• Dissension on Spending?

    Earlier this month, while calling his team's play "embarrassing" (this was before the pitching staff coughed up 39 runs in a four-game sweep at Oakland over the weekend), owner Jim Pohlad expressed his dedication to turning things around, suggesting that he was ready to make a significant financial commitment toward that end.

    "We made a couple trades last year; I'm not sure that we can rely on that this year," Pohlad told Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press. "So if we're going to do something, it's going to have to be that way (free agency)."

    Pohlad went on to say that the Twins would be willing to spend spend "any amount of money" on a current-year contract for an acquired player, hinting that he'd like to see at least one true impact arm added to help solidify this rotten rotation.

    Ron Gardenhire also sees a clear need for pitching reinforcements. "I don't think we have enough ready arms to step into this rotation," Gardy recently admitted. "We have lots of candidates. But are these guys ready to turn you around? I don't think so."

    You can hardly blame Pohlad or Gardenhire for feeling some urgency on this front. While the Twins have limped to three straight 90-plus loss seasons, Pohlad has seen revenues drop along with attendance, while Gardy's job has fallen into danger. The option of staying the course and remaining patient starts to look far less palatable when there's no real progress being shown on the field.

    And yet, despite the mounting evidence that several individuals within the organization would like to see meaningful steps toward fast improvement, Terry Ryan is singing a very different -- yet familiar -- tune. "If we're going to do anything here (to) succeed in the near and long-term, it's probably not going to be in free agency," said the general manager.

    So we've got a manager begging for help. An owner in agreement, who says trades are probably not a realistic avenue and that he'd like to see the club spend to add talent from free agency. And a GM, holding all the strings, insisting that he plans to eschew the risk-filled free agent market until the team is closer to where it needs to be.

    Amidst all this, there's a bevy of money available. The Twins will be as much as $30-40 million below their targeted budget this offseason, and that's before you account for the added $25 million or so in revenue that pours in as a result of the new league-wide media deals. Ryan has not only permission but perhaps even a mandate to open up the wallet and finally bring in some difference-makers for the rotation -- something he clearly failed to do last winter despite his efforts.

    Will he be willing to set aside the philosophies that he has always embraced, and that he continues to espouse, in order to satisfy the stated desires of ownership, the manager and frustrated fans? Or can he find a way to shrewdly get the rotation on the right track without spending significant dollars? The latter scenario seems unlikely, considering that -- as Pohlad implied -- there aren't many assets to trade, and the last few bargain free agents that the team has signed -- Jason Marquis, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey -- have failed to move the needle.

    It will be an interesting storyline to follow. This much is certain: Pohlad's lamentations about the club's embarrassing play and Gardenhire's admissions about the current group of pitchers being unacceptable have never rung more true than this past weekend in Oakland, where Minnesota's hurlers were absolutely battered in one of the game's most pitcher-friendly parks (albeit against a quality offense).

    I'm not a believer that the Twins need to aggressively pursue stars with the goal of contending next year. But there's a large difference between contending and what we've seen unfold here for a third straight year. This is pitiful, completely uncompetitive baseball, and everyone -- from the owner, to the manager, to the fans -- deserves better.

    Hopefully Ryan can agree with that.
    This article was originally published in blog: Dissension on Spending? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 100 Comments
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      "But there's a large difference between contending and what we've seen unfold here for a third straight year. "

      Amen.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      GM's don't generally win a battle of wills with the owner.
    1. jm3319's Avatar
      jm3319 -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      GM's don't generally win a battle of wills with the owner.
      I don't see how it's even a battle at this point. The owner is telling the GM to spend the OWNER's money......As a GM (or any person, really) how can it get any better than that?

      Other team's GM's have to work on limited funds and would kill for a few extra million to play with. Now it seems Terry Ryan is refusing the spend, or spend very little. Blows my mind.
    1. ChiTownTwinsFan's Avatar
      ChiTownTwinsFan -
      I would think that an owner and a GM would be on the same page, or at least close to the same page. Ryan and Jim Pohlad seem to be talking from the opposite sides of the fence. That all makes me wonder what is going on internally. Why the mixed messages? Is this a bad cop/good cop routine? Or is there internal struggle? Can't see Ryan winning that if that is true. Or is this something that will all come to a head in the off season? I guess all one can do is wait and see. While the years have given me nothing to truly hope for, I still hope. Personally, if you want to change the internal culture of the organization, you need to start at the top. While I don't think Ryan will be out of a job, imo, he should be the first to go in making the changes needed to right the ship. The new GM's first job will be dealing with the manager. But, all this is just my wish for something better; it's still a waiting game.
    1. Wookiee of the Year's Avatar
      Wookiee of the Year -
      I have to wonder if there's some Good Cop/Bad Cop going on here. Jim Pohlad wants to be seen as the benevolent owner, so he offers a quote suggesting a willingness to spend big. Meanwhile, Terry Ryan's job is to temper expectations, so he says that Free Agency isn't a silver bullet for the Twins. (Gardy, of course, just wants to keep his job, so tries to artfully deflect blame for a 90-loss season.)

