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  • In Terry I Trust

    If you were surprised in any way by return in the Denard Span trade, you shouldn't have been. Terry Ryan told us this was coming four months ago.

    Back in July, with the trade deadline approaching, Ryan spoke about his approach:

    As desperate as the Twins are to find starting pitching for 2013, a Liriano or Denard Span trade might not even address that specific need. Speaking only generally Thursday, GM Terry Ryan said, "When you're out there looking around, I think it's important you're always looking for the high-ceiling guy, whether he's major league-ready or whether he's in A-ball."

    To focus solely on the 2013 rotation "would be a terrible mistake," Ryan said.

    Ryan said the best target might be a Class A pitcher, who's further from the majors.

    "You can go get a marginal Triple-A guy who might be here next year," he said. "Are you going to be satisfied passing up a high-ceiling guy? I wouldn't be, but everybody has their own philosophy on that."
    The general manager's recent quotes after trading Span to the Nationals for Alex Meyer reflect the same mindset:

    "This guy, even though he's been in pro ball a short time, has first-round status," Ryan said. "He's out of the University of Kentucky, highly touted. These guys are hard to get, and if you are going to get them, it's going to be in the low to mid-minors. Once they get up to Double A or Triple A, they are almost impossible to get."
    This is what I love about Terry Ryan, particularly in contrast to his tight-lipped predecessor, whose initials were fittingly "B.S." With TR, you know what you're getting. While I don't necessarily always agree with his methods, I trust the man.

    That's why I feel good about this trade. Given that the Twins were known to be talking to the Nationals back in July, when Ryan was describing a "high-ceiling guy" who might be in A-ball, there's a good chance he was targeting Meyer who fits that bill exactly. (Worth noting that Meyer could not technically be traded then as he was less than a year removed from signing, but could have been shipped as a PTBNL.)


    Back around the deadline, a source (from the Nats?) told Jon Heyman that the Twins were "asking a ton" for Span, who didn't end up getting moved.

    Many people seem disappointed Ė or at best unenthused Ė about the return for Span. But it seems clear that one side finally relinquished in this long-time haggling over the center fielder, and the timing would suggest it was Washington's Mike Rizzo. After all, just days earlier he'd watched division rival Atlanta sign center fielder B.J. Upton to a huge five-year deal. That's pressure.

    My take is that Ryan coveted Meyer highly and the Nationals were very reluctant to give him up, even in a one-for-one swap that brought back a very valuable established player. And why not? Meyer has a first-round pedigree, a fastball that registers in the high-90s and a physical build that could portend dominance. Legitimate top-of-the-rotation potential.

    No prospect is a sure thing, which is the scary part of all this, but if Meyer develops even into a quality No. 3, six cost-controlled seasons of his service at a time where the price of free agent pitching is escalating will make this a knockout victory. If he turns into a true front line guy, Ryan's trade will be a success of franchise-altering proportions.

    Span was a largely underrated player and the Twins will miss him, but their long-term outfield depth made him relatively expendable. Ryan could have probably flipped Span for multiple lesser prospects or an ordinary major-league talent, but instead turned in his chip for the high-upside play.

    Just as he's said he would all along.
    This article was originally published in blog: In Terry I Trust started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 146 Comments
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Upton is a below average defensive CF who hits some HRs and steals some bases but he strikes out a ton and has trouble getting on base or hitting for average.

      If given a choice between Span and Upton straight up, I'd take Span...when considering what they'll both be paid the next three seasons, it's Span in a freakin landslide.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Not what I said. I said signing Willingham was good deal. But I also said I will believe he is trying to make the team better, not just cheaper, when he competes with other teams for players, and signs them. When he increases the payroll, then I will believe him when he says money is not an issue. But he gave that money back to the owners last year....like I also said, still hoping.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Not what I said. I said signing Willingham was good deal. But I also said I will believe he is trying to make the team better, not just cheaper, when he competes with other teams for players, and signs them. When he increases the payroll, then I will believe him when he says money is not an issue. But he gave that money back to the owners last year....like I also said, still hoping.

