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NBA 2018-19 Thread

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2019 priorities. Literally, a group wide priority list

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Joe Mauer Retirement Press Conference

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Offseason Blueprint: Hey Big Spenders!

As the offseason gets underway, our team at Twins Daily is formulating blueprints that exemplify differing approaches the front office might take this offseason.

Last week Tom presented a trade-heavy changing of course, while Seth envisioned an internally focused rebuild. Today we'll have some fun and draw up a scenario in which the Twins really open up the wallet and push payroll to new (not totally implausible) heights.

Join the fun by downloading your copy of the 2019 Offseason Handbook and creating a blueprint in the forum.
Image courtesy of Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports (Patrick Corbin)
The Minnesota Twins opened the 2018 season with a $129.5 million payroll. It was the highest figure in franchise history, but still ranked just 16th among MLB teams. This tells you all you need to know about where the league currently stands with spending, even after a conspicuously splurge-averse 2017-18 offseason.

The Twins probably won't spend more in 2019 than they did in 2018. But there's not much reason they couldn't. Pushing payroll into the $150 million range would still place Minnesota comfortably among baseball's mid-tier spenders. And if they actually were working under such a cap, they'd have about $80 million in available funds for next year.

How to spend all that money?! I'll see if I can find a way while adhering to the model of sustainable, long-term thinking.

Step 1 | Sign two building-block players to extensions: RHP Jose Berrios (4 years, $45M + two team options) and OF Byron Buxton (5 years, $54M + team option)

Berrios and Buxton are both four years away from free agency. Neither has made big money yet, and each has motivation to lock up long-term financial security. This is the perfect time to strike, and with their financial flexibility, the Twins can offer upfront bonuses to incentivize.

I'm envisioning a Berrios deal similar to the ones signed by Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco in Cleveland, with team options on the back end in exchange for guaranteed money now (pitching is a dangerous profession). Meanwhile, Buxton gets locked up for his prime years, reasonably if he's a solid contributor and ultra-reasonably if he's a star. Both can still hit the open market around age 30.

The terms might not exactly align with what I've laid out above, but you get the idea. For the purposes of this blueprint and its payroll calculus, I'm carving out $4 million for each in 2019 (several times what either would otherwise stand to make).

Step 2 | Grab your frontline starter by signing free agent LHP Patrick Corbin (5 years, $120M)

In the Offseason Handbook, we deemed Corbin the best starting pitcher on the free agent market. Last year, the Twins pursued Yu Darvish late into the offseason but ultimately came up short. This time around they get their guy, reeling in the stud southpaw Corbin coming off a career year. He joins Berrios as entrenched rotation cornerstones for the next half-decade.

It's not an investment without risk (we all saw what happened with Darvish), but I feel good about Corbin, who posted stellar numbers in hitter-friendly Arizona and only seems to be hitting his stride at age 29.

Step 3 | Enlist two free agent relievers: RHP Kelvin Herrera (3 years, $25M) and LHP Jerry Blevins (1 year, $6 million)

Power bullpens are the name of the game. The Addison Reed signing didn't work out, but I'm biting the bullet and spending on Herrera, aiming high but not quite at the Craig Kimbrel/Jeurys Familia tier. Herrera can step in as closer, or as top setup man with Trevor May keeping the ninth; either situation sounds great with Taylor Rogers also around as a proven late-inning arm.

As lefty specialist, I'm enlisting one of the best in Blevins (585 career OPS vs LHB) on a short-term deal.

Step 4 | Add another power relief arm by trading LHP Stephen Gonsalves and OF Jake Cave to Cincinnati for RHP Raisel Iglesias (2 years, $11.4M remaining on contract)

I wasn't kidding about the power bullpen thing. Iglesias is a stud reliever with two years left on his contract, and the Reds are going nowhere at present. Flip them a couple young MLB-ready assets and weaponize Iglesias as a strategic fireman of the new era. Having Iglesias on hand in addition to Herrera, May, Rogers, Reed, Blevins and Trevor Hildenberger would enable Rocco Baldelli to stack relievers behind (or in front of, whatever floats your boat) the starters in the back half of the rotation.

(By the way, the back half of my rotation includes Fernando Romero, because I think he's ready and I had to nontender or trade Jake Odorizzi, whose estimated $10 million via arbitration couldn't be justified in this scenario.)

