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  • Three-Bagger: Deja Vu, Home Sickness & Being Like Beane

    * Parallels between the aftermaths of Joe Mauer's mid-August concussion and the one that derailed Justin Morneau's career in 2010 are frighteningly numerous.

    Much like Morneau, Mauer suffered his injury on a seemingly innocuous play -- a hard foul tip to the helmet, not noticeably different than the hundreds that had preceded it. Like with Morneau, the Twins did not initially express great concern over the severity of the incident. But, like Morneau, Mauer has been sidelined longer than expected, and is still experiencing "bad days" weeks after the blow.

    Mauer and Morneau have always been linked -- the M&M Boys, the MVPs, the heart of the lineup -- so to see Mauer following down the same depressing path that robbed Morneau of perhaps his best years is hard.

    Of course, there's no reason to think Mauer will experience quite so many long-term complications, and in fact it sounds as though the Twins still expect him to play sometime during the last couple weeks of the season.

    If he does, it certainly won't be at catcher, and whether or not he will return to his native position at all figures to be a central talking point this offseason.

    * After being shut out in their own park on consecutive nights Friday and Saturday, the Twins rebounded Sunday to win the finale in their weekend series with the Rays. Nevertheless, the Twins are now 4-16 in their last 20 games at Target Field. They haven't won a series at home since sweeping the Astros at the beginning of August.

    Brutal to see the team playing so poorly in front of the local fans.

    * When the A's came to town last week and throttled the Twins, discussion naturally turned to the subject of team payrolls.

    Oakland, with its modest $68 million payroll, is in first place in the AL West, ahead of the Angels ($142 million) and Rangers ($127 million). In light of this fact, 1500 ESPN's Phil Mackey argued that the solution to the Twins' woes is not to start spending wildly, but rather to emulate the A's.

    I'd love it if the Twins could replicate what the Athletics have done, building a contending team cheaply by selling high on talent, drafting and developing scores of young pitchers, and identifying high-value free agents. Unfortunately, they have shown no ability to excel in any of those areas recently.

    As Mackey himself points out, the only two starting pitchers that the Twins have drafted and guided to the major-league ranks in the past eight years are Kyle Gibson and Jeff Manship. When you put yourself in such a situation, spending (some would say overspending) on established talent is pretty much the only course of action, unless you're looking to remain in a perpetual rebuilding state.

    For what it's worth, Jim Pohlad seems to recognize this. He recently assured Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press that the Twins would spend "any amount of money" on adding a player they like provided that the deal doesn't involve an extremely lengthy commitment.

    Will the frugal Terry Ryan, who has been notoriously wary of putting big money into free agency, be able to embrace such a philosophy? We shall have to see.
    This article was originally published in blog: Three-Bagger: Deja Vu, Home Sickness & Being Like Beane started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      The starters Oakland have drafted and developed in the last 10 years were Cahil, Straily, Griffin and Gray. Only Cahil has been a starter for more than 2 years in the majors. Same time period the starters the Twins drafted and developed were Baker, Gara, Slowey and Gibson. Yes Slowey declined after his first full year in the majors. That is why I would wait as Oakland pitchers are completing their first full year. They have traded for major league ready pitching. After a down year in 2011 they traded their players to reload. When the Twins started a down year, they did not really have that kind of talent to move for more talent.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      I'd love it if the Twins could replicate what the Athletics have done, building a contending team cheaply by selling high on talent, drafting and developing scores of young pitchers, and identifying high-value free agents.
      The Rays have done this even better than the A's.

      But Twins are different than the Rays & the A's. Twins have a statdium that should give them the flexibility to go after guys in the FA market to cover up their misakes. Sure, they sill should be selling high on SOME guys, but at the same time locking in others.

      Frankly, they need to be better at Self Scouting. They need to identify guys in the own system better and have a plan. For example, I wonder what they could've gotten for Hicks during their CF'er dump of last offseason. - Instead of Revere.
    1. J-Dog Dungan's Avatar
      J-Dog Dungan -
      It seems like Ryan's philosophy might be a little contradictory; usually, when you spend money on players, it also involves a long-term committment; could someone with a better understanding of that statement help me out here?
    1. orangevening's Avatar
      orangevening -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      For example, I wonder what they could've gotten for Hicks during their CF'er dump of last offseason. - Instead of Revere.
      Not Worley and May for sure. Revere was a fairly established major leaguer with a minor league track record of hitting .300 at every level. Hicks had one good year a AA
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by J-Dog Dungan View Post
      It seems like Ryan's philosophy might be a little contradictory; usually, when you spend money on players, it also involves a long-term committment; could someone with a better understanding of that statement help me out here?

      He's giving himself an out when they don't sign anyone significant. "We were willing to spend that kind of mony, but X years would have been a foolish risk."
    1. SgtSchmidt11's Avatar
      SgtSchmidt11 -
      Quote Originally Posted by J-Dog Dungan View Post
      It seems like Ryan's philosophy might be a little contradictory; usually, when you spend money on players, it also involves a long-term committment; could someone with a better understanding of that statement help me out here?
      My understanding is that this meant contracts of 5 years or longer.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Great article Nick and I saw your discussion with Mackey on twitter.

