Why you won't see the Twins make any major moves in the near future
by, 07-09-2012 at 12:51 AM (1673 Views)
There is an awful lot of noise being written about how the Twins should blow up their team for prospects, fire the entire staff or administration for some new direction, or call up everybody with a pulse to see how they perform in the "big show". I don't believe you will see any of that happen. I actually believe the Twins won't make any major moves at all. Here's why:
The Twins looked at 2011 and basically chalked it up to a mulligan. With all of the injuries, and poor decision making, they thought the ship could be stabilized basically by letting everybody come back. So, they more or less stood pat and waited to see what happened. Let's look at the three main components: position players, the bullpen, and the starting rotation.
Position Players - During the off-season the Twins lost primarily 2 players: Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel. They went out and replaced them with Willingham and Doumit. They brought in a cheap Carroll to provide some stability to the infield, otherwise they just sat back and let everybody get healthy. This has essentially worked. Span and Mauer are back to their old form. Morneau's average is down, but is still showing power and playing almost every day. The Revere is showing improvement. Third base has also shown improvement, though we were expecting Valencia, not Plouffe. It is hard to argue against the philosophy here. Other than replacing what they lost, they let everything work itself out and it has. The offense has improved.
Bullpen - Again, they basically stood pat. To replace Nathan and Mijares, the essentially held open tryouts in spring training. Gray and Burton have both pitched well. Otherwise the bullpen looks surprisingly similar to last years team. Considering the accolades the bullpen has received all year, it's hard to argue that the philosophy didn't work here either.
Starting Pitching - Here things have fallen apart at essentially every level. Right off the bat you lose Baker for the season and Waldrop for the first half due to injuries. Blackburn failed to show improvement and has probably pitched himself off the team. Pavano has regressed, not held form. Liriano has been fairly poor overall, though has recently shown improvement. Factor in the Marquis disaster,and you have accounted for the entirety of the starting pitching staff. Not one of these decisions went the Twins way. Predictably, as a result, the Twins starters are making a run at having the worst starters ERA in baseball history. Standing pat did not work here.
The standing past theory worked in two of the three areas. If it had worked with the starters, where would the Twins be now? Hypothetically, say Baker didn't get hurt; Liriano, Blackburn, Pavano, Marquis give you something resembling league average pitching, with Waldrop waiting in the wings, how many more wins would the Twins have? 5? 8? As they are currently 11 games back, an 8 game gain in the current standings puts them right in the thick of the weak AL Central.
Here is why they won't make any drastic roster changes in the near future:
1) All 9 starters (including DH) are under contract for 2013. Their are currently no offensive holes to fill.
2) The bullpen is also under team control for next year as well. Capps has the team option, they hold the cards with him.
3) Doing nothing else, the starting pitching will improve with time. Gibson and Waldrop will be pitching at full strength by next spring. Diamond will fill one of the starter roles.
The only realistic move the team will make is to move Liriano before the deadline. They have no intention of resigning him, and his dog and pony show is getting old. They may move Capps or Pavano, but I would not call that drastic, as neither of them are in the team's future anyways. Willingham, Span, Morneau... all of them are staying put. They will be in the opening day lineup next year.
Shocked? Disappointed? Don't be. Ryan's methodical nature has worked for this team in the past, and will work again. They are usually fairly inactive at the deadline (minor moves, nothing ever major), and maintain trust in what they have (like it or not). As they won't be trading any offensive players or their prospects (the Capps/Ramos deal reminded them why not to move top prospects) for starting pitching. They will go out and sign a starter or two in the $3-5 mil range, short term, because that is what they do. Also because this has given them some success in the past.
Since Mid-May this team has played close to .500 ball. If they are .500 team next year, they may be in the hunt. 2014 puts us in the Sano, Rosario range. Being this close, they will not make any moves that could set them back. In 2007 the Twins traded Luis Castillo at the deadline. At the time the Twins were 54-51, 6 games out. There was considerable clubhouse and PR backlash with that move at that time, with everybody thinking the team had given up on the season. The team never recovered. The Twins finished 79-83, 17 games back, going 25-32 after the trade. They will not move a player like that now, especially if the team is less than 8 games back at the deadline.
All of this being said, could the Twins get overwhelmed in a trade for a Span or Willingham? It's possible, just not very likely.
Sorry to disappoint everybody, but Terry Ryan's methodical nature will be on full display over the next 12-18 months. I suggest you just sit back and enjoy the ride.