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  • Twins Need to Focus on Future, Not Old Favorites

    Without exception, each spot on a team's 25-man roster is important.

    In any given week, it is likely that every last one of those players will see action in a game. On a contending team, all 25 openings should ideally be filled by guys who can play a meaningful and valuable role.

    Those roster spots can also be used to protect assets. A rebuilding team might choose to put a Rule 5 pick in the last bullpen slot, or stash a project who's out of options at the end of the bench.

    What is puzzling is seeing a future-focused team such as the Twins using its 25-man roster spots in a way that could only be described as haphazard.

    In their ongoing mission to reassemble veterans who took part in their last successful run, the Twins have repeatedly cast aside young players with potential long-term value in order to roster aging players in decline.

    First, there was Jason Kubel, who essentially beat out Chris Parmelee despite a poor 2013 and a mostly unimpressive spring. In fairness, that move didn't work out too badly, as Parmelee slipped through waivers.

    Kubel made good on the decision with a fast start, but he has fallen apart at the plate (28 strikeouts in his last 63 plate appearances) while Parmelee is raking in Triple-A.

    It's not clear that the correct decision was made here, but it was understandable and nothing was hurt at the end of the day.

    Giving a roster spot to 34-year-old Jason Bartlett, under the pretense that he'd be an asset as a play-anywhere utilityman despite having no history of doing so (not to mention being a year removed from playing), was much harder to figure.

    That blunder did hurt. Bartlett looked terrible, got hurt and retired. In order to stage this fiasco, the Twins waived and lost Alex Presley, who -- while no great shakes -- happened to play at a position where Minnesota has turned out to be dreadfully thin.

    And so we all stared apprehensively at Matt Guerrier's opt-out date on the calendar.

    To be clear, I have nothing against Guerrier. I liked him when he was here, and he can probably be a perfectly decent middle reliever. But that's no given, considering he's 35, and is coming off a bad year, and wasn't particularly impressive during his warm-up stint in the minors.

    On Thursday, the Twins called up Guerrier to avoid having him opt out of his contract. To make room for him, they didn't need to waive anyone from the 25-man roster, but they did send down Logan Darnell after a strong debut, and they had to outright pitching prospect Brooks Raley, who was snatched up by the Angels.

    I'll be honest: I don't know much about Raley. I've maybe seen him pitch twice. I know he's a big, hard-throwing lefty with some control problems and mixed results in the minors.

    But I also know that he's a full decade younger than Guerrier, and that the Twins liked him enough to claim him just a few months ago.

    The signings of Kubel, Bartlett and Guerrier seemed fine during the offseason because there is no inherent risk in non-guaranteed minor-league deals. But when the Twins are exposing and losing young, cheap players left and right in order to give these guys chances, all the appeal is lost.

    If you're going to fill these spots with veterans, why screw around with reclamation projects? Why not spend the money to sign established quality players?

    This is what's frustrating about the Twins. In many respects, they still operate like a penny-pinching, cash-deficient franchise trying to uncover hidden values that have been overlooked by the rest of the league.

    Too often they've whiffed on these projects, and the upside -- now and going forward -- with a player like Guerrier isn't great enough to be dedicating playing time and a roster spot to him over younger players with real long-term upside.

    I have a hard time wrapping my head around what the vision is here.
    Comments 112 Comments
    1. Deduno Abides's Avatar
      Deduno Abides -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Not to sound flippant but those 2000s Twins must have really not cared about winning games because they rolled out some pretty awful players as starters, much less 25th roster men.
      Sorry, don't agree. Context is important.

      1. The 25th roster spot in many of those years went to Nick Punto, whom fans mostly didn't like, but would be grateful today to have in exchange for several players on the current roster.

      2. It's easier to be "flippant" about the 25th roster spot when your roster includes perennial MVP candidates in their prime like Mauer and Mourneau, a perennial Cy Young candidate like Santana, one of the best closers in history in Nathan, and various other stars like Radke, Hunter, Cuddyer, Thome, and Kubel (in his prime).

