Here’s the next 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.
25. Chad Allen 1999-2001: Chad Allen’s real first name is John. He has three first names. That’s neat to me.
It’s not that Allen was bad with the Twins. In fact, he was actually a pretty decent hitter, offering a .275 average in 773 plate appearances. He also hit all of his 14 career home runs with the team. The main thing working against Allen’s memorability is who he played with: namely the three-headed monster known to Twins fans as the Soul Patrol (Hunter, Jacque Jones and Matt Lawton). Realistically, how was he supposed to make a lasting impression with those personalities around?
Following the 2001 season, Allen spent the next five years bouncing between six teams, including a brief 2003 stop with the world champion Florida Marlins. He would never play more than 21 games with a major league club again.
24. Darnell McDonald 2007: The 2007 season has always vexed me. A new job in a new city had me mysteriously scheduled to work during the broadcast of seemingly every game of the season. I was not amused. This reduced me to “enjoying” the majority of the season the way our ancient ancestors enjoyed their baseball: newspaper box scores. This unfortunate set of circumstances led to me experiencing the entirety of several short-lived Twins careers exclusively in print. Mr. McDonald was one of those individuals.
Called up on July 20, to replace an injured Michael Cuddyer, McDonald was limited to four games where he managed one walk and one hit. Coincidentally, that one hit came in his final at bat with the club. After a somewhat forgettable stint with the Cincinnati Reds, McDonald seems to have found a home as serviceable fourth outfielder for the Boston Red Sox.
23. Mike Jackson 2002: 2002 will always be remembered as a magical season for Twins fans. Responding to the threat of contraction, a band of young and hungry upstarts led by first-year manager Ron Gardenhire not only dominated the American League Central, but went on to shock the Oakland Athletics in the playoffs before losing to the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Angels.
Of course, not everyone on the 2002 Twins was a fresh-faced youngster, case in point: Michael Ray Jackson. A 15-year veteran, the 37-year-old Jackson was signed in January to help bolster a bullpen that featured four other 30-plus-year-olds and a team that featured two other 37-year-olds.
Jackson was decent in his 58 regular season games, posting a 3.27 ERA, but providing nothing much else outside of that veteran presence. He made one appearance in the division series against the A’s, facing three batters and allowing one hit. Then came the Angels. The Twins pitching was terrible against the Angels and Jackson was a big part of those failures, posting a 27.00 ERA.
22. Jesse Orosco 2003: The all-time leader in career pitching appearances, Orosco is one of the best relievers in the history of the game based on longevity alone. The man pitched in 1,252 games over 24 season, was a two-time All-Star, and recorded 144 saves despite only twice leading his team.
In 1986, Orosco saved 21 games for the World Series champion New York Mets. Seventeen years later, with confidence in J.C. Romero waning and, yet again, in search of a veteran presence, the Twins traded minor leaguer Juan Padilla to the Yankees for eight games worth of the 46-year-old south-paw.
Though he was acquired just in time to be placed on the playoff roster, the Twins were underwhelmed with Orosoco’s 5.79 ERA in 4.2 September innings and decided they could lose to the Yankees without him.
21. Garrett Jones 2007: Another one-hit-non-wonder from the 2007 season, Jones’ power had always been promising in the Twin’s and Braves’ minor league systems. With both injuries and general ineffectiveness running rampant at the Metrodome, Jones was finally called up in his age-26 season after spending four years with the Twins’ AAA affiliate, the Rochester Redwings.
Jones split his 31 forgettable games with the major league club pretty much equally between first base, designated hitter and the corner outfield positions. The power was still there, as in 84 plate appearances, G.I. Jones hit two homers, two doubles and a triple to go with his paltry .208 batting average. And with that, he was gone.
After being blocked by Justin Morneau for seven years, it became apparent to all involved that the only fair thing to do was to set Mr. Jones free. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in December of 2008, and two years later, led all rookies in homers (21) and slugging percentage (.567).