Engaging with fans since 2009
Not even a deep fried pork chop can get between me and a bad deal

The Day I Traded for Dan Haren

Posted: July 25th, 2010 | Author: bsmith | Filed under: Trade | No Comments »

So I’ve heard a lot of rumblings lately that our rotation hasn’t been getting the job done. I don’t really know what that’s about, since I’ve talked to the pitchers and each one of them insists that they’re trying hard; that’s all I ask of any player, and if they’re trying hard that means their performance is good enough.

But when Gardy dropped Blackburn out of the rotation and forced me to call up Slama from AAA — where he so obviously belongs — I started to think that maybe those rumblings had a shade of truth to them. Gardy knows his baseball.

Roy Oswalt is a pretty good pitcher, and his contract makes him look like a really good pitcher; but my front office people told me that I should focus on Dan Haren. He’s just as good as Oswalt, they said, except younger and with a better contract. I decided to look into it.

I delved deep into some advanced “statistics,” which is what I’m told all the cool kids are doing these days. One of these statistics is “ERA” — it’s the average of how many earned runs a pitcher gives up every nine innings. Pretty tough to wrap your head around, I admit, but it turns out that Harne’s is 4.60; initially I thought that must be pretty good, but I learned that’s actually below average.

At that point my head kind of hurt from all the statistical mumbo jumbo, but I figured it’d be better to trade for Haren than not to. After all, it’s better to open your mouth and reveal yourself as a fool than to keep quiet and preserve some doubt.

So it was time to call the GM of the Diamonbacks.

Great Bill Smith: Nancy, get me Josh Byrnes on the phone!
Stacy: Josh Byrnes? Wh–?
Great Bill Smith: Don’t ask questions, I already have my negotiating hat on!
Stacy: Well, okay. I’ll connect you right now.
Byrnes: Hello?
Great Bill Smith: Josh, what’s happening?
Byrnes: Well, to be honest, it’s–
Great Bill Smith: Great, great. That’s great to hear. Listen, I’ve got a proposition for you.
Byrnes: A proposition?
Great Bill Smith: I’ve heard good things about Dan Haren.
Byrnes: Well sure, Haren’s a great pitcher.
Great Bill Smith: But what’s this about his ERA this year? He seems pretty average to me.
Byrnes: He’s still striking people out. It’s just bad luck, probably.
Great Bill Smith: I’m not paying for bad luck! That’s gonna drive the price down, you know.
Byrnes: You … want to trade for Haren?
Great Bill Smith: What do you think we’re talking about?!
Byrnes: I’m not exactly sure –
Great Bill Smith: Don’t interrupt. Look, I’ve got this guy Wilson Ramos who everyone says is good, but he plays catcher. I already have a catcher, so I’ve got to unload this guy. So let’s start there, shall we?
Byrnes: Fine, but –
Great Bill Smith: And I know that’s not going to be enough. I know it takes more than one prospect to land an ace, and I want an ace. So I’ll add another guy, right? How about Aaron Hicks?
Byrnes: I’ve heard about Hicks, he’s pretty good. But I –
Great Bill Smith: Pretty good? He’s great! Ambidextrous, too, I hear.
Byrnes: I hadn’t heard that.
Great Bill Smith: What, then Hicks isn’t good enough for you? How about I add Ben Revere too?
Byrnes: Well that sounds like a deal I’d like to make … but I don’t know if I can make that deal.

At this point, I was really wondering what was the deal with Byrnes. He didn’t seem like he really had his head in this negotiation. But hey, if the other guy isn’t paying attention, you can really take him for all he’s worth! So onward I plowed, not about to let my adversary’s lackadaisical approach to negotiation stop me.

Great Bill Smith: Can’t make the deal? What, it’s not enough? Sure seems like a lot to me!
Byrnes: It’s not that, it’s just –
Great Bill Smith: What if I also add Joe Benson? Would that be enough?!
Byrnes: That’d be enough for me, but –
Great Bill Smith: Okay, alright then! Okay! So we’ve got a deal!
Byrnes: I wouldn’t –
Great Bill Smith: Would. A deal in principle, we’ll call it. I’ll pop the champagne, you alert the press, and we’ll get this deal done. We can have our assistants hammer out the deal later this afternoon.
Byrnes: Good bye, Bill.
Great Bill Smith: Great doing business with you, Josh!
Byrnes: click

That went great! I’d acquired the ace the Twins really needed, and all it took was some guys who weren’t going to play this year anyway. Prospects? They’re replaceable. But pitchers who make a lot of money and are regarded as an Ace? Those come around awfully rarely. And I’d got one!

