The announcement that Bill Smith would replace Terry Ryan as the Twins general manager was made on Sept. 13. A few days later, Smith was being interviewed on a local radio show.
During the conversation, this plea was offered to Smith: "If there's one thing we would ask that you not share with Mr. Ryan, it would be his legendary patience."
The first indication Smith might be willing to act more boldly than his mentor arrived on Wednesday night, when the Twins went against Ryan tradition and traded young pitching in order to add a bat to his team's malnourished lineup.
The Twins gave up pitcher Matt Garza, the team's No. 1 draft choice in 2005, in order to bring in Tampa Bay outfielder Delmon Young as a replacement for the departed Torii Hunter.
This was not unprecedented: Two winters ago, Ryan traded a pair of pitching prospects -- Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler -- to Florida in order to fill a void at second base with Luis Castillo.
Neither of these pitchers carried the prestige in this organization as Garza did. He raced from Class A Fort Myers in April 2006 to the Twins' rotation in August. This spring, when there was talk about the possible departure of Johan Santana in the near future, Twins people expressed the idea that Garza could develop into a No. 1 starter.
Eight months later, Santana's departure seems imminent rather than possible, and yet the Twins were willing to depart with Garza before resolving the Johan situation.
Asked on a late-night conference call what made Garza expendable, Smith said: "We have to give quality to get quality. Tampa Bay was insistent that they wanted Garza and they wanted [Jason] Bartlett. And, we wanted Delmon Young."
Garza's standing in the organization suffered somewhat last season. He had some trouble with the instructions he was receiving from Stu and Stan Cliburn, the twins who run the Twins' Class AAA team in Rochester, N.Y. More importantly, he had 134 base runners in 83 innings pitching for the Twins, and the league batted .294 against him.
Those aren't the numbers you expect to see from a power pitcher -- even one with so little experience.
Then again, Garza is the pitcher that opposing scouts couldn't stop raving about because of his rocket fastball. There's an 18-game winner hiding in that right arm, if there's a manager and a pitching coach who can get inside his head.
The other main ingredient in the trade was an exchange of infielders -- shortstop Bartlett for Brendan Harris.
Bartlett is an OK player, but the kid, Alexi Casilla, has more to offer if he can get his act together. Right now, he's not a player manager Ron Gardenhire wants on his team to start 2008, but that could change if Casilla can show some maturity in spring training.
The other parts of the trade were minor leaguers: pitcher Eduardo Morlan to Tampa for outfielder Jason Pridie.
Young is notorious for hitting an umpire with a bat in a Class AAA game two years ago. Smith called that a "terrible mistake," but also offered a rousing endorsement of Young as a person, a teammate, a competitor and a hitter.
"He was the bat we wanted," Smith said.
Young is 10 years younger than the bat he's replacing -- Hunter. He only has one-plus years of service, so he still will be three years away from free agency by the time the Twins open play in the new ballpark in 2010.
He's a wild swinger at the moment, although still productive. Don't bet against this: Young having better numbers in his first season in Minnesota than has Hunter in his first season in southern California.
There were New York and also national reporters on Smith's conference call. They listened to the questions about Young and Garza, but what these people really were interested in was what Smith might be planning for his next move.
Meaning: Would Smith offer any information on all those rumors that Santana was headed to the Yankees or the Mets?
For the most part, Smith was tight-lipped -- Ryan-style -- but there was a hint that the shortstop situation could still be in flux.
Does that mean a deal with the Mets involving Santana would bring Jose Reyes to the Twins? If so, baseball will have its first Trader Bill since Bill Veeck stopped operating ballclubs three decades ago.
Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. firstname.lastname@example.org