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  • When Can the Twins Compete Again?

    The Twins season ended a week ago, and weíve all had a chance to look back at another 95+ loss season. Likely, youíve also already started thinking about what you would do to get the Twins back to being a perennial contender in the AL Central.

    The question I have for readers today is: If you were in charge, would you look toward winning in 2013, 2014 or something in the 3-5 year range? How you would go about building your blueprint is largely dependent upon your answer to that question.

    At Twins Daily, we are putting the final touches on the Offseason GM Handbook. Iím working on the final pieces of my blueprint, and that is the question that I am fighting the most. Obviously I want the Twins to contend in 2013! If Iíve learned anything from the past two years, itís that Iím stronger in my conviction that the 162 games of the regular season is much better to watch when the team is competitive! But I also fully believe that going heavily the free agent direction canít be successful long-term.

    If weíre all in agreement that the Twins 2013 payroll will likely be a little less than it was in 2012 (somewhere between $85-94 million), would your blueprint be one that looks to contending in 2013, 2014 or beyond?

    If your answer is to compete in 2013, the Twins should keep all of their veterans which means they will only have room to add a couple of mid-tier free agents. They could also trade prospects to bring in help for 2013.

    If your answer is to compete in 2014, then the Twins will need to determine which veterans to keep around and which to trade for some final pieces. You could probably bring in one quality free agent, but itís also going to require that you be patient with some young players, hoping that a couple of them take a big step forward and can be counted on in 2014. That includes the likes of Pedro Florimon, Liam Hendriks and Brian Dozier, but it also includes the likes of Trevor Plouffe who will get the year to find out if he can be the 3B of the future. It also means some July trades and second-half playing time for the likes of Kyle Gibson, Joe Benson, Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks.

    If youíre thinking that the team is more than two years from competing, the free agents that you bring in really need to be tradeable at the July deadline. Guys who are on one-year, make-good types of deals would be ideal. It should be all about youth and player development. That doesnít necessarily mean in the big leagues,

    Itís an interesting question because there is no right or wrong answer. The Twins do have a nice core of players, but they need a ton of pitching. Starting from scratch seems silly, in some ways.

    Consider the Oakland Aís. In recent years, they have traded away players and pitchers who were performing very well, yet they have been able to acquire some players, particularly pitchers, who are helping the Aís to their unlikely 2012 season. However, it was their first season in which they finished above .500 since 2006.

    The Kansas City Royals are perennially a team that has some of baseballís top prospects. They are always supposed to be the team on the rise when all those young players develop. Well, the Royals have had just one winning season in the last 20 years.

    The Orioles typically go in the opposite direction. In recent years, they have been active in free agency, often signing some veteran players to deals that are too high. The last time that the Orioles had a winning season was 1997.
    So, there is no answer that guarantees winning or losing. So, itís up to you, and Iíll ask again:

    If you were in charge, would you look toward winning in 2013, 2014 or something in the 3-5 year range?
    This article was originally published in blog: When Can the Twins Compete Again? started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 33 Comments
    1. LastOnePicked's Avatar
      LastOnePicked -
      Looking at the folks who are in the playoffs this year, it's pretty clear to me that it isn't a set number of years to contention, it's a culture shift. When the Twins demonstrate accountability, grit, fire and determination, players will rise to the challenges they give one another. Solid, mid-to-upper tier free agents will be inspired to sign here, and smart GM work can plug smaller holes with quality finds. Until that culture shift happens, we could rival the Yankees in spending in 2013 and still not have much to show for it come October.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      If you want grit, fire, and determination, then Gardy's gotta go. All he wants are the strong, silent types like Mauer and Morneau.

      I am still pissed that the Twins let Hardy walk. Do you remember how he got injured in 2010? He stretched a double into a triple and hurt himself sliding into 3rd. In the bottom of the 9th. He then scored the winning run on a wild pitch. That's the kind of player you're talking about, and Gardy didn't think he was worth keeping around.
    1. ScottyB's Avatar
      ScottyB -
      Texas has a boatload of starting pitching and beyond has Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz a little behind Gibson and Baker in rehabbing from TJ. I would offer a package of Span/Revere, Morneau/Parmelee and Henricks/Hermson for Holland and a lower level, higher upside pitching prospect to add one starter (it might not be enough). I would add two more pitchers from free agency. It's unlikely that we'll be able to get any of the higher profile pitchers, however some under-the-radar guys might be attainable. I'd look at Iwakuma (from Seattle), Hernandez (former Carmona from Cleveland) and Villanueva (from Toronto) and see if I could get two.

      We won't have the full picture until the non-tenders are known, because TR will comb those to add inexpensive depth to the organization. I would got after Jeff Keppinger (and probably start him at 2B), and Eric Chavez for the bench or platoon with Plouffe. There is still a major hole at short, but even with Florimon/Dozier at short, this could be a contending team as soon as next year - not a WS contender, but certainly a division contender.
    1. SpantheMan's Avatar
      SpantheMan -
      Quote Originally Posted by DAM DC Twins Fans View Post
      I go with competing in 2014 and planning for that now. The Twins have basically two tradeable players--Span/Revere (trade one keep the other as lead off CF) and Parmalee. Morneau is going into walk year with a big contract and concussion history--he will bring little. I would trade Justin for best offer (young prospect) and Span/Revere for pitching and keep Parmalee. Dont waste $$ on free agents--its a weak class--the top guys like Greinke wont come here. Jackson/Marcum not a big improvement.

