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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. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      I guess we've gotten to the point where it's just shouting around each other. The Twins in the last two years seem to have done a lot right for a rebuild. They drafted the best prospect in the game when the Astros failed to. They traded Span and Revere at the height of their value. They debuted a bunch of rookies who seem to be both major and complementary parts of the future nucleus. They didn't give up on guys who they think will be parts moving forward. They got rid of pieces they didn't think would be part of it. They didn't mortgage the future on silly FA signings or poke the fans in the eye. We can quibble with the i's and t's but it seems they are doing as much as the Cubs, Astros and Marlins are.
      I've acknowledged each of those points in previous posts then pointed out how the Cubs, Astros and Marlins are all doing those same things (and in many cases better than the Twins are). In addition those three teams have also taken further steps to return to contention.

      Yes the Twins are doing some things for the future but they have yet to make a creative move that wasn't written down in the "this is how you rebuild" playbook. If you want to call that "quibbling over the i's and t's" that is just fine. The other bottom feeders have each made a creative move which means the Twins aren't doing as much as the other rebuilding teams are doing.
    1. Jack Torse's Avatar
      Jack Torse -
      Terry Ryan is the fall guy for the Pohlad's cheap ways. TR is okay with that and knows it's part of the deal. He will spend close to every penny the Pohlads allow him saving room for incentives, waiver pick ups, etc. It's folly to believe TR spends less than the Pohlads allow him. To put it simply, Bill Smith wouldn't be that person and was disillusioned (like many) by what the new stadium revenue really meant and hence the "philosophical indifferences" and he was out. It's that simple.
    1. Timtwinsfan's Avatar
      Timtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmb0252 View Post
      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.
      Did you watch many games last year with Hicks and Gibson playing? Gibson wasn't that good at Rochester why would he be that good in the big leagues. Did you follow Hicks? Will he be re-born? Did you watch his at bats or watch him strike out. He shouldn't have been playing in the big leagues, that was the Twins mistake not his.
    1. boomerb5's Avatar
      boomerb5 -
      Both Pohlad and Ryan wind up getting their way. Instead of a free-agent, the team deals for a guy under contract (or arbitration-eligible), and maybe even kicks in cash to pay some of the salaries traded away. Money spent. But not through free-agency.
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jack Torse View Post
      Terry Ryan is the fall guy for the Pohlad's cheap ways. TR is okay with that and knows it's part of the deal. He will spend close to every penny the Pohlads allow him saving room for incentives, waiver pick ups, etc. It's folly to believe TR spends less than the Pohlads allow him. To put it simply, Bill Smith wouldn't be that person and was disillusioned (like many) by what the new stadium revenue really meant and hence the "philosophical indifferences" and he was out. It's that simple.

      I agree TR is the fall guy for the Pohlad's but I don;t think the Pohlads are tying his hands from spending. He can spend up to the 100 Million mentioned on this board any time he wants to. TR just isn't a believer in spending money on FA's to build a team. He is waiting for the prospects to develop and then when he see's the holes left might fill it with a FA. He can spend but he won't thus the difference in quotes between him and Mr. Pohlad TR will take the heat for the Pohlads for not spending though and I don't think he will get much of an argument from Mr. Pohlad. From what we have seen from TR he doesn't know how to rebuild any other way than what he is doing right now.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post

      The Twins don't seem to be following a plan. Sitting on your hands does not cut it. The Twins have a handful young players up playing meaningful ball but they mostly have a bunch of veterans and older journeymen minor-leaguers.
      Statements like this make it really hard to take what are saying with anything but a grain of salt. The Twins are clearly following a rebuilding plan. Whether or not you are I like it is beside the point, but there is a plan. I get your frustration with Doumit, but that one is on Gardy who continues to play him at the expense of guys like Parmelee. That said, I also think that this is one of many reasons why Gardy will not be managing next year.

