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Thread: Terry Ryans Rules for constructing a low cost, risk averse winner as i see it part I

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    Terry Ryans Rules for constructing a low cost, risk averse winner as i see it part I

    I am going to breakdown the concepts I introduced the other day into a series so we can go more in depth into each area of what I mean exactly with each rule. The goal is to construct a team with the most cumulative talent at the lowest cost with the lowest amount of risk in the process. When you consider the costs we need to be mindful of, the Twins have stated they will use up to 52% of their revenues and we have seen them go as high as 110 million. So that’s our ceiling. So with that in the back of our minds let’s start with pitching since it is the biggest issue. What does out staff ERA need to look like to give us a chance at 90 wins next year? Teams 2-7 in the AL team ERA all won 90+ games. Kansas City led the League but only won 86. Cleveland was 7th with a 3.82 and Detroit was 3rd at 3.61. So I think it is safe to say that a 3.70 ERA would give us a great chance at 90 wins next season if all things remain the same. How do we get to a 3.70 team ERA? Detroit’s starters had a 3.45 ERA while their bullpen era is closer to 4.01 (from espn.com stats 2013 MLB Team Pitching Stats - Major League Baseball - ESPN ). Our bullpen had an era at 3.50 because of the late season swoon from pitching by far the most innings this season so I am going to use 3.30 for this exercise (you can debate the numbers I am using these for this exercise regardless). This allows us to have a higher ERA for the rotation and still achieve our goal of a 3.70 team ERA. This brings us to the equation I introduced the other day. (I was surprised no one talked about this more or considered tweaking the numbers)
    (Number of innings per game X earned runs per game) / 9 = weighted average of earned runs per game
    Starters = (6 innings X N) / 9 = Unknown #
    Relievers = (3 innings X 3.30 ERA) / 9 = 1.1 earned runs per game
    Total earned runs should be 3.70
    That would make the starters averaging 2.6 earned runs per game. Now we can solve the whole equation and get the following needed rotation ERA to reach our goal.
    Starters = (6 innings X 3.90 earned runs) /9 = 2.6 Earned runs per game.
    So we need a rotation ERA of 3.90 to end up with the team ERA of 3.70. The most cost effective way to achieve this goal is to find 5 starting pitchers who all average 6 innings per start with a 3.90 era capability. There are costs associated up or down depending on performance and likely continued performance on the FA market. And those costs do not go in a linear line. A pitcher who can pitch to a 2.50 ERA is likely to command a 20+ million per season and 5+ years like Kershaw, Greinke, Verlander. The next tier is someone who can be in the low 3.00’s will command 15-20 million like Sanchez (Schertzer is about to get paid too). Then you have the 3.5 ish pitchers like Edwin Jackson who got 4 years 52 million. Then there are those from last offseason who got 2 year deals in the 10-15 million. Those are good budget pitchers if you get the right ones. (these examples are not exact) The most ideal pitcher coming on the market this offseason is Scott Feldman who had 181.2 innings with a 3.86 ERA. MLBtraderumors.com is estimating a 2 year 17 or 3 year 25 tops for him (this is great because the contract is less money per year and less years for the risk averse) AL East Notes: Orioles, Matusz, Casilla, Red Sox: MLB Rumors - MLBTradeRumors.com
    If we signed Feldman this offseason we would have a rotation of Feldman, Corriea, and Dedunno with 1 spot for a free agent and one for the 5th/6th/ and 7th starters next season Gibson, Albers, Diamond, Hendriks, and potential future ace Meyer when he is ready. So we have room for 1 more FA. We can go expensive and get Tanaka or Ervin Santana or go down a tier and there are several to choose from, or a buy low candidate like Hughes with high upside and lower risk, Pelfry is more stable at a lower cost as well. This will make for an interesting debate. But I propose we hold off to the end of the exercise and determine our other needs and options available at likely costs and how we want to allocate them with this offseason and beyond in mind.

