• 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. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      People keep saying we are rebuilding. What are we doing that other teams, who aren't in rebuilding mode, AREN'T doing? We're drafting...everyone drafts. We're signing international talent, so is everyone else. Aren't we just waiting and praying to the Gods that a seriously higher than normal percentage of our prospects end up above average of better? Is that actively rebuilding?

      We did the two trades...the Span and Revere ones...but besides that, what exactly are we doing differently from any other team including teams that retool or are right in the thick of things?
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      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.
      I think they are banking on the season ticket sales being locked in to get AS game tix. The Twins have very successfully marketed that.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      People keep saying we are rebuilding. What are we doing that other teams, who aren't in rebuilding mode, AREN'T doing? We're drafting...everyone drafts. We're signing international talent, so is everyone else. Aren't we just waiting and praying to the Gods that a seriously higher than normal percentage of our prospects end up above average of better? Is that actively rebuilding?

      We did the two trades...the Span and Revere ones...but besides that, what exactly are we doing differently from any other team including teams that retool or are right in the thick of things?
      IMHO, rebuilding is one of those things in life, where if you have to ask, it's probably impossible to explain it to you.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      IMHO, rebuilding is one of those things in life, where if you have to ask, it's probably impossible to explain it to you.
      Go ahead, give it a shot anyway. What the heck.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Go ahead, give it a shot anyway. What the heck.
      Some things I only do for money. If you're talking an ownership interest, have your people get ahold of mine.
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      People keep saying we are rebuilding. What are we doing that other teams, who aren't in rebuilding mode, AREN'T doing? We're drafting...everyone drafts. We're signing international talent, so is everyone else. Aren't we just waiting and praying to the Gods that a seriously higher than normal percentage of our prospects end up above average of better? Is that actively rebuilding?

      We did the two trades...the Span and Revere ones...but besides that, what exactly are we doing differently from any other team including teams that retool or are right in the thick of things?
      Every team hopes that a high percentage of their signings turn out. What a rebuilding team does is trade assess for players that will someday be better than he one they traded. A retooling team has a replacement ready and thus is getting ahead in the game before they have to rebuild.
      Why is this even an issue? What label your team has, rebuilding, retooling, or whatever, is meaningless. All teams are trying to get better short term and long term. Long term planning means that if you have success it will generally last longer. Quick fixes might appease fans, but will be like a 1985 Kcar, it will always need fixing
    1. Sano&Buxton Duo's Avatar
      Sano&Buxton Duo -
      We seriously need to bring the check book to Japan and sign Masahiro Tanka
      20-0 1.24 era
      I swear I will scream if we don't get this guy he's only 24 (turning 25 in November).
      This might sound crazy but let's go out and sign Jacoby Ellsbury because of his ability to get on base at the top of the order and his speed. Don't ever forget his defense, awesome. I know he has had injury problems but he's a good veteran and think 2015 Ellsbury - CF
      Buxton - RF/LF
      Arcia/Hicks - RF/LF
      Awesome outfield. I think maybe a 3 year with the option of 4 years sounds ok give enough time for Max Kepler to prove him self in the Minors.
    1. launchingthrees's Avatar
      launchingthrees -
      I'd rather risk 40 million on 1-2 year deals than the 100% certainty of being horrible for the 4th straight year.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Wise One View Post
      Every team hopes that a high percentage of their signings turn out. What a rebuilding team does is trade assess for players that will someday be better than he one they traded. A retooling team has a replacement ready and thus is getting ahead in the game before they have to rebuild.
      Why is this even an issue? What label your team has, rebuilding, retooling, or whatever, is meaningless. All teams are trying to get better short term and long term. Long term planning means that if you have success it will generally last longer. Quick fixes might appease fans, but will be like a 1985 Kcar, it will always need fixing
      It's an issue because there seems to be this popular idea that we shouldn't utilize every avenue to get better as soon as possible (i.e., free agency) because we are 'rebuilding'. That we shouldn't be bothered funds available aren't being used because we are 'rebuilding'. That we should meekly accept all this losing because we are rebuilding. So I asked, what are we doing, as a rebuilding team, that every other team, including teams that are contenders, aren't doing? Rebuilding seems to be an excuse to defend not spending, to defend yet another carp season, to defend in general...so we should at least know what we're doing that is unique to rebuilding that other teams aren't doing, to include contenders.

