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Sid's article on Morneau

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#1 Monkeypaws

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 08:30 AM

I don't usually read Sid Hartman, but the headline caught my eye today: "Free agent Morneau will look for a winner."

There are quite a few quotes from Morneau, none of which really say that, so perhaps he said something off the record, but Sid writes, "Morneau said a chance to win is probably going to be the first thing on his list."

Also: "Unless there isn’t a market for Morneau, chances are he won’t be back with the Twins next season because winning, like he said, is his top priority when it comes to signing with a club. And right now, it doesn’t appear the Twins will be in that position."

Full article here: Hartman: Free agent Morneau will look for a winner | Star Tribune

I posted this here because it is interesting to see what free agents are looking for. I know there was much anger over who the Twins got last winter, but I suspect a lot of top free agents feel the same way as Morneau, that winning is a top priority. They are gonna be filthy rich no matter who they sign with, so all things being equal, choose a winning club, or at least a club with a chance to win, as opposed to a doormat.

Given the shape of the Twins lineup as it stands today, I expect Ryan will have a hard time luring top talent to play for a team that has so little talent. There are 30 potential suitors for any free agent, but the free agents the Twins are likely to compete for aren't going to be sought by the Yankees or Red Sox, the second chance, re-hab types we are so used to. Until the Twins get back to winning, I wouldn't hold my breath for top talent to end up at Target Field.

I'm not giving Ryan an excuse, just trying to be realistic. Most players want nothing more than a World Series ring, and if you have gotten to this point in your career where you can pick your team, and you are going to be there for a while, you probably want a chance to win one. 3 90 loss seasons in a row, horrific starting pitching, and a AAAA lineup of sub.250 hitters, oh, and Joe Mauer, doesn't look that attractive.

After some of our kids come up, and have an impact(hopefully), and the near-future looks a bit rosier, I could see the Twins adding significant players. The Wild were able to attract Parise and Suter in part because the future looked bright here.

#2 nicksaviking

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 08:37 AM

I posted this here because it is interesting to see what free agents are looking for. I know there was much anger over who the Twins got last winter, but I suspect a lot of top free agents feel the same way as Morneau, that winning is a top priority. They are gonna be filthy rich no matter who they sign with, so all things being equal, choose a winning club, or at least a club with a chance to win, as opposed to a doormat.


I agree, but it isn't hard to change that perception. After all, Cleveland was in the same boat last year but they let it be known that they had money to spend and were looking to right the ship ASAP. Perhaps the Twins missed their chance as I think Cleveland's turn around happened when they brought in a new and accomplished, well respected, big-named manager. When they did, they had no problems getting interest from free agents.

Bold statements can help change the perception I believe.

#3 Marta Shearing

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 09:35 AM

Morneau did a whole lot of talking while saying nothing.

#4 whydidnt

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 10:05 AM

And last year Grienke said it was all about money. Different guys have different priorities. The Twins may have to overspend to lure good players, but they have the budget to do so. Sometimes you have to take the loss leader approach to get good players.

#5 spycake

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 10:12 AM

I think most every player gives lip service to "wanting to play for a winner".

I suspect Morneau will sign with either A) the team that offers the most money, or B) the team that offers the most playing time so he can boost his value for next offseason, or C) the team closest to his family's home if they are also close on conditions A and B.

The team's past or projected record probably won't be a direct factor, except perhaps as a tiebreaker for close competing offers. It's certainly a bigger deal for non-marginal free agents, although I'm pretty confident that money is still the primary factor for them too.

#6 drivlikejehu

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 10:39 AM

Most of the time, free agents take the highest bid. If the Twins put in the highest bid for 5 free agents, it would be very unlucky to get less than 4 of the 5, even with the current state of affairs.

Even when there are exceptions, it can be about money in a different way - for instance, a pitcher going to a friendly ballpark to rebuild value for the next offseason.

If winning clubs had it so much easier, then the Yankees, Red Sox, etc., would be able to get free agents on the cheap. But this certainly doesn't seem to be how things work out. They sign more free agents because they offer more money.

The whole argument about free agents not wanting to sign with the Twins just irks me because its so transparently an excuse for the Twins being cheap and struggling to value players (their own, e.g. Blackburn, and free agents, e.g. Correia).

#7 IdahoPilgrim

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 11:06 AM

I love this. We have a direct quote from a free agent that there is something more important than money on the top of his FA wish list - and people almost immediately start back on the "highest bidder wins" horse and assume that if we don't sign somebody it's because we're cheap, not because there were other factors involved.

#8 Winston Smith

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 11:09 AM

Last winter during the winter meetings the MLB Baseball Network crew was talking about this and the two ex-players both said it's the money don't be fooled. A player may say a lot of things but in the end the player will nearly always take the most money.

May all our prospects be All Stars and the beer be free.


#9 ThePuck

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 11:26 AM

Last winter during the winter meetings the MLB Baseball Network crew was talking about this and the two ex-players both said it's the money don't be fooled. A player may say a lot of things but in the end the player will nearly always take the most money.