      Go with Florimon/dozier in the Middle INF. See what Plouffe gives us over a full season. Go with Gibson, Hendricks in the rotation and see if the are MLB pitchers. Second half of 2013--bring up Hicks, Arcia and Sano and see if they can be ready in 2014. If Gibson, Hendricks are non MLB ready--make trades at deadline and sign free agent pitchers next year.
      Bring up Sano? The kids 19 and in A-ball. He's incredibly raw and there's no way he's ready by midseason. Fall 2014 at the soonest.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I don't know... I just want the Twins to win it all again and not just "compete" in the regular season and suck in the post-season like they have been doing this millennium.

      I am pretty convinced that this cannot happen with the current front office and field leadership (it did not happen in the year they had the best record in baseball and the Cy Young and MVP winners plus a couple of other All-Stars.)

      So, unless they change who is running it and how this team is being run, I am afraid they cannot compete at a high level. Adding an arm or a bat or two or three will not cut it.... So I think that they could get rid of their aging player who have trading value and are in the end of their contracts (Morneau, Span, Willingham, Doumit, Carroll), get some young arms, get some of the kids up to play ball.
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      No reason the Twins can't compete for the division next year given the weak state of it.
      And they should always be trying to compete. I don't buy into the whole idea of going into the tank and aiming to compete in 3-5 years. You think there's a problem with lack of accountability now, wait until you see what happens when you start conceding seasons from the outset.

      And how many of these multi-year rebuilding efforts actually work anyway? How often do you see teams win the World Series following a path laid out 5 years earlier?

      Improving the team today and building for tomorrow do not have to be mutually exclusive. You can, and should, do both.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by one_eyed_jack View Post
      And how many of these multi-year rebuilding efforts actually work anyway? How often do you see teams win the World Series following a path laid out 5 years earlier?
      Here is the thing:

      The Twins have not won a WS since 1991 (this is 21 years ago). The Marlins have won 2 in that span with build up and burn down plans...
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Let's be honest, they can compete next year if they sign 2-3 starting pitchers from the top 10 free agents available, and trade an OF or OF prospect for a MIF. But, does anyone think they'll spend that money? Really, they can be competitive next year if the payroll is 115-120. But, I would be my salary against my kid's allowance that they don't spend the money. So, it is really a matter of will, nothing more or less.
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by one_eyed_jack View Post
      And how many of these multi-year rebuilding efforts actually work anyway? How often do you see teams win the World Series following a path laid out 5 years earlier?
      Here is the thing:

      The Twins have not won a WS since 1991 (this is 21 years ago). The Marlins have won 2 in that span with build up and burn down plans...

      ---Yes, thank you, thrylos, I can do basic math. And while we're on the subject, that's less than 10% of the World Series winners in that span. And how many other "blow it up and rebuild from scratch for 3-5 years from now" efforts have failed? There have been a lot more than 2 in Kansas City and Pittsburgh alone.

      So the Marlins notwithstanding, I don't view it as an approach with a recent track record of success.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      We need to keep in mind that this was the worst team in the AL for the 2nd year in a row. That is a huge mountain to climb.

      Secondly, this was the worst team in the AL in 2012 despite career years from Plouffe, Willingham, Diamond, Burton, Perkins and Doumit. Twins also received much better than expected health from Span, Mauer and Morneau. I think at a minimum you need to expect some major regression from half of these guys and if that is the case your baseline should be around 60 wins. They will need to sign 3-4 above average starters to even sniff 80 wins and does anyone think that is realistic?

      This team needs to blow it up totally. Get a new GM you trust and trade your vets for low A power pitchers who have a chance to be impact players when the Twins next wave arrives.

      People need a little more realistic view of the Twin's player values. Span, Mornaue, Doumit and Revere have little value to other teams so the best you can hope for is a C+ young SP prospect (think Wimmers). Willy might get you a B+ pitching prospect (think Berrios).
    1. mako83's Avatar
      mako83 -
      Bring in some exprienced middle infielders like nick punto, or marco scuturo in case we cant get derosa. Please god can we cut down on the unearned runs.
    1. SpantheMan's Avatar
      SpantheMan -
      It doesn't have to be an either or decision. Giving PT to young players can help give them experience to build for the future and can also free up payroll to help the present. Signing FA's to 1yr contacts can help in the short term or they can be trading chips at the deadline to help build for the future. It's not either blow it up or go all in.
    1. lee_the_twins_fan's Avatar
      lee_the_twins_fan -
      What's all this talk about trading Willingham? Willingham had 35 home runs this year Ė more than anyone else in a Twins uniform not named Killebrew. Why would they trade Willingham?

      I would only consider trading Willingham for a 20-game winner. Otherwise it's not worth the loss of offense and the PR nightmare.

      Don't even think about trading him for less than a 20-game winner.

      Yes we need two SP and TWO middle infielders who can actually hit, oh, and FIELD.*

      Span should bring a competent middle infielder. All others need to come via free agency. We can't gut the rest of our offense to get pitching.
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