      Truth is, all we are doing is waiting...treading water (well, not really...that usually means your head isn't underwater)...and hoping beyond hope a huge percentage of our prospect turn out to be very good because we NEED it to. With so little major league talent, and out inability to utilize FA, that is our only shot...and history shows, that's an extremely long road to travel.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by launchingthrees View Post
      I'd rather risk 40 million on 1-2 year deals than the 100% certainty of being horrible for the 4th straight year.
      I don't think we are going to be horrible next year. I think we will make the leap to not very good.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      People keep saying we are rebuilding. What are we doing that other teams, who aren't in rebuilding mode, AREN'T doing? We're drafting...everyone drafts. We're signing international talent, so is everyone else. Aren't we just waiting and praying to the Gods that a seriously higher than normal percentage of our prospects end up above average of better? Is that actively rebuilding?

      We did the two trades...the Span and Revere ones...but besides that, what exactly are we doing differently from any other team including teams that retool or are right in the thick of things?
      We made two pretty significant trades (Span and Revere) for pitching prospects and one current player (Worley). I think most people expected Worley to be a pretty solid middle of the rotation guy. Those were solid moves that differentiated us from teams that were not rebuilding. I am sure Ryan would have loved to make other trades at the deadline this year but what exactly would he have traded on than Perkins? Who was going to bring anything that mattered.

      We also played prospects hoping some of them would make the leap. This is another difference you ignored. Plouffe, Dozier, Parmelee, Flormon, Hicks, Arcia, Escobar, Hermann, and a whole host of pitchers fall into this category. This is how teams that are not in the top 10 revenue markets rebuild. Even when this worksout it is going to mean more losses so some people are going to complain. It did not work out very well so people are going to REALLY complain. Many people were ready to toss Dozier on the scrap heap. It looks like he will be a darn good asset in the future so something good did come out of this season. Florimon also established himself defensively. There is still a reasonable chance he can be a ML average SS offensively, especially with his speed.

      Of course all teams are drafting. This tact hardly proves a point. What would make more sense is to comapre the Twins to the other teams that are rebuilding. Are Houston and Miami adding top FAs? I think Houston's payroll is $12M. Are they that incredibly cheap or is a low payroll consistent with a rebuilding team with revenues in the bottom half of the leauge? What am I missing? What arent the Twins doing these rebuilding teams are doing?

      CHCs have been more aggressive and praised here. So far they have made no more progress than the Twins in the W/L column. Their biggest acquistion (Jackson) has been a failure. We will see if he can make a comeback next year or if his contract is a detriment for the next 3 years. They did hit on Feldman but the leauge certainly did not think he was any more likely to pan out than several other FA SPs. They whiffed on Baker too so you can hardly look at what they did as a model of success.

      I think there is plenty to complain about but FA SP is a quick fix outlook. Our inability to draft and develop pitchers should be the overwhelming complaint IMO. If not for the recent resurgence of the minor leauge system I would be leading the charge to replace the bulk of the Twins FO. They have done such a good job of turning it around that from a distance it looks like they have figured some things out in the drafting dept both domestically and internationally.

      I am still not completely sold in terms of drafting and development but I have no problem with has happened the past couple years in free agency. It is not even a little bit hard for me to believe TR has an uphill battle getting players to come here right now. We were linked to ejust about every FA pitcher out there last year. It is very easy from a keyboard to say just get it done but another thing entirely when you are in a battle with 29 other teams for FAs, especially when many of them have much deeper pockets or a better opportunity to win right now.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Jumping on the Cubs as a way to deflect criticism is way off base. The discussion should be about are the Twins managed in a way consistent with the prime directive of building Target Field? Are the fans treated as mindless cretins?--who really don't matter that much because the other than ticket sales sources of revenue are so large that fans can be ignored? Ok Houston and Miami are taking that tack--but are the Twins next?
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      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.
      I'll take the chance at greatness over the guaranteed back end starter every day. Doubly so since that cash "saved" was not used to improve the product elsewhere last season.

