The Unceremonious End of the J.J Hardy Era
- Updated: November 9, 2009
As a Brewer fan, a J.J Hardy trade was something that I saw coming from a couple time zones away. Still, it isn’t something I’m too thrilled about. On a personal note, J.J Hardy was one of my favorite Brewers and happens to be the only player I have a bobble-head doll for.
The writing on the wall for J.J Hardy’s exit from Milwaukee has been crystal-clear since his surprising demotion to Nashville on August 12. While he didn’t play as well in ’09 as he had in ’07 and ’08 to me it seemed that he was just having a bad year (as indicated by a .264 BABIP) and not because his performance fell off a cliff (i.e. Bill Hall).
Hardy’s replacement at short, Alcides Escobar still has some room for improvement but showed enough last year to get a chance to play every day. He played solid D and hit for pretty good contact. Since he will be only 23 on opening day, it is likely that Escobar will keep improving and his future as a big leaguer is very bright. If he can develop at least some power and show some more discipline at the plate, the Brewers could have something special in Escobar.
At first impression, the Twins are the winner in this trade. I see J.J Hardy making the most of his change of scenery and being closer to the hitter he was in ’07-’08 than the J.J Hardy that played in ’09. The Twins improve their team in this trade as Hardy is a large upgrade at short in comparison to the alternative (Nick Punto/Brendan Harris).
In addition to the awkwardness of seeing J.J Hardy in a Twins uniform next year, there is also the disappointment of the Brewers not getting very much in return.
In return for J.J Hardy, the Twins sent over Carlos Gomez. Thus far, Gomez hasn’t played very well at the big league level. He came over from the Twins in the mega-deal that brought Johan Santana to the Mets. Gomez has been promising defensively and on the base paths. However, there is the problem of him being a liability at the plate. Granted Gomez will only be 24 on opening day but he hasn’t shown many signs of improvement at the plate. This does not bode well for the Brewers because the two likely scenarios for 2010 are Gomez being the starting center fielder or platooning with Jody Gerut. Either way, the Twins improved themselves at shortstop a lot more than the Brewers improved themselves at center.
Just as Hardy’s demotion made it clear his days in Milwaukee were numbered, the acquisition of Gomez means that Mike Cameron’s days in Milwaukee are numbered. If the Brewers thought they were going to keep Cameron, the Brewers would have likely gotten a Catcher and/or Starting Pitcher in return for Hardy. While Cameron is a better player than both Gerut and Gomez, the reality is Cameron will likely be seeking a bigger payday and the Brewers could probably use Cameron’s $10 million salary towards some of their other needs.
Considering the Twins win this trade easily based on big-league performance, there is (hopefully) a silver lining. That being if this leads to the Brewers parting ways with Mike Cameron, that frees up about $10 million in salary that could be used to bring a solid 2/3 starter to Milwaukee to give the Brewers a quality starter not named Yovani Gallardo.
Either way, it should be interesting to see how this trade pans out in the long term. Hopefully, Carlos Gomez will prove me wrong and helps the Brewers contend next year. Still, there is another 150 days until Opening Day and for the Brewers to upgrade their personnel for the 2010 season.