• 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. lightfoot789's Avatar
      lightfoot789 -
      G & G are great, but I doubt they have the sources Buster Onley has. I haven't heard of this list on any other MLB site. And the answer to the above post is 3 to 4 years before you jump ship and ask for a mans head.

      Found a great site for 2012 stats: MLB Stats - MLB Team Isolated Power on TeamRankings.com

      What we definitely need moving forward are Power Bats and Pitching like we did in 2012 draft class.
      Our current Farm Pitchers and this years top draft Pick (2013) will allow us to simulate what the Rays have done for recent years. Grow strong pitching from within and thru trades. We are set up to be very good thru 2020 at the rate we are going. Just not in 2013
      If we can get a few other pitching "Top" prospects thru mid season trades (M/W/M) and we are golden. Love where we are headed.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      The source is Darren Wolfson who's pretty plugged in, and they're referencing him, just to be clear.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
      Listen to the podcast with Wolfson. It's the best information you're going to get on the topic. It's discussed at length. #73
      Once again. If you were looking for a pretty darn good pitcher there really wasn't a whole lot out there. Using WAR on fan graphs, not the best but not the worst statistic, there were 11free agent pitchers above 2 for both of the last two years. If you look on their leader board 2.4 is the median WAR for all pitchers pitching a minimum of 120 innings. So if you were expecting the Twins to go after good pitching, it doesn't matter the number, it matters who they went after.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Once again. If you were looking for a pretty darn good pitcher there really wasn't a whole lot out there. Using WAR on fan graphs, not the best but not the worst statistic, there were 11free agent pitchers above 2 for both of the last two years. If you look on their leader board 2.4 is the median WAR for all pitchers pitching a minimum of 120 innings. .
      I'm sure we can mince data and statistics (For example 2.0 WAR is representative of starter at any position, so calling it the median, is, imo, misleading, especially when the bottom is not zero).

      Even if we agree to use yours, which I will for this post, then we agree that it would be the same as last year. Not better, not thin. Fine. Moving on.

      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      If you look on their leader board 2.4 is the median WAR for all pitchers pitching a minimum of 120 innings..
      Please go here: Minnesota Twins 2012 Pitching Statistics - ESPN (I used this for a nice easy sort)

      You'll note that the Twins starting staff had a combined negative WAR, and it's not really even close, sadly.

      Only one pitcher, Scott Diamond, had a WAR over 2 (2.2). Deduno and Deveries were the only other two positive WAR pitchers at a whopping .6 and .2. Nick Blackburn was a -2.3 WAR pitcher.

      So adding "average" pitcher 2.4 WAR is a huge net gain to replace Blackburn, The equivalent of adding a HOF pitcher to most staffs.

      Do you know what Correia's WAR was? -.1. While WAR is an ambiguous stat, it points out why people are flabbergasted by the signing. Cole Devries in that spot would be an improvement and save $9M dollars.

      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      So if you were expecting the Twins to go after good pitching, it doesn't matter the number, it matters who they went after.
      I'd argue it matters who they got, and I'd also point out that based on reports, they didn't really go after even decent pitching. Whether or not that's true, it doesn't matter at this point. The biggest chunk of money used this offseason was poorly spent and they sat on the rest <or> didn't make offers enticing enough to get anyone better. As such, we have a rotation that will likely still be the worst in the league next year.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Correia might not win more than 10 games, but he will take pressure off the bullpen and the rest of the staff, which is a work in progress with a lot of young guys coming off of surgery.
      He might not win more than 5 games. Seriously.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
      I'
      So adding "average" pitcher 2.4 WAR is a huge net gain to replace Blackburn, The equivalent of adding a HOF pitcher to most staffs.




      I'd argue it matters who they got, and I'd also point out that based on reports, they didn't really go after even decent pitching. Whether or not that's true, it doesn't matter at this point. The biggest chunk of money used this offseason was poorly spent and they sat on the rest <or> didn't make offers enticing enough to get anyone better. As such, we have a rotation that will likely still be the worst in the league next year.
      There are many different reports from other writers besides Doogie in the airwaves. Heyman, Bollinger, LEN III all put out many little snippets. The Twins did have a bad rotation last year. The only name ever reported that would make a significant difference in the staff the Twins were interested in was Dempster. There was a note one time they talked to Sanchez. Saunders, Meyers, Lannan et al are not top of the rotation guys. Adding them would not have made a significant difference. So you are correct, they did not really go after decent pitching.
    1. lightfoot789's Avatar
      lightfoot789 -
      Love the thought process - I'm just saying .......... Have Faith
      Read: Why Cheap = Smart in 2013 - Puckett's Pond - A Minnesota Twins Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Correia might not win more than 10 games, but he will take pressure off the bullpen and the rest of the staff, which is a work in progress with a lot of young guys coming off of surgery.
      This sounds like something we might have read about Jason Marquis a year ago.

