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Article: Twins Are Making The Right Moves

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 11:00 PM

As the Minnesota Twins have skidded to poor finishes in each of the past three seasons, many fans have been just as frustrated -- if not more so -- with the lack of organizational direction as the losses piled up in recent Augusts and Septembers.

Too often there has been ambiguity about whether to buy or sell. Too often there has been reluctance to part with veteran players who weren't part of the long-term plan. Too often there has been inaction.

None of that can be said about the front office's decision-making as we head toward another disappointing finish here in 2014.The Twins made only one deal before the non-waiver deadline on July 31st, sending Sam Fuld to the A's for Tommy Milone in what might go down as one of Terry Ryan's niftier pickups, but they've been characteristically active on the trade market here in August. Over the weekend, they dealt Kevin Correia to the Dodgers, making room for Milone in the rotation. And on Monday, needing to free up a roster spot for the return of Joe Mauer, Ryan was able to send Josh Willingham to the Royals.

A couple fairly intriguing minor-league pitchers came back in the Correia and Willingham swaps, but the chief imperative there was always to open up playing time for younger guys. The deals also work out pretty well for the departing players, who head from the cellar-dwelling Twins to first-place contenders.

Neither Correia nor Willingham has ever made a postseason appearance despite a combined 23 years of experience in the majors. Both have a good shot now.

The Twins might not be done. There are still a few relievers on the roster who could draw interest from competing teams and are likely in their final year here -- most notably Jared Burton and Brian Duensing. There are several bullpen arms in Rochester that deserve a look.

Additionally, as Mike Berardino pointed out on Tuesday, Ryan might try and find a suitor for Yohan Pino; his 1-5 record and 5.37 ERA won't wow anybody, but his solid peripherals -- in addition to his spectacular Triple-A numbers -- could stir up a bit of interest from a club needing a fifth starter or added rotation depth. The Twins have motivation to move Pino with Ricky Nolasco expected to return from his rehab stint soon.

The ongoing rebuild that has been taking place here in Minnesota has been a difficult one to endure, filled with fits and starts, injury setbacks and indecisiveness. But finally, you can really begin to feel some momentum building. The Twins might be headed toward another 90-loss finish, but pieces are beginning to fall into place.

May and Milone have arrived. Kennys Vargas is getting his feet wet while Danny Santana continues to build his case for a prominent 2015 role. Prospects are starting to be moved up more aggressively, with Byron Buxton's promotion to Double-A despite underwhelming numbers in Ft. Myers serving as the latest example.

It's hard to heap praise on a franchise that has shown little in the way of on-field progress, but the Twins have done a good job of clearing house, and will enter this offseason with relatively few holes to fill. They'll have plenty of money to address those that can't be filled by incoming youth.

"Wait until next year" might not be the most satisfying mantra to fall back on, but after a lot of treading water, it feels like we can at least feel confident in saying it now.

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#2 stringer bell

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 11:09 PM

Nice take, Nick. I have hopes for much better times starting next year. In addition, I think the club will be more competitive for the balance of this season.

#3 Monkeypaws

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 11:25 PM

"A couple fairly intriguing minor-league pitchers came back in the Correia and Willingham swaps"

 

I must've missed it - who did they get for Correia?

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#4 Paul Pleiss

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 11:34 PM

The Twins are moving in the right direction, yes. Future success, however, could still be a couple years away. The team may flirt with .500 next season, but unless Gibson becomes more consistent, Nolasco finds his form, and at least one of Alex Meyer or Trevor May reach their potential (and stop walking so many guys) 2015 isn't going to be a roaring success. Yes, it should be better to watch than this season, just as this season was better than last, but I think there's still a lot of work to be done. Sano and Buxton are still big question marks. The talent is there, just have to wait for it to show up.

 

Like aging a fine wine, all we can do is wait.

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#5 h2oface

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 11:37 PM

I like Miami's direction a lot better.  And look how fast it happened.  And they have Redmond instead of Gardenhire.

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#6 troyhobbs

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 05:26 AM

The rebuild does seem to finally be taking shape. Don't think they've taken the quickest path or they'll be competitive for at least a couple more years barring any big off season moves, but I do think the worst is over.

#7 teekz

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 05:34 AM

I like Miami's direction a lot better. And look how fast it happened. And they have Redmond instead of Gardenhire.


