The Twins struggled to find a 3B for years following Gary Gaetti with guys like Scott Leius and Ron Coomer probably the best they've had (with Tony Bautista being the worst) so when reports starting coming out about this Danny Valencia character and how he could be the future at third for many years to come, it was a tiny bit extra thrilling - like a tramp stamp. Valencia was consistently ranked as the Twins' 5th-10th best prospect from 2008-2010 by most raters, and made a great impression in his rookie season (2010), finishing third in the AL Rookie-of-the-Year voting despite only being up long enough to accumulate 322 PAs after hitting .311/.351/.448 with 7 homers while playing above average defense. All was good. Confidence was high. Spirits were good. Of course, there were plenty of warning signs. Valencia's BABIP was .345, one of the highest marks in the league and most likely a huge outlier, and Gardy was constantly dropping hints that he wasn't happy with Valencia for various reasons. That, with a deep thinker like Gardy whose analysis is generally based on either hustle, grit, or how often he has the team over for a BBQ, was probably the kiss of death.
Following his breakout first year his stats fell off, with Valencia striking out more each year, walking less, chasing more balls and making less contact, and his defense consistently got worse as well. This, along with Valencia not saying hi to Gardy in the halls one time even though he totally saw him and said hi to Jerry White right after and when Gardy wrote him a note in study hall about how hurt he was Gardy saw Valencia and Repko laughing and he just knows it was about him, led to more and more public criticisms which in turn led to more pressing by Valencia which always leads to more failure and so here we are. Poor MLB numbers, poor minor league numbers this year that were well below what he did coming up, and Gardy's tender feelings meant the Twins would jump on the first offer to get him out, and they did.
In return for Valencia the Twins received Jeremias Pineda, and there's good news and bad news here. BAD: He's not Michael Pineda. GOOD: According to everyone he is already an elite level center fielder. BAD: He's still in rookie ball, for a second season, at age 21. GOOD: He's supposed to be crazy fast. BAD: He doesn't appear on any Red Sox prospect lists, even one I found that goes all the way up to 60. GOOD: Hitting .421 this year. BAD: Hit .188 in the same league last year and has a BABIP of .500 of this year. GOOD: Always invites the whole team over when he has a Karaoke party. BAD: Shows absolutely no power nor plate discipline.
Really they didn't get much here, but they probably got more than you'd expect for Valencia, based on how they clearly feel about him ever since Gardy saw him holding hands with a girl Gardy fancied. Pineda may never develop into a real live good hitter, but he already has one elite skill (defense) and one above average skill (running) so if he ever does learn how to hit he could be another Ben Revere, although it's likely he's more just organizational fodder. Valencia, on the other hand, was under team control until 2017 and wouldn't even have hit arbitration until next year, and could have fulfilled the role of "back-up 3b" capably for at least another year. Despite some rough numbers this year his line drive % is identical to his good rookie year and his BABIP this year is under .200, all of which means he's not as good as he was in 2010 but isn't as bad as his numbers suggest in 2012. So yes, a good, cheap, back-up 3B with a little bit of upside. But, as we all know, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, so when Valencia didn't include Gardy on the emails where everyone was planning what to wear to the end of the year banquet he probably sealed his own fate.
Bottom Line: Pineda is probably the best the team could have hoped for in exchange for Valencia, but the team would have been better off keeping him, but couldn't because Gardy is Regina George.
|Ohmigod you guys|