Twins make curious move for Jones

By Jim Callis

July 28, 2001

Twins GM Terry Ryan has baseball’s most surprising contender on his hands. On the job since September 1994, he finally made his first pennant-drive trade on Saturday, acquiring reliever Todd Jones from the Tigers for lefthander Mark Redman. Though Redman is on the 60-day disabled list with a strained triceps and is at least two more weeks away from throwing, Detroit agreed to the deal. Players on the DL can’t be traded unless both sides agree.

Jones, 33, tied Boston’s Derek Lowe for the American League lead with 42 saves in 2000, only to lose his closer’s job to Matt Anderson this year. He works off of a low-90s sinker that hasn’t been as effective as it has in the past. Jones is 4-5, 4.62 in 45 games, blowing six of 17 save opportunities as opponents have batted .303 against him. The Twins emphasized that he’s not a threat to incumbent closer LaTroy Hawkins, and he’ll join Eddie Guardado and Bob Wells in the setup mix. Jones, a pending free agent, has a career 34-33, 3.64 record with 181 saves in nine big league seasons with the Astros and Tigers.

The 27-year-old Redman, Minnesota’s top draft choice in 1995, looked like a failed first-round pick until 2000, when he improved his fastball and curveball to go with an already solid changeup. He went 12-9, 4.76 last year and 2-4, 4.22 in nine 2001 starts before getting injured. The Tigers were looking for a young lefty to fit into their beleaguered rotation, and Redman fits the bill.

The move is an interesting gamble on the part of the Twins, who have been searching for competent fourth and fifth starters all season. If Redman were able to return to full health and effectiveness this year, which is uncertain, than he seemingly would contribute much more to Minnesota than an extra setup man would. In the long term, a healthy Redman also would be more valuable than Jones.