Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Money Matters

    Originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com.

    I’m constantly struck by how so many otherwise intelligent people suddenly sound like idiots when discussing issues related to money. A number of these people are certainly not idiots… they’re accomplished business owners and/or people who have achieved considerable success at running businesses. So if they aren’t as stupid as the words they’re saying makes them sound, one can only assume that they think the people hearing/reading their words are stupid enough to believe what they’re saying.

    Yes, I’m referring primarily to the Twins front office.


    It was over a month ago that the Twins held a press conference and made owner Jim Pohlad, President Dave St. Peter and General Manager Terry Ryan available to the mainstream media. Predictably, the topic of the team’s potential 2013 payroll came up. Also predictably, the Twins brass was non-committal. Here’s an excerpt from the story written at the time by MLB.com’s Twins beat reporter Rhett Bollinger (click here for the link):
    Pohlad said that payroll will not be a concern this offseason, but wouldn’t give a firm number on what that will be. The Twins entered the 2012 season with a payroll right around $100 million.

    “We’ve never told anybody they have to spend ‘X’ dollars or that they can’t spend whatever they are recommending,” Pohlad said. “So it could go up, it could go down. It’s whatever Terry tells us. We’ve talked about spending in that 50 percent of revenue, but it doesn’t mean Terry will spend that.”


    Ryan said that the payroll situation will be fluid and that it should not hinder him from acquiring the starting pitching the club needs to compete next season.


    “I think we can quit fooling ourselves that money is the answer,” Ryan said. “We’re going to have to make good decisions to create a pitching staff that’s going to give us a chance.”

    Well, I’m glad they put that question to rest, aren’t you? I’m so glad to know that money doesn’t matter.

    We don’t know whether the Twins could have made a deal with the Marlins for the same package of players that they dealt to Toronto last week. There’s absolutely no doubt, however, that the addition of Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes would have gone a long way toward addressing the biggest holes in the Twins lineup and the level of players the Jays sent back to Miami certainly could have been made available by the Twins.

    So why wasn’t it the Twins that made the deal? I don’t know. But it’s such a friggin relief to know that whatever the reason was, it wasn’t money!

    The Twins also lost Scott Baker to the Cubs last week. Baker got a good deal. $5.5 million guaranteed with another $1.5 million in incentives on a straight one year deal. According to the Star Tribune’s beat reporter, Joe Christensen, the Twins were very interested in keeping Baker, but wanted an option year for 2014, which Baker wouldn’t agree to. Again, it makes me feel so much better to know that the reason Baker won’t be wearing a Twins uniform in 2013 had nothing whatsoever to do with money.

    Here’s something I’ve learned from working in Corporate America for the past 30+ years: Whenever someone in senior management tells you, “It’s not about the money,” that means that money is exactly what it’s all about.

    As Twins fans, we’ve become programmed to just accept the “company line.” We’ve been hearing it since the days of Calvin Griffith and on through the Pohlad era at the Metrodome. Sure, there were hints that having a new stadium and the revenues it would generate might change things, but by and large, the fan base has continued to just accept the, “we’ll spend 50% of revenue on payroll,” line of crap that has always come out of the Twins’ offices.

    It has become second nature, to the point where Twins fans seem to almost think that’s how every Major League team does business and we act surprised when other teams behave differently.

    The Tigers went to the World Series, but clearly needed to improve at a corner outfield position. They looked for the best option on the market, moved quickly and signed Torii Hunter to a deal that seemed like it was a little excessive, given his age. How can they do that? Won’t that mean their payroll might exceed half of their revenues? Ah, but they’ve got an old owner who wants to win a World Series before he dies, so that’s why they can do what the Twins won’t, right?

    The Blue Jays saw themselves needing much the same kind of help that the Twins need. They agreed to take on more years of higher salaries than they might have really been comfortable with, but they made the deal because they want to compete. But that’s ridiculous, right? Boy, they’ll sure regret having Buehrle and Reyes on the payroll toward the back end of those contracts because in a couple of years, their payroll might exceed half their revenues! Ah, but they’re owned by a giant Communications conglomerate and that’s why they aren’t limited as to payroll.

    I’ve got a news flash, folks. Every team starts the offseason with a self-examination that identifies what their biggest needs are. The next step for most teams that are committed to being competitive is to identify the best options available via free agency or trades to meet the identified needs. Unless you’re the Rays (who have a whole bunch of financial issues unrelated to the quality of their team), your front office knows that the quality of the product on the field drives revenue.

    But if you’re a Twins fan, you’ve been conditioned not to ask who would best fill the team’s needs, but who would fit in to the Twins’ designated payroll limit. That’s because the Twins have historically seemed oblivious to the basic business tenet that product quality drives revenues.

    They’ve brainwashed fans in to believing that the only reasonable way to operate a business is by subscribing to the theory that a drop in revenues last year means they must cut payroll next year. It’s time for fans to become deprogrammed from that mindset and let the Twins know that their fan base is not as stupid as the club has treated them as being.

    Maybe I’m being premature with this criticism. After all, it’s still early in the offseason and the Winter Meetings are still a couple of weeks away. Terry Ryan may actually sign honest-to-goodness legitimate starting pitchers to fill the Twins’ needs in that area, regardless of the cost. He may make a trade or two that will improve the middle infield, even if it means making his bosses nervous. Maybe he’ll prove that his words about payroll not hindering him from doing his job were more than just more of the same BS we’ve heard for the past decade.

    But until the Twins start ACTING like money doesn’t matter, they should stop saying it. It just makes them look like fools… or like they think that’s what we are.

    - JC
    This article was originally published in blog: Money Matters started by Jim Crikket
    Comments 90 Comments
    1. ajstolt_09's Avatar
      ajstolt_09 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bill Parker View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by chagen View Post
      The truth is if they really wanted to win they could open up there checkbooks just like the Tigers and we could at least be a playoff team.
      No, they couldn't. That kind of thinking is how decent teams become the late-1990s Orioles and Dodgers. There's a time when opening up the checkbook makes good sense (the Tigers now, the Twins three years ago), and a time when it doesn't (the Twins now, the Tigers a decade ago). There's no amount of money they could throw at this to help things in 2013.
      That is a bunch of garbage!! With money already invested in some solid to very good players, the offense is not all that far off from being good. But when you dont have the pitching coming through the pipe, you need to spend money to acquire it!! The pitching is out there to be had. We cant always just get lucky and find guys like Liriano or Santana. Proven major league ready starters cost money, both to acquire and to keep. We NEED to open the checkbook and sign pitching. If not, everybody's darling Mr Mauer, and his talents, will be completely wasted. Why spend the 23 million a year on him if you refuse to infuse the areas that need help?? Sounds like that 23 million a year will go to waste because they need to sit on their checkbook when it comes to pitching
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      States need to insert clauses that payroll needs to be a certain figure when they fund ballparks or the difference goes to them to pay the taxpayers back for duping them.

      Those of you in minnesota should lobby for an anti duping legislation. There are enough liberals up there to do it.
      ...and Pohlad is one of them! The "liberals" as you term them pass the stadium bills as "stimulus, job-creating investments".
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      The first sentence of the original article amused me. After reading the article, it was funny. And after reading the comments, it's just hilarious.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      [QUOTE=Jim Crikket;64026]
      Quote Originally Posted by Bill Parker View Post

      The Tigers lost more than 90 games FIVE years in a row, from 2001 through 2005 (and more than 100 in two of those seasons). From 2001 through 2004, their payroll ran between $47 mil and $55 mil every year. In 2005, it jumped from $47 mil up to $69 mil... and it netted them exactly one extra win.

      But in 2006, they shelled out an additional $13 million, going up to $82 mil in payroll, largely on the basis of signing two pitchers, starter Kenny Rogers ($8 mil) and closer Todd Jones ($5.8 mil). The only other significant addition in 2006 was a rookie pitcher named Verlander. They also called up Curtis Granderson, but he was hardly a standout that year (as his 98 OPS+ will attest).

      So yes, they got a boost from a rising young ace, but there's no way that he alone would have accounted for the Tigers going from losing 91 games in 2005 to winning 95 games and a spot in the World Series in 2006.

      "
      More than Rogers and Jones were added to the Tigers. Career years from players helped. They also fell back the next few years, not winning a division until 2011. Would that then hint that adding free agents does not sustain winning?
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post

      More than Rogers and Jones were added to the Tigers. Career years from players helped. They also fell back the next few years, not winning a division until 2011. Would that then hint that adding free agents does not sustain winning?
      It would certainly hint that adding a 41 year old pitcher as the cornerstone addition to your roster is not conducive to sustaining winning.

      And, as I said, it's not a perfect analogy, but I was asked to provide an example of a team that had sucked for a couple of years, spent some money in free agency and didn't have it turn in to a disaster. That Tiger team came to mind and when I looked it up, I felt it qualified as one example. Nobody is saying money can solve anything if it's not spent wisely. But having money to spend does expand a GM's options. It just does.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      States need to insert clauses that payroll needs to be a certain figure when they fund ballparks or the difference goes to them to pay the taxpayers back for duping them.

      Those of you in minnesota should lobby for an anti duping legislation. There are enough liberals up there to do it.
      ...and Pohlad is one of them! The "liberals" as you term them pass the stadium bills as "stimulus, job-creating investments".
      The debate in 2006 for a stadium was not about job stimulus. Anybody who wanted a job could have one. The job creation stimulus debate was for the Vikings stadium.



      facts are a pesky thing
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Jim... If you are saying the Twins don't spend money. You are complaining pre maturely... If you are saying the Twins don't spend money wisely... We are in last place... You are correct.

      As for the quotes you use. You are being selective. Terry Ryan says "payroll won't hinder him from acquiring the Starting Pitching". You can interpret that as "I will find Pitchers at K Mart" or you can interpret that as "we have plenty of money to spend on the problem".

      I think the word fluid means up or down and I think Pohlads quote is also saying fluid... Up or down.

      Personally... I don't want to hang a guy for his words... It leads to less words and the answers are not easy to condense.

      I prefer to hang him after his actions warrant it. Top Ten payroll does not warrant the cheapskate tage. So... You just hung him for words.

      As for the "fooling ourselves that money is the answer" quote. In the end... It isn't... And the proof is all around you but the answer is much more complicated than to simply state... "Quit fooling ourselves that money is the answer".
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      brian, I'm not complaining specifically about either thing, though I would point out that I also "complained prematurely" last year at this time, when I (and many, many others) pointed out that the Twins needed desperately to improve their starting rotation. All Ryan did was re-sign Pavano and sign Marquis, while publicly stating that payroll wasn't an issue.

      I am complaining about the continued nonsense from the front office about payroll not being an issue. And I'm not being selective in the quotes. My article included, I believe, the entire group of quotes regarding payroll from MLB.com's press conference coverage. And in fact, those quotes are very representative of every quote about payroll that comes out of the FO. They are clearly intended to minimize expectations among the media and fan base. And yes, I'm complaining about that, but more specifically, I'm complaining that so many fans (and the mainstream media) just accept it without question because it's always been that way. If a lot of people complaining about it results in Terry Ryan saying it less often, I'm OK with that. Finally, as I've stated over and over, nobody is saying money BY ITSELF is the answer. But to say it isn't a big factor in determining what options the GM has to explore for improving this team is beyond foolish. It's a huge factor.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      What I like is that they've convinced the fan-base that the only free agent deals worth pursuing are bargains. This board is full of people that talk out of one side of their mouth about the need to add free agents and then fill the forum with posts aghast with what was paid to acquire people. You can't have it both ways - if you're going to use free agency, get used to overpaying. Especially if you want quality starting pitching. Waiting for a bargain is another symptom of the brainwashing the Twins have done.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Apparently, what some would have all of us do is post "We trust you Terry because payroll has never been an issue with the Twins before and since you say it won't be this year, we have no reason to doubt you," then all just go watch football and basketball until Opening Day and come back to see what kind of magic Ryan has used to improve the quality of the product on the field.

      Of course, I think the Twins Daily site would lose a few advertisers by April.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      The 2011 payroll was 37% higher than the highest payroll in the Dome, what good did that do? Last season was the lowest since Target opened and it's still 25% higher than the 2007 payroll, what good has it done?

      In 2011, 21 teams had lower payrolls than the Twins, Minnesota finished ahead of only one of them. In 2012 17 teams had lower payrolls than the Twins, Minnesota finished ahead of only 3 of them.

      Target has brought in higher revenue and payroll has risen accordingly, the only apparent issue is the Pohlads refusal to drop their margins and commit to a higher payroll ratio, ok then, whatever.

      I think what Ryan is really saying is that this team has made some horses**t decisions on talent and contracts for a number of years and unless that improves, money isn't necessarily going to be the cure all, it's just throwing good money after bad.

      And for all those using the Blue Jays as an example, it better work for them sooner than later, because if it doesn't yield the expected return and shareholders don't see a better dividend, kiss that plan goodbye. When you're part of a publically traded company, the only thing that matters is money, in the form of profit.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      The 2011 payroll was 37% higher than the highest payroll in the Dome, what good did that do? Last season was the lowest since Target opened and it's still 25% higher than the 2007 payroll, what good has it done?

      In 2011, 21 teams had lower payrolls than the Twins, Minnesota finished ahead of only one of them. In 2012 17 teams had lower payrolls than the Twins, Minnesota finished ahead of only 3 of them.

      Target has brought in higher revenue and payroll has risen accordingly, the only apparent issue is the Pohlads refusal to drop their margins and commit to a higher payroll ratio, ok then, whatever.

      I think what Ryan is really saying is that this team has made some horses**t decisions on talent and contracts for a number of years and unless that improves, money isn't necessarily going to be the cure all, it's just throwing good money after bad.

      And for all those using the Blue Jays as an example, it better work for them sooner than later, because if it doesn't yield the expected return and shareholders don't see a better dividend, kiss that plan goodbye. When you're part of a publically traded company, the only thing that matters is money, in the form of profit.
      Joe Mauer's salary all by itself is the only reason the Twins hold such a lofty spot on the list of MLB payrolls (if 11th is to be considered lofty). But when he was signed, the company line was that it would not preclude the Twins from fielding a competitive team around him. How's that working out?

      And at the Pohlad's privately held company, clearly the only thing that matters is money in the form of profit, as well. The difference is that there are no shareholders to require accountability... only fans (most of whom apparently feel no inclination to do so)..
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      Apparently, what some would have all of us do is post "We trust you Terry because payroll has never been an issue with the Twins before and since you say it won't be this year, we have no reason to doubt you," then all just go watch football and basketball until Opening Day and come back to see what kind of magic Ryan has used to improve the quality of the product on the field.

      Of course, I think the Twins Daily site would lose a few advertisers by April.
      And what many are posting on these threads is "we do not trust you Terry". Each would be an extreme position backed with little fact. This is the second off season for Ryan with the money to sign free agents. The Twins were optimistic on their four starters from the previous year. Consider what each of them did in 2010. Was 2011 the aberration or the trend for these players? In the fall of 2011 they thought it was an aberration. Big guess wrong. He lost Cuddyer and Kubel and they were adequately replaced. Ryan did sign value players and ended up with a bargain in Willingham. What he will do with a pitcher remains to be seen. A Jackson or Sanchez with a track record of health would be less risky to Ryan than a Dan Haren. I could see him signing a Jackson or Sanchez. I do not see him signing a pitcher with an injury history unless it is a bargain contract. Last winter he didn't find a fifth starter, he didn't find MI help. Those are the negatives from last year. Either he had a very good draft by how highly rated his draftees are rated as prospects or the cupboard was bare. The draft was a positive.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      The 2011 payroll was 37% higher than the highest payroll in the Dome, what good did that do? Last season was the lowest since Target opened and it's still 25% higher than the 2007 payroll, what good has it done?

      In 2011, 21 teams had lower payrolls than the Twins, Minnesota finished ahead of only one of them. In 2012 17 teams had lower payrolls than the Twins, Minnesota finished ahead of only 3 of them.

      Target has brought in higher revenue and payroll has risen accordingly, the only apparent issue is the Pohlads refusal to drop their margins and commit to a higher payroll ratio, ok then, whatever.

      I think what Ryan is really saying is that this team has made some horses**t decisions on talent and contracts for a number of years and unless that improves, money isn't necessarily going to be the cure all, it's just throwing good money after bad.

      And for all those using the Blue Jays as an example, it better work for them sooner than later, because if it doesn't yield the expected return and shareholders don't see a better dividend, kiss that plan goodbye. When you're part of a publically traded company, the only thing that matters is money, in the form of profit.
      Joe Mauer's salary all by itself is the only reason the Twins hold such a lofty spot on the list of MLB payrolls (if 11th is to be considered lofty). But when he was signed, the company line was that it would not preclude the Twins from fielding a competitive team around him. How's that working out?

      And at the Pohlad's privately held company, clearly the only thing that matters is money in the form of profit, as well. The difference is that there are no shareholders to require accountability... only fans (most of whom apparently feel no inclination to do so)..
      So was that a mistake? Do you not believe they would spend that money if the contract wasn't there? They still spent the money, now you're just questioning the manner in which they spent it. 11th is still top half.

      Of course the Pohlads care about profit, most owners do and it's not as if the Twins revenue/payroll ratio is way below league average. My analogy to the Blue Jays is that the spending spree they're on right now will end quickly if profit is affected, they don't entirely control the process, at least the Pohlads do. I don't believe they are likely to change the ways they think anymore than you do, but at least the discretion is theirs.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      At least Jays ownership is willing to take some financial risk, even with the greater oversight that you think Rogers shareholders represent. It shows bold leadership, something the Twins could certainly use.

      What difference should it make to Twins fans if the Pohlads have greater discretion than those who run the Jays if, as you admit, they're unlikely to use it? I just don't understand why we're supposed to feel good about current ownership when they appear so uninterested in putting a quality product on the field. "Because they've always done it this way," is just not a good enough reason any more for me to give this owner and front office a pass.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      The decision making process when it comes to putting together a roster is a complicated thing and it can't be condensed to a paragraph. I will read quotes and I will filter them and I'm sure that I am filtering them wrong because putting together a roster is a complicated thing and it can't be condensed to a paragraph.

      Bottom Line for me... I don't expect the Twins to spend like the Yankees but I'm satisfied that they are spending when and where it makes sense so far. Mauer's contract is big and it brings the payroll upward... no question about that... but Mauer's contract shows a willingness to spend and it can't be discounted and used as proof that they don't spend.

      Going into 2012... Thinking the pitching staff was OK... was a mistake. I've made them before at my job and so has every other GM. However... Free Agents were signed... The Team was addressed.

      I'm hopeful that the Front Office makes good decisions but I am not giving them a free pass. I'm giving them the off-season to move in a direction of their choosing. Either acquiring decent pitching for a competitive 2013 or ditching some salary to rebuild the farm system for a run at a later time.

      If Spring Training rolls around and the Twins haven't made a significant upgrade on the mound or a significant upgrade to the farm. I will then join the crowd of the front office concerned because my biggest fear is status quo.

      If 2013 moves past the trade deadline and neither the mound or farm is upgraded. I will then join the throngs that call for Terry Ryan's head.

      Ultimately the Farm has to be rebuilt because that's the key to long term success. Free Agents are for need fill. This year we have huge needs to fill in Starting Pitching. We have no choice but to sign decent Free Agent pitching cuz the Farm isn't ready to produce. Once again... If we don't start the process of filling in the rotation... We better start working on the farm or this period of suckiness will be prolonged.

      I'm waiting until February at least before raising my indignation level.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      I'm waiting until February at least before raising my indignation level.
      Fair enough... and I'll dial back my indignation level if/when Terry Ryan makes some moves that indicate he's not still wearing the handcuffs ownership placed on him during his first tour as GM. In the end, hopefully, we'll both be happy.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I agree that spending money for the sake of spending isn't going to help matters much. The problem with a strict rebuild is that the farm system is lacking in pitching... PERIOD. That won't change in 2014/15 when the offensive core of the new wave of players is here. They didn't help themselves this year in the draft and took Buxton over several college pitchers with 1/2 type ceilings either. Bottom line is this: without pitching, this team won't contend... PERIOD.

      By 2014 at best it will be Gibson, Hendricks, and maybe Diamond fronting the rotation. That's two open spots with little in the minors that looks to be ready. They will either need to spend now to get someone who can be there in 2014 or spend in 2014. Personally, I'd go after locking up a guy like A. Sanchez who will still be in his prime at that point and has the best potential to live up to the big contract... I certainly wouldn't go after 3 year deals to guys like Guthrie... Just be smart about it.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      I'm waiting until February at least before raising my indignation level.
      Fair enough... and I'll dial back my indignation level if/when Terry Ryan makes some moves that indicate he's not still wearing the handcuffs ownership placed on him during his first tour as GM. In the end, hopefully, we'll both be happy.
      Look at how hard you had to work to get your point across on this topic. You had to explain yourself quite a few times for clarification. It just goes that way with words and I'm sure you understand that the words Terry Ryan and Jim Pohlad use are just as easily misunderstood and not nearly enough in volume to properly explain. In the end... You may be right... But you are not right yet. Good Luck to us Twins Fans this winter.

      There are some posters on Twins Daily that impress me... and of course... some that don't... You are always one of those who impress me. I just don't agree with your sentiment on this one. Keep making points and I'll read them.

      By the Way... Alice's Restaurant is big Tomorrow. Have a good Thanksgiving. You can get anything you want!!!
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      States need to insert clauses that payroll needs to be a certain figure when they fund ballparks or the difference goes to them to pay the taxpayers back for duping them.

      Those of you in minnesota should lobby for an anti duping legislation. There are enough liberals up there to do it.
      ...and Pohlad is one of them! The "liberals" as you term them pass the stadium bills as "stimulus, job-creating investments".
      The debate in 2006 for a stadium was not about job stimulus. Anybody who wanted a job could have one. The job creation stimulus debate was for the Vikings stadium.



      facts are a pesky thing
      It was called "downtown revitalization". Bring people back to downtown using the stadium as the hook. Oh yes, jobs were mentioned--construction jobs, part of the electorate. Target field did bring people downtown, the bars are busy on game days, and the light rail is full. Shopping--no, not at all, some miracles take more time. But jobs were an item--they typically are--even in boom times, people don't vote against more jobs.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.