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Torii Hunter brought about the collapse of the Twins, sorta

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#1 DocBauer

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 10:36 PM

OK, so the headliner is a grabber, thoroughly sensational, and not 100% accurate. Nor is it Torri's fault directly, but follow the train of thought involved here. It's interesting, kind of fun, realistically accurate, and something that occurred to me this past off season.

This is for fun, FYI.

2007 was Hunter's final season with the Twins. Speculation was the Twins would ultimately re-sign Hunter to a big, fair contract, and he wasn't going anywhere. And if you recall...sorry it's such a bad memory to recall...the Angels suddenly swooped in and signed him for something like 3-4M more per season than what the Twins offered, and Torri was suddenly gone. Now, we can all lament the Twins not re-signing him before the season, or during, and simply avoiding his loss. But for the sake of this speculation, let's say they did.

The 2007-2008 off season was not kind to the Twins as we also faced a situation with Johan Santana. The Twins chose to be pre-emptive by trading him before losing him to FA. Looking for the best deal possible, but rather desperate for a Hunter replacement, they chose a deal with the Mets that brought them a low level, though talented, prospect, 2 never where's, and Carlos Gomez, super talented, but rushed and not ready, as the centerpiece of the deal. The Yankees and Red Sox were also in the mix. And while we may never know exactly which pieces were made available in trade possibilities, it was reported Hughes may have been available along with another piece, some rumors said Melky Cabrera. The Red Sox had Lester, Bucholz and Masterson along with another piece, possibly Lowrie. But with Hunter still in the fold, there was no desperation for a CF, allowing the Twins to aquire a top pitcher in the return. Simply for the sake of arguement, since he's been tied to the Twins before, and since we now have him, let's just pick Hughes as the pitcher acquired.

Looking to replace Hunter's bat, the Twins also traded Garza and Bartlett to the Rays for Delmon Young. This trade would have been completely unnecessary with Hunter still with the Twins.

The Twins 2008 rotation would have, thusly, included Garza, Hughes, Baker, Slowey, Blackburn and Perkins, as well as Bonser and Livan Hernandez, who probably wouldn't have been signed at all.

2009 would have included Garza, Hughes, Baker, Blackburn, Slowey, Liriano, Perkins, Swarzak and Pavano. Now, it's true Pavano was acquired during the season as injuries limited Slowey. And with the presence of Garza and Hughes, it's possible the trade doesn't take place. But then again, Perkins hadn't established himself yet, Slowey was hurt, and Pavano came cheap.

2010, a 94 win team, our last good season, won with a rotation of Pavano, Liriano, Baker, Slowey, Blackburn, and Duensing making 13 starts. Now put Garza and Hughes in that rotation with Duensing and someone else in the bullpen. And Hunter and Barlett would still be strong and viable position players.

2011 was an injury cluster mess from top to bottom. No way to fix all of that mess. But unless Hunter and Barlett were also bitten by the bug, there would been no Nishioka snafu, production from Hunter and Barlett, and Hughes and Garza would have still been part of a solid rotation overall. Not saying the Twins would have won anything, the injury bug was severe, but the bleeding might have been less.

By 2012, at the latest, Hunter would have moved to a corner position, but would still be highly productive, the FA money on Willingham would not have to have been spent, unless we were simply acquiring another bat to platoon and DH, and SS would still be solid with Barlett for one more season. And the SP would still be much better with Garza and Hughes helping anchor. We had Span and Revere now up and making a difference. Again, I don't know if the Twins could have achieved a winning record or not, but again, the bleeding would have been less severe.

2012 also brought about the second worse loss for the Twins over the past few seasons; the FA loss of Michael Cuddyer. He is no star, and never has been. But he is a very good, and very productive ML player, who also brings class and leadership. Something Hunter is also known for. Recent comments from Colorado have been very strong in regarding re-signing Cuddyer, not only for his production, but for his leadership and example.

Perhaps the Twins simply couldn't afford to keep Cuddyer. But then again, with all I've laid out above, there would be at least slightly better seasons the last three, possibly better attendance and gate receipts as a result, stronger contention, and no 7M for Willingham which would help offset keeping Cuddyer.

Now, I'm not going to excuse the Twins for mostly blowing the CF situation in 2012 and 2013 after the Span and Revere trades, trades in endorse highly! But imagine a decent alternative for CF, or even Fuld and a healthy Santana, with Hunter and Cuddyer and Arcia in the corners, Plouffe, Dozier, Escobar, Nunez, Suzuki, a healthy Mauer, Garza in the rotation with an eventually healthy Nolasco.

