• 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. sorney's Avatar
      sorney -
      Absolutely should start blowing things up. It's been almost two years of the same results, time to start over. With most of the *impact* prospects still a couple years away, might as well load up on some more in hope of striking some gold with that class
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      I've advocated "blowing it up" since last season and I still think that's the best plan of action for this franchise. The Twins aren't gonna win in the next couple years unless the Pohlads go on a spending spree (which won't happen) Hell maybe I wouldn't be against blowing it up if there was some type of longterm plan coming from the front office, but I've yet to hear anything that sounds like a legit plan to get this team back to the postseason.

      I don't care about ticket sales or selling hope to the fans cause the moment you start winning again the fans will come back. Yeah it's gonna be a tough couple years, but treading water while still being one of the worst teams in the league isn't a plan. It's time to start over...
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Yes, they should blow it up. The minors are devoid of pitching, middle infielders, and power. No way they are good next year unless they open up the checkbook in a major way, and almost no one thinks that will happen.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      The question I'd ask is how many of those prospects that Houston got are likely to be impact prospects... If these are B grade guys, Houston instantly has the best farm system in baseball right now... but they don't. I'm all for making smart trades, but blowing things up to get talent that if it makes it is just a utility player isn't the best plan either. I do like how they drafted, but that's also a long term proposition as well, and to be fair to the Twins, I don't think this was an option for them as soon as Corea was off the board. No way Giolito, Gausman, Zimmer, Buxton, etc. were going to go that far below slot so that the Twins could go out and have grabbed a guy like Mccullers.

      The other thing is that the Twins have a pretty nice core of hitters both now and in the system. Next season, I full expect Benson, Arcia, and Hicks to all be knocking on the door making Revere and Willingham expendable. It would certainly be wise not to bring all of them up at once, but those guys are all profiling as above average regulars, and in the case of Arcia, middle of the order bat. Plouffe, Dozier, Parmalee, Doumit, and Mauer are all looking pretty decent, so this team on the offense is in need of a 2B (or a 3B if they want to move Plouffe over there) and a part time DH. Morneau won't get them much due to his contract, but next year at this time, he's going to be far more valuable even if he doesn't improve over what he's doing now, and if the improvements we see are continuing, the Twins might very well be shopping two sluggers at the deadline next year. Where they are weak, is pitching. They need pitching to work with this next wave. If they can flip Span, Morneau, Willingham, and Liriano for that type of pitching help, then there's no need to blow the team up. However, with all the chips, I highly doubt they can aquire the starters that they need, so in the Twins case, I think it's fair to say that free agency is going to be necessary.

      Looking at what Ryan is doing thus far, it seems like this is his plan. It isn't a bad plan. I don't think blowing things up is going to get us competing sooner. I do agree that some of the young guys are going to take some lumps, and that is what 2013 is going to be for, and to an extent 2014. That said, if they continue with this plan, they will field a quasi-competitive team that will keep butts in the seats... Lest you forget, this is a business, and selling out target field is a priority. Ryan actually has demonstrated in the past that this is somethign he's capable of doing, and having him as the GM of this team for a couple of years makes a ton of sense.... Once that talent is performing, I'm not sure he's the guy who can get us over the top, but getting us to it is something he does well.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      At this point, I think a "controlled burn" (I'm full of space-related phrases this morning) makes the most sense, which is what appears to be JR's plan. If no one bites on Morneau, wait until next season. As diehard mentioned, his value will be more next season even if his performance remains steady. If you trade either Span or Willingham this season, you can offload the other next year if the team is still awful.

      It's going to be many years before Houston is anything close to resembling a decent baseball team and with them moving to the nasty AL West next season, it could be even longer than it appears now. The Twins are no longer a small market team. They can afford to bring in decent players every season in FA while offloading players at their peak.

      The Twins have a lot of hitters in the pipeline in the next three years and Mauer in his prime. To me, it doesn't make any sense to trade the entire team and punt on the next 3-4 seasons, which is essentially what posters on this forum are advocating. In 3-4 years, we'll have Mauer still eating 1/4 of the salary, only at that point he'll be in his early 30s and declining in production.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      RP & diehard...can you explain to me whatr JR's plan is?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      RP & diehard...can you explain to me whatr JR's plan is?
      To me, it looks like he's trying to move some assets and offload future money for prospects to restock the system while maintaining a semblance of a Major League franchise.

      I'm not one to jump the gun and make rash judgments on plans that haven't had time to bear fruit. JR tried to build a better team this offseason, the pitching failed miserably, and now he's compensating. The real test will be this offseason to see how he spends the newly-freed money. It's hard to accurately judge his plan until he actually has a chance to do something.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Agree, what is the plan? Not one young player has been acquired in the last year. All their signings were older players.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      To me, it looks like he's trying to move some assets and offload future money for prospects to restock the system while maintaining a semblance of a Major League franchise.

      I'm not trying to be a dick, but I gotta say it. Is this current abomination really maintaining a semblance of a major league club?

      I guess you're right that's it's too early to talk on the plan when time hasn't been given yet. But I'd really love for JR to come out (maybe he will after the deadline) and explain to Twins what his goals and plan is for the future.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      I'm not trying to be a dick, but I gotta say it. Is this current abomination really maintaining a semblance of a major league club?

      I guess you're right that's it's too early to talk on the plan when time hasn't been given yet. But I'd really love for JR to come out (maybe he will after the deadline) and explain to Twins what his goals and plan is for the future.
      Damn it, I had a long post typed out and the tab crashed in my browser.

