• Twins Should Strike While Stove is Hot

    As the slow early weeks of this offseason dragged on, we kept hearing the same refrain:

    Just wait until Zack Greinke signs. Then all of the dominoes will begin to fall.

    True story. We're seeing it now. On Monday, the Dodgers announced they'd signed the game's premier free agent to a monstrous six-year, $147 million deal. In the days since, other top names have begun to quickly come off the board.

    On Thursday, the Angels landed Josh Hamilton with a five-year, $125 million offer. Shortly after that came to light, Bob Nightengale reported that Anibal Sanchez the consensus No. 2 free agent pitcher had signed a five-year, $75 million contract with the Cubs, though he later backtracked. Sanchez is now playing Chicago against Detroit, and his price will likely be driven up. It's pretty compelling stuff, really.

    Overshadowed by those huge headlines was Ryan Dempster's signing with the Red Sox. The right-hander agreed to terms on a two-year, $26.5 million deal that looks downright reasonable in comparison to some of these other sums being thrown around.

    According to Doogie Wolfson's source, the Twins "kicked the tires" on Dempster but "never made a formal offer." Terry Ryan's done a whole lot of tire-kicking this winter, but appears content to walk away with nothing but scuffed shoes and empty hands, at least when it comes to the middle tier of starters.

    We've heard the Twins connected to names like Joe Saunders, John Lannan, Francisco Liriano and Joe Blanton, but there's been no steam with higher-grade options such as Shaun Marcum and Edwin Jackson. Why not take a shot at Dempster? The Twins could have outbid the Red Sox and still been comfortably short of last year's budget.

    Dempster has his warts, for sure. He'll turn 36 in May, and he got knocked around a bit after being traded to the AL this year. With the Rangers, he still averaged a strikeout per inning and pitched well after a couple early clunkers so I wouldn't worry too much about it. He has posted an ERA of 3.85 or below in four of the past five years and has averaged 200 innings over that span. He's a very solid starter, and his addition would send a message to fans that the Twins are truly committed to improving, now and in the future.

    Some might say that Boston is a more attractive destination for Dempster, which brings us to the theory that free agents flat-out don't want to sign in Minnesota. But the Sox have been more of a mess than the Twins over the last two seasons and Fenway is a pretty treacherous pitching environment, which matters for a guy who might try to score one more contract after this one.

    Apparently Ryan never made a serious bid, so it all becomes a moot point.

    Even if the Twins were low on Dempster, why not get legitimately involved with the likes of a Marcum or Jackson? The money is ostensibly there, and even if contention in the next year or two is unlikely, they need to get better. They need to keep playing meaningful games past the middle of July to counteract the attendance drain that has been hitting them in the late months. They need a proven veteran to lead a young and inexperienced staff, and the current senior Kevin Correia is not a credible candidate.

    Up to this point the Twins have essentially added no payroll for 2013. The Correia signing brings them back near even after they unloaded Denard Span's salary. With the big free agent names off the board, this is where Ryan should become active. These are the pitchers he should be in on.

    He might have to pay more than he'd like in order to play that game. In fact, he definitely will. But failing to even participate in the bidding would be a disservice to fans, as well as plain-old bad team-building. The current starting stable is completely devoid of reliable assets Ryan admitted as much when surprisingly acknowledging that "there's no guarantee [Correia] will strengthen the group" and that's just no way to proceed, even if the ultimate goal is to make a push further down the line.

    There is not a team in the league that should be more desperate for quality pitching than the Twins. Perhaps they should start acting like it.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Should Strike While Stove is Hot started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 48 Comments
    1. J-Dog Dungan's Avatar
      J-Dog Dungan -
      Great summary. I have the same feelings; you would think that the Twins would be aggressively pushing towards deals now with other pitchers to have a good shot at them now that teams that were interested in Greinke and Dempster have run out of luck.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Unless there is something big brewing (a trade or there was a sizeable offer to Marcum) I will conclude that Ryan was just a guy going to the auto show to look at cars he could not buy. A bit more time is needed before that conclusion is valid, but two weeks should be long enough.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Even from when? Certainly not even from last year's number.....nor the year before.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Excellent article. I hope that Ryan gets in gear before all the decent free agents are taken.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Even from when? Certainly not even from last year's number.....nor the year before.
      Even with where they were at the start of the offseason.
    1. ssp833's Avatar
      ssp833 -
      I hope so much that they do turn aggressive to the remaining free agent pitchers. The two trades were so positive because they not only showed recognition that they were at a crisis level with pitching, but also showed a continuation toward power pitchers like we saw in the draft. Then the crushingly disappointing Correia signing. it seems to take us back to a feeling that they don't care. i desparately hope that the next move shows that they do - especially because they have the funding that they didn't have last year.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I would offer Marcum the exact same deal as what the Red Sox gave Dempster. That should guarantee him, one would think. Add in an option year.
    1. SCBackroads's Avatar
      SCBackroads -
      Nice visual. And, yes, it is quite obviously time for the Twins management to adopt some quality arms before all that's left are the dogs with too many fleas. Woof.
    1. chagen's Avatar
      chagen -
      That's how i look at it if you want to improve pitching don't you go get quality starting pitching instead the Twins get pitchers that know one else has interest in. Does anybody think the Twins are better off with Kevin Corriea in there rotation?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by chagen View Post
      That's how i look at it if you want to improve pitching don't you go get quality starting pitching instead the Twins get pitchers that know one else has interest in. Does anybody think the Twins are better off with Kevin Corriea in there rotation?
      As I read around, it seems we are in a FA pitching loop. If we have a really good season, that means our pitching was decent, so we don't go get top quality free agent pitching to make our pitching even better, even if the pitching is available. Why would we? It was okay just last season. So we don't spend, even though we are an attractive spot for FA pitching, seeing as how we were winners.

