Saturday, August 28, 2010

What do you think about Bill Smith now? Trade history

The Twins have made a couple moves this week, they claimed Randy Flores on Wednesday and traded for Brian Fuentes for a player to be named later yesterday. Unless that player is a major prospect, the Twins have made a great trade to shore up their bullpen in 2010. Fuentes showed today, just how valuable he can be at shutting down lefties. I love the trade!

These moves are just the latest of many moves that the Twins have made since Bill Smith took over as GM at the end of the 2007 season.

I will look at the job Bill Smith has done since taking the reigns as team GM. In this post, I will focus on trades Smith has made. I will use WAR (Wins Above Replacement) to judge how the trades have worked out. This isn't an end-all be all stat, but is a good indicator. I will use WAR and salary values.

Smith's first trade was made in the fall of 2007. The Twins traded Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan to the Tampa Bay Rays for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie. I really liked this trade at the time. The Twins had an excess of  young pitching and Garza had a reputation as being a headcase. The Rays had plenty of young outfielders, so they were able to trade Young, also a head-case, and the runner-up rookie of the year to the Twins. I didn't like losing Bartlett, but figured Harris had more offensive upside. Pridie also added a future center fielder to compete for Torii Hunter's vacated spot.

How does this trade look 3 years later?

Let's just say the Rays got the better end of the deal. Garza has a 8.3 WAR in almost 3 seasons and was the ALCS MVP in 2008. He has been a little up and down but, as his no-hitter this season proves, he is a very good pitcher. He is still young and who could be even better. Jason Bartlett has a 7.3 WAR and has been an all-star for the Rays. I always liked Bartlett, but never expected that he'd become an all-star caliber player. Morlan at 24 is a decent reliever at AA and has moved on to the Brewers organization.

This season has been a breakout year for Young and he has even been mentioned as an MVP candidate, in certain circles. His defense is still poor however, so poor that in almost 3 years with the Twins, Young has a WAR of negative .1. All of his offensive value has been stripped by poor defense. Brendon Harris was a decent infield bat with little range for the Twins before 2010 season. This season has turned into a disaster that sees Harris playing ball in AAA. He is no longer on the 40 man roster. He has been worth a .2 WAR with the Twins. Jason Pridie, in brief appearances with the club was worth a negative .3 WAR. Pridie was let go at the beginning of the 2010 season.

Through almost 3 years, this trade has been worth 15.6 wins above replacement for the Rays and negative .2 WAR for the Twins. The best the Twins can hope for is for Young to continue to improve. There is no way to win the trade, but Young can still be valuable for many years.

In February of 2008, Johan Santana forced the Twins to trade him or he would walk after the 2008 season. The Twins traded Santana to the Mets for Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra.

Since the trade, Johan Santana has a WAR of 11.3 and fangraphs estimates that is worth 48.5 million dollars through almost 3 years of his contract. He has been good, but e has not been worth 1/2 of the 6 years and $137.5 million that the Mets are paying him.

Carlos Gomez, who was worth a 3.0 WAR in 2 seasons with the Twins, mostly due to his stellar defense. Philip Humber appeared briefly with the Twins and was let go before the 2010 season. He gave the Twins a negative .4 WAR with the Twins. Kevin Mulvey appeared briefly with the Twins and performed exactly at replacement level before being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Deolis Guerra is 21 years old and has reached AAA but is mainly still in AA. He has never had a FIP below 3.52 at any level. He is still young for his level but is looking less like the prize prospect he was when the trade was made.

In August of 2009, Mulvey was traded to Arizona for Jon Rauch. Since the trade Mulvey has had a negative .2 WAR. Rauch has a 1.2 WAR with the Twins.

After 2009, the Twins traded Carlos Gomez to the Milwaukee Brewers for J.J. Hardy. This season Gomez had been worth .5 WAR with the Brewers. Hardy has a 1.7 WAR with the Twins.

Nearly 3 years after the trade, the Mets have a 11.3 WAR. The Twins have a 5.5 WAR from all of the transactions, while losing a .3 WAR with the trades of Mulvey and Gomez.

