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  • Morales Signing Signals Shift in Twins' Mindset

    The last time I can remember the Twins making a "win now" move was prior to the 2011 season, when they re-signed Carl Pavano and Jim Thome in an effort to recapture the magic that led to 94 wins and a playoff berth in the first season at Target Field.

    You can argue that these weren't especially wise moves, but they were clearly aimed at a goal of short-term winning. Pavano, 35, was signed for two years and cost the Twins a potential draft pick. Thome, 40, was signed for one year.

    Things obviously fell apart during that season, and in the years since, while the Twins have made a lot of moves -- some of them very good moves -- I don't think any could be described as aggressive "win-now" maneuvers.

    Not until now.

    Over the weekend, the Twins announced that they have signed Kendrys Morales for the remainder of the 2014 campaign, at a hefty prorated $12 million salary. That's a significant spend for a player whose sole purpose is to make this team better right now.

    What prompted this uncharacteristic shift in approach? In part, it might be frustration. The Twins have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for their top prospects to progress through the minors and help propel the big-league club forward, only to be met with a seemingly endless string of setbacks.

    Miguel Sano's elbow, Byron Buxton's wrist, Eddie Rosario's suspension… they have all pushed the arrivals of potential difference-makers backward, leaving the team in perpetual limbo.

    And then there are the outside factors in play. You've got a manager and GM who are -- at least to some extent -- on the hot seat after three straight 90-loss seasons. You've got a ballpark with dwindling attendance numbers. And you've got a club with tons of extra money on hand after falling well short of its spending limit during the offseason.

    On top of all that, the Twins are in last place but only five games out of first, and closer than that to wild-card position. So as Terry Ryan aptly put it when discussing the Morales signing, "Why not us?"

    To be clear, Morales is not a slam-dunk signing nor a perfect fit. He hasn't played since September of 2013, and in the two seasons since his devastating leg injury with the Angels he has been a good but not spectacular hitter. He also has limited defensive versatility, so working him into the lineup around young guys who need to be playing, like Josmil Pinto and Oswaldo Arcia, will be a challenge.

    But the bottom line is that Morales is a massive upgrade over the guy he's replacing on the roster (Jason Kubel), and he's a bat that you can immediately slot into the middle of the lineup. This isn't a move that suddenly turns the Twins into a World Series contender, but it does significantly boost their chances of hanging around .500 and remaining relevant late into the season.

    Even more importantly, though, it indicates that the Twins are finally back in a mindset where they're focused on winning baseball games now, not next year or the year after. For fans who have endured some brutal results in recent years, that is a tremendously encouraging development.
    Comments 72 Comments
    1. drivlikejehu's Avatar
      drivlikejehu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      It was one move. Morales can't pitch, he can only replace Kubel and the current DH options.

      On its own, the Morales signing was pretty exciting... it has nothing to do with any of the rest of those things. And no one, including the Twins, would tell you that it does.
      Except that everything is connected. Payroll space used for one player can't be used for another. Prospects traded for one player can't be traded for another. No significant move can be evaluated in a vacuum.

      Your post wasn't really responsive to mine anyway - this thread is about a Twins "mindset change." I don't see any evidence of that at all. The Twins have been doing deals like this (and larger obviously) for a couple years now. The timing is unusual due to the draft comp issue, but there is zero indication anything has "changed" for the Twins management.
    1. S.'s Avatar
      S. -
      I have a hard time caring too much about this move. I'm glad we don't have to watch Kubel anymore, but otherwise I'm hoping we flip Morales for some prospect(s) at the trade deadline. I just hope we don't end up in a scenario where the FO tries to pretend we're serious contenders and decides not to try to sell on any of our veterans that we can potentially get something for.
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by drivlikejehu View Post
      there is zero indication anything has "changed" for the Twins management.
      I think you're correct in stating that the Twins have been making FA deals for the last couple years. However, it's an awful big simplification to say that signing a slugger at $12M/year in June is the same as $3M for Jim Thome in the offseason. Same can be said about 2 multi-year starting pitchers at >$8M/year compared to Jason Marquis.