    Some side notes on this topic. While getting 5 pitchers close to the aggregate is in theory the lowest risk and lowest cost way to build a rotation, we can do other things too such as sign an expensive FA and a minor league FA to compete for a spot. Or an even better idea is a market efficiency such as Santana’s first contract extension of 4 years and 42 million which was a bargain while his next extension of over 120 million was not. Meyer is the hope for an ace in that regards but his extension is a few years away. Radke was also a market efficiency for us as he signed below market deals to remain here.
    Last post I pointed out the 2010 Twins rotation to prove that an ace is not needed to be a winning team. Also that a low cost bullpen can be valuable. Who was more valuable this season? Verlander with a 3.46 era in 218 innings at 20 million salary or our bullpen with a 3.50 era in 579 innings at a total lower cost than Verlander…. You decide.

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    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Your final point has a number of flaws. First, having an ace and a good cheap bullpen are hardly mutually exclusive. Hell, is argue Ryan's prowess at rostering cheap, good bullpens actually should facilitate more spending on SP, not discourage it. Second, you are comparing apples to oranges - Verlander is still more valuable because his role is still far more crucial as an individual versus some conglomerate of guys with different roles. Third, you seem to be minimizing the value of starting pitching. Having a rotation of guys like Feldman and Correia might keep you vaguely competitive if your offense is great but it has no margin for error. We saw this with our collapse - when guys like Blackburn or Diamond fail....they fail HARD. A guy like Verlander has a down year and he's still a damn fine pitcher. Good bullpens are a luxury you seek when you are competing, rotations are essential to compete.

    And fourthly, cost effectiveness need not be our primary concern. That mentality is a major part of the problem.

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    The Feldman contact guess will be off. He is going to get a raise. When last fall the speculation about how much it would take to sign a player most came back low. Buy a TD handbook and see how far off knowledgeable people can be. IIRC there was a post from someone thinking that Sanchez would get an 8 million/yr contract

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    Senior Member All-Star JB_Iowa's Avatar
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    The following is an excerpt from a Danny Knobler story on cbssports.com about last night's Ray's win. To me, it encapsulates the reason why you can't substitute 5 mid-level pitchers (which the Twins don't even approach anyway) for at least one ace (or near Ace):

    "Cobb stayed calm, even when the Indians loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning, even when the first two batters reached in the fifth. Pitching coach Jim Hickey came to the mound, not so much to settle him as to just allow him to reset.

    'He doesn't need to slow him down,' second baseman Ben Zobrist said. '[Cobb] never seems fazed by anything.'

    Cobb said he learned from watching Price, just as Price once learned from James Shields. Cobb watched Price handle the playoff-like atmosphere Monday in Texas, and figured he could do the same."

    Noise is nice, but pitching is better, and Rays beat the Indians - CBSSports.com

    There is significant value to having a great leader on your pitching staff. We've seen it with the Rays per this post and with how Scherzer and Fister, et. al. have learned from Verlander. They are the stopper. They also take responsibility and put the team on their shoulders -- and they are teachers, more so than any pitching coach could be.

    The Twins had a hint of it with the 2010 Pavano although that was soon derailed by age and injuries.

    Cliche or not, good pitching does seem to breed good pitching.
    Last edited by JB_Iowa; 10-03-2013 at 08:11 AM.

