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  • Houston, We have a Problem

    Since the start of the 2011 season, the Twins have a recordof103-157. Only the Houston Astros have a worse record in that time (90-170).As the trade deadline approaches, it is striking how active the Astros have been in making trades while the Twins have been pretty quiet to this point.

    Since the beginning of July 2011, the Twins have made the following moves:

    • August 2011 – Traded Delmon Young to Detroit forRHP Lester Oliveros and LHP Cole Nelson.
    • August 2011 – Traded Jim Thome to Cleveland for cash.
    • December 2011 – Traded Kevin Slowey to Colorado for RHP Daniel Turpen

    In contrast, here are the trades made by the Astros in that same time:

    • July 2011 – Traded Hunter Pence to Philadelphiafor 1B Jonathan Singleton, RHP Jarred Cosart, RHP Josh Zeid, and OF Domingo Santana
    • July 2011 – Traded Jeff Keppinger to San Francisco for RHP Henry Sosa and RHP Jason Stoffel
    • July 2011 – Traded Michael Bourn to Atlanta for OF Jordan Schafer, RHP Juan Abreu, RHP Paul Clemens and LHP Brett Oberholtzen
    • May 2012 – Traded Justin Ruggiano to Miami for C Jobduan Morales
    • July 2012 – Traded Carlos Lee to Miami for 3B Matt Dominguez and LHP Rob Rasmussen
    • July 2012 – Traded Brandon Lyon, JA Happ and David Carpenter to Toronto for Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, RHP Joe Musgrove, RHP Asher Wojciechowski, LHP David Rollins, C Carlos Perez, and a Player to be Named Later.
    • July 2012 – Traded Brett Myers to Chicago (WhiteSox) for RHP Matt Heidenreich and LHP Blair Walters
    • July 2013 – Traded Wandy Rodriguez to Pittsburgh for OF Robbie Grossman, LHP Randy Owens, LHP Colton Cain

    The Twins have used their high waiver spot to claim the likes of Pedro Florimon, Clete Thomas and Erik Komatsu. The Astros have used their waiver spot to claim players like Fernando Martinez and Mark Hamburger.

    The Astros masterfully handled the draft. Instead of taking the “easy” pick, Mark Appel, they took the top high school bat (according to many) in Carlos Correa and signed him for well below the suggested slot for the top pick. That allowed them to sign Lance McCullers, who fell to them in the supplemental first round.

    The Astros have pretty much blown up their roster and started from scratch. Of the players who were on the Astros Opening Day roster, Jed Lowrie is the player remaining who has the largest contract, at $1.15million.

    It’s hard to imagine the Twins completely blowing things up, but should they? What is the right thing to do? With needs at many positions at the big league level and throughout the minor league system, would it be best to start over and accumulate as much talent as possible?

    Does it need to happen at the July trade deadline? For Francisco Liriano, the answer would seemingly be yes. However, since Josh Willingham and Denard Span are signed long term, if Terry Ryan doesn’t feel he is getting maximum return, he can keep them and try again this offseason.

    So what do you think? Will the Twins or the Astros contend in their division first?

    This article was originally published in blog: Houston, We have a Problem started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 74 Comments
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      2 above average starters and this team is a fringe contender. .
      What people don't seem to realize is that many more things have gone right than they have gone wrong. Willingham is having a career year. Mauer is healthy and having an outstanding season. Morneau is back and semi-capable. Plouffe had a breakout. Revere is having a breakout. Doumit is healthy and hitting very well. Diamond, Burton, Perkins, and Burnett are pitching some great ball.

      When you compare that to the wrongs - Baker hurt, Pavano hurt, Capps hurt, Blackburn garbage. (Maybe one or two others I'm forgetting) - this team is actually a bit lucky they aren't WORSE.

      I'm encouraged by some of Ryan's interviews the last few Sundays. He appears to get that this team isn't as good as some think and they're way further off than a pitcher or two.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      The Twins have made few more moves than the ones listed, namely signing 4 - 30+ year old free agent players this off-season, which the Astros did not do...
      As far as this goes:
      So what do you think? Will the Twins or the Astros contend in their division first?