I think I drank that champagne a little too quickly, though, because suddenly I felt a little bit lightheaded and also a little sleepy — nothing wrong with a celebratory nap, I thought. The deal wouldn’t go away while I dozed. Byrnes-y would never do that to me. I sprawled out on the couch and shut my eyes, dreams of sugar plums and championship trophies and pork chops dancing in my head.

I awoke not too much later, just a few hours probably, with a newly-printed piece of paper sitting on the table next to me. I picked it up and groggily read it over, squinting at the words assaulting my pretty eyes. It was an announcement of the Haren trade!

Popping up, I sat upright to read the report in the properly triumphant manner — only to learn seconds later that Haren had indeed been traded, but not to the Twins. Instead, he was headed west, to The Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim California Angels, or some such ridiculous place. What treachery was this?! That devious snake Byrnes had tricked me!

Great Bill Smith: Kathy! Get in here!
Stacy: What is it, Mr Smith?
Great Bill Smith: That dirty Byrnes took my trade proposal and got himself a better deal with the Angels! That two-timing, dirt-eating … oh, I’m just so mad! I’m never dealing with him again!
Stacy: To be fair, Josh Byrnes isn’t the GM of the Diamondbacks.
Great Bill Smith: Staring blankly at her … Huh?
Stacy: He was fired a while ago. I tried to warn you –
Great Bill Smith: No you didn’t. I’d remember it. I never forget a thing like that.
Stacy: Um, is there anything else?
Great Bill Smith: No. Wait, yes. I need a pork chop.

What’s-her-name left, and shut the door behind her. I practically keeled over, unable to believe what had just happened. I’d gone from making the trade of the century to nothing in the blink of an eye, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. What a day! I could sure go for another nap.

I’d deal with that lying Byrnes another day.


Nick Blackburn and being a good pitcher

Posted: July 1st, 2010 | Author: bsmith | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Allow me to let you in on a little secret. The secret to pitching, as it were.

The correct way to pitch is as follows:

  • Throw fastballs inside the strike zone
  • Don’t ever walk anyone
  • Rely on your defense to get outs
  • Pitch to the score: the bigger your lead, the meatier your pitches

If you do those things, you’re a great pitcher. That’s why, when I saw Jarrod Washburn dominate in Seattle and then implode in Detroit, despite identical peripheral numbers, I knew he was the sort of guy I wanted on my team. His success is totally reliant on his teammates, and that makes him a team player.

Of course, my pursuit of Washburn came up empty; but not to worry, there’s an even more perfect pitcher who needs a contract, and he happened to be right under my nose!

Nick Blackburn is exactly that sort of pitcher. He’s the mold of that perfect pitcher. He has a sinking fastball that I’m told generates oodles of ground balls conveniently straight at our defenders — that’s what sinking fastballs do, right? He doesn’t walk people or strike them out, and does a great job of keeping his teammates engaged in the game by making them chase down balls in play for every batter.

Nobody is better at pitching to the score than Blackburn. For example, in 2008 we played Game 163 against the White Sox, and Blackburn pitched great. The offense wasn’t scoring any runs, so he needed to excel to keep it close. And he did. The only blemish was a home run to Jim Thome, which I can’t fault him for … after all, if you’re serving up nothing but meaty fastballs to a great hitter like Thome, eventually he’ll get you. Not Nicky’s fault! Another example I like is the game against the Athletics in July of 2009: the offense scored 12 runs in the first 3 innings, which left Blackie plenty of wiggle room. Like any good pitcher, he went right after the opposing pitchers with thigh-high “sinkers,” and reverted to innings-eater mode. That he was knocked out after completing only 5 innings, or that he gave up 7 runs, or that we ended up losing the game 14-13 are not important. The important thing is that he pitched to the score, which is exactly what I want him doing. It’s what I want all our pitchers to do.

So that’s why I was so excited to offer Blackburn a contract. Some people accused me of making a bad deal, since I just guaranteed him money that I didn’t need to, and I didn’t get any extra years of team control out of it. I mean, sure, I could have gone year-to-year with Blackburn throughout his arbitration years, but if there’s anything I know about the arbitration process it’s that those arbiters really value guys who can eat up 200 innings per year and post consistent ERAs and have a .500 record. If I went year-to-year with him, we’d be looking at huge salaries, well over $10M per season. So I saved a ton of money.

