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Well, the Bret Boone Era is officially over in Minnesota, and the Twins brought up Jason Bartlett on Monday. Boone, who was once the most prolific second baseman in the game, did not live up to the expectations that most Twins fans had for him. After being designated for assignment by the Seattle Mariners, Boone seemed like a perfect fit in Minnesota.
Now that the trade deadline has passed, the Twins are still the same team they were before. But a young, exuberant prospect like Bartlett could be just the spark they need. In 61 games with Triple-A Rochester, Bartlett batted .332.
The release of Boone comes as only a shock to the former All-Star. After batting .170 in 14 games with Minnesota, it is clear that it was time for the Twins to make a move towards the future. The release could spell the end for Boone, who has had a very respectable career and has brought millions of fans many memories.
As for Bartlett, it will be his second go-round with Minnesota this season. He was on the 25-man roster to begin the season, but hit just .242 in 26 games. In 2004, he played in eight games for the Twins, batting .083. With his confidence back after tearing up the International League, Bartlett should improve on his previous Major League statistics.
The Twins will need Bartlett to step right in and make a difference, as they are coming off getting swept by the Boston Red Sox. They are now tied with Cleveland for second in the American League Central, at 14.5 games behind Chicago.
The Wild Card, and possibly the pennant, are still within reach for the Twins. With Justin Morneau finding his home run swing, and the pitching being solid for the most part, they only have the loss of Torii Hunter to deal with.
A leader in the clubhouse and on the field, Hunter will be missed in both respects. After further tests revealed a broken ankle instead of a torn tendon, Michael Ryan will try to fill Hunter’s shoes, along with Lew Ford.
Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, and Travis Bowyer are three arms the Twins could call-up at any time. Baker has already shown he can pitch at the Major League level, and Bowyer may be the best closer in the International League. As for Liriano, he was recently named Twins’ Minor League Player of the Week.
This next series against the Oakland Athletics, which begins Monday night, will be a big test for the Twins. They should start off on the right foot, as they send their ace, Johan Santana, to the mound. But don’t be surprised if there are more roster moves to come.
Email Brad Weiss at TwinCitiesDugout@aol.com