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5 reasons why Luke Hughes got a rotten deal by the Twins

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Originally published at The Tenth Inning Stretch

By now the fact that the Twins have designated Luke Hughes for assignment to clear a 25-man roster for Jason Marquis is old news. I have always felt that Luke Hughes was a player with a lot of potential but for some reason the Twins did not see that and unfortunately might be added to a list of players including David Ortiz, Sergio Santos and Garrett Jones who have flourished after the Twins released them.

Why Luke Hughes got a rotten deal by the Twins?
  1. He was not given a chance when he deserved it, but was by-passed for lesser players: In 2008 when he was 23 years old,in a season split between Rochester and New Britain he hit .309/.369/.524 with 18 HR. If Brian Dozier has these numbers in 2012 in Rochester at age 25 and he is not with the Twins in 2013, there will be cries of "bloody murder" all over. Instead of giving Hughes a chance to a starting job in 2009, the Twins signed 34 year old Orlando Cabrera, 31 year old Joe Crede, and acquired 28 year old Brendan Harris. In addition they gave additional bench and starting opportunities to Matt Tolbert (27) and Brian Buscher (28) who
    never had any talent.
  2. Luke Hughes has a rare talent: He is a power hitting middle infielder who can be a late bloomer. Luke's career major league isoP is .118 in 335 plate appearances. Hiscareer minor league slash line is .268/.330/.419 (.155 isoP) up to his age 26 season. This compares pretty nicely to Dan Uggla's career MiLB numbers (.276/.347/.442, .166 isoP) who had to be a rule 5 pick up afterhis age 26 season to flourish. Luke Hughes has Dan Uggla potential which was either not seen or not appreciated by the Twins

  3. Luke Hughes is a versatile player: There have been rumors recently around Luke Hughes. By now Twins'
    fans with an open mind know how those originate: usually when the team (read Ron Gardenhire) does not like someone, certain writers are given tidbits to spread around. Slowey and Perkins (during his grievance season) are a couple of recent examples; even more recently the manager and the interim general manager were publicly saying that they were frustrated by Scott Baker's unwillingness to "let it rip", while the guy had a torn UCL.) The rumors that you will hear about Luke Hughes is that a. he is not a versatile player and b. his defense was suspect. To kill this right away, Luke played all positions in the field, including pitching a scoreless inning (one hit allowed) in a game with the New Britain Rock Cats in 2007, other than Catcher; this season Gardenhire himself named him the Twins' emergency catcher. So if that is not being versatile, I am not sure what versatility is. As a matter of fact, Luke has played more positions than Michael Cuddyer (who cannot play LF) who has been a darling of his manager and thus the Twin Cities media.
  4. Luke Hughes is an above average fielder. The second part of the rumor mill you will hear is that Luke Hughes is not a "good enough fielder" (and ironically this will start from the same people who were starting Mike Cuddyer at 2B and CF last season.) The fact is that in limited opportunities on the field in 3 seasons in MLB, his fielding has been 4.1 runs above average based on Fangraphs' fielding WAR. He saved 5 runs above average based on Baseball Info Solutions defensive runs saved above average. In 319.3 innings his UZR/150 at 2B has been +6.8, and in 282 innings, his UZR/150at 1B has been +11.0.
  5. They are lesser players still with the Twins. There is absolutely no reason the Luke Hughes should be designated for assignment and Sean Burroughs and Jeff Gray remain with the Club. Do the Twins really need 13 pitchers? Terry Ryan spoke about accountability when he was named the interim manager. I hope that he holds himself and his field manager accountable for their decisions.
I wish the best luck to Luke Hughes who has been in the Minnesota Twins' family for 10 years. Hopefully he will pass waivers and be in Rochester and come back with the Twins under better front office and field management circumstances

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  1. mattsaari's Avatar
    Emotional times when a favorite player gets let go. I really want success for Luke, but as it stands right now, he's an easy out for MLB pitching. He was swinging and missing by multiple feet on fastballs. I hope he does catch on and have a good solid career, but to put him in the same conversation as Big Papi is a bit premature. To call Hughes a middle infielder is generous. He's a corner guy who's prospects are shortened by the fact that he hasn't done much but smoke a few mistakes. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him clear waivers and head back to Rochester. There really don't appear to be many teams hurting for a 1st-3rd player with a bit of pop. I think Terry knew this and was willing to risk it.

