Profit and Loss
by, 03-21-2012 at 12:35 PM (1114 Views)
Nishioka's demotion to Rochester woke the Internet like a robin singing. At that moment, Spring Training truly arrived. Players without unquestionable abilities are now assets, each compared to similar players and measured for potential value for the team.
When someone like Nishioka is cut early, it adds drama to the entire process. He represents a large investment of time and money, and sending him to the minors so quickly says a lot. This leaves the Twins with a bench spot to fill, and a whole lot of underwhelming players left to fill it.
It seems like a good time to remember one of Bill James' 10 Commandments of Sabermetrics. "Place thy faith not in veterans, when youth be available to ye."
Every season, it seems like the Twins trust in some known quantity ballplayer over taking the chance on a younger player with more potential. Some of those players live up to expectations (Orlandos Hudson and Cabrera acquitted themselves nicely). Others came and left as ghosts of their former selves (Adam Everett and Mike Lamb come to mind). Some are bench players who leave the team without doing much more than handling a glove most of the time and handling a bat more infrequently (Nick Punto representing the best case scenario here, Matt Tolbert the worst).
Right now, the Twins need to re-consider the opportunity cost of trotting their veterans out for another season of the same-old, same-old. Players like Luke Hughes, Alex Burnett, Drew Butera, and Jeff Manship have been in the league long enough to evaluate. If the Twins were a stable, productive team, banking on their continued adequacy might make more sense. However, the Twins need big rewards, and that means they need to take big risks.
Since it'd be ridiculous to assume every big risk would pan out (see, for example, Joel Zumaya), the Twins need to take lots of risks. This may mean risking a 100 loss season, but it might mean finding 1 or 2 players to build on for 2013.
With storm clouds gathering over Justin Morneau and Scott Baker, playing it safe won't uncover new talent. No fan wants another failed season, but paying for one failed season costs less than paying for a string of less-disappointing seasons, if that string stretches on for years and years.