So far, this trade has heavily favored the Mets. The fact that Rauch may be gone after this year and Hardy has at most, one more year with the team, the Mets look to win this trade. The upside is, the Mets have severally over-paid for Santana's services. Santana is still a very good player but certainly not the 7+ WAR player he was at his peak. The dollars saved by not signing Santana have allowed Smith to sign Morneau, CuddyerMets win this trade, but not by as much as it looks based on player performance.

These 2 blockbusters marked Smith as a bad GM early in his tenure, and are certainly the 2 biggest trades Smith has made. How do his other trades stack-up?

In the 2008 playoff push, the Twins reunited with former closer Eddie Guardado and traded away Mark Hamburger. Guardado was replacement level in his brief stay with the Twins. Hamburger looks to be a future closer prospect. The 23 yr old reliever is a a little ways away from the majors but with a 9.65 K/9 rate at A+/AA in 2010, his future is bright. The Twins really got nothing from Guardado and lost a potential arm that may be major league ready in late 2011 or 2012. Smith loses on this trade.

At the 2009 trade deadline, the Twins traded Orlando Cabrera to the Oakland A's for minor league shortstop Tyler Ladendorf. Cabrera was worth  .4 WAR in the last two months of 2009 and the team credits him with helping them make the playoffs. Ladendorf is 22 and a shortstop with a plus glove. He hit .273/.324/.385 in the High A California league in 2010. The California league is an offensive league, but a young defensive shortstop with some offensive ability is very valuable. I think this trade skews toward the Twins in 2010, but could swing Oakland's way if Ladendorf find his way to the major leagues. He is probably still 2-3 years away.

In August 2009 the Twins traded for Carl Pavano from the Cleveland Indians. The Twins let go Yohan Pino. Pavano was decent in Cleveland in 2009 and was a little better for the Twins. Pavano also pitched well in the playoffs. In 2010, Pavano has been great. It has been argued that he is the Twins ace. The Twins have gotten a 5.0 WAR from Pavano in a little over a year. Pino, a 26 year old starter is 9-8 with a 5.68 ERA and a 4.91 FIP in AAA this season. Pino may make a brief appearance in the majors, but Pavano has been a workhorse who has brought the Twins value now and will either be re-signed or let go for 2 draft picks after the season.

Right before the trading deadline this season, the Twins traded stud prospect Wilson Ramos for Washington Nationals closer Matt Capps. Capps has had a FIP/xFIP the same as he had with Washington. He can be expected to be a competent if not a great closer for the Twins the rest of 2010 and possibly in 2011. Wilson Ramos is projected to be a great defensive major league catcher as soon as 2011. He has raw power and could be a great power hitter some day. Ramos has had problems staying healthy. If Ramos can harness his power potential and remain healthy, this trade could look like a major mistake down the road. If Capps is able to help lead the Twins to a world series in 2010, that will soften the blow of this trade. He has been worth .2 WAR since joining the Twins.

Recap: Smith has traded away 26.6 WAR, a potential all-star catcher, a decent shortstop prospect, a decent reliever prospect, and a system filling starter. Smith has received 10.9 WAR in return, a 21 year old starter with some upside and saved some money.   The book is not closed on some of these trades. Smith has not had a lot of success in trading history. The Fuentes trade should tip the scales a little more in the Twins favor, depending on the player to be named later.

New time, I will look at his free-agent signings.


  1. Stupid Analysis. What matters is team W/L. Smith has put one of the best teams in baseball on the field. I'll take Twins over Mets, ML, Nats etc any day.

  2. So, analyzing trades paints an entire picture of Smith, even though I have said more I have another Smith related post? I think Smith will look favorably in the end, but his trades have not worked out for the Twins as well as the teams they have traded.

  3. You're aware, anonymous, that the first letter in WAR stands for "wins"? As in, the same w that figures into your sacred "W/L"?

    Our record may be superior to the teams you mention but I think this posts demonstrates that the comparison could be even more lopsided given either a better trading history or simply not trading at all.

  4. I agree that the Garza/Bartlett trade for Young is still not good for the Twins even with Young's breakout year. Bartlett's better than Hardy this year and Garza would have been our 3rd most consistent starter this season. Delmon's not a longterm answer in left. He should be dh'ing and figuring out how to draw some walks already.

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