>By The Common Man
|Ripped from the notebook of Bill Smith|
The Common Man has argued in the past that he believes the Twins are an inherently irrational organization. Part of that is their unfortunate tendency to start down a path (trade Santana, trade Hardy, carry Butera, start Punto) and build organizational momentum around this notion, to the point where they can’t stop themselves, even if they should realize their decision is a bad one. They become invested in ideas or courses of action until, no matter what, they accomplish their goal. It’s the baseball equivalent of putting the team into a steep nose-dive and being unable to pull up at the last minute. Or deciding you want a certain car, and not caring that you’re paying 20% over blue-book value.
Once again, this seems to be the case with the Twins and the Scott Diamond-Billy Bullock trade. According to Aaron Gleeman, “there are reports about the Twins wanting Diamond so much that they nearly traded up in the Rule 5 draft to make sure they got him and reports about how they’ve since grown to like him even more this spring.“ the Twins had fallen in love with Diamond’s grounder-inducing/homer-killing tendencies, and decided that, come hell or high water, he was going to be a Twin. Price didn’t matter. There simply was no way the Twins were going to allow Diamond to go back to the Braves; they had simply invested too much time and energy into him. It’s enough to make TCM want to start a poker game just to get Bill Smith involved.
The Braves, to their credit, seemed to understand that the Twins were desperate to hold on to Diamond, and reacted accordingly, holding the line on a stiff price for the lefty. Billy Bullock has a big arm that, for now, gives up too many free baserunners. And he’s limited to the bullpen. He’s certainly not an ideal prospect. But the Twins have few prospects with his physical tools in the system, and if anyone can teach a pitcher some control, it’s the Twins. The bottom line is that Bullock was too valuable to be given away for someone the Braves didn’t want enough to protect on their 40-man roster before the season started.
This is not to denigrate Diamond. He’s a lefty that induces grounders who looks to TCM to have Derek Lowe-esque upside. If he can reach it, that has good value, and Diamond could conceivably be ready later this year or early next year to step into the Twins’ rotation. But the downside is yet another Blackburn/Duensing clone, who tops out as a league-average starter when everything breaks right. Bullock, meanwhile, had elite stuff and could have been Joe Nathan’s eventual heir.
But, once again, the Twins saw what they wanted to do, and decided to ignore the opportunity cost of retaining him. They fell in love, and would have run through a brick wall to get Scott Diamond. This is a recurring pattern with the Twins, as they craft the rosters they want right now, not necessarily the ones that make them better. And while a team can survive one or two of these decisions, the eventual cost is a death of a thousand cuts to the Twins’ playoff chances in 2011 and beyond.