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Matt Capps, Bill Smith and the trade that ruined Twins baseball

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#1 Paul Pleiss

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 02:22 AM

The Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos trade. *Curses Bill Smith under his breath. Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos. I can't stop going back to this move. Remember when Joe Mauer got hurt and we all suffered through the Boat Anchor days (Drew Butera). Imagine having a healthy Wilson Ramos on this roster, a more than capable defensive backstop with some offensive ability. I know, I know. Capps was a "proven closer" and I'm sure Bill Smith wasn't intentionally scuttling the future of the Twins catcher position. How could he know that bilateral leg weakness was going to happen? (Do we even know what bilateral leg weakness even means?!)

This is arguably my least favorite Twins trade, and I can't help but keep circling back to it when I look behind the plate and wonder.

Thanks Bill Smith. I'm not even mad about letting J.J. Hardy walk, oh wait, YES I AM. Or Maybe Garza-Delmon trade. *bangs head on table.

The Peter Principle holds true. The Peter Principle is based on the notion that employees will get promoted as long as they are competent, but at some point will fail to get promoted beyond a certain job because it has become too challenging for them. Employees rise to their level of incompetence and stay there. Bill Smith stayed for too long, and as much as you'd like to blame Gardy, TR or even Rick Anderson (who I have a personal vendetta against), a lot has to sit on the shoulders of Bill Smith. The Capps/Ramos trade being my biggest sticking point.

#2 Top Gun

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 04:31 AM

Crap! A few bad trades didn't ruin the team.

#3 clutterheart

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 04:40 AM

Not to pile on, but Hardy, Harris and $500K were TRADED to Baltimore for Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey....

But in truth, Smith was not fired for those trades. The story goes he presented his budget/plans to Ownership and they canned them. Its likely he was going to sign everyone, extend the payroll and spend his way out of his bad trades and the Pohlads wanted to finance some movies with the proceeds of Target Field.

History will remember his poor trades. But he did some good things. He traded Gomez for Hardy, brought in Thome & Hudson. He broke the bank for Sano and never worried about spending money. I am glad he is not the GM anymore. But he was not as bad as we remember.

#4 Marta Shearing

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 05:31 AM

I blame Ryan. Smith was his hand picked successor. Ryan bolted when the going got tough. Left a guy with zero experience to deal with the Hunter and Santana situations.

And I'll give Smith credit for one thing. He atleast gave the impression he was trying. He made some bad trades, no doubt. But atleast he wasn't mortified to take a risk. And lets not forget the nice moves he made in 2009 (Pavano/Cabrera). Sure, the Ramos trade was bad, but it wouldn't have been near as bad if it wasn't for the fact that Mauer's made of glass.

And I'll also give him credit for the thing that got him fired. He presented ownership with a plan to sign free agents and raise payroll, and he got fired for it. I'd be willing to bet his plan didn't put payroll over their magical number of 50-52% yet they still canned him.

Smith gets way to much blame around here, and Ryan doesn't get as much blame as he deserves.

Edited by Marta Shearing, 26 February 2014 - 05:33 AM.


#5 Paul Pleiss

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 06:28 AM

I'm not saying Ryan isn't blameless, but you can't blame him for picking Smith as his replacement, that's a decision that the Pohlads have to own. But you can't just buy your way out of repeated bad deals.

I loathe Bill Smith almost as much as I loathed watching Drew Butera (#BoatAnchor) get at bats, and there's not many things I loathed more than Drew Butera while he was a Twin (alternatively, I now find myself a big fan of him, mostly because I don't have a reason to despise his bat in the lineup any longer).

This organization is still suffering from bad moves that Bill Smith made. He did have some good decisions, but more often than not he moved the organization in the wrong direction. I look forward to a time when there's more than a decade between his time as GM and the current team.

