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  • Rock Versus Hard Place

    Should The Twins Pay Or Settle?One of the more interesting times in every offseason is when the rhetoric goes away and the choices become, often painfully, clear. Rock, meet Hard Place.

    The Hard Place is where the Twins are: fronting a rotation with Scott Diamond next year. Diamond, by Twins general manager Terry Ryan’s own analysis, is a #3 starter. He’s clearly scouring the winter meetings for upgrades. But like Charlie Brown at Halloween, all he’s getting is a whole lot of Rock.

    Here are the available pitchers who could be considered an upgrade over Scott Diamond. (FYI – These guys are all profiled in the TwinsCentric ffseason Handbook.) Tell me which one you think the Twins should go after.

    Each of these guys (with the possible exception of Haren or maybe McCarthy) is pushing for (and probably likely to get) $13-$15M per year. Also, each is looking for a deal at least one year longer than any fiscally sane club would want to give them.

    Thus, this is the “interesting” time, or, if you prefer, “hellish.” It’s looking more and more like teams are going to need to pay to play. We can look at a 5-year/$65M deal for Jackson or a 3-year/$33 million deal for McCarthy and say that’s “crazy,” and we’re probably right.

    But we can’t do that and then rip Ryan for not upgrading the rotation, or settling for names like Brett Myers, Kevin Correia, Joe Blanton or John Lannan. This is the way free agency works. The vast majority are overpaid. It is the nature of the system. When a player signs with the one team that offers him the most money, instead of the 29 that think that much money is too much, odds are that is too much.

    We can rip the Twins for putting themselves into this position – this is why minor league development is so important – but that ship has sailed. If we want to focus on the problem at hand, the choices seem to be overpay or settle. Rock or Hard Place.

    Which way are you going to go?

    This article was originally published in blog: Rock Versus Hard Place started by John Bonnes
    Comments 60 Comments
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      I read a quote and now can't find it about the Twins saying some FA pitchers weren't being realistic, and some here have mentioned the concern about overpaying. However, at some point, maybe it's not them, maybe it's us. It may very well be that the price of starting pitching (and maybe players in general) has gone up. Based on what we've seen so far, I think the Twins have been allowed themselves to be priced out of that second tier of starters.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      You realize just how good of a contract Span had and the deal the Twins got with Willingham and Doumit. Whew!
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      In the end, the "rock and a hard place" that Terry Ryan finds himself in is between: (a) fan expectations the he, Dave St. Peter and Jim Pohlad have are responsible for setting. Each of those gentlemen have publicly stated that they expect the Twins to contend next year and that the FO's intent is to find pitching that will accomplish such; and (b) an ownership that is slow to acknowledge that sometimes that kind of fix takes more money than he'd like to spend.

      Ryan has certainly placed himself in that uncomfortable place by telling fans (and likely, his owner) that he believes he can acquire good starting pitching without spending a lot of money. It's quite possible he significantly underestimated market prices for such pitching (just as many of the rest of us did).

      If it turns out he can't deliver on his promisies, he's going to have a choice to make: go to Pohlad and ask for more money (they've never told him "no", or so we've been told, right?) or tell his bosses and the fans that he can't do what he said he should be able to do.

      There's still time for Ryan to get the job done. Haren is the only big time FA pitcher that's signed and most of the rest aren't likely to sign anywhere until Greinke signs. But reality is that the cost of labor has gone up and probably higher and faster than Ryan and Pohlad expected it to. How they react to that reality will tell fans all we need to know about how serious they are about putting a Major League team on the field in 2013.

      It's a perfectly legitimate business decision for Pohlad to make... whether to spend more money now to put a real MLB team on the field or punt on 2013. But if you choose the latter, I don't want to hear whining from the Twins offices about how fans are not being "supportive" of the team when more than half of Target Field seats are empty all year. If you choose not to put a priority on being competitive, that has to come with the assumption that few people will pay MLB prices to watch that team play.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      You realize just how good of a contract Span had and the deal the Twins got with Willingham and Doumit. Whew!
      Span and Willingham for sure. Doumit probably less so. But as I mentioned above, that does suggest that rather than "overspending" for free agent pitchers, maybe the Twins would be better off to use some of their money to acquire "bargains" at certain positions that they then may be able to flip for a high ceiling pitching prospect at the trade deadline or next offseason -- a la what they might (or might have) been able to do with Willingham. Of course, you have to be willing to part with those players too.

      I have somewhat more faith in the Twins' ability to spot a position player who is due for a breakout season than I do in their ability to spot a pitcher who is undervalued.

