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  • Twins Should Follow Blue Jays Bold Lead

    Originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com

    I’ve been feeling under the weather the past couple of weeks and that tends to make me grumpy. I’m feeling much better, but apparently the grumpiness is not wearing off quickly. The Toronto-Miami trade announced Tuesday didn’t help my mood much, either.

    We really should have seen this coming. It’s not like Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has never cleaned house before, right? True, in the past, he’s dumped his high-priced stars after winning World Series Championships and pleading poverty because he didn’t have a shiny new stadium like other teams did. But in retrospect, we really can’t be surprised that he is once again overseeing the complete dismantling of his roster. What did surprise us, however, was that this time he unloaded almost his entire remaining cadre of recognizable stars to one single team and that team was the Toronto Blue Jays!

    All-Stars Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes are now Blue Jays, as are Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck, who’s actually returning for a second engagement in Toronto. The Marlins are also sending a few million dollars in cash along, but not enough to even make a dent in what I’ve seen estimated to be $160 million of remaining salary owed to the new Jays players. In fact, it appears the cash included in the deal is primarily just to cover most of Buck’s salary.

    In return, Toronto sent the Marlins Yunel Escobar and several young (read: cheap) players that are several years from their first big paydays. A couple of those players are legitimate prospects that could eventually play major roles on a Big League roster, so it’s not like Toronto didn’t give anything up in the deal.

    But this is a Minnesota Twins blog, so what does any of this have to do with the Twins? Simply this… the Blue Jays, like the Twins, saw themselves at or near the bottom of their Division after yet another disappointing season and faced some choices concerning how to change their fortunes. They could promote young talent from within the organization to fill some of their needs and look to fill a few other holes via trade or fringe free agents… or they could find top-shelf talent available on the trade market and use some of their better young prospects to acquire it. They obviously chose the latter path.

    As Twins fans, I think we’re entitled to pose the question, “Why shouldn’t the Twins do the same thing?”

    I know we’ve been brainwashed for years by the Twins to the point where we now believe that the only way for the Twins to become competitive again is to trade away established stars like Denard Span, Justin Morneau and/or Josh Willingham for the starting pitching so desperately needed and middle infield help that certainly could stand to be upgraded, while replacing the departing players by backfilling with young guys. That’s what the Twins have always done. It’s a much more accurate description of “The Twins Way” than is the long-established myth that they play sound fundamental baseball between the lines.

    The Blue Jays, however, have examined a very similar set of circumstances and decided instead to be bold. Of course, it helped that they found a crazy-assed owner who overpaid for several stars a year ago and now wanted to dump them all.

    So let’s return to the question posed… what would keep the Twins from doing the same thing the Blue Jays did (other than the obvious… an ultra-conservative management team)?

    Do the Twins not have young talent comparable to what the Jays had? I find that hard to believe. Most of the Major League ready players sent to Miami appear to be nothing more than temporary fillers to replace the guys they gave up and only two of the prospects appear to be even potential above-average ballplayers. One of them is a Jake Marisnick, a “five tool” outfielder who’s probably going to repeat AA and the other is lefty starting pitcher Justin Nicolino, who has only had one year of full-season minor league ball. Nicolinao is arguably a better pitching prospect than the Twins have in their pitching-poor organization, but the Twins appear to have several outfielders with greater value than Marisnick.

    Is it a money issue? Let’s put it this way… it probably IS a money issue in that the Twins under current management have never been inclined to take on the kind of salary commitments that Johnson, Buehrle and Reyes represent. However, it SHOULDN’T be a money issue. The Blue Jays had an opening day payroll in the mid 80 millions a year ago, without the benefit of a ballpark like Target Field. They barely cracked the 2 million mark in attendance and even that was about a 10% increase over 2011.

    But here’s the thing. The new national media rights deal for Major League Baseball is going to put something like an additional $25 million in revenue straight in to the pockets of every MLB team starting in 2014. Does that mean that teams like Toronto and Minnesota should just go indiscriminately crazy and overpay a bunch of has-beens and never-weres? Of course it does not. But it should open the door for teams to rethink their past operating models.

    The Twins have historically told the public that their model is to spend about 50% of revenues on their Major League payroll. That goes back all the way through the old Metrodome days when the team had one of the worst revenue streams in MLB and it has continued through the “boom” years of their new ballpark. If they hold to that model, only half of the “new money” from the media deal will see its way in to their payroll budget.