I am not even going to play the unfair card of the Twins best 2 players in the past 10 years both suffering a contact injury, concussions, in what is generally a non-contact sport. (OMG, but what if the Twins just decided to keep or re-sign Morneau on a make good contract)

I remind everyone, this article is really just for fun. I think everything stated has basis in fact, and very easy logic and plausibility. It is in no way a negativity toward Ryan or Bill Smith. But that being said, I truly believe there was an unfortunate tipping point 6 years ago that truly has had an impact on the Twins current and recent past situation.

"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

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#2 curt1965

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 10:58 PM

Wow, Mr. Bauer. You should be writing mystery novels. Well done! Very interesting scenerio! You put a lot of time and research into that, and it would nice if everything occurred as was written. Fun article!!

#3 DocBauer

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 11:19 PM

LOL @ mystery novels. But thank you Curt!

Truly, this is really just for fun, as I stated.

But the whole idea came to me this past off season, and upon examining events as they unfolded, I was surprised how dominoes just seemed to fall from one recent event in Twins history. And what surprised me the most was, how simply and logically those dominos seemed to fall.

I really hope others enjoy the article. And I look forward to input and commentary. This could be fun!

"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

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#4 nicksaviking

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 01:11 AM

Good what if scenario's.

Hunter left more because the Twins wouldn't give him the years though. The Angles did offer a lot of money, but the Twins only wanted to give him 3 years while the Angels offered 5. Additionally, it was reported that the Twins never actually made him an offer that offseason.

I believe the expectation was that Ryan would look to extend Hunter after the 2006 season while he still had one season under team control. Hunter however wanted five or six years and Ryan only wanted three with the assumption that he may go to four. As the season got going, it became clear that Hunter was going to test free agency and the Twins likely weren't going to be the top bidder in terms of years. As Bill Smith didn't wan't to repeat the same messy situation with a star player playing a lame duck year he pulled the trigger on the Santana deal.

#5 Vespasian

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 06:45 AM

I remember thinking during the 2006 season that the Twins could probably afford to resign either Hunter or Santana but not both. Liriano was so dominant in 2006 that I actually found myself hoping they would quietly resign Hunter and simply let Santana walk after playing out his contract rather than doing the preemptive trade because it would have given us one year of Hunter in center and Santana and Liriano atop the rotation. Soon after I had this thought we found out Liriano needed Tommy John and he has never been so dominant again, so it's a good thing I'm not GM, but it is fun to think about how history would have been different if Hunter had been resigned. Thanks for the trip through an alternate universe Doc!

#6 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 06:47 AM

There's definitely some merit to what you are saying. They had been successful for a good 5 seasons at that point too. It's tough when you are constantly drafting low, and the budget stuff with the dome didn't help either. I suspect that the fall off was going to happen anyways, though this may have accelerated it. Hunter was as good as gone, even before the Angels came in.

If the RedSox offer was on the table (and I'm not sure it really was), then I'd have to think that several front office members are kicking themselves right now for taking the Mets deal for Santana. That said, the front office was kind of hamstrung by that scenario as Johann forced their hand. He had a NTC and essentially forced them into NY or Boston, with the best suitor (the Dodgers) being excluded. I'm not sure if they would have been serious, but they did have the right prospects to get it done if they were interested. In hindsight, knowing what they got, playing out the final year and taking the picks was the right answer, though I don't think anyone expected them to contend that season and play a game 163. I know I didn't.

#7 spycake

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 07:03 AM

The Twins offer to Hunter was reported as 3/45, quite a far cry from the Angels 5/90 offer. The White Sox were the team that was swooped by the Angels: they offered 5/75, which was the commonly predicted number it would take to sign him.

#8 Tibs

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 08:19 AM

Keeping Torii Hunter would have definitely improved this team every year that he would have been here. I'm not going to speculate on who we would/wouldn't have because that gets hard to do, but his worst years since leaving (OPS+ wise) are 2008 when he posted a 111 with 21 HR and 37 2Bs, and 2013, as a 37 year old, he posted a 114 with 17 HR and 37 2Bs. Even without considering all the moves we made because of his departure, he would have improved this team just by being here.
I couldn't be a player because of bad eyesight, so I decided to be an umpire instead.

