• Under-Delivering

    In his latest column for ESPN 1500, Phil Mackey opens with the following statement: "Unlike in the previous two offseasons, there will be no over-promising and under-delivering by the Minnesota Twins in 2013."

    Incidentally, that's pretty much exactly how I would describe this offseason for the Twins. Over-promising and under-delivering. Terry Ryan talked at length in the early days of winter about moving aggressively to upgrade the club's beleaguered pitching corps, and because I tend to trust Ryan, I bought into this stated commitment.

    In his interview for the Offseason Handbook, Ryan insisted that the Twins would pursue a "pretty darn good pitcher" in free agency. In a subsequent interview with MLB Network, he responded to a question from Ken Rosenthal about his apparent rebuilding approach by saying, "I think that's a good excuse to fail, Kenny. I don't have much interest in telling people we're playing for 2015. We need to get going here, we've had two tough years… We've got to quit talking about building for the future."

    All of that rhetoric certainly falls short of what we've actually seen this offseason, however. Ryan made a couple nice trades for the long-term, swapping out Denard Span and Ben Revere for some intriguing young arms, but his short-term strategy has been puzzling to say the least. Kevin Correia was the team's top "prize" in free agency, followed by fliers on a couple reclamation projects in Mike Pelfrey and Rich Harden. By nearly all accounts, the Twins have made very little effort to outbid the competition for remotely high-profile names. Now, with at least $15 million in supposedly available payroll remaining, Ryan is "likely done making significant moves."

    In his ESPN 1500 interview, the Twins' general manager attempted to put a realistic slant on the coming season, noting that making the playoffs would be ideal but is unlikely. This is probably what Mackey was getting at with his opening line, but even Ryan's adjusted goal of playing meaningful baseball in September looks like a reach based on the moves he's made. When your pitching staff ranks as one of the worst in the game, it takes more than a couple low-end stopgap solutions to foster significant improvement, and the club's hesitance to put more of its available funds toward tapping into that middle tier of starters suggests a level of commitment that is not in line with their purported resolve.

    Up to this point, the Twins have spent minimally in addressing their pitiful rotation via free agency, and if payroll remains around its current ~$80 million mark, it will be $15 million lower than it was last year and $30 million lower than 2011. Heck, right now the number is closer to where it was in 2007 in the Metrodome than where it's been any year at Target Field.

    Payroll isn't everything, of course, but the amount that the Twins are willing to spend says a lot about their true desire to promptly right the ship, especially with such drastic needs in the starting corps and so many free agent pitchers inking lucrative deals.

    Maybe Ryan and Co. really do believe they've done enough to position this team for a leap forward in 2013. Perhaps they're confident in the ability of internal options to step up, or they have some reason to believe Pelfrey and Harden will be healthy and productive that I'm not aware of. Perhaps there's another move coming and the quotes we're seeing are intended to flip the script by under-promising and over-delivering.

    Right now that's feeling like wishful thinking. If what we see is what we're going to get, this season is shaping up to be more of the same, and despite their adamant claims to the contrary the organization doesn't appear all that fiercely determined to prevent such an outcome.
    This article was originally published in blog: Under-Delivering started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 239 Comments
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Ryan insisted that the Twins would pursue a "pretty darn good pitcher" in free agency. In a subsequent interview with MLB Network, he responded to a question from Ken Rosenthal about his apparent rebuilding approach by saying, "I think that's a good excuse to fail, Kenny. I don't have much interest in telling people we're playing for 2015. We need to get going here, we've had two tough years… We've got to quit talking about building for the future." Correia??
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Dementia?
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      Next year, Justin Morneau's 14 million will be coming off the books. This may drop the payroll into the 60's. Very little room available to sign quality Pitching.
    1. lightfoot789's Avatar
      lightfoot789 -
      Would you be happy if we were the 2012 Angels? Spend happy with the same results as Twins = home for playoffs? We are a small market team that is looking to compete this year and go back to the Twins Way for the next 10 years. The Twins have and will only be = good year in and year out = when they utilize the Draft and Trades. The Angels were never truly "in it" despite the rookie excitement of Trout. My advice is TRUST T.R. and see where he takes us in the next 2-3 years? Hard to do for a spoiled group of fans who have been the best small market team in MLB over the last 20+ years (thru draft & trades). Allow the train to get back on track and get to MN on time or you will derail it again and for good!!
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      Are we back to being a Small Market Team?

