Terry Ryan was a great general manager, and everybody knew he’d built a model franchise here in Minnesota. But when he stepped down, he left me with a dilly of a pickle. The team looked like it was peaking, and a rebuilding effort may well be on the horizon — perhaps more importantly, it was time to make a decision on Johan Santana, who had indicated that he wanted to leave the Twins and go to a larger market.
I spent a lot of time pondering what to do about Santana. It made my afternoon golf outings more stressful than I like. After all, I go to the golf course to clear my mind. And it wasn’t working. The Santana situation weighed heavily on my mind, causing me to slice ball after ball into the woods.
I was taking a breather on the 6th hole one day, wolfing down my second hot dog,* when one of my many nameless underlings sprinted out to me, panting heavily as he tried to relay some news.
* The first thing I did upon being hired as the GM was to ensure that someone was in charge of stuffing Dome Dogs into my golf bag. Best decision I’ve ever made.
Underling: Bill gasping for air
Great Bill Smith: Mr Smith.
Underling: Uh panting more Mr Smith…
Great Bill Smith: What is it, boy? Trouble down at the old mill?
Underling: I’ve found the solution to our problems!
Great Bill Smith: Oh?
Underling: There’s a big-time slugger that we could trade for. Prodigious power! Hits .300! He’s like Manny Ramirez and Frank Robinson rolled into one, and he has a cannon for an arm! And he’s young!
Great Bill Smith: Wow! He sounds amazing! Who is he?
Underling: His name is Delmon something-or-other. He plays for the Rays.
Great Bill Smith: The Rays? Who in blazes is that?
Underling: Um, they used to be the Devil Rays.
Great Bill Smith: The Devil Rays?! They’re terrible! They don’t have any good players.
Underling: That’s why we could get this guy! They don’t know what they’re doing!
He made a good point. I had heard more than enough about the brilliant trades that Terry Ryan had made, especially that AJ Heist which I thought was pretty overrated. I was going to swindle these “Rays,” and get myself a young Manny Ramirez!
I called the office and told them to connect me to the Rays’ GM, whoever that is. If they even have one.
Andrew Friedman: Hello?
Great Bill Smith: Is this the Devil Rays?
Andrew Friedman: Rays.
Great Bill Smith: Whatever. I’ve got a trade offer for you. I want your big slugger … um, who’s-its. aside: What’s his name?
Underling: responding Delmon.
Great Bill Smith: Right. Delmon. You know, your best young player.
Andrew Friedman: Delmon … Young? Um…
Great Bill Smith: Yeah, the young Manny Ramirez! Hits like Frank Robinson! A sure-fire star, if ever there was one. That’s what my scouts tell me.
Andrew Friedman: Oh… yes! Delmon Young! That’s … pretty much exactly what our scouts say too. What makes you think you can get him?
Great Bill Smith: What would it take?
Andrew Friedman: sound of keys clacking on a keyboard Well… since Delmon is so great, it’ll cost you. I’m thinking a middling starting pitcher, let’s say this Matt Garza guy.
Great Bill Smith: Oh yeah, he’s a head case. I don’t like him.
Andrew Friedman: Oh? Then, um, we’ll need someone else too. How about Jason Bartlett?
Great Bill Smith: Bartlett? The shortstop? Yeah, fine, middle infielders are pretty replaceable. But you’re going to have to take Juan Rincon. Gardy likes that guy, and I want to show him who’s boss.
Andrew Friedman: Um, alright.
Great Bill Smith: But I want more. I need an infielder.
Andrew Friedman: I’ve got Brendan Harris. He’s versatile … he can play any of the infield positions.
Great Bill Smith: So can our best player! I love that.
Andrew Friedman: Great.
Great Bill Smith: Oh, and you guys have Jason Pridie. We want that guy. We keep trying to draft him, because he’s gonna be a star.
Andrew Friedman: Pridie? Are you … oh, um, yeah. He’s great. You can have him.
Great Bill Smith: Great. Deal. We’ll close this later, there’s some jerks yelling at me to keep playing. shouting away from the phone Hold on! I’m screwing some idiot!
Andrew Friedman: Okay. You have a good day now, Bill.
Great Bill Smith: Mr Smith.
Andrew Friedman: click
Boy, did I screw him!
Just goes to show you, some GMs just don’t know what they have. That’s why the Devil Rays will always be bad.
We announced the signing to the media, so they could all praise us for being so smart. People were asking a bunch of questions I didn’t understand about bat tossing and bad attitudes.
Coming into the offseason our first priority was to improve our offense. We took a hit last week when Torii left, but Delmon Young has been the guy we’ve been targeting since the end of the season. We feel he is the best bat available, and we’re excited to get him.
Delmon’s going to be a better hitter than Torii, so we upgraded the outfield even though Hunter sold out for more money. I’m a great GM, and this is what great GMs do. And it didn’t really matter that I’d just heard of Delmon yesterday, with a Dome Dog halfway down my throat, I’m supposed to say we were targeting him for months.
Later on, it turned out Friedman didn’t like Rincon. He claimed it was because Rincon had an elbow problem, and that he wanted something called Morlan. My scouts told me he was one of our top relief prospects in the minors, but I’d never heard of him. Sounded like an opportunity to clean house, and get some more old Terry Ryan guys out of the organization. So I tossed him into the deal. Win-win for me.
So, that’s how I stole Delmon Young from the Devil Rays. It was the first step on the way to establishing myself as a great general manager, a force to be reckoned with. I’d upgraded the offense and filled a hole in the outfield, without having to give up much of anything. And next on my plate was Johan Santana.
I was feeling great.