      IMHO "contending in their division" should not cut it any more. The Indians are "contending" and they will finish below .500. One should ask which of the 2 teams will "win a world series next", which is the mark of excellence, not "contending in the division", which is the mark of mediocrity. But, unfortunately, a lot of Twins' fans have been happy with the mediocrity of the Gardy era, which appeared great after the contraction situation and the perpetual basement dwelling of the late 90s. But it is about time the bar is raised again. There is no contraction, there is no perpetual suckage, they got a brand new ballpark... Time to raise the bar for the Twins, because if nobody does, and people are satisfied with mediocrity, mediocrity will continue.

      Ask yourselves this: How would you feel if they win 80 games in 2013 and finish 2nd in the division? Is this a successful season or just an improved but mediocre season? I think it is about time we are start to expect excellence from this team...
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I think 80 wins in 2013 is fine... I think 80 wins as a goal is not. 80 wins next season means that some of the moves Ryan made panned out (which hopefully means that we have some starting pitching we can count on for 2014)...
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      JR already said he's going for ceiling over availability to help the major league club.



      How does blowing things up not give you a better draft position?

      How do you waste the primes of a bunch of kids in the early 20's on the farm?
      Becuase they have a lineup that can singlehandly win games now, and it only looks to improve.. Their OF will be better over the next couple of years, and better both offensively and defensively. Dozier, Plouffe, and Parmalee should all improve as well and should solidify themselves as average or better options for their positions. They need pitching... badly.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Becuase they have a lineup that can singlehandly win games now
      No they don't. This is such a mistake to believe this.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Becuase they have a lineup that can singlehandly win games now, and it only looks to improve.. Their OF will be better over the next couple of years, and better both offensively and defensively. Dozier, Plouffe, and Parmalee should all improve as well and should solidify themselves as average or better options for their positions. They need pitching... badly.
      1. The Twins are 9th in the AL in run scored. A solid lineup but far from singlehandly winning games.

      2. The OF prospects of Hicks, Benson, Arcia are nice prospects, but at the end of the day they're still just prospects. More will fail then succeed, so I don't know how you can already start pimping an OF when we don't know what we'll get from any of them.

      3. I don't know even know how the hell you're already talking about Doz, Ploufee and Parm as average or abbve-average players at this point in their career.
    1. cr9617's Avatar
      cr9617 -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Becuase they have a lineup that can singlehandly win games now, and it only looks to improve.. Their OF will be better over the next couple of years, and better both offensively and defensively. Dozier, Plouffe, and Parmalee should all improve as well and should solidify themselves as average or better options for their positions. They need pitching... badly.
      The current state of the Twins isn't nearly as rosy as you make it seem.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      What people don't seem to realize is that many more things have gone right than they have gone wrong. Willingham is having a career year. Mauer is healthy and having an outstanding season. Morneau is back and semi-capable. Plouffe had a breakout. Revere is having a breakout. Doumit is healthy and hitting very well. Diamond, Burton, Perkins, and Burnett are pitching some great ball.

      When you compare that to the wrongs - Baker hurt, Pavano hurt, Capps hurt, Blackburn garbage. (Maybe one or two others I'm forgetting) - this team is actually a bit lucky they aren't WORSE.
      I agree it could be worse, although oddly enough I felt that more strongly earlier in the year when things actually were going worse. Weird. But I don't think they've been lucky, and I'd differntly weight how far above or below expectations some of the things on your list are. Mauer IS having an outstanding year, but it's almost exactly average for him. Doumit is really close to his career averages also. Revere has improved from last year, but is now more in line with what you'd expect of him given his track record. Perkins has been very good, but not all that different than he was last year. Morneau has been available and semi-capable, as you say, but he's still having his worst full-season since his first back in 2005.

      Compare that with the downsides. Baker out from before the year even started, and your next two best starters from an expectation standpoint giving very little (Pavano/Liriano), your other two starters (from pre-season plans) both going WELL below career norms to the point of being demoted or released, and Capps being gone has had the domino effect of having every bullpen role being moved a rung up the ladder.

      Now that both the positives and the negatives of the year have me depressed, I'll move along...

      EDIT: The one downer you may have forgotten that I did too...Valencia crapping the bed. Granted, it allowed in part for Plouffe's breakout, but he was bad while here, and his demotion moved Dozier into the lineup who hasn't been all that effective yet.
    1. BD57's Avatar
      BD57 -
      Any club contending would find a way to get Mauer & Willingham's bats in the order pretty much every day. After that - - - not so much.

      Span would probably be in the lineup for the majority of contenders.

