It is true hindsight is 20/20, but it’s also true that we cannot let the past cloud our perception of the future. When it comes to roster moves that the Minnesota Twins have made over the past decade, many can be scrutinized during the days of Bill Smith as Twins General Manager, while others can be praised during the first run with Terry Ryan as GM. Regardless of who is in charge, the moves the general manager makes can significantly alter the success and future of an organization whether it be intended or not. One of those moves that have altered the Twins’ fortunes in the past few years was the move to trade shortstop J.J. Hardy to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Jim Hoey.
Now when you look back at the situation, Hardy was coming off of a year where he was relatively productive hitting .268 with 6 HR and 38 RBI in 101 games at shortstop; those numbers would be welcomed with a red carpet nowadays in Twins’ Territory. Yet injury concerns and Hardy’s toughness were put into question and the Twins decided they may have to part with the shortstop they acquired in a trade for Carlos Gomez a year before. At the same time, the Twins were fresh off getting obliterated by the New York Yankees in the divisional series and believed that they needed more power arms for their bullpen if they were to ever beat the evil empire that is the Yankees. This was the beginning of the paradigm shift for the Twins that moved away from pitch-to-contact pitchers and more towards power arms in both the rotation and bullpen. One of the things in sports that you hear is never to make “knee-jerk” decisions or let emotions dictate the moves you make to better your team or roster. At the end of the day, this game is still a business; however even though I am analyzing this all in hindsight, what were the Twins thinking trading away Hardy for a middle reliever—who could throw hard—but had no control on any of his pitches? This is your typical “knee-jerk” decision made by an incompetent General Manager like Smith, that has set the Twins back in their quest to remain competitive. These are exactly the type of moves that hallmarked Smith’s career as Twins’ General Manager and eventually led to his dismissal.
After being traded, Hardy put up stellar numbers with the Orioles by hitting .269 with 30 HR and 80 RBI in 129 games in 2011 and then followed up that season by hitting .238 with 22 HR and 68 RBI in 158 games last year. If any Twins shortstop—or even a combination of Twins’ players who played shortstop—could put up the kind of production Hardy did in in 2012, the team would be more than thrilled; yet now they have lowered our standards so much that they are willing to settle for a shortstop that hits .220—with little or no upside as a hitter—as long as they play above average defense. Those standards are embarrassing and it is those standards that have brought the Twins into the paltry situation with their middle infield that they currently are in. The Twins have placed their hope in Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier as the latest duo to try and stabilize the middle infield and by all indications, these two will not light the world on fire offensively or defensively. It would not be fair to blame Florimon and Dozier for what they are not, but instead they should accept them for what they are. However at the end of the day, Twins’ fans are not going to be wondering what should have been with Florimon or Dozier; instead, they may be lamenting on what could have been with a player like Hardy.