Once upon a time, there was a great king of a distant land called Minnesota. He stood on top of a high hill, he could make smoke come out of his hands and his name was Santana. The people from Boston, New York and Los Angeles all wanted Santana to come and become King of their lands. They offered lavish gifts, like frankincense, myrrh, and melkies, but only one of them could win his services. In the end, the people of Minnesota decided to send him to the kingdom of Queens but the people in all the other lands were left to wonder whether the people of Minnesota (otherwise known as the Billsmiths) made the right decision. “The gifts of the people of Queens were no good,” they said, “our gifts were much better.”
Now, I think, might be a good time to revisit that trade and see if the Twins were right to pick the Mets as trading partners instead of the numerous other suitors – including the Yankees. It seemed like an odd deal at the time, when many felt that Smith could have had Phil Hughes, Clay Bucholtz, Jed Lowrie, Melky Cabrera, Jon Lester, or Austin Jackson, among others. Instead, Bill Smith, the Twins first-year GM, dealt for Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Philip Humber. How are these players performing now, and did it work out for the Twins? Let’s see:
Carlos Gomez: He’s simply awful .277 wOBA: .229/.287/.337 – one of the worst hitters in the big leagues. No power, no average, no on-base. The only quality he has is speed and even that seems diminished. The Yankees would have included Brett Gardner as a(.337 wOBA: .270/.345/.379) virtual toss-in and he has similar tools but is a much, much better hitter. Melky, too, at .331 WOBA: .274/.336/.416 would have been a better choice. Austin Jackson is also likely to have a superior career. Ellsbury, as well, is a clear improvement.
Philip Humber: The, supposedly, top pitching prospect in the deal is even worse than Gomez. He has a 5.34 ERA….. IN AAA! I don’t think I’m going out on any big limb in predicting that, at almost 27 already, he’ll never be even a decent major league pitcher. Hughes is already a top, top, top 8th inning guy at only 23 and still projects as either a top-of-the-rotation guy or elite closer. Justin Masterson still projects as a mid-rotation guy and, if you compare IPK’s AAA stats, he blows Humber away at a younger age. Despite the injury, IPK has a much bigger upside right now than Humber, now that he’s returned.
Kevin Mulvey: 5-8, 3.93 ERA, 6.83 K/9 in AAA this year. Mulvey is better than Humber, but that doesn’t say much. Again, even a guy like IPK (also 24 years-old, 5-3, 2.35 ERA, 9.39 K/9 last year in AAA), who has struggled since the deal, still projects much better than Mulvey.
Deolis Guerra: 6-8, 4.89 in AA at least still has youth so, at age 20, there still is some upside. The downside is that, well, he kind of sucks. He still could put it together, but there are a million guys like this wallowing around the minors (ahemDellin Betances!).
There’s no question that minor league baseball players are notoriously hard to project, but Smith has to take some heat, here. We can’t tell, exactly, what was on the table, but he seemed to, but his statements in the press, have an axe to grind against the Yankees and possibly the Red Sox. He seemed to take a much poorer deal than he could have had, if he had courted the Yankees instead of overplaying his hand. He also made a deal, that summer, for Delmon Young, trading away talented sinkerballer, Matt Garza and stud SS, Jason Bartlett. That trade has not worked out, either, as Young has struggled (paltry .312 wOBA and terrible fielding), while Garza and Bartlett have flourished. In three short years, Smith has managed to trade away some of Terry Ryan’s (his brilliant predecessor) best acquisitions, and replace them with very, very little, indeed. It’s tough to follow a genius like Terry Ryan, but Smith seems to have proven that he has no idea how to make a big trade.
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