And besides, why would I want to guarantee him any more years beyond his four year deal? He’ll be over 30 by then, and probably won’t be any good any more.


The Harris Contract

Posted: June 29th, 2010 | Author: bsmith | Filed under: Contract Negotiations | No Comments »

Brendan Harris sat in a sterile hotel room with the lights off, staring at the window as a heavy rain battered it, splashing against the clear glass with a violence that matched what he felt in his heart. The infielder knew he’d run out of rope, and that his baseball career was as good as over. He was up for arbitration, with the Twins; he knew he was the worst player on their team, that his only value was his “versatility,” which is a euphemism for “not good at any position,” and the Twins also had Nick “Mr Versatility” Punto and Matt “Nick Punto 2″ Tolbert, who could each hit about as well as Harris but had the dual advantages of being able to field slightly better and, perhaps more importantly, look better doing it.

Harris knew that whenever a ground ball bounced in his direction, he looked like he squirted a little in his shorts and then barely made the play (in fact, he often failed to make the play … do you have any idea how difficult it is to field a grounder with diarrhea streaming down the back of your thigh?). And he knew Gardenhire hated him. And he knew his agent sucked.

He looked down at his cell phone, in his hand. He was waiting for a call from his agent, who was supposed to be negotiating with Bill Smith at the moment. What was taking so long? It couldn’t be good that it was taking so long. Harris hurled his phone across the room, knocking over a lamp and bouncing harmlessly against the wall.

***

I had my feet up on my desk, my hands behind my head, reclining back in my expensive and luxurious chair, thinking to myself that it’s great to be the general manager of a baseball team … especially one with a big enough payroll that a $2000 desk chair can slip through the cracks of the budget. Best decision my ass ever made.

On my desk was my schedule for the day, and I didn’t really feel like looking at it. If today was like most days, the schedule only served to remind me when I’m supposed to eat, when I’m supposed to golf, and when I’m supposed to call my mother so she can tell me how great I am. Surely, today’s just like most days, so there’s no need to check the schedule. Instead, I gazed out the window overlooking Target Field, surrounded by the Minneapolis skyline. It’s a nice view.

I started to wonder what time it was and how long until my next hot dog, when there was a businesslike knock on the door and it popped open.

Stacy: Mr Smith? Your 11 o’clock is here.
Great Bill Smith: What? What 11 o’clock?
Stacy: Brendan Harris’s agent. It’s on your schedule.
Great Bill Smith: Glancing down at the schedule to confirm that she’s right. Oh. Well, thank you Bridget. Send him in.

Stacy stepped outside, opening the door for Harris’s agent and shutting it behind him.

The agent’s suit was slightly disheveled, and his tie wasn’t fastened very tightly. He looked nervous. I felt bad about it.

Great Bill Smith: Hey, have a seat. Make yourself comfortable.
Agent: Thanks. Sits down, leaning forward.
Great Bill Smith: So, what do we have to talk about?
Agent: Brendan Harris, and his contract situation.
Great Bill Smith: What contract situation? He’s arbitration-eligible, and we offered arbitration.
Agent: Brendan doesn’t want to go to arbitration … can we negotiate a contract instead?

At this, I chuckled. I love negotiating contracts. I’m great at it, everybody says so. I cracked the knuckles on my stubby hands and leaned forward, looking forward to the negotiations.

