• Twins Season Takes Another Dismal Turn

    Scott Diamond was going to be the carryover success from a 2012 rotation that completely imploded around him. Aaron Hicks was going to be the rookie phenom who served as the harbinger of the bright future ahead. The Twins, configured with a mixture of productive vets and talented youngsters, were going to be an improved club that alleviated the doubts formed by two straight years of utterly awful performance.

    The best laid plans…

    On Thursday, Twins Territory received perhaps its biggest gut punch of the season when Diamond and Hicks were both sent to Triple-A in the wake of an ugly sweep at the hands of the Royals.

    The general sentiment is that these demotions were long overdue. And who could argue? Diamond has barely resembled the pitcher he was last year, when he was a strike-throwing ground ball machine with a potent curveball. The distilled version we've seen in 2013 is not major-league caliber.

    And Hicks, while flashing promising power at times, generally seemed overmatched, and never found sustained traction. After raising his average to a season-high .205 with a 4-for-4 effort on July 8th, he sunk back into oblivion with a .152 average and 19-to-4 K/BB ratio in 75 plate appearances since.

    If you look in the right places, you can find points of positivity in these developments. Hicks is still only 23 and has plenty of time to mature into a quality hitter. The demotion will almost surely delay his service clock, giving the Twins an extra year of control. With a good month against Triple-A pitching he should be back in September, and he'll likely remain a strong bet to open up in the 2014 Twins outfield.

    It's a little tougher to see the bright side with Diamond. He walked a fine line last year as one of baseball's lowest strikeout pitchers, leaning on elite BB and GB rates to suppress opposing lineups. This year he has deteriorated in basically every way imaginable. His walks are up, his grounders are way down, and his already anemic K-rate has plummeted to an absurd depth. At 3.8 K/9IP, he is averaging a full strikeout per game less than the next lowest qualified big-league starter (Bartolo Colon is at 4.8).

    At 27, Diamond is hardly over the hill. He showed the skills last year to be a solid rotation piece -- albeit not a front man -- and it's hard to believe his drastic regression is not related to lingering elbow issues. Can he rebound and return to form? It's the same question being asked of his once-again teammate, Vance Worley, and unfortunately the answers are now as unclear as ever.

    To be sure, the Twins have had plenty of reaffirming successes in the minor leagues this year. Oswaldo Arcia, who will now get another animated hack at the majors after unleashing a merciless onslaught on International League pitching for a couple weeks, is one that stands out. Andrew Albers, whose expected promotion is well deserved after a thoroughly impressive season in Rochester, is another nice story with potential dividends.

    But until we see some of these favorable outcomes play out in the majors, it's tough to feel any measure of satisfaction. As things stand, the Twins appear headed toward a third straight 90-loss season and the signs of progress on the field have been painfully few.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Season Takes Another Dismal Turn started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 109 Comments
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      I just want to say... Personally... I will not slam Moore from the Royals... he needed pitching and he had a surplus of youth... he made a trade to go for it... Steep price but I can see the logic... I wouldn't have done it but I see the logic.

      Nor am I going to slam Terry Ryan... I wasn't expecting a parade this year. It was gonna be a long road and it still is.

      However... I do agree with Rogers's earlier post... Morneau, Willingham, Doumit and Plouffe have been big disappointments and I think that a large part of 2013 should be placed on their shoulders.

      Those guys had 100 dinger potential combined. We will be lucky to get 50 combined!!!

      We have 2 guys leading the team with 10 homers and its August. Pedro Florimon is 3 home runs off the home run lead and that kinda speaks volumes.

      If you are getting that kind of power output... You need to reach base a lot. That ain't working either.
      You still have the worst SP ERA in baseball, despite Ryan's alleged focus on stabilizing and bolstering the SP situation, he has achieved virtually the identical ERA performance numbers to last year's makeshift rotation shambles. The already horrible SP K/9 from 2012 of 5.57 is this year @ 4.77- mindboggling, and no defense can make up for that number over 162 games.

      We can debate why Willingham and Doumit weren't dealt after career years, and why the 2 top-of-the-order OBP guys were traded without viable replacements waiting in the wings or being acquired via FA (Brian Dozier and Jamey Carroll/Chris Herrmann batting 1-2, seriously?).....for the sake of argument, just leave out the offensive side of the equation. There's just no way to sugarcoat the SP situation. This is on Ryan.
    1. WilliesWorld24's Avatar
      WilliesWorld24 -
      "The model for the Twins is not the Yankees, Red Sox or Angels. It is a version of the Rays and As where they are able to hold on to some of thier stars instead of trading them away before they hit free agency."