      He gave that money back to the owners because he, rightfully, wasn't going to give Cuddyer at least 3/30, so he signed Willingham for what Cuddyer should have been worth and came out ahead. Would giving Cuddyer 3/31.5 have made you happier than signing Willingham?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      No, putting that money into real pitching would have though. Does no one think cutting cost had anything to do with those decisions? When he replaces guys with expensive guys, I will believe him when he says money is not an issue. You have the right to draw different conclusions from his actions than I do. I just have not, yet, seen actions that would lead me to believe him.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
      Lots of interesting speculation on this. I doubt if we ever know if one side "caved" on this trade or not. It is hardly in anyone's interest to reveal that. What is true, is that it will be years before this trade can be fairly evalulated. There is a pretty chance Span will continue to be largely what he has been. Meyer could turn into an ace, a good starting pitcher, a closer, a decent reliever or never reach the majors at all.
      Sounds like the discussion I had this weekend with my son who is a Nats fan...this trade is a huge gamble for both teams. We have no idea what Meyer will be in 2015 (ace, closer, starter, bullpen guy, still in minors). Nats have no idea about Span--he has concussion (and other) injury history. Span gives them leverage to trade LaRoche, Morse, etc but do they hold on to them in case of injury...

      Very interesting trade--I agree with Nick--rather see the Twins get a potential ace in 2015 for Span than a mediocre number 3 starter like Edwin Jackson, Joe Blanton, etc. who may (or may not) add 5 wins in 2013.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Good point, Boom Boom. As a matter of fact, five dozen members of the Twins scouting and development staff played a role in Bill Smith's regime. And Ryan's. They met as a group at the end of the season, like they do every year. Despite thrylos's beliefs to the contrary, they all have cell phones and email accounts. They're probably expected to have and share their opinions. We don't have a clue as to how it all works.

      Wouldn't it be fun to have access to what all these professionals have to say? But what the hell, at least we have each other.
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      I love the trade. Span's value will never again be as high as it is right now. He is very injury prone. Guys like Meyer are rarely traded. The Nationals were desperate and gave up a whole lot. People are mad that we are punting on next season, but it is day one of the winter meetings. We could still sign a decent pitcher or two and still compete next season. Baseball is a funny game, the winners of the offseason rarely translates to winners during the regular or post season.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Good point, Boom Boom. As a matter of fact, five dozen members of the Twins scouting and development staff played a role in Bill Smith's regime. And Ryan's. They met as a group at the end of the season, like they do every year. Despite thrylos's beliefs to the contrary, they all have cell phones and email accounts. They're probably expected to have and share their opinions. We don't have a clue as to how it all works.

      Wouldn't it be fun to have access to what all these professionals have to say? But what the hell, at least we have each other.
      I guess we'll never know.

      If you can't rip TR for something that you have no intimate knowledge of, then you probably can't praise him for that kind of thing either. Or you can do both.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Good point, Boom Boom. As a matter of fact, five dozen members of the Twins scouting and development staff played a role in Bill Smith's regime. And Ryan's. They met as a group at the end of the season, like they do every year. Despite thrylos's beliefs to the contrary, they all have cell phones and email accounts. They're probably expected to have and share their opinions. We don't have a clue as to how it all works.

      Wouldn't it be fun to have access to what all these professionals have to say? But what the hell, at least we have each other.
      I guess we'll never know.

