You can view the page at http://www.twinsdaily.com/content.ph...asons-For-Hope
You can view the page at http://www.twinsdaily.com/content.ph...asons-For-Hope
I think this is an interesting take on the whole "let's scrap the whole works are prepare for 2018" mentality. The fact is, the Twins have ONE problem, not ten. Of course, it is a huge problem. But they're not a team that is troubled across the board. The other issue with complete-rebuild plan is that it leaves bunch of a fans with a brand-new, beautiful stadium and no reasonable team to watch play in it. I'd rather see the Twins build slowly and play .500, watchable baseball than become a AAA team for four years in hopes of scoring a World Series win in a timeline nobody wants to wait for.
Excellent take on the current situation. Thanks Nick!
I don't think this team is that far from contending. On the other hand, assembling a rotation is the hardest thing to do in baseball. Some of that talent will have to be home grown (here's looking at you, Gibson). Diamond, Gibson, and perhaps a return of Scott Baker might be enough to right the ship. I don't have much faith in anyone else in the system, excepting perhaps Hendriks. The Twins are going to have to make a free agent splash.
The question is: when should they do it? 2013? 2014? I tend to think 2014 is the better bet, as it will coincide with the first wave of Arcia/Hicks/Rosario/Sano reaching the majors.
In the meantime, what should they do? I think it's a good idea to turn possible redundancies into prospects. Span is the easy choice. Maybe Willingham next season. The Twins are going to have a glut of outfielders arriving at the same time. Perkins should be offered but not necessarily traded if the deal isn't right.
And punt on whatever you can get for Capps, Doumit, etc. this deadline.
Nice write up. I had mentioned somewhere else that while Ryan says we need pitching, that doesn't necessarily mean flame throwers or aces. It could just mean innings eaters. We got Diamond for Bullock. Ryan might be able to make a few more low level deals like that and keep Span/Willingham. While not sexy, the Twins have gotten some nice returns on these type of pitchers that other teams tend to under value. That said, I do think the Twins should make a significant FA signing - like Anibal Sanchez if he didn't extend - and the fact that the Twins were rumored to be in on Buerhle for a bit might mean they would consider a big signing.
That said, it would be nice if Benson or Hicks would get it going so we had some more help on the way, either as trading talent or on field talent.
There is another reason to not blow up the team in search of starting pitching: the trading chips the Twins do have would not bring the return that some folks here expect. You see comments like "trade Pavano (Liriano, Casilla, Valencia, ...) for a good starting pitching prospect". I don't think offers like that will be on the table, for Terry Ryan to choose from. Capps might bring a second-tier prospect. Span probably could net one legitimate prospect, plus a few pieces to fill out a trade, but even he is probably not viewed as that much above average in CF. Everyone else on the 40-man roster, I think, carries too much baggage of one kind or another, or else is just not viewed as worth very much in the first place. You could back up the truck, and trade every conceivable asset they have, and wind up with only two or three stud starting pitchers for 2013 (or a staff filled with other teams' fifth starters), and then nobody to play behind them.
Most of what the Twins have is more valuable to them on the field than as trade bait. I do expect some trades near the deadline, mainly of the expiring contracts, and look forward to being pleasantly surprised (except for a Span trade) if Terry Ryan brings back anything that looks like a star in the making for 2013-16.
But other than Span, there isn't much worth trading. Obviously you take what you can get for Capps, Doumit, Pavano, etc. but it's going to be hard to get much of anything for those guys (but Doumit might bring back a middling prospect).
The Twins are committed to roughly $100 million payroll. Of that amount, $60 million or so is allocated to the hitters. $30 million or so is allocated to starting pitching. And roughly $10 million is allocated to the bullpen. (if you include Zumaya, then it was roughly $11.5 million to the bullpen this year)
Assuming the lineup is satisfactory...(with Plouffe and Revere showing some competence) The Twins are now somewhat solid 1 through 7 in the lineup. Decent power...decent speed. Nice OBP potential. They could have the same or similar offense next year for the same amount ..roughly $60 million.
