Bill Smith: A look back

  • Updated: November 8, 2011 - 6:41 AM

 

BACKGROUND

A 1980 graduate of Hamilton College in New York, he joined Major League Baseball's Executive Development Program that year before getting a job with the White Sox, with whom he worked from 1981 to 1985. He joined the Twins in 1986, including 13 years as assistant general manager (1995-2007) under Terry Ryan. In that role, his main duties included negotiating contracts and overseeing Latin American academies. When Ryan stepped down in 2007, Smith was promoted to replace him.

WORTH REMEMBERING

• The Twins had a bit of a makeover right away under Smith, losing Torii Hunter to free agency and trading away Johan Santana, Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett. Despite those losses, the 2008 Twins stayed in contention all season, losing a one-game playoff to the White Sox.

• The 2009 Twins didn't appear to be contenders, but in a span of a month starting on July 31, Smith acquired shortstop Orlando Cabrera, starting pitcher Carl Pavano and relievers Ron Mahay and Jon Rauch. The deals helped the Twins secure the AL Central title, this time winning a one-game playoff over the Tigers in the final regular-season game at the Metrodome.

• Before the 2010 move to Target Field, the Twins signed Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson as free agents and traded Carlos Gomez for J.J. Hardy. The Twins -- despite playing the second half of the season without the injured Justin Morneau -- again won the division title.

BEST FORGOTTEN

• Smith's first major trade after becoming GM was a six-player deal with Tampa Bay in which the Twins acquired Delmon Young and Brendan Harris in exchange for Garza and Bartlett. Young and Harris had so-so years in 2008 while Bartlett became an All-Star shortstop and Garza took home ALCS MVP honors as the Rays won the AL pennant.

• His next deal that offseason sent two-time Cy Young Award winner Santana to the Mets for four prospects: outfielder Gomez and righthanders Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. All the Twins have left to show for that deal is Guerra, who is only 22 years old but had a 5.59 ERA in 37 games at Class AA New Britain last year.

• Last offseason, the Twins let four relievers -- Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes and Rauch -- depart via free agency. The Twins also paid more than $14 million to sign Japanese batting champion Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and to clear room in the middle infield, they traded Hardy for reliever Jim Hoey. Nishioka was a failure, the bullpen was a season-long liability and the Twins lost an AL-worst 99 games.

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