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  • Trying to Calm the Crashing Storm

    Three years ago, the Minnesota Twins were in an ideal position. The organization was proud to be opening Target Field on a beautiful day in downtown Minneapolis. Minnesota would be on their way to 94 wins, the most for the franchise since the 2006 season. It would be a memorable season for Twins Territory but there were some problems starting to bubble under the surface.

    The dreaded Yankees were again waiting for the Twins in the first round. It was another quick exit from the postseason but things seemed to look fine to the blind eye. Those views of the team would quickly fall apart with injuries, poor play, and bad decisions. Minnesota has fallen far since that day in the Bronx.

    Teams that suffer this kind of defeat can find it hard to get back on their feet. Minnesota won six division titles from 2002-2010 but only one of those playoff trips resulted in a trip to the ALCS. The price of losing can start to add up and for some teams, that price can result in a decade long struggle to get back to the top.

    One of the toughest things to do when a team wins or when a team loses is to divide the credit or the blame. There are going to be plenty of people who want to take credit when things are going well for a franchise. If things are going the opposite way, there will be plenty of finger pointing. The bitterness in defeat can be a lot harder for a franchise to overcome.

    After the team's tough 2011 season, two of the most vocal members of the clubhouse left the franchise through free agency. Michael Cuddyer had been the longest tenured Twins player and he offered a veteran presence. Joe Nathan set the franchise record for saves but he saw a better opportunity to win in Texas. Now there are other veteran players on the club but most of their personalities are calm and reserved.

    There have been other casualties as the storm has continued to build.

    Bill Smith was given a lot of responsibility when the club handed him the reigns in September 2007. He would be the man in charge of trading away Johan Santana, signing franchise player Joe Mauer, and preparing the team to enter Target Field. These were challenging items and the team went in a different direction in 2011.

    Minnesota went back to Terry Ryan. There have been some tough decisions with him back in the saddle. Denard Span and Ben Revere were traded this offseason to try and build up some organizational pitching depth. Some other tough decisions could be on the horizon.

    Justin Morneau has been an important part of the franchise over the last decade. He won an MVP and was selected to four consecutive All-Star Games. Concussion issues and other injures have limited his playing time. The Twins made sure to sign him to a deal that would keep him in a TC uniform until the new stadium opened. That deal expires at the end of the year and he could be dealt before July's deadline.

    The coaching staff saw it's biggest shake-up since Tom Kelly resigned after the 2001 season. Ron Gardenhire is in the last year of his contract. There are fresh faces on his staff but it's hard to have hope that the club will get off to a good start. This could mean the end of Gardy's tenure as Twins manager and maybe that's the best path for the franchise.

    It seems the Twins are entering a new phase. There will be plenty of new faces on the roster for Opening Day. The minor league system is stocked and some of the best young hitters in the game could be getting closer to Target Field this season.

    One of the hardest things to do in sports is to reinvent an organization. Terry Ryan knows this. His job is to calm the gathering storm. There will be other changes but fans can have hope that the clouds will part and the sun will shine through on a bright future in Minnesota.
    This article was originally published in blog: Trying to Calm the Crashing Storm started by Cody Christie
    Comments 13 Comments
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Blaming Bill Smith for this mess makes no sense and it is totally unfair. If anything, Smith is the one who made the organization a top player in the international market going after the major free agents that Ryan could not dream of.

      Smith was a manager. He was not a "Baseball person". So all the baseball decisions were delegated to the scouts and the manager and the coaches. Blame them.
    1. Rock65's Avatar
      Rock65 -
      You have to have pitching and your not going to find someone too do a better job than Gardy has done if he doesn't have pitching
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Blaming Bill Smith for this mess makes no sense and it is totally unfair. If anything, Smith is the one who made the organization a top player in the international market going after the major free agents that Ryan could not dream of.

      Smith was a manager. He was not a "Baseball person". So all the baseball decisions were delegated to the scouts and the manager and the coaches. Blame them.
      I did not see anywhere that Smith was blamed
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Smith was a manager. He was not a "Baseball person". So all the baseball decisions were delegated to the scouts and the manager and the coaches. Blame them.
      There is something to this point of view. OTOH no executive usually has all the skills necessary for success, and he makes up for the weaknesses by hiring the right people. Ultimately the buck still has to stop with the guy sitting in the big chair, and if his particular deficiencies are such that even the right deputies can't cover them then he has to take the blame, and eventually the fall.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      I have faith personally in Ryan, his trades this off season were very well and other than the Correia signing which was bad, all his other signings since taking back over were pretty good!

