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Thread: Article: The Twins Way

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    Senior Member All-Star Jim Crikket's Avatar
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    Article: The Twins Way

    I opine about the Twins and Kernels regularly at Knuckleballsblog.com while my alter ego, SD Buhr covers the Kernels for MetroSportsReport.com.

    ~You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant~

  2. #2
    Senior Member All-Star
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    Some very good insights. One inflammatory line that made me laugh. Thanks for taking the time to write this.

  3. #3
    The only remaining question is whether General Manager Terry Ryan and others running the organization are prepared to let go of the last remaining tie to the old culture and spend that money

    Is Terry Ryan really the one reluctant to spend money on FA contracts or is he just taking the heat for the Pohlads who don't want to spend the money? After all it was Jim Pohlad who said in a Phil Mackey piece that he couldn't justify spending more money on a 90 loss team. Makes you wonder what exactly the "philosophical indifferences" were with Billy Smith.

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    Senior Member Big-Leaguer jimbo92107's Avatar
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    In short, the Twins Way (TW) has clearly been trumped by the Rays Way (RW), and finally even the somewhat dull executives in this organization are starting to realize that their MLB product kinda sucks. It's not even that they don't win a Series. These guys aren't even fun to watch anymore.

    The result has been kidnapping Gene Glynn and stashing him in Rochester, signing teen superstars Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, luring TW survivors Terry Steinbach and Tom Brunanski back into the fold, trading a couple TW CF's for pitchers that can throw 95+, and drafting more pitchers that can throw harder than Andrew Albers.

    Sadly, it's a long way from TW to RW. This is gonna take awhile. Meanwhile, this team is going to continue to kinda suck for at least another couple years.

    Don't buy a jersey with a name on it.
    Last edited by jimbo92107; 09-14-2013 at 09:15 AM.

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    Senior Member Triple-A
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    This was a very good article. Thank you. While I understand the impatience and even anger that many show towards the Twins organization, I tend to appreciate what the Ryan and others are trying to do here. I am old enough to remember when the Twins came to Minnesota in 61. In over 50 years of Twins baseball, there have been 2 periods of sustained competitive baseball by the Twins. The mid-sixties to early seventies stretch and the 2000's stretch. The 87 Twins and 91 Twins were exciting and fun, but both were the kind of rather flukey years that happen in baseball, not really the result of a strong and deep organization.

    I am excited for might happen over the next 10 years or so. The Twins have acquired some very fine front line talent, potential superstars. Things might happen and that might not occur, but clearly the talent is there. What I like, as you suggest, is that the Twins have not abandoned what has worked for them before. There are a number of potential Radkes and solid positional talent in the organization. Guys who will likely get the most out of their talent, and they could turn out to be better players then we currently expect.

    What is needed is a certain amount of patience. I have nothing against going out buying some front line starting pitching, even if it means overpaying. What I hope we don't see, is getting too impatient and trading potential front line talent for 2 years of even very good pitching. I think Kansas City will regret trading Myers even though the trade has made them much more competitive than they would have been without the trade. The discussion yesterday about trading Rosario illustrates what I mean. If you are sure he isn't a front line talent and he can bring back 2 or more years of top flight pitching, make the deal. But he could be pretty special, I think, and making this sort of deal is probably pretty short sighted. It could make you more competitive right now, but is highly unlikely to turn you into a playoff team, and will almost certainly make you worse 3 or 4 years from now.

    Personally, and I realize that many don't feel this way, I want a team that has a good chance to be competitive year after year for many years. I don't believe in rolling the dice and trying extra hard for a World Series in any particular year. It is too easy for what happened to Toronto this year to happen and now you have morgaged your future, saddled yourself with long term contracts that you can't easily get rid of, and each year your chances of competing get worst.

    Again I appreciate, your post.
    Last edited by Jim H; 09-14-2013 at 11:08 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member All-Star
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    It's premature to say "The Twins Way" has been replaced--let's be blunt nearly all of those who crafted "TTW" are still in/running the organization. The active roster sure looks like the same sort who we have watched for years (except not as skilled). It will take much more than new buzz words to convince me that there has been real change.

