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  • Should Twins Emulate White Sox?

    Should Twins Be Looking To Copy The White Sox Success?Vegas picked the White Sox to finish fourth in the AL Central this year, pegging them to win about 74.5 games. Chicago's season essentially ended last night when the Tigers clinched the division, but that means the Pale Hose' playoff hopes lasted until October, about four (five?) months longer than the Twins. They also made anyone who bet the “under” in Vegas look like a fool, exceeding Vegas preseason estimate by 10 games and counting.

    I am one of those fools. In our Gleeman and the Geek podcast, I predicted a miserable season on Chicago’s south side. They had won 79 games in 2011, but with a run differential that looked worse than that. And then they lost Mark Buehrle to the Marlins and traded away slugger Carlos Quentin and closer Sergio Santos. They had also lost manager Ozzie Guillen, for better or worse.


    But the White Sox responded by getting career (or at least bouncback) years from several suspect veterans. Pitcher Jake Peavy, who had spent most of the last few years injured, led the team in innings. Adam Dunn and Alex Rios were much maligned last year when they were getting paid $24M to knock home just 84 RBI. This year they exceeded that number by 100. Kevin Youkilis came over from the Red Sox to fill a serious gap at third and AJ Pierzynski slugged a career high 27 home runs.

    However, none of those guys is less than 31 years old and several of them are going to be free agents. The White Sox had a fun year, but they really only had two younger players show they could contribute long-term. Pitcher Chris Sale became the staff ace while showing he could handle a starting pitcher’s workload. And center fielder Alejandro De Aza (who isn’t really young at 28 years old) posted very respectable numbers for a leadoff hitter and center fielder.

    Which means that this spring, Chicago is likely going to be wrestling with similar questions as there were last spring. Can they trust Rios and Dunn? How will eat Peavy’s innings? Who will play third base? Is Tyler Flowers ready to catch full time? And if things go right, will they still be a good, but not great, team that just misses the playoffs?

    Meanwhile, the Twins must decide this offseason just how jealous they are of the Sox success this year – because that might just be within reach. The Twins could grab two or three veteran arms and be a .500 club this summer. With a few breaks (which might include some regression from the Sox) they could challenge for the 2013 AL Central last into September. Like the Sox, it’s hard to imagine them winning 90 games, but meaningful baseball would be a welcome change after two years of futility.

    But if they did that, next offseason they would likely be back in a similar position as the Sox. They would be looking at losing Justin Morneau. They would have an aging roster. The departure of Denard Span and Josh Willingham would be a year away. They would have kept their team together and maybe missed the chance to add some pitching or middle infield prospects. They would have had success, shown they could fill some holes, maybe even given minor league talent time to work it’s way up the farm system, but they would still not have a widespread and deep foundation of a great team. They would still be missing that young and cheap core.

    Would that be enough?
    This article was originally published in blog: Should Twins Emulate White Sox? started by John Bonnes
    Comments 16 Comments
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      *Ozzie Guillen.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Interesting article. I would rather see the Twins target a World Series in three or four years than try to win the division next year.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      i always like Carlos Guillen. Solid big league hitter for a lot of years!!
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Fixed. Now I've got to go fix it on the Strib. Stupid late-night writing....
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I could just as easily post this response over on Seth's "half full or half empty" post, but I'll put it here.

      I'm not sure what makes anyone think that blowing things up and targeting 2016-17 is even an option. Maybe in a Fantasy Keeper League you can do that kind of thing, but this is a real business we're talking about. Project three more years of losing baseball and just how many people do you think will be going to games? What kind of ratings do you think games will get on television and what will that do to media rights revenues? Considering the obvious answers to those questions, what kind of payroll do you imagine the Twins affording by 2016 (keeping in mind that over $20 million a year will still be going to Mauer)?

      There is only one option for a real business like the Twins and that's to, at the very least, attempt to make some kind of improvement every season. You don't need to go out and get 35-year-old veterans on their last legs, but Terry Ryan is right about this... he and his staff need to just keep doing better jobs at exploring all options... developing from within, making trades, and signing free agents.
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      Quote Originally Posted by glunn View Post
      Interesting article. I would rather see the Twins target a World Series in three or four years than try to win the division next year.
      ---I'd like to see them do both. I don't think trying to win now and building for tomorrow has to be an either/or choice.

      Look, I don't view the White Sox as something to aspire to. They were a nice surprise this year not really built for long-term success. But given where the Twins are, if they're going to compete in any way in 2013, they'll have to do it the way the White Sox did this year. Career years from multiple veterans and solid pitching which allow them to win a weak division by feasting on bottom-feeders. (Whiteys are 28-12 vs Twins, Indians and Cubs. 56-64 vs. everyone else.)

      I'd certainly prefer that to suffering through another 90+ losses anyway.

      But that should be in addition to, not instead of, building a stronger organization at all levels.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      I could just as easily post this response over on Seth's "half full or half empty" post, but I'll put it here.

      I'm not sure what makes anyone think that blowing things up and targeting 2016-17 is even an option. Maybe in a Fantasy Keeper League you can do that kind of thing, but this is a real business we're talking about. Project three more years of losing baseball and just how many people do you think will be going to games? What kind of ratings do you think games will get on television and what will that do to media rights revenues? Considering the obvious answers to those questions, what kind of payroll do you imagine the Twins affording by 2016 (keeping in mind that over $20 million a year will still be going to Mauer)?

