02-12-2013, 09:16 PM #1
Twins thought process leading to pitching rotation
Let me say right off the bat this isn't a thread for bitching about the state of the rotation. We have had many of those and don't need anymore. Instead I am curious about the thought process that lead to our current rotation. In essence, why did Terry Ryan bring in the players he did?
I can think of several ways the Twins front office could have decided to go entering this years off season.
1) They could have decided to spend money to make significant upgrades. This is a fairly self explanatory and clearly didn't happen.
2) They could have decided the rash of injuries the last couple of years was too detrimental to the teams stability and they needed pitchers without an injury history that throwing many innings. Anybody from Joe Saunders to Edwin Jackson would fit the bill.
3) They could have decided to sign a bunch of players with upside to make good contracts. Jair Jurrjens, Brandon McCarthy, Ervin Santana, Shaun Marcum, hell even Liriano. These players could then have been traded if they had a nice rebound year.
4) They could have decided to go cheap. Wait to see who falls through the cracks at the end or sign a bunch of minor league deals or sign nobody and see what the kids have in the tank. Decide straight away this was going to be a rebuild year.
The Twins seem to have followed none of these paths. So my question to you; what was the Twins thought process this off season regarding the starting rotation? Is there an actual plan behind their signings? Again, this is not a thread bashing the starting rotation or to use as your personal bitch fest about the front office. I am really trying to understand the thought process that led to our current situation. Thanks in advance!
02-12-2013, 09:23 PM #2
Sadly, I don't think it's about going cheap. If it was that at least I could hold out hope of that tendency changing in a few seasons when the prospects are coming. I think it has much more to do with the Twins prizing reliability/durability so much higher than talent/ability to dominate. They get caught up in a few pitcher tendencies (200 innings, walk rate, "sink") that everything else is ignored. At least that's my working theory.
02-12-2013, 09:41 PM #3
I don't think the Twins actually had much of a plan. I think they were thrown for a loop when the Cubs "overspent"on Baker and Feldman and never recovered. I think they assumed they could get quality arms on the cheap even when history said that would never happen. At the point the Cubs showed the Twins how the real world worked, I believe Ryan told the truth when he said he had a lot of offers out to a bunch of pitchers. I believe he sent out a mass email saying he was willing to pay $5 million for the first couple pitchers that applied for the job and hooked Correia anf Pelfry. Correia said he wanted a second year and Ryan accepted out of desperation.
02-12-2013, 09:53 PM #4
I agree with both posts. They signed a few stop-gap guys, a couple prospects, get a couple back from injury, and got blindsided by the Baker signing. Things could have been worse.
02-12-2013, 10:01 PM #5
Purely a guess obviously... I think it was a combination of things.
A. They needed more than one arm. Being forced to throw struggling pitchers because they lacked alternatives in 2012. Injuries... Poor performance had to be addressed for 2013... They needed quantity.
B. The quality available didn't cut it or the juice wasn't worth the squeeze. Too much money for average results.
C. They didn't value Marcum or players signed on the lower salary side as high as some of us did due to injury concerns or something we are not aware of.
D. Meyer, Worley and May were get-able and had top of the rotation potential... James Shields and experienced arms were not.
E. Terry Ryan probably knows that the playoffs in 2013 will be a hard thing to accomplish but he expects the team to compete like it can be accomplished to assess who can get it done in 2014.
F. Terry Ryan has projections and a plan to get better. We don't know what it is and it isn't recognizeable at first second or third looks.
Last edited by Riverbrian; 02-12-2013 at 10:04 PM.
02-12-2013, 10:02 PM #6
This is a good bewildering question. When KC was signed, TR had remarked that they needed to get someone, lest be be without a chair at the end of it all. I can't see that strategy being anything reasonable and consistent like the courses you've laid out in the IP, but just getting pitchers with a history of MLB experience seems to be part of the strategy. Unfortunately, this may indeed have been the entire strategy. I suspect we'll never know.Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.
02-12-2013, 10:06 PM #7
They made Correria an offer he didn't refuse. Happy to have a year to get comfortable before having to produce. If the thought was to get arms that can throw innings, well, Haren, Pelfrey and Worley aren't proven 200 inning guys anymore than Blackburn. Even Diamond isn't in this territory. Then the factor of not overpaying, which one who has appeared last place for two seasons might just have to do to at least a quality arm, whatever that definition is. That Baker and even Liriano got the contracts they did is...overwhelming. If it was announced that the thought was to rebuild and just find affordable place-setters who might turn into tradebait, I could live with that. But that wasn't the initial announcement and feeling. They still need a loogy, as Diamond is not a 200-inning guy and may not start the season on staff, and Duensing is the lone arm in the bullpen this side of the closer that will throw lefthanded. If you have two rotation lefthanders, especially an innings eater, you can get by. I see Ryan pieced together a staff that that may have room for prospect tryouts, a staff that could see the return of Nick Blackburn at some point, and a staff that will hold visiting teams to 4-5 runs a game. I can live with a 4.00 rotation ERA if I knew the Twins had a better hitting lineup, but right now it's who's batting first and who's batting second and whoever they are, can they get on base at the same time and be knocked in.