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    Starting with the draft and international signings, the Twins have begun to spend money. The Twins outbid the Pirates for Dominican Miguel Sano and they’ve used the early draft picks that come with having really bad seasons to select what are arguably the best athletes available, such as Byron Buxton, rather than use “sign-ability” as a code word for spending as little as possible on new talent.
    True, although the Sano signing was already 4 years ago, under the previous GM. Did they go big internationally, before or since? And the Buxton signing didn't happen until MLB implemented hard draft slots, severely limiting the negotiating leverage of draftees -- hopefully that change nets us more talent like him, but it's hard to give the Twins too much credit for just going along. That would be like crediting NBA teams for spending restraint just for following the max contract guidelines.

    They re-signed the players they deemed the most critical to retain from among their own group of free agents, including a significant extension for Justin Morneau and an eight-year contract for Joe Mauer at $23 million per year.
    Again, previous GM (although to be fair, they haven't had any players worth re-signing in awhile). And some of those investments were questionable -- Morneau was a 1B, Nathan was a closer, and they inexplicably waited pretty late to extend obvious Twin for life Mauer.

    They’ve dipped their toes in the mid-range levels of free agency, signing players like Josh Willingham and Kevin Correia to multi-year contracts at mid-seven digit levels annually.
    Correia is mid-range? "Mid-seven digit levels annually"? You realize the AVERAGE MLB salary is around $3.5 million, and that includes all of the pre-arbitration players working for peanuts? If Correia is a mid-range free agent, what the heck is a low-range free agent? You can't really sign a starting player to a guaranteed deal any lower than Correia's annual salary.

    Outside of Willingham, there isn't even a trend. They went just above average MLB salary for Ramon Ortiz and Livan Hernandez too, although I guess they didn't tack on the second year (although I believe TR has said he resisted giving the second year to Correia).

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    Senior Member Double-A
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    Twins' Way

    Tommy Lasorda once said the "Dodger's Way" meant that at every level the players would be taught to turn a double play a particular way, and handle other plays the same way. So, when a shortstop would be called up from the minors, he would already be on the same page with the second baseman for example! The Twins Way includes a similar philosophy.

  9. #9
    You can't teach everything thru the minors. Fast-tracked, young and with a language barrier, Arcia is still a work in progress. After toiling in the Indy Leagues for a decade, Colabello has less than two years in The Twins Way. Sometimes, you have to learn on the job.

    At this point, the better question is: do the Twins have to play it safe and hold-back prospects until they fully mature (in the Twins Way) in the minors, or just throw them into the mix, shuffling them up-and-down and seen fit.

    The Twins also have to throw roster time out the window. If they guys deserve to advance and play now, don't worry about an extra year of arbitration or having too many guys hit free agency at once. If the guys are that good, they also have worth to other organizations. In that way teams like the A's and Rays go above and beyond the Twins in moving talent in and out.

    The era of loyalty is dead. You can't plan on having players spend their entire life with a team (we even had it waaaay back when Killebrew found fit to give a go with the Royals, when Yogi Berra decided to try another season with The Mets). And it should also be looked at in the front office. You don't always have to promote from within and having a lifetime job with the Twins with great responsibility shouldn't be the norm.

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    Senior Member Double-A
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    The Twins way:
    a. Do not try a pickoff play, ever, especially the catcher, because why risk throwing the ball away?
    b. Do not try a squeeze play, ever, because you might lose a baserunner.
    c. Do not hit and run -- risk of swing and miss.
    d. Do not make yourself into a running team because you might make outs on the bases, even though you are not a power team.
    e. Do not try to hit home runs because you might strike out, and anyway, the Twins are more of a "do the little things" type team.
    f. Hit the other way, even if it means dinky singles from your number 3 hitter.
    g. Play for one run whenever possible, even with one of the worst pitching staffs in the league.
    h. Play your backup catcher or 1B in right field as often as possible because you need the offense you aren't getting from them in the first place.

