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  • Early Signs Point to Unprecedented Aggressiveness

    Despite the acknowledgement of Twins officials that the club has plenty of financial flexibility this offseason, many fans have understandably been reluctant to believe that truly aggressive measures are in the offing. A lack of early activity has only served to magnify that skepticism, but as we've often noted, this isn't at all unusual in the weeks prior to the Winter Meetings, especially in a shifting marketplace.

    While we haven't seen any bold moves yet, there have been plenty of signs that the Twins are quite serious about taking uncharacteristically splashy steps in order to improve the club.

    Through the rumor mill, we have seen the team connected to numerous starting pitchers that rank noticeably higher than the usual low-end targets. In a column for 1500 ESPN this week, Darren Wolfson suggested that based on what he's hearing, Ricky Nolasco is currently atop Terry Ryan's wish list, with Bronson Arroyo right behind him.

    Neither Nolasco nor Arroyo could be considered one of the true top-tier free agents in this class, but they're both legitimate proven pitchers and they're both coming off very good seasons. Last year the Twins landed Kevin Correia, who was coming off a season in which he got booted from the Pirates rotation, and Mike Pelfrey, who was coming off Tommy John surgery. Needless to say, landing a pitcher or two whose stock is actually up would represent a stark change, and would leave much less room for criticism.

    That the Twins are seemingly far more interested in wading into the deeper end of the free agent pitcher pool than they have been in the past isn't really surprising considering their continually horrendous results on the mound, but the rumors that continue to linger on the catching front are a bit more noteworthy.

    The Twins have historically been far more apt to utilize free agency to acquire stopgaps and short-term plugs than impact players and long-term solutions, and in the case of the catcher position, that would really be perfectly understandable this time around. Joe Mauer's position swap does open up a hole at the position, but Josmil Pinto provides a not-too-distant potential internal replacement and Ryan Doumit is still presently in the mix.

    Nevertheless, the whispers concerning Minnesota's interest in Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- who stands out as the top remaining catcher on the market after Brian McCann signed with the Yankees -- just won't die. Coming off a season in which he posted a career-high .804 OPS at age 28, Salty has the looks of a difference-maker, not a placeholder. The Twins have also been linked to Dioner Navarro, who won't be quite as pricey but is similarly coming off a career year and under the age of 30.

    There are plenty of serviceable veterans available in free agency, and I fully expected Ryan to focus on acquiring one such player as a temporary fix behind the plate while keeping his attention largely trained on pitching, but the idea that he's actually motivated to bring in a catcher who can upgrade the lineup is both surprising and encouraging.

    Of course, in the past we have often seen the Twins rumored to have interest in high-profile players early in the free agency period, only to scoff at high price tags and end up with uninspiring acquisitions. Heck, we saw it last year.

    This has a different feel, though. Never before have the available funds been this copious, and never before has the owner been so vocal in his desire to see money spent on making meaningful improvements. In a recent interview with Adam Platt of Twin Cities Business Magazine, Jim Pohlad made the following comments, which echo some other things we've heard from him over the past few months:

    "We have a lot of prospects, but most arenít quite ready. We donít have a lot of trading inventory. We have to go into the marketplace. Terry knows that. Iím not encouraging him to wait."
    Empty rhetoric? Perhaps. It wouldn't be the first time. But there are numerous signals indicating that this organization is feeling a far greater sense of urgency than is typical, and that provides some real reason for hope. Around this time of year, that's something for which to be thankful.
    This article was originally published in blog: Early Signs Point to Unprecedented Aggressiveness started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 39 Comments
    1. twinscowboysbulls's Avatar
      twinscowboysbulls -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      This forum is quickly becoming unreadable, Nick offers a reasonable and well thought out opinion and everyone has to rush in with the same old, tired, "Dohhh the Twins won't do anything, Ryan should be fired, derp" rhetoric that has been non stop. We get it, nobody likes coming off of three bad seasons, making thread after thread and post after post about how the Twins won't do anything, are a laughing stock etc does nothing to expand the conversation and frankly will do nothing but drive away anyone who would actually like to have a discussion about the Twins.

      It was this sort of daily garbage that kept me off the forums the majority of the second half of the season, and I know I wasn't the only one. This isn't directed at this thread as it hasn't gotten out of hand...yet.
      Dave, are you showing me the door?
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      You have to admit, it is kind of funny that this article was posted the day after the only "new news" was the Twins 2-year offer to Pelfrey. You've got to expect some critical comments from that!
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Well, I have trouble viewing their hesitance to give up a 2nd round pick to sign a guy to a long-term deal as a "smoking gun" of them back-pedaling. But to be honest, I don't remember the context of that quote. I'd be hesitant to give up a 2nd round pick for any of these guys, too. It's interesting that most rumors - not just local, but national - are not mentioning them makes me wonder if nationally other teams are hesitant, too. Anybody know when they need to decide to accept those qualifying offers?