Great Bill Smith: Oh, yes. Let’s negotiate.
Agent: Well, Harris had a good season last year, and he’s versatile. He can play all the infield positions.
Great Bill Smith: Versatility is important. The two best players on the team are versatile.
Agent: Exactly! The more the better, right?
Great Bill Smith: That’s what I always say! Popping a handful of bite-size Snicker bars into his mouth
Agent: So Harris adds to one of the team’s strengths with his versatility, but he also helps out one of its weaknesses: he bats right handed.
Great Bill Smith: That’s true, right handed hitters are important. People keep telling me that, anyway. I always thought left handed hitters were better. One of those “grass is always greener” things, I guess.
Agent: Well, um, I suppose so. But since the grass is greener, you’ll want a good right handed hitter. And those’ll cost you a few million.
Great Bill Smith: Where can I get a good right handed hitter for only a few million?
Agent: Brendan Harris would be willing to play for only a few million.
Great Bill Smith: Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?
Agent: You did think of it.
Great Bill Smith: Of course I did? Why did I ever let you question me? Let’s see, Harris is a good hitter who’ll play for only a few million?
Agent: Yes.
Great Bill Smith: I don’t think I have enough in the budget for a few million this year. He’ll have to come down a bit.
Agent: Um, what about deferred money?
Great Bill Smith: No. We don’t defer money.
Agent: Harris will take a pay cut this year if you give him a second year on the contract.
Great Bill Smith: So I get to pay him less this year, and I get to keep control of him for next year?
Agent: Well, yes.
Great Bill Smith: What kind of a pay cut?
Agent: $1.5M this year, $2M next year?
Great Bill Smith: Leaps from his chair, much more nimbly than you’d expect Are you out of your mind? That’s ludicrous! Unacceptable!
Agent: Stunned Uhh, what? What’d be more reasonable?
Great Bill Smith: $1.4M this year, $1.7M next year.
Agent: $1.45M, $1.75M?
Great Bill Smith: Fine.
Agent: And incentives based on plate appearances.
Great Bill Smith: Yeah, yeah. Deal.

I had to get this deal done quickly; according to my schedule I have another meeting starting right now, with a walleye sandwich. I smacked the intercom button.

Great Bill Smith: Suzie! Where’s my lunch?
Stacy: I’ll bring it right in, Mr Smith.

She stepped in with a plate filled with a sandwich. I lit into it eagerly, devouring it with gusto. The agent stared at me with some sort of look on his face … I’d have noticed what sort of look if I could get a clear view of him, but there was a fish in front of my face, blocking my view.

Great Bill Smith: It’s a done deal. We’ll write up the papers, and Harris can sign them. Now get the hell out of here before I change my mind!

The agent nodded and scurried out of my office. He knows who’s boss.

I finished up my sandwich and licked my fingers. I looked back out the window, pleased with myself. I am a great negotiator.

***

Brendan Harris heard a phone ring. His phone. He jerked his head toward the sound, looking for it. He slowly got up and went rummaging for it among the remaining pieces of the lamp it’d struck. He found it in time, and smashed the green button that means “answer the call.”

Harris: Hello?
Agent: Brendan, baby! It’s your agent!
Harris: Yeah, yeah.
Agent: I’ve got some good news for you!
Harris: What?
Agent: How would you like a contract with the Twins?
Harris: You got me a contract?
Agent: Two years. $3.2M, plus incentives.
Harris: What?!?! How did you pull that off?
Agent: The Twins really value your versatility, and your right handed bat. I had to do a bit of negotiating with Bill Smith, but it worked out, eh?
Harris: I guess it did!
Agent: You happy, baby?
Harris: Yeah … I am. Thanks!

Harris dropped the phone and went back to the window. He couldn’t believe his luck. He thought the Twins were going to cut him; at best, he’d be a bench player on a one year deal. But they went multiple years? They were making a real investment in him! Harris had never been happier.

He saw his reflection in the glass of the window. He was scowling.


Chasing Jarrod Washburn

Posted: June 23rd, 2010 | Author: bsmith | Filed under: Contract Negotiations | 1 Comment »

Every baseball man knows that it’s vital to have veterans in the pitching staff. If you don’t have a veteran in there, who knows what’d happen? They eat innings, and they’re predictable, and they know all the unwritten rules, and they cost a lot so you know they’re good, and they invariably pass along good habits to your young pitchers. There simply isn’t a bad thing to say about having veterans in your pitching staff.

And having recently witness the great work done by Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson, and Livan Hernandez, I wanted to repeat that success. Sure, I have Pavano, but my friends in New York keep telling me that he’s an unreliable douche bag who only wants to steal my money and sleep with my sister. I don’t know why I signed him, anyway. But now that I had him, I realized that where one veteran makes a pitching staff better, surely two veterans would make a pitching staff twice as better!

I’d heard a lot about Jarrod Washburn lately. He dominated the first half of the season, in Seattle. He had a 2.64 ERA with Seattle, which is amazing! He was a Cy Young candidate; I’d love to have one of those on my team. And since Washburn is a lefty, I’d be able to get that irritating Liriano out of the rotation once and for all. Win-win. I’d even spoken to Washburn a few times, and he said he’d love to play for Minnesota; after all, he’s from Wisconsin and it’d be oh-so-convenient for him to spend time at home during the week and pop down to Minneapolis every five days to dismantle some hapless offense. It sounded good to me, too.

