• 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. raindog's Avatar
      raindog -
      Pretty depressing. Makes me wish we could trade Willingham and Morneau and just commit to a full-on rebuild. Sadly, they might not have as much value as we think they do. And of course there would be a massive PR hit.
    1. siouxjv's Avatar
      siouxjv -
      Quote Originally Posted by raindog View Post
      Pretty depressing. Makes me wish we could trade Willingham and Morneau and just commit to a full-on rebuild. Sadly, they might not have as much value as we think they do. And of course there would be a massive PR hit.
      Yeah, I've recently jumped on board with this view too. I won't blame Ryan for not overpaying for guys that are relatively mediocre. However, I will blame Ryan if he doesn't sign anyone AND keeps everything else status quo. There is only one reason to keep any of our high priced vets and that's that he thinks they will command more during the summer. I think that's a big gamble, but I guess we'll see how it plays out.
    1. TopGunn#22's Avatar
      TopGunn#22 -
      That's the price of pitching and that's the price you pay when you draft "pitch to contact" strike-throwers. Hopefully, this last draft and recent Span trade is showing a change in philosophy from the Twins. Both A. Sanchez and E. Jax are 29 years old. 5 years and $65 million is too much for E. Jax but the Twins should swallow hard and do it. If they spend $13m a year on Edwin Jackson that leaves 12-13 million per year to divide up between guys like Lannan, Myers, whoever. Jackson is NOT Juan Marichal, but he's pitched in the A.L. and is decent.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      If you buy a baseball team, you are entering this market. If you are unwilling to pay market prices, you should maybe leave the business. Why should we care if the Twins make good money or break even? Spend the money, or quit the game.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      If the Pohlads and TR won't shell out for the top-tier pitchers because they're too expensive, then it's time to blow the thing up. If the Twins want to take the budget-ball approach, then Mauer has to go. Keeping the rest of the team status quo and then adding some fringy, bargain-basement starters isn't going to fix anything.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      It has been my opinion since October 2010 that the Twins needed to tear down and rebuild -- mostly that meant the pitching staff but they needed other changes as well.

      Apparently this is now the "going rate " for pitching that is somewhat better than average. If you don't feel like you can find any "good buys" in the pitching aisle then you need to spend your money in other aisles seeing if you can come up with some good deals. THEN if those deals pay off, you need to be willing to spin it (and $$$) into pitching.

      The Twins' need for pitching is not a problem that can be cured in one off-season. They need to be doing everything they can to build enough depth that they might have some decent pitching down the road. That may mean diving in the bargain bin for pitching while spending other money to acquire assets that might be useful in trading for pitching.

      It isn't -- and won't -- be pretty but they didn't get themselves into this position in one year and one year isn't going to get them out of it.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      What do you do? It's easy. You pay. Simple as that. As mike indicated above, this is the industry the Pohlads chose to participate in.

      Overpaying to improve your team is the price you pay for being cheap and stupid last year (and even before that) and not making sure you had competitive pitching.

      If you won't pay, then don't tell everyone who puts a microphone in your face that you know you need more than one guy better than Diamond and getting that talent is your job. That's exactly what Terry Ryan has been doing and if he fails to deliver, then by his own definition, he has not done his job. Period.
    1. raindog's Avatar
      raindog -
      I couldn't care less about Terry Ryan acting like he's going to make the Twins competitive in 2013. That's what he's supposed to say. But realistically, he knows it's going to take some time. Draft well. That's all the Twins can seriously do at this point.

      EDIT:
      And yes, I wish the Pohlads spent more money. They can certainly afford it. But the reality is, they won't. I don't blame TR for that.
    1. mattkummer's Avatar
      mattkummer -
      Is it just me, or is it typical that the Twins would get intimidated by Scott Boras? Yes, he's difficult, and forces clubs to overpay his clients. That's why he's successful, and gets top clients. If the Twins want to play the whole "upper-Midwest-nice" thing, then that's exactly what they'll continue to get as a team.
    1. NoCryingInBaseball's Avatar
      NoCryingInBaseball -
      Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
      …or Lannan, Jurrjens and Myers.
      Okay, keep hearing a lot of conversations with the likes of John Lannan, Jair Jurrjens and Brett Myers with additional conversations with Kevin Correia, Joe Blanton, Mike Pelfrey, Vicente Padillaand Francisco Liriano. Guess I always knew there would have to be a third tier or scrap bin starter thrown into next year’s rotation, but very limited good names are being mentioned (other than LEN III mentioning Brandon McCarthy). I enjoy hearing that Ryan is doing a lot of talking, just want to hear about better names.
      Guess reality finally sunk in that Greinke’s asking price of $120-130 million on a five or six year deal is way out of the Twins budget and now Sanchez scoffing at Detroit’s offer probably is a clear signal that he is also out of range. That leaves guys like McCarthy, Jackson, Marcum and Haren as the guys I want to hear about in talk rumors. Hoping Tuesday brings some fun rumors….or signings.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      John, your list of potential pitchers from the Handbook doesn't include Orioles starting pitchers that are now rumored to be in play for a potential trade for a 1B/DH with power.

      Why wouldn't a Morneau for Jason Hammel trade make sense? Both players, I believe, are potential free agents after 2014. There would almost certainly need to be other lesser pieces included by one team or the other, depending on how much of Morneau's $14 million salary the Twins agree to eat, but since the Orioles seem intent on fielding as much of the Twins' 2010-11 infield as possible, why not help them out?

