Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Article: Game Thread: Twins @ Yankees, 4/23@6:10pm CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:50 PM
It’s big, four-game series that kicks off tonight in the Bronx as the Twins and Yankees go to battle in a series that could really help t...
Full topic ›

Minnesota Wild Thread

Minnesota Wild Talk Today, 05:48 PM
Best in the West!  We need a thread to talk about these guys!   I'm really, really impressed with this team.  12 good forw...
Full topic ›

Next MLB stadium to be demolished?

Other Baseball Today, 04:50 PM
The stadium cycle has pretty much run through MLB. There are your last old gems in Fenway and Wrigley, a couple expansion era gems in Dod...
Full topic ›

5th Starter

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:44 PM
Was it Mejia and not Hughes in town to start today? He was scheduled for Rochester who went with a bullpen game today instead.
Full topic ›

Minor Leaguers and Minimum Wage

Other Baseball Today, 03:36 PM
https://www.twinciti...ens-operations/   We've had a lot of discussion about how the minor leaguers often do not earn a livable wage...
Full topic ›

The Twins' Cheapness Isn't The Problem; It's The Symptom

On Monday, Bill Parker wrote on this very site about the Twins’ payroll, and about how complaints about the Twins’ relatively low payroll never seem to get past the surface, saying,

“too often, we collectively seem to want the team to spend more money without considering a.) the limits of what that spending can actually do, or b.) the risks down the road of imprudently committing money now.”

He demands that we “show our work” and implies, essentially, that the Pohlads opening up their wallets wouldn’t have made enough of a difference to save the Twins from their awful finishes, and thus probably were right to hold onto their money.
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA Today
On the one hand, I agree and sympathize with that point. After all, no amount of realistic free agent spending would have helped from 2011-2014. It is, indeed, far too easy to pin all the team’s struggles on their refusal to spend like the team in a mid-sized market that they ultimately are.

Especially since the Twins did open up their wallet in both the 2013-2014 offseason and the 2014-2015 offseason. But they only opened it wide enough for Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco and Ervin Santana. And as great as Hughes’s 2014 worked for all involved, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the reasonable expectation for all three starters was that they’d be acceptable mid-rotation starters at best. All told, the Twins are going to spend $34.8 million, or roughly a third of their payroll, on these three pitchers with limited upside. And they paid essentially the going rate for all three of them.

Now, don’t get me wrong, signing Hughes or Santana or, hell, even Nolasco isn’t enough to hamstring even a team that pretends they can’t spend money, like the Twins. However, Minnesota stacked these signings on top of one another, reducing their flexibility this year to the point where there isn’t room for more than one of higher-upside, lower-salary guys like Tyler Duffey, Trevor May or Jose Berrios in the starting rotation (and, even then, it probably necessitates shifting Nolasco to the bullpen).

The inherent problem with the Twins’ spending isn’t the lack of it. It’s the systemic problem that seems to pervade the organization: complacency. The Twins have a profound lack of ambition in virtually everything they do.

Rather than doing something radical and difficult, the team invariably takes the path of least resistance. Instead of attempting to sign a single free agent starter with a higher upside at some point over the last three years (like a Jordan Zimmermann, a Jon Lester or a Johnny Cueto), and maybe a relative lottery ticket in Hughes, the Twins took small bites at the apple. Rather than attempt to bolster the club at the trade deadline last year with a big acquisition, they only acquired Kevin Jepsen (which, admittedly, worked far better than it should have). Rather than preparing themselves for another season as a contender in 2016, the Twins held pat, adding two players while leaving the bullpen almost entirely untouched. Rather than exploring the market for Trevor Plouffe, they just move Miguel Sano to a position he’s never played before.

I don’t know what causes this kind of complacency. Maybe it’s having an undemanding ownership, though I certainly prefer the Pohlad’s silent leadership to Jeffrey Loria or Arte Moreno’s meddling. Maybe it’s having such a stable front office, where everyone holds onto their jobs and the only way to move up is when someone else leaves for another organization. Maybe it’s a media landscape and a fan base that’s more eager to criticize players than the leadership which doesn’t put them in a position to succeed. But ultimately, it will prevent the club from seizing opportunities available to it. Maybe that's a postseason berth in 2016, or a chance to be a World Series favorite in 2018, or the ability to stay relevant as the window of contention begins to close sometime in the distant future.

Anyway, in response to Bill, I don’t feel particularly compelled to “show my work” when it’s not at all clear that the Twins are doing much of their own.