Miami has had way more terrible years and redos on rebuilding. When is the last time that Miami has been to the post season?

It does suck that this is the fourth year of rebuilding, but all year this year I feel I have more reason to watch an entire game. There is no quit in this team. Even down 10-1 last night going into the ninth, the team put together good at bats and put 3 runs on the board.

 

42

Edited by teekz, 13 August 2014 - 05:50 AM.

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I got nothing!


#8 TKGuy

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 06:15 AM

As much complaining as there has been about the poor Target Field product, Terry Ryan has replenished the farm system to its usual form.  The future I believe is bright, but its taking a long time.  

 

I have also finally come to the realization that even though I like Gardy as a manager, it may be time for a new voice.  I'd be fine with Molitor and keeping Steinbach and Bruno, but the rest of the staff needs a change.  I am probably one of the last on this site to come to this realization.

 

As for Terry Ryan, I would keep him in his place though.

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#9 Craig Arko

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 06:34 AM

As much complaining as there has been about the poor Target Field product, Terry Ryan has replenished the farm system to its usual form.  The future I believe is bright, but its taking a long time.  

 

I have also finally come to the realization that even though I like Gardy as a manager, it may be time for a new voice.  I'd be fine with Molitor and keeping Steinbach and Bruno, but the rest of the staff needs a change.  I am probably one of the last on this site to come to this realization.

 

As for Terry Ryan, I would keep him in his place though.

 

In that scenario, I wonder how Steinbach would fare as a pitching coach? I probably keep Bobby Cuellar in any event.

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#10 mnfireman

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 06:44 AM

Gardy, like TK, is here until he doesn't want to be. He may not be able to handpick his successor as TK did though. Molitor or Glynn might make sense as they are older and might only want to manage a couple of years, bridging the gap to Mauer or Mientkiewicz.


#11 Lazarus

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 06:58 AM

I believe this is year 3 of the rebuild, not year 4 (but it is the 4th consecutive down year).In 2011, the wheels came off after winning the division in 2010 - I don't count 2011 as a rebuild but a frozen stare of horror.We still had Billy Smith as GM and bare cupboards in the upper minors.Rebuilding the minors usually takes 3-4 years before that talent is ready to move to the majors, so this feels like it is on schedule even though it as been agonizing to watch.

 

I blame the Twins Daily staff for keeping us so well informed on who's who in the minors that we all became inpatient!

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#12 stringer bell

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 07:19 AM

Agree with Lazarus about 2011.The people here figured it would be more of a good thing and everyone got hurt.The supposed speed upgrades in the middle infield were terrible disappointments and "pitch to contact" became a snarky joke. 

 

I believe there is great progress, but until the results show at Target Field, we have to be a bit skeptical.The team has earned that skepticism with some high-handedness and smugness going into this down cycle.Seeing spring training for the last three years has opened my eyes to the talent that is there, but talent doesn't equal success and the players have to prove themselves.

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#13 birdwatcher

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 07:28 AM

I believe this is year 3 of the rebuild, not year 4 (but it is the 4th consecutive down year).In 2011, the wheels came off after winning the division in 2010 - I don't count 2011 as a rebuild but a frozen stare of horror.We still had Billy Smith as GM and bare cupboards in the upper minors.Rebuilding the minors usually takes 3-4 years before that talent is ready to move to the majors, so this feels like it is on schedule even though it as been agonizing to watch.

 

I blame the Twins Daily staff for keeping us so well informed on who's who in the minors that we all became inpatient!

Yeah, me too, and I keep getting warnings about it.


#14 spycake

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 07:31 AM

"A couple fairly intriguing minor-league pitchers came back in the Correia and Willingham swaps"

 

I must've missed it - who did they get for Correia?

I second this question, although I suspect Nick meant the Morales and Willingham swaps, not Correia.


#15 tobi0040

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 07:39 AM

I am happy with how Terry has stacked the minor league system and happy that in August we are clearing room for guys.Key guys seem to be promoted in the minors as well.

 

But it is hard for me to say they are making all the right moves because I keep coming back to Alex Meyer. No player may play a bigger role in turning around this franchise than Meyer.I say that with respect for Buxton and Sano.However, we have had one of the worst starting pitching ERA in the league for three years running and it will take a dramatic leap in that category to really improve the club.Meyer will play a huge role in that.