So, after enjoying a bit of after-lunch lazing about the office, I’d made up my mind to go out and get Washburn. I reached out for the intercom, but was rudely interrupted by my door swinging open abruptly, as doors tend to do when they meet someone in a hurry.

That’s when a bespectacled nerd whom I swear I’ve never seen before burst into my office, announced only by the near-shrieking of his annoying nerd voice, to rain on my parade.

Nerd: Don’t do it!
Great Bill Smith: What are you doing here? Who are you?
Nerd: Washburn’s performance last year in Seattle was an illusion. For the Twins, he’ll repeat what he did in Detroit.
Great Bill Smith: How do you know? Washburn is a good guy, and he told me he’s ready to go! He had some knee troubles in the second half last year, that’s all.
Nerd: In Seattle he played in front of a historically great outfield defense, which turned numerous doubles-to-the-gap into outs. That’s why his ERA looked so good.
Great Bill Smith: We have a great defense, too.
Nerd: No, we don’t. Especially not in the outfield, where Span is the only guy even theoretically capable of running!
Great Bill Smith: But we have Nick Punto. We have a great defense!
Nerd: Punto’s not catching deep line drives to left center.
Great Bill Smith: How dare you!
Nerd: Looking surprised. What?
Great Bill Smith: Get out of my office.
Nerd: Being dragged away by hired goons. Don’t sign Washburn. He’d be our 7th best starter!

Now that that unpleasant experience was behind me, I sprayed some Febreze into the air that the unkempt nerd had sullied when he barged in, and I made up my mind. I was going to sign Jarrod Washburn.

Now, of course, I don’t have Scott Boras’s phone number. Why should I? It’s not like the Twins have ever been able to afford dealing with him. But I know the secret to getting him on the phone, and you don’t even need his number. I sat down on the floor, cross-legged (some people call it Indian-style, but damn it, we’re not in Cleveland), closed my eyes, and rubbed my hands together. I muttered Boras’s secret incantation, which I obviously can’t repeat here. I’d be killed!

Within seconds, the phone rang. I scrambled from my seat on the floor as quickly as I could, and got to the phone on the sixth ring. Not bad!

Boras: You called?
Great Bill Smith: Boras?
Boras: Yeah yeah, don’t waste my time. What is it?
Great Bill Smith: I’d like to make an offer for Jarrod Washburn.
Boras: Ah, Washburn. Great pitcher. Dealt with some leg issues in the second half last year, but he’s ready to dominate again.
Great Bill Smith: I bet he is! How does 1 year, $5M sound?
Boras: Making gurgling noises, like he’s choking with rage. Do not toy with me, Earthling! Washburn is a great pitcher! You don’t seriously think you can get him for such a pittance. This is a grave insult.
Great Bill Smith: Oh? What have other teams offered?
Boras: Obviously I can’t give you any specifics. But he’s got interest from multiple teams, and the market is setting his value at 3 years, at least $20M. That’s what you’re going to have to hit to get Washburn.
Great Bill Smith: I can’t afford that!
Boras: Well you’ll have to find a way. I don’t even know if he’d be willing to play for you any more, now that you’ve insulted him so badly with that offer.
Great Bill Smith: Um, I’ll see what I can do.
Boras: Exasperated sigh. Sure you will, Bill. Click
Great Bill Smith: To a dial tone. Mr Smith.

Oh, boy. That didn’t go well. I want to sign Washburn, but surely I shouldn’t have to pay twenty million dollars for him! Could it be that all that talk about Washburn wanting to play for us was just a ploy, to get us to make an offer? Am I being used? Is Washburn even from Wisconsin?

I didn’t know what to believe any more.

So I did what I always do when I’m confused and irritable: have a hot dog and a nap! I shut off the light, laid down on the couch, and started absent-mindedly munching on a slightly-cooler-than-lukewarm dog that had been waiting for me on the table beside the couch.

Before I knew it, I awoke with a start. It was twilight outside my office windows, and the bright lights of downtown Minneapolis reflected off the glass. I noticed that there was still half a hot dog stuck in my mouth, which I’d apparently forgotten to remove before falling asleep. I tore it from my mouth and dropped it back onto its place on the table; no time for hot dogs now, I’d made up my mind.