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    Actually what I am saying is to look at the aggregate pitching. It doesn't matter how your team gets to a 3.7 ERA in this example. what matters is that the team has a 3.7 era. And I am not saying it is right or wrong. I am saying this is how I see he Twins and Terry Ryan approach constructing his pitching staffs. This is why he goes after the pitchers he does. Ryan seems to go after average or less than average pitchers because he has a good bullpen to balance it out. He does this because that is the most economical and risk averse way to get to the Team ERA goal to compete. It does work but you need the other aspects to win as well. hence why I wrote all the rules the first time. I will try to show how these interconnect as I go. the bullpen and rotation ERA are combined and aggregated when looking at the final number of where we need to be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
    The Feldman contact guess will be off. He is going to get a raise. When last fall the speculation about how much it would take to sign a player most came back low. Buy a TD handbook and see how far off knowledgeable people can be. IIRC there was a post from someone thinking that Sanchez would get an 8 million/yr contract
    mlbtraderumors has been fairly accurate in arbitration guesses so while I do not expect them to be 100% right but from a deserving or arbitration standpoint the contract is not far off and if he does get more I doubt it will be too much. What do you anticipate Feldman making?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
    The following is an excerpt from a Danny Knobler story on cbssports.com about last night's Ray's win. To me, it encapsulates the reason why you can't substitute 5 mid-level pitchers (which the Twins don't even approach anyway) for at least one ace (or near Ace):

    "Cobb stayed calm, even when the Indians loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning, even when the first two batters reached in the fifth. Pitching coach Jim Hickey came to the mound, not so much to settle him as to just allow him to reset.

    'He doesn't need to slow him down,' second baseman Ben Zobrist said. '[Cobb] never seems fazed by anything.'

    Cobb said he learned from watching Price, just as Price once learned from James Shields. Cobb watched Price handle the playoff-like atmosphere Monday in Texas, and figured he could do the same."

    Noise is nice, but pitching is better, and Rays beat the Indians - CBSSports.com

    There is significant value to having a great leader on your pitching staff. We've seen it with the Rays per this post and with how Scherzer and Fister, et. al. have learned from Verlander. They are the stopper. They also take responsibility and put the team on their shoulders -- and they are teachers, more so than any pitching coach could be.

    The Twins had a hint of it with the 2010 Pavano although that was soon derailed by age and injuries.

    Cliche or not, good pitching does seem to breed good pitching.
    This is a great point on why aces or veterans are good to have around but the point I am making is this is how the Twins use statistics to build their staff and try to minimize risks. Everyone says the Twins don't use statistics to build a team but no one ever writes about the aggregate and only writes about the individual. Terry Ryan builds his staff by thinking of the aggregate more than the individual.

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    I have an easy solution to how to get our staff to a 3.70 ERA. Just pay Stew to charge more errors. Then we can artificially make the ERA to our liking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    Everyone says the Twins don't use statistics to build a team but no one ever writes about the aggregate and only writes about the individual. Terry Ryan builds his staff by thinking of the aggregate more than the individual.
    I completely understand the math, so that is not the problem and I am not blaming you for being the messenger of TR's thought process. The problem I have is that after the Twins FO figures out the bullpen portion of the ERA formula (1.10/game in this scenario) the FO goes after guys that could get to the projected ERA in a best case scenario. Correia pitched better than any of us expected, but still fell short. If Pelfrey could have reached his potential, MAYBE he could have reached the ERA that was required to get us to that magical 3.70 team ERA. Investing in higher quality starters is a must. I am not completely opposed to this philosophy, if there are young, cheap arms that are already in the system (like if it were 2016 and Meyer, Gibson and May have all pitched to their potential. Filling in the backend of the rotation with a Correia to give a the team a veteran presence is one thing, but to lead a rotation as the likely Opening Day starter is another. There is money to get better starting pitching, but hanging the season on the Pelfrey's and Correia's of the world to have their best season ever is a poor strategy.

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    Brandon, you offer this up theoretically, but the game doesn't work that way. A pitcher that sits under a 4 ERA is worth over 10m per year. When a guy like Kazmir or Colon do it, it is because someone took a gamble and gave them a shot. When a guy like Sanchez does it, he is being paid a lot of money because he has expectations. The Twins took a gamble on Rich Harden, and he didn't pitch an inning this season.