02-12-2013, 10:33 PM #8
Basically you are asking for mind-reading. Here's my take, essentially what I have offered before.
I believe one of Terry Ryan's stated core principles is that multi-year contracts for pitchers are usually a bad risk. Two years, tops, if the guy is really pretty good; anything longer requires it to be a certified ace like Johan where you accept that the risk in year two and beyond simply must be taken on. An exception (not seen in practice with the Twins, but which I believe he would make) might be made if you need to get one pitcher to put you over the top *this* year - but 2013 is not the year for doing that. He knew at the start that Grienke, probably Jackson and Sanchez, were simply not going to accept a two-year deal, and he was not prepared to go more. He was hoping some good pitchers at a lower tier from those would accept, particularly as one or two inevitably began to feel a bit of pressure as the off-season progressed and they still didn't have a deal with anyone; if this was the hope, it did not pan out. He signed Correia early, precisely to remove that kind of pressure from himself, ditto for the "low-risk high-reward" deals he loves such as (this year) Harden and Pelfrey, to avoid having to accept another pitcher's inflated demand as time grew short in January if Ryan didn't have anyone yet. He probably views Joe Saunders as less of an upgrade over Correia than do the sabrmetically-inclined with their fancy space-age tools like ERA+ and WAR, so he's not heartbroken that his lowball offer was rejected in favor of another team's one-year deal. I think that's all the tea-leaves I am prepared to try to read.
02-12-2013, 11:13 PM #9
I have to say, I love this question. It calls for pure speculation, and even with seasons and seasons of history, it's hard to tell what combination of factors play into the actual decision-making of the front office. That being said, there are an abundance of factors at play:
1. If you buy three "solid" starting pitchers or four "possible" starting pitchers (fill in blank here - Marcum, Myers, Baker, McCarthy, Jurrjens) and that ends up being a repeat of last year, with lots of injuries and under-performance, there is a perception that the front office has no idea what it is doing.
2. This was clearly not the season to go "all in" and buy up two or three front-line starters, because the supporting cast is not good enough for that to make the difference.
3. You cannot admit that you are tanking it for 2013, so there has to be a ray of hope, which means you cannot allow Diamond, Blackburn, Deduno, DeVries, Gibson, Hendriks, and Hermson to battle it out for 5 spots. That's just giving up, even if some of those guys don't have injuries.
4. I think (and this is purely from a PR standpoint) what they did was brilliant. They came up with a handful of low-expectation guys. They can clearly argue that they plugged the holes (and if you listen to the mantra coming from everyone, it sounds like the political parties after they have caucused about an issue - everyone is saying the same thing). "If the starters can go deep into games, we have a solid lineup and we have a chance." Well, if that works out, the front office looks brilliant. If it doesn't, well, the ceiling on these guys is small, they've gutted our defensive outfield, they've added a few players including potential front-line pitchers, and they have a wonderful Plan B that says that we've "stocked up" for the future without blocking our potential.
5. I don't expect the team to be very good this year. If they are, I'll be thrilled. If they aren't, I can at least look to the Meyers, May, Gibson, Diamond, Berrios of 2015 and keep hoping, and we're at a point where some subset of guys (both pitchers and position players) are going to start adding to the equation this year and next.
02-12-2013, 11:18 PM #10
And 6. $80 million is a payroll they can live with - pocketing a ton of cash if the team is good and fills the stands (and they can buy one or two more players in mid-season, something they also keep talking about), or "justifying" their low payroll if the fans stay away in droves as though their decision to spend only $80 million was prescient, rather than self-fulfilling prophecy.
02-12-2013, 11:36 PM #11
I guess I have come up with another possiblity. Perhaps he felt this was a lost year (or two) and targeted players that were great "clubhouse" guys not really caring what their on the field performance was. Given the young players we will have coming up the next year or two maybe he felt molding them as professionals was more important than trying to win a few more games this year. Does anyone know anything about Correia or Pelfrey from a more personal angle?
I appreciate all of your input so far. If you have any other ideas fire away!
02-12-2013, 11:52 PM #12
02-13-2013, 12:43 AM #13
02-13-2013, 01:20 AM #14
1) I concur with the panic part. Does anyone have any backstory on who the Twins were competing with to up the ante and sign Correia for the extra year? I think the Baker signing blind-sided them, and having targeted Correia for a late-signing prospect, they radically moved up the timetable.
2) I like your theory, Pavano might have been that mentor guy in year's past- it still would have made a lot of sense to get both Lannan and Saunders- if they wanted 2 guys who would have led by example- nothing flashy of course- but Saunders has averaged 32 Starts and 196 IP per year over the last 5 years and Lannan has also averaged 32 Starts (including minor league stats) and 188 IP per year over the same time frame. And it wouldn't have cost much to land both of them, even giving Saunders a 2-year deal.