      A month ago I was in the camp that thought the Twins would have another underwhelming offseason. They still might, but their efforts and expectations seem to have moved up considerably.

      I don't remember ever hearing the Twins linked consistently to this many of the top free agent pitchers. Of the top eight, they've been linked repeatedly to two of them (Nolasco, Arroyo), and a little to one more (Garza) and maybe yet one more (Tanaka), though I think that's the longest of shots. I'm interested to see what happens.

      And as Nick points out, the link to catchers is even more significant. Of the top five catchers on the market, they've been linked to three of them (Saltalamacchia, Pierzynski, Navarro), and they're the three remaining ones.

      Best of all, this stuff isn't coming from the Twins. They're not trumpeting who they're looking at to local media. These are coming from national reports and agents.

      Clearly, everyone gets to choose which way they want to play this. I can understand wanting to stay pessimistic with the hope of eventually being pleasantly surprised. But I think it's fair to say no matter how jaded you want to stay that there are a lot of positive signs early.
    1. jharaldson's Avatar
      jharaldson -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      Well, I have trouble viewing their hesitance to give up a 2nd round pick to sign a guy to a long-term deal as a "smoking gun" of them back-pedaling. But to be honest, I don't remember the context of that quote.
      Here is the context I am aware of. On October 25th Doogie had a phone conversation with Terry Ryan and this was the exchange in regards to the 2nd round protection:

      Would you give up your 2nd round pick to sign a free-agent?If he's good.
      Really? That surprises me.
      Sure, if he's good. Depends on who it is and longevity and age and all that stuff.
      http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/Q...r_topics102513

      About a month later Doogie posts this:

      The Twins have told agents that they don't plan on sacrificing their second-round pick in June's amateur draft to sign a free agent, despite a public declaration stating otherwise.
      http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/W...his_week112613

      Doogie is not a guy that rips the Twins so the fact that he feels this is a contradiction to the statement from October says a lot to me.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      Well, I have trouble viewing their hesitance to give up a 2nd round pick to sign a guy to a long-term deal as a "smoking gun" of them back-pedaling. But to be honest, I don't remember the context of that quote. I'd be hesitant to give up a 2nd round pick for any of these guys, too.
      Agreed. I think TR probably meant he was hypothetically willing to give up that pick... just like he often says he is hypothetically willing to spend on free agents. I think his standards for free agents are difficult if not impossible to achieve.
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Twins fans have every right to be skeptical. To be paranoid. To fear the worst. Ryan has never done a thing to make us feel otherwise.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by jharaldson View Post
      Here is the context I am aware of. On October 25th Doogie had a phone conversation with Terry Ryan and this was the exchange in regards to the 2nd round protection:



      http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/Q...r_topics102513

      About a month later Doogie posts this:



      http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/W...his_week112613

      Doogie is not a guy that rips the Twins so the fact that he feels this is a contradiction to the statement from October says a lot to me.
      I think most people would say I'm not much of a front office supporter, but Ryan did say that on October 25th. At that time no one knew who would or would not be getting qualifying offers. For all we know Ryan told Wolfson this before Lincecum re-signed and he had his sights set on him. Perhaps there was a player he wanted who he was hoping wouldn't have his option picked up or perhaps he said this thinking the Twins might be able to make a play on McCann or Peralta and later realized those two would get rediculous offers.

      Still his original assertion that they wouldn't mind parting with the 2nd round pick always did seem as hollow as his assertion last year that they would go after really good free agent pitchers.

      Personally I do think this year is different, simply because I don't think legit sportswriters and agents both have ever credibly linked the Twins to top free agents before. Still pessimism seems to be justifyed as nothing has happened, thus we still have no track record to base positivity on. It's not like WE should have to prove ourselves to the Twins. THEY are the ones that rely on us, they need to prove themselves to us.

      I do get the frustration with all the negativity but since nothing has happned yet, every conversation basically boils down to "They will!" or "They won't!" It's kind of hard to fault those who are inclined to say "They won't" for not wanting sit out the conversations.
    1. James's Avatar
      James -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      Anybody know when they need to decide to accept those qualifying offers?
      This year the deadline for accepting/rejecting a QO was Nov.11th. Teams have 5 days after the world series to make the offer, and players have 7 days after the offer has been made to make up their mind. Just like many of these types of things in the baseball world, teams and players waited until the last day to make their decision.

      http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/1...ng-offers.html

      Nick, good article. This has been an interesting off-season for the Twins so far, only in the fact that they're getting a lot of national press and getting connected to higher level free agents than previous years, as others have said. The child-like fan in me thinks that this time the Twins mean it, and they're going to sign some good starting pitching. They realist fan is a lot more skeptical. I also don't expect anything to happen until the winter meetings though, and I think there will still be plenty of worthwhile guys available during the meetings as well.
    1. Physics Guy's Avatar
      Physics Guy -
      Keep up the positivity Nick. I am hoping it comes to fruition. Only time will tell.
    1. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      I'm encouraged by the Twins being linked to the various catchers but excuse me if I'm underwhelmed by the pitchers. How about spending 15-17m/yr on a good pitcher instead of 15-20m/yr on two average/below average pitchers? I understand that they still might not land Garza or Jimenez but there's zero chance if they don't make an offer.
      The Twins are loaded with #5 starters and AAAA guys. They don't need two more #4s unless the goal is to win 73 games in 2014 and 2015.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      So much for the Ted Lilly signing....He just retired. see www.mlbtraderumors.com for more
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      So many people aren't reading the actual words that are right in front of them.

