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  • 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 yearsÖ 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. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      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.
      I'd agree that he has far less leverage this year which makes the non-signing last year baffling to me.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      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.
      If they aren't willing to pay him what he thinks he's worth?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
      I'd agree that he has far less leverage this year which makes the non-signing last year baffling to me.
      He was expected to be the first pick by many, but after statements by Boras, Stros went for a sure thing...Twins followed suit, and on and on till the Pirates took a chance. Boras cried cause he wanted way more money for his guy than was slotted for as the #8 pick. Now Houston has the #1 pick again, like they did last year.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      If they aren't willing to pay him what he thinks he's worth?
      Or, more importantly what Boras thinks he's worth. Never underestimate the evil genius, he's had the wags scratching their collective heads in the past, and his clients usually come out of difficult contract situations pretty wealthy.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      If they aren't willing to pay him what he thinks he's worth?
      Why would he chose not to sign this year? What's the upside?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      Why would he chose not to sign this year? What's the upside?
      I never said there was an upside.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      I never said there was an upside.
      Then why wouldn't he sign if there's no upside to not signing?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      Then why wouldn't he sign if there's no upside to not signing?
      If he didn't think he was getting what Boras thinks he's worth, he may be convinced to not sign...like last year. Doesn't mean there really is upside.

      If you follow the conversation, I wasn't the one who originally suggested he might not sign this year...i just gave a possible reason as to why if he didn't. I think he will sign, but if not, that would be the reason...
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      If he didn't think he was getting what Boras thinks he's worth, he may be convinced to not sign...like last year. Doesn't mean there really is upside.

      If you follow the conversation, I wasn't the one who originally suggested he might not sign this year...i just gave a possible reason as to why if he didn't. I think he will sign, but if not, that would be the reason...
      I did follow the conversation. You and Jokin both say the he might choose not to sign. All I'm naively asking is why given that he'd lose out on signing bonus money. It doesn't make sense to me, but since you say he might, I thought maybe you had a reason why he'd do that. I'm granting the fact that I may be missing something here that would make him not signing a option worthing of considering. But, from what I understand there isn't.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Maybe he doesn't sign with the Astros just out of spite?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      I did follow the conversation. You and Jokin both say the he might choose not to sign. All I'm naively asking is why given that he'd lose out on signing bonus money. It doesn't make sense to me, but since you say he might, I thought maybe you had a reason why he'd do that. I'm granting the fact that I may be missing something here that would make him not signing a option worthing of considering. But, from what I understand there isn't.
      I gave you the only reason I can think of like three times. I'm not sure what else you want from me. Someone else said he might. I said it's possible, but that doesn't mean I think he will...nor do I think there'd be an advantage. I said it was possible.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      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 far from every post, especially in this thread I've tried to stick very hard to the points. But if you're going to jump into a 10 page thread - read it first would be my advice for that poster. Most of that trumped up post had been responded to multiple times, it was annoying to have it rehashed again.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Maybe Boris is playing Appel for a dupe. Planning to use him in a slavery court case to void the Players Agreement and making all unsigned talent free agents available to the highest payer.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      This sounds like something we might have read about Jason Marquis a year ago.
      I can see the comparison in terms of stuff but not durability. Marquis was a huge injury risk when he signed. Also, the kind of thing Marquis went through to miss spring training is as likely to happen to Correia as getting hit by lightening.

      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.
      I was referring to your first post expressing disappointment with Ryan, comparing this offseason with the Royals. Not a valid comparison for the reasons I gave. Ryan traded for talent that will be ready in 2014. The Royals traded for talent that is ready now and will be gone in 2014. I'd rather wait than give up top talent to win now.

      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      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?
      I don't agree. They now have four highly touted pitching prospects who are former first round draft picks and who will likely be ready by 2014 (counting Wimmers). Add Worley and Diamond and they have the makings of a very good young staff.

