Offseason Handbook Greatest Hits: Part 1
THE 2011-12 OFFSEASON
Off the Marq
Jason Marquis was on the list of free agent starter options we profiled, but certainly not near the top coming off a mediocre 2012 campaign. Our blurb on hIm:
Jason Marquis’s one redeeming quality at this point is his ability to induce ground balls as his 54.5% worm-burning rate was in the top 12 among pitchers who threw a minimum of 120 innings. Outside of that, he offers very little except for maybe “veteran leadership.” After a midseason trade to the Diamondbacks, who wanted some of that sweet “VL” for their youthful rotation, Marquis fractured his fibula and was placed on the DL for the balance of the season. He’s likely staring down a “make good” type of contract in the face.
Estimated contract: 1 year, $5 million (plus incentives)
He actually ended up signing for a bit less than we projected ($3 million), and indeed, Marquis offered very little except for that sweet VL, which didn't take him very far as he was designated for assignment in May with an 8.47 ERA.
Dropping the Hammer
Here's what we wrote about Josh Willingham before the Twins signed him to a three-year, $21 million deal in December:
Mr. Willingham, the USS Multi-Year has finally pulled into port. After playing a series of one-year contracts, Willingham looks poised for a big deal. He actually had a better year than Cuddyer, but lacks some of the hype. Still, don’t be surprised if the 32-year-old ends up with a longer deal, or one that includes a playable option year.
Estimated Contract: 3 years, $30 million
Willingham enjoyed an excellent first year with the Twins, launching 35 homers and driving in 110 runs, but his body pretty much gave out on him after that. He limped to the end of his three-year contract (the final stretch in Kansas City), then retired.
All the way back in 2011, when Twins Daily was but a gleam in John's eye, and its four founders were but a motley band of wayward bloggers, local sports-page institution Patrick Reusse was kind enough to pen a foreword for our "Offseason GM Handbook," which was then a vague and raw conception of what it would become. Here's how he kicked it off:
Bob Fowler left the St. Paul newspapers for the Minneapolis Star in 1974. I replaced him as the Twins beat writer for the Pioneer Press and Dispatch. Yes, we had the privilege of writing for both the morning and afternoon newspapers in St. Paul, which I looked back at as quite a burden until modern beat reports started offering blogs, Tweets and articles in an endless, day-long news cycle.
I also didn’t have any of these independent journalists – such as the TwinsCentric crew of Seth Stohs, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson and John Bonnes – to compete with, which is fortunate, since those were my drinking days.
It's a little funny to read that now, because if ever Mr. Reusse considered us competitors, he sure never acted like it. Betraying his curmudgeonly shtick, Patrick has always shown us genuine kindness, even though we represented a model that has shaken his deeply beloved newspaper medium to the core.
I'm proud to say that Reusse once again lent his talent to this year's edition of the Handbook, contributing an excellent anecdote-filled story about Paul Molitor, and the crucial difference between ability and teachability. It provides readers with some real food for thought as the manager search carries on.
THE 2012-13 OFFSEASON
Front Office Spin
General manager Terry Ryan on Jose Berrios, freshly selected with the 32nd overall pick that June:
"He has got pitches. He’s got athleticism. He’s got makeup. He has got the ability to spin the ball better than most. So yeah, we like him a lot."
Ryan offered this assessment during our interview with him for the 2013 Offseason Handbook. And, well... You said it, Terry. Six years later, Berrios would appear in his first All-Star Game at age 24, on the strength of those very traits. He became the youngest Twin to earn the honor since Francisco Liriano, another of TR's greatest finds.
Kevin. Freakin. Correia.
Here was our profile on the oh-so ordinary 32-year-old Kevin Correia, who would go on to sign a lamentable two-year, $10 million contract with Minnesota in one of Ryan's least inspiring moves ever:
Correia is a back-end starter in the low-strikeout, OK-control, pitch-to-contact mold. Even this year with the Pirates, a year in which he posted a 4.21 ERA, he was the guy bumped to the bullpen when they acquired Wandy Rodriguez at the deadline. But he’s relatively young, cheap and fairly durable. Unfortunately, he has also spent his entire eight-year MLB career in the National League. There is no guarantee the limited success he has experienced there would carry over to the AL (see: Marquis, Jason).
Estimated Contract: 1 year, $2.5 million
Well, Correia outlasted Marquis and – to his credit – achieved average results in 2013 before totally falling off in 2014. But he was the epitome of Ryan's fascination with contact-heavy veteran inning-eaters possessing zero upside. It was a dark time.
Heading into the 2012-13 offseason, to say the writing was on the wall with regards to an impending Denard Span trade would be an understatement. All four Handbook authors (John, Seth, Parker and myself) wrote separate blueprints, and each of the four suggested trading Span for a different player.
For John, it was to the Reds for SS Zack Cozart.
Seth was also sending him to the Reds, in exchange for RHP Mike Leake.
Parker shipped Span to the Rays for RHP Wade Davis.
I also drew up a deal with Tampa, adding in prospect B.J. Hermsen to acquire RHP James Shields.
Okay, so maybe they weren't all suuuuuper realistic in retrospect. But hey, blueprints are made for imaginative thinking! Turns out Shields and Davis would both head to Kansas City during that offseason, setting up a championship reign for the Royals. Meanwhile, Ryan ended up sending Span to Washington for prospect Alex Meyer in a future-focused move that ultimately never panned.
Incidentally, the best move TR made that winter took place in the same week, when he traded Ben Revere to Philadelphia. Trevor May, acquired alongside (ugh) Vance Worley in the deal, figures to be a major factor in Minnesota's bullpen next year.
(The story of this Twins offseason has yet to be written, but you'll be ready to expertly follow along with the 2019 Offseason Handbook. Order your copy of this digital product now!)
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