      What specific moves would qualify for "changed"?
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by jharaldson View Post
      In my mind you have to praise the Twins for the mindset change here. They very easily could have pocketed this money and trotted Kubel, Parmalee, Colabello, Pinto, ect.... out for DH for the remainder of the season.
      If this is a mindset change move, it was served up to them on a silver platter -- how often do you have a fairly young, healthy quality free agent available for nothing but modest cash in June, at the same time that all of your internal options at the same position have struggled mightily over the season's first two months? I'll give them some credit for spending the money -- just like I did after the Nolasco deal -- but all that's basically saying is they're not epically cheap at the moment!

      Although I endorse the Morales signing, if we really want to contend, a better mindset change move might be to avoid a collapse at a position before addressing it.
    1. halfchest's Avatar
      halfchest -
      Quote Originally Posted by drivlikejehu View Post
      Except that everything is connected. Payroll space used for one player can't be used for another. Prospects traded for one player can't be traded for another. No significant move can be evaluated in a vacuum.

      Your post wasn't really responsive to mine anyway - this thread is about a Twins "mindset change." I don't see any evidence of that at all. The Twins have been doing deals like this (and larger obviously) for a couple years now. The timing is unusual due to the draft comp issue, but there is zero indication anything has "changed" for the Twins management.
      I get your point, kind of, but in retrospect what can they do now about CF? Other than trade, if there's something worth trading for. At this time, there's not much out there for FA CF. I think the Morales signing just shows they are willing to go for it this year, at least give it a shot. Now I won't be convinced until they make some corresponding moves within the next week or two which include like many have said, calling up May for Correia. Then either DFA or move him to the pen to replace Burton who's obviously lost what he's had the last couple of years. Then also give Deduno a short leash with Darnell/Meyer/Johnson down in AAA.

      So I think the mentality has slowly been shifting towards trying to contend this past year as the prospects get closer and this signing is just further evidence of that shift. If the Twins can keep around or maybe just above .500 I'll be interested to see if they pursue any talent at the deadline.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Possumlad View Post
      Anyone know why Meyer is on the 80 pitch limit? Hasn't it been ~3 years since a major surgery? We've been referencing the limit, but so far no explanation of why..
      He was shut down last year and missed about 2 months (at least) due to shoulder soreness. I think he had just over 100 IP between the sumer and winter league.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I think it is half an indication....I still don't think they are fully committed one way or the other to win now or complete tear down. But, it seems clear, to me anyway, this is a departure from the past behavior of this team.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I am a little surprised at the nay-saying going on about this move. Think about the upgrade of Nunez over Bartlett and now Morales over Kubel. These are significant improvements. Trevor May for Correia really should happen immediately. Maybe it will after one more start for each of them.

      Worst case scenario the Twins falter and have Morales to trade at the deadline with Willingham, and both could really bring back nice players.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      This is pivotal that the Twins do at some point soon. Gibson (despite some funky home/road splits) has been good this year. We need to give Meyer a taste this year as an investment for next year.

      ...slowly...inexorably...the mighty leviathan gave way to a positive thought about the prospects for Twins pitching...
    1. Beezer07's Avatar
      Beezer07 -
      The Twins signed a potentially good player/solid contributor and let loose a known non-good/below average contributor. What is there to complain about with respect to this move? I get there are still gaping holes and they were allowed to linger, but the Twins haven't signed a HR hitter in quite some time, let alone during the middle of the season. They have money to spend and spent it on a guy who should​ be an upgrade over the guy(s) he replaced. No downside here, IMO.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      I am a little surprised at the nay-saying going on about this move. Think about the upgrade of Nunez over Bartlett and now Morales over Kubel. These are significant improvements. Trevor May for Correia really should happen immediately. Maybe it will after one more start for each of them.

      Worst case scenario the Twins falter and have Morales to trade at the deadline with Willingham, and both could really bring back nice players.
      And maybe another mini-haul for Suzuki.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by halfchest View Post
      I get your point, kind of, but in retrospect what can they do now about CF? Other than trade, if there's something worth trading for. At this time, there's not much out there for FA CF. I think the Morales signing just shows they are willing to go for it this year, at least give it a shot. Now I won't be convinced until they make some corresponding moves within the next week or two which include like many have said, calling up May for Correia. Then either DFA or move him to the pen to replace Burton who's obviously lost what he's had the last couple of years. Then also give Deduno a short leash with Darnell/Meyer/Johnson down in AAA.