  • Nick Nelson, Bill Parker, Paul Pleiss and 4 others like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

85 Comments

Photo
Paul Pleiss
Feb 24 2016 02:34 AM

"Anyway, in response to Bill, I don’t feel particularly compelled to “show my work” when it’s not at all clear that the Twins are doing much of their own." (insert mic drop)

    • Steve Lein and clutterheart like this
Photo
The Wise One
Feb 24 2016 02:37 AM

2013 according to ESPN the second best starter was  Nolascowith Jiminnez rated better than him. .  Hughes was an upside signing that the base says the team should do but cannot acknowledge it has happened.

2014 Santana was ranked as the sixth best pitcher.Time will tell if the Twins made a decent decision or not were the right ones or not. Not for the last 2 years.

 

Bold moves. To get something you have to give up something.Gordon and Gonslaves for Kazmir at the deadline. Good trade or bad. 

Berrios, Polanco , Kepler and since it was at the deadline last year, Duensing  for Giles? Takes something to get something. There was a lot of consternation about what Ryan gave up for Jepson. Imagine what the uproar would be over giving up top prospect for a rental player or a player that gets injured.

    • birdwatcher, Blackjack, KGB and 2 others like this
Photo
The Wise One
Feb 24 2016 03:26 AM

Your all are not inclined to show your work for your claims that you make.Take the Plouffe trade. A few thousand posts that Plouffe should have been traded. Freese is still unsigned. Other 3b just a little below signed for baseball minimal wages. Who is going to give anything for him.Mythical trades hat you were upset that did not happen, yet if Plouffe were traded fora class A B prospect and a prayer there would be whining about Ryan getting fleeced.Refuse to show why what you say is plausible. It makes it more believable..

    • Seth Stohs, REPETE, Blackjack and 4 others like this
Photo
ToddlerHarmon
Feb 24 2016 06:28 AM
Love this. But I don't really call for more free agent signings or trades. I call for letting the young guys play, and making decisions on who can be a difference maker in the postseason. Pitchers who can face the best lineups in MLB and thrive. Who fits that description on the Twins? Santana, Perkins, and who? But Berrios lingers. Grrr
    • terrydactyls1947 likes this
Photo
ToddlerHarmon
Feb 24 2016 06:28 AM
Love this. But I don't really call for more free agent signings or trades. I call for letting the young guys play, and making decisions on who can be a difference maker in the postseason. Pitchers who can face the best lineups in MLB and thrive. Who fits that description on the Twins? Santana, Perkins, and who? But Berrios lingers. Grrr

 

Your all are not inclined to show your work for your claims that you make.Take the Plouffe trade. A few thousand posts that Plouffe should have been traded. Freese is still unsigned. Other 3b just a little below signed for baseball minimal wages. Who is going to give anything for him.Mythical trades hat you were upset that did not happen, yet if Plouffe were traded fora class A B prospect and a prayer there would be whining about Ryan getting fleeced.Refuse to show why what you say is plausible. It makes it more believable..

 

Just to be clear, I'm not saying the Twins should have traded Trevor Plouffe. However, every indication we've gotten from the club, and by rumor hounds around the league, is that they never even put him on the market to see what was available. They made the decision going into the offseason not even to look. And that's what's inexcusable.

Photo
Comrade Bork
Feb 24 2016 09:20 AM
We didn't shop Plouffe because a .244 third baseman isn't worth crap on the market. If he has a hot start he'll be worth way more at the trade deadline.
    • birdwatcher, REPETE, Dman and 2 others like this

 

Just to be clear, I'm not saying the Twins should have traded Trevor Plouffe. However, every indication we've gotten from the club, and by rumor hounds around the league, is that they never even put him on the market to see what was available. They made the decision going into the offseason not even to look. And that's what's inexcusable.

I will say this, we don't know how hard the Twins' FO tried to trade Plouffe.  They probably were waiting for some other teams to ask for him, or ask for someone else so they could use Plouffe as a counter offer.  

 

The other thing I will say is, that Twins trade rumors almost never pop up until something is about to happen.  The FO doesn't let a lot of things out to the media.  So, in actuality, we don't know how hard they tried to trade Plouffe, if it all.  They very well could have had plans to trade him and it was obvious that the market wasn't there, or the might not have tried to trade him at all.  But no one who isn't in the FO can say for certain that they made no effort just because we didn't hear any rumor before hand.  

    • brvama, Riverbrian, ThejacKmp and 3 others like this

This is the line that explains the Twins the best to me: "The Twins have a profound lack of ambition in virtually everything they do."

