Thursday, July 23, 2009

GM Analysis: Trades

On September 14, 2007, Twin #1 made the inaugural post on this blog. About 12 hours earlier, Terry Ryan had announced his resignation from the general manager position that he held since the early 1990s. The Twins announced that his successor would be his former right-hand man, assistant GM Bill Smith. In his first offseason, Smith guided the Twins through tough situations with Torii Hunter and Johan Santana. The team finished his first season at the helm in a tie for first place, but missed the playoffs when they lost the memorable one-game playoff against the White Sox. The following winter was much quieter than his first, with the biggest move being the signing of Joe Crede in late February. With the trade deadline fast approaching, I thought now would be a good time to take a more detailed look at Smith's (mostly underwhelming) work thus far.

November 13, 2007: Traded PTBNL (Doug Deeds) for Craig Monroe.
The trade in this case was not bad, as the now 28 year old Deeds was at the time and still is a longshot to be a contributor to a major league team. However, the acquisition of Monroe in an effort to increase the Twins' righthanded power was misguided. At the time I thought Monroe could be a good, albeit overpriced, bat off the bench. He certainly turned out to be overpriced, but unfortunately he was not good either. He produced -0.6 WAR in only 179 plate appearances before being designated for assignment on August 1st. This was not a disastrous move, but paying $3.8 million for that kind of production was certainly not a good one.

November 28, 2007: Traded Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie.
This trade has pretty much been a disaster for Smith. At the time, Young was being called by some the next Frank Robinson and Smith was being praised for finally taking a risk and trading some pitching for hitting. Since then, though, everyone has found out that trading for Young does not really count as trading for hitting. Or defense. Or any other measurable baseball skill. Young doesn't walk or hit for power, all while playing atrocious defense in a corner outfield spot. Add it all up, and he's been worth a staggering -$7.4 million to the Twins in his year and a half with the team, and he hasn't shown any signs of improvement either. After a career year between AA and AAA, Pridie has fallen back to earth in his time in the Twins' system. He has gotten a couple of calls to the Twins, but has pretty much been a nonfactor in the trade with 6 plate appearances in 11 games. At this point, it seems that's his future with the Twins: AAA player ready to be called upon when they need a 4th or 5th outfielder. Harris is the one player the Twins acquired in this trade that has actually provided positive value. He hasn't produced the way he did for Tampa in 2007 (.341 wOBA, 2.1 WAR), but he's been a serviceable middle infielder for the past couple seasons. The players the Twins traded haven't been as unsuccessful. Bartlett was already a valuable player because of his defense at short, and this season he has .912 OPS for the Rays (flukey, yes, but he's still done it). Garza has not yet become the ace that he was expected to, but he has still been a productive pitcher for the Rays, throwing over 300 innings with about a 4.2 FIP so far for his new team. Morlan was taken in the Rule V draft, but was eventually returned to the Rays and is in his 2nd season at AA. All 6 of the players involved in this trade will be under team control through at least 2011.

January 29, 2008: Traded Johan Santana for Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Phil Humber, and Kevin Mulvey.
Obviously, there were a lot of factors that went into trading the 2 time Cy Young Award winner, with his pending free agency after the season being the main one. Santana had his worst season as a full time Twins' starter in 2008, but was still a +4.6 win pitcher. In his first season with the Mets, he almost duplicated that season with a +4.8 win season and he's on pace for a similar season again this year. Those are far cries from his three straight +7 win seasons for the Twins from 2004-2006, but it's still enough to make him worth his contract. Gomez, mainly because of his excellent defense, has been a net positive for the Twins, but he hasn't shown as much improvement as hoped for at the plate or on the basepaths. His 2009 statistics are very similar to 2008 thus far, but he has dropped his O-Swing% by about 25%. Humber and Mulvey have both had cups of coffee in the big leagues, with Mulvey being the latest attempt to fix the bullpen. Mulvey has a 3.64 FIP in AAA this year after posting a 4.06 FIP last year, and he still has a shot to be a decent starting pitcher. On the other hand, time is running out for Humber, who is no longer on the 40 man roster and has had a FIP around 4.9 for Rochester the past 2 seasons. The last piece in the deal, Guerra, was supposed to be a potential ace. He was recently promoted to AA, but not really based on his performance. His fastball is still only around 87-88 MPH and his strikeout rate has decreased while his walk rate has increased since his 2007 season with the Mets high A affiliate.

August 25, 2008: Traded Mark Hamburger for Eddie Guardado.
This was Smith's attempt to fix the bullpen last season after failing to address it prior to the non-waiver trading deadline. Guardado turned out not to be the fix the Twins were looking for. His ERA overstated the problems that Everyday Eddie had (4.42 FIP), but he was not the reliable late-inning arm the Twins were expecting, as Ron Gardenhire ceded those duties to Jose Mijares by the end of September. Hamburger is now 22 and pitching in single A for the Rangers. He has posted a respectable 4.01 FIP in 46.2 innings out of the bullpen this season. He could make the majors someday, but is not a top prospect and still has a ways to go.

So, there you have it. Not exactly an impressive resume, huh? Maybe we should hope that Smith doesn't make a trade in the next week.

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1 comment:

  1. Thoughtful analysis. Informative. Long-winded. Do you think they need someone to replace Smith? I can recommend a couple people.


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