      3. In years when they rolled out weaker players as starters, their records were worse. Not a very good precedent, except the bad records at that time didn't seem so bad, as they occurred in time proximity to good years. After three years of single-digit draft picks, tolerance for roster construction mistakes should be much lower.
    1. gobirds's Avatar
      gobirds -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      so, we agree, they wouldn't really have a AAA CF even if Wilson was up there.

      What we are really disagreeing about, I think, is the signficance of the mismanagement, not IF there is mismanagement.

      I am not calling out anyone with this next part, but since so many people rip me and others for questioning the FO.....can one of the people that usually defends them come in and explain how this all makes sense to you? I promise not to be mean, if you ask, I won't even rebut your points.
      I'm not a Twins fan, but this is an excellent board, so I like to waste some time here. I'm also not 100% hip to all the new stats thrown around. But aren't all of the players mentioned in this stream of threads your basic replacement level type player? Is there any difference between Fuld, Mastroianni, Wilson, Presley, Bartlett, Raley, Hermann etc.? If you lose any of these guys, can't you go pick one up for nothing?
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Just some food for thought: Remember when a Twins Exec, I think Anthony, said that the Twins were throwing money at people, but no one wanted to play here. But the truth is that players who have played for the Twins speak glowingly and passionately about their time here. The familial sense Twins veterans feel is ubiquitous, even the supposed-spurned ones like Bartlett and Perkins. I've seen video recently where players like Hunter and Span expressed that Minnesota was home and that the Twins grew them up. When Guerrier was quoted saying "This is where I want to be." I found it touching and I was proud to be a Twins fan.

      Part of building for the future is establishing a culture of kinship which does have more value than glitz and gold to a good deal of people. It might be an abstract pursuit, but allowing former players to return at the margins of the roster does little harm to present and future teams; and the payoff is something to be proud of and more wins by retaining stars and beckoning them to come here.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by gobirds View Post
      I'm not a Twins fan, but this is an excellent board, so I like to waste some time here. I'm also not 100% hip to all the new stats thrown around. But aren't all of the players mentioned in this stream of threads your basic replacement level type player? Is there any difference between Fuld, Mastroianni, Wilson, Presley, Bartlett, Raley, Hermann etc.? If you lose any of these guys, can't you go pick one up for nothing?
      Just because.they are replacement level or below doesn't mean there's a ready supply of them on the market, at least after the free agent period.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      Just some food for thought: Remember when a Twins Exec, I think Anthony, said that the Twins were throwing money at people, but no one wanted to play here. But the truth is that players who have played for the Twins speak glowingly and passionately about their time here. The familial sense Twins veterans feel is ubiquitous, even the supposed-spurned ones like Bartlett and Perkins. I've seen video recently where players like Hunter and Span expressed that Minnesota was home and that the Twins grew them up. When Guerrier was quoted saying "This is where I want to be." I found it touching and I was proud to be a Twins fan.

      Part of building for the future is establishing a culture of kinship which does have more value than glitz and gold to a good deal of people. It might be an abstract pursuit, but allowing former players to return at the margins of the roster does little harm to present and future teams; and the payoff is something to be proud of and more wins by retaining stars and beckoning them to come here.
      I don't buy that. The best way to create chemistry in winning. Of course you want good character guys. But the best character guys can still preside over a dour clubhouse if the team is perpetually in the tank. Winning perpetuates winning. To win, you need to develop talent, not recycle retreads. The only real value in retreads is to trade them for young talent, which has a chance to help you win down the road.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      It's great that the Twins are a nice organization that largely treats their players respectfully.