      The Twins are clearly rebuilding, and they are doing it their way (hence trading Span, Morneau, and Revere and somehow blackmailing the Dodgers into Sulbaran). They are also making it clear that they won't be calling up guys until they are ready. So you aren't going to see Sano or Buxton waste a couple of years of ML service time before figuring thing out. The roster filler consists of guys who are getting tryouts to see if they are long term fixtures. This is how we ended up with Fein, Burton, and possibly Deduno. Young guys like Presley, Dozier, Plouffe, Parmelle, and Colabello are getting a shot. I don't have a problem with this. It sucks because the product on the field sucks, but that's how you discover that Dozier really can be a long term option to complement the next wave, and it's quite possible that one or two others turns into solid options as well. Those will have value when Sano, Buxton, and Meyer are all up.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post

      Yes the Twins are doing some things for the future but they have yet to make a creative move that wasn't written down in the "this is how you rebuild" playbook. If you want to call that "quibbling over the i's and t's" that is just fine. The other bottom feeders have each made a creative move which means the Twins aren't doing as much as the other rebuilding teams are doing.
      Why in the world do they need to do something "creative"? Trading Span for Meyer is text book for "this is how you rebuild" as was Revere for Worley and May. Trading Morneau, Butera, and Liriano was as well. That's exactly how you rebuild.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      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.
      1. The owner says he wants to spend whatever it takes to put together a winner.
      2. The GM says he will only spend if he thinks his team is ready for the World Series already. Ergo, he will not spend money.

      If Ryan continues to defy his boss, he will not last long.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Why in the world do they need to do something "creative"? Trading Span for Meyer is text book for "this is how you rebuild" as was Revere for Worley and May. Trading Morneau, Butera, and Liriano was as well. That's exactly how you rebuild.
      Baseball is a zero sum game. Your loss is my win. Right now teams are doing more and better than the Twins and consequently we are losing the game. In the highly competitive world of MLB a team needs to find a competitive edge and right now the Twins don't have one. The Twins won't win the World Series until they find one.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      Baseball is a zero sum game. Your loss is my win. Right now teams are doing more and better than the Twins and consequently we are losing the game. In the highly competitive world of MLB a team needs to find a competitive edge and right now the Twins don't have one. The Twins won't win the World Series until they find one.
      You are assuming (incorrectly IMO) that the Twins' plan is to build a World Series winner. No, it is to put an inexpensive team that is just interesting enough for people to follow. Ticket sales revenue isn't the driver of MLB teams. Its media and shared revenues that drive MLB. The Twins can make a healthy profit by keeping payroll low and losing to the "big" clubs. There is no need to be a champion. Sadly, it is almost a negative because when a team wins, everybody has both hands out demanding more money.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      You are assuming (incorrectly IMO) that the Twins' plan is to build a World Series winner. No, it is to put an inexpensive team that is just interesting enough for people to follow. Ticket sales revenue isn't the driver of MLB teams. Its media and shared revenues that drive MLB. The Twins can make a healthy profit by keeping payroll low and losing to the "big" clubs. There is no need to be a champion. Sadly, it is almost a negative because when a team wins, everybody has both hands out demanding more money.
      While I agree with much of this, I do think that ticket sales, food & beverage sales and merchandise sales play a part in the Twins thinking.

      I think they want to field a team that will have enough success to put & keep b*tts in the seats throughout most of the season. That doesn't mean they aspire to the World Series or even the playoffs but to some level of competitiveness that keeps fans interested through most of the summer. (I think we agree on that being their basic goal).

      They've failed miserably at that the last 3 years and I would speculate that is part of what is driving Jim Pohlad's comments. Not necessarily a return to the playoffs but at least a return to where they aren't an utter embarrassment so that after the 2014 season, season ticket holders renew (even without the lure of the AS game) and so that they keep people coming through the gates in reasonable numbers in August and September.

      Food, beverage, merchandise sales, ticket sales may not be the biggest part of baseball revenues but they surely have an impact -- isn't that why they wanted TF in the first place?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      “There’s going to be a lot of competition for quality, there always is. But we’ll be in the mix,” Ryan said of the free-agent market for pitchers. “We pursued a bunch of free-agent pitchers last year, and there was a number of them we didn’t get, for whatever reason.”

      Twins' search for starts never ends | Star Tribune
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I'm not sure Presley (assuming you mean the OF) and Collabello are young players.....they are 28 and 30.....

      I don't think a rebuilding team signs Doumit. I think a rebuilding team trades Willingham in the offseason. Other than that, I don't know what Ryan has done or not that is not pure rebuilding.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I'm not sure Presley (assuming you mean the OF) and Collabello are young players.....they are 28 and 30.....