      I agree, but a few quick points. The Rays and A's model is not the same. The Rays model is to identify elite talent early and sign them to long term deals buying out arb years and first year or two in free agency. Longoria was signed to deal after first game or two of MLB career. This should have been the Mauer approach - Twins would have saved approx $60MM. Other players, Rays make tough decisions and trade talented players earlier rather than later - see Garza, Edwin Jackson, Bartlett, Kazmir, as well as let players go for draft picks - Crawford, BJ Upton, Pena, etc. Oakland flips young players early for a new wave of talent, see Cahill, Andrew Bailey, Gio Gonzalez, etc. and hit on a few reclamation projects - Balfour, Reddick. In either case, these clubs leverage a healthy feeder system in the minors and restock with talent - selling high and early, instead of late or not at all.

      Agree with the Cardinals comment as well - great model. If the Twins utilized the Rays model, Mauer, Morneau, Johan, and Liriano, - elite talent - would have been signed to long-term deals (or if not, had been moved). Kubel, Cuddy, Nathan, Young, Willingham, Crain, Perkins, Hunter, Hardy, Punto, Baker, Pavano, Blackburn, etc. stars or solid major leaguers would have been moved a year or two too early for young, cost controlled talent. Even while competing.

      This is not the Twins way. In what appears to be a more risk adverse model, the Twins wait. And wait. And wait. For what I am not sure - perfect information? Whether it is mid 2000s and not seeing that Johan was an elite pitcher - sign him up - or that they had a logjam of young outfielders in the minors and majors in the early 2000s, or 2010-11 they do not make moves in fear of getting burned. In 2010, the Twins were stocked with plodding slugging OFs with soon to be elapsing contracts in a large Target Field. Rather than weeding and feeding - and perhaps bringing more speed (Revere and Span in the large OF) - the Twins kept all of them - Kubel, Cuddyer, Young, Span, Revere (plus DH Thome) - and trading Hardy (?!?) for a fast (?!?) SS in Nishi. By 2011-12, they were all gone. Why wait for it to play out? If Young is in your plans, sign him. If the club realized that Delmon was a terrible fielder with poor OPS, sell high. Instead the Twins waited and sold low. Even this year, Twins had some assets to move (Fien, Perkins, Pelfrey, etc). If they will not be core to 2015-16 squad, they should be moved for players that may be part of that club. Otherwise the team is treading water

      The talent run-off of the Twins has killed them, and this seems to be a function of the FO's strategy in managing baseball talent cycles, not bad luck. Success is a residue of design - and the Twins design (dumpster diving, collecting 5th starters, undervaluing starting pitching talent) is flawed. So now we wait and hope for 2015-16 for the next wave of talent. And hope is not a plan.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      With the exceptionof Houston, the three teams with the lowest payrolls in baseball are the best teams in the MLs. Houston is going to be very good but they will have to go through the rebuilding process which takes time, just like the twins.

      The answer is not overpriced FAs, especially for a team in the middle of the pack revenue wise. The model for the Twins is not the Yankees, Red Sox or Angels. It is a version of the Rays and As where they are able to hold on to some of thier stars instead of trading them away before they hit free agency.
      I agree, but then everyone should be emulating thise teams,

      The problem with comparing the Twins to the As and Rays is that both teams are far more innovative and less entrenched than the Twins are in old philosophies. Both are on the cutting edge of player evaluation while the Twins movement in that direction has been glacial in its speed.

      In order for the Twins to even begin moving in that direction, you'd be talking about a complete organizational overall, which would need to include the complete dismantling of the good old boys club they have going. I'd love to see it, but it's not going to happen.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by WilliesWorld24 View Post

      This is not the Twins way. In what appears to be a more risk adverse model, the Twins wait. And wait. And wait. For what I am not sure - perfect information? Whether it is mid 2000s and not seeing that Johan was an elite pitcher - sign him up - or that they had a logjam of young outfielders in the minors and majors in the early 2000s, or 2010-11 they do not make moves in fear of getting burned. In 2010, the Twins were stocked with plodding slugging OFs with soon to be elapsing contracts in a large Target Field. Rather than weeding and feeding - and perhaps bringing more speed (Revere and Span in the large OF) - the Twins kept all of them - Kubel, Cuddyer, Young, Span, Revere (plus DH Thome) - and trading Hardy (?!?) for a fast (?!?) SS in Nishi. By 2011-12, they were all gone. Why wait for it to play out? If Young is in your plans, sign him. If the club realized that Delmon was a terrible fielder with poor OPS, sell high. Instead the Twins waited and sold low. Even this year, Twins had some assets to move (Fien, Perkins, Pelfrey, etc). If they will not be core to 2015-16 squad, they should be moved for players that may be part of that club. Otherwise the team is treading water

