There are two classifications of bad trades made by the Twins. There are those made due to bad judgment, and those made with financial implications.
The latter occurred with regularity after full scale free agency came to baseball in 1976. There was another run of money-saving deals in the '90s, particularly after the owners lost the 1994-95 showdown with the players and salaries soared as never before.
The way I see it, you can't count the money deals when listing the Twins' worst trades. These were the all-timers as far as I was concerned:
Dec. 12, 1969/ The Twins traded Graig Nettles, outfielder Ted Uhlaender and pitchers Bob Miller and Dean Chance to Cleveland for pitchers Luis Tiant and Stan Williams. Nettles had been used in left field more than at third base by manager Billy Martin in 1969.
Nettles was 25 when the Twins made the deal. He went on to hit 378 home runs and became one of the best-fielding third baseman of a generation after he left Minnesota.
April 22, 1988/ The Twins were coming off winning a first World Series. Right fielder Tom Brunansky was a solid part of the nucleus. Two weeks into the season, GM Andy MacPhail (with the encouragement of manager Tom Kelly) traded him to St. Louis for Tommy Herr.
The Twins saw the switch-hitting second baseman as a perfect No. 2 hitter in front of Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek. As it turned out, Herr would've been a perfect fit with the 2011 Twins: They couldn't get him out of the trainer's room.
Nov. 28, 2007/ The Twins traded the best arm in the organization, Matt Garza, and their shortstop, Jason Bartlett, to Tampa Bay for Delmon Young, a young outfielder with a reputation as a pain in the rear. The end result was woeful.
We are now in the final days of the biggest flop of a season in Twins' history. And I have a new leader for the worst Twins' trade ever made that did not involve financial considerations.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy to Baltimore for two pitchers of little potential? That deal last Dec. 9 has been beat to death for its idiocy - particularly in light of more money being committed to bring in the inept Tsuyoshi Nishioka from Japan as a replacement in the middle of the infield.
Sadly, that's not the trade having a brutal impact on the 2011 Twins to which I'm referring. The new worst trade in history was made on July 29, 2010, when the Twins sent catcher Wilson Ramos to Washington for reliever Matt Capps.
I admit to being late to the dance on the grievous mistake that was made in trading a catcher with potential - particularly when there were not any other such prospects in the organization that were on the big-league radar.
The Twins' stat guys were upset with this immediately ... both because catchers who can hit are the toughest thing to find in baseball, and because of their doubts that Capp was much of an upgrade over Jon Rauch, the closer for the first four months of the season.
The baseball layman in whom I believe the most - my son Chris - was also outraged. He does the weekly Fantasy Football forecast for this website. Chris is even more of a ball guy. He was telling me when the Ramos deal was made that it was utter stupidity to give up a catcher with power and adequate defensive skills.
"If they couldn't get off Capps, they would've been much better off trading one of the hot outfield prospects - Ben Revere or Aaron Hicks - than Ramos,'' Chris said at the time. "You can find outfielders, not catchers.''
The party line from the front office hasn't changed in a year: The Twins would not have won the AL Central in 2010 without the Capps' trade. Considering they ran away and hide in September, that's justification more than valid reasoning.
The Twins would have won the division with Rauch as the closer. And they would not have been eliminated any faster by the Yankees in the playoffs with Rauch as the closer.
Here's what amazes today: Joe Mauer was having his share of hip and leg problems last season. The idea that he would be catching more than two-thirds of the games in the years ahead was illogical, even last July.
And now he has been repeatedly absent for mysterious reasons in 2011, and the Twins have been stuck with Drew Butera and Rene Rivera - two guys with roughly a 15% chance to get a hit - as the options.
If Mauer actually plays on a regular basis next season, the odds are strong he will spend more time at first base than behind the plate. And the closest catcher that ranks as a prospect is Chris Herrmann, a lefty hitter who was in Class AA last season and will be in the Arizona Fall League.
While this mess goes on, Ramos, 24, has been the regular in Washington, where he's batting .267 with 14 home runs and 49 RBIs and doing just fine behind the plate.
July 29, 2010/ Wilson Ramos to Washington for Matt Capps. Official verdict: Disaster.