It used to be a point of pride. Now it's a ridiculed cliche. "The Twins Do The Little Things Right".
Usually that phrase has been applied to on-field play (though not deservedly this last year) but it's also been generally applicable to player personnel moves (though not deservedly this last year). Twins fans hope that attention to detail returns on the field. Twins Geeks hope it returns off the field.
Mabye it is. When I turned a critical eye toward the Monroe trade on Tuesday, it still wasn't a trade, only a rumor. But, as usual, the details matter, and they're showing some creative thinking on behalf of the organization.
To be honest, I don't think I've ever heard of a trade quite like it. The Twins and Cubs structured this so the Twins basically acquired exlusive negotiating rights to Monroe for the next month. If they don't get a deal done, they basically lose nothing. And if they do get a deal done, they lose very little besides some money.
Some of the criticisms still stand. Monroe still is nothing more than a deceivingly shaky fallback option. Also, the most the Twins can reduce his salary is 20%, which would mean he makes around $4 million next year, which is still probably too much for someone with his history. And finally, it's not clear the Twins truly understand that their biggest and riskiest investment is playing time.
But there's enough positives to make me gloss over the queasy feeling the accompanied the news that the Twins apparently made this deal without understanding whether they could negotiate a 20% or 40% pay cut for Monroe from last year's salary. Hey, what's a million dollars when you've got Carl's checkbook, right?
Or could it be that is another ploy, used to negotiate Monroe closer to the 20% cut? Far-fetched? Maybe, but my paradigm on this new regime has shifted a little. Objectively, all that's changed over the last 48 hours is that the Twins will likely spend $1 million less than I thought, may not give up anything from their minors, and may even throw Monroe back like an undersized walleye. Should that really be enough to change my view?
Maybe not. But the outside-the-box nature of this trade raises the possiblity that the Twins are suddenly acting a little smarter - and more creatively - than we're used to. For Twins fans starved for some pride in the local nine, that's not such a little thing.