Step 5 | Alrighty, on to the offense: Sign 3B Josh Donaldson for 1 year, $15 million

That contract estimate would've been unthinkable a couple years ago, but things have changed for the former MVP. He took a step backward in 2017 and stumbled badly in 2018, playing only 52 games amidst recurring calf issues.

Admittedly this contract estimate (via the Handbook) might be a bit low, but it's feasible Donaldson could go for a one-year deal in that vicinity to rebuild value. He'd fit nicely with Minnesota, where there's flexibility to adjust to his new reality. If he can play still play third, great, Sano goes to first. If Donaldson is better off at first, then Sano gets another year to show what he can do at the hot corner.

Granted, each of these sluggers has his question marks, but I'm not committed to either beyond 2019. And the upside of this corner combination... whew.

Step 6 | Sprinkle in some versatility: Sign utilityman Marwin Gonzalez for 3 years, $33 million

The thing about rostering Sano and Donaldson along with Tyler Austin and Robbie Grossman (who I'm bringing back as DH/OF for a reliable dose of OBP) is that there are some major defensive limitations going on. To offset this, we add Gonzalez, who's played all over the field for the Astros while providing a steadily solid switch-hitting bat.

I'm actually plugging him in as the right field starter, with Buxton and Max Kepler rotating until at least one establishes himself as a clearly deserving full-time regular. And if both do (which I'm bullish on), Gonzalez can be used elsewhere. Crucially, he can play third, which helps reduce the risk of our previously stated Sano/Donaldson plan.

Step 7 | Shore up the D: Sign SS Jose Iglesias (2 years, $18 million)

He's not much of a hitter (.666 OPS the past three years), but Iglesias is among the best defensive shortstops in the league, and he's only 28, so I'm happy to pony up for him as my No. 9 hitter. Sliding Jorge Polanco to second while inserting Iglesias at short vastly improves my middle-infield defense, and this commitment is short enough to segue nicely to Royce Lewis in 2021.

ROTATION ($45M)


Jose Berrios (4M)

Patrick Corbin (24M)

Kyle Gibson (8.5M)

Michael Pineda (8M)

Fernando Romero (0.5M)


Attached Image: rotation.png


BULLPEN ($32M)


Kelvin Herrera (8.3M)

Trevor May (1.5M)

Taylor Rogers (1.5M)

Raisel Iglesias (5.7M)

Addison Reed (8.5M)

Jerry Blevins (6M)

Trevor Hildenberger (0.5M)


Attached Image: bullpen.png


LINEUP ($55M)


C: Jason Castro (8M)

1B: Miguel Sano (3M)

2B: Jorge Polanco (0.5M)

SS: Jose Iglesias (9M)

3B: Josh Donaldson (15M)

LF: Eddie Rosario (4M)

CF: Byron Buxton (4M)

RF: Marwin Gonzalez (11M)

DH: Tyler Austin (0.5M)


BENCH ($9.5M)


C: Mitch Garver (0.5M)

MI: Ehire Adrianza (2M)

OF: Max Kepler (3M)

OF: Robbie Grossman (4M)


Attached Image: offense.png


TOTAL: $141.5 million


Okay, granted, when you add in the money still owed to Phil Hughes, and the buyouts for Ervin Santana and Logan Morrison, it's up closer to $150 million. But such a number still would've ranked around the league median in 2018, and that's before the anticipated spending spree poised to take place this winter.

Plus, look at that beauty. This roster is built to win the division and boasts some staying power. With Chicago, Detroit and KC all rebuilding, and with Cleveland talking about trading away parts to trim payroll, one could argue the time is ripe for full-fledged investment.

I think we can safely say the Twins won't be quite as active and splashy as I've suggested above, but the point to take away here is this: right now we're looking at an almost completely fresh slate, with a wide-open horizon of roster-building opportunity.

You could pick and choose from the ambitious list above and arrive at a more realistic payroll figure while still upgrading with big names in several areas. High-profile free agents like Corbin, Gonzalez, Herrera and Donaldson are very much on the table, and Minnesota's front office should be seeking opportunities to acquire established difference-makers from rebuilding clubs.

If you were calling the shots, what would be your course of action this winter? Download the Offseason Handbook to see all the options at your fingertips.