      I don't want to see them sign bargain bin pitchers and then pocket any savings ... but if all they want to sign is bargain bin pitchers, I'd be happy to see them put their "savings" into position players that they might later flip for pitching depth.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      TR says we're supposed to be realistic about free agent acquisitions. My advice to him is to be realistic about just what kind of upgrade the free agents he's looking at represent. If you're only interested in starters coming over from the NL where they had mediocre results, I'd rather just run out Deduno, Walters, and Blackburn, because the team is going to be awful either way.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      It has been stated here earlier, but why get scrape heaps with little or no value.
      Sign a top tier free agent then trade him for quality prospects in july or next winter.
      With inflated salaries ,just go sign hamilton to a 4 year contract , 3 years at 25 million per and year number 4 at 30 million , knowing in 1-2 years he will not be needed and can be flipped for quality pitching prospects
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Eh, this was all predictable two months ago. You know, when anyone who said this was deemed blind, pessimistic, or anti-twins.

      This team's need for pitching makes contention pretty much impossible for awhile, especially since FA is about the only way to fix it and we all know this team won't (and often rightly won't) overspend for the sake of it.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I agree with those who are willing to give up on 2013 in the hope of building something good for 2014 or 2015. It seems to me that the Twins are too far from contending to tie themselves up with any new large contracts.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      And how will they be good in 2014, when free agents will be even more expensive?
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Get your petitions and picket signs ready. It about time to protest. It's been done before in baseball.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      And how will they be good in 2014, when free agents will be even more expensive?
      I think that they need to get good by doing the same things that the Rays and A's have done, while picking up what they can afford on the free agent market.
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      buy the guys at the bottom of the barrel, prepare the club for a rebuilding year and start making moves from 2014 and beyond. There are a lot of holes in this team, and the frong office has not shown itself willing to spend the money needed to make a run in 2013 (nor woud I want them to do so). To future hope...
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      The rays got good by being the worst team in baseball for several years, and by trading from excess, oh, and by actually developing their pitching prospects. So basically, 3 years into a new taxpayer funded stadium, they should have a payroll the size of their last one in the dome? They should deal all players not named Mauer that are proven players? I do not endorse this Marlins approach for the richest owners in baseball with a brand new stadium.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      They can afford better players, they choose not to afford them.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      Please god, let us not sign a pitcher to a 6-year deal! Yuck, yuck, and yuck. How many extra-long big contracts to pitchers have turned out well?

      Of the pitchers on this list, Dempster is the one I'd probably want: 3 years & $35-$40M is probably more than he's worth, but he should have a shot to live up to that deal over the next 2 seasons and then you're only talking about 1 year of dead money. Better if we can get him for 2 seasons, but I can live with 3.

      Adding Dempster & Marcum would do a lot to stabilize the rotation over the next couple of seasons while guys like Gibson & Meyers round into shape. Develop another guy from the stock in the minors (there are several options to be a 4th or 5th starter).

      Don't bust the budget or make a stupid signing. 6-year deals for pitchers are STUPID.
    1. danswanson's Avatar
      danswanson -
      I don't see the Twins competing in 2013 (or 2014). Therefore I believe the best policy is to pass on marginal pitchers slightly better than Diamond for 12-13 mil/yr wasting the first two years of the deal seeing as how we won't realistically be competitive until 2015. Playing Pohlad Ball means that we will not be competitive until our pitching prospects mature with the possibility of one either 2 or 3 spot free agent pitcher. I say we wait until 2015 to sign one instead of blowing our load for no reason this free agency.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      And do what about attendance? And just pocket the cut in payroll?
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      And do what about attendance? And just pocket the cut in payroll?
      I don't even want to fathom what many here some to be advocating. The idea that the veterans should all get sold off AND the Twins should just pocket the cash.... I just don't understand how people can be advocating that.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      I still believe the Twins can get some things done, but some chances have to be taken. Both Marcum and McCarthy are risks, but probably will only need 1 - 3 year contracts. These are the type of the players the Twins should sign. It may take $25 mil a year to sign both, but at least one can be signed. Then take a flyer or two(Liariano, Kasmer) who have stuff and tin heads. The last signee could be a Lannen, Myers (etc). That would give the Twins a chance to be competitive. And the payroll still probably would not be $100 mil. I agree with not signing pitchers for more than 3 years, especially FA types who are 30 or over.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      If the Twins won't spend now they never will. You can't field a team with just prospects. That is what has happen, they have left all there stars walk
      without a return by being cheap.
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