 

Bingo.

 

In the situation of Plouffe/Sano, it is similar in process to what the Twins went through with Pierzynski/Mauer to me.

 

Plouffe is a very solid regular, A.J. was a bit more than that, but there is/was the stud prospect behind them at their position ready to become a superstar.

 

They traded A.J. (who granted had a lot more value than Plouffe would) to open things up for Mauer, but they are against opening up 3B for Sano. Since they didn't do this, so many other pieces don't fit and Sano is going to play a position he never has (and frankly, I don't think he's going to be remotely good at).

 

Then there's the Hicks for Murphy trade. Yes, the Twins needed a catcher, but this move was thinking too small to me. I'd bet he's an upgrade from Suzuki, and I understand there is value from a League average catcher, but why is that the ceiling they over and over again, settle for? They have plenty of ammo in their farm system to go after higher upside or a proven commodity. We forget, that having all those high ranked prospects in the minors is great, but not all of them are going to turn into anything in the majors. Some of their values are never going to be higher than now. So I think now is about the time in their turnaround where you need to start cashing some of them in to complete your product/turnaround and contend.

    • brvama, TheLeviathan, sandbun and 3 others like this

 

We didn't shop Plouffe because a .244 third baseman isn't worth crap on the market. If he has a hot start he'll be worth way more at the trade deadline.

 

Listen, Comrade, the People's Ministry long ago decreed that batting average was strictly a bourgeois statistic meant to minimize the contributions of the proletariat to winning games of baseball. You have been warned. Now get back into line for your Tony O's Cuban sandwich, the sandwich of The People!

    • clutterheart, Sconnie and Broker like this

Many good thoughts, but I think you just missed on one important point, that sort of relates to complacency and cheapness, though not necessarily directly....

 

The Twins are risk averse. You mentioned some of this risk aversion, but missed what I think is our most harmful risk aversion. Contract Extensions.

 

The Twins are so desirous of cost certainty that as soon as someone shows promise or exceeds their current contract the front office becomes terrified of "what if they keep performing like this.... they are going to ask for a huge contract."

 

I can't think of a single recent example of this working out in the Twins favor. 

    • USAFChief, Willihammer, spycake and 5 others like this
Photo
Bill Parker
Feb 24 2016 09:59 AM

 

"Anyway, in response to Bill, I don’t feel particularly compelled to “show my work” when it’s not at all clear that the Twins are doing much of their own." (insert mic drop)

Mike would never drop a mic. How could he be sure you'd always hear him talking?

    • Seth Stohs, Parker Hageman, Mike Sixel and 3 others like this
Photo
Bill Parker
Feb 24 2016 10:07 AM

My disagreements with this are pretty limited. I think the signings of Nolasco, Hughes and Santana showed that they did have a plan, and that the other potential signings you describe (which you call "higher upside," leaving out that they'd also just be hugely more expensive and thus higher-risk) are the kinds you take the plunge on when you're much closer to the target than the Twins have ever felt they were. Lester and Zimmermann aren't guys you sign hoping that their upside develops along with the team, they're established stars you sign to push you over the top. (Granted, the Cubs kind of did something like that with Lester, but they had a unique situation the Twins really can't replicate.) Next year, most likely, would be the offseason when that sort of move would make the most sense to me.

    • Blake, brvama and spinowner like this

 

This is the line that explains the Twins the best to me: "The Twins have a profound lack of ambition in virtually everything they do."

 

Bingo.

 

In the situation of Plouffe/Sano, it is similar in process to what the Twins went through with Pierzynski/Mauer to me.

 

Plouffe is a very solid regular, A.J. was a bit more than that, but there is/was the stud prospect behind them at their position ready to become a superstar.

 

They traded A.J. (who granted had a lot more value than Plouffe would) to open things up for Mauer, but they are against opening up 3B for Sano. Since they didn't do this, so many other pieces don't fit and Sano is going to play a position he never has (and frankly, I don't think he's going to be remotely good at).

 

Then there's the Hicks for Murphy trade. Yes, the Twins needed a catcher, but this move was thinking too small to me. I'd bet he's an upgrade from Suzuki, and I understand there is value from a League average catcher, but why is that the ceiling they over and over again, settle for? They have plenty of ammo in their farm system to go after higher upside or a proven commodity. We forget, that having all those high ranked prospects in the minors is great, but not all of them are going to turn into anything in the majors. Some of their values are never going to be higher than now. So I think now is about the time in their turnaround where you need to start cashing some of them in to complete your product/turnaround and contend.

