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About 10 days ago, Yankee second baseman/left fielder/Sergeant York impersonator
Chuck Knoblauch
was greeted rudely by Twins fans sitting
in the left-field bleachers. Knoblauch was showered with currency, pork
products, and words normally used to summon cabs in New York City by Twins
fans, apparently distraught over Knoblauch’s request for a trade after the
1997 season.

The commotion was actually enough to stop the game, and I was astonished
(and disappointed) that the game was not forfeited. As a result of the
incident there were upwards of 150 security personnel working the left-field
bleachers during this week’s Twins/Yankees matchup at Yankee Stadium, to keep
Jacque Jones
from being hit by things like anti-personnel mines and major appliances.

Pretty much everyone agrees that the behavior of that small group of fans in
the Metrodome was reprehensible, that this sort of thing shouldn’t happen,
etc. Yes, it’s a bad thing, the people involved are pinheads, and the
sun-deprived folks in Minnesota are not represented by this particular cadre
of buffoons. We all agree on that.

The bigger question is this:

What the hell are these people thinking? What freakin’ more do they want
than Eric Milton and Cristian Guzman?

On February 6, 1998, the Twins sent Chuck Knoblauch to the Yankees for
Eric Milton, Cristian Guzman, Brian Buchanan, Danny Mota, and
cash. Let’s just focus on Milton for the time being. Here’s what Milton had
done on the field since the trade at the time of the meat by-product
incident:




GS

IP

H

BB

K

ERA

W-L

Eric Milton, career

105

617.2

631

186

451

4.82

31-37

On Tuesday, Milton shut out the Yankees, and his performance so far this
year is relatively deity-like:




GS

IP

H

BB

K

ERA

W-L

Eric Milton, 2001

7

48

45

11

28

2.25

4-2

Almost everyone agrees that Milton is a lock to be a great pitcher for a
long time. What has Chuck Knoblauch done since becoming a Yankee? His
inability to throw accurately has been well chronicled, but how about with
the bat? At the time he was accosted by flying objects, he had posted this
during his Yankee career:




G

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

CS

Chuck Knoblauch, Yankees

430

1728

.282

.363

.418

85

30

And, for the 2001 season to date?




G

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

CS

Chuck Knoblauch, 2001

34

147

.286

.356

.374

12

2

Put simply, Knoblauch has turned left field into a pressing need for the
Yankees. He’s making $6,000,000 this year, and paying $6 million for a left
fielder who plays like
Dave Magadan
with speed isn’t a great strategy if your goal is to repeat as world champions.

Explain to me again why Twins fans are upset rather than ecstatic over this
trade.

Usually, when the Yankees make a deal in which they give up a prospect, they
don’t give up a real prospect. They leak a bunch of information to the media
about how wonderful and "projectable" a player is, then dump him
on some needy club for a pretty good player. You can probably catch the
Alfonso Soriano
version of this later this year, when the Yankees
might well pick up the 2001 version of
David Justice
from some poor GM who thinks Soriano is going to be next
Vladimir Guerrero,
rather than Mariano Duncan II.

The Twins fans shouldn’t be showering Knoblauch with loose change and cheap
meat; they should be sending Godiva chocolates and Dom Perignon to his
friggin’ hotel room. You don’t see us A’s fans pelting Kenny Rogers
with drachma and olive loaf, after all.

It takes a special type of stupidity (usually fortified with ethanol) to
fling stuff on the field at an opposing player. It takes an entirely
different type not to recognize an outstanding deal when you’re being beaten
over the head with it. The intersection of these two types of stupidity was
amply showcased at the Metrodome at the end of April. I’m not sure which
flavor of duh I find more distasteful, but it’s probably the
looking-a-gift-horse-in-the-mouth synapse gap.

A triple machine shortstop posting a 934 OPS, a #1 starter, and cash for
Chuck Knoblauch, and then you pelt him with loose change. Hasn’t Chuck given
enough? You can’t trade him again, ferchrissake.

Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.

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