      Now, conversely, if we have seasons like the last two, then we finished last for a couple years after winning for a long time, so no FA pitching wants to come here now matter how much we offer.

      Now, prior to 2010, if we finished 2nd, or 3rd, well, then we just didn't have the income of TF to compete with the big boys.

      There is always a legitimate reason we don't get quality FA pitching.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Isn't it "while the iron is hot?"

      in any case, it seems to me JR is most likely done adding FA pitching. Correia IS the big FA splash. He'll wait around till after the new year and pick through the leftovers to add more "numbers" but actually spending what it takes to add a legitimate starter? No. Not gonna happen.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      I dont think Ryan planned to add much free agent pitching...Grienke and Sanchez were never coming here...the rest of the market is thin...Dempster is mediocre and age 35 (36 next season) why give him a multi-year contract. Haren to me was the choice but he would rather go to Nats and have a shot at a trophy. Marcum, Blanton and Jackson are all in their 30s, all up and down but overall mediocre. Giving them 3 year $30 million is a waste of money. None are that much better than DeVries, Deduno, etc. Best bet is to trade for a veteran pitcher like Royals did with Shields. Then hope that Meyer, Gibson or Hendricks can be a good Twins pitcher second half of 2013.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Isn't it "while the iron is hot?"

      in any case, it seems to me JR is most likely done adding FA pitching. Correia IS the big FA splash. He'll wait around till after the new year and pick through the leftovers to add more "numbers" but actually spending what it takes to add a legitimate starter? No. Not gonna happen.
      I took "stove is hot" to be a play on words with the "iron" phrase combining with the Hot Stove League.

      I'm still unwilling to believe they're done. And still realize it's more because of hope than anything else. And because it's going to really, really, really suck if it is the case...so I figure it's better to not be sad about it until it's actually true. Ugh.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      I took "stove is hot" to be a play on words with the "iron" phrase combining with the Hot Stove
      ah...that makes sense. My apologies, Nick. Sometimes I'm not too quick on the uptake.
    1. edavis0308's Avatar
      edavis0308 -
      I think the most depressing thing is that all of the guys that are starting to sign that are worth a damn, we arent even reported to have made an offer for, or even had interest in.
    1. AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS's Avatar
      AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS -
      Quote Originally Posted by edavis0308 View Post
      I think the most depressing thing is that all of the guys that are starting to sign that are worth a damn, we arent even reported to have made an offer for, or even had interest in.
      Hey remember when it was said Ryan had offers out all over the place.....
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      If they can kick tires a tad high on someone like Corriea, why not Saunders and Marcum...of even the other non-tenders: Lannan, JJ et al. Sadly, when you make an offer, you are stuck making the offer if someone immediately accepts.
    1. Einstein's Avatar
      Einstein -
      I wouldn't get my hopes up, TR talks a good game (he has to though doesn't he?), but it seems pretty obvious to me that they've already punted on the 2013 season. They may still sign a Joe Saunders or Brett Myers but don't look for a top of the rotation starter. On this bright side, they will be drafting very highly in 2013 and 2014.
    1. bphat1's Avatar
      bphat1 -
      Nick, I'm wondering what you think the market would be for Marcum? Could we get him for, say 3/35M or is it looking more like a longer/more lucrative deal will be out there for him? And why are we not reading about the Twins making him an offer?
    1. Einstein's Avatar
      Einstein -
      Terry Ryan on Nick Blackburn:

      "I'm counting on him to compete for a job. There's no reason why he can't be in a situation where he's breaking camp with us. He's coming on a minor league invite, but that's a little deceiving. We've got a lot invested in him."
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.