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  • 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. Dainir's Avatar
      Dainir -
      I think people are missing the point of what Terry Ryan is saying, or at least I hope I am catching what he is saying.

      If you look at the free agent market for this upcoming off season, we have:
      Player ERA
      Barry Zito 5.91
      Tim Lincecum 4.44
      Scott Feldman 3.51
      Phil Hughes 5.07
      Joba Chamberlain 4.97
      Ervin Santana 3.16

      Now let me throw some Twins numbers at you:

      Sam Deduno 3.83
      Drew Albers 3.98
      Kevin Correia 4.29
      Mike Pelfrey 5.34
      Kyle Gibson 6.53


      I would like to call attention to the fact, that of the 6 players listed at the top end of the free agency market, only two of them had better years than our top 3 pitchers. Ervin Santana and Scott Feldman. I would love to get either of those, but then again by this years numbers they are the best players to get in free agency, so I would think so would any other team looking for a pitcher.

      For the rest of the guys in that list, they would fill a 4th or fifth slot as a starter. Keep in mind Kyle Gibson will be getting one of those spots at some point next year, and you can bet numbers will dictate who stays at with the major league club and who goes down to Rochester.

      So in the free agent market who do you get after Ervin and Scott (both of whom performed well above their career average).

      Zito and Lincecum are both on extended bad stretches, Lincecum's 2012 campaign was even worse than this years. Zito's Career ERA is at 4.03, but he hasn't seen a sub 4.0 ERA in 6 years.

      That leaves Hughes and Chamberlain. Hughes' career ERA is 4.52 which won't crack the Twins top 3. Joba hasn't started a game since 2009 and his work since then has shown him to have eras of 4.4, 2.83, 4.35, 4.97 out of the bullpen. 3 of those 4 years had Joba with a worse ERA than anyone in our bullpen who has gotten serious amounts of work this year.

      (The closest two are Duensing and Roenicke with 4.12 and 4.23 ERAs respectively.)


      So, please tell me who of the rest would be a clear great improvement to the team?

      Looking at free-agency, I say wow, I can't even really significantly improve our team by signing two of the best 6 players on the market unless we get the #1 and #2. Now imagine how much that would cost. Now think of yourself as Terry Ryan, could you really pull the trigger on that, knowing these are all guys that have been around the league a minimum of 7 years and still aren't performing all that well.


      We have the international market or trades open for real significant improvement. We CAN'T get an ace in the free agent market, we can't even come close. We can only sign guys who would give other players in our system a run for their money at the 5th starter position.

      So yeah, I get Terry Ryan saying, we can't really do it through free agency, at least not if you want a real change.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      How on Earth did you come up with that list as the best six pitchers in free agency?
    1. Dainir's Avatar
      Dainir -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      How on Earth did you come up with that list as the best six pitchers in free agency?

      I would love to be wrong and be stupid, for bringing up what I did. So please make my day and let me know otherwise.

      But what I based that off of was from a startribune article:
      Chart: Free-agent talent available this winter | Star Tribune


    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      I think that's just a list of guys they elected to highlight. Zito is probably not among the top 30 free agent SPs.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Cue the sample size and smoke-n-mirrors alerts on Albers. Proclaiming him as "better" than anything that's going to be available in free agency is a massive stretch.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      "...and the answer is?" Apparently give up and pray. Change requires a new way--and that won't come from the same bunch that has been there for decades. I agree 1000% that the Twins want Mauer to leave--and no they won't open-up the checkbook if that happens--they will just become Houston North.
    1. strumdatjag's Avatar
      strumdatjag -
      These guys have also been listed as potential free agents in recent articles.
      Jason Vargas, Scott Kazmir, Tim Hudson, and Josh Johnson. My preference would be to sign a younger pitcher like Phil Hughes and hope he benefits from a change in scenery. Leaving Yankee Stadium to Target Field is a big change - there's always hope.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Vargas is more of the same, Kazmir is too risky and Hudson too old. Would love to have Johnson. Do not see a big improvement with Hughes. Ryan is correct as far as signing international players and trades are the best way, only the Twins have nothing to trade except the future to bring a very good pitcher here. But the Twins still have to spend the money. Maybe the MLB players union has to put a clause in that a team's payroll has to be at least 60-70 million. That will stop some of this issue.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Perhaps the best free agent they could sign is a backup catcher named Joe Girardi.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      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.
      Amen. I've been advocating that the Twins, in their highly favorable position with a new stadium and vast new revenue streams, should have employed just this strategy the last 2 off-seasons. A mixed strategy, employing elements of what Cleveland/KC/Red Sox/Jays did leading into 2013 would have kept the Twins avoiding sailing into the never-to-return-to-relevancy Bermuda Triangle, anchored in Laughingstock Harbor. Sadly, for a franchise's GM who thinks his best move ever was dumping Scott Erickson for nothing, I hold little hope that the barnacle-laden Ship of State has any intellectual dynamism left in the cranial cargo hold to undertake such a strategy.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Perhaps the best free agent they could sign is a backup catcher named Joe Girardi.
      Same page, my friend. (Or at least I think so).
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Some people wanna call it "good cop, bad cop". I call it an elaborate scheme of lying.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dainir View Post
      I think people are missing the point of what Terry Ryan is saying, or at least I hope I am catching what he is saying.