      The talent run-off of the Twins has killed them, and this seems to be a function of the FO's strategy in managing baseball talent cycles, not bad luck. Success is a residue of design - and the Twins design (dumpster diving, collecting 5th starters, undervaluing starting pitching talent) is flawed. So now we wait and hope for 2015-16 for the next wave of talent. And hope is not a plan.
      Well put.
    1. AROG's Avatar
      AROG -
      Terry Ryan gets a lot of love and hate here, but I think the love is where I sit. He did well in his tenure with the Twins on his first go around, making solid trades and building from within. He had teams that year in and and year out competed for division titles and if they got hot and a little lucky could have won the whole thing once or twice. That is the formula for the Cardinals and every other team not spending stupid amounts on payroll.

      When Ryan took over the last time he took over an aging major league team that was over paid and bad. Also, the minor league system had almost nothing good at any of the top 3 levels. So, he began the rebuild. That starts with getting rid of players that are making too much and can be let go. Hoping some of the ones you hold on to can produce a team that stays competitive.

      That is the goal of every GM during these times, to keep a competitive team on the field that will keep the fan base coming to the games until the team is ready to win again. To accomplish that task, you need to get some "quality" major league fill ins to stop gap. Good ones wont go to a team that doesn't have a shot at winning. Decent ones want a stab in the dark at winning because if the team does win when they shouldn't, those vets often get the praise. People are upset at Ryan for selling bill of goods in the winter about possibly winning this year. Do you think anyone would sign a major league deal with the Twins if they had offers from anyone else had he not said that?

      GM's are salesman with business skills and evaluation abilities. So he was overly optimistic to try and sign some players to have a decent product on the field. Aaron Hicks gets blamed a lot for being over rated and I think that is a bit unfair as well. The man is still young. It takes time to come up and hit well. He didn't get demoted in June because he was hitting .250 since May. July he regressed so they did the smart thing and put him down for service time. Ryan had a back up in mind but he was hurt. Beggars can't be choosers. We don't have anyone better that can fill Hicks' spot. Thomas has been just as bad but we could care less about his service time.

      The team will get better year after year and it is fair to say that in Buxton's rookie year they could compete for a division title. By then some of the other guys that will form the nucleus of the Twins team will have a year or two under their belt and be playing well, not great yet, but well. When that happens free agents will want to come and be apart of a young team that has real talent and could win.

      Sorry for the long winded ramblings. Kinda...
    1. SpitefulRabbit617's Avatar
      SpitefulRabbit617 -
      Man I can't wait until Mastroianni is in CF, loved that speed in Center with hicks. Lord knows Clete isnt that fast.....
    1. ltwedt's Avatar
      ltwedt -
      I get so angry when I think about management and their style - angry because:

      * TR would rather be known as someone who once found a reclamation project and it actually was brilliant - his constant trips to the bargain bin are very trying - and soon will be reflected at the gate.

      * The organization has pissed away three years in the career of the best hitting catcher in MLB history, with minor league pitching. If the Twins get a quality start, they are competitive Why are we so satisfied to see Mauer surrounded by a AA team - yes - AA - that is NOT a typo!

      * If you go to the ball park - you are paying major league prices for minor league baseball? As a season ticket holder I feel as though I have been misled. For 3 years we have broken camp with pitchers who are fortunate to be Twins - they would not be on any other teams 40 man, let alone on the MLB roster.
    1. AROG's Avatar
      AROG -
      Quote Originally Posted by ltwedt View Post
      I get so angry when I think about management and their style - angry because:

      * TR would rather be known as someone who once found a reclamation project and it actually was brilliant - his constant trips to the bargain bin are very trying - and soon will be reflected at the gate.

      * The organization has pissed away three years in the career of the best hitting catcher in MLB history, with minor league pitching. If the Twins get a quality start, they are competitive Why are we so satisfied to see Mauer surrounded by a AA team - yes - AA - that is NOT a typo!