This topic is somewhat of the dead horse being whipped again.  Plouffe being traded for prospects that don't pan out turn into the "why did we trade Span/Revere/etc" argument.  There was no market for an average 3B, so we may as well keep him.  He still may be traded this spring, as injuries around the league occur, making it a great move.  

The AJ trade is heralded as one of the great trades of all time, simply because it worked!  However, when anyone mentions the AJ trade in defense of Ryan, the Ryan haters point back at all the trades that weren't as successful.  You can't have it both ways.   

Now we trade Hicks, who's had one great Spring training, and one great month, meaning he's FAR from a known asset, for a position of need.  Only time will tell if this works for either team, but we certainly can't say today this is a bad trade, as our OF of the future is Rosario, Buxton, Arcia (if he hits), and Kepler in the wings.  

 

I'm not sure how we can say there's no ambition.  Conservative?  Maybe.  But whatever term we put on it, doesn't mean it will work.  I applauded Bill Smith at the time for being "ambitious" with trades.  How'd that work for us?   

    • birdwatcher, spinowner and Broker like this

 

Many good thoughts, but I think you just missed on one important point, that sort of relates to complacency and cheapness, though not necessarily directly....

 

The Twins are risk averse. You mentioned some of this risk aversion, but missed what I think is our most harmful risk aversion. Contract Extensions.

 

The Twins are so desirous of cost certainty that as soon as someone shows promise or exceeds their current contract the front office becomes terrified of "what if they keep performing like this.... they are going to ask for a huge contract."

 

I can't think of a single recent example of this working out in the Twins favor. 

Could that be the Joe Mauer effect?

Great post, Mike.  Agreed 100%, I really don't have a problem with their spending levels, or a rebuilding process, but I'd like to see this club work outside its comfort zone more often.  I think they have a few great baseball minds/eyes, but too often it seems like they're not actually trying to use them to gain an edge on the competition.

 

(Edited to remove erroneous attribution to Seth.)

    • brvama and Vanimal46 like this

And people think Seth and I don't agree......I agree with this 100%:

 

"The inherent problem with the Twins’ spending isn’t the lack of it. It’s the systemic problem that seems to pervade the organization: complacency. The Twins have a profound lack of ambition in virtually everything they do."

 

and especially this:

 

"don’t get me wrong, signing Hughes or Santana or, hell, even Nolasco isn’t enough to hamstring even a team that pretends they can’t spend money, like the Twins. However, Minnesota stacked these signings on top of one another, reducing their flexibility this year to the point where there isn’t room for more than one of higher-upside"

 

I almost feel like this isn't coming from Seth, but then, he's no more an all in apologist, than I am an all in hater*

 

*we have both been called these things.....

    • James and brvama like this

 

If this statement weren't so profoundly stupid, it would be insulting.

 

I don't know, in the last run, they never went all in to win, even though they were fated to be bad by the end of the decade (according to those that believe baseball is cyclical). Where was the ambition to be GREAT during that decade, and not have Becker and Tyner DH? Where was the ambition to close the deal on Cliff Lee? Where was the ambition to turn that group of great players into the BEST team in baseball, not a team that squeaked into the playoffs in the worst division in MLB during that time?

 

Great post, Seth!  Agreed 100%, I really don't have a problem with their spending levels, or a rebuilding process, but I'd like to see this club work outside its comfort zone more often.  I think they have a few great baseball minds/eyes, but too often it seems like they're not actually trying to use them to gain an edge on the competition.

 

And people think Seth and I don't agree......I agree with this 100%:

 

"The inherent problem with the Twins’ spending isn’t the lack of it. It’s the systemic problem that seems to pervade the organization: complacency. The Twins have a profound lack of ambition in virtually everything they do."

 

and especially this:

 

"don’t get me wrong, signing Hughes or Santana or, hell, even Nolasco isn’t enough to hamstring even a team that pretends they can’t spend money, like the Twins. However, Minnesota stacked these signings on top of one another, reducing their flexibility this year to the point where there isn’t room for more than one of higher-upside"

 

I almost feel like this isn't coming from Seth, but then, he's no more an all in apologist, than I am an all in hater*

 

*we have both been called these things.....

 

Seth, are you writing under a pseudonym now?

    • Bill Parker, brvama and Riverbrian like this

 

Many good thoughts, but I think you just missed on one important point, that sort of relates to complacency and cheapness, though not necessarily directly....

