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Article: The Twins Are Stuck In Their Comfort Zone

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 10:28 PM

You can view the page at http://www.twinsdail...ir-Comfort-Zone

#2 blairpaul715

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 10:58 PM

Couldn't agree with you more.........none of the 3 should have ever been on the team, going by spring training.......Kubel gave us one good month, got to hang on for a couple more because of that one good month, and get $2 million guaranteed........I love the Twins, but I don't like the way they are run, we need new blood, because there is very little confidence in this group, and it really doesn't hurt to have some new thinking.........Twins seem to embody the good ole boys network.......

#3 Seth Stohs

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 11:01 PM

I 100% agree that Jason Bartlett should not have been on the Opening Day roster. I didn't mind the signing, but I assumed he would compete for a utility role in Rochester and shake off some rust and get an opportunity to help the Twins if things went well. With Pedro Florimon as the incumbent and not knowing how ready Danny Santana was, I thought that was a signing worth taking a flyer on.

I was (and remain) 100% fine with signing Kubel to the minor league deal and essentially handing him a roster spot. he was a year removed from hitting 30 home runs, and his 2013 was largely spent injured. He had enough equity built up in his career that I didn't have any problem with giving him a real opportunity to see if he could find it again. Should they have ended that attempt 2-4 weeks earlier? Sure. But I will always support this type of contract.

Matt Guerrier is in the same boat as Kubel, though he was older. He has had a long, very productive career. He had an opt-out and they had to make a choice. He was fine in the low-leverage situations until last night. I'm 100% good with making this change today and getting Ryan Pressly back up here.

This is the time of the year when you go into sell mode and youth movement, and we're seeing the Twins do that.

The Twins did the same thing with Jared Burton a couple of years ago. He signed a minor league contract and despite a tough spring, he was given an Opening Day roster position, and that worked out. Sure, maybe extending him hasn't been totally great, but the original decision was good... And, he was suggested by Wayne Krivsky.

So, I agree that all three of these were busts. I think we're making a bigger deal out of it because they were former good Twins players. However, I really hope they continue to sign these types of guys in the offseason to minor league contracts. It's a good strategy.

#4 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 11:08 PM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]The Twins have been stuck in a losing rut for almost half a decade now, yet they haven't brought one prominent outside voice into the mix during that entire span.[/COLOR]


Right. I hope Jim Pohlad's recent comment that "prospects aren't players until they're players" was a wake up call. Maybe Pohlad is the outside voice many fans have been waiting for? Talk is cheap though. We'll see.

Also, this is what scares me about talk of Mike Redmond or Doug Mientkiewicz coming on as coaches. Two more guys from the good old days. Please, no.

#5 twinsnorth49

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 11:11 PM

I certainly don't have an issue signing guys like this to minor league deals, what I do have an issue with is the seemingly implicit agreement that they will get their shot with the big club, no matter what their performance. What kind of message does that send? I'll give them a pass on Kubel because he wasn't too far removed from being productive, they let it ride for too long however.

#6 DocBauer

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 11:43 PM

WOW!

Honestly, great article Nick! You have encapsulated many thoughts I myself have had, and even put down in posts just tonight. I really, really hate to repeat myself, but your comments here demand I do on some points.

1) 2011 was a bitter and unexpected surprise that rocked the organization. I give them a mulligan for 2011. The Twins won 95 games in 2010, won the Central, and returned most of the team intact for 2012 except for some pen arms. And one thing the Twins have proven over the years, they usually know how to build or re-build a bullpen. Decimating injuries gave them no shot in 2011.

'12 and '13, I'm not sure any of us, or the Twins themselves knew what was going on. I don't know if they were clinging to hope of rebounds and retooling or what, but they were simply lost seasons unfortunately.

2) I believe the FO has made mistakes, but also made an honest effort to rebound here in 2014. We can argue all day about money not spent, moves not made, or not made yet. However, the Twins were very aggressive in pursuit of a veteran catcher and struck gold. They spent big money on Hughes and Nolasco, a move that I believe will still prove worthy, and even Pelfrey, which wasn't truly a bad idea based on experience and a proposed further year recovery for surgery. And still they went hard after Garza before losing out. Knowing they had some very good talent in the wings, but not ready yet, they took cheap flyers on guys like Bartlett, Kubel and Guerrier. All good guys with good track records, hoping some lighting might strike.

