Welcome Back, Eddie! UPDATED
Certainly, the Twins didn't give up anyone overly important to the team, as the Rangers picked up rookie league pitcher Mark Hamburger in the transaction. The write up on La Velle Neal's strib blog mentions that there are talent evaluators in the Twins organization who feel that Hamurger could make the big leagues some day -- but if that happens, it's going to be a long time from now. The Twins are trading a marginal prospect who has a shot at the big leagues for a proven (albeit old) lefty who can help in the 7th and 8th innings.
While I'm generally supportive of the trade, then, I wonder who is going to be sent out to make room for Guardado. None of the pitchers seem like obvious choices -- Guardado could replace Craig Breslow outright, but Breslow has a 2.36 ERA and 1.19 WHIP this year, so he's pitched better than Guardado and that wouldn't make much sense. He could also replace Boof Bonser, but they fill very different roles in the bullpen so that wouldn't make much sense either.
Instead, it seems likely that the Twins will expand back to 12 pitchers tonight. There seem to be three possibilities for who could get sent down: Mike Lamb, Adam Everett, and Randy Ruiz. With Alexi Casilla back in the fold, and with Nick Punto and Brendan Harris both capable of playing short or third as needed, the obvious answer seems to be Everett. Lamb and Ruiz fill niche roles that others in the organization don't necessarily fill adequately. Everett is a spare part, a player who is wholly redundant.
So long as the Twins don't make a puzzling move to make room for Guardado, then, I fully agree with this move. Guardado should bolster a bullpen that obviously has been struggling, and in a straight up exchange of Guardado for Everett on the roster, the Twins are better off with Guardado. I give this one my enthusiastic support, even if I don't expect Guardado to be brilliant. The bottom line is that he should help the team, and that's all that matters.
UPDATE: Now that was a bit unexpected. The Twins have designated Mike Lamb for assignment to make room for Guardado on the active roster. While I identified Lamb as a possible casualty in the original post, I thought it made more sense for the Twins to cut Adam Everett. I've rethought things a little bit -- I had identified Lamb as filling a niche role, for instance, but that "niche" was a left-handed corner infielder. Lamb, after all, occasionally played first base when Justin Morneau was the DH. On second thought, however, Brian Buscher can probably fill that role equally well.
The other possible argument against cutting Lamb is that the Twins are on the hook for nearly $4 million through next season. Obviously Bill Smith felt that there was no place for Lamb with the team in the future -- even though this season's poor performance is a bit of an aberration in Lamb's historical performance. It would have been easier to cut Adam Everett -- but Smith made a tougher decision. I only hope that Lamb doesn't catch on somewhere next year and hit .300 with 20 homers.
As for Everett, this was probably the final hurdle that he needed to jump to stick with the team for the rest of the year. From my standpoint, I don't really know what he brings to the team, and if I were the Twins GM I almost certainly would have cut him instead of Lamb. Still, I don't think Smith made the wrong move so much as I think he made a somewhat unusual and bold move.