For an outsider like me, it’s hard to see just what it is about Kevin Slowey that causes all of the bulging neck veins at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. But it seems like the entire Twins press box is rejoicing his departure in this morning’s trade with the Rockies.
Here’s Jim Souhan’s take:
Slowey, we hardly knew ye. Oh, wait, yes we did. That’s why Twins traded the jerk for a boiled hot dog and a used spit cup.
Souhan later followed the comment with a note about how last year Slowey told Joe Mauer he “didn’t have to be accountable, didn’t have to talk about injuries.”
Which is what a lot of this comes down to: people don’t like people who make their jobs more difficult.
John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press also had some unflattering twitter comments, since redacted.
The only real surprise about today’s trade is that it took so long to happen. Slowey had been in the doghouse for at least a year, and while he might have had a little trade value last winter, the Twins pretty much gave him away now. Colorado isn’t the right place for Slowey to turn his career around, given that he’s a pretty extreme flyball pitcher, but he should benefit from the new start in more ways than one.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.