      There is absolutely zero inconsistency with saying both of the following things: 1) "We would give up our draft pick" and 2) "We do not plan to give up our draft pick."

      Clearly, it's not in the plan. Giving it up is not their first choice (duh). But I think it's also clear that if that's what it took to get them where they want to go this offseason, they'd in fact do it.

      "Would" and "will" are two very different concepts.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      Well, I have trouble viewing their hesitance to give up a 2nd round pick to sign a guy to a long-term deal as a "smoking gun" of them back-pedaling. But to be honest, I don't remember the context of that quote. I'd be hesitant to give up a 2nd round pick for any of these guys, too. It's interesting that most rumors - not just local, but national - are not mentioning them makes me wonder if nationally other teams are hesitant, too. Anybody know when they need to decide to accept those qualifying offers?

      A month ago I was in the camp that thought the Twins would have another underwhelming offseason. They still might, but their efforts and expectations seem to have moved up considerably.

      I don't remember ever hearing the Twins linked consistently to this many of the top free agent pitchers. Of the top eight, they've been linked repeatedly to two of them (Nolasco, Arroyo), and a little to one more (Garza) and maybe yet one more (Tanaka), though I think that's the longest of shots. I'm interested to see what happens.

      And as Nick points out, the link to catchers is even more significant. Of the top five catchers on the market, they've been linked to three of them (Saltalamacchia, Pierzynski, Navarro), and they're the three remaining ones.

      Best of all, this stuff isn't coming from the Twins. They're not trumpeting who they're looking at to local media. These are coming from national reports and agents.

      Clearly, everyone gets to choose which way they want to play this. I can understand wanting to stay pessimistic with the hope of eventually being pleasantly surprised. But I think it's fair to say no matter how jaded you want to stay that there are a lot of positive signs early.
      I view the Twins willingsness to forgo the draftpick to mean if they can get a discounted player due to draft compensation then they would do it. a la Lohse. Otherwise whats the Twins incentive to forgo the draft pick? There are lots of pitchers to sign even if they signed Pelfry and Campuano that would still represent a huge upgrade to the rotation. (Signing just Pelfry and Campuano will upset lots of Twins fans but it would be an upgrade and that shows how many choices we have to get the job done). THere's probably 20-30 pitchers that would represent an upgrade available at this point.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      (Signing just Pelfry and Campuano will upset lots of Twins fans but it would be an upgrade and that shows how many choices we have to get the job done).
      If you want to argue that essentially one signing means an upgrade that's fine, but acting like re-signing Pelfry would be a component of that upgrade is odd.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      The way I look at it is that the Twins DO have to overpay someone -- who and how much is the question.

      They HAVE TO DO SOMETHING to excite the fan base. They have to do many things to give impression that they are putting a winning and competing team on the field.

      Putting butts in the seat is motivation #1.

      T.C. Bear run the bases for ALL fans? Naw. $1 Senor Smoke Nacho Night. Think Not. Free looks like beer but just colored water? Think fans will see thru this. Add 4-5 players for $50 million to the payroll and keep fingers crossed that no one gets injured and that they all have career years? That's something I might pony up season ticket monies (and not attend the All_Star Game) for.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      See mlb traderumors.com post the Twins on verge of signing someone significant.

      http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/1...t-signing.html
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      Mark my words they are gonna get a big fish this year. TR doesn't really have much choice but to get a good pitcher and spend some money because his boss is on record as saying spend away. Also the organization cannot take the PR hit of only using half of their available payroll with the All-Star game coming to town. They would have to deal with tons of media questions about getting a publicly funded stadium and then not using those resources to build a winning team. TR is finally backed into a corner where he has to spend. He needs a big signing to help the team and the perception that the Twins owner doesn't care about the team but only the money the team generates.

      I personally think he is being prudent waiting until the winter meetings because who knows what might be proposed. He could walk into a great deal. Best to leave the options open and see what comes their way. Just don't wait too long as everyone can be gone in the blink of an eye once the dominoes start falling.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      So many people aren't reading the actual words that are right in front of them.

      There is absolutely zero inconsistency with saying both of the following things: 1) "We would give up our draft pick" and 2) "We do not plan to give up our draft pick."

      Clearly, it's not in the plan. Giving it up is not their first choice (duh). But I think it's also clear that if that's what it took to get them where they want to go this offseason, they'd in fact do it.

      "Would" and "will" are two very different concepts.
      Solid reading skills.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Same old Ryan
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