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Busting 3 Myths About The Twins Offseason

The World Series is over. The offseason is about to rev up. You can explore its many possibilities by ordering and immediately downloading your copy of the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook.

As we gear up for many weeks of in-depth Hot Stove coverage here on the site, I thought I'd address three pervasive myths I've seen floating around in Twins Territory. Let's set the record straight on these misleading talkers.
On the surface, these suppositions may feel plausible, if not resoundingly true. But each of these three Twins offseason myths is driven by faulty reasoning, and here's why.

MYTH #1: The Twins won't significantly increase payroll.

It's understandable that this is the default position. The Twins franchise has a long history of spending less on the roster than many fans would hope or expect. Even our own Offseason Handbook fuels the fire on this myth, with John writing that 2018 payroll will likely top out at $110-115 million – he even considered that "optimistic."

It's certainly possible this will be the case. But I urge you to keep a few things in mind:

A ) There's a new front office in place. Granted, we've been given no reason to think Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are going to be handed a blank check, but the general belief is that Terry Ryan would often spend far less than he was able.

Is that still going to be the case? Let's not forget that the first major move from this new leadership was a fairly aggressive free-agent spend (Jason Castro).

B ) The Twins have a long way to go before they're even in the middle of the pack for spending. Levine acknowledged in his interview with Baseball Prospectus this summer that when it comes to payroll, the Twins are "not going to be in the top 10, and we're fine with that."

But here's the thing: he can add quite a bit and still be nowhere near the top 10. Minnesota's Opening Day payroll this year ($108 million) ranked 22nd in the majors. The 15th-ranked team was Kansas City, at $140 million. Is there really any reason the Twins shouldn't be able to reach that level? Especially when you consider that...

C ) They are competitive now. Know what happened the last time the Twins planned for a season with true championship aspirations? They set a franchise record for payroll, under Bill Smith, at $113 million. That was in 2011, when they were coming off their last playoff appearance.

When accounting for market inflation, that same $113 million would check in over $120 million today – maybe well over. The Twins ranked ninth in payroll in 2011; this year, the ninth-ranked Nationals spent $167 million.

So let's not just assume this team won't see a significant bump in spending, especially with a number of contracts set to come off the books following 2018.

MYTH #2: The Twins need to add an impact starting pitcher.

Sure, it'd be nice. And now that we've dispelled the first myth, it certainly feels accomplishable. But the Twins don't necessarily NEED to add a top-tier starter via free agency or trade in order to enter the 2018 season as legitimate playoff (and even World Series) contenders.

They will likely be bringing back four pitchers who made 20-plus starts in 2017, and there's reason to believe it could be a very capable group.

Ervin Santana: Coming off a career-year, has been a steady workhorse in three seasons with MN, posting a 3.47 ERA over 500 innings.

Jose Berrios: Former top prospect found his comfort zone in the big leagues and posted a 14-8 record, 3.89 ERA at age 23. Could (should?) take another big step forward.

Kyle Gibson: Finally looked in the second half like the version we've all been waiting for. Posted a 3.55 ERA with markedly more whiffs in August and September. Contrary to another popular myth, this wasn't just another typical fluctuation for the notoriously inconsistent hurler; he made several noticeable changes to drive the improvement.

Adalberto Mejia: His first season as a major-league starter was a relative success. He has the build and the stuff to succeed. With better control he can become a reliable mid-rotation piece. Young pitchers often improve this facet in their second year, and Mejia has a history of throwing strikes in the minors (2.1 BB/9).

I'm feeling somewhat bullish on this group, and the Twins will have numerous options on hand to fill the fifth spot. Their projected season-opening rotation at Rochester includes Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, Zack Littell, Felix Jorge and Aaron Slegers, who could all be poised to contribute early on if not right away. At least a couple of them have top-of-rotation potential.

As a placeholder until one of those prospects is ready, the Twins could roll out Trevor May as the fifth starter, give Tyler Duffey another shot, or a sign a lower-level free agent.

And then, once the 2018 season is underway, the opportunity is always there to make in-season additions.

MYTH #3: The Twins must add more padding to the outfield walls to protect Byron Buxton.

I keep seeing this suggestion again and again, for some reason. It's not going to happen, nor should it.

First of all, the Twins already bulked up the padding on Target Field's outfield fences, back in 2014. The "Covermaster" surface now in place is eight inches thick, built to absorb and disperse impact force. It cost "six figures" to install.

At a point it becomes impractical to do much else. They're not going to cover the walls in pillows, or anything that significantly affects play (you can't have line drives flying into an ultra-soft surface and then just dropping onto the warning track).

Look, we all recognize that Buxton's style of play entails certain hazards, and we were reminded of that in the final game of the season, where he suffered a cracked rib in a collision with the fence in New York. But that's part of the package. He'll never dial down the all-out effort and aggressiveness (we can only hope), so the best hope to avoid injuries is for Buxton to continually improve his situational awareness and not allow that wall (or another outfielder) to blindside him. He did seem to get better about that this year.

But at the end of the day, there's just a certain risk you run (so to speak) when hurdling through the outfield with mythical speed.

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90 Comments

 

Twins president Jerry Bell once remarked the Eloise Pohlad—Carl’s wife, and undoubtedly the biggest Twins fan ever in the family—liked the team particularly because it was a family thing.

 

The value of the Twins is chump change for the Pohlads. Billions make millions seem small.