    Finding 5 starters that can pitch 6 innings with an aggregate 3.90 ERA is incredibly tough when you don't even have 1 starter with an ERA under a 4.18 ERA (unless you count Albers, who only threw 60 innings... but I wouldn't). That is not an easy task when you want to sign guys like Pelfrey, Feldman (who I want no part of) etc. You can't count on those guys to have an ERA under 4. They are ok guys to fill out a rotation, but not when you don't have legitimate talent to go with it. The Twins don't need more back of the rotation starters, they need a power arm that can compete for a Cy Young. Problem is, every team needs and wants that so they are expensive.

    I would trade our entire bullpen for Verlander without a hesitation. Would you? Asking which is more valuable is hilarious. Which is more rare? A bullpen that puts together a nice season or a guy that is considered one of the best 5 pitchers in baseball?

    Counting on a bullpen to bail you out of games is foolish. You know why the bullpen threw that many innings? Because starters were getting destroyed and putting the team in a hole within the first 5 innings. When all you're doing is mop-up duty (Swarzak) there isn't a lot of pressure on you. There is a reason the market values high quality pitchers. GM's don't pay them 20m a year because they are good people, they pay them because they are the most important players on the roster.
    Do or do not. There is no try.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    This is a great point on why aces or veterans are good to have around but the point I am making is this is how the Twins use statistics to build their staff and try to minimize risks. Everyone says the Twins don't use statistics to build a team but no one ever writes about the aggregate and only writes about the individual. Terry Ryan builds his staff by thinking of the aggregate more than the individual.
    This is an interesting theory and maybe they do (not unlike Beane in the opening scene/chapter of Moneyball, but do you have evidence of that?)

    Considering the resulting aggregates recently, I'd say there's little evidence of it, or at least he's not been successful in the evaluation to do so.
    Last edited by Alex; 10-03-2013 at 10:11 AM.

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    Senior Member All-Star JB_Iowa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    This is a great point on why aces or veterans are good to have around but the point I am making is this is how the Twins use statistics to build their staff and try to minimize risks. Everyone says the Twins don't use statistics to build a team but no one ever writes about the aggregate and only writes about the individual. Terry Ryan builds his staff by thinking of the aggregate more than the individual.
    I'm not going to address this here because I just wrote a reply to your initial thread on the whole idea of TR's "plan" as you call it.

    Unfortunately I fear you are right about his plan, more's the pity.

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    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    Actually what I am saying is to look at the aggregate pitching. It doesn't matter how your team gets to a 3.7 ERA in this example. what matters is that the team has a 3.7 era. And I am not saying it is right or wrong. I am saying this is how I see he Twins and Terry Ryan approach constructing his pitching staffs. This is why he goes after the pitchers he does. Ryan seems to go after average or less than average pitchers because he has a good bullpen to balance it out. He does this because that is the most economical and risk averse way to get to the Team ERA goal to compete. It does work but you need the other aspects to win as well. hence why I wrote all the rules the first time. I will try to show how these interconnect as I go. the bullpen and rotation ERA are combined and aggregated when looking at the final number of where we need to be.
    well, you are kind of pulling a number out of thin air here. It's only one season you based on and there is very little to concretely suggest the Twins take this path. In fact, I'd argue the Twins concentrate on the exact opposite. They just want semi competent innings at SP and a reduced bullpen role, not a featured one. Moreover, filling your rotation with mediocre players with no room for error makes your ERA mark infinitely harder to attain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    Who was more valuable this season? Verlander with a 3.46 era in 218 innings at 20 million salary or our bullpen with a 3.50 era in 579 innings at a total lower cost than Verlander…. You decide.
    TR built a good bullpen in 2013, no one's disputing that. And he's built good ones before. But you cannot compare bullpens to starters like this. Until they double the roster size to 50, you need both.

    Verlander 2013 WAR: 4.6 total or .021 WAR/IP *** and this was a "down" season for him!
    Twins Bullpen 2013 WAR: ~6.7 total or .012 WAR/IP

    Notice how one accumulates WAR at almost twice the rate of the others?

