Published on October 17th, 2011 | by Thompson4
Why Twins’ GM Bill Smith Should Resign
Around this time last year, I was hung over after my cousin’s wedding only to have my headache worsened by the front page of the sports section in the Star Tribune. Wilson Ramos was traded for Matt Capps. Ramos, an MLB-ready catcher with a good bat was traded for a reliever with a fastball. Capps proved to be nothing but a batting practice pitcher serving up home runs to just about anyone, and Ramos, who the Twins could have used while Joe Mauer was injured, hit .267 with 15 HR and 52 RBI in 113 games…much better than Drew Butera, Rene Rivera, and Joe Mauer’s numbers combined (.199, 6 HR, 58 RBI). And with Mauer’s inevitable move to another position (1B, RF, 3B), Ramos could have stepped in behind the plate and put up reasonable numbers. This, I thought, was Bill Smith at his worst. I was wrong.
On August 15th, Delmon Young was traded for Edina local Cole Nelson, a Single-A lefty with 28 appearances, a 5-11 record, and an ERA of 4.87, and a player to be named later. That player turned out to be Lester Oliveros, a Triple-A right-handed reliever who pitched 8 innings in the bigs with an ERA of 5.63. And this is why Bill Smith should be fired. He made a modest salary dump of $1.45 million this year, gave up a great hitter who carried the Twins on his back last year posting a .298 average, with 21 HR, and 112 RBI, and received two works in progress from a team within the division! Now I’m no MLB GM, but Delmon Young is worth at least a back of the rotation starter, and he’s not someone you want to inject into the Tigers’ already dangerous lineup when you play them 9 more times. Delmon went on to star in the American League Playoffs by hitting 5 homers in 9 games.
Bill Smith has not made one trade in his short career that has helped the Twins. Even his trade of Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan for Delmon Young, Jason Pridie, and Brendan Harris blew up in his face. Garza proved to be a very effective starter and Bartlett went to the All-Star Game in 2009 only to see the Twins struggle to find a shortstop and work around inconsistent starting pitching. This is not the worst of Bill Smith’s work, though.
Johan Santana was traded before the season started in 2008 for Philip Humber, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra. This was Bill Smith’s first ever trade, and it showed. Instead of waiting for the All-Star break to make a move, which would only have increased Santana’s trade value, Smith decided it would be best to move Santana in Spring Training so there would be no distractions. Well, Humber is finally finding his rhythm in a White Sox uniform after the Twins granted him free agency in 2009. Gomez was traded for JJ Hardy, who was then traded for Brett Jacobsen and Jim Hoey. Hardy went on to pound the ball for Baltimore with 30 homers, 80 RBI, and a .269 average. Mulvey was traded to Arizona for Jon Rauch in 2009. Guerra is the only remaining Twin, going 8-7 with a 5.59 ERA at Double-A New Britain. I think it’s safe to say this trade was a disaster for Twins’ fans. In fact, the best trade Smith has made is just as pathetic.
Needing a spark to climb into the division race at the trade deadline in 2009, Smith sent Double-A infielder Tyler Ladendorf to Oakland for Orlando Cabrera. Cabrera helped the Twins win the division in an epic 163rd game only to be swept by the Yankees in the ALDS. The Twins ultimately let Cabrera go, who helped Cincinatti reach the playoffs last year and was a much-needed veteran leader for Cleveland until his trade to San Francisco this season, while Minnesota struggled to find middle infield help once again. But I will always remember Bill Smith for the trade he didn’t make.
The Nationals needed a center fielder and showed interest in Denard Span. Span has a team-friendly contract through 2014 and is still suffering from concussion symptoms. The Nats were dangling impressive reliever Drew Storen and Triple-A infield prospect Stephen Lombardozzi. Storen posted a 2.75 ERA, 1.022 WHIP, and 43 saves last season, while Lombardozzi continues to impress at Triple-A with a .309/.360/.430 line. The Twins were just 7 games back in the AL Central with 50 games to play and in much need of relief help. With Ben Revere clearly ready to take over in center field, the deal seemed perfect for both sides, but the Nats were looking for another prospect to go with Span. Bill Smith didn’t make the move, and the Twins quickly fell out of the division race.
Is this the type of management the Twins can expect with a new stadium and bigger budget? As a season ticket holder, I know what the expectation of my fellow fans is, and that expectation is not to be the worst team in the American League or to sit in those seats for years while management rebuilds. That is why I’m asking Bill Smith to resign. With $113 million he single-handedly created the worst team in the American League. And don’t try to blame the injury bug because that’s what management is trying to do. Trust me. Durability is something general managers evaluate before signing players to contracts. It’s exactly why JJ Hardy was sent on his way. Just think what he’ll do with the $30 million dollars coming off the books next season! Be afraid, Twins fans. Be very afraid.