      When people do simple numerical analysis of the Twins starters in 2012, they seem to forget that much of the horror happened with guys who will not even be in the running for jobs in 2013 (Pavano, Blackburn, Liriano, Marquis, Swarzak). Some guys who will be in the running actually pitched decently (Diamond, Deduno, DeVries). Based on what I saw in the second half, combined with the additions, it won't be nearly as bad as the numbers indicated in 2012. It won't be enough to contend, but we won't have to play from 5 runs down in the second inning every game like last year.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      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
      The point has always been that signing any of these less than average available pitchers on the free agent market will not make the Twins better. The other point has been no one has a clue what the contact with the upper echelon free agents has been. If they do not want to come here there is no point in negotiating. I won't stoop to the comment on wasting minds.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      Then why wouldn't he sign if there's no upside to not signing?
      Boras.............
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      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
      The Pirates drafted Appel with the eight selection last year. Last year the Astros drafted Carlos Correa with the first selection. This year the Pirates draft 14. I doubt Appel would be there. If he was, then Pittsburg would have less money in their pool to offer him. Last year the slot money for #1 was 7.2 million, #8 2.9 million. #14 2.375 million. Had the Astros drafted him and he had not signed, Appel would have the right to request not to be drafted by the Astros again. He might make the request Pittsburg not draft him again however I am sure he is confident that will not be an issue.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      The Pirates drafted Appel with the eight selection last year. Last year the Astros drafted Carlos Correa with the first selection. This year the Pirates draft 14. I doubt Appel would be there. If he was, then Pittsburg would have less money in their pool to offer him. Last year the slot money for #1 was 7.2 million, #8 2.9 million. #14 2.375 million. Had the Astros drafted him and he had not signed, Appel would have the right to request not to be drafted by the Astros again. He might make the request Pittsburg not draft him again however I am sure he is confident that will not be an issue.
      If you read the thread, I was already shown the error of my ways and I clarified what I meant. Thanks for the reminder again, though.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      I can see the comparison in terms of stuff but not durability. Marquis was a huge injury risk when he signed. Also, the kind of thing Marquis went through to miss spring training is as likely to happen to Correia as getting hit by lightening.
      So you're saying all that was responsible for Marquis' bad results and not the fact that he's, ya know, not very good? Is the same true for the rest of the sub par veterans the Twins have signed on the cheap in past years who have also produced horrible results?

      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      I was referring to your first post expressing disappointment with Ryan, comparing this offseason with the Royals. Not a valid comparison for the reasons I gave. Ryan traded for talent that will be ready in 2014. The Royals traded for talent that is ready now and will be gone in 2014. I'd rather wait than give up top talent to win now.
      The point being made was that the Royals, like the rest of the division, were actively attempting to improve their rotation for 2013. It was not an endorsement of their approach, although I wouldn't have minded the Santana or Guthrie moves for the Twins.

      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      I don't agree. They now have four highly touted pitching prospects who are former first round draft picks and who will likely be ready by 2014 (counting Wimmers). Add Worley and Diamond and they have the makings of a very good young staff.

      When people do simple numerical analysis of the Twins starters in 2012, they seem to forget that much of the horror happened with guys who will not even be in the running for jobs in 2013 (Pavano, Blackburn, Liriano, Marquis, Swarzak). Some guys who will be in the running actually pitched decently (Diamond, Deduno, DeVries). Based on what I saw in the second half, combined with the additions, it won't be nearly as bad as the numbers indicated in 2012. It won't be enough to contend, but we won't have to play from 5 runs down in the second inning every game like last year.
      Where do people get the idea that non-elite pitching prospects routinely come up and become rotation staples right away? Far more frequently, these kids come up, get beat around a bit, shuttle back and forth from Triple-A and eventually settle in after two or three seasons. We've seen it with Baker and Garza, we're seeing it now with Hendriks. A couple 22-year-olds who haven't yet solved Double-A are probably a fair distance from solving the major leagues, and that's IF they stay healthy, on track and don't end up in the bullpen.

      As for your second paragraph, I tend to agree that the returning contingent has a decent shot at being much better than people expect. But that would make it all the more frustrating that the club didn't give them more help.
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