• 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. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Which we all know won't happen, so were right back to where we were.
      You keep saying that but it is anything but clear. As far as I can remember the Twins have never been in the position they're in right now. They have a historically bad starting rotation. Only Blackburn has a contract committment for next season. They have $20-30 million to put back into the club. They have little guaranteed starting pitching help available in the Minors for the next several years. Yes, maybe Gibson and Wimmers can come back but neither at this point (or even in the offseason) are going to be a sure thing to build around. That leaves you with Diamond, who I think we can all agree is going to keep seeing his ERA move in the direction of 4, and Blackburn, as much as nobody wants to admit it he'll get a shot again next year. The Twins are going to have to go out and get pitching help. And before you say it, veteran free agents on a 1 year deal doesn't help because the starting pitching is a problem long term. They're going to have to sign multiple pitchers and atleast 1 of those is going to have to be 3+ years.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      This x 2
      Then my reply to that post x 2, too!!! Haha.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      You keep saying that but it is anything but clear. As far as I can remember the Twins have never been in the position they're in right now.
      I keep thinking that, too, but haven't really found the right place to mention it. (For the record, the "that" mentioned in the post quoted was the notion that the "we know" the Twins won't spend any/enough/lots of money this off-season.) But you're right, there really isn't any history to give a guide here. Comparing to Metrodome years is obviously silly since the overall payroll has vastly increased. I also don't know that we've got much knowledge on how and when and in what ways the new Pohlad may be different than Carl. As for New Ballpark History, the first off-season in Target Field is not even close to a good comparison because the first season was a division winner. And last off-season was much, much different in that four expected starting pitchers were already under contract and coming back. So yes, I'd say this is uncharted territory.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Even if the Twins do have money to spend, nothing says you can't bank that for a future increase. It's not typically a PR dream, but spending it just to spend it doesn't help much either. This team should take some flyers next season on guys like we did with Burton last year, but planning to fix this team with a few contracts is a big mistake.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Haven't there been quotes from TR in the past saying that they don't roll any budget room forward?
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Haven't there been quotes from TR in the past saying that they don't roll any budget room forward?
      If so, that is ridiculous. But I wouldn't be surprised.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      If so, that is ridiculous. But I wouldn't be surprised.
      Take it with a massive grain o' salt, my recollection is incredibly vague.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Even if the Twins do have money to spend, nothing says you can't bank that for a future increase. It's not typically a PR dream, but spending it just to spend it doesn't help much either. This team should take some flyers next season on guys like we did with Burton last year, but planning to fix this team with a few contracts is a big mistake.
      It isn't about spending money just to spend the money. It's about helping this team in the short term through free agency, hopefully helping this team in the mid-term if you find the right deals or potentially helping this team in the long term through flipping those FA's for prospects. Along the way you improve the product to the point where you don't lose 100 games which is a very real possibility if the Twins firesale, reduce payroll and don't sign any decent free agents.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      It isn't about spending money just to spend the money. It's about helping this team in the short term through free agency, hopefully helping this team in the mid-term if you find the right deals or potentially helping this team in the long term through flipping those FA's for prospects. Along the way you improve the product to the point where you don't lose 100 games which is a very real possibility if the Twins firesale, reduce payroll and don't sign any decent free agents.
      The kinds of FA splashes you're talking about aren't 50M+ kinds of deals. I don't have a problem with a few Willingham-like contracts, but people aren't talking about that. The focus of this team should be acquiring assets around our best prospects, not hoping 88 losses keeps more fans in the seats than 98. That is a useless, misguided strategy which is all anyone here is suggesting. As has been said by others - winning puts butts in the seats, so build to win - not keep your head above total futility.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      The kinds of FA splashes you're talking about aren't 50M+ kinds of deals.
      Please enlighten me on what I am thinking and talking about. You clearly have no idea what I have been saying here or in other threads. Your post on the other hand seems to either be poorly articulated or not well thought out.

