Success-to-attendance studies have been done, over the long term you will suffer from losing additional games. You can talk about one season, but it's not just one season, this will (most likely) be the third, with interest and attendance continuing to spiral downward.
The gross-oversimplification of "making the playoffs is all that matters" just isn't accurate.
Last fall I read somewhere that Twins season ticket renewals were at 81% already. I can't find the source. But if true, it opens the possibility that the Twins decided early to sandbag 2013 so that as TF's honeymoon wears off, they can invest the savings in a more earnest attempt at supplementing whatever roster holes have emerged by 2015 or whenever this new class of minimum wage all-stars is ready.
The problem with that of course is the Twins longstanding claim to put 50% of revenue into payroll on a year to year basis, without regard to prior years.
what about Twins attendance records in the mid-late 90s...I used to buy nosebleed seats and then move down to ground level between home and first after the third inning with no problem...
Additionally, Big City places seem to have fans that hold their teams more accountable...South End Chicago, Washington, NY, Boston, Southern California...these are places where there are many, many other options for entertainment. As a whole, Minnesota nice people have a bit of a longer time frame of patience. Continue on this course though...
P.S. The Twins were 3rd in the majors in attendance drop (by percentage). They saw a 12% drop. Only Houston and Cleveland saw a bigger drop in attendance. League attendance AVERAGE was UP almost 2%.
Of course year after year of losing will choke you out, but for fair weather and casuals, not making the playoffs is losing.
Rarely does a team go with a single strategy like you outlined. Virtually all of them mix approaches, and the Twins were no different this offseason:
Kevin Correia fits your approach #2 in the Twins eyes (durable innings eater)
Pelfrey straddles 2 & 3 (injury make good)
Harden straddles 3 & 4 (minor league contract)
Vance Worley probably fits plan 1 (spending) although the cost was players(s) in trade rather than money
May & Meyer probably count toward plan 4 too (rebuilding)
Most of us have argued they didn't do a very good job at approaches 2 & 3, and many are disappointed they didn't execute approach #1 on the free agent market, but I don't think there is anything unusual here.
I think the strategy was play for the future, and 2013 was all about not making any long term commitments. I think the strategy was to cut costs. So they paid low dollars for low impact guys.
The example of the mid-90s Twins, brought up by another poster, is a good one. In 1995 when the Twins won 56 games they barely drew a million fans. In 2005 when they won 83 they drew over 2 million. Fans – both hardcore and casual – are more interested in the team when they’re winning, and that effect magnifies over extended winning/losing periods. That’s why a third straight 90-loss season would be dangerous, IMO.
if we trade Josh we pay his contract? in both cases the money is already accounted for , so saving an extra 30 million to buy players in mid season is untrue... the players salary is already accounted for...
Say the Red Sox are interested again, and just as a pot sweetener, or to help them avoid payroll tax issues maybe, the Twins throw in 23m cash to buyout a year of Mauer's contract in a trade for some of the pitching prospects they took from the Dodgers. Instead of trading a 6/138 player they're trading a more "team friendly" 6/115 player while lifting their own 2013 payroll back to the 100m range.
I firmly believe the plan was three-fold: 1) shed payroll 2) affix blame for poor results--ineffective starting pitching caused by an over-reliance on high-priced injury-prone veterans 3) make public announcements to remedy situation, but recall prime directive and utilize existing philosophy of bargain-priced innings-eaters signed to short-term contracts. Ergo, more of the same. The team is in full-rebuild mode and requires a return to relying on young players who are: more athletic, have less wear-and-tear on the body in order to be less injury prone, and have lower salaries. All of this to be accomplished while convincing the fan base that the team can actally contend for post-season play.
Recall St.Peter's response of payroll between $80 and $85 million. All previous mention of payroll was vague except we were to be assured that "it won't be a problem". Now we can surmise this was the plan. Also recall lack of offers to other FA pitchers in January--that would have exceeded budget.
Recall Ryan's response to "demand on the new rotation": "Health". Blame was affixed to injured veterans which required utilization of over-matched replacements.
Signed FA were of the bargain-priced veterans only--reliance on quanity vs. quality.