1. No. It wasn't defensible "at the time." Not remotely so. It was poorly thought out, which was obvious then, and it doesn't look any better in retrospect.
Originally Posted by gunnarthor
2. Hardy did miss 61 games in 2010. As I recall, he had a wrist injury. But he didn't "leave Gardy with a 24 man bench." He spent two separate stints on the DL, during which, presumably, the Twins called up someone to take his place. Those two DL stays account for 40 of the 61 games he missed. When he wasn't on the DL, he performed well. In fact, when his wrist healed, and he played almost every day during the second half of the season--the time during which the Twins made their run, going 48-26--he put up a .304/.363/.442 line couple with excellent defense. Heck, he's one of the primary reasons they WENT on that run. In any case, if the you truly believe Hardy "left Gardy with a 24 man bench," wouldn't that be on Gardy? Or Bill Smith? Of course, it's moot, since that wasn't the case.
3. The "large raise" he got in arbitration? $750K, from $5.1M to $5.85M. Hardy actually cost less in 2011 than Nishioka, if you consider the posting fee, which by the way has proven to be a complete and total waste of money. Might as well have burned it. For the record, Hardy later signed a 3 yr extension, for $7M per year, which any of us would be thrilled about were he still a Twin. There was, and is, zero monetary argument for dumping Hardy. None.
4. Since signing Nishioka cost MORE than it would have to take Hardy to arb, they couldn't have used any money saved to sign Thome or Pavano. Additionally, Thome signed for little or nothing, which they could have done in any case. As for Pavano, I don't see how the Twins making what seemed to me an obviously stupid decision then--to give Carl Pavano $16.5M--somehow justifies dumping JJ Hardy. Two bad decisions don't make a correct one. And remember...they didn't SAVE ANY MONEY that year by signing Nishioka instead of Hardy anyway.
I repeat...the Hardy decision was an obvious blunder by Bill Smith then, and it looks even worse now. Your post is revisionist history at best, outright falsehoods at worst.