      Morneau has been that kind of player in the past, but he's a couple of years removed from the last stretch when he was that guy.

      We don't have a great offensive club - it's better than last year, which (IMO) is why we see it more positively .... but "better than last year" really isn't saying that much.

      And the starting rotation ... yeech .... as well as Diamond has pitched, he's not a #1 - but that's who he's been for us this year. Who do we have that you'd want to give the ball for a playoff game?

      This isn't a good team. It can't be fixed by adding a piece or two.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Terry Ryan has specifically stated that the offense isn't nearly good enough....I trust him on this one, frankly. That said, if one or two of Hicks/Arcia/Benson is legit next year, I think they are better than Revere, and maybe Span. But that still leaves no SS, no 2B, an inconsistent 1B, and a big question mark at 3B.

      Frankly, I'd deal Span and Willingham, and just suck this year, with two of the above (or Bigley or whomever) in the lineup to start next year. This team is awful, really, really awful. Having them here this year doesn't help this year, and probably doesn't help next year. Time to move on.*

      *unless you really believe they'll sign 2-3 legit starting pitchers (which no team has ever done in 1 year, I don't think), and 1-2 more hitters (and that Plouffe and Morneau will join Mauer as being big time again)......but hope is not a strategy
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      unless you really believe they'll sign 2-3 legit starting pitchers (which no team has ever done in 1 year, I don't think)
      The Yankees have done it at least once. Other than that, I can't recall a team picking up two legit starters.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      But I don't think they've been lucky, and I'd differntly weight how far above or below expectations some of the things on your list are.
      It's not that I'm saying they are lucky completely, but people try to make this season out to be one apocalyptic twist after another.....and I'd actually argue just as many things have gone right as they've gone horribly wrong. So if you're projecting forward, you can't plan on things getting significantly better than they are now, which happens to be the bottom of the AL. This isn't the apocalypse of bad luck - this is just not a very good baseball team.

      The only phase of this team that has been good has been the back-end of their bullpen, but the "soft under belly" as was aptly put this weak, was exposed badly by the Sox. This team needs bullpen, lineup, and rotation help. And a significant amount of each.

      No reason to grasp at phantom 2013 straws is my position - rebuild around the future of your minor league system.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by BD57 View Post
      Any club contending would find a way to get Mauer & Willingham's bats in the order pretty much every day. After that - - - not so much.

      Span would probably be in the lineup for the majority of contenders.
      Span would crack the lineup of any team in baseball. Most teams wouldn't mind Plouffes .855 OPS in the lineup as well, ditto with Doumit.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      1)The Twins have made few more moves than the ones listed, namely signing 4 - 30+ year old free agent players this off-season, which the Astros did not do...
      2)As far as this goes:


      IMHO "contending in their division" should not cut it any more. The Indians are "contending" and they will finish below .500. One should ask which of the 2 teams will "win a world series next", which is the mark of excellence, not "contending in the division", which is the mark of mediocrity. But, unfortunately, a lot of Twins' fans have been happy with the mediocrity of the Gardy era, which appeared great after the contraction situation and the perpetual basement dwelling of the late 90s. But it is about time the bar is raised again. There is no contraction, there is no perpetual suckage, they got a brand new ballpark... Time to raise the bar for the Twins, because if nobody does, and people are satisfied with mediocrity, mediocrity will continue.

      Ask yourselves this: How would you feel if they win 80 games in 2013 and finish 2nd in the division? Is this a successful season or just an improved but mediocre season? I think it is about time we are start to expect excellence from this team...
      1) And how does this hurt the Twins or help the Astros? The Twins are going to have money to spend on FA's; even more so if they go down the path of a firesale that so many here advocate. Should the Pohlad's just pocket that extra cash? Should an extra $30-60 million go towards the draft or signing international players? Money is going to get spent on FA's whether or not the Twins have a core group of players that are competitive. Shouldn't the Twins be trying to improve the immediate product on the field so that the fans have something more exciting to watch than an outfield of Bigley, Mastroianni and Revere? Shouldn't they be trying to sign good players who they might be able to flip at the deadline for even more prospects? You complain about signing old players who won't be a part of the future. Here is a list of 2013 FA's who are 28 or younger and will be in their prime a few years from now:

      BJ Upton
      Zach Greinke
      Melky Cabrera
      Delmon Young

      That's it. 4 guys. 3/4 of those guys are going to get BIG contracts and the 4th one is Delmon freaking Young. You just can't sign young guys who will be in their prime years from now to relatively small deals and the Twins can't afford another $100M contract on top of Mauer. No the Twins have the right idea in free agency. Get the value from the players you sign on short term deals up to 3 years. That way in 3 years when you're competitive you can decide where you need that money to be spent. At that point maybe you do go out and pick up a Zach Greinke equivalent who is in his prime where you're going to get good use out of all 4 or 5 years of it instead of 1 or 2.