    But why should that be the case? What additional expenses come with that $25 million in additional revenue? Absolutely none. It is simply “found money” that comes with no strings attached and if the Twins have indeed been realizing revenues at twice their MLB payroll, it represents at least a 12.5% increase in revenues! I’m sorry, but I simply can’t buy any excuse that might be proffered for why the team should not sink most, if not all, of that money in to putting a better product on the field.

    But wait… the Jays, while not drawing as many fans as the Twins lately, are at least seeing their attendance rise over the prior year while attendance at Target Field is dropping off dramatically. So shouldn’t the Twins be more conservative? Heck, no!

    Don’t you think the phone lines going in to Toronto’s offices are heating up today with people signing up for 2013 ticket packages? Reasonable debate may be offered as to just how many additional wins the new Blue Jays players can be expected to add to their record, but the Jays front office sent a clear message to their fan base that they intend to get serious about ending their also-ran status in the AL East. I refuse to believe the same wouldn’t be happening at the Target Field offices of the Twins today if it had been Terry Ryan who had pulled off a similar deal yesterday.

    I’m fine being patient for a few more weeks to see what kind of improvements Ryan can make to the Twins roster. After all, even if he did want to follow the Blue Jays’ lead and pull off a similar monster deal, there aren’t many crazy owners like Jeffrey Loria out there. Even the A’s, who can almost annually be counted on to trade away anyone with a pulse, are reportedly looking to add talent this offseason rather than trade away what they have.

    But Twins fans should not have to listen to more crap from the front office about how payroll doesn’t matter and how $85-90 million is more than Terry Ryan ever used to have at his disposal so there’s no reason to spend more than that now. That’s complete and utter bullcrap.

    If the Twins want more people to attend games in 2013 instead of fewer, there’s one way and one way only to accomplish that. It’s not by adding pitching at the expense of having to trade away a number of your best position players and it’s sure as hell not just by adding a drink rail in right field.

    You get more fans at the ballpark and more viewers on television and more sales of your merchandise by making bold moves to improve the crappy product you’ve put on the field for the past two years.

    The Blue Jays finally seem to get that. I’m not sure the Twins ever will.

    - JC
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Should Follow Blue Jays Bold Lead started by Jim Crikket
    Comments 35 Comments
    1. raindog's Avatar
      raindog -
      Quote Originally Posted by LastOnePicked View Post
      Couldn't agree more. TR has proven that he's only capable of thinking small. For all of the praise he got for signing Willingham and Doumit, we need to keep in mind that the few moves he made last offseason netted the team exactly three wins over their dismal 2011 campaign. The current Twins simply cannot see the big picture, and seem completely adverse to any free-agent risk -- other than their death-by-a-thousand-cuts dabbles in the mlb dumpsters. I doubt TR was even in on any of the trade conversations with Miami. The fans will have to demand change soon.
      How is this Terry Ryan's fault? He is not a member of the Pohlad's family. All he can do is make small moves under budget constraints.

      Also, I know this topic is more about the philosophy or making big splashes than the specific deal. However, anyone who thinks this would have been a good trade for us is just wrong. The Twins would still be terrible. The Jays had a really good squad to build off. It's going to take the Twins awhile to reach that level.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I'm not sure I agree with the spending for the sake of spending argument. As others pointed out, Toronto has a window of opportunity right now to take the east where it didn't look like it would exist a year or two ago, and even though they were in last, they'd have likely been a contender in the central. In their case, spending the money makes sense. If the Twins were a flawed but good team (like 2010), I'd tend to agree, but their needs are much greater. We desparately need starting pitching and production up the middle, and while it is possible to build a contending team via trades and FA signings to help those areas, there's going to be a lot of 1 year type make good/gambles to make it work along with some smart, targeted FA signings... and gambles are just that.

      The Twins strategy should be as follow:
      1) Make one or two longer contract good FA SP signings
      2) Trade Span or Morneau for a AA type pitcher with a good ceiling
      3) Sign 2 more SPs and at least one MI to a 1 year prove it deal.

      Odds are good that not everyone in the 3rd bucket will work out, and even the FA signings aren't exactly a sure thing.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Terry Ryan has repeated, over and over, that he has never once been denied money when he asked for it, so yes, he is complicit in any decision not to spend to win, and to restrain the budget.

