• How MLB Teams Rebuild - Part 2

    Not all bad teams are created equal. Some teams are bad for just one injury-plagued season. Some teams are bad for a few seasons and then good for a few seasons. Some teams are just chronically bad.

    Bad teams have the benefit of receiving good draft picks, but other than that, they don't really gain any sort of advantage from being bad. And there are disadvantages. Bad teams can struggle to attract fans and free agents, while also struggling to keep their own home-grown players.

    Yesterday, we looked at the two worst teams in MLB in 2012, the Astros and Cubs, and saw that they took much different paths towards rebuilding. Today, we'll look at the next three, including the Minnesota Twins. All are very different in their methods this offseason.
    ~~~Originally posted at Kevin Slowey was Framed~~~


    Colorado Rockies - Hide under coats; hope it all works out

    2010 - 83-79
    Ubaldo Jimenez 7.3 Indians
    Troy Tulowitzki 6.5 Rockies
    Carlos Gonzalez 5.8 Rockies
    Jhoulys Chacin 2.4 Rockies
    Miguel Olivo 2.3 Reds
    2011 - 73-89
    Troy Tulowitzki 5.9 Rockies
    Carlos Gonzalez 4.2 Rockies
    Jhoulys Chacin 3.6 Rockies
    Chris Iannetta 3.1 Angels
    Dexter Fowler 2.5 Rockies
    2012 - 64-98
    Rafael Betancourt 2.6 Rockies
    Dexter Fowler 2.5 Rockies
    Matt Belisle 2.3 Rockies
    Jhoulys Chacin 2 Rockies
    Josh Roenicke 2 Twins

    The Rockies confuse me. They have had two consecutive bad seasons. They have a couple of superstar players, but both miss a decent chunk of seemingly each season (Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez). They did next to nothing this off-season, other than signing Jeff Francis, and trading for Reid Brignac and Wilton Lopez. These aren't moves that help rebuild a team. They also did not trade anyone for any sort of young player or prospect.

    Their strategy seems to hinge on healthy seasons from their stars and development from their young pitchers. Their farm system is pretty poor, so there isn't a lot of help coming from that part of the organization. They have good players (I love Dexter Fowler), but they also have old players.

    On the other hand, Gonzalez is 27 and Tulowitzki is 28. Both are signed forever, so that is good, but there isn't much around them. Michael Cuddyer is overrated, Todd Helton is a billion and I can't think of a third thing. I think that is a bad sign. I can't assess any risk because I have no idea what they are even doing.

    Minnesota Twins - Some sort of Cobra-Squirrel hybrid

    2010 - 94-68
    Joe Mauer 5.5 Twins
    Justin Morneau 4.6 Twins
    Jim Thome 3.4 NOWHERE
    Orlando Hudson 2.6 NOWHERE
    Brian Duensing 2.4 Twins
    2011 - 63-99
    Scott Baker 4.2 Cubs
    Denard Span 2.3 Nationals
    Glen Perkins 2 Twins
    Carl Pavano 1.8 NOWHERE
    Michael Cuddyer 1.7 Rockies
    2012 - 66-96
    Denard Span 4.8 Nationals
    Joe Mauer 4.1 Twins
    Jamey Carroll 3.2 Twins
    Josh Willingham 2.9 Twins
    Ben Revere 2.4 Phillies

    The Twins have certainly struck like a cobra in a few instances this off-season. They added three young pitchers (Vance Worley, Alex Meyer, and Trevor May) in two excellent trades.

    At the same time, they have been hesitant to trade off other valuable players like Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau. They may simply be lying in wait, looking for the best deal. It is also possible that the market for these two players isn't very good right now. Each has question marks, and each could address them in 2013, raising their trade value. The Twins never really seem committed to a full rebuild, but they have done a nice job of picking their spots and addressing their needs.

    It is still a work-in-progress, though. Much like the Astros, the Twins could run out of good players to trade. Really, other than Willingham and Morneau, the only realistic trade pieces are Ryan Doumit, Glen Perkins and Jared Burton. Each of those guys might also be worth keeping around. Unlike the Astros, the Twins have more near-ready prospect talent. Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, Alex Meyer, Kyle Gibson and Trevor May are all top ten prospects who likely will be playing in Minnesota before the end of the 2014 season. The Twins also have some payroll flexibility, and could use the 2013 off-season to truly improve their MLB team, around these young, promising players.

