Well, it took a year, but here it is: the final installment of my initial 30 for 30 post. A refresher: these are the top 30 forgettable Twins. Once again, “forgettable” in this instance refers only to the players’ time in Minnesota. Also, this list is restricted to those players I remember watching or reading about as they played.
5. Glenn Williams 2005: Ever since Corey Koskie left town in 2004, the Twins have been searching for a competent third baseman. One of the earliest attempts at replacing the Canadian cornerstone was an Aussie also-ran named Glenn with two “N’s.” Twice Mr. Williams was considered by Baseball America to be a top 100 prospect. Of course that was 10 years before the Twins got a hold of him. But, hey, he did win a silver medal with Team Australia in the 2004 Olympics, so he was worth a shot.
In what would be a sign of things to come, 2005 saw seven different men man the hot corner. While that included memorable names like Cuddyer and Punto, there were also 570-plus innings out of guys like Terry Tiffie, Juan Castro, Luis Rodriguez and Glenn Williams. Twins fans in 2005 were even lucky enough to see one MLB inning of third base Most Forgettable Twins runner-up Michael Ryan played.
As far as that crop of conceivable Koskie replacements goes, Williams fit somewhere in the middle, production-wise. He hit .425 in 43 plate appearances, including one double and one steal. Defensively, however, he was simply not the answer the Twins were looking for. Williams would spend two more years at Rochester until he retired in 2007.
4. Chris Heintz 2005-07: When I look back at the career of this backup catcher who spent parts of three seasons with the Twins I have just one thought: “This guy spent parts of three seasons with the Twins?” Heintz, who is probably known by most baseball fans as PGA golfer Bob Heintz’ brother, was drafted by the White Sox in 1996. It wasn’t until failing to break through with both the Cardinals and the Pirates and spending a year in Rochester that the 30-year-old catcher finally made his major league debut.
Heintz played eight games in 2005 and two in 2006, collecting five hits and six strikeouts. In 2007, with Joe Mauer only playing 109 games and Mike Redmond being a 36-year-old Mike Redmond, the Twins thought it wise to give some other catching options a try. While that search for a capable number three guy lead to the 3-for-3 debut of Jose Morales and the return of Matt LeCroy, the majority of that extra time came in the form of 24 games for Mr. Heintz. Chris performed about as well as could be expected, hitting .250 in 61 plate appearances. After being released following the 2007 season, Heintz was given one last shot in the form of a minor league deal with the Orioles, where he once again batted .250 in 46 games for the Norfolk Tide.
3. J.D. Durbin 2004: Durbin was selected by the Twins in the second round of the 2000 draft. Born in Portland, Oregon and a graduate of Coronado High School in Scottsdale, Arinzona…you know what…no. I’m not even going to go over this guy’s background. There is one reason and one reason only for J.D. Durbin to appear on this or any other list: The Nickname. Yes, the guy was considered a prospect at one point. I remember a certain aura of excitement around his 2004 debut as a September call-up. It seems like there was something about having command of his fastball and pitching to contact, I’m not sure. All I can say for certain is that he had a nickname. Not only that, but he gave himself this nickname. I think that’s the real reason that I will never forget J.D. Durbin no matter how innocuous his actual career may seem. It takes a certain level of self-importance to dub yourself “The Real Deal.”
2. Michael Nakamura 2003: Remember all that hype about Tsuysoshi Nishioka? Remember how everyone was excited about the Twins picking up their first Japanese-born player? Remember how eventually someone quietly pointed out that he wasn’t actually the first, but didn’t make a big deal out of who the first was? That would be this man.
A relief pitcher, Nakamura was born in Nara, Japan, went to school in Melbourne, Australia, and split his 31 major league games between the Twins and Blue Jays. While his 7.82 ERA is pretty ugly, he did pick up one save, so kudos to him.
1. Carlos Pulido 1994/2003-04: Carlos Pulido is a testament to determination. Signed as a 17-year-old free agent by the Twins in 1989, the left-handed reliever dominated his first three seasons of minor league ball, posting ERAs in the 2′s and regularly striking out 10+ batters per inning. Things started to slow down a little starting in 1992, which is coincidentally the same year he began to make the shift to starter. The ERA rose, the K/9 dropped, but still, in 1994 he made his MLB debut, starting in 14 games and appearing in 19. It wasn’t an overly impressive rookie campaign, a 5.98 ERA and more walks than strikeouts meant that he wasn’t quite ready for the big show.
Throw in an arm injury and Pulido wouldn’t pitch in the big leagues again until 2003. That’s right, he went nine years in between major league appearances. The Twins seemingly gave up on him, allowing the Cubs to sign him in 1996. Despite pitching well enough to make the jump from AA to AAA, Pulido wasn’t a priority for Chicago as he was allowed to sign with the Montreal Expos for the 1997 season. After another one year minor league stay, Pulido moved on to Mets organization where he stayed until 1998. In 1999 he pitched independent ball. 2000 and 2001 were spent with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan. 2002 meant a trip south of the border and a pretty good performance with the Oaxaca Guerreros.
The Twins, seemingly impressed, not only with Pulidos numbers with the Guerreros, but also with his warrior spirit, brought him back for one of the most under-publicized inspirational stories in baseball history. After nine years away and back with the only major league team he had ever played for, Pulido had a great 2002 with Rochester. The Twins rewarded him in 2003 with an August 29th call up against the Rangers. Pulido pitched well enough to get another shot in 2004, but not well enough to become earn a full-time spot on the roster. Released by the Twins again in 2005, at 33, even with his MLB career most likely over Pulido still wasn’t ready to quit. He went back to Mexico where he played two more years before finally retiring. It should be no surprise that immediately after his playing days came to an end, he signed on as a pitching coach for the Rangers’ A team.
The personification of persistence, Pulido’s 32-game playing career spanned 15 years.