    So, in essence, it boils down to: Don't take any chances. Don't risk anything. Just play the game the way it is supposed to be played, sacrifice often, run station to station, let the other team hit the ball and go get it -- no passion, no surprises, none of this high risk--high reward stuff. Definitely the most boring team in baseball. Hands down.

    And now, they are too afraid of having to replace a manager to let him go during the season. Talk about risk averse. A guy who has lost 90 games three years in a row, has a 12-game playoff losing streak and has only won one playoff series -- ever. I mean, the Twins lack of "going for it" -- for anything, anywhere, anytime, is ... for lack of a better word, pathetic.

  11. #11
    Twins News Team All-Star PseudoSABR's Avatar
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    Great article.

    Money quote:
    As I see it, there’s really one remaining major cultural paradigm within the organization that needs to change and it’s probably the most difficult change for the organization to make. It has to do with being prepared to spend significant money on top-tier free agents from other organizations, even if it means having to risk paying more for their talents than your best judgment tells you they are worth.

  12. #12
    Senior Member All-Star Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
    I am old enough to remember when the Twins came to Minnesota in 61. In over 50 years of Twins baseball, there have been 2 periods of sustained competitive baseball by the Twins. The mid-sixties to early seventies stretch and the 2000's stretch. The 87 Twins and 91 Twins were exciting and fun, but both were the kind of rather flukey years that happen in baseball, not really the result of a strong and deep organization.
    I think it's ok to include the 87 and 91 teams as part of one sustained run. More up and down seasons in that stretch, but it was the same core group of guys who put together the fun 1984 run and several of the clutch guys were part of the 87 and 91 teams (Gagne, Gladden, in addition to Puckett and Hrbek).

    Signing a big name free agent pitcher is what put us over the top in 1991 -- go figure!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
    True, although the Sano signing was already 4 years ago, under the previous GM. Did they go big internationally, before or since? And the Buxton signing didn't happen until MLB implemented hard draft slots, severely limiting the negotiating leverage of draftees -- hopefully that change nets us more talent like him, but it's hard to give the Twins too much credit for just going along. That would be like crediting NBA teams for spending restraint just for following the max contract guidelines.
    You're aware Pinto, Arcia, and Sano are International signings right? Sano is 20, so if you're asking about 19, 18, and 17 year-olds there is some really good information on the board. IMHO things look just fine.

  14. #14
    Senior Member All-Star
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosken Bombo Disco View Post
    I think it's ok to include the 87 and 91 teams as part of one sustained run. More up and down seasons in that stretch, but it was the same core group of guys who put together the fun 1984 run and several of the clutch guys were part of the 87 and 91 teams (Gagne, Gladden, in addition to Puckett and Hrbek).

    Signing a big name free agent pitcher is what put us over the top in 1991 -- go figure!
    Some perspective...

    The big time free agent was 36. He was coming off three years of ERAs above league average. The previous two were well above. He was signed to a one year contract with options that were much lower than the base.

    This was written at the time...

    "At age 35 -- he'll turn 36 in May -- Morris is likely past his prime. He hasn't had a winning season or an earned run average below 4.50 since 1988. But his second half last season -- 9-9, 3.94 ERA, two shutouts, one one-hitter -- showed he still can pitch effectively."

    Wouldn't a one year Johan Santana signing this winter be very similar? Johan would be a year younger than Jack. He hasn't had a good season for three years. I looked for a different comp that was healthy but there aren't very many guys that put up ERA+ of 79 and 89 and continue getting the ball every fifth day.

    I thought maybe a guy like Buerhle but he has performed much better the last three years.

  15. #15
    Owner MVP Seth Stohs's Avatar
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    This is a great article! Well thought out and fair.