      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      You can say all you want about what Ryan should have done. This is Nelson's third polemic on the topic (counting filling in for the Geek on the podcast). But unless you're prepared to do the cost/benefit analysis of what was available, the words are sung with discord. The Royals acquired pitching by depleting their deep farm system. That wasn't an option for the Twins either. Aside from center fielders, the Twins did not have a lot of surplus talent at any one position. I for one am glad they didn't send someone like Sano to the Rays for Shields. Let's see how this plays out. Sometimes fans have to be patient to ultimately get what they want.
      No one has suggested that the Twins trade valuable assets to acquire pitching. This thread is about free agency, and the only thing that the team needs to give up to get better players through this avenue is money that otherwise will not be spent. In that light, the cost vs. benefit analysis that you suggest changes in dynamic. The cost is insignificant in the grand scheme, and the benefit is a better product and a demonstrated commitment to getting better after two brutally awful years.

      If people think the Twins are going to magically return to contention in 2014 on the shoulders of their current prospects they are living in a dream world; as has been mentioned before, they'll likely have the same excuses for sitting out free agency in a year as they do now. Why should we accept four straight seasons of non-competitive baseball without any meaningful effort being put toward giving fans an interesting and watchable product in the meantime?

      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      There are 10 pages of solid material to refute the overly-wordy crap you posted that is best reduced to this statement.
      There's no need for this kind of vitriol in every post, Lev. You can disagree with people's points without using such insulting language.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by gil4 View Post
      It could have been worse. He could have said MSNBC.
      Or Al Gorezeera...
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post


      No one has suggested that the Twins trade valuable assets to acquire pitching. This thread is about free agency, and the only thing that the team needs to give up to get better players through this avenue is money that otherwise will not be spent. In that light, the cost vs. benefit analysis that you suggest changes in dynamic. The cost is insignificant in the grand scheme, and the benefit is a better product and a demonstrated commitment to getting better after two brutally awful years.

      If people think the Twins are going to magically return to contention in 2014 on the shoulders of their current prospects they are living in a dream world; as has been mentioned before, they'll likely have the same excuses for sitting out free agency in a year as they do now. Why should we accept four straight seasons of non-competitive baseball without any meaningful effort being put toward giving fans an interesting and watchable product in the meantime?
      .
      Truer words have never before been written by Nick Nelson.

      I've been of the mind that the Twins goal is to field a Rays-level of competitiveness-and more importantly payroll- but not until 2015. The Rays won the AL in 2008, in a worst-to-first run, following a succession of previous years at the bottom of the AL East. The Rays opening-day payroll in 08? $43.7M. At the rate that the Twins are headed, they likely to be fielding a 2015 team with Joe Mauer being one of the only players making much more than $1M. Of course, the fly in the ointment for this scenario is that the Twins haven't demonstrated that they can consistently develop and trade for young talent to regain contender status that quickly.

      The tolerance level for the current putrid on-field product on the part of writers like Mackey and certain fans/posters is headscratching in the extreme.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Truer words have never before been written by Nick Nelson.

      I've been of the mind that the Twins goal is to field a Rays-level of competitiveness-and more importantly payroll- but not until 2015. The Rays won the AL in 2008, in a worst-to-first run, following a succession of previous years at the bottom of the AL East. The Rays opening-day payroll in 08? $43.7M. At the rate that the Twins are headed, they likely to be fielding a 2015 team with Joe Mauer being one of the only players making much more than $1M. Of course, the fly in the ointment for this scenario is that the Twins haven't demonstrated that they can consistently develop and trade for young talent to regain contender status that quickly.

      The tolerance level for the current putrid on-field product on the part of writers like Mackey and certain fans/posters is headscratching in the extreme.
      2015 would be a dream as well. Most of out better prospects should be up by then (with the probable exception of Berrios and Buxton), but that is hardly gonna make them automatically competitive. Gonna take some time after that
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
      I'm sure we can mince data and statistics (For example 2.0 WAR is representative of starter at any position, so calling it the median, is, imo, misleading, especially when the bottom is not zero).

      Even if we agree to use yours, which I will for this post, then we agree that it would be the same as last year. Not better, not thin. Fine. Moving on.