      I must have missed the Memo.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Highabove View Post
      Are we back to being a Small Market Team?.
      Apparently, because that fits the "defend the front office for the continually plunging payroll" narrative.
    1. Grady Kruse's Avatar
      Grady Kruse -
      I hate to defend Terry Ryan because I'm as frustrated as you guys are, but I think he had every intention of signing better starting pitchers. The market just went too high in a hurry. The Correia move was one of desperation. He figured they needed to get someone with a pulse since the other guys were too expensive for them.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      The market went where the market was expected to go, when you realize every team is getting 25 million more in revenue next year. What is the baseball inflation adjusted salary relative to the dome years, anyone know?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Out if curiosity, why were the other guys too expensive? And does anyone think wages will be less in the coming years?
    1. zenser's Avatar
      zenser -
      [QUOTE=lightfoot789;75720] The Angels were never truly "in it" despite the rookie excitement of Trout. QUOTE] They were 2 back in the wild card on Sept 24 with 9 games to play. They were playing very meaningful games in September.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Yeah, I've pretty much reached the "it is what it is, so let's move on and see what happens" stage of the offseason, but for anyone to still be referring to the Twins as "small market" is kind of sad. The Twins were NEVER "small market". The Twin Cities are, by pretty much any measure among MLB cities, "middle market," and have been for ages. They were a mid-market team that had small-market-like revenue streams and thus had to operate like a small market team. Those days are over. They are now officially a middle market team with middle market revenues... that has apparently resumed operating as a small market team with Terry Ryan's re-emergence as GM. I also think it's absurd to suggest that the only option to what we've seen this off-season was to be the 2012 Angels and throw money down a drain.

      Grady may well be right about Ryan genuinely wanting to get better pitchers initially. But the whole idea of prices escalating beyond expectations would only be accurate if the Twins' expectations were absurdly unrealistic.
    1. Knotholemike's Avatar
      Knotholemike -
      Quote Originally Posted by Highabove View Post
      Next year, Justin Morneau's 14 million will be coming off the books. This may drop the payroll into the 60's. Very little room available to sign quality Pitching.
      And Blackburn's $5.5M, and Jamie Caroll, Pelfry, etc. the payroll liability for the Twins in 2014 right now is more like in the low 40s. This boggles my mind since there are no impending large arbitration awards on the horizon. The only explanation I could see is that Ryan believes none of the pitchers that got multi-year deals was worth it. I know I would feel a lot better if they signed Shaun Marcum to a 2-year deal at $8-10M per year. Clearly he has not signed because no one wants to give him a long-term contract or more money. This would not break the bank and he would be a great fit for Target Field so it is puzzling.
    1. lightfoot789's Avatar
      lightfoot789 -
      Small market is when Free Agents don't see you as a true option. Top free agents are always hesitant to go to towns like Twins - Brewers - KC - because they don't view those cities as Major entertainment type cities. Especially younger free agents. Established vets view every city as an option. Just my opinion. So yeah I believe you are viewed as Small Market in the eyes of Free Agents.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      You can't expect to get pitching for nothing.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      The Angels won 89 games in the toughest division in baseball last year, winning more games than our division winner, and that somehow equates to the Twins having the worst record in baseball just because neither team made the playoffs?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      The market went where the market was expected to go, when you realize every team is getting 25 million more in revenue next year. What is the baseball inflation adjusted salary relative to the dome years, anyone know?
      Our payroll in 2007 was a 71.4M...regular inflation makes that just under 80M today. That's where our current payroll sits. And players salaries have gone up at a higher rate than standard inflation.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I'm not going to defend Mr. Ryan for not getting someone like Jackson at that price, but I'm good with not giving some of the contracts that have been given. And, I'm very hopeful for Liam Hendriks to take a step forward in 2013. I'm very excited to see how Kyle Gibson does as he breaks into the big leagues. Can Scott Diamond come close to duplicating his 2012 season? What do the Twins really have in Alex Meyer and Trevor May? How quickly can some of those college relievers get up here? Will Anthony Slama get a chance? There are reasons for optimism, and that's not even talking about the likes of Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Parmelee and others. I certainly wouldn't give up on Brian Dozier at this point.

