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.
20. Julio DePaula 2007: Have I mentioned how mediocre the 2007 season was? At some point, someone decided it would be a good idea to let this guy pitch. And then they did it again. And again. And again. To be fair, he had preformed pretty well in the minors, but at some point you have to recognize the difference between a good minor league pitcher and a competent major leaguer.
Signed by the Twins as a amateur free agent in 1999, DePaula’s 16-game major league career was hardly worth the eight year wait. He gave up as many runs as he had innings pitched (20), allowed 30 hits and struck out only eight while walking 10. For some reason, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays briefly thought they could make something of him as he spent the 2009 season posting an admirable 3.87 ERA for their AAA affiliate. After spending 2010 in Japan, DePaula’s journey led him back to Minnesota, where he posted a 3.86 ERA in four games for the St. Paul Saints.
19. Ruben Sierra 2006: I’m pretty sure that for a good chunk of the early 2000s, the Pohlads were making a little extra money on the side by doubling the Metrodome as a retirement home. How else would you explain guys like Orosco, Terry Mullholland, Jose Offerman, Rick Reed…the list goes on. Like Orosco, Sierra was another one of those once-great players who simply didn’t have it anymore. In fact, by the time the Twins got him, Sierra had stopped “having it” a couple of years ago.
Thinking Sierra could help out at DH, the Twins took a brief chance on the four-time all star, allowing him to spend the final 14 games of his 20-year career posting a .179 batting average in 33 plate appearances. The short stay shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise considering what happened almost a decade earlier. In 1997 Sierra spent exactly 14 forgettable games with Toronto. At least he managed to hit a home run for the Blue Jays.
18. Justin Huber 2009: Once upon a time, there was a strapping young catching prospect from Melbourne, Australia. He hit for average. He hit for power. He was from Melbourne, Australia. Yes, everything was going great for Justin Huber, until 2004, when he was traded by the Mets to Royals for Jose Bautista. That same season, he injured his knee, and his time as both a catcher and a top prospect were over. All this before he even made his major league debut.
Thanks mostly to 396 at bats worth of repeated exposure to familiar AA pitching, Huber looked good in 2005, posting career highs with 23 homers and a .326 average. Those numbers did not translate to major league success in brief call-ups with the Royals in 2005, or 2006 or 2007. A move to the National League helped, as Huber enjoyed his best major league success with the San Diego Padres in 2009.
Of course, his best major league success consisted of a .246 average and his first and second career home runs (the only two of his career). All of this, of course, brings us to his game with the Twins. That’s right, one game. Huber’s performance in that one September game impressed the Twins enough to bring him back on another one-year minor league deal in 2010, but not enough to earn him another call-up.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Huber: the caliber of pitcher he was able to hit those two career home runs off of: Cliff Lee and Randy Johnson. I guess if you’re only going to get two, might as well make them memorable.
17. Brad Thomas 2001/2003-04: Oh look, another Australian! Brad Thomas has lived a rich and interesting baseball life. Signed as a minor league free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995, the Sydney native was unimpressive in one year of rookie ball before being released by Los Angeles and signed by the Twins in 1997.
Clearly, the Dodgers gave up on Thomas too early, as he was a four-time minor league All-Star in the Twins system. Of course, minor league success doesn’t necessarily guarantee you anything. In eight years with the organization, Thomas saw time in only 11 major league games. A look at the numbers shows that was probably a good thing: 9.89 ERA, 8/18 strike out/walk ratio and 33 hits allowed in 23.2 innings. Relatively small sample size aside, Thomas was anything but an All-Star in the big leagues.
By 2004 Thomas’ time with the Twins, and apparently MLB, was done. But appearances can be deceiving. After spending a season each in the minors with Boston and Seattle, and stints in Japan and Korea, Thomas signed with Detroit after the 2009 season. He spent all of 2010 pitching excellently out of the Tigers’ bullpen. 2011 was not quite as kind to the southpaw from down under, however, and he was not brought back for 2012. But have we seen the last of Brad Thomas? Probably.
16. Tony Fiore 2001-2003: Fiore is another guy on this list almost solely because of his name, or more specifically a nickname that is known only by me and my wife and used exclusively by me. Most likely because I am the only baseball fan since 2003 to ever talk about Tony “gooey” Fiore. You see, it’s a play on the fact that his name sounds kind of like the pasta that’s shaped like a flower: fiori.
Anywho…you may have guessed, based on the above paragraph centered completely around a very loose association with a former big league reliever and the way that his name sort of sounds like a somewhat obscure subsection of a very specific type of food, that even I don’t remember all that much about Mr. Fiore. That’s kind of sad, when you consider the man provided 73 games worth of good-to-adequate relief work for three of the most memorable and enjoyable Twins teams of all time. Oh well, such is the life of a middle reliever.