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83 Comments

 

And although Houston is a big city ... baseball actually considers Houston to be a "small market" team!

I was just pointing out Houston's payroll the last 6 years, nothing more, nothing less.

    • birdwatcher, snepp, Hosken Bombo Disco and 2 others like this
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ChrisKnutson
Nov 05 2018 02:31 PM
If the FO were to make a trade, it’s more likely that they’d be trading for a 1st or 3rd basemen as insurance for Sano/Austin. One lefty bat that could pair well with Austin is Cleveland 1B Yonder Alonso, although I’m unsure if either team would even think about crossing division lines.

 

I was just pointing out Houston's payroll the last 6 years, nothing more, nothing less.

 

I know.

    • Tomj14 likes this

 

Just so we are clear ... we can ridicule the FO and suggest they are incompetent. What we can't do is point out hard fact that shows a plan is deeply flawed. We can't point out that there is no evidence supporting statements involving financial viability.

 

Can we point a key part of this plan is signing the highest regarded SP (Corbin) and that he is from NY or that NY badly needs starting pitching or that NY generates twice or revenue. Can we point out the only time a team with the Twins revenue has pulled this off in the past 30 years was Arizona and that Arizona had just signed a billion dollar TV contract. 

 

Someone is going to point out Sherzer which is close enough to point out but the Nationals incremental revenue has been 50-60M more than the Twins so enough to pay for Sherzer nearly twice.

 

I don't have a good plan to build a contender next year because it does not exist. Unless Buxton and Sano bounce back in a huge way, we have no realistic chance. The notion we just find a plan B for guys that need to produce 6-8 WAR is naive.

 

We have no BP and two decent SPs. We need to produce 20 more wins just to be a relevant contender. The cost through agency would be an incremental $160M and that does not count replacing Mauer, Dozier, Escobar, and Pressly.

 

MLR... I'm gonna step in here for a second. 

 

Couple of things to keep in mind. 

 

1. As Moderators we not only try to restrict the severity of attacks on fellow TD members but we also try to restrict the severity of the attacks on the front office. It is much harder with the front office since they are directly in the line of fire but we try. 

 

2. The admins have been writing a series of coordinated different approaches to the off-season. Tom wrote about the abrupt change approach, Seth wrote the Status Quo Approach and Nick wrote the Big Spending Approach. When you consider the coordination of each providing something different. I don't think you can assume that any of them are 100% behind their game plans. Nick for example is very intelligent and I can read his article and assume that he knows the difficulty of signing Patrick Corbin but he's listing it because that would be ideal pick up for the Twins... in his opinion... under the context of... spending your way into contention... which is always an option for any team, even if it is a terrible idea from a business standpoint. 

 

3. It's OK to respectfully counter. Just be careful how much cold water you throw on it. These forums are for the fun of the discussion. Join in the fun. 

    • Nick Nelson, Han Joelo, birdwatcher and 10 others like this

MAN, it is fun to spend someone else's money isn't it?!?!I actually like this!I'm a homegrown, hometown fan and as such I like following the prospects as they come up....so, hate to see Gonsalves go, but he's no guaranteed thing by any means.How good would that little side trade for Cave look if they could turn it into a stud reliever Iglesias.I'm on record as saying I love the idea of pairing Jose Iglesias with Polanco up the middle.I only have two things that give me pause....first, I know we're afraid of Aaron Hicks 2.0, but are we sure we want to commit that kind of money to Buxton??And second, I'm ALWAYS leery of bringing pitchers from the NL to the AL and expecting similar production.

    • Original Whizzinator likes this
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TheLeviathan
Nov 05 2018 03:17 PM

I would think that most plans should want to stay below 125M. It makes the exercise more interesting, IMO, when we have to create within a reasonable budget. Going too far outside what is most reasonable to expect does sorta feel like cheating. I’m not saying that o criticize a plan I’m already on record as liking, just pointing out how much value I think the exercise has when we try to stay in the same range.

 

The argument of "there's no reason..." isn't particularly compelling.Especially in light of decades of evidence.

    • gunnarthor and KGB like this

Regardless of who they sign/extend etc. there is NO reason they can't hit $150 million in payroll.That is not asking to much of ownership!

    • Original Whizzinator likes this
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Nick Nelson
Nov 05 2018 05:00 PM

 

The argument of "there's no reason..." isn't particularly compelling.Especially in light of decades of evidence.