#9 Thrylos

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 08:32 AM

Wow, Mr. Bauer. You should be writing mystery novels. Well done! Very interesting scenerio! You put a lot of time and research into that, and it would nice if everything occurred as was written. Fun article!!


Not mystery novels, Alternate History novels :)

Indeed lots of work here. Cannot really argue on the plot of the novel or what would had happen in an alternate universe, but not sure that the Hunter departure was a cause or a symptom.

For me the cause was the 3 and out in the 2006 post-season of the 96 win team with both the Cy Young and MVP award winners. Fill in the blanks about what should had happened afterwards and what if...
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#10 DocBauer

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 06:53 PM

The Twins offer to Hunter was reported as 3/45, quite a far cry from the Angels 5/90 offer. The White Sox were the team that was swooped by the Angels: they offered 5/75, which was the commonly predicted number it would take to sign him.


Yes, of course years were also a factor, not just the per year dollars.

But, of course, the whole point isn't really why didn't the Twins work out a deal sooner, (they should have), or ultimately how the bidding worked out. The point really is how the loss of one cornerstone player greatly influenced an entire teams approach and thinking over the next several seasons. Seems like everyone is having some fun with this, which was the intent.

"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

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#11 Bark's Lounge

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 07:43 PM

If I remember correctly, even though it was 7 years ago, word was that 4 years at 60M would have gotten the deal done. It's ancient history now, but if that were the case, the Twins should have done it swiftly, quickly, gently, danced the jig and felt good about retaining their team leader.

I am not a fan of examining past missteps and lamenting on them - I try to be at peace with what actually happened and look forward no matter if it is promising or bleak.

There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.


#12 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 07:57 PM

"Winning is a habit. Unfortunately so is losing." Vince Lombardi. The Twins need to form new habits.

#13 old nurse

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 08:02 PM

Not mystery novels, Alternate History novels :)

Indeed lots of work here. Cannot really argue on the plot of the novel or what would had happen in an alternate universe, but not sure that the Hunter departure was a cause or a symptom.

For me the cause was the 3 and out in the 2006 post-season of the 96 win team with both the Cy Young and MVP award winners. Fill in the blanks about what should had happened afterwards and what if...


The MVP OPS'd .432. The team got hits, but was 1/12 RISP the last two games. The Cy Young winner did not get any help from the rest of the rotation, thus started only one game. Liriano had gone out with TJ. Radke was running on fumes, as he was pitching with a torn labrum. The rest of the rotation would have fit in last year. Pretty hard to win with that pitching .
So is the what if the pitching or lack of timely hitting?

#14 old nurse

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 08:11 PM

Here is a what if. If Shooter Hunt and Carlos Guttierrez had panned out as even middle of the rotation pitchers would people lament the loss of Hunter as much?

#15 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 05:03 AM

Here is a what if. If Shooter Hunt and Carlos Guttierrez had panned out as even middle of the rotation pitchers would people lament the loss of Hunter as much?


Probably not.

Though I have to admit thinking that the Angles were out of their mind for giving him that contract... Hunter, however, didn't fade in the way a typical ball player does going into his 30s.

#16 Marta Shearing

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 09:33 AM

The collapse of the Twins began August 10, 1994 when Hrbek retired and MacPhail left. The collapse was complete on September 28, 1995 when Dennis Martinez plunked Kirby in the face. Its been all duckies and bunnies ever since.

Edited by Marta Shearing, 13 July 2014 - 09:37 AM.


#17 Kirby_waved_at_me

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 09:04 AM

Man, rock and roll just hasn't been as good since 1976.

This was a fun "what if" - I think it really emphasizes how each move a team makes can have far-reaching impact on the future.

Not signing Hunter had a ripple effect on lots of future Twins moves. Even seemingly smaller deals, like adding Ryan Doumit, changed who the Twins would look to add for the two seasons he was here - same with Willingham right now.

#18 alskntwnsfn

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 03:15 PM

It's hard to overstate how much that Delmon-Garza trade hurt us. I ran the numbers and MIN received a total of 0.4 WAR from four players while Tampa Bay has received 19.9 WAR to date (and the salary differences were basically negligible). Minnesota has zero players from the trade still on the 40-man roster (though Lester Oliveros is still at Rochester). Tampa Bay has three players still on the 40-man roster from their trading of Garza and Bartlett, including stud pitcher Chris Archer.

Ouch.