      Please go here: Minnesota Twins 2012 Pitching Statistics - ESPN (I used this for a nice easy sort)

      You'll note that the Twins starting staff had a combined negative WAR, and it's not really even close, sadly.

      Only one pitcher, Scott Diamond, had a WAR over 2 (2.2). Deduno and Deveries were the only other two positive WAR pitchers at a whopping .6 and .2. Nick Blackburn was a -2.3 WAR pitcher.

      So adding "average" pitcher 2.4 WAR is a huge net gain to replace Blackburn, The equivalent of adding a HOF pitcher to most staffs.

      Do you know what Correia's WAR was? -.1. While WAR is an ambiguous stat, it points out why people are flabbergasted by the signing. Cole Devries in that spot would be an improvement and save $9M dollars.



      I'd argue it matters who they got, and I'd also point out that based on reports, they didn't really go after even decent pitching. Whether or not that's true, it doesn't matter at this point. The biggest chunk of money used this offseason was poorly spent and they sat on the rest <or> didn't make offers enticing enough to get anyone better. As such, we have a rotation that will likely still be the worst in the league next year.
      Excellent points, parts of which have been used in futile attempts to persuade Nurse to change his outlook in the past. As usual, when it comes to Twins-defending, the OleNurse faithfully follows the UNCF credo...'A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste': An Iconic Campaign Turns 40 | GoodWorks - Advertising Age
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      2015 would be a dream as well. Most of out better prospects should be up by then (with the probable exception of Berrios and Buxton), but that is hardly gonna make them automatically competitive. Gonna take some time after that


      I agree, merely stating my vision of the Twins' very own homegrown pipedream.

      Berrios, Buxton, Kepler, Minier all possibly 2016? It would be nice if they could get the #1 pick and get Appel, he'd be well on his way to becoming staff ace in 2015, even if he doesn't match his current MLB projection.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      I agree, merely stating my vision of the Twins' very own homegrown pipedream.

      Berrios, Buxton, Kepler, Minier all possibly 2016? It would be nice if they could get the #1 pick and get Appel, he'd be well on his way to becoming staff ace in 2015, even if he doesn't match his current MLB projection.
      I'm hoping Stros draft Appel again and offer him even less than they did last year. That'd be awesome
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      I'm hoping Stros draft Appel again and offer him even less than they did last year. That'd be awesome
      Didn't the Pirates draft him last year?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      Didn't the Pirates draft him last year?
      Oh right, my bad...Stros didn't draft him because he (Boras) basically said Appel wouldn't sign with them if he took him.

      Thanks for the refresher.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      This sounds like something we might have read about Jason Marquis a year ago.


      No one has suggested that the Twins trade valuable assets to acquire pitching. This thread is about free agency, and the only thing that the team needs to give up to get better players through this avenue is money that otherwise will not be spent. In that light, the cost vs. benefit analysis that you suggest changes in dynamic. The cost is insignificant in the grand scheme, and the benefit is a better product and a demonstrated commitment to getting better after two brutally awful years.

      If people think the Twins are going to magically return to contention in 2014 on the shoulders of their current prospects they are living in a dream world; as has been mentioned before, they'll likely have the same excuses for sitting out free agency in a year as they do now. Why should we accept four straight seasons of non-competitive baseball without any meaningful effort being put toward giving fans an interesting and watchable product in the meantime?


      There's no need for this kind of vitriol in every post, Lev. You can disagree with people's points without using such insulting language.
      It's one thing to expect prospects/rookies to contribute, but it appears that the Twins' expect them all to perform at ROY levels.

      As has been mentioned before, the core of the '87 championship team began their careers in '82. It took a few years of playing together to finally gel into a complete club.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      I'm hoping Stros draft Appel again and offer him even less than they did last year. That'd be awesome
      Why? He'd just sign with that other MN team and then be able to sign with anyone the following season. The Twins should seriously consider an Indy Colts-type strategy that got them quite a bit of Luck in the NFL draft.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Why? He'd just sign with that other MN team and then be able to sign with anyone the following season. The Twins should seriously consider an Indy Colts-type strategy that got them quite a bit of Luck in the NFL draft.
      which is what the plan was last year...and he had Stanford to fall back on. You're right though, he could choose not to sign again...that'd be interesting
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      which is what the plan was last year...and he had Stanford to fall back on. You're right though, he could choose not to sign again...that'd be interesting

      Why would he not sign when drafted this year? If it doesn't wouldn't he be missing out on millions by signing to the team that drafted him (in signing bonus)? If he doesn't sign, doesn't that bonus money go away? I don't understand the leverage Appel would have or the motivation to not sign as high as possible this year.
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