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Thread: Article: Pitching and Playoffs: Farm, Free Agency, or Trades?

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    Article: Pitching and Playoffs: Through the Farm System, Free Agency, or Trades?


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    Owner All-Star John Bonnes's Avatar
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    This is an interesting study, but I'd argue that the conclusion overreaches somewhat. What it shows is this: the good teams this year have been very good at developing their own playoff-caliber starting pitching. Which is a great thing to keep in mind.

    Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of evidence that the Twins have done that. So then the question becomes - what other options do the Twins have? Or another question might be this: until the Twins have a playoff-caliber rotation, should they settle for one of the worst rotations in MLB, or should be feel obligated to try and overspend (which is what free agency does, no question) to field a somewhat competitive team?

    I don't think Terry Ryan is a stooge (or a scrooge). Ultimately, I believe in his philosophy of building up the minor league assets until a team can breakthrough. What I question is what the team should do until that happens. I don't believe the answer to that is "Pocket cash."

    However, it IS a very interesting study. It really drives home how important it is for an organization to develop it's own starting pitching. Thanks very much for putting this together.

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    Teams that follow your lessons tend to have low payrolls because of a reliance on players in team control and trades of veterans for prospects. Here is a chart showing playoff performance over the past 5 years.

    Year Team Playoffs Champion
    2011 Rays 42
    2008 Rays 43
    2011 Diamondbacks 53
    2012 A's 55
    2010 Rangers 55
    2009 Twins 65
    2010 Rays 72
    2010 Reds 72
    2009 Rockies 75
    2012 Orioles 81
    2012 Nationals 81
    2008 Brewers 81
    2012 Reds 82
    2010 Braves 84
    2011 Brewers 86
    2009 Cardinals 88
    2011 Rangers 92
    2010 Twins 98
    2010 Giants 98
    2008 Phillies 98
    2009 Dodgers 100
    2011 Cardinals 105
    2011 Tigers 106
    2012 Cardinals 110
    2009 Phillies 113
    2009 Angels 114
    2012 Giants 118
    2008 Cubs 118
    2008 Dodgers 118
    2008 Angels 119
    2008 White Sox 121
    2009 Red Sox 123
    2012 Tigers 132
    2008 Red Sox 133
    2010 Phillies 142
    2011 Phillies 173
    2012 Yankees 198
    2009 Yankees 201
    2011 Yankees 202
    2010 Yankees 206
    103.8 124

    A couple of things I note:

    1. No team with a payroll under $95 million has won the World Series.
    2. Only 1 team with a payroll over $120 million has won the World Series.

    My conclusion is that the best teams don't rely on just one way to build a team (Farm vs. Free Agent) but they do both.

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    Senior Member All-Star IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jharaldson View Post
    A couple of things I note:

    1. No team with a payroll under $95 million has won the World Series.
    2. Only 1 team with a payroll over $120 million has won the World Series.

    My conclusion is that the best teams don't rely on just one way to build a team (Farm vs. Free Agent) but they do both.
    I don't think this necessarily follows - it assumes that teams with high payrolls primarily are built from free agency and teams with low payrolls are primarily built from the farm system, but it needs to be shown that that is a valid correlation.

    Higher payroll can also sometimes come from re-signing your own players before they get to free agency (Mauer, Morneau, etc) but that still counts as being built by the farm system, and the OP pointed out two examples of FA signings that actually came very cheaply.

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    One note I picked up. Most of the teams in the Twins payroll mode have at least 3 pitchers that are from the farm system. Only Pittsburg does not have 3 and one of there pitchers came in a trade when they had little or no time in the majors.(Morton) Gist is that pitching still wins and the Twins need to get it to compete.

  6. #6
    Great article took a lot of work. Interesting to note the amount of pitchers coming up thru the farm system for playoff teams. I have never been a proponent of buying lots of free agent pitchers because the good teams will resign their own top pitchers almost all the time. Pitchers in their 30s tend to be on a down trend.

    So yes, I agree with Terry Ryan approach. The problem seems to be that the Twins (until recently) haven't been drafting good pitchers and not developing them.

    So the answer to me is first fire Rick Anderson; second wait for the current crop of good pitchers in the low minors (Stewart, Gonalves, Lee, Berrios, Duffey, etc.); third keep drafting pitching; fourth trade some of the top prospects (Hicks, Arcia, Rosario) for pitching.

  7. #7
    that said, we could buy one or two.

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    Senior Member All-Star Shane Wahl's Avatar
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    This is a great study. It's informative. I like John's comment though. A lot of successful teams ARE buying at least one top notch or second notch pitcher.

  9. #9
    "Developing" pitchers SB done way before Rick Anderson ever sees them. He may be in a position to tweak skills but the majority of "developing" cannot be accomplished at the MLB level.

