The offseason that saw the Twins deal Johan Santana, Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett is one that still sticks in the collective craw of many Twins fans. In exchange for two top-end rotation guys and a starting shortstop, it looked for a while as though the hometown team had acquired two part-time outfielders (Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez), a utility infielder (Brendan Harris), two middling pitching prospects (Phil Humber and Kevin Mulvey) and a young fireballer (Deolis Guerra) who won't be ready to contribute for a while, if at all.

It was hardly a rousing start to the Bill Smith Era, regardless of the circumstances. But we will say this: while the jury is still out on Young -- we'll go ahead and project a Jason-Kubel-in-2008-esque season for Delmon in 2010, where he makes a good stride but if not a leap and at least restores faith that he's worthy of 450-500 ABs a year -- and it appears Harris is destined to be a role player (a valuable one, but a guy off the bench nonetheless), the Santana deal is starting to look a lot better thanks to a couple of subsequent Smith moves. (Our thought process on this, by the way, was confirmed by an unprovoked Kraig Applecherry e-mail on the very same subject).

Move No. 1: trading Mulvey late last year for Jon Rauch, a solid reliever with previous closing experience who was already under contract for 2010. His value skyrocketed when Joe Nathan went down, and while we'd hate to make too much of two early saves -- including a two-hit, one-run save last night -- Rauch has given the Twins two very important outings. Sure, Matt Guerrier or another reliever possibly could have done the same thing. But it was Rauch who did it, bringing early calm to a situation that could have been early panic had a save been blown.

Move No. 2: trading Gomez in the offseason for J.J. Hardy. Again, it's only been three games. And yes, we know Hardy struggled mightily last year in Milwaukee. But it's impossible not to like what we've seen from Hardy so far, not only with the power bat at the bottom of the lineup (home runs in each of Minnesota's two victories) but also with his arm. He ranged deep into the hole in the ninth inning last night to field a ball Nick Punto dove for and missed. A lot of times, that type of play has infield hit written all over it, but Hardy planted and fired a one-hop laser for a crucial out that possibly kept the inning from unfolding much less favorably.

So yes, it's very early. But when you take "part-time outfielder with major plate discipline problems" and "middling pitching prospect" and replace them with "power-hitting, strong-armed shortstop" and "capable pitcher who can fill a variety of relief roles," the Santana trade starts to look quite a bit better.