#6 Thrylos

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 06:35 AM

Bill Smith was an administrator. He traded Hardy and singed Nishioka because Gardy wanted more speed. He got Capps because Gardy n Andy wanted "a proven closer". He traded Garza for Young because Garza would not listen to the way Andy wanted him to pitch. If you want to point fingers point them right at the Twins dugout.
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#7 Paul Pleiss

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 06:46 AM

I'm fine with pointing fingers at Gardy, and especially at Rick Anderson. You have a teribble rotation and the pitching coach survives? A pitching coach your manager "hand selected" when he was still playing baseball? Give me a break. I hate that combination. Gardy n Andy. BREAK UP THE BAND!

#8 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 07:11 AM

I'm no Bill Smith fan, and his trading acumen certainly hurt the Twins, but IMO the atrophy of the minor league system under Ryan is the primary culprit to blame for the current situation, along with ownership who puts yearly profit above the W/L record.

#9 oldguy10

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 07:26 AM

Anyone that posts here should not be so naïve as to believe that the Pohlads desire anything above the profit making the franchise brings to them. It is patently clear especially when we look at the off-season signings this time around. Clearly bottom of the barrel moves although much was spent on the two free agent pitchers Nolasco and Hughes. Where else was significant money spent to improve the roster? Certainly retreads such as Kubel, Bartlett and Guerrier do not count, do they? At least I hope they don't. Oops, have to stop typing now, wool over my eyes put their by Twins' ownership prevents me from continuing my reply.

#10 Gernzy

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 07:41 AM

The Hardy trade was a lot worse in my mind. We at least got some use out of Capps and we do have Pinto who could be a decent catcher.

But we got nothing for Hardy, and no good SS waiting in the wings.
I bent my wookie...

#11 CRArko

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 07:42 AM

I'll apologize to the entire community in advance for the radical view, but I don't find Twins baseball to be particularly ruined. They're just in a down cycle. It's happened before, and it will happen again.

I liked Hudson Hawk, too.

#12 mike wants wins

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 08:58 AM

I'm no Bill Smith fan, and his trading acumen certainly hurt the Twins, but IMO the atrophy of the minor league system under Ryan is the primary culprit to blame for the current situation, along with ownership who puts yearly profit above the W/L record.


This, 100% this.
Lighten up Francis....

#13 JB_Iowa

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:05 AM

Bill Smith deserves a share of the blame .... but there is plenty of "blame" to go around (including the somewhat cyclical nature of the game).

Smith is back to an administrative position where he doesn't have much impact on the product on the field.

I have a lot more questions/concerns about the people who are still in (or back to) positions that directly impact the won-loss record.

#14 nicksaviking

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:14 AM

I think I find every name listed in this thread culpable, but as acknowledged, Smith was a number cruncher. Where were Rob Anthony and Wayne Krivsky during these trades?

These guys were supposed to know better. Weren't they expected to whisper in Smith's ear as he did not have their baseball accumen? They should have known you don't trade players at keystone positions for relief pitchers. And these are the guys expected to take the reigns eventually?

#15 TheLeviathan

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:32 AM

I'm no Bill Smith fan, and his trading acumen certainly hurt the Twins, but IMO the atrophy of the minor league system under Ryan is the primary culprit to blame for the current situation, along with ownership who puts yearly profit above the W/L record.


Exactly, how much of Smith's blundering was caused by having little or no ammunition in his farm? When you have nothing on the way and little ammo to improve your club, you do tend to get desperate because you don't want to appear stagnant.

Also, we may have looked completely differently upon his tenure had Ramos stayed healthy and he swapped Hicks/Ramos for Lee instead of Capps. I've read a few places that the deal was all but done prior to that injury.

#16 birdwatcher

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:33 AM

Not to pile on, but Hardy, Harris and $500K were TRADED to Baltimore for Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey....

But in truth, Smith was not fired for those trades. The story goes he presented his budget/plans to Ownership and they canned them. Its likely he was going to sign everyone, extend the payroll and spend his way out of his bad trades and the Pohlads wanted to finance some movies with the proceeds of Target Field.

History will remember his poor trades. But he did some good things. He traded Gomez for Hardy, brought in Thome & Hudson. He broke the bank for Sano and never worried about spending money. I am glad he is not the GM anymore. But he was not as bad as we remember.