      I don't think a rebuilding team signs Doumit. I think a rebuilding team trades Willingham in the offseason. Other than that, I don't know what Ryan has done or not that is not pure rebuilding.
      I think they'll hang onto Willingham this offseason and hope he regains some of his value for next years trade deadline, which shouldn't be too hard to do. I suspect he'll be DHing most of the time and if his knees are ok, his power should be ok. Even this year, his OBP was pretty good even with the bad avg. And at the deadline, he'll only be owed about 3.5m or so.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I see it as a PR move. I'll believe it when I see that the Twins spend money.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      I think they'll hang onto Willingham this offseason and hope he regains some of his value for next years trade deadline, which shouldn't be too hard to do. I suspect he'll be DHing most of the time and if his knees are ok, his power should be ok. Even this year, his OBP was pretty good even with the bad avg. And at the deadline, he'll only be owed about 3.5m or so.
      I meant last offseason....when he had value. Should have been more clear. A rebuilding team would not have kept him around, imo. A team that thought they could play meaningful games in September would though.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I meant last offseason....when he had value. Should have been more clear. A rebuilding team would not have kept him around, imo. A team that thought they could play meaningful games in September would though.
      The rumors were that his value wasn't very high, despite his strong season b/c he was still on a 2 yr deal, was aging and had injury history. Teams were wary of that. The reports were #4 type starter prospects like Atlanta's Sean Gilmartin. If nothing else, a strong first half next year will still bring back that type of prospect.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I meant last offseason....when he had value. Should have been more clear.
      In addition to what gunnarthor stated, Hammer actually finished 2012 hurt. It is not clear to me that fantastic off-season offers were out there to be considered - it's easy to envision other GMs replying "let's talk again in March, OK?"
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      The Twins are clearly following a rebuilding plan. Whether or not you are I like it is beside the point, but there is a plan. I get your frustration with Doumit, but that one is on Gardy who continues to play him at the expense of guys like Parmelee. That said, I also think that this is one of many reasons why Gardy will not be managing next year.

      The Twins are clearly rebuilding, and they are doing it their way (hence trading Span, Morneau, and Revere and somehow blackmailing the Dodgers into Sulbaran).
      No, clearly the Twins are rebuilding, but they do not clearly have a plan other than wait and pray for the prospects. If Gardy is playing Doumit against Ryan's wishes, Ryan simply could have traded or cut him. Morneau was traded for one and likely two more players +27 years old. If Morneau simply could only bring back another stop-gap OF taking up a roster spot, why was Morneau moved at all? Not a rebuild move.

      Butera brought back a young player and dumping Carroll, even for nothing, cleared some room on the roster, but I don't know how you can insist that a proper rebuild should include this many AAAA 27+ year olds. I'll agree that Ryan has taken a few strides this summer, but the gameplan for the rebuild seems to be made on the fly. Kevin Correia had no business being on the Twins radar last off-season. It should have been a one-year vet or a longer term solution, same with the Carroll and Willingham signings the previous year and Doumit's extension this past offseason. All this seems more like ad-libbing than an actual gameplan. In fact I think one can make a pretty strong argument that until this summer, Ryan had deluded himself into thinking the Twins didn't need a rebuild but instead needed to reload.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      they do not clearly have a plan other than wait and pray for the prospects
      Having a plan doesn't mean it automatically works out. Part of the plan (it seems) was to buy time (with semi-affordable vets) until the prospects get here and play competitive baseball; the latter of course, totally failed. But that had far more to with the failures of Worley, Diamond, Morneau, Willingham, Doumit, Parmelee, Plouffe etc. (players we thought would be at least league average if not better) than it does with not signing enough free agents or some such. (Indeed, one wonders, if they players I mentioned had played to anticipation, how that might have shaped the upcoming offseason).

      27 year olds can certainly be part of the rebuilding plan, especially if they establish some value whether that be a veteran along with our core or a tradeable asset. Pressely looks better than anyone else we've thrown in center this year. And really, it's not TR's fault that Morneau's value was craptastic.

      There's simply no reason to cut bait with Doumit; he's going to get paid either way, and there's still a chance he can establish some trade value.

      I'm just not sure what plan would have satisfied you, and if such a plan was realistic. Any path through last year's free agency class was mired with duds, and even the successes would have not made this club competitive. (And is signing one big name free agent, that much more of indication of a plan?)

      It stinks--whatever the Twins hopes were to be competitive in 2013 totally failed--but they didn't at all mortgage the future for the myth that was 2013.
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