Anson. Unlike Showalter, who’s known for his thoughtful insights and fresh responses to tired questions, Kelly simply doesn’t say anything, and why blame him? If you’ve been asked for the twelve thousandth time what your team has to do to win, you wouldn’t be human if didn’t want to tell the reporter to look up what you said last year or remember what you said fifteen minutes ago.

There’s more at the link, but the gist of the report is that the 1996 Twins had only one remaining tie to the World Series teams (Kirby Puckett, who actually wouldn’t be on the team) but were in rebuilding mode.

These Twins have a solid farm system, some good major league talent, and some genuine opportunities for young pitchers; opportunities created by the worst pitching staffs in Twins/Senators history. The horrors of the last few seasons have let Ryan and manager Tom Kelly get ambitious in their use of minor league pitchers, in the wake of the profound incompetence of the team’s veterans.

Expectations were not high for that season, but the feeling was that the Twins would be contenders again before the new millennium.

Unfortunately, the rebuilding process took a hit when the Twins, with the second overall pick in the draft, landed exactly nobody. They selected Travis Lee, but agent Scott Boras found a technical loophole and claimed the Twins did not offer Lee a contract within 15 days of the draft, so Lee was declared a free agent and ultimately signed with the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks.

The 1996 version of the team ended up 78-84. As expected, the offense was league average and the pitching was bad, though not quite as bad as the previous two years. What is interesting is the defensive improvement from 1995. The 1996 Twins could field with very few exceptions. Chuck Knoblauch (+11 Runs TZ) was among the league’s best at second base, and Rich Becker (+ 12) graded out as a top center fielder. Dave Hollins was very solid at 3B (+9) and despite a poor reputation Matt Lawton had a good season in right field (+5). The rest of the every day players were average or slightly above average. There were no actively bad defenders on the 1996 team.

Of course, the story of the 1996 team ended up being the sudden and surprising retirement of Kirby Puckett, who was tearing it up in spring training when he woke up one morning in late March and could not see out of his left eye. More on that later…


The Franchise 1995 (Pitchers)

March 25, 2014

SP Brad Radke 1.6 WAR
Brad Radke was drafted in the 8th round of the 1991 draft. He wasn’t a highly regarded prospect when he was drafted, and hadn’t played any higher than double-A ball when he broke camp with the Twins in 1995. Radke was a pleasant surprise for a team that needed something. By the end of the season he had a reputation that followed him his entire career: he threw a lot of strikes and worked fast. By the end of the his rookie year, Radke had already established himself as the ace of the Twins pitching staff.

SP Scott Erickson 0.1 WAR
When Scott Erickson was traded to Baltimore on July 7, he had some parting shots for the organization: “I feel bad for the guys. It’s like the organization has given up on the team. It’s a joke.” Specifically aimed at owner Carl Pohlad: “I think they should turn the team over to somebody who wants a winning team. Somebody who likes baseball.” Erickson pitched for six season with the Twins. He left with a 61-60 record and a 103 ERA+. Erickson stayed in Baltimore until 2002, and pitched pretty well, going 79-68 in 7 seasons. He bounced around the majors after that, and finally retired in 2006. Erickson also predicted after his trade that teammate Kevin Tapani would be the next to go…

SP Kevin Tapani 1.5 WAR
The Tapani trade was made within hours of the trading deadline. Unlike teammate Erickson, Tapani didn’t have any parting shots “I’ve got nothing negative to say at all about the Twins organization.” When Tapani left the Twins, he had played 7 seasons. During that time, he had a 75-63 record with a 108 ERA+. Tapani was traded to the Dodgers for the remainder of 1995, then moved on to the White Sox in 1996, and finally landed with the Cubs from 1997 until his retirement after the 2001 season.

SP Mike Trombley 0.1 WAR
In three previous seasons with the Twins, Trombley started 17 games. In 1995, he started 18 games. Trombley kept the job primarily due to lack of other options after Tapani and Erickson were traded away. After this season, Trombley became a full time relief pitcher.

SP Frankie Rodriguez 0.0 WAR
Rodriguez came to the Twins as part of the Rick Aguilera trade. Rodriguez was 22 at the time and it was hoped by the Twins that his upside would show in the next couple of years.