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    Senior Member All-Star Sconnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jharaldson View Post
    Teams that follow your lessons tend to have low payrolls because of a reliance on players in team control and trades of veterans for prospects. Here is a chart showing playoff performance over the past 5 years.

    A couple of things I note:

    1. No team with a payroll under $95 million has won the World Series.
    2. Only 1 team with a payroll over $120 million has won the World Series.

    My conclusion is that the best teams don't rely on just one way to build a team (Farm vs. Free Agent) but they do both.
    3. More teams over 95 mil have been to the playoffs than under
    4. It appears that the payroll trend is up for playoff teams

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    Great study and a good reference. Though this shows how the good teams are currently assembled, would it look much different than the bad teams?

    Because while we would all love to have a farm raised stable of lights out starters, the Twins have proven to be very poor at developing the kind of starters who can impact a playoff game. So if you are deficient in one area, don't you then need to redouble your efforts in another, even if it is not ideal?

  12. #12
    I would point out that a lot of those teams, even the ones who have been relevant for a while like the Braves, Cards, and Rays, keep the farm system pumping and don't cling to players after their useful value to the team has expired (at least not by too much). The Braves, Cards and Pirates use free agency and trades to acquire talented players but it's the flexibility their farm systems give them that allows them to do that.
    Last edited by terencemann; 10-10-2013 at 01:45 PM.

  13. #13
    The Twins could be the same in 4-5 years. Gibson, Meyer, May, Berrios, Stewart, and a couple more. Nice if you can supplement with an occasional free agent. Part of it is trading vets for pieces that are on the horizon (like they did with Meyer and May (and Worley). Maybe we all need to just stop thinking of money. Yes, the Twins will spend 50%+ of revenue, supposedly. But are they required to do so...I fear not. Maybe if they said "Spend the money or we are giving it back to the fans" I would be happier. But spending is like giving it back to the fans, in a ways.

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    It's so tiring to hear the point-of-view that argues against spending, as if those who argue for it think it's possible to build a rotation only through spending and that we could care less about the farm system.

    That just isn't the case, as others have mentioned, the Twins have left themselves little choice at this point. We'd all love if the Twins had shown themselves capable of drafting and developing a full rotation. Right now, the only capable pitcher -- brought through the Twins system -- anywhere near the bigs looks like Gibson and he's hasn't pitched like a top 1 or 2 (or even 3 or 4 so far).

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    There is a lot that can be speculated, and the numbers showed certainly don't lie. However, I believe that the answer for the Twins lies with all three. There is so much work that needs to be done to get this team on the right track, and in my opinion, it starts with the offense. The offense was a bigger problem than our pitching this past year, getting shut down by nobody pitchers night after night. But the rotation is in desperate need of some help as well.

    What we need is something along the lines of this:

    FA acquisition
    FA acquisition/trade acquisition
    Correia
    Diamond
    Gibson

    If I'm the Twins, I'm looking at a top line pitcher. We only have about $60M in commitments this coming year, and that could drop if Willingham and/or Doumit get traded. The bottom line, we have money, the money needs to be spent on pitching that won't knock us out in the 2nd inning constantly.

    I'd be looking at:

    Rickey Nolasco
    Ervin Santana
    Matt Garza
    Masahiro Tanaka
    Tim Lincecum (barring qualifying offer)
    Scott Feldman
    Ubaldo Jimenez
    Josh Johnson
    Phil Hughes
    Wandy Rodriguez

    The Twins are not big spenders usually, but I think one or two of these players need to be signed if we are going anywhere. I'd personally like to see Nolasco and Johnson, they pitched together in Miami, are veterans, and are better than what we have, but they will come at a price. A price that needs to be paid.

    Go Twins

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
    Great study and a good reference. Though this shows how the good teams are currently assembled, would it look much different than the bad teams?

    Because while we would all love to have a farm raised stable of lights out starters, the Twins have proven to be very poor at developing the kind of starters who can impact a playoff game. So if you are deficient in one area, don't you then need to redouble your efforts in another, even if it is not ideal?

    In a word, no. When there is a model that is clearly the most effective, and your organization has not performed in said function, you need to "redouble" your efforts to improve in the area that is the most effective, not increase you efforts in a less effective model.
    Last edited by Major Leauge Ready; 10-10-2013 at 07:34 PM.

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    I am not hoping the Twins spend money on pitching so they can get to the playoffs - butt it would be nice. I would like the Twins to spend money on pitching so they can become an average professional baseball team.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
    Great study and a good reference. Though this shows how the good teams are currently assembled, would it look much different than the bad teams?

    Because while we would all love to have a farm raised stable of lights out starters, the Twins have proven to be very poor at developing the kind of starters who can impact a playoff game. So if you are deficient in one area, don't you then need to redouble your efforts in another, even if it is not ideal?
    Great Question Nickssaviking,

    I ran a quick run through of teams starting from the bottom, the Houston Astros. It's quite different from the successful teams - the 'farm' still wins, but only by 1 player out of the bottom 11 teams. If you pull the Mets from there (a healthy David Wright, et al) you would find the main method of putting together a starting rotation by the worst teams in MLB is by Free Agency (reaching perhaps?).