They could have, and probably should have, worked and pushed harder for moves. You can say Bartlett walked away, but he would have been gone anyway, and I'm convinced the Twins helped him see the writing on the wall. Of course, he never should have been on the opening roster anyway. They stuck with Kubel, and looked smart for a month. They probably waited too long, but they gave him his papers. I doubt Guerrier would have been up at all if Tonkin wasn't struggling somewhat just as Guerier was reaching his milb deadline. Still, they should have stuck with Tonkin.

The fact that they did make said cuts, as well as dumping Florimon, and promoting the young, exciting Santana over Bernier, traded for Nunez, gave Escobar a real opportunity and even gave Parmelee another shot indicates to me a move from the previous status quo.

3) I know the Twins receive a lot of flak for their seeming nepotism. And I am totally on board with bringing fresh blood and ideas in to the system. And I would like to see more. In fact, I applaud the coaching changes made last season. And while I generally believe the Twins have good quality baseball men on their staff, and I don't want to see anyone lose their job, I believe someone needs to be re-assigned elsewhere to bring on a quality Latin coach. I think this could pay HUGE dividends over the next few years. Cueller was a nice addition, but we need more.

I don't know that I can say anything bad about bringing back a well respected baseball mind like Krivsky any more than I could say a bad thing about bringing Molitor back on board, providing some new blood also flows in. But I also can't just dismiss the Twins way of doing things when you see Twins and partial Twins dotting coaching staffs throughout baseball in ML and milb. Just think Molitor, Brunansky, Steinbach, Jake Mauer and Dougie M as a few examples within the organization.

I agree with you 100% that the team and organization is moving forward. And I think we're starting to see this here in 2014. To me, there is less tolerance for the same old same. And I absolutely do not believe the team needs to be blown up. But I do believe in aggressive second half promotions and call ups. And again, I strongly believe in one major coaching decision by next year.

#7 Highabove

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 12:29 AM

Let's not forget that the Twins addressed the Medical issue by firing Head trainer
Rick McWayne. Everybody else moved up. No new blood in that department ether.

#8 h2oface

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 12:55 AM

The team will not be really moving forward until the Ryan/Gardenhire era is ended, and replaced with new blood, from outside the organization. It really is just that simple.

Edited by h2oface, 24 July 2014 - 12:59 AM.


#9 naobermiller

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 12:58 AM

The team will not be really moving forward until the Ryan/Gardenhire era is ended, and replaced with new blood, from outside the system. It really is just that simple.

The organization has taken significant strides in the right direction since Ryan came back. I don't disagree with you on Gardenhire though

#10 Shane Wahl

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 01:00 AM

Great article, Nick. Back to some hard criticism, as it is needed here.

#11 The Wise One

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 04:29 AM

The team will not be really moving forward until the Ryan/Gardenhire era is ended, and replaced with new blood, from outside the organization. It really is just that simple.


Sandy Alderson is a respected baseball GM. Are the mets really any better off? Dayton moore has been selling the hope of mediocrity for about 8 years. It is really not "just that simple". Changing managers improving teams? Does Renteria have the Cubs in the playoff? Changing managers can not change lack of talent.

Edited by The Wise One, 24 July 2014 - 04:31 AM.


#12 Sconnie

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 04:40 AM

Well said Nick.

The situations with Guerrier, Kubel, and Bartlett also coincide with the discussions on TD regarding player age and rebuilding strategy. In general, this is a rather old team to be in rebuild mode. Hopefully the departure of Guerrier for Pressly signals a youth movement and a philosophy change.

#13 The Wise One

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 04:57 AM

How many GMs are retreads? How many that are new to the job worked in the organization first. When there is criticism for wanting change, perhaps Nick would like to remember that the bright highly touted GMs worked within the organization first. (Luhnow really hasn't done squat for Houston. See this year's first round draft choice)

#14 TheLeviathan

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 05:44 AM

I think we're making a bigger deal out of it because they were former good Twins players. However, I really hope they continue to sign these types of guys in the offseason to minor league contracts. It's a good strategy.


I feel like you might be missing the forest for the trees here. Individually you can attempt to rationalize each move, but the problem is the insular approach overall. I think Nick is just shining a light on that.