      I don't think the Twins were legitimately going to compete in 2013 regardless. Detroit is too good. But I am very excited about the direction of the team. And frankly, young, talented players are much more valuable than just spending money to spend money.

      Sometimes I feel like a few people would be happier if the Twins would have given Correia 2 years and $50 million because then the payroll would be back at $100 million and "at least the Pohlad's won't pocket it."
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      It became apparent a long time ago that no first or second tier healthy free agent would sign here. Any analysis of why an optimistic start of free agency went so horribly wrong is lacking. "I blame Terry Ryan" appears to be the call of the fans. He is the GM. Nick merely continues the rant without analysis of how things come to be and others join in.
      What is the process for signing a player with the Twins? Were the Twins estimates as far off as the knowledgeable fans here were? How quickly did they react? Does Ryan have free reign to spend 90 million? I have a suspicion that the Pohlads have to approve of any contract over 5 million given how the offseason went. Does the process the Twins use hurt them in signing players? Nobody asks the players if the Twins contacted them. Maybe it is because they wouldn't trust the player to be honest with an answer if one were obtained at all. The journalists don't look for the factors involved, they just push the blame Ryan bandwagon.

      To say that the Twins are a large or mid market team is to ignore the paltry money earned from cable. As the newness of the stadium wears off, the revenue streams from it will be less.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      It became apparent a long time ago that no first or second tier healthy free agent would sign here.
      Repeat ridiculous talking point enough times, someone eventually might believe you.

      Do you by any chance work for Fox News?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      From Feb 10 interview with Jim Pohlad, Owner Jim Pohlad reiterates Minnesota Twins' desire to retain catcher Joe Mauer - ESPN

      "I think Target Field puts us in better position to make sure that we have a competitive team from year to year," Pohlad said Monday. "Names will come and names will go, but overall the objective is always to have the best team on the field."

      The Pohlad family has consistently followed a model of keeping the annual player payroll pegged to 50 percent of team revenue, though in rebuilding years it's fallen well below that. At the Metrodome, there wasn't as much money coming in. This year, though, the payroll will rise by roughly $30 million to a team record above $95 million.

      "All new ballparks have their peaks, and I'm sure the initial years will be very good to the Twins," Pohlad said. "Then it'll be up to us to sustain it after that, but the ballpark itself I think can sustain it for a long time."

      In a question-and-answer session with reporters in a conference room overlooking a snow-covered Target Field, Pohlad dismissed the notion that the team has been trying to disprove a tightfisted reputation.

      "We're not trying to show people," he said. "We're trying to do what we said we're going to do."'


      So, we're sitting at around 80M. did the Twins only take in 160M last year? Only project to take in 160M this year? Or was last year and this year rebuilding years where they justify dropping payroll like a stone, and make even more money? They pocket a higher percentage of money in rebuilding years. It's right there.

      We've had three years in TF, the worst record in the AL the last two, dropped payroll after the 2nd season by 18M, dropped payroll by 14M after the 3rd season. Three questions:

      1. What happened to: 'I'm sure the initial years will be very good for the Twins'?
      2. What happened to: 'the objective is always to have the best team on the field."?
      3. What happened to: '"We're trying to do what we said we're going to do."?
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