Sure, that's fair. 

 

BUT, I think a few folks are overstating the importance of historical trends and existing evidence in this discussion, while ignoring some pretty obviously relevant factors. Namely, this: 

 

Before last offseason, what reason was there to think we were gonna see an all-time high payroll in franchise history in 2018? Falvey and Levine have essentially had one full offseason at the helm, and it resulted in more spending than we've ever seen before from the organization. 

 

And while $150 million might seem like a huge number through the lens of Twins fans, it's really not that outrageous in the scope of today's MLB. It just isn't. 

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, Vanimal46 and 2 others like this
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Nick Nelson
Nov 05 2018 05:11 PM

Also, allow me to add that these comparisons to a typical corporate business setting are frightfully off-the-mark. Does anyone actually think pro sports operates in the same mindset as standard consumer-facing companies?

 

Yes, ownership is interested in turning profit and driving revenue. But doing so is entirely dependent on fan interest, which is currently as low as it's been in 15 years (as far as attendance is concerned). I'm not sure how you can argue from a business standpoint that investing extra right now to rejuvenate interest and thrust the team back toward contention would be some sort of epic blunder, especially when it doesn't involve pigeonholing themselves into that kind of spending long-term. (To the contrary: I see players like Berrios/Corbin/Buxton becoming the building blocks surrounded by cheaper young talent from the pipeline.)

    • Don Walcott and Original Whizzinator like this

Sure, that's fair.

BUT, I think a few folks are overstating the importance of historical trends and existing evidence in this discussion, while ignoring some pretty obviously relevant factors. Namely, this:

Before last offseason, what reason was there to think we were gonna see an all-time high payroll in franchise history in 2018? Falvey and Levine have essentially had one full offseason at the helm, and it resulted in more spending than we've ever seen before from the organization.

And while $150 million might seem like a huge number through the lens of Twins fans, it's really not that outrageous in the scope of today's MLB. It just isn't.


They received a $50 million check for their share of the sale of BamTech. 50% of that extra revenue is $25 million, which is where the extra payroll in 2018 came from.
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Original Whizzinator
Nov 05 2018 05:38 PM
I was not surprised at the level of spending last year and could easily see them topping it this year. They did not hamstring themselves with bad deals last year and that made me happy giving me confidence going forward. I don't see them signing Buxton yet.
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birdwatcher
Nov 05 2018 05:48 PM

 

Sure, that's fair. 

 

BUT, I think a few folks are overstating the importance of historical trends and existing evidence in this discussion, while ignoring some pretty obviously relevant factors. Namely, this: 

 

Before last offseason, what reason was there to think we were gonna see an all-time high payroll in franchise history in 2018? Falvey and Levine have essentially had one full offseason at the helm, and it resulted in more spending than we've ever seen before from the organization. 

 

And while $150 million might seem like a huge number through the lens of Twins fans, it's really not that outrageous in the scope of today's MLB. It just isn't. 

 

Nick, I think its also fair and perhaps calming to keep in mind your main point, which is that the opportunity exists to make a splash in the FA market. Going the "spend big" route, whatever that looks like, is a fun thought and not all that unrealistic.

 

We don't know if the Pohlad boys would sign off on $125M, let alone $150M. But I'm also of the opinion that past history tells us a little less than we might think on the subject, because the context never quite remains the same. The organization is dealing with a set of conditions and factors that differ enough from the past to call for us to temper our convictions on this touchy subject.

 

I don't need to have a perfect grasp on this past year's P&L to be confident that a solid business case could be made to spend $150M now on the 2019 MLB payroll. If the revenues lag behind forecast, something tells me the business can withstand that short-term issue.

 

The critical things are there IMO: enough talent at MLB to think bolstering it aggressively could move the needle; adequate cash resources; more than nominal player assets with trade value, a division that's inviting the team to think opportunistically, viable difference-making FA options, even if Corbin isn't one of them.

 

I'm just going to stay giddily optimistic for now.

As this series unfolds, I would love to see the "Really Big Spender" plan, and the "Moderately Big Spender Plan" as well.  What could you do with $195 million?  Just $125 million?  

