>By The Common Man
The Common Man has forever been fascinated with Chuck Knoblauch, so when Craig Calcaterra asked readers to identify the most hated player in each team’s history, TCM immediately went to Knobby as his default answer. Knoblauch came up for the Twins in 1991, finally providing the Twins with solidity at the position for the first time since 1985. He won the Rookie of the Year Award, and even excelled in the postseason, hitting .326 with 8 runs scored. Knoblauch would quickly become a fan favorite for his small stature, obvious hustle, and his excellent play. He was essentially David Eckstein’s much, much better older brother.
The Twins rewarded an incredible 15.3 WAR run from 1995-1996 with a five year contract extension for around $30 million, making him one of the highest paid players in the game. But before the end of August of 1997, less than a season into the new deal, Knoblauch expressed his frustration with the Twins and “requested” to be traded to another club, with the Yankees on the top of his wish list. There was a competing offer from the Indians that reportedly would have netted the Twins Chad Ogea, Steve Karsay, and Enrique Wilson, but thankfully the Twins didn’t bite. Instead, Knoblauch got his wish and was shipped to the Bombers for Eric Milton, Christian Guzman, Brian Buchanan, and $3 million.
Twins fans, naturally, didn’t take Knoblauch’s departure well, booing him lustily whenever the Yankees came to town, and showering him with batteries and other trash when he tried to play leftfield in 2001. It’s likely there is no more hated figure in Twins history.
|Chuck Knoblauch’s Family Tree|
Knoblauch begat Milton, Guzman, and Buchanan. Milton begat Carlos Silva, Nick Punto and Bobby Korecky in a trade with the Phillies. Buchanan netted Jason Bartlett in a trade with the Padres. And when Guzman left at the end of the 2004 season, the Twins took Brian Duensing with their compensation pick between rounds one and two. Bartlett was packaged with Matt Garza and Eduardo Morlan to pick up Brendan Harris, Jason Pridie, and Delmon Young. And Harris was paired with JJ Hardy to acquire Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson this past offseason. Meanwhile, the Twins took prospect Shooter Hunt in between the first and second rounds after losing Silva to free agency.
In all, the Twins traded four seasons of controlling Knoblauch, who earned an additional $24 million and contributed 6.6 WAR over the course of the deal, for roughly 42 seasons of team control (at the Major League level only) of 14 players. And for the 43.6 WAR those players have contributed over the past 13 seasons, the Twins have paid $52.7 million, minus the $3 million they received in the original Knoblauch deal from the Yankees. Not a bad haul. And keep in mind that Duensing, Young, and Hoey are all still actively contributing value and may even lead to more additions to the Knoblauch family tree. So while Knoblauch’s post-Twins career has been pretty embarassing and he seems like a bit of a schmuck, maybe we should send him a collective thank you note anyway for helping to lay the foundation for several excellent Twins squads in the ensuing years.