Nov. 28, 2007: Rays get Garza, Bartlett from Twins for Young

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garza delmon young.jpgThe reaction was largely positive at the time. Positive from Twins fans, that is. The Rays didn’t even have fans yet.
On this day two years ago, the Twins acquired Delmon Young, Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie from the Rays for Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and Eduardo Morlan.
It was the first big move for Twins GM Bill Smith, who was named Terry Ryan’s replacement in September. Young, the first overall pick in the 2003 draft, was coming off a second-place finish in the Rookie of the Year balloting after driving in 93 runs as a 21-year-old. Still, the Rays considered him expendable since had plenty of outfield talent and weren’t thrilled with his attitude.
In return for Young, the Twins gave up their 2005 first-round pick, Garza, who had just gone 5-7 with a 3.69 ERA in 15 starts as a 23-year-old. They also surrendered their shortstop in Bartlett. He hit .265/.339/.361 in 2007.
The third piece in the deal was supposed to be veteran setup man Juan Rincon, but the Rays had concerns about his arm after a physical and persuaded the Twins to part with a top relief prospect, Morlan, instead. After that last-minute change, I gave the trade the following writeup on Rotoworld:

We liked the deal more a few hours ago, but the Twins are still picking up a 22-year-old bat with Hall of Fame potential. Young was a below average regular as a rookie, but he still smacked a lot of line drives and more home run power is on the way. What remains to be seen is whether he’ll learn to do a better job of waiting for his pitch or if he’ll continue to do AL pitching staffs favors by reaching for the ball. Odds are that he’ll have at least one more year in which he puts up superficially strong Triple Crown numbers without doing a lot to help his team win games.

Now it’s been two years. Young has flatlined, finishing with OPSs of 741 and 733 after finishing at 723 as a rookie. The Twins saw so little progress in his first year that they almost certainly would have moved him for significantly less than they paid for him. They ended up playing him part-time as a 23-year-old, but now it looks like they’re recommitting to him with Carlos Gomez off to Milwaukee.
Any Hall of Fame potential that Young might have had then seems gone, but he still makes quite a bit of contact and flashes big-time power on occasion. The odds remain good that he’ll put it together and turn into an above average regular. I wouldn’t put money on him ever going to an All-Star Game, though. He’s always going to swing at too many bad pitches.
Garza has been pretty much the pitcher the Twins thought he’d become when they sacrificed him. He dominates at times, and he was largely responsible for the Rays advancing past the Red Sox in the 2008 ALCS. Still, one can’t help but be a little disappointed by his 19-21 record and 3.83 ERA the last two years.
Bartlett’s loss has probably been the bigger one for the Twins. The Rays weren’t expecting him to be more than a one- or two-year solution at shortstop with top prospect Reid Brignac on the way, but he’s played quality defense since the day he arrived in St. Pete and he suddenly raised his OPS by 200 points last season, coming in at .320/.389/.490.
Meanwhile, the Twins have gotten little from the shortstop position since he departed. They finally stepped up and got a real solution in J.J. Hardy this winter, but it cost them Gomez, the biggest piece from the Johan Santana deal.
So, what if the trade never took place? Maybe Minnesota balks when the Rays ask for Morlan and talks die after that? The Twins played tiebreaker games for entry into the postseason each of the last two seasons, losing to the White Sox in 2008 and beating the Tigers last season. If they still had Garza and Bartlett and anything resembling a league average left fielder in place of Young, they certainly should have skated into the postseason in a weak AL Central both years.
The Rays, obviously, made the World Series in 2008 after winning the AL East. They finished eight games ahead of the Yankees and nine games ahead of the White Sox and Twins. That’s quite a margin, but Garza and Bartlett were worth more than that and Rays right fielders topped Young’s OPS by 50 points. Even accounting for the likelihood that Ben Zobrist would have broken out sooner, I don’t think the Rays would have made the postseason in 2008. And if they didn’t have that run, then Carl Crawford is probably already gone.
Even if Young takes off next year, it’s hard to imagine this deal ever completely turning around. Young has three years left until free agency, and now that he’s arbitration eligible, any big breakthrough is going to make his salary jump through the roof. The Twins would trade him for either Garza or Bartlett in a heartbeat.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.