    The current Twins are about as devoid of starting pitching as a major league organization can get. They either need to start using their best "asset" (spending room) to acquire some, or they need to admit they're perfectly happy wasting 5-6 seasons in cheap "rebuild" mode, waiting for future success which might never come.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    If we signed Feldman this offseason we would have a rotation of Feldman, Corriea, and Dedunno with 1 spot for a free agent and one for the 5th/6th/ and 7th starters next season Gibson, Albers, Diamond, Hendriks, and potential future ace Meyer when he is ready. So we have room for 1 more FA. We can go expensive and get Tanaka or Ervin Santana or go down a tier and there are several to choose from, or a buy low candidate like Hughes with high upside and lower risk
    Any of Feldman, Hughes, Tanaka, Ervin Santana, Josh Johnson, etc. will command a contract worth at least twice as much as the Twins have ever bestowed upon a free agent pitcher. Some of them almost certainly more than our biggest outside free agent position player signing too.

    So if you expect them to sign TWO of that group, in the same offseason... that's optimism.

    For the record, I'd endorse a plan to sign two of that type of group, almost regardless of the money or years needed. The Twins have the cash and have no other outlets for it, for at least 4+ years. Throw in a lottery ticket like Johan or Halladay and I'd be especially pleased.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
    Any of Feldman, Hughes, Tanaka, Ervin Santana, Josh Johnson, etc. will command a contract worth at least twice as much as the Twins have ever bestowed upon a free agent pitcher. Some of them almost certainly more than our biggest outside free agent position player signing too.

    So if you expect them to sign TWO of that group, in the same offseason... that's optimism.

    For the record, I'd endorse a plan to sign two of that type of group, almost regardless of the money or years needed. The Twins have the cash and have no other outlets for it, for at least 4+ years. Throw in a lottery ticket like Johan or Halladay and I'd be especially pleased.
    The Hot Stove League is a time for optimism. Ryan was recently quoted as saying even our best assets, Sano and Buxton, are not off the table in the right deal. We have money to spent, we have assets to trade, let's see how this plays out.

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    The problem on free agents should not be the money but it will be the years. Even in Sid Hartman's column this morning there was the following sentence: Don’t expect the Twins CEO to sign off on pricey long-term deals, but he realizes personnel needs upgrading.

    I'm not going to go back through all the Pohlad interviews but there has been a consistent pattern of making it clear that short-term dollars are okay but there is a definite unwillingness to commit to long-term deals.

    The number of years will be a huge factor in whether the Twins are able to sign quality free agents.

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    Three years can get you Hughes and Feldman pretty easily. Santana might demand 4 years unless the dollar amount is high for the three years.

    I would honestly look to give market value and then add money in incentives to try to entice. Probably innings pitched. Santana at 3/45 plus up to 3 million a year in incentives might be enticing to him.

    I would like an owner to approach the market in this way. Build in incentives that you aren't going to mind paying since it will mean good-great performance.

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    Somewhat off topic but here goes - Quite a bit of praise is heaped on the Twins' bullpen for a good year in 2013 but most of it is predicated on their ERA's being decent to good. However, allowing inherited runners to score or not is never brought up and isn't that the best barometer for relief pitchers? I sure think so, how about some intelligent discourse on this topic?

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldguy10 View Post
    Somewhat off topic but here goes - Quite a bit of praise is heaped on the Twins' bullpen for a good year in 2013 but most of it is predicated on their ERA's being decent to good. However, allowing inherited runners to score or not is never brought up and isn't that the best barometer for relief pitchers? I sure think so, how about some intelligent discourse on this topic?
    I've brought that up many times in here over the last month or so. IMO, part of that is Gardy waiting too long to make the necessary moves, but certainly part of it is on the bullpen as well. It has been talked about, though....but Ryan isn't going to bring it up. Besides Pelfrey and Correia, it's the bullpen and the up the middle defense he wants to emphasis as good.
    Just remember: You put the lime IN the coconut. Only THEN, can you drink it all up.

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