CL Rick Aguilera 1.2 WAR
Even though his 1995 season was split between two teams, based on the numbers it may have been Aguilera’s best. His ERA+ in 22 appearances with the Twins was 193. Aguilera pitched nearly as well with the Red Sox for the final half of the season. Unlike Erickson, Aguilera didn’t burn any bridges on the way out and made it clear that he wanted to return to the Twins as a free agent at the end of the season.

RP Pat Mahomes -1.6 WAR
Mahomes moved from his role as a starter to the bullpen in 1995. While he improved his K/BB ratio from 0.85 in 1994 to 1.43 in 1995, it didn’t translate into better overall numbers.

RP Eddie Guardado 0.5 WAR
Guardado made 51 appearances and pitched 91 innings in 1995. He wasn’t quite “everyday” yet, but well on his way.


The Franchise 1995 (Position Players)

March 19, 2014

C Matt Walbeck -0.1 WAR
C Matt Merullo -0.2 WAR
It wasn’t difficult for Walbeck to improve on his 1994 numbers. He improved greatly (from 37 OPS+ to 61 OPS+) but still managed to be one of the worst-hitting regular players in the league. Matt Merullo was Carlton Fisk’s back up in Chicago in the early part of the 90′s, and became Scott Erickson’s personal catcher for much of the 1995 season.

1B Scott Stohoviak 0.2 WAR
1B Dan Mastellar -0.9 WAR
1B Dave McCarty -0.2 WAR
Kent Hrbek left some big shoes to fill, and the organization didn’t have much to fill them with at first base in 1995. The hope was that 1991 1st round draft pick McCarty would pan out, but after struggling early in the season he was traded to Cincinnati where he played a few weeks in the minor leagues before being traded to San Francisco.

2B Chuck Knoblauch 6.7 WAR
Against the backdrop of a terrible team, Chuck Knoblauch quietly had his breakout season at the age of 26. It was hands down his best season so far, and is likely only surpassed by his 1996 numbers in Knoblauch’s career. Yet, when covered in the media, Knoblauch was either the subject of trade rumors, or asked to comment on where he thought Kirby Puckett would play in 1996.

SS Pat Meares 2.8 WAR
SS Jeff Reboulet 2.6 WAR
Both of these players had career years with the Twins in 1995, Meares at age 26, Reboulet at 31.

3B Scott Leius 0.4 WAR
Leuis had his greatest success as a Twin when he was platooned with Mike Pagliarulo in 1991. Throughout his six seasons with the Twins, Leius was consistent in that he didn’t hit right-handed pitching well, but was very good against lefties.

LF Marty Cordova 3.3 WAR
Cordova followed up his ROY season with an impressive sophomore effort. Unfortunately for the Twins he wouldn’t see success like this again until he was in an Indians uniform in 2001.

CF Rich Becker -0.7 WAR
Becker played a handful of games the previous two seasons, but got his first shot as a regular in 1995 after Alex Cole broke his leg early in the season. His first full season was pretty bad.

RF Kirby Puckett 3.1 WAR
Puckett was still the face of the Twins at the age of 34 and had another very good season. His announcement that he would be fulfill his two option years with the Twins was expected, and only slightly shared the spotlight with the broken jaw that Puckett had suffered from a Dennis Martinez fastball at the end of the season. All signs pointed to another productive season from the team’s star in 1996. As it turned out, that Martinez pitch was the last regular season pitch that Puckett would see.

Even though his career was cut short, Kirby Puckett was enshrined in Cooperstown in 2001. He died in 2006 at the age of 45. There were a lot of post-playing career issues that tend to tarnish Puckett’s reputation, but on the field he was the star player on a team that won two World Series, and one of the most enjoyable players for a fan to watch.