      If they'd rather take Chris Parmelee for the longer term potential, that's fine, too. Then maybe you look at Chris Tillman instead of Hammel. Again, other pieces may need to balance things out, but it seems to me either Tillman or Hammel would be better acquisitions than any of the pitchers Ryan is currently being linked to on the FA market.

      There's no way of knowing whether the Orioles would even be interested in Morneau or Parmelee, but given they've picked up Casilla and Valencia, they certainly don't have an aversion to Twins players on principle.
    1. halfchest's Avatar
      halfchest -
      I think they need to bite the bullet and pay up on at least one of the better arms. Sanchez, Jackson, McCarthy, etc. Reallly with roughly 25 million I'd like to see them stretch the budget and try to get two of those guys on three year deals. That way if they don't work out it doesn't hamstring the budget long term.

      Especially if they end up selling Morneau to someone. Say he brings back a solid innings eater or maybe a mid rotation prospect that's somewhat close. Then the Twins suddenly have around 40 million then they have to spend some money and it may as well be on overpaid starting pitching.

      Like I said I'm not as concerned about dollars per year as I am about overall contract length. I'm not interested in any guy who wants 5-7 years. That's just bad business. You try getting two of those guys on 15 million per year deals for 3 years max.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      4/48 is a steal for Sanchez. I'd do that in a heartbeat. It doesn't make sense to sign a marginal upgrade, unless it's a one-year deal. But that guy has upside and life in his arm.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      4/48 is a steal for Sanchez. I'd do that in a heartbeat. It doesn't make sense to sign a marginal upgrade, unless it's a one-year deal. But that guy has upside and life in his arm.
      Yes, 4/48 would be a steal for Sanchez, which is exactly why his agent called the Tigers 4/48 offer an "insult"
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by raindog View Post
      Pretty depressing. Makes me wish we could trade Willingham and Morneau and just commit to a full-on rebuild. Sadly, they might not have as much value as we think they do. And of course there would be a massive PR hit.
      MLBtraderumors had a piece this off-season that said that another GM said Willingham would most likely only bring back a #4 in a trade.
    1. nick5253's Avatar
      nick5253 -
      I believe the Twins know they aren't close with their pitching rotation and lack of any pitching in the upper minors, so they are starting the re-build now, but they aren't telling anyone that and they will try to throw some band-aids out there in 2013 to say they are trying to 'compete'.

      In reality, the Twins couldn't get much further ahead if they went full on rebuild or the method they are taking. They have ZERO MLB players now available to trade to get top tier talent. Willingham would get a B prospect, Morneau a B or C. Perkins could get a B level guy most likely. But adding a handful of middle tier prospects is not going to help in the long run. The Twins have plenty of those guys in the system. So if they aren't getting value back from your current major leagers, why not try to throw some lower tier FA signings out there, try to compete for a few months and have some more trade pieces available by July 31. This is what the Cubs are doing to a more exaggerated level.

      Signing the big name free agents for long term contracts only handcuffs the club in 3 years with declining performances and a tied up budget. When the current crop of Twins 'talent' (Sano, Hicks, Rosario, Gibson, Meyer) is making their MLB debuts, then you can start to add the missing pieces via free agency.

      The sad truth is the Twins just don't have talent. They don't have talent to compete or talent to trade to get younger talent back. That is the rock and hard place they are stuck in. Do they trade away any value they have now for middling prospects and endure a 100 loss season or do they add some crap free agents and try to get to .500. The 'pay tons of money for top free agents' option is simply not an option, nor should it be.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      If you buy a baseball team, you are entering this market. If you are unwilling to pay market prices, you should maybe leave the business. Why should we care if the Twins make good money or break even? Spend the money, or quit the game.
      T
      he minnesota twins llc could carry a payroll of 140 million dollars and not lose money.
      Next year that could increase to 165 million and still not lose money,after 2 years of complete failure why should this company believe they should pocket over 30 million in profits this year?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      How does it handcuff them? They will mostly be guys with very low pay in 3 years...how does it handcuff them?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by raindog View Post
      I couldn't care less about Terry Ryan acting like he's going to make the Twins competitive in 2013. That's what he's supposed to say. But realistically, he knows it's going to take some time. Draft well. That's all the Twins can seriously do at this point.

      EDIT:
      And yes, I wish the Pohlads spent more money. They can certainly afford it. But the reality is, they won't. I don't blame TR for that.
      Absolutely correct, raindog. It's Ryan's job to try to make the team semi-competitive in 2013 while really doing what is best for the organization long term. That doesn't mean I wouldn't still go after Sanchez and/or Jackson since they are young and will be around for 4-5 years. But spending (and especially overspending) just because it's what others are doing isn't right at all.
    1. SurroundedByTigers's Avatar
      SurroundedByTigers -
      The path to winning involves pitching, pitching, pitching. The Twins have 2 choices: trading best marketable talent (Morneau, Willingham, Revere) and get the best young pitching prospects in return, or, fork out the money and sign 3 solid pitchers with the intent to win now. Given the current marketplace, I don't think the Twins could sign 3 pitchers that would give them a shot at beating the Tigers. Much as I like Morneau, I would make the trades with the expectation that the Twins would have the pitching staff to complement the good young talent that should be ready to contribute at the big leagues within 2 years. That would ensure another long run at winning and the playoffs.
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