 

As it is, I think looking at Nick's proposal is useful, in that I see it as a viable, comprehensive plan to contend that avoids that mediocre middle, where the Twins found themselves last year.  If $150 isn't viable this year, I'd rather see the $80 million team...with the caveat that they eventually shove those chips into the pot.

    • Carole Keller, Nick Nelson and birdwatcher like this
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Nick Nelson
Nov 05 2018 05:57 PM

 

They received a $50 million check for their share of the sale of BamTech. 50% of that extra revenue is $25 million, which is where the extra payroll in 2018 came from.

I don't think it's quite that simple. Why didn't every other team's payroll rise accordingly? How come MN's spending didn't spike along with revenues in 2012, after MLB signed a massive new deal with Turner and FOX

 

If anything, this all just serves to reinforce my final point above: "While $150 million might seem like a huge number through the lens of Twins fans, it's really not that outrageous in the scope of today's MLB. It just isn't."

 

My Dad will not pay 10 bucks for a hamburger. He just won't do it. Even if I offer to buy him the 10 buck burger, he consistently refuses. 

 

My Dad has more than enough money to afford the 10 dollar burger, he did well enough in the stock market to purchase his own hamburger business outright if he wanted to but he just won't pay 10 dollars for a burger because he thinks 10 bucks is too much for a burger. 

 

There are a lot of people in this world with this sort of mentality. 

 

With no inside information at all, fairly or unfairly. I have always assumed that Terry Ryan was like my father in this regard and believed it was possible that our budgets had more to do with Ryan's sensibility than some sort of directive from the Pohlad's. 

 

Part of the reason I came to this assumption was watching how payroll went up under Bill Smith after replacing Terry Ryan and then how payroll went back down after Terry Ryan returned. Granted that didn't prove anything because the team situations were different in terms of competitiveness but it was enough for me to assume the possibility that it just might be Terry Ryan. 

 

Now that Terry Ryan is gone... Payroll has gone up again... so who knows... maybe my assumption is plausible and therefore maybe we can spend 150 Million? :)

    • birdwatcher and Twins33 like this

There is something else that no one is talking about, something that this FO may have done for a first time in this organization last year.Signing free agents to short or mid-term contracts can provide the opportunity to flip any or all of them at the deadline should the Twins not be in the hunt.  

 

This past year they traded lots of players at the deadline including Duke, Rodney and Lynn.Expect the sales pitch to the Pohlads is easier to make when you tell them we will sign players with contracts paying $60mm this year.If it isn't working, we can flip several of them to cut up to a third of the cost while returning many good prospects.  

 

This thought process may lead to more FA signings than we would normally expect.

    • birdwatcher likes this

If the Yankees make a play on Gonzalez I think the Twins are priced out pretty quick.

    • ChrisKnutson likes this

It's just smell test, not data-driven, but I haven't liked what I've seen of Herrera the past 2 seasons.

    • ChrisKnutson likes this

It's almost like, I don't know, thought experiments aren't allowed on a website where fans are sitting around a virtual bar shooting the breeze* about sports.........

 

*family friendly substitution....

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TheLeviathan
Nov 05 2018 07:28 PM

 

 

And while $150 million might seem like a huge number through the lens of Twins fans, it's really not that outrageous in the scope of today's MLB. It just isn't. 

 

I don't want to argue about what is or isn't outrageous.I don't even know where one would cap that kind of qualification.What I'm interested in is lots of people doing these blueprints.  

 

I think your blueprint was fun to read and very interesting.I'm glad you put your thoughts out there to be critiqued now and later.I've done the same.I hope many others do as well.It will create awesome discussions now and in the future.Plus, it prevents those hindsight experts from claiming what a savant they were in July with nothing to show for it now.  

 

I also think these provide a lot of creative, awesome ideas for people to chew on.It's with that in mind that I offered that criticism.Much like there are budgets/limits on many other games we play, they exist to help foster creative and strategic thinking.People being able to say "I want a budget at (fill in any number really) because it's "not outrageous" sorta kills a lot of that creativity and intrigue.Think about any board game with a starting budget, or DFS, etc.These budgets exist for entertainment and strategy purposes

 

Hell, if I wanted to say $160M is "not outrageous....I could literally add Bryce Harper to my plan.I guess I'd prefer we stay within the current budget to encourage more creative thinking and less wishful thinking.That isn't to say wishful thinking is a bad thing, it's just a helluva lot less interesting. IMO, it would make this very awesome idea even better for discussion on the site if people didn't go above 120-130M.