      It also has zero to do with bungling your 25 and 40 man rosters. If it does - it's a problem. The two aren't mutually exclusive.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      .I've seen video recently where players like Hunter and Span expressed that Minnesota was home and that the Twins grew them up.
      Talk is cheap. Actions matter. And Hunter decided as a free agent to sign with the strongest team in the Twins division recently, and seven years ago declined the Twins' offer and signed with Anaheim. Money talks, not love for the Twins, for these guys, despite what they are saying publicly in interviews.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by gobirds View Post
      I'm not a Twins fan, but this is an excellent board, so I like to waste some time here. I'm also not 100% hip to all the new stats thrown around. But aren't all of the players mentioned in this stream of threads your basic replacement level type player? Is there any difference between Fuld, Mastroianni, Wilson, Presley, Bartlett, Raley, Hermann etc.? If you lose any of these guys, can't you go pick one up for nothing?
      Well, Wilson was struggling at AA, as compared to Mastro, Presley, and Fuld who have had good success at AAA and even a little in MLB. So Wilson was no immediate help to anyone, not even replacement level.

      Also, Bartlett was expected to be the MLB backup OF having never played the position before, and having not played competitively anywhere in over a year. And keeping Bartlett was directly responsible for losing both Presley and Mastro and only replacing them with Wilson.

      Then later Escobar was expected to play OF because the only immediately available option was apparently the nonviable Wilson, and it probably directly cost us a game in Cleveland. The catcher Herrmann was also playing OF regularly and was sub-replacement with the bat (and also almost cost us a game with his OF defense)

      And the long-term value of this immediately useless Wilson? They just DFA'd him a few weeks later, in favor of Parmelee -- a move they could have made almost a month ago and had a viable MLB OF this whole time (albeit not a CF).

      So they have regularly been shedding replacement level OF especially CF, and been replacing them with a sub-replacement level OF and infielders and even a catcher expected to play OF. Still fairly marginal, but frustrating to watch.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Exactly. And that was the same GM who dismantled the World Championship Twins. Same MO 2 decades later (and last decade. Do you remember the Yesterday Eddie trade?)


      I totally agree with the title of this article




      but to be fair, one should argue that, in addition to Guerrier and Kubel mentioned here, Deduno, Correia, Burton, Willinham, Colabello, Suzuki & Co, among others should sit or go away because they are not part of the future. (I would love it, if that happened, btw, but this is not the way this team rolls.)



      I think you and dwintheiser are overstating the nostalgia element of the Molitor / Winfield / Steinbach signings. Those guys were still ball players. I don't recall any of the three being teammates like Kubel, Bartlett, Guerrier this year, not to mention the apparently aggressive attempts to sign Pierzynski and Garza, two guys who went elsewhere but can actually still play.


      The late 90s was a different situation. Low stadium revenues but more of a willingness in those final years for developing young talent because that's the right thing to do. The 1999-2001 teams finally matured. Ryan was GM. What's happening 2012-2014 teams feels completely different to me.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
      The catcher Herrmann was also playing OF regularly and was sub-replacement with the bat (and also almost cost us a game with his OF defense)
      Herrmann and his positions are an interesting story: In College (Alvin CC & Miami, one year each) he was a third baseman and caught and played LF some, but was drafted by the Twins as an OF and then started to catch as well. Having more organizational depth in OF than in C around 2011 and 2012, he started to catch more. With that ratio reversed recently he started to play the OF more. So he is a pretty versatile guy, but in a Brandon Inge (who actually is a pretty good comparable for Herrmann) and not a Nick Punto way.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      Just some food for thought: Remember when a Twins Exec, I think Anthony, said that the Twins were throwing money at people, but no one wanted to play here. But the truth is that players who have played for the Twins speak glowingly and passionately about their time here. The familial sense Twins veterans feel is ubiquitous, even the supposed-spurned ones like Bartlett and Perkins. I've seen video recently where players like Hunter and Span expressed that Minnesota was home and that the Twins grew them up. When Guerrier was quoted saying "This is where I want to be." I found it touching and I was proud to be a Twins fan.