      Makes me think the truth lies in between--Pohlad and Ryan both know they're going to need to do a bit of spending this off-season, but it won't turn the team into play-off contenders in 2014. And if things go awry and there aren't any solid pitchers to be had for reasonable money (or fans are simply disappointed by the overall Free Agent haul), then at least Pohlad's been quoted announcing his financial commitment to the team and TR gets to look like the penny-pinching miser keeping the Twins from respectability.
    1. DuluthFan's Avatar
      DuluthFan -
      It would be a very unwise negotiation strategy for any GM to say "We have an open checkbook. How much do you want?" The players would have the upper hand in the negotiations. It is the GM's job to get the best deal and field a team. He wouldn't be doing his job if he is just throwing money around. It's ok for the owner indicate that the team is looking to spend money. He will not be doing the negotiating. His statements are pointed more towards the agents to consider pointing their clients towards the Twins. If the Twins are going to go against their usual free agency dealings, the free agents need to know that considering the Twins as an option will be worth at least a call or two.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      " While the Twins have limped to three straight 90-plus loss seasons,...." more like:
    1. SpitefulRabbit617's Avatar
      SpitefulRabbit617 -
      Pfft, I'll believe Terry Ryan any day over a Pohlad. Terry Ryan isn't the one who sold us on funding a new stadium so we could increase revenue. All big name pitchers on 1 year deals. Its not like we can do any worse.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by DuluthFan View Post
      It would be a very unwise negotiation strategy for any GM to say "We have an open checkbook. How much do you want?" The players would have the upper hand in the negotiations. It is the GM's job to get the best deal and field a team. He wouldn't be doing his job if he is just throwing money around. It's ok for the owner indicate that the team is looking to spend money. He will not be doing the negotiating. His statements are pointed more towards the agents to consider pointing their clients towards the Twins. If the Twins are going to go against their usual free agency dealings, the free agents need to know that considering the Twins as an option will be worth at least a call or two.
      I actually would disagree. Last year Ryan complained that free agents didn't want to come to Minnesota. Many people around here didn't buy it, believing that Ryan simply didn't put the best offers out there. If Ryan was being honest last year (or partially honest) then the Twins need to be out front this year with a big sign saying "Open For Business."

      It's going to take an image change to attract free agents. If free agents don't want to come here due to the losing, the Twins need to be advertising that the culture has changed and they are willing to do what it takes to win. Cleveland did it last year and they didn't have trouble courting free agents.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      I think there are 2 reasons to believe the Pohlad's might be willing to spend. First, Jim, Robert and William might want to step out of the "cheap" shadow that Carl created with his spending habits. If that is true than what better time to show you're willing to spend than on a 90 loss team with huge holes?

      Second, none of the remaining Pohlads have won a World Series. There might be a desire to bring home a championship even if it means spending to do so. Remember Carl won two early on in his tenure of ownership. Do the kids want to show they can follow in dad's footsteps?
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Hicks, Arcia, Gibson, and Pinto all were able to get their feet wet in the majors this year and all should play bigger roles next year. It isn't outside of possibility that Sano, May, Meyer, Rosario, and Buxton could do the same next year. Prospects don't just bring talent to the mlb club but a huge amount of financial flexibility. The pohlads could easily sign several FAs to 3-4 year deals that will help now but won't interfere with signing the prospects which turn out to be good mlb players long term.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      I believe there isn't any disagreement. Pohlad states a willingness to spend--as long as its according to conditions that wouldn't be agreeable. The real plan (by management) is slash payroll, feed the public the same old "ya never know" BS, and hope that somehow they can draft, develop, and "luck-out in the dumpster" before the public completely tires of their song-and-dance. It would be a real pity to build a winner years after the public has lost interest and find that TF will have crowds like Tampa Bay, Oakland, and Cleveland have today.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Over time for Ryan to go.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpitefulRabbit617 View Post
      Pfft, I'll believe Terry Ryan any day over a Pohlad. Terry Ryan isn't the one who sold us on funding a new stadium so we could increase revenue. All big name pitchers on 1 year deals. Its not like we can do any worse.
      No TR is the one who told us he was going to get a serious starter for the rotation last winter and sold us Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey,