    • Nick Nelson and Mike Sixel like this
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Nick Nelson
Nov 05 2018 08:35 PM

I think you'll enjoy the next two angles comin' from Parker and John. 

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Nick Nelson
Nov 05 2018 08:42 PM

 

This past year they traded lots of players at the deadline including Duke, Rodney and Lynn.Expect the sales pitch to the Pohlads is easier to make when you tell them we will sign players with contracts paying $60mm this year.If it isn't working, we can flip several of them to cut up to a third of the cost while returning many good prospects.  

 

This thought process may lead to more FA signings than we would normally expect.

This is a very good point. When you think about it, a lot of this regime's uncharacteristic spending has ultimately been in the name of future investment (i.e., signing useful FAs on flippable one-year deals and eating salary to get prospects in the Jaime Garcia flip).

 

But I do think it's important to get some continuity established, which is why I felt the contract extensions and a couple long-term FA pacts were warranted. Levine more or less admitted in BP's interview that all the one-year deals and uncertain futures were a distraction this year. The FO has now escaped all of its inherited commitments, so they can pick the guys they really wanna build around.

    • Carole Keller, birdwatcher and rdehring like this
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Aerodeliria
Nov 05 2018 09:09 PM

As many have mentioned here and in IMHO too, Buxton needs to show something before emptying a truckload of cash on his lawn. He's played well for about one half of one season, and granted, his defense can make us overlook SOME his shortcomings, but when he has been hitting poorly, the automatic strikeouts can be incredibly demoralizing, especially when it snuffs out scoring opportunities in tight games. I don't think there is anyone here who doesn't want Buxton to succeed, but he has yet to transmogrify into Andre Dawson, so let's see if he can start solidifying some of these projections of greatness before going too crazy.

 

I love the idea of taking a flyer on Donaldson. For one thing, he can't hit big home runs against the Twins if he's playing for them. For another, he is a veteran presence and one that has some stardust sprinkles on his uniform. I think it is always good to have at least one or two of these types of players. I think small market teams need to gamble on one or two players per year in the hopes that one of those gambles pays off.

    • USAFChief, birdwatcher, Mike Sixel and 2 others like this

My Dad will not pay 10 bucks for a hamburger. He just won't do it. Even if I offer to buy him the 10 buck burger, he consistently refuses. 
 
My Dad has more than enough money to afford the 10 dollar burger, he did well enough in the stock market to purchase his own hamburger business outright if he wanted to but he just won't pay 10 dollars for a burger because he thinks 10 bucks is too much for a burger. 
 
There are a lot of people in this world with this sort of mentality. 
 
With no inside information at all, fairly or unfairly. I have always assumed that Terry Ryan was like my father in this regard and believed it was possible that our budgets had more to do with Ryan's sensibility than some sort of directive from the Pohlad's. 
 
Part of the reason I came to this assumption was watching how payroll went up under Bill Smith after replacing Terry Ryan and then how payroll went back down after Terry Ryan returned. Granted that didn't prove anything because the team situations were different in terms of competitiveness but it was enough for me to assume the possibility that it just might be Terry Ryan. 
 
Now that Terry Ryan is gone... Payroll has gone up again... so who knows... maybe my assumption is plausible and therefore maybe we can spend 150 Million? :)

It's certainly possible. I think one of the Pohlad's at one point said that Ryan was never turned down on a contract request or something to that effect (I don't have a link, I just remember something similar to that was said). So it seems like he never asked to sign a top tier FA or Pohlad is lying.

I do believe Ryan was like that. At times it's a good way to be, but there are other times when it's very smart to go for it for the right players. It all depends on whether the player is worth the risk and there definitely are players who are.

Also, I agree with your dad and don't believe a burger should be more than $8 and I refuse to eat out anymore since they're all $13 or so nowadays. I've got some TR in me too, I guess.
    • Riverbrian and Aerodeliria like this
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Aerodeliria
Nov 06 2018 02:17 AM

...you know it's actually cheaper to eat at a restaurant in Japan than in the US (you do get less food, but it is definitely cheaper). What do they charge for a ballpark frank these days? $5.00? $6.00? (I can never attend a game because I only return during the bitter winds of December.)


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