    It's always strange to me that "The Twins Way" is hated as a cliche so much. It's like "Pitch to Contact." In its most basic state, both are wise. Pitch to Contact says, get ahead and throw strikes. We all know there are a lot of pitchers who have been successful without throwing 95. What we have seen the last several years is Pitch to too Much Contact, throwing it down the middle as opposed to good command, etc. The Twins Way speaks to max effort from everyone on the roster. It was influenced by the fact that Kirby Puckett was the Twins top player and yet he hustled and worked as hard as anyone on the roster. It meant playing the backups and expecting them to step right in and contribute, with max effort. The piranhas were a great example.

    Do people forget that The Rays Way was based off of The Twins Way, from when The Twins Way was working? The Rays Way took several years to get going, and was helped greatly by the fact that they picked at the top of the draft for many years in a row. It certainly didn't happen over night.

    Oh, and if we want to say that pitchers are just going to make more and the Twins are going to need to spend more, then no more complaining about Pelfrey or Correia-like signings.

  16. #16
    Senior Member All-Star Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
    Some perspective...

    The big time free agent was 36. He was coming off three years of ERAs above league average. The previous two were well above. He was signed to a one year contract with options that were much lower than the base.

    This was written at the time...

    "At age 35 -- he'll turn 36 in May -- Morris is likely past his prime. He hasn't had a winning season or an earned run average below 4.50 since 1988. But his second half last season -- 9-9, 3.94 ERA, two shutouts, one one-hitter -- showed he still can pitch effectively."

    Wouldn't a one year Johan Santana signing this winter be very similar? Johan would be a year younger than Jack. He hasn't had a good season for three years. I looked for a different comp that was healthy but there aren't very many guys that put up ERA+ of 79 and 89 and continue getting the ball every fifth day.

    I thought maybe a guy like Buerhle but he has performed much better the last three years.
    Fair enough, and I did not dig for details prior that post, but the Morris signing definitely passed the WOW! test at the time, if not for his stats (but those too) then at least for his competitiveness and you banked on him pitching every fifth day.

    Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
    "At age 35 -- he'll turn 36 in May -- Morris is likely past his prime. He hasn't had a winning season or an earned run average below 4.50 since 1988....
    ...
    ...and it's always nice to read old quotes from Patrick Reusse, the eternal optimist.

  17. #17
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
    You're aware Pinto, Arcia, and Sano are International signings right? Sano is 20, so if you're asking about 19, 18, and 17 year-olds there is some really good information on the board. IMHO things look just fine.
    You missed the entire point of the post you quoted. He is making a valid point about whether this current group has the guts to go big on an international free agent or any other for that matter. It's a legitimate concern that does need to be shown before more talk is going to pass muster.

    I like quite a few things about the "Twins Way", but like any mantra of how to do things, without perspective it can lead to as many problems as it solves. Chief among them is that this team has gotten far too comfortable promoting from within and being too insular from outside ideas/perspectives.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    You missed the entire point of the post you quoted. He is making a valid point about whether this current group has the guts to go big on an international free agent or any other for that matter. It's a legitimate concern that does need to be shown before more talk is going to pass muster.

    I like quite a few things about the "Twins Way", but like any mantra of how to do things, without perspective it can lead to as many problems as it solves. Chief among them is that this team has gotten far too comfortable promoting from within and being too insular from outside ideas/perspectives.
    I didn't miss anything. I responded to a specific question posed by the OP as I'm privileged to do as a Senior Member Triple-A. There was no hint he was questioning somebodies guts.

  19. #19
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
    I didn't miss anything. I responded to a specific question posed by the OP as I'm privileged to do as a Senior Member Triple-A. There was no hint he was questioning somebodies guts.
    He asked, other than Sano:

    Did they go big internationally, before or since


    You then proceeded to list Sano as part of the group that proved this wrong. The other two - Pinto and Arcia - were not "big" international signings by any imagination. They were good ones, but completely irrelevant to the question asked. It was in reference to spending significant money to bring in players.

    Instead, you made it about what you want to keep saying, not about what the point actually was.

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    Lewin Diaz?

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