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  • WWTD? (What Will Terry Do?)

    This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com.

    Six weeks ago, I put up a post here arguing that it was much too soon to “pull the plug” on the Twins’ 2012 season. I argued that, despite an admittedly dismal start, the Twins were performing fairly well on most fronts, with the glaring exception of their starting pitching, and that they were just about to begin playing their own Division rivals on a regular basis. Feel free to go back and read the whole article, but here was my conclusion:

    If the Twins only win 10 of their next 34 games, then I’m on board with everyone else… put up the Yard Sale sign and sell off any asset you can get a fair return for.

    But the more I look at the schedule… and what other teams in the AL Central Division have done… the less I feel like there’s any real rush to make drastic and irreversible decisions. The starting pitching needs to be better than it has been… pure and simple. But if that can be accomplished, I see no reason this Twins team shouldn’t still be able to live up to our limited expectations of them before the season started.

    We could still have a little fun this summer.



    Terry Ryan

    A few days ago, in the comment section of one of our GameChat posts, regular reader/commenter “frightwig” pointed out that, since I authored that post, the Twins had gone 17-17 and had not cut down the number of games they trailed the Division leaders. (Following the series win over the Reds, that record is now 19-18 since May 14.) He asked if my opinion of the Twins’ outlook and what General Manager Terry Ryan should do had changed at this point.

    That’s a fair question. The answer is, “no, not really,” and the reason is that the situation really hasn’t changed all that much. In fact, just as was the case on May 14, the Twins are once again about to embark on several intra-divisional series that could be fun to watch and very few games against contenders in other divisions. Between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Twins have 8 games with the White Sox, 7 with the Royals, 4 with the Tigers, 4 with the Orioles, 3 with the Indians, 3 with the Rangers and 3 with the A’s.

    On top of that, the Division-leading White Sox have started their annual “trade for big name washed up former All-Stars” exercise, so you know that’s a sign they’re about to tank.

    Bear in mind, even six weeks ago, I never argued that Terry Ryan should sit on his hands all year and make no moves, nor did I suggest the Twins were likely to become “good” any time soon. I merely pointed out that the Twins had some things going for them that could make them entertaining to watch and potentially even more than just entertaining if they could do something about the starting rotation. I don’t think that’s changed.

    Nor do I think things have changed much since I posted my most recent argument against having a full-out fire sale.

    Still, I’ve written a lot about what I DON’T think Terry Ryan should be doing as we enter the “trading season,” but what do I think Ryan SHOULD do?
    1. As I wrote on May 14, Ryan should be listening to any offer. Nobody on this roster is untouchable, though one or two players are likely untradeable.
    2. Any player that does not figure in the team’s plans for 2013 should be traded as soon as decent value of any kind is offered. This would include Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano, certainly, as well as Alexi Casilla and Ryan Doumit (unless the rumored extension talks prove fruitful).
    3. Ryan should not be in a hurry to trade any productive player that is under contract for 2013 and beyond. Players like Denard Span, Justin Morneau, Josh Willingham (particularly Willingham) and even Jamey Carroll should only be traded this summer for solid starting pitching that are good bets to be no worse than #3 starters as soon as next season. (Of course, in this rotation, it doesn’t take a lot to be considered a #3 starter.)

    I still question whether the Twins will find anyone willing to part with a potential top-of-the-rotation pitcher in July, but I could be wrong. For example, with the Twins playing a series against the Pirates last week, I couldn’t help but notice that, for a team sitting at or near the top of their Division as June comes to a close, their offense really isn’t very good after you get past CF Andrew McCutchen. They are where they’re at because of their pitching.

    Of course, they aren’t likely to give up anyone in the top half of their rotation at this point and any Twins fans who think they’d consider trading uber-prospect Gerrit Cole are kidding themselves. But guess what… their AAA affiliate, Indianapolis, is also leading THEIR division and they’re likewise doing so because of strong starting pitching. The Pirates appear to have some remarkable depth in the starting pitching department. I’m certainly no expert on the Pirates’ minor league system, but I can’t help but think either Rudy Owens or Jeff Locke, both lefties, would make the Twins’ rotation better as soon as next year and for several years to come (heck, probably THIS year, for that matter).

    But why would they trade any of their young pitching now? Do you have any idea how long it has been since the Pirates sniffed the playoffs? No? Me either, but I think it was when Barry Bonds was skinny.

    With Cole rising fast up through their organization, there’s going to be a logjam in Pittsburgh’s rotation before long. That’s why they may be more likely to give up some of that pitching for offensive help from one of the few teams without realistic playoff hopes in the coming weeks, rather than wait until the offseason when there will be more potential trade partners and they arguably could get a better return. In other words, they have the potential to be a little stupid with their trades over the next few weeks.