For team going through this for the fourth year now they sure remain resistant to outside changes and I'm not sure there is a good way to defend that.

#15 Thrylos

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 05:55 AM

However, I really hope they continue to sign these types of guys in the offseason to minor league contracts. It's a good strategy.


Totally disagree. It would had been a "good strategy", if it were fruitful and the results were good. The Twins are again embarrassingly horrible this season. They were slightly better (still plenty of season left to go either way) than the pits they were the last three, but that is not because of this strategy, that is primarily because a. they signed an upper mid level free agent (Hughes; or two - Nolasco has yet to come to fruition, but I hope it is an adjustment period, and Morales came too late, imagine a Morales in shape instead of Kubel from day 1) b. they allowed young players like Gibson, Santana, Escobar (the bromance with Florimon was finally broken) to play and c. Suzuki (another free agent.) has an one in a lifetime season. Those (other than c. that one cannot predict) were "good" (ie. effective) strategies. Not the recycling of old faces. That was a bad strategy, because it arguably cost them one of the few players who can play CF and had to replace him, so you have to add the opportunity cost here, as well...
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#16 Thrylos

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 05:58 AM

Changing managers can not change lack of talent.


Again: Either the Twins have talent (and the manager is to blame,) or the Twins do not have the talent (and the front office is to blame.) The Twins are not where they are (and have been since 1992) because of divine intervention...
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#17 benji21

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 06:08 AM

Sandy Alderson is a respected baseball GM. Are the mets really any better off? Dayton moore has been selling the hope of mediocrity for about 8 years. It is really not "just that simple". Changing managers improving teams? Does Renteria have the Cubs in the playoff? Changing managers can not change lack of talent.


Ive seen you try to make this point in other threads and I don't think it holds much water. First, he said Ryan and Gardenhire, not just Gardy. Second, just because some new hires elsewhere hasn't seen some sort of sweeping improvement in the early going, that makes them failures? No, this is silly. When a person gets a job in any sphere, it is not a position for life or until you give it up. Orgs need outside thinking to stay fresh, period and yes, just that simple.

#18 spycake

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 06:30 AM

The Twins did the same thing with Jared Burton a couple of years ago. He signed a minor league contract and despite a tough spring, he was given an Opening Day roster position, and that worked out. Sure, maybe extending him hasn't been totally great, but the original decision was good... And, he was suggested by Wayne Krivsky.


Burton was younger, cheaper, and actually performed well in his spring training audition (2 ER, 8 K, 0.82 WHIP in 11 IP). Plus, because he only had 4 years MLB service at the time, if he performed well, we had control of him for multiple seasons (at a relatively affordable rate).

#19 spycake

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 06:51 AM

Going 0-for-3 on Bartlett, Kubel and Guerrier demonstrates either a worrisome lack of evaluative ability, or a very flawed process when it comes to deciding who should receive innings and at-bats on a rebuilding club.


Exactly! Well put, Nick Nelson.

- The Twins took apparent fliers on three guys who recently looked cooked -- and I agree with Seth here, there's no harm in that.

- All 3 of them looked pretty cooked (or at best, reinforced their limited upside) in their spring training and minor league auditions -- that's probably to be expected, remember there is a reason these guys had to take minor league deals.

- Here's where it gets problematic -- the Twins rostered all three of them anyway, guaranteed them $4 million in salary, lost (or risked losing) younger cheaper options in the process, and gave them each 2+ months of poor/mopup play in MLB before finally cutting them (although Bartlett mercifully retired before he got his complementary 2 months, not before we asked him to postpone that retirement decision, of course). In Guerrier's case, the Twins also more or less ignored potential replacements (younger, cheaper, higher upside) on a league-best AAA pitching staff for basically half a season.

Were the Twins really unable to evaluate ANY of these guys without 2 months of MLB regular season play and $1-2 million guaranteed salaries?

Or did the Twins really promise MLB roster spots, in a rebuilding year, to 3 low-upside veterans who could not get such a promise from any other team, and indeed were unable to win spots in spring training and minor league auditions?

#20 spycake

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 06:59 AM

I dont agree with every move the team has made this season, but I think there has been a lot less of the scholarship/veteran/stand pat syndrome that we may have seen in the past.


Took this from the Guerrier-specific thread.