      Anyway, over 1/3 of the roster looks like a decent ML team. The problem is that the rest of it is complete crap.

      I'd also like for JR to come out and state his plans but it doesn't make any sense to do it before the deadline. You're not going to gain negotiating power by showing your hand. But after the waiver deadline, I'd like to see the front office come out and state their intentions for next season and how they plan to get there.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      I'd like to know what their long-term plans are for the GM position.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Maybe after the deadline JR or DSP will come out and give a state of the union type address for the franchise, cause this is just bad.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      It's nice to see the tone around here is getting further and further away from the "You know, with just one or two pitchers, 2013 might....." Which is really a hopeless position.

      This club has to make some significant changes and it has to start with unloading just about everyone who isn't going to be a part of this team in 2-3 years. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but that's where we're at.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by theleviathan View Post
      it's nice to see the tone around here is getting further and further away from the "you know, with just one or two pitchers, 2013 might....." which is really a hopeless position.
      cue dave
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      It's nice to see the tone around here is getting further and further away from the "You know, with just one or two pitchers, 2013 might....." Which is really a hopeless position.

      This club has to make some significant changes and it has to start with unloading just about everyone who isn't going to be a part of this team in 2-3 years. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but that's where we're at.
      I concur with the sentiment. The difficulty is going to come in assessing who is going to be a part of the team in 2-3 years. I suspect there will be vast disagreement among fans about that. For example, Liriano. Do we keep him or trade him? I would say trade, but quite a few have suggested signing him to a 3-year contract on the hopes he puts his difficulties behind him and fulfills his potential. Certainly, if he does that, he would play a very important role 2-3 years down the road. Same for Baker. I also think (and I know many disagree with me) that you put Span in that category - he is young enough that he can significantly add to this team in 2015 if we keep him that long. I would, however, trade Willingham - I just don't see him starting in 2015 - and Carroll too, if you can get anything for them. So it all comes down to who you keep and who you jettison - as usual, the devil lies in the details.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      RP & diehard...can you explain to me whatr JR's plan is?

      From here, it looks like he's attempting to move expendable assets for pitching that help sooner as opposed to later. The real question is how much will he do in free agency, as I don't see any way for this team to improve in that area without making some additions via free agency... Even if he managed to strike gold and flip Liriano and Span for high ceiling AA pitchers this year and then do the same with Morneau and Willingham next year, I'd argue this team still needs pitching to compete in 2014. It has no depth there. As well, bad starting pitching typically leads to bad bullpens as they get overworked.... I suspect the pen in particular is going to be a problem over the next couple of months, even if the starting pitching were to magically improve. Repairing the pen means getting 5 decent starters and having ideally 2 more in AA/AAA that can step in quickly and not implode, and I don't see that happening without some free agency moves.

      I do think his draft alligned to this too. They drafted a bunch of college relievers who at worst profile to be pretty decent bullpen options come 2014, and if we are lucky, one learns a 3rd pitch and becomes an average or better starter. As such, I don't see this team having problems finding too much help in the pen around that time.... at least nothing that a Burton style pickup cannot solve.

      I don't consider myself to be an optimist or a pessimist. Dave's a bit over-optimistic on these forums, but he isn't as far from reality as you think when he says they just need pitching. 2 above average starters and this team is a fringe contender. I think the players would certainly be playing harder right now and then pen wouldn't be as shakey. This isn't a scenario where you just blow things up and start over. There's plenty of good stuff in the line up and not nearly enough on the mound. Blowing things up will mean a lot of .480 to .520 ball clubs which won't give you a great draft position and will waste the primes of many of the decent prospects that they have.
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      Surprised that I haven't seen the point brought up before but there is one MAJOR difference between the Twins and the Astros. Next year, the Astros will be playing in the American League for the the first time EVER. They NEED to blow their team up, because they are going to be competing against totally different teams. No more double-switches, no more hitting pitchers. They'll have a regular DH spot to fill. I can't quite articulate it, but there is a distinct difference in playing style between the American League and the National League, and the Astros need to start stocking up on American League players.
    1. cr9617's Avatar
      cr9617 -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      It's nice to see the tone around here is getting further and further away from the "You know, with just one or two pitchers, 2013 might....." Which is really a hopeless position.

      This club has to make some significant changes and it has to start with unloading just about everyone who isn't going to be a part of this team in 2-3 years. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but that's where we're at.
      Right on

      I want to believe there is some sort of plan in place, but I'm not entirely sure. To be fair to TR, the hole that this franchise has dug for itself is so damn big, that I think his options were pretty limited for this season. I think he did a pretty good plugging some holes on the cheap, not including the pitching staff.

      Not selling last year was a big mistake and an opportunity missed. Other teams would have done it, but this team lacks balls and can't seem to think big enough for that. And, of course, BS was still running the show.
    1. jctwins's Avatar
      jctwins -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Maybe after the deadline JR or DSP will come out and give a state of the union type address for the franchise, cause this is just bad.
      JR has been pretty honest during the Sunday morning/early afternoon radio show, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was pretty open on the Sunday after the deadline.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      From here, it looks like he's attempting to move expendable assets for pitching that help sooner as opposed to later.

      JR already said he's going for ceiling over availability to help the major league club.

      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      There's plenty of good stuff in the line up and not nearly enough on the mound. Blowing things up will mean a lot of .480 to .520 ball clubs which won't give you a great draft position and will waste the primes of many of the decent prospects that they have.
      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?
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