As hard as it may be to swallow, the Twins need to rebuild. Some fans cringe at that word, some scoff, but the reality is that any last place team needs to rebuild in some manner. That being said, not all rebuilds are the same. So over the next two days, I'm going to look at the five worst teams from 2012 and try to better understand their method for rebuilding.
Note: I created some charts for my own purposes. I took the 5 best players on each of these five teams, over the past three seasons. I used fWAR to determine the best 5 players. I just wanted to see if this data indicated anything, and I think it does.
Houston Astros - Blow Up the Outside World
|2010 - 76-86|
|2011 - 56-106|
|2012 - 55-107|
The Astros seems to be employing the fantasy baseball "full rebuild." They have basically taken each and every valuable player and traded them for younger pieces. They will hang on to young, cheap players, but anyone else is being used to rebuild their farm system. When you look at their chart, you can see that nearly every valuable player has been moved. The three remaining players are all pre-arbitration. Only Bud Norris and Carlos Pena will make more than 2 million dollars in 2013, and both seem very unlikely to finish their seasons in Houston.
The present in Houston is terribly bleak. They will likely have a payroll around 25 million this season, which is comically low. But the future is getting brighter. Their farm system is much improved. Going into 2012, the Astros had a terrible team and a terrible farm system. Only one of those statements is true today, due to their trades. It also doesn't hurt to get the first pick in the draft, which they used to draft a very promising shortstop named Carlos Correa.
My biggest issue with this form of rebuild is that teams eventually run out of good players to trade. Right now, Houston might be able to get something for Norris, Lucas Harrell and Jose Altuve. Do they really want to trade those guys? Each is relatively young, each is relatively productive and each is under team control for the foreseeable future. At some point, these atom bomb rebuilds have to start showing MLB results. Correa won't be ready for years. They have the first pick this June as well, but who knows when that player will be ready? This rebuild could take five more years, for all we know. It's a risky endeavor, that is for sure.
Chicago Cubs - Mrs Dash
|2010 - 75-87|
|2011 - 71-91|
|2012 - 61-101|
|Ryan Dempster||3.3||Red Sox|
The Cubs are one of those franchises that seems to sprinkle good seasons around their general misery. It makes me sad. But it looks like things may be changing. The Cubs do not seem to want to sit around, blow things up and wait to see if their talented prospects pan out. Instead, they are seasoning in some good players here and there, making smart decisions and trying to build the ship as they sail, so to speak.
They certainly do not have the payroll of a rebuilding team. They'll likely settle in right around $100 million, but that isn't a crazy figure when you consider their market and fan-base. Their roster is better going into 2013 and they have some pieces that they could move if the team struggles, but who can also contribute if the team experiences some success. They have a nice young core of players, including Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Jeff Samardija and yes, Darwin Barney. They have some elite prospects in their system and they will pick second in the June draft. It seems that the Cubs are willing to move anyone outside of their young core and farm system.
They added depth to their starting staff, and signed guys who can be moved if the 2013 season isn't going well. They went upside with Scott Baker, Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva. If one guy hits, they could have a long-term contributor in their rotation. If all three hit, well, that would be nice for the Cub fans. There is obvious risk in this strategy as well. The market for injured pitchers isn't great, and the Cubs exploited that, but they will have to rely on that same market if they decide to try to move those pitchers.
Tomorrow we'll look at three other team, including the Twins. Each has taken a far different path towards rebuilding this offseason.