February 12, 2024

Twins’ Jackson puts the ‘journey’ in journeyman

The Twins continue to add depth to their bullpen, announcing that they have traded (possibly disgruntled) infielder Nick Gordon to the Miami Marlins for lefty reliever Steven Okert.

But before that deal was hatched, they came to terms on a free agent agreement with the well-traveled Jay Jackson, a 36-year-old righty reliever who has pitched in parts of five seasons with the Padres, Brewers, Giants, Braves and the Blue Jays in 2023.

His numbers were not bad last season, although he appeared in only 25 games and pitched 29-plus innings, producing a 2.12 ERA with 27 strikeouts, or 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings and close to three walks over the same span.

But perhaps more impressive (or less impressive depending on how you view these things) is the road he has taken to the major leagues.

Jackson was drafted in 2008 by the Cubs. Since then, Jackson has spent a dozen seasons in the minors, as well as time in Mexico and Japan, both in Hiroshima and in Chiba, outside Tokyo, with the Lotte Marines. Twins fans might recall that Tsuyoshi Nishioka came to Minnesota from those same Marines.

So what are the highlights of the Jackson oeuvre? Well, he looked pretty good in two appearances against the almighty Los Angeles Dodgers last season. On July 24, he earned the win in a 6-3 victory and improved to 3-0, and on July 26, Jackson secured five outs with three strikeouts in an 8-1 win over those powerful Dodgers.

Extra innings …

-Back to the Gordon trade. I say possibly “disgruntled” because Gordon was dealt to the Marlins after he lost his salary arbitration hearing to the Twins. He was seeking more than $1 million from the team, while the Twins countered at $900,000. It’s tough when you’re hurt for most of the 2023 season and play in only 34 games.

-Meanwhile, Okert can certainly strike guys out, notching 73 whiffs over 58-plus innings for a strikeout rate per nine innings of 11.2. However, he also issued 24 walks over the same number of frames for a base on balls rate that nearly pushed four per nine innings.

-Brant Alyea, who spent six seasons in the majors, including two seasons with the Twins in 1970 and ‘71, died Feb. 4. He was 83.

His claim to fame? Alyea, on opening day in Chicago in 1970, smashed two home runs and drove in seven more in a 12-0 thrashing of the White Sox.

Cesar Tovar tripled and Tony Oliva cracked a double in the win. Pitcher Jim Perry went the distance and picked up win No. 1 of the ‘70 season. He would go on to win the Cy Young award. The Twins also won the division while the Sox lost 106 games.

The Minneapolis Tribune lede:

“That left fielder of mine,” said a smiling Jim Perry as he looked across the Twins’ locker room at Brant Alyea, “he’s really something, isn’t he?”

The Chicago Tribune sports front hed:

“Sox, Cubs, Brewers blanked 26 to 0.”

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, MLB Trade Rumors, Newspapers.com.

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.