Friday, November 25, 2011

Dissecting the Bill Smith era: Evaluating the trades

Trades are rooted in a variety of motivations. Some are made with an eye to the future; some are made with the intention of winning now. Some are made out of financial necessity; some are made to add talent. Some are made to open a space for a prospect, some are made to fill a lineup gap no prospect is ready to fill.

The wheelin' and
dealin' Mr. Smith:
40 trades in four years.
At one point or another in his four years as the Twins general manager, Bill Smith made deals for all those reasons. Using Baseball Reference as a source, I compiled a list of 40 transactions Smith made that involved exchanging a player for either another player or cash.

Releasing a player (Juan Rincon, 2008) doesn't count; the Twins received nothing for him. Losing a ranked free agent and receiving draft picks as a result (Jesse Crain, 2011) also doesn't count; the Twins didn't pick his destination. Signing a free agent (Jim Thome, 2010) doesn't count. Claiming or losing a player on waivers (Jim Thome, 2011) does. My criteria is that it had to be an active transaction between two teams.

Some of the 40 trades were obviously big deals -- the Santana trade, for example. Some were exceedingly minor -- waiving Bobby Korecky. Some look minor but may yet turn into something valuable for one of the the teams (Mark Hamburger for Eddie Guardado, 2008).

In future posts, I'll evaluate Smith's trades, year by year. I'll evaluate them by identifying what the motivation was behind the deal, and by how well the trade met the desired effect. The biggest trades will get individual posts; the minor ones will be lumped together. I will cite, as overall stats, both win shares and Baseball Reference's version of wins above replacement.

One more point about this project: It is inevitably flawed. Nobody on the outside can fully know what the options were. We don't know what possible trades went unmade. I will not condemn the Santana trade on the basis that a competing offer was better; we don't know what, if any, competing offers were made. What we know is what was done. That's all I have to work with. And that can be complicated enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment