• Twins Must Pay to Improve

    Ask Terry Ryan what his payroll limitation is for next year and he'll tell you that he doesn't view payroll as a limitation. It's his way of sidestepping an important question, possibly at the behest of an ownership that has notoriously shied away from big spending.

    Ryan can downplay the importance of allotted budget and the significance of $85 million versus $100 million all he wants, but there's no escaping the fact that his level of financial flexibility will be a key determinant in the extent to which he's able to address the roster's various deficiencies, particularly in the short term. Because when you have to scour external avenues for players as the Twins clearly must, money talks, and more money means better, more reliable players. That's especially true when you're trying to lure said players to a potentially undesirable destination, such as a flyover territory club with nearly 200 losses over the past two seasons.

    The above seems obvious, but Ryan would apparently have us believe that it's a minor factor in his offseason planning. He would point, I'm sure, to the numerous teams with sub-$90 million payrolls that have found their way into the playoffs. He would likely point to successful teams that he himself assembled for much less than that.

    But these are different times. Competitiveness in the AL Central is kicking up a notch with the Tigers throwing cash around and the Royals looking more serious about contending. Meanwhile, the struggling Twins don't have a wealth of MLB-ready minor leaguers to step in and help turn things around on the cheap. They're currently caught in a transitional period where quality contributors of the past -- guys like Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano and Nick Blackburn -- have either moved on or ceased to be effective, and there's no "next wave" internally poised to take over the reigns. Not next year, not the year after. This farm system is bereft of high-end arms, and even if you assume a best-case scenario with the likes of Kyle Gibson and Liam Hendriks, they're still a couple pieces short of respectability in the rotation.

    If the Twins want to improve their decimated pitching corps to the point where it has a chance to be even a mid-tier unit any time in the near future, they'll have to hit the open market with authority, and early indications suggest that it might take a sizable chunk of change to to do so. The old bargain bin route would be the essential equivalent to a white flag. Ryan talks often about exploring all avenues, but even with savvy scouting and great luck, you're not going to find more than a couple impact players through minor-league deals, waiver pickups and the Rule 5 draft. The front office needs to think bigger, and I'm sure they're aware of that, regardless of any posturing to the contrary.

    There's just no way around it: to upend this two-year stretch of misery, Ryan will need to spend. He'll need to spend wisely, of course, but he will absolutely need to spend. The freedom he's given to do so should serve as a simple, clear indicator of the ownership's desire to right the ship in short order.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Must Pay to Improve started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 27 Comments
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      The ship can not be righted. It sunk in 2011. They need to build a new ship.

      The pitching woes are clear. They could spend significant dollars on starting pitching and still be below league average. The void is too great.

      The hidden problem is the aging offense. Last year they were below league average in runs scored. Of the 8 teams that were below league average in runs scored only two were above league average in bat age. While the other 6 were younger and many significantly younger and can be projected to improve, the Twins key offensive players are projected to decline.

      How do they fix both an aging offense and pitching? Signing more decline phase players only extends the problem into the future.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      The ship can not be righted. It sunk in 2011. They need to build a new ship.

      The pitching woes are clear. They could spend significant dollars on starting pitching and still be below league average. The void is too great.

      The hidden problem is the aging offense. Last year they were below league average in runs scored. Of the 8 teams that were below league average in runs scored only two were above league average in bat age. While the other 6 were younger and many significantly younger and can be projected to improve, the Twins key offensive players are projected to decline.

      How do they fix both an aging offense and pitching? Signing more decline phase players only extends the problem into the future.
      I think that you are both correct. Spending some money would help the team be more competitive next year -- maybe they could even get to .500. But the Twins don't have enough money available make the improvements necessary to win the division. I hope that I am wrong.
    1. mako83's Avatar
      mako83 -
      Target some major leaguers and start signing. Show us something already. But the twins have to worry about keeping target field full fans don't
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Twins must do something this offseason. It is probable that not all holes can be filled, but the fans must be able to see the effort. It is early, but a signing or two might help turn the negitive comments off for a while.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      I don't think this is just a case of ownership being penurious. I honestly believe that Terry Ryan is more comfortable with a lower payroll. It prevents him from having to deal with the angst of free agent signings that don't work out. My guess is that what happened with Jason Marquis and his contract kept his gut churning .... imagine if the contract had been for $12 million instead of $4 million (or $3 million, cant remember exactly). And then imagine if it had been for more than 1 year.

      My guess is that Ryan isn't going to touch his current spending ceiling let alone press for additional authority. I expect to see the Twins enter the 2013 season at about $91-$94 million.
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      What about Mauers contract? This should not count toward the budget the Pohlad's give TR. The deal was lucrative and handcuffing but it had to be done. They are making money on Mauer but I don't think his deal should be counted towards the payroll flexibility the team has. If you take out at least 15 million of that deal and put it in different category, the team should have $85 million to play with not counting that 15 mil...making the teams payroll about $100 million dollars.

      The Pohlad's need to put forth at least $100 million dollar payroll or we will start calling them the Loria's (Marlin's owner) and stop filling up that beautiful stadium WE paid for.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Twins Twerp: I completely agree! How do they maroon Mauer after spending so much to lock him up? It seems like his salary should come off the payroll figure the FO is looking at. They need so many roster pieces right now. Pohlads should be talking about how they would raise payroll if all the free agents they went after signed with the Twins. But I dont think they are seriously going after any big time pitchers, and obviously no big name hitters.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Twins rotation in 2013: Diamond, Gibson, Hendriks, Deduno, random Rule 5 draftee
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      I know there will be more moves at the winter meetings (better be), but so far, this off-season is looking a lot like the last. And that produced a lot of L's
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Cripes, how many threads on payroll do we really need!?
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      Cripes, how many threads on payroll do we really need!?
      Welcome to Minnesota!
    1. Cody Christie's Avatar
      Cody Christie -
      If the Twins don't want payroll to be a limitation, they are going to have to use cheap, younger players. Unfortunately, they don't have many starting pitchers that fight this mold. The team might be building for 2014 instead of 2013. That gives the team time to get Morneau's money off the books and they could trade away another player or two. Hicks and Arcia can have time to develop at Triple-A and hopefully some of the pitchers taken in last year's draft start to pan out.
    1. tellis205's Avatar
      tellis205 -
      Like I just commented on in Nick's column, Dave St. Peter got on Syd and Dave's show on Sunday and said "I wouldn't be surprised if we make a couple deals during the winter meetings". I don't think he'd leak that unless there was a good chance of it happening. And he'd be the one guy who would know what's going on. It's not a guarantee by any stretch but it gives a little hope.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      They have at least three young pitchers that need to get the ball every 5th day.

      Diamond, Gibson, Hendriks

      They can trade Morneau and buy prospects buy picking up the majority of his salary.

      They can trade Willingham. They can also sweeten the return by picking up some of his salary.

      They can see if Doumit or Carroll have any value in younger players.

      From these deals a young pitcher should emerge.

      They can load up with guys like Zach Stewart in spring training in hopes of a Jared Burton find.

      They do not need to sign decline phase veteran pitchers to multiyear contracts.

      What happened to the Twins teams that let guys like Hunter, Gaetti, Gagne, Guzman, Bartlett, Viola, Santana, Hawkins and Radke struggle in the majors as young players? They weren't ready. They grew from their struggle.

      Hicks or Arcia can be given that chance to play regularly next year. Parmelee should have had that chance last year. They can put Dozier, Plouffe, Escobar or Florimon out in the field regularly. Some will emerge as cheap valuable players.

      No more old guys until they have a solid core of younger players. It will take time.
    1. Danchat's Avatar
      Danchat -
      I say it's time to re-build. Trade away whoever we can for prospects and prepare for a 2015 playoff run. We are so delusional, we can't make the playoffs this year by spending $20M on the AL's worst team (for 2 straight years!)
      Put everyone on waivers, sell now (trade Span), sell at the deadline (Morneau), and sell any veteran if we can get a prospect. Mauer must be kept, and we'll have to build around him. Keep Willingham unless there's a good deal (the return on him is apparently low, and the fanbase would be ticked if he was traded for dirt). Trade for prospects, and hope to avoid a stupid trade. I think we should get a new GM.
      I love the Vikings GM Rick Spielman-he decided to totally re-build them, and they're getting better thanks to that decision. Twins, embrace the re-building process and we can be good again!
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      Cripes, how many threads on payroll do we really need!?
      I know, right? I mean, I'm tired of people forcing me to come to this site, read threads I don't agree with, and find excuses for ownership.
    1. ericchri's Avatar
      ericchri -
      Quote Originally Posted by Danchat View Post
      I say it's time to re-build. Trade away whoever we can for prospects and prepare for a 2015 playoff run. We are so delusional, we can't make the playoffs this year by spending $20M on the AL's worst team (for 2 straight years!)
      Put everyone on waivers, sell now (trade Span), sell at the deadline (Morneau), and sell any veteran if we can get a prospect. Mauer must be kept, and we'll have to build around him. Keep Willingham unless there's a good deal (the return on him is apparently low, and the fanbase would be ticked if he was traded for dirt). Trade for prospects, and hope to avoid a stupid trade. I think we should get a new GM.
      I love the Vikings GM Rick Spielman-he decided to totally re-build them, and they're getting better thanks to that decision. Twins, embrace the re-building process and we can be good again!
      Apologies in advance for excessive Vikings talk...

      I'd hardly call what Rick Spielman did completely rebuilding the Vikings. Honestly, I think the Vikings of a year ago look an awful lot like what the Twins look like right now. Huge gaps in the roster with a few good veteran players and lots of underperforming youngsters. The Vikings got better by solidifying a glaring weakness (offensive line) by adding one standout, which pushed an iffy player (Charlie Johnson) to a role he was better suited to, and having a young guy take a big step forward to becoming a standout (John Sullivan). The secondary also improved due to the addition of a 1st round pick in Harrison. But I can't honestly say I saw the Vikings dumping anybody they could for draft picks or young players this past offseason. They just rode it out with what they had and a couple rookies performing well makes everything else look better. Throw on two of the best players in the game in Peterson and Harvin performing at All-Pro level, and you've got a team.

      If the Twins do what the VIkings have done this year, they'd essentially probably move Willingham to full-time DH and put Arcia or Hicks into the everyday lineup in hopes he rakes at the majors as well (similar to Harrison). Then you'd get Gibson up to be a quality starter (Kalil) and probably have Hendricks take that giant step forward (Sullivan). And Mauer (Harvin) and Morneau (Peterson) play at an All-Pro level, suddenly the team doesn't look pathetic. It's all wishful thinking, though. Nobody thought the VIkings were going to be good this year, because all they added were a couple rookies and took a flyer on a receiver without much history who was also going to miss 20% of the season due to suspension. The rookies have been as good as (probably better) than expected, and that along with standout performances by the two stars makes the season look good so far, discounting the absolutely brutal schedule they have to finish the season in which it wouldn't be shocking to see them go 1-5 to finish up at 7-9 on the year. And a 7-9 football record translates roughly to a 71-91 record in baseball. For the record I'm betting on a 3-3 finish, but I won't be shocked at anything except for winning all 6.

      I'm onboard with spending serious money to improve the roster, or I'm onboard with moving veterans for youngsters with 2014 or 2015 in mind. I don't think I'm onboard with spending minimally to just sort of barely plug holes only to have to do it again every year perpetually.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      Cripes, how many threads on payroll do we really need!?
      I know, right? I mean, I'm tired of people forcing me to come to this site, read threads I don't agree with, and find excuses for ownership.
      Are you the Chief of the Department of Redundancy?

      That would be "read 15 threads about the same thing I don't agree with" to be exact.

      By the way, since when is agreeing with threads a prerequisite of this site? Or is it just agreeing with you that's a prerequisite?
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      I agree... Too many threads on this subject... Therefore... I choose to only participate in one and that is the thread started by Crikket.

      Damn it... I just posted on this thread to explain myself... Which means I've just participated in a 2nd thread on the same subject.

      It's really hard to stay with your convictions!!! I disapoint myself.


      .
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      'Are you the Chief of the Department of Redundancy?'

      That's only funny if you add 'Department' at the end.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.