      Pelfrey was a 1 yr deal (thank god), I hope to hell we can't do any worse than that.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      I believe there isn't any disagreement. Pohlad states a willingness to spend--as long as its according to conditions that wouldn't be agreeable. The real plan (by management) is slash payroll, feed the public the same old "ya never know" BS, and hope that somehow they can draft, develop, and "luck-out in the dumpster" before the public completely tires of their song-and-dance. It would be a real pity to build a winner years after the public has lost interest and find that TF will have crowds like Tampa Bay, Oakland, and Cleveland have today.
      The fans will always come back and the Pohlads know it. The end years at the Metrodome were packed despite the emptiness which allowed my unimpeded ability to snag seven batting practice balls one game I went to in the late 1990's. I went to a game once where the promotion was to give away unused tickets to Eric Milton's no-hitter because they actually had tens of thousands left that they did not issue.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      The money is there to spend -- wisely, of course. Terry Ryan, use you skills to target arbitration eligible folks who may be jettisoned by their own teams, but the Twins can afford. Take a chance on some of those guys entering the overpayed years if teams cut them loose.

      The joys of free agent signings is that you get players just for money, you seldom, with the new rules, lose anyone. You also have to be willing to forget your past (being the good guy giving people long contracts and NOT trading them) and do that if the opportunity arises.

      You spend money. You lose on many, you win on some. Some you take the opportunity to jettison (like Willingham...let him walk to Baltimore and take that $7 million a reinvest in another comparable player).

      You hear Jim Pohlad talk about spending on free agents, and he totally misses step one of the new Target Field -- "We will be able to keep our own free agents in the future" was said, I believe.

      Part of the Twins problems right now is that they did let Nathan, Kuble, Cuddyer, Hunter and others walk. They weren't able to turn around Young, Pavano, Capps, Pelfry for worthwhile players. They were forced into a corner trading Santana and Liriano because they didn't want to cough up bucks to keep them...thinking hometown players would rather stay and be underpaid than leave and get paid more than you feel is responsible.

      The Twins set a budget for draftee, international signing, and major league payroll. They can spend within that window, and if attendance and such rises (because you win) can spend more, but more often than not it is based on last year's revenue rather than next year's predictions. But us fans get mad when the money isn't spent and start to make up places where it does flow (owner's pockets).

      Yes, they are getting up to a $25 million windfall this year from MLB. They have extra monies to spend, even more if they didn't have Correia, Willingahm and Doumit -- all three replaceabe by similar and possibly more productive others.

      Beyond those three there are no trading chips that won't mortgage the Twins future. Those chips have to show if they can play in the majors and suddenly make a Hicks or Dozier or Rosaio part of a package for an arbitration-eligible overpayed potential superstar or not. Then you start dealing your minor league depth, because soon that catches up on you when you can't keep guys on the 40-man or add them because you are just too rich in potential.

      I know I'm just rambling and this disappointing season comes to an end. I think the Twins need a total overall -- bring in a new general manager and manager team, revamp the whole front office, especially if ownership and team management aren't on the same page. Stop being nice. It is a business and you need to put butts, like my own, into the seats.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      The quote says near and long term. In solving the club's needs that fit both criteria it would be unlikely that free agency would be a fix. Ashburyjohn had posted the interview. Ryan never said he wasn't going to sign free agents. Their top prospects they would hope to be career Twins. Long term fix for a position when they work out. He later in ashburyjohn's post said that there would be people that they would pursue. Hopefully they have learned the market. The free agent is a short term fix. Look at what is available as a free agent. Someone generally over 30. Not a long term fix in the drug testing era. Not a long term fix. Ryan wants to fix things long term. There are people he will go after. It would be looked at as a short term fix. Willingham was a short term fix until one of the young outfielders were ready. Hopefully he has learned there is little value or gain in signing 5th starters as free agents.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Once upon a time I went shopping with my daughter. We were buying a shirt for my brother. I told her that I was looking for a shirt for $20. They were charging $40 for that type of shirt.
      My daughter said, "Dad, that's what those shirts cost now".

      Is that where Terry Ryan is now? He just is really not clear what it costs to get really quality players?

      I wonder about that.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oldgoat_MN View Post
      Once upon a time I went shopping with my daughter. We were buying a shirt for my brother. I told her that I was looking for a shirt for $20. They were charging $40 for that type of shirt.
      My daughter said, "Dad, that's what those shirts cost now".
      So, you couldn't even give your money away at that store? :-)

      I bet you could go down to the dollar store and buy a few shirts and pocket the rest of the money...
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      I don't really see Pohlad's and Ryan's comments as being diametrically opposed -- I think Ryan's position would always be that they are not going to give money away just to give it away and that there simply weren't any players out there worth the money last off-season.

      But I would think that if Terry Ryan spent 15%-20% below his authority for 2013 and then turns around and does the same thing (or something more drastic) next season without improved results, ANY owner would have to wonder whether the game has passed him by. I'm of the same age as Ryan and sometimes I look at prices in general and think, "who would pay that for that" but ultimately you have to pay the market rate (or, in the case of the Twins, more than market rate especially for short-term deals which are, after all, what Pohlad mentioned).
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