      I also disagree 100% the Twins would still be terrible if Johnson, Buerhle, and Reyes were healthy all year. That's a lot more wins.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Funny no one mention Bonifacio one of the best ut and fastest players in mlb.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      John Buck is also a great right hand power hitting catcher who hit 20 hrs and a .281 ba in 2010 for the Jays, a very good replacement for Butera.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      1 reason they wont is that david st pete and terry ryan would have to give up there bonuses for slashing payroll...how much did they pocket after cutting 18.4 million last year?
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by h2oface View Post
      i think the most intriguing thing about this trade might be that new marlins manager, mike redmond, had been managing in toronto's system and might have been personally responsible for many of the prospects miami will receive, both as pieces of the trade and as a minor league manager. i think redmond managed marisnick this season in class A at dunedin of the florida state league. redmond may be sly like columbo, and the owner of the marlins may have just cleaned the canvas for more painting, and not be done...... but jeff loria has done some kinda shady/slanted (expos to mlb/then buying marlins with a loan for the difference from mlb in 2002) dealings in the past. oh, as an aside......... i think it should just be world series championship - not .....ships - , as the first marlin's championship loria was not a part of as owner.
      in fact the ownership group from baaaston , loria and the commish PUD selig were all charged with the rico act in 2002
      but once again the good ole boy network slipped off thr hook , now pud is looking imnto the trade?? hahaha what a joke selig is just sticking his hand out for a little taste from loria , if you look at the contracts that all 3 signed they are backloaded , as loria intended to trade them all any way ..time for pud selig loria and the wilpons to be removed from baseball to keep the games intergraty
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by h2oface View Post
      i think the most intriguing thing about this trade might be that new marlins manager, mike redmond, had been managing in toronto's system and might have been personally responsible for many of the prospects miami will receive, both as pieces of the trade and as a minor league manager. i think redmond managed marisnick this season in class A at dunedin of the florida state league. redmond may be sly like columbo, and the owner of the marlins may have just cleaned the canvas for more painting, and not be done...... but jeff loria has done some kinda shady/slanted (expos to mlb/then buying marlins with a loan for the difference from mlb in 2002) dealings in the past. oh, as an aside......... i think it should just be world series championship - not .....ships - , as the first marlin's championship loria was not a part of as owner.
      in fact the ownership group from baaaston , loria and the commish PUD selig were all charged with the rico act in 2002
      but once again the good ole boy network slipped off thr hook , now pud is looking imnto the trade?? hahaha what a joke selig is just sticking his hand out for a little taste from loria , if you look at the contracts that all 3 signed they are backloaded , as loria intended to trade them all any way ..time for pud selig loria and the wilpons to be removed from baseball to keep the games intergraty
      johnnydakota>English language

    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by ssmart View Post
      Agree 100% with J.C.
      Let's give Terry Ryan a little time here. Pitchers and Catchers don't report for 3 months yet.
      Trades are always great fodder for the Hot Stove League. Connie Mack dismantled 2 World Champion teams, in the teens; Frank 'Home Run' Baker, Eddie Collins et al. Then again in the 30's with Jimmy Foxx, 'Lefty' Grove, Al Simmons and others.
      I remember growing up ... Harvey Kuenn for Rocky Colovito ... man I was knocked back on my 10yr. old butt by that one!
      Let's wait a bit to see what TR does.
      so 18 years isint enough time?
      the kids born after our last worldseries victory are now bar hopping ....what have you done for us terry? nothin ...hope you choke on your payroll cutting bonus
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      The point is that the Twins could do the same thing... they could add players that would generate greater enthusiasm by the fan base and thus with advertisers. But nibbling around the edges of the talent pool won't bring an extra nickel of revenue in. To sell more tickets and advertising, they would need to be bold enough to convince people they're serious about getting back in the hunt this year. That's what the Jays have done and there's no reason the Twins couldn't do the same thing.
      amen look at ticket sales after fielder and albert were signed?
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by Top Gun View Post
      Funny no one mention Bonifacio one of the best ut and fastest players in mlb.
      we got mastroanni
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      wow another english police , this time from north of the border ,thats cool , here is what you do ..
      when you see johnnydakota , ignore it ok hope you have a nice thanksgiving
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Terry Ryan has repeated, over and over, that he has never once been denied money when he asked for it, so yes, he is complicit in any decision not to spend to win, and to restrain the budget.

      I also disagree 100% the Twins would still be terrible if Johnson, Buerhle, and Reyes were healthy all year. That's a lot more wins.
      Have you ever considered the fact that the reason he gets the money is that he doesn't ask that often?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Yes,but I am hard pressed to think of when he got it....what player has he signed to get the team over the hump?
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Have you ever considered the fact that the reason he gets the money is that he doesn't ask that often?
      I think your post would more properly be described as an opinion, rather than a fact.
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