      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      The focus of this team should be acquiring assets around our best prospects, not hoping 88 losses keeps more fans in the seats than 98. That is a useless, misguided strategy which is all anyone here is suggesting. As has been said by others - winning puts butts in the seats, so build to win - not keep your head above total futility.
      So winning helps put butts in the seats but winning 74 games doesn't matter we should instead cut payroll and win 60? The focus should be on acquiring assets but we should still cut payroll and not spend in FA? Why can't you do both? Why can't you trade Morneau, Span, Willingham, Carroll and other veterans that are worth something over the next year and replace them with a combination of minor leaguers as they are ready AND sign FA's that complement those pieces in the midterm and will help keep this team from absolutely cratering in the short term? If those veterans then become expendable, either because like Willingham they play exceptionally well and have great value, or because we have a prospect develop to replace them maybe a couple get flipped for more prospects which then helps us in the long term.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Given that they cut payroll this year, I see no evidence that they are willing to pay the price in dollars and years to sign big time, or even average, starting pitching.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Given that they cut payroll this year, I see no evidence that they are willing to pay the price in dollars and years to sign big time, or even average, starting pitching.
      That's part of the problem, they won't break the bank of a Greinke type arm and a Jackson or Sanchez signing does nothing but make this team a little less worse.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      That's part of the problem, they won't break the bank of a Greinke type arm and a Jackson or Sanchez signing does nothing but make this team a little less worse.
      Zack Greinke hasn't been a very good pitcher lately. There's a chance that a Sanchez or Jackson performs just as well as him for 1/2 to 2/3rds the price. They're all the same age.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I don't they'd sign those guys either "well, tehy got 5 year deals, we just don't want to give pitchers 5 year deals, they get hurt and stuff....". Then they'll sign the guys that are willing to sign for 1-3 years, you know, 38 year old has beens, and 28 year old never weres. I'll believe they do something different, when they give us evidence they will do something different. So far, they've signed old guys for less money than the guys they replaced made. Classic Twins.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      Zack Greinke hasn't been a very good pitcher lately. There's a chance that a Sanchez or Jackson performs just as well as him for 1/2 to 2/3rds the price. They're all the same age.
      Small sample size much?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Small sample size much?
      Greinke has an ERA+ of around 106-108 in his past 510 innings.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      Greinke has an ERA+ of around 106-108 in his past 510 innings.

      I don't put much stock into Zack's 2010 as he was completly checked out on a bad Royals team. Not how you would like to see a professional handle his ****, but nevertheless it happened.

      In 2011 he was saddled with a .318 BABIP and even this year his BABIP is .326. I think Zack's just fine and far and away better then Jackson and Sanchez.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      I don't put much stock into Zack's 2010 as he was completly checked out on a bad Royals team. Not how you would like to see a professional handle his ****, but nevertheless it happened.

      In 2011 he was saddled with a .318 BABIP and even this year his BABIP is .326. I think Zack's just fine and far and away better then Jackson and Sanchez.
      He's also falling apart this season. While you may be okay with ignoring almost three full seasons of pitching, I won't do it. I'd much rather see the Twins target a second tier pitcher like Sanchez or Jackson and get them for 3-4 years at $12-14m per season instead of the 5+ years and $16m+ per season Greinke might demand on the FA market.

      Zack has been riding his Cy Young season for three years now and hasn't come anywhere close to repeating that performance (according to ERA+, he has been literally half the pitcher he was in 2010). Why on earth would you want to get into a bidding war on a player who is riding a name instead of performance?
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      Zack has been riding his Cy Young season for three years now and hasn't come anywhere close to repeating that performance (according to ERA+, he has been literally half the pitcher he was in 2010). Why on earth would you want to get into a bidding war on a player who is riding a name instead of performance?
      Well who the hell is gonna repeat an ERA+ 205 He's been saddled with some bad luck over the lack couple seasons but give me around 8.2 K/9 and a 2.3 BB/9 anyday of the week over Jackson and Sanchez.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Well who the hell is gonna repeat an ERA+ 205 He's been saddled with some bad luck over the lack couple seasons but give me around 8.2 K/9 and a 2.3 BB/9 anyday of the week over Jackson and Sanchez.
      I don't expect him to repeat his 2010 but I do expect him to be a better than league average pitcher... Which he's barely been for almost three full seasons, two of them in the mighty National League.

      Also, Sanchez has a 2.9/9.3 and 2.5/8.2 BB/K per 9 innings the past two seasons.

      At this point, he's not much different than Greinke and he should be a hell of a lot cheaper, both in years and money per year.
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