      If you can't rip TR for something that you have no intimate knowledge of, then you probably can't praise him for that kind of thing either. Or you can do both.
      The obvious difference being that Ryan was in the bosses' chair for one of those moves and not the others.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
      We know about as much about the Span/Meyer trade talks as we do about Terry Ryan's role in Bill Smith's regime.
      No, we know more about Mr. Ryan's role in Bill Smith's regime. Anyone that knows Mr. Ryan, even a little, knows that he would take a back seat once he left the GM's office. His involvement in Mr. Smith's decisions would be only if asked.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Not what I said. I said signing Willingham was good deal. But I also said I will believe he is trying to make the team better, not just cheaper, when he competes with other teams for players, and signs them. When he increases the payroll, then I will believe him when he says money is not an issue. But he gave that money back to the owners last year....like I also said, still hoping.
      No, he didn't give it back to the owners. It was used to sign Buxton, Berrios, Bard, et.al. The Twins spent well over $15mm last year in the draft and signing International players ($12mm on first ten rounds, $2.9mm International), versus roughly half that in previous years. Add those dollars to what was spent on major league payroll and the difference is much smaller.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      One thing to like about the trade for Meyer: Signing a veteran pitcher on a one-year "rental" can now be justified.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Upton is a below average defensive CF who hits some HRs and steals some bases but he strikes out a ton and has trouble getting on base or hitting for average.

      If given a choice between Span and Upton straight up, I'd take Span...when considering what they'll both be paid the next three seasons, it's Span in a freakin landslide.
      Dude, Upton is a significantly better player then Span, just take a look at the upside and his last 3 years of offensive production vs Span. Also, not sure where you are getting this Upton is below average defensively thing. Upton actually rates as above average according to ever defensive metric out there. Also, Upton doesn't have the injury concerns Span has and has shown significant power spikes as he has started to get close to his peak ages.

      Is Span a better bargain at his deal? Yeah, and I would take Span at his contract over Upton. But to say straight up (money not an issue) that you would take Span over Upton is disingenuous, or else you don't follow baseball much.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave T View Post
      One thing to like about the trade for Meyer: Signing a veteran pitcher on a one-year "rental" can now be justified.
      Which is why I am skeptical about signing someone older like Dempster for 3 years.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Is Span a better bargain at his deal? Yeah, and I would take Span at his contract over Upton. But to say straight up (money not an issue) that you would take Span over Upton is disingenuous, or else you don't follow baseball much.
      Minus the injuries, I'd rather have Span, honestly. They both OPS around the same but Span gets more of that OPS from OBP.

      Of course, injury concerns slant that back into Upton's favor quite a bit.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Is Span a better bargain at his deal? Yeah, and I would take Span at his contract over Upton. But to say straight up (money not an issue) that you would take Span over Upton is disingenuous, or else you don't follow baseball much.
      Minus the injuries, I'd rather have Span, honestly. They both OPS around the same but Span gets more of that OPS from OBP.

      Of course, injury concerns slant that back into Upton's favor quite a bit.
      First off, that's not really accurate:

      Spans last three years: .679 .678 .738 OBP= .331 .328 .342
      Uptons last three years: .745 .759 .752 BP=.322 .331 .298

      Keep in mind that also Upton was playing in Tampa Bay which was quite a large pitchers park in 2012 as well as the rest of its history vs Target field that was neutral in 2012 and close to neutral overall.

      Upton also will give you 30-40 SB a year vs Span who will give you 20-25 at most along with a ton of pick offs. Lastly, give me the guy that has 25+ HR power (will hit for 30+ next year if healthy) over the guy who has 5 HR power.

      Defensively all things considered (Park, other guys sharing the OF) they are basically a wash, maybe a slight advantage to Span.

      IMO its not really close if you take money out of the equation, with or without injuries.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      Good article, and I'm fine with the deal. It's too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. People look at the MLB club and think that any trade for Span has to address that immediate need. It doesn't. It is equally important for the long-term health of this team to address setbacks with guys like Gibson and Wimmers who were recent draft picks and should have been contributing to the big league club.

      If Meyer gets hurt at some point, everyone will turn on this trade, and I think that's foolish. You need a critical mass of potential starters in different stages of development. The 2012 draft was a pretty good effort to stock guys under 20, like Berrios. They also tried a unique strategy of taking accomplished college RP's and making them into starters. Given the low likelihood of actually signing high school pitchers past the first few rounds under the new rules, I've actually come to think that's an intriguing approach.