      * If you go to the ball park - you are paying major league prices for minor league baseball? As a season ticket holder I feel as though I have been misled. For 3 years we have broken camp with pitchers who are fortunate to be Twins - they would not be on any other teams 40 man, let alone on the MLB roster.
      What pitcher do you think the Twins could have signed last off season for close to the amount they received that actually would have come to play for this team? Sure, they could pay astronomically high prices for players well above what they are worth and a few would sign. But nobody wants to come play for market value for the team on the field. that is why you have to rebuild. I understand you sentiments, I do, but overpaying is how you get to where we are at. The players wont come back in free agency until we have the team around them to win.
    1. S.'s Avatar
      S. -
      Offering a higher price than the competition is how teams have been signing free agents forever. If that is overpaying, then damn near every single player who has ever signed in free agency was "overpaid". Sure, some (read: very few) players sign at discounts to play with a specific team, but for every 1 player who does that, 100 sign with whoever will pay them the most.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Don't forget, the A's signed a Cuban for tens of millions, more than Ryan has ever spent.......And you know what, I don't want to watch him refuse to fill holes in 4 years when they just are missing that one piece (like earlier this decade), because of whatever reason. I'm ready for him to be gone. He is not McPhail, and we should all realize that.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Nate McLouth, 1 year @ $2M.
      I was talking CFs.
    1. edavis0308's Avatar
      edavis0308 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      Every organization should strive to emulate the Cardinals. They have maintained a very good farm system for many years without high picks. Some of the credit for their player development success goes to Jeffrey Luhnow who joined the Astros before 2012. With the help of two high picks and trades he has turned the dismal Astros farm system into one of the best in baseball. It will be interesting to see how important he was to the Cardinals success.

      The Twins have a good farm system. They need to develop those assets and keep adding to the talent. They need to have patience as those players struggle as they move up to the majors.
      I'm replying to this before I read the whole thread, so forgive me if this gets touched on later.. purely speculation on my part, but does it have anything to do with paying over slot at all for upside? Not having high picks isnt necessarily a kiss of death for collecting talent, but if the Twins save money on high floor guys (until recently), the flip side would be overpaying for high ceiling. Is this what the Cardinals have done, or have they been better at the Twins draft strategy than the Twins themselves?
    1. LastOnePicked's Avatar
      LastOnePicked -
      Quote Originally Posted by WilliesWorld24 View Post
      "The model for the Twins is not the Yankees, Red Sox or Angels. It is a version of the Rays and As where they are able to hold on to some of thier stars instead of trading them away before they hit free agency."


      I agree, but a few quick points. The Rays and A's model is not the same. The Rays model is to identify elite talent early and sign them to long term deals buying out arb years and first year or two in free agency. Longoria was signed to deal after first game or two of MLB career. This should have been the Mauer approach - Twins would have saved approx $60MM. Other players, Rays make tough decisions and trade talented players earlier rather than later - see Garza, Edwin Jackson, Bartlett, Kazmir, as well as let players go for draft picks - Crawford, BJ Upton, Pena, etc. Oakland flips young players early for a new wave of talent, see Cahill, Andrew Bailey, Gio Gonzalez, etc. and hit on a few reclamation projects - Balfour, Reddick. In either case, these clubs leverage a healthy feeder system in the minors and restock with talent - selling high and early, instead of late or not at all.

      Agree with the Cardinals comment as well - great model. If the Twins utilized the Rays model, Mauer, Morneau, Johan, and Liriano, - elite talent - would have been signed to long-term deals (or if not, had been moved). Kubel, Cuddy, Nathan, Young, Willingham, Crain, Perkins, Hunter, Hardy, Punto, Baker, Pavano, Blackburn, etc. stars or solid major leaguers would have been moved a year or two too early for young, cost controlled talent. Even while competing.