The bullpen is now fairly solid and can be maintained next year and beyond for roughly $10 million. (Perkins gets a raise..they need to decide on Capps..to me, they need to keep Burton and Perkins
The starting pitching is the issue: Pavano at $9 million, Baker at $6.5 mil, Liriano at $5.5 mill, Blackburn at $4.75 mill and Marquis at $3 mill did not yield the results Ryan wanted. So how does he modify? Well, he could go expensive on the top two...and cheap on the bottom two and in the middle on #3. For example, win the bids for two free agents ...like Colby Lewis and Marcum. Or Sanchez instead ...even if you spend more than you want, you still are using up only $20 million or so on two starters. Then sign Baker...even if he can't give you the innings in 2013. Sign him for a couple years. He won't get the big dollars he would have otherwise received. So maybe he is $5 million in 2013 and that amount escalates in 2014 and beyond. Then the last two spots go to Diamond and Hendriks...with Gibson in the wings...and Wolters. And you can compete in 2013 a lot better than this year..for roughly the same amount of total salary.
Then in 2014, you offer, if it makes sense, Morneau arbitration...if he accepts, you have the same lineup. If he doesn't, you get a draft pick, replace his left handed power with Arcia and use the $14 million to either bolster the pen, or add another bat..or two.
In 2015, you have Sano and Rosario likely arriving on the scene. So you can maintain offense for $60 million or less for serveral years. The issue will be can you get starting pitching at $30 million...and I think you can if you sign Lewis and Marcum (even if you slighly overpay)...plus Baker. Gibson should be "full season ready" by 2014...and you still have Diamond and Hendriks.
No need to trade for pitching if you spend the $30 million better. But can you afford Greinke or Hamels? probably not. Your better bet is to spread it out over a few pitchers, but not bargain basement guys like Marquis.
We need to rebuild our pitching staff using one of the following methods and each has it's issues.
> Improvement in the current staff - not likely to happen, or be enough to produce a winner.
> Depth in the organization/minore - doesn't exist.
> Trade - we don't have enough tradeable assets to bring much in return.
> Free-Agency - ask yourself "when was the last time the Twins signed a big name FA pitcher?". With declining attendance (revenues) I can see the Pohlads lowering payroll even further.
By the time the pitching is up to par we're liable to lose any edge we have in our hitters or relief corps. It's a better gamble to rebuild in my opinion.
I see two main reasons to trade: 1) to move replaceable talent (A.J. Pierzynski would be an example of that, with Mauer ready) in favor of shoring up a weakness, or 2) to change the talent pipeline either forward or backward in time (moving expiring contracts at deadline is the classic example, in one direction for a team giving up on the present season, in the other direction for the team giving up the prospects). Everything else is tit-for-tat and does not actually make the team better.
Span is the only valuable trading chip they have in the first category, if you believe Revere is a good enough replacement that you're not simply opening up a hole in CF to close a hole in SP. Given Nick's premise that 2013 can be competitive, I could trade Span for that reason, but not for the second reason.
Span is signed favorably through 2014, with a team opt-out for 2015, so only if the thought is that the team can't compete until 2015 would I look at trading Span for the time-shifting reason.
If anything, I think it becomes more important to move Morneau, Willingham and Span. Willingham and Span are excellent players, but the truth is that our dearth of starting pitching extends throughout the minor league system; whereas our outfield depth is quite a bit stronger. Already in New Britian, we have Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, Joe Benson and Rene Tosoni as interesting (but flawed) OF prospects.
Now, if we could get more for, say, Hicks, Arcia, Revere or Benson than Willingham or Span, I'd be all for it. I think we all know that's not possible, and something in the OF has to give because there's a blatant OF jog jam on the horizon.
To me, ultimately, the point is to win a championship--not to get good enough for a long string of first round exits again. To do that, we need to be strong all over the board. The way to do that from my perspective is to balance resources to create a perfect storm. Simply signing a pretty solid starter and creating a huge OF traffic jam in the minor league system while relying on Diamond, Gibson, Hendriks, Wimmers and Bromberg to make the rotation title-worthy just seems unlikely.
Now, if Span and Willingham could net two high-end starting prospects, I'd feel a lot stronger about getting that starting rotation where it needs to be and shooting for Revere to replace Span's production and for one of Benson/Hicks/Arcia to step up and replace Willingham isn't completely outlandish.
Move Morneau, and use all of our newly freed up money to sign a top-end pitcher ace. Then, throw in Diamond, Gibson, Hendriks, Wimmers, Bromberg and two top-end pitching prospects acquired via trade to make the rotation come together.