      The point I think he misses and that frustrates me about his perspective and those that share it is that, for the Twins, spending money isn't mutually exclusive with doing what the A's and Rays do. The Twins are in a position to do both. As you've pointed out, unfortunately, they haven't been able to evaluate, develop, and flip talent like the A's and Rays and are left with just one option in the near future for competitiveness.
    1. ThejacKmp's Avatar
      ThejacKmp -
      Quote Originally Posted by J-Dog Dungan View Post
      It seems like Ryan's philosophy might be a little contradictory; usually, when you spend money on players, it also involves a long-term committment; could someone with a better understanding of that statement help me out here?
      The Twins and Ryan aren't interested in signing 3-5 year deals with pitchers because (IMO) (a) though they have money now, they want to make sure they have the funds to sign guys like Buxton, Sano, Rosario etc. early in their careers ala Longoria; (b) they anticipate having the young pitching they've drafted bear fruit in the next 2-3 years so they see this - rightly or wrongly - as a short term solution; and (c) the Twins don't like signing pitchers to long term contracts because they are concerned about tying up resources in a commodity that bears more risk long-term.

      I can't say I entirely disagree with this assessment of their fortunes either. It would be nice to lock up the Twins core of talent early and there are pitchers I have high hopes for. That said, I hope they're willing to be flexible with the third year because the kinds of pitchers signing 1 and 2 year deals are the correia types. While I'd love to see the Twins take some shots on short term contracts for the Santanas (can we stick on a mutual vesting option for a second year?), I hope we sign at least one veteran pitcher like a Kyle Loshe (3 years $33 million). He's not the greatest pitcher but he's immediately the Twins best pitcher and when you start getting guys like Gibson and Stewart and Mays up in the majors, he looks very nice as your #3 pitcher.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
      Great article Nick and I saw your discussion with Mackey on twitter.

      The point I think he misses and that frustrates me about his perspective and those that share it is that, for the Twins, spending money isn't mutually exclusive with doing what the A's and Rays do. The Twins are in a position to do both. As you've pointed out, unfortunately, they haven't been able to evaluate, develop, and flip talent like the A's and Rays and are left with just one option in the near future for competitiveness.
      This is spot on. If they want to be cheap they need better scouts and front office people. Spending gives you a chance to cover up for not having that. Mackey seems to be in the pocket of the Twins. He goes along with the talking points for the day a lot and when he has Gardy or Ryan on it's mostly softball questions.
      Some people still seem to think that money not spent this year goes in the kitty for future years and it doesn't. That has been stated many times by Pohlad and the front office. Each year is a new year. Saving money now does not mean spending big down the road.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThejacKmp View Post
      The Twins and Ryan aren't interested in signing 3-5 year deals with pitchers because (IMO) (a) though they have money now, they want to make sure they have the funds to sign guys like Buxton, Sano, Rosario etc. early in their careers ala Longoria; (b) they anticipate having the young pitching they've drafted bear fruit in the next 2-3 years so they see this - rightly or wrongly - as a short term solution; and (c) the Twins don't like signing pitchers to long term contracts because they are concerned about tying up resources in a commodity that bears more risk long-term.
      What kind of budget are we operating on? The Rays signed Longoria to a 6 year 17.5 million dollar contract... or, 3m per year. The Twins have a 100m payroll potential, they could sign 33 players for that type of contract. The Twins don't need to even think about FA for Sano, Rosario etc. for another 4 years.

      You want to just wait around in mediocrity (or less) until the perfect opportunity comes? You have to add talent to win games, one way is by over-paying for a FA pitcher. There is no getting around it. Proven players cost money. Sooner or later the Twins will have to bit the bullet and pay up.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Looking at that A's rotation made me wonder how one team can do it soooo much better than another. Cycling guys and trading at high value is tricky business, and they seem to have it nailed.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      The Twins are suffering from three years of focusing on position players int he first couple of rounds. 2006, 2007 and 2008 were not good drafts at all for pitchers. But there is some hope that the last four years of pitching rich drafts will bear fruit. And if you look at High A and below, you see a very well-stocked system. Patience.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      The Twins are suffering from three years of focusing on position players int he first couple of rounds. 2006, 2007 and 2008 were not good drafts at all for pitchers. But there is some hope that the last four years of pitching rich drafts will bear fruit. And if you look at High A and below, you see a very well-stocked system. Patience.
      I don't really buy into this line of thinking. The flame-out rate for pitchers that look promising in Single-A and below is pretty high. Relying on these guys as the sole hope for a resurgence is risky business, because if the majority of them don't pan out you're probably just going to stay stuck in the same cycle.