DH Pedro Munoz -0.1 WAR


The Franchise 1995 (Part 1)

March 17, 2014

1995 Minnesota Twins

Manager Tom Kelly 10th season (10th with Minnesota 707-707)
56 W 88 L 703 RS 889 RA 5th AL Central 44 GB (Cleveland 100-44)
4.88 RPG (AL = 5.06) 5.76 ERA (AL = 4.71)
.684 DER (10th AL)

All Stars (1) Kirby Puckett

Franchise (1901-1995) 6987-7623-110; 27-29 Post Season; 19-21 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-1995) 2769-2759-6; 19-18 Post Season; 11-10 WS

When Major League Baseball opened spring training in February 1995, there still was no settlement. Players invited to Twins (and other) camps were a combination of minor league players and replacements. The Twins were among the few teams that used primarily replacement players in spring training. Many teams used primarily minor league players, which “perplexed” the Twins’ organization according to reporter Scott Miller, who quoted manager Tom Kelly:

I don’t understand it, but I guess everyone has their own agenda.

Part of the problem for the Twins was that, had the season started as scheduled, 10 of their first 12 games were scheduled against teams that would not be fielding replacements (Baltimore’s owner Peter Angelos refused to play games with replacements, and Toronto had a law that did not permit the use of replacement workers during a strike). Despite all of the uncertainty, it looked as though baseball would be played on April 3 until some last minute negotiating finally brought the strike to an end, officially on April 2, one day before the season was to start.

The season was delayed three weeks and fan backlash was huge around baseball, including in Minnesota where attendance dropped from an average of 23,704 fans per game in 1994 to just 17,338 in 1995. In the Twins’ case, it didn’t help that the team’s winning percentage was only .389 (which translates to a 97 or 98 loss season, much like the 2011-2013 seasons for the Twins). There were a few bright spots, including very good seasons from Kirby Puckett and Chuck Knoblauch and a Rookie of the Year award for Marty Cordova, but overall 1995 was a forgettable year for the Twins.


The Franchise 1994 (Part 2)

March 14, 2014

Pitchers

SP Kevin Tapani 2.1 WAR
SP Scott Erickson 0.5 WAR
These two were widely assumed to be the future of the Twins’ pitching staff in the early 90′s, and conventional wisdom said both would bounce back from sub-par 1993 performances to regain status as two of the top pitchers in the league. The problem with conventional wisdom, of course, was the Tapani had actually been pretty consistent in every category except for wins/losses, and the expectations surrounding Erickson were inflated due to his outlying 1991 season. Tapani’s 11-7 record in 1994 was enough to be perceived as comeback season even though the underlying numbers were very similar to 1993. Erickson didn’t compile quite as many losses, so his season was considered a success as well, even though it looked a lot like 1993 as well. Both pitchers were the subject of numerous trade rumors, but both remained Twins into 1995.

SP Jim Deshaies -1.3 WAR
The Twins dealt Deshaies towards the end of the 1993 season but resigned with the Twins in the off season. At age 34, however, Deshaies had nothing left in the tank, and fell off dramatically from a league average pitcher in 1993 to one of the worst regular starters in the league in 1994.

SP Pat Mahomes 1.9 WAR
23-year-old Pat Mahomes was a bright spot for the Twins pitching staff in 1994. Despite this, he was still thought to be a few years from his prime. Mahomes walked more batters than he struck out (62 BB, 53 K), and allowed 22 home runs in 120 innings pitched, so in some ways his 1994 season was more a function of luck. It would also turn out to be his best career season. In August, Mahomes was in a car accident

SP Carlos Pulido 0.2 WAR
The fifth spot in the rotation was filled by rookie Carlos Pulido, who stayed in the rotation partially due to injuries and partially due to the fact that there weren’t many options. Pulido wouldn’t surface in major league baseball again until he made a few appearances for the Twins in 2003 and 2004.

CL Rick Aguilera 0.5 WAR
Aguilera continued to be one of the premier closers in baseball despite the fact that trade rumors continued to follow him wherever he went. For his part, Aguilera said that he was happy in Minnesota. He liked the coaching staff and wanted to continue to play with the Twins.

RP Carl Willis -1.2 WAR
RP Mark Guthrie -1.2 WAR
RP Mike Trombley -0.4 WAR
To set up Aguilera, the Twins figured that these three, who had been solid performers for several years, would continue to have success. All three fell off a cliff in 1994. Willis pitched 2/3 of an inning with the Twins in 1995 before retiring. The Big Train served as Cleveland’s pitching coach for a long time, and was just recently relieved of his duties as Mariners pitching coach.


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