Yesterday we saw the Winter Meetings wrap up, with the Twins making a significant move. The Twins shipped SS JJ Hardy and INF Brendan Harris to Baltimore for Minor League P's Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson. The move leaves the Twins with putting Alexi Casilla at shortstop and Tsuyoshi Nishioka (Pending the Twins sign him, which reportedly is close) at second base. This gives the Twins more speed up the middle, as they desire. It also dumps about $7 million in salary, leaving the door possibly open to resigning P Carl Pavano.
But one can't help but notice how little depth the middle infield now has with this trade. Behind Nishioka at second, the Twins best options in their system is Matt Macri (.263 lifetime minor league average) and Luke Hughes (.270 lifetime minor league average). And behind Casilla at shortstop in the minors is Trevor Plouffe (.254 lifetime minor league average), Macri (Utility Player), and Estarlin de Los Santos (.247 lifetime minor league average, never been above AA). All but de Los Santos has seen some time in the big leagues. As you can see, none are an appealing choice if Nishioka and Casilla get injured or cannot fulfill the job adequately. (SS Miguel Sano is the Twins best infield prospect but is still 3-5 years away from the big leagues)
So, bottomline, if neither Nishioka or Casilla cannot do the job or miss a lot of time with injury, the Twins will be forced to trade for someone mid season. The Twins have done a few moves during the season in both 09 and 10, with the moves paying off well. But I will find it ridiculous if Smith has to make a trade for a starting middle infielder because he squandered the depth he had there yesterday. Also, he should be looking for more long term solutions to the middle infield spots through the draft or via trade. Because right now, he has to be seeing what I'm seeing, and its not pretty.
Lastly, with the gaping hole in the bullpen, I would like to know why Smith didn't hold out on trading Hardy for more than two minor league pitchers? The Shortstop market is very thin this offseason (i.e. Juan Uribe and his 3 yr/$21 million contract), and an above average shortstop such as Hardy should of been worth more than that. One figured Hardy wouldn't be in the Twins long term plans, but why shoot yourself in the foot with this move? That's all I want to know. So lets all hope Casilla can hold his job this time or else the Twins are in trouble.