Ah yes, I remember the recent glory days, you know 2002-2010, where quality free agents flocked to the Twins willing to take less money to play for a perennial division winner, and we signed them like mad. Those were the days. :-)

Edited by ThePuck, 17 October 2013 - 12:00 PM.
missing an adjective

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#10 JB_Iowa

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 11:28 AM

If the offers are close in money & years, its logical to think that a player may base his decision on other factors.

If they aren't close, I'd guess that money (or money in combination with years) almost always is determining.

#11 Marta Shearing

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 11:54 AM

This is all assuming he even gets multiple offers if any.

#12 Curt

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 12:05 PM

Considering his 0 hr in 101 AB at Pittsburgh, he may have to rethink this.

#13 Monkeypaws

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 01:06 PM

If the offers are close in money & years, its logical to think that a player may base his decision on other factors.

If they aren't close, I'd guess that money (or money in combination with years) almost always is determining.


I'd mainly agree with this.

Still, if you look at the biggest free agent contracts from last off-season, the bulk of them signed with winning teams. Cleveland got Swisher (Ohio boy going home), and Bourn was a big surprise. The Red Sox had a bad year but that was clearly an aberration. Cubs got Jackson and the Royals Guthrie, but it would be hard to argue those were better deals than the Twins got for Correia.

So there are clearly people who will choose money first, but I still suspect they are in the minority.

#14 spycake

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 01:27 PM

Still, if you look at the biggest free agent contracts from last off-season, the bulk of them signed with winning teams.


Correlation does not imply causation. Winning teams may be more aggressive bidders because they are closer to a championship. Also, winning teams likely have more revenue and/or more stable projected revenue (although revenue sharing clouds this).

#15 PseudoSABR

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 01:33 PM

Well, he wasn't very productive in Pittsburgh. Winning clubs will expect far better production than what Morneau produced. So he'll have to accept a reduced role, where likely, he won't have a chance to reestablish a better market value OR he'll have to accept a starting role on a team whose talent/payroll may be prohibitive to winning.

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 01:41 PM

I think the most troubling issue is, how did the Twins--a team with a brand new stadium, wealthy ownership, and a great area to live in for young families--reach a point where this is an issue?

#17 ThePuck

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 01:49 PM

I think the most troubling issue is, how did the Twins--a team with a brand new stadium, wealthy ownership, and a great area to live in for young families--reach a point where this is an issue?


The short answer will likely be: Because of Bill Smith.

The long answer will likely be: Because of Bill Smith aka the one-armed man, aka Bartman, aka Phil Cuzzi, aka the lone shooter (and please ignore the noise coming from behind the grassy knoll). :-)
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#18 Marta Shearing

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 03:35 PM

Ryan deserves more blame than Smith.

#19 ThePuck

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 03:39 PM

Ryan deserves more blame than Smith.


Oh, I completely agree...or at the very least, a good chunk. I also don't think it falls solely on the GMS even though I do agree that the GM should be held accountable.
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#20 JB_Iowa

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 03:46 PM

I think the most troubling issue is, how did the Twins--a team with a brand new stadium, wealthy ownership, and a great area to live in for young families--reach a point where this is an issue?


If we knew that, we'd know the complete answer to how did the Twins go from 269-219 in 2008-2010 to 195-291 in 2011-2013.

I honestly believe that full treatises could be written on the subject. For now I'll just blame it on the Black Spruce curse .... or the revenge of the Metrodome.

#21 John Bonnes

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 04:06 PM

I love this. We have a direct quote from a free agent that there is something more important than money on the top of his FA wish list - and people almost immediately start back on the "highest bidder wins" horse and assume that if we don't sign somebody it's because we're cheap, not because there were other factors involved.


First, I don't think Morneau really said what the headline said he did. He also said he needed to find the best fit for him and his family.

But even if he had said something stronger, I still wouldn't have believed it because I think that while players all say they want to sign with a winner, they don't. And had he said that, it would be a 180 degree reverse from 3 months ago, when his agent asked the Twins for an extension.

I'll just add to clarifications:
1) I don't think money and years is the only factor. Given two situations that are close, I can see ballplayers deciding to go with the team they think has a better chance to win, or the team their friends are on.

2) Players shouldn't be demonized for taking the money. If a team wants to show its committed to a player, they need to pay him. If they don't, it's likely just BS. I don't blame players for taking the team with incrementally more money or an extra guaranteed year, because if that team likes him enough to offer the most, they're probably the team that wants him the most.

It feels like the subtext here is: "the Twins have a harder time signing FAs then other teams." That might be true, but it isn't substantially harder. I really doubt Joe Saunders had a $7.5M dollar offer from the Twins that he turned down for a $6.5M offer from the Mariners. He might have had a $6.5M offer that he turned down.

And I think it's really unlikely that the Twins offered extra money to any of the guys who ended up being more expensive.

#22 Thrylos

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 04:18 PM

I think that Morneau should be lucky if he has to chose where he goes (i.e. if more than one team give him more than MiLB contract offers) based on his performance...
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#23 whydidnt

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 09:41 PM

Just to add to the whole bit about Free Agents saying one thing and then doing another for money, years, etc... Anyone remember Greg Jennings saying the primary factor for picking a new team last off season? He said he wanted to go to a team with a good Quarterback. Somehow he ended up with the Vikings. I guess he just is a poor judge of QB talent, the big contract had nothing to do with it.