      I think the Twins need to build up some strength at the major-league level and hope that, once guys like Stewart, Berrios, Gonsalves etc are ready to graduate, they can supplement an existing rotation that is at least respectable.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by J-Dog Dungan View Post
      It seems like Ryan's philosophy might be a little contradictory; usually, when you spend money on players, it also involves a long-term committment; could someone with a better understanding of that statement help me out here?
      Well, first, it was Pohlad with the quote, not Ryan. And second, in the article he specifically called out seven- or eight-year deals as the type he'd want to avoid. Which is fully understandable.
    1. BHtwins's Avatar
      BHtwins -
      I think the A's draft, sign and trade for baseball talent. The Twins and most of the other league to some extent are over concerned with tools that they hope to develop into baseball talent.

      The A's figured out a long time ago that baseball talent is inheritantly different than athletic tools. If a pitcher strikes out a lot of guys at every amateur level there is a good chance as he progresses through the professional ranks that will hold true. They dont freak out when his fastball tops out at 89 because they are more concerned about the objective results.

      Any G.M. can draft Joe Mauer or Byron Buxton and have a good idea that there is a good chance that got a good player. Its the later rounds, the trades and the free agency that a roster is filled out.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      What kind of budget are we operating on? The Rays signed Longoria to a 6 year 17.5 million dollar contract... or, 3m per year. The Twins have a 100m payroll potential, they could sign 33 players for that type of contract. The Twins don't need to even think about FA for Sano, Rosario etc. for another 4 years.

      You want to just wait around in mediocrity (or less) until the perfect opportunity comes? You have to add talent to win games, one way is by over-paying for a FA pitcher. There is no getting around it. Proven players cost money. Sooner or later the Twins will have to bit the bullet and pay up.
      Longoria has a contract that runs 2023 and will pay him 130 million if the team does not exercise it's option.
      You really are only overpaying for a player when they are signed to a role they cannot perform. Gil Meche comes to mind. You also are overpaying when you sign players to contracts they will not be able to fulfill. Luis Castillo a 4 year contract at age 38 comes to mind. If a player signs a contract for a high level of pay and meets the standard, Torii Hunter with California, then you made a good deal. Cliff Lee would appear to have been a great sign. It is tough to come up with a 4+ year contract for a pitcher that worked out. Sabathia was until he lost weight.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
      Great article Nick and I saw your discussion with Mackey on twitter.

      The point I think he misses and that frustrates me about his perspective and those that share it is that, for the Twins, spending money isn't mutually exclusive with doing what the A's and Rays do. The Twins are in a position to do both. As you've pointed out, unfortunately, they haven't been able to evaluate, develop, and flip talent like the A's and Rays and are left with just one option in the near future for competitiveness.
      Good point. Assuming that you can only be either a cheapskate or a spendthrift is foolish. The Twins don't need to emulate the cheapest or spendiest team in the league. In fact, if there's one model the Twins might wisely emulate, it would be something more like the New England Patriots, where they maintain a more equitable balance of salaries across the board, thus sustaining strong play from every position.

      Right now the Twins seem eager to maintain a roster largely composed of guys playing at or near the major league minimum wage. I wonder if they'd get better production if the team decided to pay every player on the major league roster at least $1 million per year. Would that help motivate players in the minors?
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Quote Originally Posted by BHtwins View Post
      I think the A's draft, sign and trade for baseball talent. The Twins and most of the other league to some extent are over concerned with tools that they hope to develop into baseball talent.

      The A's figured out a long time ago that baseball talent is inheritantly different than athletic tools. If a pitcher strikes out a lot of guys at every amateur level there is a good chance as he progresses through the professional ranks that will hold true. They dont freak out when his fastball tops out at 89 because they are more concerned about the objective results.

      Any G.M. can draft Joe Mauer or Byron Buxton and have a good idea that there is a good chance that got a good player. Its the later rounds, the trades and the free agency that a roster is filled out.
      Which A's pitcher are you referring to? If it is Colon, they have gotten very lucky with him this year and I doubt he'll replicate this performance again. The A's have been good at identifying pitchers, but they have yet to even make it to a world series. I don't think they are a golden franchise by any stretch.

      The later rounds fill out a roster with who exactly? The first round and INTL FA is where most of the talent in the MLB comes from. You can always hit on a guy like Rosario or even Pujols, but it is the exception not the rule.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Longoria has a contract that runs 2023 and will pay him 130 million if the team does not exercise it's option.
      You really are only overpaying for a player when they are signed to a role they cannot perform. Gil Meche comes to mind. You also are overpaying when you sign players to contracts they will not be able to fulfill. Luis Castillo a 4 year contract at age 38 comes to mind. If a player signs a contract for a high level of pay and meets the standard, Torii Hunter with California, then you made a good deal. Cliff Lee would appear to have been a great sign. It is tough to come up with a 4+ year contract for a pitcher that worked out. Sabathia was until he lost weight.
      Longoria signed that deal in 2008 that consumed all his team control and arb years. He just signed a 10 year deal last fall.
    1. BHtwins's Avatar
      BHtwins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      The A's have been good at identifying pitchers, but they have yet to even make it to a world series. I don't think they are a golden franchise by any stretch.
      They've been as good or better than the Twins for cheaper and longer. If World Series is your threshold...how many have the Twins won? or even play-off series?

      I'm not saying they are a golden franchise, I'm saying they make better use of their resources than the Twins
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