      There is only one option for a real business like the Twins and that's to, at the very least, attempt to make some kind of improvement every season. You don't need to go out and get 35-year-old veterans on their last legs, but Terry Ryan is right about this... he and his staff need to just keep doing better jobs at exploring all options... developing from within, making trades, and signing free agents.
      But but the 2014 All Star game is at Target Field and if you get your season tickets now you get a priority for All Star tickets. Don't worry about the product on the field, please please focus on that All Star game.
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      I could just as easily post this response over on Seth's "half full or half empty" post, but I'll put it here.

      I'm not sure what makes anyone think that blowing things up and targeting 2016-17 is even an option. Maybe in a Fantasy Keeper League you can do that kind of thing, but this is a real business we're talking about. Project three more years of losing baseball and just how many people do you think will be going to games? What kind of ratings do you think games will get on television and what will that do to media rights revenues? Considering the obvious answers to those questions, what kind of payroll do you imagine the Twins affording by 2016 (keeping in mind that over $20 million a year will still be going to Mauer)?

      There is only one option for a real business like the Twins and that's to, at the very least, attempt to make some kind of improvement every season. You don't need to go out and get 35-year-old veterans on their last legs, but Terry Ryan is right about this... he and his staff need to just keep doing better jobs at exploring all options... developing from within, making trades, and signing free agents.
      ---Agreed. And how many multi-year "rebuilding" projects actually come to fruition anyway? I don't think a lot of teams win the World Series, then look back and say, "Yep, this is exactly how we pictured it happening when we sat down planned it out 4 years ago."

      I've never liked the word "rebuidling". Too often "we're rebuilding" is little more than a euphemism for "we suck".
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Okay, as I see it, they not only went out and got a bunch of veterans, they also got a new manager.

      And I strongly believe that staffing changes (field staff and front office) are necessary to inject some vitality back into this organization (an entire re-evaluation of their system would be good).

      Because I don't want them to merely return to their "winning ways" of 2002-2010. I want them to become genuinely competitive vis a vis the best teams in the league.

      And as we all know, that means that they have to have significantly better starting pitching. Not just better than 2011 and 2012 but better than many of their division championship teams. You can stop-gap some of the bleeding over the next year or two so it isn't quite so ugly (the money is there to do so) but somehow, somewhere you've got to get pitching. And I don't see how you do that without trading some of your assets.

      I agree with one-eyed-jack that you can do both (or at least some of both) but if push comes to shove, I want it to come down on the organizational strength side.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      The White Sox had a decent season but in the end, they still missed the playoffs.

      Now they're looking at either losing their second best pitcher or drastically overpaying him for one more season, their roster continues to age, and they have an abysmal farm system. Their future is more bleak than the Twins, their payroll is hamstrung more than Minnesota, and they didn't even make the playoffs because of it.

      So, no, I don't think the Twins should be more like the White Sox.
    1. Rick Blaine's Avatar
      Rick Blaine -
      Interesting article. Things could play out that way except I really expect Span or/and Morneau to be traded this off season.
      Justin may have played his last game as a Twin
    1. J-Dog Dungan's Avatar
      J-Dog Dungan -
      Yeah, I think trying to be like the White Sox is something for the Twins to avoid. They have been getting better and better reviews of their farm system, especially this year, where they had 4+ guys on the Top 100 prospects list (should have been more in my opinion), and now have the 14th rated farm system. The Sox are like rated last or very, very close to dead last. Yes, it will take some time for the talent to come up from the minors, and yes, if the Twins want to compete this offseason, they will need to pick up some arms in FA or in trades, with the caveat that we shouldn't give up too many of our top prospects because we have no idea what will happen with them five years down the road.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Should the Twins emulate the White Sox? Well the Twins shouldn't continually resign aging bats and pray they don't finally break down, but they should copy the Sox by finally acknowledging that investing in pitching is a neccesity.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      White Sox have an some interesting young pitchers and a willingness to spend a lot of money. They haven't let a few bad contracts destroy their organization. Their GM is brash and they take huge risks. They seem to ask for accountability.

      I wish i was a white sox fan.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Is the question should the Twins give horrible AAA pitchers jobs as SP and RP, or call up capable guys from their system to fill the bullpen, while signing 3 legit free agents? Yes, they should do that. Why not?

      The Royals have a great farm system, the Astros and Pirates have been rebuilding forever. Either you think it is worth trying to win with Mauer, or you are flushing a ton of money down the toilet.

      How could it hurt to deal meh minor leaguers to fill a hole at SS or 2B? How could it hurt to sign a FA pitcher or three, given that maybe 1 or 2 guys are within 2 years of being a starting pitcher for this team? Who will it hold back if they sign 2-3 pitchers? Who will it hold back if they trade for a SS?

      "it will take 3-4 years to be good again"....really? you think they should punt on the next 3-4 years? What are the odds all those players work out at the same time?

      Signing free agents does not keep you from drafting and developing players, it fills in holes that you have not developed well.
    1. Montecore's Avatar
      Montecore -
      So long as Gardenhire's the manager they'll be one of the worst teams in the game. No one wants to play for a moron.
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