      2) This whole section means absolutely nothing. It means even less when applied to Twins baseball by a fan. Sure it's great as a sound bite but when you get right down to it it has no meaning.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by cr9617 View Post
      The current state of the Twins isn't nearly as rosy as you make it seem.

      Perhaps, but it isn't nearly as bad as others here make it seem. People seem to forget that team has played .500 ball since May. Plouffe has replaced Valencia, Mauer looks more like the Mauer of old, and Morneau has improved on his April start as well. Dozier and Parmalee both are showing lots of promise and there's 3 guys in AA right now who all look like they could contribute sometime next year. I'm not saying they have a top 5 offense or anything, but I am saying that the offense is built to win games... It certainly isn't their pitching that's been consistenly coming through for them.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      I don't think you have to go Houston with this team. I still think they have the resources to compete in 2013 if management/ownership have the smarts and nads to do it.

      Im really not interested in starting a neverending five yr plan and being the new KC Royals.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      I still think they have the resources to compete in 2013 if management/ownership have the smarts and nads to do it.
      Which we all know won't happen, so were right back to where we were.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Perhaps, but it isn't nearly as bad as others here make it seem.
      Actually this team is far from a contender. Mauer, Span, Morneau (as long as he stays healthy), Willingham/Doumit (offense only) are all MLB players. Diamond is the only consistent quality starter. Bullpen OK but not as good as 3-4 years ago. Revere, Dozier, Parmalee, Plouffe could all become MLB players but probably only 2 will. Benson, Hicks, etc. may replace Doumit/Willingham in 2014 as we build to a contender.

      Thats it--do you trade a prospect like Hicks?? Do you trade Willingham/Span/Morneau now when value high?? If you do you must get a player (pitcher) who will help in 2014. Liriano wont get that kind of value--given Willingham's lack of defense and Mornaeu's history not sure they will get value either. I think Ryan knows this.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Perhaps, but it isn't nearly as bad as others here make it seem. People seem to forget that team has played .500 ball since May.
      I keep reading that phrase (mostly from SOVD) but here's the problem:

      2011 (through the date given)
      4/30: 9-17
      5/31: 17-36 May record: 8-19
      6/30: 34-45 June record: 17-9
      7/25: 47-55 July record: 13-10


      2012
      4/30: 6-16
      5/31: 18-32 May record: 12-16
      6/30: 32-45 June record: 14-13
      7/25: 40-58 July record: 8-13

      I took the numbers from www.baseballreference.com so I hope they are right.

      Do you see any similarities? Maybe the 2012 team is showing steady "improvement" but maybe the similarities just reflect the timing of interleague play, etc.

      While I hope that the 2012 team won't have an historic collapse to match that of the 2011 team, there isn't a lot to indicate to me that it won't happen. Ironically, the 2012 team has been relatively fortunate on the injury front on position players -- there could still be some hits to come.

      People shouldn't forget that this team has played .500 ball since May but they shouldn't ignore last year's results either.

      I was in favor of a controlled burn in October 2010. Unfortunately the Twins gave us Nishioka for Hardy and 2 more years of Pavano. I'm not sure that they can right this thing without getting out the dynamite.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      What people don't seem to realize is that many more things have gone right than they have gone wrong. Willingham is having a career year. Mauer is healthy and having an outstanding season. Morneau is back and semi-capable. Plouffe had a breakout. Revere is having a breakout. Doumit is healthy and hitting very well. Diamond, Burton, Perkins, and Burnett are pitching some great ball.

      When you compare that to the wrongs - Baker hurt, Pavano hurt, Capps hurt, Blackburn garbage. (Maybe one or two others I'm forgetting) - this team is actually a bit lucky they aren't WORSE.

      I'm encouraged by some of Ryan's interviews the last few Sundays. He appears to get that this team isn't as good as some think and they're way further off than a pitcher or two.
      This x 2
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