I’m not sure anyone saw this coming. Certainly not Delmon Young.
Today, the Minnesota Twins traded Young to the Detroit Tigers for minor league pitcher Cole Nelson and a player to be named later. As it happens, the Twins are in Detroit for a three game series starting tonight. So Young just strolled from the visiting clubhouse to the Tigers clubhouse.
I can understand the Tigers wanting another bat but Young has been a big disappointment thus far in 2011. After hitting .298 with 21 homeruns and 112 RBI with the Twins in 2010, Young’s number have plummeted this season. In 84 games with the Twins in 2011, Young is hitting .266 with 4 homeruns and 32 RBI. In fairness, Young did miss some time due to a right ankle sprain sustained during a collision with the outfield wall in Milwaukee. Even so, this season has been a far cry from 2010 when he finished 10th in the balloting for the American League MVP.
On the other hand, a change of scenery could benefit Young. It is also worth remembering that his older brother Dmitri played with the Tigers for five seasons and was a big fan favorite in Detroit. So the younger Young should get a nice reception during his Tigers debut. The other thing working in Young’s favor is that he is still, well, young. He turns 26 next month and still has time to demonstrate he can put up big numbers year in and year out.
Finally, I suppose the Young trade officially puts an end to any hopes the Twins had for this season. While the Twins have won the AL Central six of the last nine years, things have not gone well in the Twin Cities in 2011. Nearly the entire team has been injured (including Young) at one point or another this season (most notably former AL MVPs Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau) and their new bullpen just isn’t as good as the one served it so reliably. In April and May, the Twins were 17-36. They were losing two out of every three games and had the worst record in MLB at the end of May. Things did improve as the Twins went 33-22 through June and July. But things have regressed and they are 2-9 in August and now stand 11½ games back of the Tigers.
The Twins can now enjoy Jim Thome’s pursuit of 600 homeruns (he’s at 598), taking a look at prospects and playing spoiler in the AL Central. As for the Tigers, they lead the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox by 2½ and 4 games, respectively.
UPDATE: In his first at bat as a Tiger, Young homered off former teammate Francisco Liriano.