#24 TRex

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 10:02 PM

JB:

I really doubt Joe Saunders had a $7.5M dollar offer from the Twins that he turned down for a $6.5M offer from the Mariners. He might have had a $6.5M offer that he turned down.


I agree wholeheartedly with you on this... but your unwritten implication is that Saunders' representatives gave the Twins a chance to top the Mariners offer. Other than for players re-signing with the same team, I don't think agents go back and forth prostituting the other teams offer very often (although you could argue they should).

And isn't it just as likely that Seattle was given the chance to match the Twins offer?

#25 Oxtung

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 01:10 PM

The more we go round and round about FA's and why they sign, the more I come to one conclusion: it doesn't matter. The GM's job is to improve the baseball team and FA is one route to that. Perhaps FA's sign for money or perhaps for family reasons, perhaps because of population or location, perhaps because his daughter loves purple unicorns and thinks Minnesota is where they live.

Maybe Minnesota is a hard place to draw free agents to but at the end of the day it is still the GM's job to make it happen. Maybe that means offering the most money, or pimping the local community, or the arts, or the outdoors. Maybe it means hiring extra employees whose sole job is to do extra thorough research on a FA so you know exactly what drives his decisions and then putting extra pressure in the appropriate places.

At the end of every conversation about FA's we need to realize that signing good players is a part of every GM's job description. It doesn't matter if it is easy or hard to sign players, it is still a requirement. Making excuses for a person failing to do their job doesn't help improve the product on the field and won't help bring home that big shiny trophy we all want to see some time soon. Will Terry Ryan be capable of bringing in the necessary talent upgrades; I don't know. He didn't the last two offseasons. He is now in his 3rd year and the clock is ticking.

#26 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 01:22 PM

The more we go round and round about FA's and why they sign, the more I come to one conclusion: it doesn't matter. The GM's job is to improve the baseball team and FA is one route to that. Perhaps FA's sign for money or perhaps for family reasons, perhaps because of population or location, perhaps because his daughter loves purple unicorns and thinks Minnesota is where they live.

Maybe Minnesota is a hard place to draw free agents to but at the end of the day it is still the GM's job to make it happen. Maybe that means offering the most money, or pimping the local community, or the arts, or the outdoors. Maybe it means hiring extra employees whose sole job is to do extra thorough research on a FA so you know exactly what drives his decisions and then putting extra pressure in the appropriate places.

At the end of every conversation about FA's we need to realize that signing good players is a part of every GM's job description. It doesn't matter if it is easy or hard to sign players, it is still a requirement. Making excuses for a person failing to do their job doesn't help improve the product on the field and won't help bring home that big shiny trophy we all want to see some time soon. Will Terry Ryan be capable of bringing in the necessary talent upgrades; I don't know. He didn't the last two offseasons. He is now in his 3rd year and the clock is ticking.


Concur. With every word.

#27 Kwak

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 02:03 PM

Back to Morneau...

I don't think his agent was magnamimous in approaching the Twins--I think he realized that Morneau was permanently damaged goods and that he was making "a preemptive strike" to try to convince the Twins they could "get a bargain" by signing Morneau to an extension. Methinks his present statement on "looking for a winner" is true. He expects a number of "sharply reduced" offers (like say $1MM) and he will choose the team that he believes has the best chance of winning. Let's be blunt--Morneau is RICH--he can easily afford to take a much lower offer to play for a playoff-bound team, that a hopeless loser.

#28 Alex

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 06:01 PM

Back to Morneau...

I don't think his agent was magnamimous in approaching the Twins--I think he realized that Morneau was permanently damaged goods and that he was making "a preemptive strike" to try to convince the Twins they could "get a bargain" by signing Morneau to an extension. Methinks his present statement on "looking for a winner" is true. He expects a number of "sharply reduced" offers (like say $1MM) and he will choose the team that he believes has the best chance of winning. Let's be blunt--Morneau is RICH--he can easily afford to take a much lower offer to play for a playoff-bound team, that a hopeless loser.


I think Morneau is highly unlikely to end up on a playoff team considering his recent seasons. He's far more likely to get an opportunity on a team that is coming off a losing season or rebuilding, who can take a risk because they don't have anything better waiting in the wings.

#29 Jack Torse

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 07:30 PM

Dollars and years trumps. Many of the mid-lower level FA are cashing in for the first time. Players get tremendous pressure from agents and the union to take the highest bid. More money means bigger commitment and aside from a bunch more zero's they are just like most other people, wanting to go where they feel the most wanted.

#30 Joe A. Preusser

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 07:39 AM

I respect the career Sid Hartman has had and is still having, but I have seldom agreed with him and have often found his 'sources' lacking. The guy who delivers water to the office isn't a real source. That said, Morneau very much seems like the type of guy to pursue a winning team or a familiar team rather than the extra money, especially since he should already be set for life if he's the least bit fiscally responsible. I'd love to have him back on a modest 2 year contract to be a spark and leader.