Roll with Revere, Hicks, Benson, Arcia, Tosoni in the outfield. Bank on Plouffe, Dozier, Rosario, Sano and others in the infield (Michael, Santana, Beresford, etc.). Throw in Waldrop, Guerra, Gutierrez, Oliveros, Slama, Robertson and a few others in the mix in the bullpen, and all of the sudden 2014 looks really interesting. If Rosario and Sano aren't ready yet, we definitely have enough money to fill-in their positions with solid vets on short-terms contracts.
To me, this makes a lot more sense than keeping Wilingham and Span around, and we don't have to wait until 2018 to be great.
I think you can but teams may not be willing to make that move. If they're not, keep Span.
(2) Of Gibson, Wimmers and Diamond - I would say maybe one of those guys ends up being a solid #3/#4 starter. Maybe.
(3) Pavano and Liriano will be gone next year.
(4) Hendriks is a wildcard at this point considering his numbers at AAA vs Majors.
So.... Blackburn plus a whole lot of question marks is the idea of a team that's not far from contending? FA pitching has never been the Twins strong suit (plus w/ ticket sales down, the owners will likely nip their spending even further and try to stretch dollars on more high-80s/low-90s "strike throwers") and the farm system is anemic at best as far as starters go. The Twins would be pretty lucky to get anything more than a B/B- pitching prospect for anything they have to offer at this point. That includes Morneau, Willingham, Span, Doumit and Capps. Tough spot to be in and for that reason I see no way this team is anywhere close to contending for the foreseeable future. Unless we consider winning the AL central followed by quickly losing the ALDS as contending. Unfortunately, good pitching is just incredibly hard to get - cheap or not.
I'm agreeing with many here that feel the bullpen has been a somewhat pleasant surprise.
As for contending, the AL Central is kinda awful. It doesn't take much to win the division and I consider that contending, playoff sweeps be damned.
But it's a difficult proposition. We both agree that finding good pitching is incredibly difficult. More soft-tossers aren't going to cut it over the course of the season. To get back on track, the Twins are going to have to try new strategies and I happen to believe that it's probably a bad idea to try before 2014.
It is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. The Twins organization is capable of putting a decent product on the field, while at the same time rebuilding the Farm system. A system which will hopefully one day stock a Championship Team. Choose your core players and augment them with revenue generated player acquistions. Its surprising, how many people want to follow the small market formula which is led by Teams such as Kansas City, San Diego and Pittsburgh. Shred your roster of any ounce of talent, and then wait for years, as the Royals do for the prospects to grow up.
Its also possible that the prospects will never grow up.
While it may be possible to do both(decent product/rebuild farm), given the current situation, what gives people hope the Twins
can do this?
And I don't want decent; I want a team that is a threat. Getting back to past status of first round and out isn't good enough.
The Draft will be very important. That is how the Tampa Rays built their Team.
Not all of their foundation players were first round picks.
I see a lot of sound reason for hope. The rotation has to be fixed without creating a lot of collateral damage to the BP and lineup. Ryan will have money to work with in the offseason, but they'll really need some gambles to pay off big in order to create a rotation that can lead the team to real success. I'm anxious to see if Baker gets an offer. Do they acquire someone in a trade (I really think Willingham is the only player on the team that would bring a proven starter in a trade)? Does one minor leaguer (Wimmers, Hendricks, Gibson, Bromberg) become a reliable regular in the 2013 rotation? Can the Blackburn-by-default slot in the rotation perform at a 10-10, 4.50 level or will we get a 2-10, 6.50 to weigh us down?
Maybe Todd G is right. It is harder to try to win. Maybe they should just give up.
I like Revere and I hope Parmelee gets more playing time to see if he can be a 1B/DH platoon guy for the Twins in the Future. Plouffe is hitting amazingly well but he can't play 3rd base despite announcers and blogger hope. He sucks bad, whcih causes a traffic jam in the Outfield because Plouffe should be a RF or DH. Trading Span for pitching makes a lot of sense. Revere should be playing CF he is a top-5 outfielder in the game due to his range. Span is playing well so it's a good time to deal. Willingham and Mauer have been great. I don't seem to understand why people think Morneau has been affective. At 15 million a year his has a 300 OBP, a horrific average and hasn't hit a home run in sometime plus apparently he is a platoon player now as he can't hit lefties. If they could trade him just to dump his 15 million next year that would be outstanding. Then yes, agreed with all the rest the Twins could contend next year with some starting pitching and they would have money freed up to get a couple of guys in FA along with possible guys like Hendriks, Gibson and Diamond.