    Some are starting to say that 2013 is not a rebuilding year. I don't agree with that sentiment, but I do think the Twins are going to relevant as soon as 2014. I see strong parallels between 2014 and that 2001 season that started their AL Central mini-dynasty. There was an uproar about the free agent starting pitchers that were signed this off-season, but the reality is that the Twins likely did not want to sign anyone who would block the young arms who are getting closer to Minnesota each day. There is risk here, and the middle infield is still an issue, but the Twins are amassing resources and making shrewd moves when given the opportunity.

    Cleveland Indians - Protein Powder

    2010 - 69-93
    Shin-Soo Choo 5.6 Reds
    Roberto Hernandez 2.5 Rays
    Chris Perez 2.5 Indians
    Travis Hafner 2.1 Yankees
    Carlos Santana 1.8 Indians
    2011 - 80-82
    Asdrubal Cabrera 4.6 Indians
    Justin Masterson 3.6 Indians
    Carlos Santana 3.4 Indians
    Jack Hannahan 2.2 Reds
    Joe Smith 2.2 Indians
    2012 - 68-94
    Jason Kipnis 3.7 Indians
    Carlos Santana 3.7 Indians
    Shin-Soo Choo 3.1 Reds
    Asdrubal Cabrera 3 Indians
    Michael Brantley 2.9 Indians

    The Indians seem to be employing a strategy similar to the Cubs. They likely had a better MLB team to begin with, but definitely do not have a comparable farm system. The Indians seem to be targeting their weaknesses and dealing from their strengths. This isn't a unique strategy, but that doesn't make it any easier to implement. The Indians needed to bolster their young pitching, and used Shin-Soo Choo, a great player, to get Trevor Bauer. Bauer has his flaws, but he also has crazy upside. The Indians also signed some good players in free agency, including Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and yes, Mark Reynolds.

    They have their core of good players: Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Brantley, Bourn and Swisher. They have interesting arms in Bauer, Justin Masterson, Carlos Carrasco, and Ubaldo Jimenez. They also have two great bullpen arms in Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez. You could make the argument that the Indians have been rebuilt. They might not be a World Series team, but who knows? A lot of people want to find the next 2012 Orioles or 2012 A's. Likely, there won't be one, but the Indians might be as good a bet as any other team.

    So, not all rebuilds are the same. Each of these teams had major flaws, and that is why they were the five worst teams in 2012. However, each is employing a different method in their quest to return to relevance. Which strategies will work? Only time will tell.
    This article was originally published in blog: How the worst MLB teams are rebuilding started by Brad Swanson
    Comments 36 Comments
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      Maybe Willingham is a "Twins Guy" because of his performance on and off the field.
      So is Morneau. So was Kubel. So was Cuddyer. So was Torii. So was Johan. So was Span. The point is, Willingham SHOULD be moved if the offers are good. He's not going to be part of this team's long term success in all likelihood. I wouldn't advocate getting lowballed, but his availability should be well known around the league when we approach the deadline.
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      The point was not one about return, it was one of philosophy. The Twins bristle at the suggestion that they should trade people, whether they are in contention or not. They also appear to have little qualms with letting guys walk no matter how vital to the clubhouse or how good they are at playing the Twins Way. (Cuddyer alone proves this) So it always bothers me when I hear Ryan or others suggest the reasons not to deal a guy like Willingham is because he is their kind of guy. We've let our kind of guy walk more than a few times - the reason to move or not move a player should have nothing to do with that. And they should understand when fans get irritated by this organization's bluster about trading (See: "Getting X player back from injury is just like making a trade!" or the annual stand-pat at the deadline approach) when they so flippantly seem to release guys that are heart and soul members of the team.

      It's hard to assess whether a team should or shouldn't sell the whole lot to rebuild, I think that depends on offers being received we know nothing about. But that was the general point being made here: do you sell off completely or half-ass it? What I don't want to see is a half-ass approach because Willingham is a "Twin's Guy" rather than the team being low-balled.
      Trades like Milton, Aggie, Hanson, A.J. and many others didn't happen because that is not the Twins way? If Berrios and the other drafted player works out, then letting Cuddyer walk was a great move. Any idea if Kubel and Cuddyer were shopped around? Was there a good offer? Nobody talked. The Twins way is the Pohlad way. Get people to work cheaply. Buy low, sell high.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Wise One View Post
      Trades like Milton, Aggie, Hanson, A.J. and many others didn't happen because that is not the Twins way? If Berrios and the other drafted player works out, then letting Cuddyer walk was a great move. Any idea if Kubel and Cuddyer were shopped around? Was there a good offer? Nobody talked. The Twins way is the Pohlad way. Get people to work cheaply. Buy low, sell high.
      Um, that has not been what they've done well for a long time. As I specifically said, ultimately as fans we don't know what's on the table when we speculate about these subjects, so no use pretending otherwise or using that as a club to bat a skeptic over the head. We're all ignorant so that talking point is irrelevant.