      I am anxious to see if he can get some solid value for Willingham, morneau and possibly Perkins as 2014 should be exciting as the twins will have a ton of payroll and guys like Hicks, Arcia, Gibson, Meyer and maybe even May ready to contribute quite a bit!
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Blaming Bill Smith for this mess makes no sense and it is totally unfair. If anything, Smith is the one who made the organization a top player in the international market going after the major free agents that Ryan could not dream of.

      Smith was a manager. He was not a "Baseball person". So all the baseball decisions were delegated to the scouts and the manager and the coaches. Blame them.
      If Smith isn't a "baseball person", he probably shouldn't have accepted a position as the general manager of a professional baseball franchise.

      Either Smith gets credit for great moves like signing Sano AND blame for disasters like the Santana and Garza/Bartlett trades and the Nishi fiasco, or he gets neither. Personally, I have no idea how anyone can ignore the importance of a GM's role in determining the course of a franchise, so I'm going with the former.

      Smith took over a perennial contender with strong, young core and a huge trading chip in his back pocket, and left the Twins with some fine low minors hitting prospects, zero pitching from top to bottom, two playoff sweeps by the Yankees, and the start of a string of 90+ loss seasons.

      In other words, there's very little to distinguish what Smith did to the Twins from what a mole from a division rival would do to quietly go about sabotaging the Twins. And he did it while being aided by most of the same "baseball people" that Ryan utilized.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      I have faith personally in Ryan, his trades this off season were very well and other than the Correia signing which was bad, all his other signings since taking back over were pretty good!

      I am anxious to see if he can get some solid value for Willingham, morneau and possibly Perkins as 2014 should be exciting as the twins will have a ton of payroll and guys like Hicks, Arcia, Gibson, Meyer and maybe even May ready to contribute quite a bit!
      I liked Ryan as a GM when he left. After 4 years of Smith and, like you said, the non-Correia moves he's made since coming back, I reeally like Ryan.
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      I have faith personally in Ryan, his trades this off season were very well and other than the Correia signing which was bad, all his other signings since taking back over were pretty good!

      I am anxious to see if he can get some solid value for Willingham, morneau and possibly Perkins as 2014 should be exciting as the twins will have a ton of payroll and guys like Hicks, Arcia, Gibson, Meyer and maybe even May ready to contribute quite a bit!
      The explanation of the Correa signing will be in Ryan's memories. It will be avaialable only after 100000 copies are sold. Every remainng Twins fan will buy one to find out what the heck Ryan was thinking signnig Correa for the second year. My personal bet is all the other third tier free agents wanted 10 million a year to pitch for the Twins, so Ryan thought he was getting a bargain.

      Yes I am mostly joking. I don't want to get "up northed"
    1. Mchans24's Avatar
      Mchans24 -
      The Correa signing will turn out to be a good deal. He will win 24 games over two years. He will be Carl Pavano pre-2012. We paid Carl 7million per if I remember correctly? Nobody seemed to mind that deal? Tired of listening to people whine about a guy looonnnnggggg before we saw him pitch! Looked pretty good today against the Tigers!
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      It's interesting to think about: how might the Bill Smith years have been different if Terry Ryan was still in charge.

      In some ways, Terry Ryan's second tour is a testament that there would have been different choices. I'm not sure how else the guy takes the job.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mchans24 View Post
      The Correa signing will turn out to be a good deal. He will win 24 games over two years. He will be Carl Pavano pre-2012. We paid Carl 7million per if I remember correctly? Nobody seemed to mind that deal? Tired of listening to people whine about a guy looonnnnggggg before we saw him pitch! Looked pretty good today against the Tigers!

      Do you only watch Twins games? I've watched Correia pitch PLENTY. He has an average ERA+ over the last 3 years of 78. I'm sorry, what did you think people were gonna say when Ryan said he was going to seriously improve the rotation and he brings in Correia.

      We all want to eat crow when it comes to him...but one game doesn't change anything...it's extremely unlikely he comes to the AL and IMPROVES.
    1. Mchans24's Avatar
      Mchans24 -
      Correia is 25% to my prediction of 12 wind this year.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mchans24 View Post
      Correia is 25% to my prediction of 12 wind this year.
      The thread for this is "Fun with Numbers"
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