Grading Twins' GM Bill Smith's Trade Deadline Performance

Joe M.Correspondent IIJuly 31, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 23:  Jason Kubel #16 of the Minnesotta Twins is congratulated by teammate Joe Maur #7 after hitting a two-run home run off pitcher Jered Weaver #36 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the first inning of the baseball game on July 23, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  mauer scored on the home run.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Earlier this week Minnesota Twins' Hand and He Has To ">I wrote about how the Twins needed to make a move in order to keep Joe Mauer happy. They also needed to show their skeptical fanbase and trio of starsMauer, Morneau, and Nathan—that they were trying, especially after the three players openly lobbied through the media for a trade.

Well, today at approximately 1:56 p.m. the Twins made a trade at a deadlinethe first time they'd done that since July 2003that actually improves their team for this season. They acquired proven, savvy veteran shortstop Orlando Cabrera from the Oakland A's for a minor league shortshop prospect I'd never heard of.

Apparently that prospect, Tyler Ladendorf, is the teams' fourth best SS prospect.

While the Twins made a move, and I have to at least give them credit for trying, I feel this move was really only made because Twins' GM Bill Smith pretty much had to do it after being publicly challenged by some of his own players.

Didn't think he had it in him.

It's likely he'd rather have just sat back and done nothing, which is probably what he would have done if these players had not stepped up. So I give them credit for putting on the pressure and him credit for actually listening and not giving up the farm in the process.

With that said, I give ole' trader Bill a solid C, and here's my criteria:

A. Only if Smith would have shocked the world and added Bell OR /Wuertz AND a SP in addition to Cabrera.

B. Addressing either SP OR RP would have landed Smith here. Angels, Dodgers in Heath Bell talks">Apprantly there was some late talk that the team was trying to get closer Heath Bell from the Padres or Michael Wuertz from the AAA's. Either move would have gotten the Twins into the "A" category because it addresses the most glaring need and Bell, being an All-Star, would have been a no-brainer. We'll never know how close or legit it was, but perhaps Smith really tried. Though I'm not buying it, it is fun to speculate. I'll let others dream about the realities of that one.

Apparently, MLB-trade-deadline-buzz:-Friday's-edition" target="_blank" title="MLB trade deadline buzz: Friday's edition">15 teams wanted Bell, but as of now, no one has gotten him. Makes no sense. You have 15 potential offers and none is good enough? The Pads are going nowhere, so let's just not take any? One had to stand out. Stay tuned, sometimes paperwork takes time to finalize.

C: Smith gets this grade because he addressed one of three needs, with SP and RP being the others. Still, he made a move which means a lot to a small market and shows the fans he is trying, and he gave up a nobody to do it. These are the moves you have to make if you want to win.

D: Smith would have gotten this grade had he made a trade, just to make a trade (i.e. a non-factor deal like the Grudzelaniek deal last week). He also would've gotten a D if he had given up too much to get Cabrera, like AAA 3B prospect Danny Valencia, whom Oakland GM Billy Beane apparently initially wanted.

F: Smith would have gotten this grade had he done absolutely nothing, or worse, if he had actually traded someone off the roster like in 2007 when popular Luis Castillo was actually traded from the team. That deal signaled the white flag and resulted in understandable fan, and more importantly team, anger and confusion.

In the end, Smith was probably still a little gun shy about making a really bold move because his only two tradesSantana and Bartlett/Garzahave blown up in his face. He has zero credibility in the Twin Cities area, from what I've read on blogs/boards, but today should help to build some of that back...slowly. In the end, it was not quite enough, but it was a welcome surprise.

Cabrera fills a definite need and will help shore up the defense and add veteran leadership. He will come in handy especially in the playoffs when his teams generally do well, with this one as no exception.

Just by Smith cutting into the at-bats of .171 2B Alexi Casilla and .208 SS Nick Punto, the team and the fans already come out winnersregardless if Ladendorf becomes a future Hall of Famer.