      Quote Originally Posted by Sano&Buxton Duo View Post
      We seriously need to bring the check book to Japan and sign Masahiro Tanka
      20-0 1.24 era
      I swear I will scream if we don't get this guy he's only 24 (turning 25 in November).
      This might sound crazy but let's go out and sign Jacoby Ellsbury because of his ability to get on base at the top of the order and his speed. Don't ever forget his defense, awesome. I know he has had injury problems but he's a good veteran and think 2015 Ellsbury - CF
      Buxton - RF/LF
      Arcia/Hicks - RF/LF
      Awesome outfield. I think maybe a 3 year with the option of 4 years sounds ok give enough time for Max Kepler to prove him self in the Minors.
      Mike is that you?!?
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      We made two pretty significant trades (Span and Revere) for pitching prospects and one current player (Worley). I think most people expected Worley to be a pretty solid middle of the rotation guy. Those were solid moves that differentiated us from teams that were not rebuilding. I am sure Ryan would have loved to make other trades at the deadline this year but what exactly would he have traded on than Perkins? Who was going to bring anything that mattered.

      We also played prospects hoping some of them would make the leap. This is another difference you ignored. Plouffe, Dozier, Parmelee, Flormon, Hicks, Arcia, Escobar, Hermann, and a whole host of pitchers fall into this category. This is how teams that are not in the top 10 revenue markets rebuild. Even when this worksout it is going to mean more losses so some people are going to complain. It did not work out very well so people are going to REALLY complain. Many people were ready to toss Dozier on the scrap heap. It looks like he will be a darn good asset in the future so something good did come out of this season. Florimon also established himself defensively. There is still a reasonable chance he can be a ML average SS offensively, especially with his speed.

      Of course all teams are drafting. This tact hardly proves a point. What would make more sense is to comapre the Twins to the other teams that are rebuilding. Are Houston and Miami adding top FAs? I think Houston's payroll is $12M. Are they that incredibly cheap or is a low payroll consistent with a rebuilding team with revenues in the bottom half of the leauge? What am I missing? What arent the Twins doing these rebuilding teams are doing?

      CHCs have been more aggressive and praised here. So far they have made no more progress than the Twins in the W/L column. Their biggest acquistion (Jackson) has been a failure. We will see if he can make a comeback next year or if his contract is a detriment for the next 3 years. They did hit on Feldman but the leauge certainly did not think he was any more likely to pan out than several other FA SPs. They whiffed on Baker too so you can hardly look at what they did as a model of success.

      I think there is plenty to complain about but FA SP is a quick fix outlook. Our inability to draft and develop pitchers should be the overwhelming complaint IMO. If not for the recent resurgence of the minor leauge system I would be leading the charge to replace the bulk of the Twins FO. They have done such a good job of turning it around that from a distance it looks like they have figured some things out in the drafting dept both domestically and internationally.

      I am still not completely sold in terms of drafting and development but I have no problem with has happened the past couple years in free agency. It is not even a little bit hard for me to believe TR has an uphill battle getting players to come here right now. We were linked to ejust about every FA pitcher out there last year. It is very easy from a keyboard to say just get it done but another thing entirely when you are in a battle with 29 other teams for FAs, especially when many of them have much deeper pockets or a better opportunity to win right now.
      The Astros have decided the best way to return to contention is to burn it down, be terrible and draft as high as they can. They sold all the assets they have.

      The Marlins signed a bunch of big name free agents then traded them for several quality prospects (that may not have been the intention at the beginning but it the result). They too have shipped off most of their veterans and are now integrating their prospects into what will hopefully be a playoff team soon. Sooner than the Twins I'd wager, if they can find a way to keep Stanton.

      The Cubs signed the most consistent pitcher available last off season to try and help stabilize their rotation and while it hasn't worked so far that doesn't mean it was a bad move (personally I expect him to rebound next season nicely). They have traded some of the assets they acquired during the offseason. I think the single biggest move they made is to attack international free agency with reckless abandon. They spotted a loophole and the exploited it to what looks like will be their advantage. By the way, the Cubs W/L record might be bad but their runs scored/runs allowed is 100 runs better than the Twins. That is a massive difference. It seems to be sheer blind "luck" that the Cubs record is as bad as it is this season.