      But guys as good as Mike Leake or any of the other middling starters we might have gotten for Span can be found on the FA market - prospects like Meyer cannot. Let's start getting a bunch of these guys whenever we can, and hope that a few of them pan out.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Good point, Boom Boom. As a matter of fact, five dozen members of the Twins scouting and development staff played a role in Bill Smith's regime. And Ryan's. They met as a group at the end of the season, like they do every year. Despite thrylos's beliefs to the contrary, they all have cell phones and email accounts. They're probably expected to have and share their opinions. We don't have a clue as to how it all works.

      Wouldn't it be fun to have access to what all these professionals have to say? But what the hell, at least we have each other.
      I guess we'll never know.

      If you can't rip TR for something that you have no intimate knowledge of, then you probably can't praise him for that kind of thing either. Or you can do both.
      The obvious difference being that Ryan was in the bosses' chair for one of those moves and not the others.
      OK, we'll put the shoe on the other foot then.

      Great move by Rizzo. The Nationals probably never wanted Upton anyway, and were just waiting for him to sign so that the Twins' options for trading Span were more limited and the Nats didn't have to give up anything more than one A-ball prospect. The Twins were probably asking for more than Meyers for Span, but when interest from the Braves dried up they were left holding the bag. It's obvious that the Nationals had their eyes on Span all along and were never all that interested in Upton.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by jm3319 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Not for me. He was not outbidding anyone for Josh, and was a payroll cut. I want to see him replace a guy with guys a lot more expensive before I believe he will spend what it takes to win. Willingham was a great sign, but it was a budget cut that they then, shockingly pocketed....when he goes out and beats another team for a free agent, then I will believe he is trying to make the team better, not just cheaper. Ymmv.
      So if we had given Willingham something like 18M a year you would have been happier? Sounds like all you want is upgrades to the payroll and not worried about the return. Getting cheaper and better, like the Twins did by signing Willingham, is the ultimate win-win for a team.
      Absolutely agree. I guess the Twins could have given Willingham or Doumit more than they did. I guess that would make people happier! By definition, any free agent signing is signed for more than market value. Most times, the team that 'wins' pays more than any of the other 29 teams would have paid.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I trust Terry Ryan, too. I believe he's a savvy baseball mind and a decent negotiator. I trust him to get as much out of his allowed payroll number as almost any GM in baseball.

      I don't trust what he says publicly, however. Like most of us, he's not free to make public statements that put his employer in a bad light... and while I trust Ryan's abilities, I do not trust his employer much at all.

      In their final years at the Metrodome, the Twins had payrolls of about $65 million a year. Had they stayed at the 'dome and continued to be recipients of revenue sharing money rather than contributors, I think we'd be looking at payrolls in the mid $80 millions (assuming the infamous 50% of revenue standard) at this point. So when I read media reports that Ryan may be looking at a Pohlad-imposed limit near the $90 million mark, it disgusts me.

      Failing to add pitching over the past couple of years means Ryan will have to pay a premium for legitimate free agent SPs now to get them to sign with a bad team. In interviews over the past couple months, he's seemed to acknowledge that improving the rotation will cost money and require multiple year contracts. More recently, however, his quotes have returned to the "We're going to make reasonable baseball decisions" standard we've been accustomed to for years. Translated, this has typically meant dumpster diving.

      Based on his comments earlier in the offseason (including those to John Bonnes), I don't think that's what Ryan wanted to do this year. But while other owners are apparently willing to let their GMs spend a little bit of the new National TV money a year before it arrives, I'm guessing Ryan is getting no such latitude from his ownership. The result is that FA price inflation is taking all of the pitching that could truly help the Twins out of Ryan's price range.

      Trusting Terry Ryan is one thing, but what has Jim Pohlad done to make anyone believe we should trust him?
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