      AJ and Milton were almost ten years ago. This team has let far more players walk then they have traded them in walk years. They even managed to half-ass their way with the Johan situation into completely destroying their leverage. The Span and Revere deals were nice, I hope they understand the same idea can work for their two prime trade candidates this year and aren't shy about shopping. I'm not convinced about what is most important to this club: "Twins Way" or value. The Revere deal encourages me, but Willingham being talked about as a "core" player does not.
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Um, that has not been what they've done well for a long time. As I specifically said, ultimately as fans we don't know what's on the table when we speculate about these subjects, so no use pretending otherwise or using that as a club to bat a skeptic over the head. We're all ignorant so that talking point is irrelevant.

      AJ and Milton were almost ten years ago. This team has let far more players walk then they have traded them in walk years. They even managed to half-ass their way with the Johan situation into completely destroying their leverage. The Span and Revere deals were nice, I hope they understand the same idea can work for their two prime trade candidates this year and aren't shy about shopping. I'm not convinced about what is most important to this club: "Twins Way" or value. The Revere deal encourages me, but Willingham being talked about as a "core" player does not.
      Not knowing what has gone on have never stopped people from speculating. While some trades may have been 10 years ago, don't forget that Ryan took a few year vacation. Smith was so bad at negotiating trades that the Twins were better off testing their luck with the draft. Travis Harrison for Orlando Hudson might be a great move. Hudson Boyd for Crain another good move. The damage done by Smith's ineptness at trades reallly led the club to where they are today.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Wise One View Post
      Not knowing what has gone on have never stopped people from speculating.
      The point is, we're all speculating - good or bad. Hell, we could praise a great trade like Revere's and not know about an even better offer that was out there. We have to just accept we are conversing with a significant ignorance at play and not consider that an argument against a position as you tried to employ it.

      Smith's ineptness at trades reallly led the club to where they are today.
      And, if you give him total blame for that, give him total credit for where this club is going with the prospects drafted under his supervision. Johan, for example, is almost completely Ryan's fault. He made that situation what it was and has set the standard for poor contract negotiation strategy for this franchise. All I'm saying is, with this team rebuilding (and it is, despite the bluster in public) I hope they aren't gun-shy about trading people. The rewards for releasing FA are no longer as bountiful as they once were and the option to trade should be explored more effectively mid-season by this team than it has. I hope this year we see that.
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      The point is, we're all speculating - good or bad. Hell, we could praise a great trade like Revere's and not know about an even better offer that was out there. We have to just accept we are conversing with a significant ignorance at play and not consider that an argument against a position as you tried to employ it.



      And, if you give him total blame for that, give him total credit for where this club is going with the prospects drafted under his supervision. Johan, for example, is almost completely Ryan's fault. He made that situation what it was and has set the standard for poor contract negotiation strategy for this franchise. All I'm saying is, with this team rebuilding (and it is, despite the bluster in public) I hope they aren't gun-shy about trading people. The rewards for releasing FA are no longer as bountiful as they once were and the option to trade should be explored more effectively mid-season by this team than it has. I hope this year we see that.

      Brother Levi admits ignorance. I'll be darned.
      Santana still had a full season of control by the Twins when Ryan left.. Could have Ryan fixed it? yes. The end falls to Smith.

      Mediocre players will bring mediocre prospects. Players with faults will no bring top prospects. If you have what someone needs, then you can get a return. What there used to be return for soon to be free agents will be less as there is not much compensation to be leveraged.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Wise One View Post
      Brother Levi admits ignorance. I'll be darned.
      All fans are in ignorance, I get annoyed when it becomes a tool of argument.

      Santana still had a full season of control by the Twins when Ryan left.. Could have Ryan fixed it? yes. The end falls to Smith.
      The end that falls on Smith was completely set up by Ryan stripping all leverage from him. That was Ryan's problem that many fans still wrongly blame Smith for.

      The beauty of Willingham is that there is still team control. I am very, very eager to see if the Twins do the right thing and move him this season. And I'm hoping they shop him aggressively and wisely - last year I get the impression it was lip-service or the demands were ridiculous.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      So they promote the special advisor of all the bad trades Bill Smith made?
      Well 1 reason would be because ownership wanted to return to dumpster diving.
      As for bill he deserves credit for getting us into the international market , and most of our top prospects were signed under Bill.

      When Mr. Ryan was brought back under the imtrem title, i was hoping his job would be to find a quality replacement to be the new G.M. But once i saw how he low balled all 4 of the free agents, I knew he was here to cut payroll....
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      All fans are in ignorance, I get annoyed when it becomes a tool of argument.