      This is not the Twins way. In what appears to be a more risk adverse model, the Twins wait. And wait. And wait. For what I am not sure - perfect information? Whether it is mid 2000s and not seeing that Johan was an elite pitcher - sign him up - or that they had a logjam of young outfielders in the minors and majors in the early 2000s, or 2010-11 they do not make moves in fear of getting burned. In 2010, the Twins were stocked with plodding slugging OFs with soon to be elapsing contracts in a large Target Field. Rather than weeding and feeding - and perhaps bringing more speed (Revere and Span in the large OF) - the Twins kept all of them - Kubel, Cuddyer, Young, Span, Revere (plus DH Thome) - and trading Hardy (?!?) for a fast (?!?) SS in Nishi. By 2011-12, they were all gone. Why wait for it to play out? If Young is in your plans, sign him. If the club realized that Delmon was a terrible fielder with poor OPS, sell high. Instead the Twins waited and sold low. Even this year, Twins had some assets to move (Fien, Perkins, Pelfrey, etc). If they will not be core to 2015-16 squad, they should be moved for players that may be part of that club. Otherwise the team is treading water

      The talent run-off of the Twins has killed them, and this seems to be a function of the FO's strategy in managing baseball talent cycles, not bad luck. Success is a residue of design - and the Twins design (dumpster diving, collecting 5th starters, undervaluing starting pitching talent) is flawed. So now we wait and hope for 2015-16 for the next wave of talent. And hope is not a plan.
      Outstanding post. Just outstanding.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      The Cards also signed some legit free agents.....no, they have guys drafted since the slotting system that are rated highly, and some contributing at the MLB already. They are just good at drafting and developing, really good.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      One question for the loyalists here, how long does this continue before major changes should be made? (Moving Smith to a different office and changing some minor coaches doesn’t count).
      Personally I want Gardy replaced after this season and Ryan gone after 2014 if there is not clear progress with the mlb team. I'm pretty sure Ryan will resign if 2014 is another bad year, so win-win, right?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      I was talking CFs.
      McClouth is more than capable of playing CF. He has over 500 games played there. Orioles have Jones in CF, which is why he doesn't play CF.
    1. jharaldson's Avatar
      jharaldson -
      Regardless of if you agree with the strategy Terry Ryan took this season or not I think Nick's point of the youth movement being dismal in 2013 is spot on. If you take projections for the team like those provided by Phil Mackey:

      Mackey: Projecting the Minnesota Twins' 2013 regular season record | 1500 ESPN Twin Cities ? Minnesota Sports News & Opinion (Twins, Vikings, Wolves, Wild, Gophers) | Sportswire: Minnesota Twins

      And compare them to actuals for the young guys we wanted to take steps forward it is pretty depressing:

      Proj OBP Proj SLG Proj OPS Real OPS Dif
      Aaron Hicks 0.315 0.388 0.703 0.597 -0.106
      Chris Parmelee 0.335 0.425 0.760 0.675 -0.085
      Trevor Plouffe 0.306 0.444 0.750 0.702 -0.048
      Brian Dozier 0.306 0.367 0.673 0.688 0.015
      Pedro Florimon 0.293 0.336 0.629 0.639 0.010
      Pitcher Proj ERA Real ERA Dif
      Vance Worley 4.00 7.21 3.21
      Scott Diamond 4.15 5.52 1.37
      Kyle Gibson 4.07 6.21 2.14
      Samuel Deduno 4.79 3.18 -1.61

      Of these 9 guys that were supposed to be a supporting cast to what would be a Mauer/Sano/Buxton/Meyer core there is one bright spot (Deduno) 2 guys that have been fine (Dozier/Florimon) and a bunch of failure.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by edavis0308 View Post
      I'm replying to this before I read the whole thread, so forgive me if this gets touched on later.. purely speculation on my part, but does it have anything to do with paying over slot at all for upside? Not having high picks isnt necessarily a kiss of death for collecting talent, but if the Twins save money on high floor guys (until recently), the flip side would be overpaying for high ceiling. Is this what the Cardinals have done, or have they been better at the Twins draft strategy than the Twins themselves?
      They have mixed well. Cardinals have a great system now but it has had its ups and downs. It was one of the worst a couple of years ago and the team coincidentally had a lull.

      I think many grand sweeping conclusions get drawn from a couple of years of data and all the answers can be found that way. There needs to be a little more context in some of these posts. Baseball franchise arcs take time, people are way too reactionary positively and negatively to short amounts of time.

      The Twins suck right now but they did just come off a great decade. Rebuilds surely take time. We as fans better hope this wave emerges as it should or getting rid of Ryan will be the least of our worries regarding this franchise.
    1. S.'s Avatar
      S. -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      The Twins suck right now but they did just come off a great decade.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      McClouth is more than capable of playing CF. He has over 500 games played there. Orioles have Jones in CF, which is why he doesn't play CF.
      That was a couple years ago and he was pretty poor at it then.

      But yes he is a functional mlb player so he could hypothetically do it.
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