If Kubel, Bartlett, and Guerrier had already been under contract, but the Twins moved on from them, I would completely agree with you. But that wasn't the case at all.

If cutting those 3 represent three steps forward, we merely re-gained the three steps back taken when they were added to the roster in the first place. (And I'd argue we took more steps back than steps forward in regards to these 3 in 2014, through the guys lost from the roster and the more interesting arms mostly stuck at AAA up until now. Not to mention basically forcing Hicks into the opening day lineup again.)

#21 The Wise One

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 07:00 AM

Ive seen you try to make this point in other threads and I don't think it holds much water. First, he said Ryan and Gardenhire, not just Gardy. Second, just because some new hires elsewhere hasn't seen some sort of sweeping improvement in the early going, that makes them failures? No, this is silly. When a person gets a job in any sphere, it is not a position for life or until you give it up. Orgs need outside thinking to stay fresh, period and yes, just that simple.


Silly? Outside ideas? Which organization do you like and tell me if the GM did not come from within or is a retread from being fired. Feel free to tell me then about fresh outside ideas if you can find someone who never was a GM having succeess in a new organization. Fresh ideas come from promoting the brightest person possible in the organization. That is the part that those clamoring for change don't seem to get.(Sidebar I can't resist, in 2007 either they were sadly mistaken about Smith's intelligence, or he was the brightest which would explain a lot. Changing the manager doesn't mean much without changing the talent. The point is changing the manager is not the recipe for improvement. Changing the talent is. That doesn't mean keep Gardenhire. It means if they do not change the talent you will have the same outcome. From what I read in these posts, all the Twins world will be a better place when Gardenhire and Ryan are gone. That is silly.

#22 The Wise One

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 07:04 AM

Took this from the Guerrier-specific thread.

If Kubel, Bartlett, and Guerrier had already been under contract, but the Twins moved on from them, I would completely agree with you. But that wasn't the case at all.

If cutting those 3 represent three steps forward, we merely re-gained the three steps back taken when they were added to the roster in the first place. (And I'd argue we took more steps back than steps forward in regards to these 3 in 2014, through the guys lost from the roster and the more interesting arms mostly stuck at AAA up until now. Not to mention basically forcing Hicks into the opening day lineup again.)


Guerrier was brought up when the yooung arm Tonkin faltered. You can't rewrite the history. Specifically what players were blocked by Kubel and Bartlet as they had to go outside of the organization to find their eventual replacements

#23 teekz

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 07:14 AM

Guerrier was brought up when the yooung arm Tonkin faltered. You can't rewrite the history. Specifically what players were blocked by Kubel and Bartlet as they had to go outside of the organization to find their eventual replacements


The Bartlet fiasco caused them to lose both Alex Presley and Darin Mastroianni.

#24 TheLeviathan

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 07:16 AM

The Bartlet fiasco caused them to lose both Alex Presley and Darin Mastroianni.


Which are not great players. But they also represent an option other than your 23 year old rookie SS playing CF.

#25 teekz

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 07:20 AM

Which are not great players. But they also represent an option other than your 23 year old rookie SS playing CF.



Totally agree they aren't great players. Nor long term pieces. But after seeing Parmelee, Escobar and Santana play CF so far this year...

#26 TwinsTerritory

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 07:39 AM

I'm with Seth on Kubel and Guerrier. They probably should have walked away from Kubel sooner, but I don't see where those 2 did much damage. On the other hand, the Bartlett experiment was truly poor decision making. I know Alex Presley isn't part of the long term solution, but he certainly would have given us some options other than pushing Hicks again.

I think Terry Ryan has done a good job since coming back and I'm sure Rob Antony is good at his job as well, but it would be interesting if there was a way to bring in a new face from another organization to serve in some role. I think the Twins are making changes in how they use data and scout players, but it seems it's been a slow learning curve and I wonder if someone from outside the organization might provide new insight.

#27 spycake

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 07:46 AM

Guerrier was brought up when the yooung arm Tonkin faltered. You can't rewrite the history. Specifically what players were blocked by Kubel and Bartlet as they had to go outside of the organization to find their eventual replacements


Not sure how I was re-writing history. Guerrier was promoted (and kept on the roster 2+ months) ahead of the following more likely future bullpen arms performing well in AAA: Darnell, Ibarra, Johnson, and Pressly on the 40-man roster at the time, not to mention Achter, Pino, and Guerra would could have been added, and also not to mention Meyer or May if you wanted to start them out in the pen (or shift Deduno/Pino/Johnson to their more likely long-term destination in the MLB pen the past few months).