Would you be willing to share the source of this story? I'm suspicious that the source might be rampant speculation on the part of contributors to TD.

#17 birdwatcher

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:35 AM

I blame Ryan. Smith was his hand picked successor. Ryan bolted when the going got tough. Left a guy with zero experience to deal with the Hunter and Santana situations.

And I'll give Smith credit for one thing. He atleast gave the impression he was trying. He made some bad trades, no doubt. But atleast he wasn't mortified to take a risk. And lets not forget the nice moves he made in 2009 (Pavano/Cabrera). Sure, the Ramos trade was bad, but it wouldn't have been near as bad if it wasn't for the fact that Mauer's made of glass.

And I'll also give him credit for the thing that got him fired. He presented ownership with a plan to sign free agents and raise payroll, and he got fired for it. I'd be willing to bet his plan didn't put payroll over their magical number of 50-52% yet they still canned him.

Smith gets way to much blame around here, and Ryan doesn't get as much blame as he deserves.


Again, what's your source? I call bull.

#18 Marta Shearing

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:35 AM

Bill Smith was an administrator. He traded Hardy and singed Nishioka because Gardy wanted more speed. He got Capps because Gardy n Andy wanted "a proven closer". He traded Garza for Young because Garza would not listen to the way Andy wanted him to pitch. If you want to point fingers point them right at the Twins dugout.

Wholeheartedly agree with these statements. They couldn't get along with Garza because he had the audacity to have the desire to blow hitters away.

Smith gets a bum rap. He had alot of outside factors working against him. No payroll flexibility and a manager who almost seemed offended by talented players. Not to mention, IMO had the medical staff treated Hardy's injury properly, he would have had a monster year, and Billy never would have traded him and subsequently signed Nishioka. And like I said earlier, I give him credit for the Pavano and Cabrera moves that propelled them to winning the division.

#19 cmathewson

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:36 AM

My list of the five worst trades the Twins have ever made:

1. Two cornerstone roster pieces for Delmon Young. Net WAR - infinity.
2. Kaat to the White Sox for $500 cash. (He proceeded to win 20 games two consecutive years).
3. Ramos for Capps (you make the case well)
4. Hardy for crap
5. Rod Carew for Ken Landreaux and very little else
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#20 birdwatcher

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:40 AM

I'm no Bill Smith fan, and his trading acumen certainly hurt the Twins, but IMO the atrophy of the minor league system under Ryan is the primary culprit to blame for the current situation, along with ownership who puts yearly profit above the W/L record.


I agree Chief. But my reaction, considering the fact that it is a big business, is "Well, duh."

#21 Marta Shearing

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:46 AM

Again, what's your source? I call bull.

At the time, I remember reading it in a couple places that he presented Pohlad with his blueprint for 2012 and he didn't like it and Smith was fired. Common sense tells you the part Pohlad didn't like was the payroll increase. As far as my source, I doubt I could find it even if I wanted to waste the time searching for it. My source is my memory. I don't make things up.

#22 birdwatcher

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:48 AM

I agree Chief. But my reaction, considering the fact that it is a big business, is "Well, duh."


Also, the indisputable atrophy of the farm system that people like to point to as a sign of Ryan's incompetence was caused in part by factors out of a GM's control. The Twins farm system would have suffered under the watch of any GM in the business given the long string of poor draft positions, among other factors. Ryan is only partially culpable.

#23 birdwatcher

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:50 AM

At the time, I remember reading it in a couple places that he presented Pohlad with his blueprint for 2012 and he didn't like it and Smith was fired. Common sense tells you the part Pohlad didn't like was the payroll increase. As far as my source, I doubt I could find it even if I wanted to waste the time searching for it. My source is my memory. I don't make things up.


I don't believe the story. I think it's total bunk. And common senses does NOT tell me that.

#24 cmathewson

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:55 AM

Not to pile on, but Hardy, Harris and $500K were TRADED to Baltimore for Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey....