      So I think the mentality has slowly been shifting towards trying to contend this past year as the prospects get closer and this signing is just further evidence of that shift. If the Twins can keep around or maybe just above .500 I'll be interested to see if they pursue any talent at the deadline.
      FA CF are the 2 Cubans. John Jay's name has been floated in the media if/when the Cards deem him expendable
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
      If this is a mindset change move, it was served up to them on a silver platter -- how often do you have a fairly young, healthy quality free agent available for nothing but modest cash in June, at the same time that all of your internal options at the same position have struggled mightily over the season's first two months? I'll give them some credit for spending the money -- just like I did after the Nolasco deal -- but all that's basically saying is they're not epically cheap at the moment!

      Although I endorse the Morales signing, if we really want to contend, a better mindset change move might be to avoid a collapse at a position before addressing it.
      More spilt water under a bridge too far....

      At least the sense of urgency has reached all the way to ownership, according to TR, he called Jim Pohlad 10 days ago on starting a negotiation with "Mr Boras", the toughest SOB agent out there, and Mr Pohlad didn't even a bat an eye before he said, "Get her done!:"
    1. halfchest's Avatar
      halfchest -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      FA CF are the 2 Cubans. John Jay's name has been floated in the media if/when the Cards deem him expendable
      Are they available yet? I don't know much about them but the money should still be there. The problem with that is they are likely longer term signings and I assume the Twins are still counting on Buxton soon enough.

      How much would John Jay cost in prospects I wonder? I'd be all for it but again, his bat doesn't play in the corners but he's young enough and good enough I can see them wanting something decent for him.

      I don't think the Morales signing would prohibit either of these moves if they need to be made.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by halfchest View Post
      Are they available yet? I don't know much about them but the money should still be there. The problem with that is they are likely longer term signings and I assume the Twins are still counting on Buxton soon enough.

      How much would John Jay cost in prospects I wonder? I'd be all for it but again, his bat doesn't play in the corners but he's young enough and good enough I can see them wanting something decent for him.

      I don't think the Morales signing would prohibit either of these moves if they need to be made.
      John Jay would be costly, but you'd be getting almost 2.5 years of team control, and at least in theory, he could be dealt in a similar trade at this same time next year should Buxton prove ready to come up. It sounds like the the Cubans could be signed by early July. There is speculation that both would quickly move right to their major league signing club. At least one of them sounds like his bat plays in the corners.
    1. sabrtoothtiger's Avatar
      sabrtoothtiger -
      Is it just me or is Morales a more-developed version of the player that Arcia is? At the end of the day, they are both in the majors because they are power hitters who hit for a pretty good average. They don't walk much and they don't play stunning defense. But Morales has turned into a decent veteran player. Maybe Arcia has a higher ceiling, but we can't know that yet.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      If there was a "mind set" change it occured during the off-season. "...guys who have 'won' before..."--Gardenhire. The Twins went out and signed beaucoup veterans to staff this season's team. Kubel is the latest to be released--likely there will be more. The Morales signing is simply another step in the same plan of providing "guys who have won before"--at affordable prices. The fundamental plan was to put a competitive team on the field to try to regain attendance and TV ratings. What will be interesting is to see what happens six weeks from now. I guess we will just have to wait and find out.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      ...slowly...inexorably...the mighty leviathan gave way to a positive thought about the prospects for Twins pitching...
      Why would anyone be positive about this starting staff at this point? They've been bad and aren't going to get any better with this group as is.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by sabrtoothtiger View Post
      Is it just me or is Morales a more-developed version of the player that Arcia is? At the end of the day, they are both in the majors because they are power hitters who hit for a pretty good average. They don't walk much and they don't play stunning defense. But Morales has turned into a decent veteran player. Maybe Arcia has a higher ceiling, but we can't know that yet.
      Oswaldo swings a lot more, makes contact a lot less. He'd be wise to watch and listen to Kendrys, perhaps make him a role model....and hey, what do you know, they literally speak the same language.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Why would anyone be positive about this starting staff at this point? They've been bad and aren't going to get any better with this group as is.
      Except you just had nice things to say about Gibson and the potential young arms....baby steps to positivity...I'll take it. And haven't even reacted yet to Hughes, thus far.
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