Boras was trying to use me. He wanted me to bid against myself. Well, I’m not falling for that! If I want to overpay a pitcher whose success depends entirely on good defense and better luck, then by God, I’ll overpay a pitcher whose success depends entirely on good defense and better luck! And I’d like to see that Scott Boras even try to stop me!

I clutched at the intercom on my desk, fumbling in the dark to find the button that would let me talk into it.

Great Bill Smith: Hello? Stacy?
Stacy: Yes, Mr Smith?
Great Bill Smith: Get me Nick Blackburn’s agent on the phone.
Stacy: Yes, Mr Smith.

It was time to get down to business.


The Delmon Young Trade

Posted: June 18th, 2010 | Author: bsmith | Filed under: Trade | 1 Comment »

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.


The REAL Q&A about the trade deadline!

Posted: July 30th, 2009 | Author: bsmith | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

There is an article up with a Q&A, featuring me as the A, discussing my thoughts about the team and the trade deadline. You know with those media people you just have to spout the party line and make up a bunch of crap, right? But I really love you, the fans, and so I wanted to give it to you straight and give my real answers to these questions. No bullshit, this is the real deal!

Q: How would you assess the supply and demand across the league, and the cost of acquiring players?

Well, obviously, the cost is extremely high. For example, in order to buy Freddy Sanchez, the Giants had to give up a top, top prospect. The Indians were trying to sell on Cliff Lee, a Cy Young pitcher, and they didn’t get the top prospects from the Phillies. So basically, whether you’re trying to buy or sell, the costs are really high.

Q: Has this been a busier than usual deadline for you?

No, not really. I mean, I’m always busy. Do you know how long a round of golf takes if you can’t break 100? We have really good scouts though, and they’re all watching major league games and players, and I have a group of top interns working the phones all day long, waiting on hold for me until I can actually get through to a major league GM. We’re just trying to evaluate what we can do.

Q: Sunday morning you guys were five games back; entering Wednesday’s game you were two back. Are you buyers, sellers or are you content to stand pat?

Stand pat is our default position. Um, wait. No, no, we’re buyers. We’re definitely trying to make the team better. Did you know you can buy playoff tickets now to get priority for season tickets in the new stadium next year? No refunds. We’re being really aggressive. We’ll see.

Q: What factors do you consider when you’re weighing whether you should add to your team?

Well, I weigh how good the acquired player will be against how good we expect our prospects to be (multiplied by about four or five, normally). That’s the first step, I think. We want our players to know we believe in them, so we don’t want to go out saying we need to get new guys or anything … that’d be insulting to them! But we also want them to know we’re dedicated to winning, so there’s definitely a balance there. We’re hoping we have enough depth in the minors to go out and help the major league club, but you never know. Other GMs keep calling me right after we agree to a deal and asking for more value. Sometimes I do it and all you people yell at me, and sometimes I don’t and all you people still yell at me. So I have to weigh that risk too. You know?

Q: Manager Ron Gardenhire has mentioned a lack of depth. Do you feel like you have the depth at this point to supplement this team?

I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I don’t think that’s what he meant. He was talking about depth on the major league roster and in AAA, guys who can come up and help right now. But the depth you need to supplement the team via trades is further down in the minors, like A and AA. At least that’s what I aim for when I trade away big-time players. But whenever I’m trying to buy big-time players, everyone’s always asking for major-league-ready superstars with 0 service time and 3 options left and making the minimum. I don’t know why they’d want players like that … I usually try to get prospects who will never be superstars so I never have to pay them a lot of money or worry about this buy/sell hassle. Also it’s nice to get guys with no options left, like Delmon Young, so I know I won’t have to worry about hurting their feelings by sending them down to the minors. Also, Gardy should remember who signs his checks. I’m just saying.

Q: After watching your team for four months now, what do you consider your greatest need?

Consistency. Some days we go out and score 10 runs, and other days we go out and don’t score 10. If we could just be consistent and score 10 every night, I think we’d be doing pretty well. That’s really all we need, it all comes from there. Consistency.

Q: Over the last 10 years, this team has acquired one impact player at the deadline, Shannon Stewart in 2003. Why does this organization not do more, especially with the team always contending for the division title?