      Part of building for the future is establishing a culture of kinship which does have more value than glitz and gold to a good deal of people. It might be an abstract pursuit, but allowing former players to return at the margins of the roster does little harm to present and future teams; and the payoff is something to be proud of and more wins by retaining stars and beckoning them to come here.
      Pseudo, I think you are really over-sentimentalizing this. Substitute "familial" and "kinship" for "country club" and you are getting much closer to a better characterization for many of us. A former player who is still active who speaks well of a former team is not noteworthy. Also, I think it's early to describe the current clubhouse culture as resulting in a "payoff of more wins" if I read that correctly.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hosken Bombo Disco View Post
      The late 90s was a different situation. Low stadium revenues but more of a willingness in those final years for developing young talent because that's the right thing to do. The 1999-2001 teams finally matured. Ryan was GM. What's happening 2012-2014 teams feels completely different to me.
      I am not going to discuss the Gardenhire Twins and whether or not they were successful, but Ryan does not have any excuses for the late 90s Twins. Revenues cannot be used as an excuse. Look at the Rays for example. And their revenue situation is similar to the Twins' then. Simply: Ryan (and his team) who are still the same people who are running the Twins, did not draft talent and was adverse to trading aging players with some value for talent. That is what teams with limited revenues do and complete (Rays and A's for example.) Also, that "revenue" excuse is really smelly to me. The same venue was full and brought some good $ when there was a better product on the field both before (the MacPhail Twins were leading the majors in attendance) and after the pre-contraction Ryan Twins. So it is not the strike's fault, the Dome's fault or "luck". It is Ryan's fault. Those Twins did not have talent and Ryan (and his team) is directly responsible for that mess, as he is for this mess.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Herrmann and his positions are an interesting story: In College (Alvin CC & Miami, one year each) he was a third baseman and caught and played LF some, but was drafted by the Twins as an OF and then started to catch as well. Having more organizational depth in OF than in C around 2011 and 2012, he started to catch more. With that ratio reversed recently he started to play the OF more. So he is a pretty versatile guy, but in a Brandon Inge (who actually is a pretty good comparable for Herrmann) and not a Nick Punto way.
      Herrmann has completely abandoned 3B as a pro, though, which was Inge's primary MLB position and main driver of his value. And Inge was a 100 OPS+ bat in his prime too, probably more comparable to Plouffe overall.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by PopRiveter View Post
      I believe they brought in some veterans who they could trust to set a good example, take some pressure off the kids, and lead the clubhouse.
      A lot was made about this team lacking fire. The veterans set the tone. They picked up a handful of guys they trust (makeupwise) knowing that a few would stick and a few would not.
      It is in the young players best interests to graduate the minors into a functional mlb clubhouse with some veteran leadership.
      If you drop a replacement player to take a shot at one of these guys, that's no big loss. They can pick up another Raley or Mastro 20 times each season.
      So there were bad attitudes a month into the season in the bullpen? The only solution is to bring up Matt Guerrier.

      If you can pick up Mastro 20 times per season, why is there still only 1 CF on the active 40 man roster? 20 times is roughly weekly, the Twins should have 2 Mastros by now.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      When Guerrier was quoted saying "This is where I want to be." I found it touching and I was proud to be a Twins fan.
      Really? I found it troubling, as that also likely means that (given all of the other ex-Twins who have spurned the Twins offers in recent years) it was likely the only place that offered him. And it's hard to be proud of bringing back aging veterans on a team that is supposed to be in the midst of rebuilding- which leads to this comment:

      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      Part of building for the future is establishing a culture of kinship which does have more value than glitz and gold to a good deal of people. It might be an abstract pursuit, but allowing former players to return at the margins of the roster does little harm to present and future teams; and the payoff is something to be proud of and more wins by retaining stars and beckoning them to come here.
      A country club atmosphere invites a culture where "abstract pursuits" lead to the dead ends we've become so accustomed to these last few years, and which are antithetical to the purpose and responsibility of a sports team- which is to entertain while winning games and championships. And it's demonstrable that allowing veterans to return at the margins has done "little harm"- and it's also done significant harm- and given the embarrassing results of the first 6 weeks of the season with respect to roster management, nothing to be proud of.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      I am not going to discuss the Gardenhire Twins and whether or not they were successful, but Ryan does not have any excuses for the late 90s Twins. Revenues cannot be used as an excuse. Look at the Rays for example. And their revenue situation is similar to the Twins' then. Simply: Ryan (and his team) who are still the same people who are running the Twins, did not draft talent and was adverse to trading aging players with some value for talent. That is what teams with limited revenues do and complete (Rays and A's for example.) Also, that "revenue" excuse is really smelly to me. The same venue was full and brought some good $ when there was a better product on the field both before (the MacPhail Twins were leading the majors in attendance) and after the pre-contraction Ryan Twins. So it is not the strike's fault, the Dome's fault or "luck". It is Ryan's fault. Those Twins did not have talent and Ryan (and his team) is directly responsible for that mess, as he is for this mess.
      I am not excusing the Pohlads and Ryan did fail in his short time to assemble a competitive team around what remained of the Puckett / Knoblauch core. But he did eventually assemble a durable core of young guys who were winners. This is not a market that demands sports dynasties which worked in Pohlad's and Ryan's favor. But Ryan can be faulted today for his breezy dismissals of any criticism of how the team is being run, yes.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Add the Phillies to the list of teams who could use help in the bullpen. They are in win now mode so they would trade prospects for bullpen help. That's 3 playoff contenders:

      1. Phillies
      2. Tigers
      3. Angels

      who all need bullpen help while we have 10 different options. Also Phillies and A's could use a swingman like Correia too.

      The beauty of what we are doing this year is we have a huge stockpile of arms we could trade and replace in our pen. Guerrier is one more arm.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      Add the Phillies to the list of teams who could use help in the bullpen. They are in win now mode so they would trade prospects for bullpen help. That's 3 playoff contenders:

      1. Phillies
      2. Tigers
      3. Angels

      who all need bullpen help while we have 10 different options. Also Phillies and A's could use a swingman like Correia too.

      The beauty of what we are doing this year is we have a huge stockpile of arms we could trade and replace in our pen. Guerrier is one more arm.
      Nobody is trading anything of value for any of our relievers not named Perkins.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I'll go there. I am thinking that Tonkin would be attractive to a couple clubs, but don't most teams have several guys under 30 that can throw around 95? To my knowledge, the Twins have .......Tonkin.
    1. Deduno Abides's Avatar
      Deduno Abides -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      When Guerrier was quoted saying "This is where I want to be." I found it touching and I was proud to be a Twins fan.
      There are two basic types of responses regarding satisfactory workplaces.

      (1) "I work with a lot of smart, talented people and get to do interesting things almost every day. I feel like I am constantly challenged to become the best I can be. My co-workers do good work and I am glad to work with them, but we also hold each other accountable for poor performance. I learn from my manager, who constantly puts us in position to do well. We use cutting-edge tools, which regularly causes me to learn new things and rethink how to do my job well. I feel like I am contributing to a success."

      (2) "The people here are so nice. I like how we do things and feel like working here enables me to have a comfortable life. We want to do well, but not at the expense of relationships. My manager is easy-going and doesn't put too much pressure on me. We don't change things too much, so once I learn how to do something, I can be comfortable that I will be able to continue in the same manner. I feel like my manager is loyal to me, so I feel loyal to my manager. On Fridays, there's cake!"

      It seems like a lot of the players that prefer playing for the Twins these days fall into the second answer. All of the players that have chosen to play here over the last few years either don't have a track record of winning and/or have had a lack of success in their most recent years. Players who still have something to offer and/or want to win look elsewhere, even if the money is worse, e.g., Garza and A.J. Once the team re-establishes a winning culture, more players who like the first answer will start coming here.
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