Kubel and Bartlett led directly to the cutting of Presley and Mastroianni, and thus indirectly to the starting of Hicks. Heck, if we were looking for a guy on a minor league deal to guarantee a MLB roster spot regardless of performance, CFSam Fuld probably would have signed here back in February, and could have made it that much easier to start Hicks in the minors where he belonged.

The last places we needed to guarantee spots for longshot, low-upside fliers in a rebuilding year were corner OF/DH and the bullpen (and probably even backup SS too, given the nature of Bartlett's long shot, Florimon's remaining option, the presence of Escobar, and Danny Santana's promising spring).

#28 troyhobbs

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 07:58 AM

I don't think the twins ever fully grasped the notion that they're rebuilding. If you have a bunch of pieces in place it makes more sense to take a flyer on veterans that are past their prime, but when you're in a rebuild
it's better to error on the side of youth and future potential.

#29 spycake

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 07:58 AM

I'm with Seth on Kubel and Guerrier. They probably should have walked away from Kubel sooner, but I don't see where those 2 did much damage.


Obviously, on a fairly thoroughly non-contending team, no one player can do too much damage.

Kubel took a roster spot that could have gone to Presley or Mastroianni just as much as Bartlett did. Or his spot could have even gone to Sam Fuld, who was available on a minor league deal as late as February. All of which guaranteed Hicks a spot in MLB far too long. (Also losing a spot to Kubel was Parmelee, who while perhaps a lower-upside hitter, at least had the ability to play the field and not blame his poor hitting on tired legs.)

And I'd have rather given Guerrier's spot/innings to one of our multiple interesting AAA arms, to better inform us of their abilities in advance of our 2015 planning. (Best yet, give his bullpen spot to Deduno/Pino/Johnson and let Meyer and May log some MLB starts this season.)

And for what did we give up these opportunities? All three of Bartlett, Kubel, and Guerrier looked pretty well cooked before we had to officially guarantee them anything.

#30 jaimedude2

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 08:05 AM

"I think Terry Ryan has done a good job since coming back and I'm sure Rob Antony is good at his job as well, but it would be interesting if there was a way to bring in a new face from another organization to serve in some role. I think the Twins are making changes in how they use data and scout players, but it seems it's been a slow learning curve and I wonder if someone from outside the organization might provide new insight.


I wish he Gardenhire had as much influence or pull in bringing up prospects like Meyer to pitch, or May to pitch along with Rosario to play center field and play Santanna at short stop every day with Escobar filling for all three spots, 2nd base, short and third base so those guys Dozier and Plouffe could get a few more days off to recover. HE should have played Pinto at DH a lot more to start the season and got Danny Santanna up sooner.
They need to develop those two guys at key spots, or someone at catcher, and the younger pitchers in order to move forward. Johnson and Pino are what they are fillers, they got a better start out of Swarzak and probably would out of Hamburger than those two long relief or should be bullpen types.
It's hard to say whether new blood would help the team turn the corner, or right the ship if they would keep Gardenhire's field staff, or make a change, at some points they look like they are stuck in the mud and some games they look like they are developing players to get better and be more consistent. There has been incremental improvement in Arcia, and Escobar and Suzuki have overachieved.
I don't know if it is that they need new people or if the existing staff needs to push themselves out of their comfort zones and try some new things with developing the newer or younger guys? That is the 500 dollar question for now, can they get better with this field staff in place and turn the corner or do they need new "blood"? This Twins team although slightly improved in some areas is highly inconsistent. I can't say they are flat terrible because they are not they are competitive and play hard.
Not sure if they are going to turn the page and get better with current core and staff, or if they need to start anew with a rebuild. They are kind of at a crossroads of selecting that path right now. I guess I would rather trust the GM Ryan to choose the path, then go outside right now. IF he Ryan trusts Gardy they need to start showing some results before there is nothing but crickets in the stands at Target Field.

Edited by jaimedude2, 24 July 2014 - 08:23 AM.