The current valuation of the Twins is around a billion.Valuations of the Pohlad fortune is at around 4 billion. The Twins are hardly chump change in their pocket.It can be a fun thing, but being fun doesn't change the position in the Pohlad portfolio

 

 

Sure, there are ways to improve other than pitching although that's the obvious upgrade. But they don't need us making Anibal Sanchez contracts. Would you agree that a rotation (ignoring the bullpen for a moment) of Berrios, Alex Cobb and Ervin Santana could be a good enough top 3 for a playoff team?

When the pitch well, yes. If they pitch like Verlander did in 06 or Darvish in this WS, no. You need good pitchers, you also need them to pitch well when it counts.

If our plan is to count on the starters we have and then add to the BACK part of the rotation, that is a bad plan.Cause we have enough back end starters, in fact, that's mostly what we have.

    • Vanimal46 likes this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Nov 04 2017 06:19 PM

 

You know what happens when you rely on unproven prospects to fill an MLB spot in the rotation?

You get Adam Wilk, Tim Melville, broken Phil Hughes, Nick Tepesch, Felix Jorge, Aaron Slegers, Dillon Gee, Nik Turley, and Big Sexy starting games for you.

Sign a gol dang impact SP.

I agree 100%

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tarheeltwinsfan
Nov 04 2017 06:20 PM

Sign Darvish. Period.

    • beckmt likes this

 

Sign Darvish. Period.

He has as much as possible said that he will rejoin Texas. 

 

A myth often expounded in TD is that top talent (like Verlander) would sign here if the Twins offered just a bit more money. JV thought about not approving the trade to HOU, but ultimately changed his mind because he believed that they could win the WS.I can't think of any top player having that confidence in the Twins.

 

He has as much as possible said that he will rejoin Texas. 

 

A myth often expounded in TD is that top talent (like Verlander) would sign here if the Twins offered just a bit more money. JV thought about not approving the trade to HOU, but ultimately changed his mind because he believed that they could win the WS.I can't think of any top player having that confidence in the Twins.

Actually, I would doubt that. With our young offensive talent, I would imagine most pitchers would say "yeah, I'm what they need."But ownership is going to limit what bin we can look in. If we can get a Cobb like signing, that's probably the best we could realistically hope for.

We need the 'Ace'.Cobb could be a fine secondary piece, but this is the year to go large and many of the teams are waiting for next year.

    • Sconnie and tarheeltwinsfan like this
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Deduno Abides
Nov 04 2017 08:19 PM

He has as much as possible said that he will rejoin Texas. 
 
A myth often expounded in TD is that top talent (like Verlander) would sign here if the Twins offered just a bit more money. JV thought about not approving the trade to HOU, but ultimately changed his mind because he believed that they could win the WS.I can't think of any top player having that confidence in the Twins.


Nobody would have said it about Houston a year or two ago, either. If things go right, they may say it about the Twins in the next year or two.

My point was that someone like May or Romero could be the addition to the top. And keeping the door open for them maintains roster/payroll flexibility. As I mentioned, you can always add during the season when you have a better idea of how things are shaping up.

in 2018 May or Romero could be a top 25 MLB starting pitcher for the Twins?

Having that upside, and having that upside in 2018 are two different things.

The window for the core to compete is finite. Can’t wait for someday
    • USAFChief and Vanimal46 like this
Myth 1©. If one yearns for an uptick in payroll spending, using Bill Smith as an example will likely not encourage Falvine to follow that path to unemployment. :).
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tarheeltwinsfan
Nov 05 2017 11:09 AM

 

He has as much as possible said that he will rejoin Texas. 

 

A myth often expounded in TD is that top talent (like Verlander) would sign here if the Twins offered just a bit more money. JV thought about not approving the trade to HOU, but ultimately changed his mind because he believed that they could win the WS.I can't think of any top player having that confidence in the Twins.

Are you saying top players won't sign with Minnesota because....why? No chance to win as a Twin? Too cold? Lack of "big time" media coverage?Low salaries? I

 

[Darvish] has as much as possible said that he will rejoin Texas. 

 

This actually doesn't seem to be the case:

 

https://www.mlbtrade...cobb-tribe.html

 

https://www.mlbtrade...backs-nats.html

 

It'll be interesting to see how the market plays out for FA starters. With Tanaka choosing not to opt out, there's one less high profile arm available. However, some of the usual big spenders seem like they may be reluctant to add a large contract this offseason, when next year's class is packed with so much more youth and talent. MLBTR predicts Darvish going to the Cubs for 6/160, which amounts to just over 26 million AAV. This seems about right, but I wonder if his market might be somewhat depressed due to his injury history, relatively modest output in 2017, and the fact that there are several enticing options that will certainly cost less. That could open the door to a non-traditional spender (maybe or maybe not the Twins) plunking down some cash.

 

That said, I'd rather see the Twins target a cheaper starter so that they can also fill out their pen with a couple arms and extend Buxton and/or others.

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tarheeltwinsfan
Nov 05 2017 03:03 PM

 

I just want a pitcher who will be better than the merry-go-round of AAAA/unproven pitchers we've seen over the years. Cobb could fit that mold. Lynn could fit it too. Darvish is a pipe dream but would certainly fit. Or make a trade for someone who isn't a FA. 

 

If the playoffs this year and last have shown us anything, it's the Twins are not even close in the pitching department. I believe the offense could survive, and WIN a playoff series or two. With the current pitching staff as it is? No chance they would win a 5 or 7 game series. 

What if the Twins build a strong bullpen, ala Yankees this year and Royals when they won it all recently?

 

I agree you don't have to get today's big-time starters, but then you better be able to identify and acquire tomorrow's.

This is it right here. Simple, but unfortunately not easy.