The 2009 Twins have been disappointing (so far). They are a team with three of the best players at their respective positions (Mauer, Morneau, Nathan), but they simply cannot seem to surround these guys with the proper supporting cast. What a shame.
Should GM Bill Smith get the ax this season if the Twins miss the playoffs? Let's take a look at both sides of the debate:
YES (fire Smith!)
• "Botching" the Johan Santana trade was a huge blunder. Even though it's still too early to tell, the Twins package for Santana does not look impressive at the moment.
In return for one of the best pitchers in baseball, the Twins got a young, struggling outfielder with tools (Carlos Gomez), a solid AAA starter (Kevin Mulvey), a AAAA player (Phil Humber), and a pitcher with a big arm, who has struggled in AA (Deolis Guerra).
Needless to say that package is not looking good.
• When the Twins traded Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett for Delmon Young and Brendan Harris, Smith thought that he was giving the Twins' offense the significant boost it needed.
However, two years after the trade, Young has shown no signs of improvement while Brendan Harris has proven to be nothing more than a utility infielder.
On the other side, Garza has developed into a front line starting pitcher and Jason Bartlett has statistically been one of the top five shortstops in baseball this season.
As a result, Smith has failed to surround Mauer and Morneau, two of the best hitters in baseball, with productive hitters.
• The bullpen has been very shaky this season, outside of Joe Nathan.
• The middle infield has been a disaster
• Three fifths of the starting rotation (Liriano, Perkins, Slowey) has spent time on the DL.
• He's shown a knack for trying to plug holes. You have to give him credit for not totally falling asleep at the wheel, right?
Smith acquired Ron Mahay and Jon Rauch on Friday, acquired Carl Pavano in early August, and swung a deal for Orlando Cabrera at the trading deadline. So at least we know that Smith is trying, even with his limited resources and funds.
• Smith is only two years into his tenure as GM. For a team with the Twins' payroll and resources, people are going to have to be patient. (I hate this argument).
I think people are rough on Smith because they see a team with some amazing players (Mauer, Morneau, and Nathan), but they're surrounded by a far less talented supporting cast. At what point does the GM become responsible for not being able to provide his young stars with a suitable supporting cast that can bring a winner to Minnesota?
As frustrating as this must be for Twins fans, I'm still inclined to give Smith more time.
It'll be a massive disappointment if the Twins miss out on the playoffs given what Joe Mauer has been able to accomplish this season, but this club barely missed out on the playoffs last season and has been right in the thick of things this season even with all their injuries and bad play.