 

Our AAA rotation at the beginning of the year was Meyer, May, Pino, Darnell, and Johnson I believe. The only one that has not yet been up is Meyer.With a rotation of May, Gibson, Nolasco, Hughes, and Milone the rest of the way Meyer won't be up unless someone gets injured.The only reasons I can come up with why Meyer has not been up is we want to evaluate the Darnells, Johnsons, etc. to see who we should keep as AAA depth next year.Or as the article alluded to, we are hoping to flip one of them. We could also sell them to an Asian team.Or we don't want to make a spot on the 40 man.These are all penny wise and pound foolish reasons, IMO.


#16 iTwins

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 07:41 AM

It is nice, after 4 years of losing and 3 years of half hearted rebuilding, to finally see the Twins parting with veteran talent and getting a return for said talent. 2012 & 2013 were particularly frustrating as the Twins just sat on aging assets that clearly were not in the future plans for the team.

 

I'd rather watch May get knocked around a bit and learn "on the job" than watch Correia make another start. The same goes for Willingham vs. Vargas, Arcia vs. Fuld (in a roundabout way, fewer options in the OF means Ozzie HAS to play). Now, if the Twins could move Burton and Duensing and bring up some more young arms, I'd be quite pleased with the last two months. (Transaction wise).


#17 spycake

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 08:01 AM

Additionally, as Mike Berardino pointed out on Tuesday, Ryan might try and find a suitor for Yohan Pino; his 1-5 record and 5.37 ERA won't wow anybody, but his solid peripherals -- in addition to his spectacular Triple-A numbers -- could stir up a bit of interest from a club needing a fifth starter or added rotation depth. The Twins have motivation to move Pino with Ricky Nolasco expected to return from his rehab stint soon.

Agreed on the premise of the article -- I certainly endorse all of the trades made thus far in 2014.

 

But this Pino trade suggestion is crazy (I know it's not yours, but Berardino's).  Dude has been a minor league free agent (or simply sold outright) each of the past 4 offseasons.  He just made his MLB debut at age 30 and has a 73 ERA+ in 10 starts.

 

Solarte was traded by the Yankees in July, and he was a recent minor league free agent too, but he only just turned 27, has had an above-league average bat this season, some positional flexibility, and was primarily only traded to immediately replace the player the Yankees were acquiring to replace him (Headley).

 

I know I was skeptical that we could trade Correia, but even he is in a whole different stratosphere of player value than Pino right now.  I guess someone might claim Pino and take him off our hands for their own September audition, if we want to open yet another 40-man spot, but I would be shocked if we got anything back for him.  (Cue TR making it happen. :) )


#18 JB_Iowa

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 08:13 AM

I'm happy that they were able to trade Correia and Willingham and to do so in a way that rewarded them for their service to the Twins.  Best of luck to both of them with their new teams.

 

Given that there were those here who were willing to simply DFA both of them, the returns on the trades are nice bonus even if they don't pan out for much.

 

I'm also gratified that they have finally acknowledged the rebuild.  I felt like the last three years they were in public denial.

I still believe it is time for a new manager and until the Twins have one, I'm not willing to think much about "Wait til next year".

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#19 TheDean

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 08:27 AM

I would be shocked if we got anything back for him.  (Cue TR making it happen. :) )

 

Those are the magic words, after all.  I said the same thing about Butera, Morales, Fuld, Correia, and Hammer.

 

As fans, it seems we're disappointed about the returns on the former fan-favorites (Morneau, Liriano, et al.) but always surprised at the returns on the punching bags (Butera, Correia, et al.).  Not sure if that's just an aspect of fandom, or if it's an attribute of TR's general management style.


#20 tobi0040

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 08:31 AM

I still believe it is time for a new manager and until the Twins have one, I'm not willing to think much about "Wait til next year".

 

I agree wholeheartedly.

 

I work for a company that fired our CEO a few months ago.He was kind of a stubborn guy that put the kibosh on major initiatives for years. As a result we were somewhat behind our competitorsin technolgoy, innovation, etc.. With him gone, we have re-explored many of the things and are moving forward to a better tomorrow.

 

I see parallels between the company and the Twins. I think Gardy is stuck in his ways and the best way for the Twins to catch up is with a new manager and a fresh look.I am thinking saber metrics, third catchers, how we overvalue defense, the need for veterans around, etc.

Edited by tobi0040, 13 August 2014 - 08:32 AM.