Well, I don’t know. I think it’s funny because we were criticized pretty heavily for that trade at the time. Shows what all you guys know. We work really hard. We always try to make deals. We should get credit for effort; that’s why we always give so much credit to Nicky Punto, because he’s always giving us 100% effort.

Q: Your players are aware of the how few deals this team has made at the deadline, and they might take that as a lack of belief in them. As GM, how do you want your players to interpret a lack of moves?

I’d like them to interpret them as full, unadulterated belief in them. You see, by not making a deal, I’m telling them that I believe in them to win as is, and none of them have to be sent to the minors to make room for the new guy! I’m also telling them I believe in their abilities to sign a big-money contract somewhere else once they become a free agent, because there’ll be a cheap prospect ready to take their place. After all, I didn’t trade the prospects away! See?

Q: The time is nearing to re-sign Joe Mauer. Do you feel pressure to show him that the team is willing to spend money or assets to acquire players and win now?

No comment. No comment. I’m just … oh boy … I need a Dome Dog. Excuse me!


Delmon Young’s adjustments, and his future

Posted: July 25th, 2009 | Author: bsmith | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Paul DePodesta is a smart man, a baseball man, and like me he has a blog to talk to his beloved fans. Last month he was asked a question about moving prospects too quickly through the system — and then suffering as they struggle in the majors. He answered:

Remember, regardless of the preparation they receive in the minors, young players will almost always struggle early on in the Majors, often for two or three seasons, before hitting their stride. Adrian Gonzalez hit .229/.272/.401 in 2004 and 2005 combined for the Texas Rangers, and there are countless other examples. Just like any other job, there’s only so much you can do to prepare before actually doing the job.
And I think that’s a great point. Delmon Young’s numbers are much much better than that, and when he adjusts to the league he’ll be a premier hitter. So stop criticizing me for trading away Garza and Bartlett to get him!

When Young is a cross between Adrian Gonzalez and Manny Ramirez, that trade will look pretty good.

The trade that won’t look good is the one that’ll happen shortly before he becomes an offensive powerhouse. The one where I send him to another team in exchange for someone who’s less far down the path to their ceiling, which is ultimately lower than the guy’s that I’m trading away, and he’s the final piece to their puzzle and they suddenly become contenders while we wallow in mediocrity.

Mark my words, I’ll do it!


Perkins needs to stop complaining about injuries

Posted: July 25th, 2009 | Author: bsmith | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

As some of you may have noted on LaVelle’s blog, Gardy’s lectured Perkins on when he admits he’s been battling injuries. It was really me that forced Gardy to lecture him like that, because I don’t like the excuses.

I know as well as anyone that Perkins is a great pitcher — a left handed Radke! — but I don’t like this nonsense about pretending to be injured whenever you have a bad day. Tough through it, Glen, I don’t want you to miss any starts!

Although … what kind of injuries do office workers suffer? Next time I make a trade, I’m going to claim I was suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. That way nobody can blame me for the bad deal.


The Slowey update … all deals are off

Posted: July 24th, 2009 | Author: bsmith | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

So some of you may have heard that we shut Slowey down. I wanted to explain some of our thinking here.

First, when he first got injured, we made sure to let him keep pitching for several weeks. We learned that trick from the Royals, and frankly I think it’s a pretty great move. You know you still have to pay players when they’re on the DL? We need to get them back on the field as fast as possible, people!

But when he finally couldn’t pitch any more we had to put him on the DL. I was pretty upset about it. I wanted to send him to the minors before DLing him, but some jerks in the office yelled at me, and who am I to defy someone with an opinion? So he’s still getting his full paychecks. Still, we wanted to get him back as soon as possible, so we went with the “rest for a few days, and then you’ll be able to get back to pitching with that bone chip in your wrist” approach.

It was going great, and he was scheduled to pitch on Saturday for Rochester, but apparently he’s not even capable of playing catch. I’m pretty angry with him. I’ll have to tell Gardy to jerk his chain around a bit. In my experience, that really teaches these young hot shots a lesson.

And I’m stunned the rest&rehab approach didn’t work this time. It worked great for Liriano, Boof, Neshek, Crain, and everyone else!

But you might all be wondering about how this will effect how we operate at the trade deadline. We were planning to try to deal a starter since Swarzak has been so amazingly great — next Radke, I’m telling you! — but now we won’t be able to. We have to keep our hands on as many pitchers as we can, because something might go wrong. And also, I’m pleased to report that we’ve been talking to possible trade partners about upgrading the middle infield and middle relief help.