    As to the constant drone of how Gardy just don't like guys and needs the media to help him sabotage players, come on. It's as though people think they want to win more than Gardy does. The implication is Gardy has winning second to making sure 'his guys' are the guys winning. It's silly.
  2. Steve Lein's Avatar
    I agree 100% with everything you've stated here. Raw deal indeed.
  3. Rosterman's Avatar
    Were the Twins clearing a 40-man spot for Bowen, perhaps. Although doing so with any number of other folks (Gray, Burton for example) would've worked easily as well.
  4. Thrylos's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman
    Were the Twins clearing a 40-man spot for Bowen, perhaps. Although doing so with any number of other folks (Gray, Burton for example) would've worked easily as well.
    It was never clearing a spot on the 40-man roster... Can easily place Baker on the 60 day DL to clear one. Space on the 25 man was necessary
  5. John Bonnes's Avatar
    I'll give five counter reasons (and saying this, let me say, I like Luke Hughes):
    1) He didn't hit well enough to be a corner fielder - Last year in 330+ PA, he hit .223
    2) He didn't field well enough to be a middle infielder - He can't play SS and he can't pivot the DP at 2B.
    3) Danny Valencia - Another RHed third baseman, which is Hughes best position, is in the organization. And Valencia has (unfortuately for Hughes) stayed very healthy, giving Hughes few opportunities.
    4) He had trouble staying healthy - Which is how Valencia passed him in the organizational depth chart. Do I remember correctly that it made him lose some playing time in the majors, too?
    5) He may fall into an organizational blind spot, which is a lot of what I think you're saying with a lot of the stuff above. I wrote passionately back in 2002 about calling up a guy who reminds me a lot of Hughes, but the Twins didn't, and Casey Blake ended up doing pretty well for himself. Perhaps this organization feels like middle infielders have to have very quick feet or something.

    BTW, I could add another reason that I think might surprise you:

    6) Bill Smith is no longer GM - I think you and Smith actually have something in common here. I always got the sense that Smith thought highly of Hughes, especially in an interview I did with him a couple of years ago. He went out of his way to point to Hughes as an option at third base when I was talking about Valencia.
  6. Thrylos's Avatar
    John, I think that your #5 is a valid reason, as long as it concerns their own players vs. free agents (Cabrera, Hudson, Crede and Carroll are not too fleet of foot). As far as Bill Smith goes, I think that he was just a titular head. Ryan was always part of the decision making process...
  7. CDog's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98
    It was never clearing a spot on the 40-man roster... Can easily place Baker on the 60 day DL to clear one. Space on the 25 man was necessary
    Baker was put on the 60-day nearly a week ago. (I think to make room for Thomas.)
  8. Thrylos's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by CDog
    Baker was put on the 60-day nearly a week ago. (I think to make room for Thomas.)
    He did but looking at the roster (unless I counted wrong) without counting Baker, they have only 39. Link of the official roster here
  9. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
    I'm little perplexed about the amount of attention and gushing praise that Hughes has received the last couple of days. He had a few nice moments and seemed like a quality guy.

    But to read some of the stuff that's been written about him, Jesus Christmas, you'd think the Twins just gave up on the second coming of Lou Whitaker from down under.
  10. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
    Well, I feel bad when somebody believes thay have a better handle on the situation than management. As the Twins have shown time and time again, many of their decisions are not solely based on on-the-field potential/performance. We don't know about the intangibles that played into this decision as well.

    Comparing him to Uggla is reckless. There is no reason to believe he would suddenly blossom after all this time.

    Have you seen the pitching staff lately? Putting Hughes over a pitching slot also does not compute. Working through replacement level pitchers is more important right now than replacement level players.

    I wish Hughes the best of luck, but I have zero concern that tis will come back to bite us.
  11. jorgenswest's Avatar
    Hughes is more similar to Jeff Baker than Dan Uggla. There aren't very many teams that have a player like Hughes on the bench. I think he will remain with the Twins and get another chance. If not, I hope to see him find more success in his next window of opportunity than he was able to produce in last year's window.
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