      If you look at the free agent market for this upcoming off season, we have:
      Player ERA
      Barry Zito 5.91
      Tim Lincecum 4.44
      Scott Feldman 3.51
      Phil Hughes 5.07
      Joba Chamberlain 4.97
      Ervin Santana 3.16

      Now let me throw some Twins numbers at you:

      Sam Deduno 3.83
      Drew Albers 3.98
      Kevin Correia 4.29
      Mike Pelfrey 5.34
      Kyle Gibson 6.53
      .
      ERA? On the other hand you are talking about Ryan, so all is possible...

      Zito is retiring.

      Look at all Free Agent SPs under the age of 32. Calculate their average K/9 the last 3 seasons. List in decreasing K/9. Pick the top 3. These are the ones that the Twins should sign...

      Hint: a pitcher who was born in Minneapolis is near the top of the list...
    1. richardkr34's Avatar
      richardkr34 -
      Sign Phil Hughes. SHould be reasonable and his road splits look favorable.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post


      Look at all Free Agent SPs under the age of 32. Calculate their average K/9 the last 3 seasons. List in decreasing K/9. Pick the top 3. These are the ones that the Twins should sign...

      Hint: a pitcher who was born in Minneapolis is near the top of the list...
      Hint in the last 3 years he missed half of his team's games while on the dl. You might like that part so you get to see more of an Albers or similar pitcher.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      I do not dislike Gardy, but Holy Cow, you can get one of the two best managers out there.
      Would that mean the Twins shouldn't sign Hughes?
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Excellent post. To answer your question toward the end, I believe Ryan will target his classic "innings eaters" (even if the really aren't....looking at you Kevin) to fix the problem. Even beyond Ryan's principles on FA, I think he believes simply being competent for five innings qualifies you as a good pitcher.

      Thankfully we are drafting players who profile as higher talents but I still think our standards for good pitching haven't evolved enough.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Nick
      Great post. You summed up almost my exact feelings on this team's direction much better than I ever could. Every time I try I end up using cuss words, my mouth spittle starts to foam and it drips on the keyboard then the moisture breaks my computer.
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Excellent post. To answer your question toward the end, I believe Ryan will target his classic "innings eaters" (even if the really aren't....looking at you Kevin) to fix the problem. Even beyond Ryan's principles on FA, I think he believes simply being competent for five innings qualifies you as a good pitcher.

      Thankfully we are drafting players who profile as higher talents but I still think our standards for good pitching haven't evolved enough.
      I agree Ryan will do the same thing he always does in free agency. There will be no big signings. He is determined to rebuild like the Royals, Pirates, Baltimore and Houston are doing and that is don't be afraid to be incredibly bad and draft high until the farm is finally stocked and you come out with a couple of super stars. Then see what pieces are missing and maybe finally fill in with free agency. That isn't going to change anytime soon I don't believe.

      It would be nice if he would at least look at the cubs approach and buy decent free agents and then trade them for prospects at the deadline. That way you can essentially buy prospects. Tough thing there is they have to do well or you are stuck with them.

      Also would be nice if the Twins would pony up at least 50 to 60 million posting fee for Tanaka just to prove that are willing to overspend like several other teams but I doubt they have what it takes to win any kind of bidding war.

      Regardless of what is said I believe Ryan is in charge and this is an old fashioned rebuild. It was hard to watch this year so even though I like picking high in the draft they need to get better soon or it is going to be hard to stay interested in this team.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Can the Twins really expect to sell any tickets at the beginning of the season if they come with something less than 80 million payroll (much less 70 or 60)? Whether or not actual success arises from spending money on FA pitching is debatable, but if the Twins want to fulfill their implicit public contract with the local fans, they'll probably spend the money.

      Short term deals, even on riskier players, don't hamper the future and have the potential to turn into tradeable assets.
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