      The end that falls on Smith was completely set up by Ryan stripping all leverage from him. That was Ryan's problem that many fans still wrongly blame Smith for.

      The beauty of Willingham is that there is still team control. I am very, very eager to see if the Twins do the right thing and move him this season. And I'm hoping they shop him aggressively and wisely - last year I get the impression it was lip-service or the demands were ridiculous.
      Decent return for trades happen all the time in the last year of a contract of a soon to be free agent. Skill in negotiation, be it a trade or a contract, is the key for a return. The could have asked for 2 good prospects and that kind poor pitcher named Nova in the low minors, and a flier on another
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      So they promote the special advisor of all the bad trades Bill Smith made?
      Well 1 reason would be because ownership wanted to return to dumpster diving.
      As for bill he deserves credit for getting us into the international market , and most of our top prospects were signed under Bill.

      When Mr. Ryan was brought back under the imtrem title, i was hoping his job would be to find a quality replacement to be the new G.M. But once i saw how he low balled all 4 of the free agents, I knew he was here to cut payroll....
      "
      All fans are in ignorance, I get annoyed when it becomes a tool of argument."

      Brother Leviathan said that, now I really understand what he meant
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      I wish to jump into this diatribe. The Twins did not have a year's control of Santana before he was traded. Ryan "stepped down" in September '07 and Santana was traded in the off-season between '07 and '08, about December '07. A poor result, or just a bad trade? Right now that point is moot. Compare to the result of Hunter leaving via free agency at the end of '07. The Twins did recieve a draft pick. Which end result was better for the Twins? Trade or Draft compensation?

      The Twins traded Delmon Young. I guess the only positive for the Twins was the salary saved--which doesn't benefit the fans at all.

      Ryan traded Luis Castillo in July '06 for Drew Butera and another Catcher (both were MiLers at the time), gave Casilla his (first of many) chance to be the next Twins 2B. Or should the Twins have just kept Castillo?

      Kubel had been mentioned as a trade candidate--problem was he was on the DL at the time and couldn't have been traded!

      Cuddyer. True he was a candidate for trade. I don't know if he was offered (he likely was) and who was offered as compensation. I do recall he basically played every game as one of the very few major league players regularly in the line-up. Twins fans were pretty much forced to watch a minor league team as the 2011 season closed with Cuddyer as the lone "name". Uff Da.

      We read last year that everybody including Mauer was made available in August--but there were no deals made. Hmm, maybe our favorites aren't as highly sought by other teams, as many Twins fans think? I don't think Morneau should be part of the 2014 Twins. But I definately would rather watch him finish 2013 as a Twin than have him be traded for the next Jim Hoey.

      I have already stated my position about Willingham, so I won't repeat it.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Wise One View Post
      Decent return for trades happen all the time in the last year of a contract of a soon to be free agent. Skill in negotiation, be it a trade or a contract, is the key for a return. The could have asked for 2 good prospects and that kind poor pitcher named Nova in the low minors, and a flier on another
      I'm sorry, but you clearly don't understand the position he was put in. He should've kept Santana and taken the picks, but again, he was handed a basket of crap in that situation and, not surprisingly, wound up the same in the trade.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      Which end result was better for the Twins? Trade or Draft compensation?

      We read last year that everybody including Mauer was made available in August--but there were no deals made.
      Being bad at trading for value mid-season doesn't exactly make for a strong counter-point. Again, if my point is that their approach to it needs work, you just basically made my point.

      As for "making everyone available" - the only thing we know about Willingham being shopped is that they were asking for big league starting pitching. It's a bit silly to ask a team competing that wants to add a big bat to deal from their current rotation to do it. That's a sure-fire way to make a trade not happen.
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      I'm sorry, but you clearly don't understand the position he was put in. He should've kept Santana and taken the picks, but again, he was handed a basket of crap in that situation and, not surprisingly, wound up the same in the trade.
      We will have to disagree. There is your view of the situation with your spin. Basket of crap? There are people on this board who insist that Santana would have resigned here if only offered the money. It was announced that Ryan was stepping down in September, during the season, after the trade deadline. Again, spin it any way you want.

      To the other guy, SSantana signed a 4 year contract in 2005. So Santana had one year left on a contract when traded.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      The Twins traded Delmon Young. I guess the only positive for the Twins was the salary saved--which doesn't benefit the fans at all.
      Not having to watch him was a benefit to the fans.
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Not having to watch him was a benefit to the fans.
      More food for all of us too.
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