Last edited by jokin; 02-13-2013 at 01:25 AM.
02-13-2013, 09:05 AM #15
I think 4. was their plan, and also to shop Span and Revere for pitching prospects. Ryan has a philosophical objection to free agency but when forced to dip into it, his strategy has always been to wait and pick up cheap filler pieces in the weeks before p&c's report. That he signed Corriea in December, and not the last weeks of January, suggests to me that Correia had something like a 1/7m offer from someone else. KC maybe (for 2 reasons. 1. KC had already overpaid for Guthrie at 3/25, and the Myers-Shields trade was announced about the same time the Twins and Correia agreed on a contract.) Thus "Correia left more money on the table." Possibly the reason was the same for signing Pelfrey relatively early. Maybe the Mets were willing to give him $2m or even match, but Pelfrey liked the opportunity in MN more than in NY.
Jr has said all along that you don't build winners out of free agency. So instead of going after meaningful upgrades to the rotation, his main objective going into the offseason was to shop Span and Revere so that the team could build internally. That's the only way Jr will do it. He doesn't seem to care about wins and losses from one season to the next.
02-13-2013, 11:40 AM #16
We'll have an interesting comparison to approaches this year. The Twins have decided to fill the rotation with guys who they feel confident can give a good offense enough support to win games. If the defense and the offense are improved, these starters should have them above .500 in May. Then they will look around the league at teams who will be struggling and have pending free agent starters who are pitching well, but might not be worth a 14 mil qualifying offer. Roy Halladay, Matt Garza and even James Shields jump to mind.
Meanwhile, Cleveland (despite the W/L records) was arguably worse than the Twins in every way except starting pitching. Essentially, in the same spot. They threw a bunch of money at the problem and got a few intriguing fellows. Reynolds, Bourne and Swisher should help offensively, but hurt defensively in total. I know Bourne is pretty darn good out there, but Swisher and Reynolds are more bad than Bourne is good. The pitchers they got are no more likely to be good than the ones the Twins have, but they do have more previously good ones holding over on their roster (Ubaldo and Masterson) to hope for bounce backs.
02-13-2013, 11:49 AM #17
02-13-2013, 12:02 PM #18
Just my opinion and thoughts:
1.) They really are in this for the long haul, not the short-term, quick fix. They're about the upside and that's in Meyer and May and Gibson, and they should still believe in Hendriks. Meyer and May are likely 2014 arrivals, but Gibson will be up soon and they're not going to let people get in his way, and specifically get in the way of their plan for him (whatever restrictions that means). Hendriks has nothing to do at AAA anymore and they have to find out what they have in him. it's good to have options as the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th starting pitchers (guys like Walters, Deduno, maybe Blackburn, De Vries, etc.) in an attempt to push them, but they need spots. Diamond was also a given to make the rotation (again, if healthy). Diamond, Gibson, Hendriks are 3/5 of the rotation at some point, so you only need two more to get to 5.
2.) Ben Revere is a nice player, but some/several in the organization saw him more as a 4th OF on a good team. They were able to get Vance Worley for him. In other words, they got a pitcher (their biggest need) who is at about the same spot in his career as Revere, hence, will have about 4 more years of team control before becoming a free agent. Worley is a solid mid-rotation type. But along with Worley, they were offered May too. So, they had to take that.
3.) Top of the line pitching - That's Alex Meyer potentially. Gibson is ranked a higher prospect by some, but also has solid #2 written all over him.
4.) They have a lineup that could score some runs still if a couple of guys step up. They also signed a few pitchers that could be OK if they step up. If Pelfrey is healthy most of the year, he's an upgrade. Worley is an upgrade and still has some upside. He's young. Harden was a no-risk guy who certainly has talent if he's healthy.
5.) So, now they want to have Diamond, Gibson, Hendriks in the rotation. Worley can be a long-term option and he's in the rotation. You add a couple of could-be-decent veterans if healthy like Pelfrey and Harden. You have lots of #6 starters who can fill in whenever.
6.) And then there's Correia. None of us understand the signing (for sure the 2nd season), but it's the reality. The hope there is he can throw 170-180 innings of something like 4.50-4.80 ERA. If he does that, then it's fine.
So yes, it's not a team built to win the division, but they weren't going to do that no matter who they brought in. So, they'll develop 2-3 starters in the big leagues and let the upside guys (Meyer and May) continue to develop at an appropriate pace. They have Correia and a couple of other not-bad-if-healthy options and some #6 SP depth.
02-13-2013, 12:08 PM #19
02-13-2013, 12:12 PM #20
The White Sox were in first place until September, and drew and avg of 24,000 fans. It's just not a huge factor. Playoff games are the way to generate excitement for next seasons regular season attendance. Without them, you're just stuck with the prevailing attitude that your team sucks.
(I'm not suggesting I think the season is a failure, I'm saying as a marketing tool, nearly missing the payoffs is of no use to you.)
Last edited by LoganJones; 02-13-2013 at 12:14 PM.