 

The Twins are risk averse. You mentioned some of this risk aversion, but missed what I think is our most harmful risk aversion. Contract Extensions.

 

The Twins are so desirous of cost certainty that as soon as someone shows promise or exceeds their current contract the front office becomes terrified of "what if they keep performing like this.... they are going to ask for a huge contract."

 

I can't think of a single recent example of this working out in the Twins favor. 

I was going to post on extensions too, although I don't think it's as simple as fear of the player's price going up.  I think the Twins are just way to eager to "skip" bidding on open competitive markets.

 

No matter what, Suzuki wasn't going to get a ton more than what we extended him for.  So why did we do it, when we did it?  He was doing well at the moment, and we just wanted one less thing to think about, it seems.  Rather than exploring the catcher market that winter (which was fairly diverse and interesting), and being willing to risk a slightly larger open-market contract for Suzuki if other options fell through, we just jumped at the chance to lock up Suzuki and forget about the position for a year-plus.  Which hurt because we still had obvious deficiencies at the position.

 

Hughes is another one.  Remember we signed 3 starting pitchers (Nolasco, Hughes, and Pelfrey) before 2014, and bid on a couple others late (Santana and Garza), and two of our signings busted pretty badly during the 2014 season.  So the next winter, we were probably looking for two more SP, and we ponied up for Santana.  But instead of using Hughes' remaining 2/16 to our advantage, we tacked on 3/42 so we wouldn't feel the need to bother acquiring another starting pitcher.  Which hurt because we gave up a lot of excess value on his original deal, and took away resources that could have supported a more aggressive move.

    • Steve Lein, Mike Sixel and Platoon like this
Photo
Brock Beauchamp
Feb 24 2016 11:51 AM
Mike Bates wrote this article. Seth made a boo-boo while posting it so his name appears in the forums.

 

Seth, are you writing under a pseudonym now?

Dang it, Seth did it again, where he promoted someone's blog post to an article but left his name attached on the forum view.  "Mike Bates" only appears on the article when you view it from the front page of the site, not from the forum where it is only attributed to Seth.

 

I thought we had a convert there, for a moment! :)

 

Mike Bates wrote this article. Seth made a boo-boo while posting it so his name appears in the forums.

 

Well then......so much for my shock in reading it.

    • Riverbrian, TheLeviathan, Hosken Bombo Disco and 1 other like this

 

I was going to post on extensions too, although I don't think it's as simple as fear of the player's price going up.  I think the Twins are just way to eager to "skip" bidding on open competitive markets.

 

No matter what, Suzuki wasn't going to get a ton more than what we extended him for.  So why did we do it, when we did it?  He was doing well at the moment, and we just wanted one less thing to think about, it seems.  Rather than exploring the catcher market that winter (which was fairly diverse and interesting), and being willing to risk a slightly larger open-market contract for Suzuki if other options fell through, we just jumped at the chance to lock up Suzuki and forget about the position for a year-plus.  Which hurt because we still had obvious deficiencies at the position.

 

Hughes is another one.  Remember we signed 3 starting pitchers (Nolasco, Hughes, and Pelfrey) before 2014, and bid on a couple others late (Santana and Garza), and two of our signings busted pretty badly during the 2014 season.  So the next winter, we were probably looking for two more SP, and we ponied up for Santana.  But instead of using Hughes' remaining 2/16 to our advantage, we tacked on 3/42 so we wouldn't feel the need to bother acquiring another starting pitcher.  Which hurt because we gave up a lot of excess value on his original deal, and took away resources that could have supported a more aggressive move.

 

More than half the catchers better than Suzuki last year are on a team they were not on when Suzuki signed his extension (if you believe in math telling you who was better). To me, it is a great example of settling, and not going big.

Photo
birdwatcher
Feb 24 2016 12:01 PM

The Twins have a profound lack of ambition in virtually everything they do?

 

Really Mike? You know that's profoundly untrue. And insulting to boot.

 

Overly conservative? Sure. Too risk-averse? Very possibly true.

 

They see the baseball side of the business differently than you and I see it. Period.

 

Let's not promote any of these common false negatives, like that they don't care, or don't try, or they lie, or they lack ambition.

    • The Wise One, Jack Goin and spinowner like this

Similar Articles


by John Bonnes , Today, 09:16 AM
Photo


by Nick Nelson , Yesterday, 05:21 PM
Photo


by Tom Froemming , Yesterday, 03:13 PM
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 14 Apr 2018
Photo


by Cody Christie , 09 Apr 2018
Photo