We were about to send Span, Blackburn, Tosoni and Revere to get Chad Bradford, who would have been a huge help. But when I tried to call their GM my Motorola RAZR dropped the call and we weren’t able to get Bradford. So I regret to inform you that we really won’t be able to make any deals … but fortunately for us we’re happy with where the team’s at and we’re confident that the boys will start battling harder.

It’s too bad Slowey got hurt and he’s wasting our money and we won’t be able to make a trade because of it. Oh, but if you buy a package of playoff tickets now, you can get priority for season tickets next season!

We could really use the money. I promise that if we had more money, we’d be making moves to improve the team constantly. Definitely World Series bound!


Response to the open letter!

Posted: July 24th, 2009 | Author: bsmith | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Dear My Fans,

I have decided to respond to the open letter you sent me this morning. It was a really nice letter, and I’m glad you care so much about the Twins. It’s the best team!

Thank you for the congratulations. I think we’ve done a great job of making a nice profit with our limited resources. Since I became the GM, I’ve cut our payroll down from its franchise-record $71M all the way to a more reasonable $56M! And I did it while increasing revenues from TV and ticket sales! I’m extremely proud of this, and I couldn’t have done it without you, the fans. So I’m proud of you, too!

We here at the Twins are really looking forward to getting out of the Metrodome and playing baseball outdoors, where it was meant to be played. It’ll be pretty great, won’t it? I know you all agree with me that getting a stadium built was 100% necessary. If the last 30 years have shown us anything, it’s that you simply can’t win a World Series if you play in a dome.

Allow me to try to address the things you don’t understand, one by one, if I may.

1) We don’t understand why, during a season in which your club has once again played well enough to put itself in contention they have not been rewarded with a key move or two that could put them over the top.

Oh, we’re constantly on the lookout for good deals, but don’t you remember the last time we made a move to help improve the team? You guys all hated it! So we need to balance your expected response to any deal with our complete disregard for your feelings, and that takes pretty much all day. Scouting for trades is hard work, you know?

2) We don’t understand why the Twins are seemingly content to play for division titles when other teams talk about and aim for (see: add requisite pieces to get to) the World Series.

Don’t you know where you live? This is the Midwest, not some glamorous coastal city! You should be happy that we’re better than Cleveland, and shouldn’t be jealous of the flashiness of New York.

3) We don’t understand the claim that the Twins are a ‘small market’ team when our attendance — in Metrodome, this year — is actually among the league’s best and our media market is, in fact, in the top third of MLB markets.

It makes us sound better at our jobs if people think we’re disadvantaged. We really don’t want anyone to know that we’re raking in all kinds of dough, because then they might expect us to give away millions of dollars to worthless prima donna players. I’ve heard some of them aren’t even from this country!

4) We don’t understand your willingness to watch as career years from your three best hitters are dashed upon the rocks of front office inaction.

I’m really happy about Nick Punto’s performance this year too, though I think he could raise his average to like .220 or something if he dove headfirst just a little more. I’ll let him know. But I really don’t think it’s the front office that’s making him play so well, that’s just how good he is. So I can’t take all the credit.

Finally, I feel that I need to defend myself just a little bit, against the end of your open letter. I believe I’ve demonstrated an ability to make some very aggressive trades. If you recall, I traded Johan Santana to the Mets. I thought I was being extremely aggressive … if Carlos Gomez had gotten much, much better it would have worked out great! That’s what happens when you’re aggressive, sometimes the gamble doesn’t pay off. And since this one didn’t really pay off, ipso facto, I was aggressive.

And it’s the same thing when I traded Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett to the Rays, and instantly turned them into a title contender. I know a lot of people told me Delmon Young wasn’t really that great of a hitter and had regressed since high school, but I was being aggressive! If all those reports had been incorrect, and Delmon Young actually WAS a future hall of famer, that would have been a great trade! You can’t tell me I’m not trying to improve this team. I am. And also I’m not listening.

I really hope that answered all your questions. I’m pretty tired now, since I don’t like to spend this much time in front of a computer. I’m going to get back to work now, calling other GMs and waiting on hold while they do whatever it is those flashy big city GMs do. One of these days I might actually get to talk directly to one of them!

So wish me luck.

Love, Bill