      All 3 of these teams have a set path they have taken to return to contention. They have identified some nitch in the system they believe will help them return to contention better than the rest of the rebuilding teams. The Twins on the other hand don't seem to be choosing any path to maximize their chances. The Astros, Marlins and Cubs might not all be immediately successful with their approaches but at least one can look at them and see what they are trying to do. One can acknowledge they have a plan and they are doing everything in their power to make that plan return them to relevance faster/better/longer than their competitors. How exactly are the Twins maximizing their chances of returning to contention?
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      I'll take the chance at greatness over the guaranteed back end starter every day. Doubly so since that cash "saved" was not used to improve the product elsewhere last season.
      A one in 4 chance that the player will play in 30 games for the season. Signing him you will get the back end starter. That was my missed point.
      Greatness? Maybe very goodness, but maybe not with the way he threw this year.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      The Astros, Marlins and Cubs might not all be immediately successful with their approaches but at least one can look at them and see what they are trying to do. One can acknowledge they have a plan and they are doing everything in their power to make that plan return them to relevance faster/better/longer than their competitors. How exactly are the Twins maximizing their chances of returning to contention?
      You honestly can't see what the Twins are doing? I mean, I think it's ok to disagree but it's pretty clear the FO is building for the future around a core of Sano and Buxton. They aren't getting distracted and ignoring the best talent (ie taking someone like Gausman to fix a present need over Buxton). They aren't adding parts that will negatively impact the 2015 and beyond teams (ie, paying Jackson 10m/year). They are moving talent at good times - both Span and Revere were traded at pretty good times to maximize their return. They've made nice use of waiver claims and rule v picks. They've made some nice FA signings that won't adversely affect the rebuild. And the first wave of talent came up this year when Gibson, Hicks and Arcia debuted and Dozier and Florimon established themselves as decent MI options (esp defensively). Next year we'll see Meyer, May, Sano and possibly Buxton and Rosario.

      I mean, we can argue about how they dot the i's and cross the t's. But to say that the Marlins, who really, really screwed over their fans and still have a worse farm system than us, are in better shape seems to be purposefully antagonistic. Maybe the Twins should have let Mauer go to the Red Sox last year in a waiver claim, dropped payroll to 20m and fought for the #1 pick (Rodon seems like he could be a true ace) but I don't think that would have gone over that well with the fans (and the Red Sox sure weren't going to take on his salary and give us Bogaerts). I do think Ryan should have traded Perkins this year and I hope he moves him this offseason. But that's the i's and t's.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      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)? .
      What if Sano makes the team out of ST? I think that would help ticket sales. And if Buxton debuts after the all-star game?

      (I'm not arguing that they shouldn't spend money necessarily but they shouldn't spend money on the Edwin Jackson and Ryan Dempsters right now. I do think they should spend money to get some of these Cuban defectors and Japanese FA who are young enough to be part of the next core).
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      I think Ryan is more at risk than Gardenhire. His insistence on not spending through free agency is growing untenable. I wouldn't be shocked if he's shown the door at the end of the year unless he can acquiesce to building a winner in the near term, which necessarily involves free agency.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      What if Sano makes the team out of ST? I think that would help ticket sales. And if Buxton debuts after the all-star game?

      (I'm not arguing that they shouldn't spend money necessarily but they shouldn't spend money on the Edwin Jackson and Ryan Dempsters right now. I do think they should spend money to get some of these Cuban defectors and Japanese FA who are young enough to be part of the next core).
      Personally I don't believe prospect hope sells season tickets. That won't be enough.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      I think Ryan is more at risk than Gardenhire. His insistence on not spending through free agency is growing untenable. I wouldn't be shocked if he's shown the door at the end of the year unless he can acquiesce to building a winner in the near term, which necessarily involves free agency.
      I can't disagree with this more (so watch Ryan get fired next week). Ryan hasn't been back at the GM job long enough for the Pohlad's to fire him. And they clearly knew that Ryan was going to be going low-payroll when they brought him back (and Smith wanted to keep or increase payroll, is my guess). He has a track record and good relationship with the Pohlad family. Ticket sales at TF this year were pretty good considering the quality of the team (higher than Pitt and Balt). And obviously the farm system is a lot better than it was just a couple years ago.

      He was interim-GM last year and he took the interim label off this year. The Pohlads had to know how he'd run the team and give it their blessing. No way he's gone.
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