    The question is whether the Twins would match up well with the Pirates in a trade discussion. With McCutchen in CF, their need for Denard Span might not be as great as a team that has a need at that position, but Span could certainly play one of the corner OF spots and he would certainly improve their lineup. Then again, just about any position player on the Twins roster, down to and including Drew Butera, could improve the Pirates lineup at this point.

    I still don’t think trading players like Willingham or Morneau would be smart, because you’re going to need to replace them in a few months if you let them go. But there’s a case to be made that replacing them would be easier than acquiring starting pitching this winter. I’m not sure I’m convinced, but I’m willing to consider the possibility.

    I’m sure the Pirates aren’t the only potential trade partner, but I mention them only by way of acknowledging there may be a stronger market out there than I think there is. The extra Wild Card spots this season and the relative balance of competitiveness in both leagues has the potential to mean a lot more buyers in July and fewer sellers. In any industry, that means a “sellers market,” and if the Twins can capitalize on that market to improve their team as soon as 2013, they’d be foolish not to do so.

    Just don’t come at me with salary dump trades for any wannabe prospects. There’s no financial reason for the Twins to pull that kind of crap on their fans when they’re continuing to look at just below 3 million in attendance this season.

    - JC
    This article was originally published in blog: WWTD? (What Will Terry Do?) started by Jim Crikket
    Comments 12 Comments
    1. Blake's Avatar
      Blake -
      Jim, I agree. No matter what, salary is coming off the books next year. Unless the Twins get a really good offer, no reason to start dumping.

      I tend to think Mr. Ryan is going to go after a marque free agent pitcher next year, if the Twins are unable to trade for some top quality help the rotation next year prospects. (Liriano may very well stick around next year, if Ryan signs a top of the rotation pitcher)
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      The Twins have to be blown away with an offer for Morneau, Span, even Capps or Willingham. The question is Liriano. They HAVE to trade him as they won't arbitrate, which means no draft choice. Getting rid of Pavano will bring a minor league player with some known upside...if he gets healthy. I'm sure EVERY contending team is looking at the Twins roster. How it all plays out depends on who and what other teams are dumping.
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      All I know is, Mr. Ryan has been very grumpy and stressed when he comes into the lunch room lately. He is certainly facing some tough decisions, without easy and obvious answers.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      The Twins have to be blown away with an offer for Morneau, Span, even Capps or Willingham. The question is Liriano. They HAVE to trade him as they won't arbitrate, which means no draft choice. Getting rid of Pavano will bring a minor league player with some known upside...if he gets healthy. I'm sure EVERY contending team is looking at the Twins roster. How it all plays out depends on who and what other teams are dumping.
      Why do they need to be blown away with an offer for Capps?

      I agree with only trading Span/Willingham/Morneau if you can get back very good value in return.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      The Twins have to be blown away with an offer for Morneau, Span, even Capps or Willingham. The question is Liriano. They HAVE to trade him as they won't arbitrate, which means no draft choice. Getting rid of Pavano will bring a minor league player with some known upside...if he gets healthy. I'm sure EVERY contending team is looking at the Twins roster. How it all plays out depends on who and what other teams are dumping.
      I didn't mention Capps in my article, but I'd probably put him in the category of a player not figuring in to 2013's plans. He's sort of a "tweener" though (if he gets healthy) because, while he's not locked up for 2013, the Twins hold a pretty friendly option ($6 million, $250K buyout) on him for 2013. I'm not as down on Capps as almost everyone else seems to be, but right now I probably wouldn't exercise that $6 mil option. But I wouldn't take just a bucket of balls for him from the first team that makes an offer, either. If he establishes that he's healthy when he comes off the DL, there will be a market for him and I'm not nearly as concerned about him imploding and losing all value as I am about Liriano.
    1. Huskerboy's Avatar
      Huskerboy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      I didn't mention Capps in my article, but I'd probably put him in the category of a player not figuring in to 2013's plans. He's sort of a "tweener" though (if he gets healthy) because, while he's not locked up for 2013, the Twins hold a pretty friendly option ($6 million, $250K buyout) on him for 2013. I'm not as down on Capps as almost everyone else seems to be, but right now I probably wouldn't exercise that $6 mil option. But I wouldn't take just a bucket of balls for him from the first team that makes an offer, either. If he establishes that he's healthy when he comes off the DL, there will be a market for him and I'm not nearly as concerned about him imploding and losing all value as I am about Liriano.
      I would start with Morneau who appaers to have gone "soft" at the plate (witness his splits against lefties). He is long passed the days when he would stand in as an intimidating and immovable force at the plate. Save the money. Move Mauer to first and work with Doumit and Butera behind the plate.
      Would be willing to offer up Pavano. Think the Twins have milked as much health as he appears to have. Suspect he is moving into one of his fragile periods.
      Would keep Span to see if it looks like Hicks or Bruxton are going to actually develop. Like Revere for speed and chemistry a team that has apitch to contact staff can't afford his arm in right. As for Liriano, I would keep him and sit him down with films of Jim Kaat the day before each of his starts. When Liriano brings the ball and his weight to the plate like Kaat always did he is pretty darn good. When he starts trying to over throw it like Mijares he's a lost cause.
      Wouldn't let go of Willingham as he looks to provide some pop and a little stability. Would hope you could make a right fielder out of him so you could move revere to left.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Huskerboy View Post
      I would start with Morneau who appaers to have gone "soft" at the plate (witness his splits against lefties). He is long passed the days when he would stand in as an intimidating and immovable force at the plate. Save the money. Move Mauer to first and work with Doumit and Butera behind the plate.
      Again, Butera should not be on a MLB roster. If you're advocating that Mauer move to first base, you have to go find another catcher to play on a daily basis, preferably one that isn't god-awful. Doumit doesn't catch well enough and can't seem to stay healthy enough to do it.
    1. ltwedt's Avatar
      ltwedt -
      "But I wouldn't take just a bucket of balls for him from the first team that makes an offer, either."