    I have a question: Is it possible that Free Agency Starting Pitching is the Running Backs of the NFL. That is, find someone young, when he's getting expensive, and arguably not as good or likely to be successful, get trade him or let him walk for a 1st RD compensatory pick (a second 1st RD pick from the signing team if not a bottom 10 team and you offered him top 125 player money).

    Here's a breakdown of the pitching staffs:

    Houston Astros (51-111)

    1. Dallas Keuchel - $503K– Farm
    2. Lucas Harrell – $501K – Waivers
    3. Erik Bedard – $1.15M - Free Agent
    4. Jordan Lyles - $500K – Farm
    5. Brad Peacock - $490K – Trade

    Miami Marlins – 62-100

    1. Jose Fernandez – Farm
    2. Tom Koehler – Farm
    3. Jacob Turner – Trade
    4. Nathan Eovaldi – Trade
    5. Henderson Alvarez - Trade

    Chicago White Sox (63-99)

    1. Chris Sale - $850K - Farm
    2. Jose Quintana - $505K – Minor League FA
    3. Hector Santiago - $505K - Farm
    4. John Danks - $14.25M – Trade
    5. Dylan Axelrod - $493K - Farm

    Chicago Cubs (66-96)

    1. Jeff Samardzija – Farm
    2. Travis Wood - $528K – Trade
    3. Edwin Jackson - $13M – Free Agent
    4. Scott Feldman - $7M – Free Agent
    5. Carlos Villanueva - $5M – Free Agent

    Minnesota Twins (66-96)

    1. Kevin Correia – Free Agent
    2. Mike Pelfrey – Free Agent
    3. Scott Diamond – Farm (Rule 5, AAA, 1.5 yr in system)
    4. Sam Deduno – Free Agent
    5. Vance Worley – Free Agent

    Seattle Mariners (71-91)

    1. Felix Hernandez – Farm
    2. Hisashi Iwakuma – Free Agent
    3. Joe Saunders – Free Agent
    4. Aaron Harang – Trade
    5. Brandon Maurer - Farm

    Philadelphia Phillies (73-89)

    1. Cliff Lee – Free Agent
    2. Cole Hamels – Farm
    3. Kyle Hendrick – Farm
    4. Roy Halladay – Free Agent
    5. John Lannan – Free Agent

    Blue Jays (74-88)

    1. R.A. Dickey - Trade
    2. Mark Buehrle – Trade
    3. J.A. Happ – Trade
    4. Josh Johnson – Trade
    5. Esmil Rogers – Trade

    New York Mets (74-88)

    1. Matt Harvey - Farm
    2. Dillon Gee - Farm
    3. Jonathan Niese - Farm
    4. Shawn Marcum – Free Agent
    5. Zack Wheeler – Trade (but AA prospect, 2 yrs in Mets system)

    Milwaukee Brewers (74-88)

    1. Kyle Lohse – Free Agent
    2. Wily Peralta - Farm
    3. Yovani Gallardo - Farm
    4. Marco Estrada - Waivers
    5. Tom Gorzelanny – Free Agent

    San Diego Padres (76-86)

    1. Eric Stultz – Waivers
    2. Andrew Cashner – Trade
    3. Edinson Volquez – Trade
    4. Jason Marquis – Free Agent
    5. Tyson Ross – Trade
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    For some reason the chart wasn't coming through in the other comment...

    Maybe this will work:

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
    This is an interesting study, but I'd argue that the conclusion overreaches somewhat. What it shows is this: the good teams this year have been very good at developing their own playoff-caliber starting pitching. Which is a great thing to keep in mind.

    Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of evidence that the Twins have done that. So then the question becomes - what other options do the Twins have? Or another question might be this: until the Twins have a playoff-caliber rotation, should they settle for one of the worst rotations in MLB, or should be feel obligated to try and overspend (which is what free agency does, no question) to field a somewhat competitive team?

    I don't think Terry Ryan is a stooge (or a scrooge). Ultimately, I believe in his philosophy of building up the minor league assets until a team can breakthrough. What I question is what the team should do until that happens. I don't believe the answer to that is "Pocket cash."

    However, it IS a very interesting study. It really drives home how important it is for an organization to develop it's own starting pitching. Thanks very much for putting this together.
    I do agree with Ryan's philosophy however, when your team has serious holes at a particular position you have to augment your roster with a signing here & there. Simply holding onto the unspent payroll for no other reason than they can't get the players on team friendly deals is rediculous. He needs to move off his stance from 97% against signing high profile FA to more like 80-85% against it if that makes sense.

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