But in truth, Smith was not fired for those trades. The story goes he presented his budget/plans to Ownership and they canned them. Its likely he was going to sign everyone, extend the payroll and spend his way out of his bad trades and the Pohlads wanted to finance some movies with the proceeds of Target Field.


Wow. That is some high-grade BS. The money that Bill spends on movies is his own, what he received as part of his inheritance. It's completely separate. Jim is an investor. But, again, that is from his personal fortune, not from the Twins corporation.

I do agree that Smith wanted to spend his way out of the mess he created. But that wasn't all he wanted to do. He wanted to trade signature prospects for more expensive veteran help. The Ramos trade was his model for how he wanted to rebuild the roster. He thought that was a great move. He probably still does. They nixed it because it was expedient, not because it was expensive. They asked Ryan about his plan and you can guess what his answer was. So they canned the plan and they canned Smith. It just wasn't a sustainable model that would support winning. And the early returns from 2011 were visible proof of that.

In the long term, the Ryan plan will actually be more expensive than the Smith plan. There is a thread on this site about how to extend Buxton to make his payroll hit won't bankrupt the franchise. Winning the right way is expensive. It might be cheap now. But in three years, the team will be looking at ways to make budget. In five years, it will need to start trading the next Denard Span (Aaron Hicks) to make room for having Meyer, Sano and Buxton on the same team.
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#25 Thrylos

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:55 AM

Also, the indisputable atrophy of the farm system that people like to point to as a sign of Ryan's incompetence was caused in part by factors out of a GM's control. The Twins farm system would have suffered under the watch of any GM in the business given the long string of poor draft positions, among other factors. Ryan is only partially culpable.


I call bull on that one. Look at the draft picks in the 00s under Ryan. Or the lack of trades of veterans for prospects. Ryan's draft record has been historically bad overall since the 90s.

#26 threee11

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 10:02 AM

I'm sorry, when has Wilson Ramos been a reliable, healthy Catcher option? Not to say he cant be at times, but Carlos Gomez and/or JJ Hardy have both been far more reliable than him to date, and those are both position players where the Twins have lacked depth for at least one of the last few seasons

#27 Boom Boom

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 10:16 AM

The Ramos, Hardy, and Garza/Bartlett trades were all awful and I have a hard time deciding which one is the worst.

When the Twins brought back Bartlett this offseason, the Strib wrote about how Gardenhire didn't want Bartlett included in the trade with the Rays. I wonder if he was bothered that they traded Garza.

#28 mike wants wins

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 10:18 AM

Also, the indisputable atrophy of the farm system that people like to point to as a sign of Ryan's incompetence was caused in part by factors out of a GM's control. The Twins farm system would have suffered under the watch of any GM in the business given the long string of poor draft positions, among other factors. Ryan is only partially culpable.


The Cardinals and Red Sox disagree with this conclusion. And, if you refuse to sign FAs, and refuse to trade prospects for players, if that is your strategy, then you have to be BETTER than other teams at drafting and devloping. Otherwise it is a bad strategy. It was Ryan's team's job to get good players here. they failed. No idea why people want to keep making excuses for those down years.
Lighten up Francis....

#29 mike wants wins

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 10:20 AM

"ugh" right way.....there is no one right way.
Lighten up Francis....

#30 birdwatcher

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 10:32 AM

I call bull on that one. Look at the draft picks in the 00s under Ryan. Or the lack of trades of veterans for prospects. Ryan's draft record has been historically bad overall since the 90s.


Help me out. Which part of this do you want to call bull on?

That they didn't suffer from having poor draft positions year after year?
Do you think there's no correlation between having top 10 draft selections and the strength of a farm system? Do you dispute the studies that show the incredible achievement gao of prospects selected #1-10 versus those selected #11-20 and 21-30? That Ryan is only partially to blame for the fairly poor results? (I'll call bull on the notion that, compared to other teams in similar situations that the results are as abysmal as you tend to describe them.) Do you put the entire blame on Ryan for all the injuries as well? Blame him, yes, but at least show a hint of fair play in the process.