      I, on the other hand, WOULD take a bucket of balls for him . . . (Matt Capps)
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      I don't understand why, on a team as desparate for starting pitching as the Twins, it's a given that Liriano doesn't figure into their plans for 2013 and beyond. Where are they going to get a pitcher, or pitchers, with similar stuff and upside for similar money?

      I continue to wish the Twins would go to Liriano and try hard to get him to agree to a reasonable 3 yr extension. He gets some stability and enough guaranteed money to stop worrying about next year's paycheck every time he takes the mound. The Twins get some cost certainty and at least the possibility of a top of the rotation starter.

      If he refuses, then yeah, think about trading him at or around the deadline. But at least try first.
    1. Snortwood's Avatar
      Snortwood -
      Third game in a row where the Twins received an excellent effort from the starter. Given that Duensing hadn't started all year, and between Duensing and Swarzak they kept the game against Cincy on Saturday from being an embarrassment, I think we can suggest without any hint of irony that for the first time this season (since Blackburn hey! got the win on Friday) that the Twins have gone through the entire rotation one time without being entirely out of a game. Win 3, lose 2 with good starting pitching - do that for awhile and you've got something. But that's the rub - it's got to last awhile. One time through the rotation is not enough to raise hopes overmuch.

      Because if Blackburn stinks it up tomorrow and Duensing reverts to August '11 form in his next few starts and Hendricks tonight was the anomaly - blow'em up.

      Keep Morneau because for sure he's at his bottom of value, let's not pull a bad trade out of impatience. Based on what we've seen of Parmelee this year getting hit by the pitch was his only hope of reaching base tonight but by golly! he managed to take one for the team! Wouldn't want to have to write his name down everyday at 1B, so let's give Morneau this year and early into next to drive up his value - consider him as if he were a call-up at this point. Cripes, the guy has barely played for 2 years. No reason this organization with the record it has and the money sunk into him can't afford to have patience with Dudley Dooright for another few months into early next. If he turns it around, and reverts to form, we're talking about one of the best hitters in baseball. It's a long shot, but the Twins have the opportunity to ride that bet for the rest of this season and early into next, np.

      Trade value for Liriano is rising, no question about that. If the Twins stay mired and it continues rising he's gone by 7/31 for a decent return, hopefully to some team where he won't hurt the Twins much in future meetups and they have promising young pitchers to devote to the Twins' cause. Mauer trade value is low because of the contract, and at this point I wouldn't trade Willingham or Span or Revere - those 4 guys make the offense look great at times. Add Morneau Plouffe Doumit Dozier, nothing really wrong with that.

      Fix the rotation, Terry! Assuming (in pretty much descending order at this point) Diamond, Hendricks, Blackburn, Duensing, Gibson, Wimmer are in the mix for '13, all TR needs to do is add a few more starters to raise the level of competition - maybe thru a Liriano trade or from the minors or through the draft or another Rule 5 flyer or through some traded parts - and who knows, this team could be very competitive next year in this division.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I think most of us are just tired of the peaks and valleys (mostly the valleys) of Liriano's career, but I wouldn't object to a "reasonable" extension offer, either. I suspect, however, that he and his agent have a higher definition of "reasonable" than I (and more importantly, the Twins) do. What do you think would be "reasonable"?
    1. Huskerboy's Avatar
      Huskerboy -
      Agree just trying to limp throught the rest of the year. Adress 1B/C situation along with SP in offseason. Primary motivation would be calling it quits on Morneau.


      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      Again, Butera should not be on a MLB roster. If you're advocating that Mauer move to first base, you have to go find another catcher to play on a daily basis, preferably one that isn't god-awful. Doumit doesn't catch well enough and can't seem to stay healthy enough to do it.
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