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Article: On Terry Ryan, Truth And Gravity

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 07:08 AM

You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.co...uth-And-Gravity

#2 TheLeviathan

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 07:32 AM

I think citing th efforts to sign Johan and Torii makes for a funny, unintended contrast. Yeah....they "tried" in the most minimalistic way possible.

The actions have changed significantly, but I doubt you'd ever hear Ryan admit the philosophy changed. He might not even be aware it has.

Edited by TheLeviathan, 13 December 2013 - 08:23 AM.


#3 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 07:40 AM

Fantastic article, John. We have all preconceptions of what the front office believes and what motivates their actions. In reality, those preconceptions have as much, if not more, to do with our own mental state than they have to do with the actual front office. It's something every fan should keep in mind before they unmercilessly blast the front office or rationalize every action taken by it.

#4 Thrylos

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 07:44 AM

Great read :)
Got to argue about one thing though:

[quote]This is even true for scientific facts, like gravity (*2).[/quote]

[quote](*2)You might have trouble, even in the Twins Daily forums, arguing against gravity. But before Isaac Newton, people noticed that stuff tended to fall to earth. The accepted Truth was that objects had an “earthly nature” that made them return to earth. It wasn’t until Newton came along and started talking about the other heavenly bodies and how they were holding objects in orbit, and creating formulas for how quickly things fell to earth, that the idea of gravity sunk in.

For the record, those previous “nature” ideas weren’t proposed by some dummy. This was Aristotlian (as in Aristotle) Physics. It was the truth for nearly two thousand years because it made sense to everyone. We accept gravity because it made even more sense once we started realizing the earth wasn’t the center of the universe.[/quote]

What you call "scientific facts" above, you describe as "commonly perceived truth" below ;)
Different things. And every scientist will tell you that there is not such a thing as a "scientific fact". Just suggestions and likelihoods, that why every scientific paper and thesis is full with expressions such as "the data suggests...", "it likely..." etc, but not absolutes, because as you say, truth is:

[quote]just the prettiest of the explanations[/quote] or the one that might fit the data you have the best, unless you discover something else...

(and one's got to argue that Ryan's explanations up there are not that pretty.)

But in the case in hand, the data suggests that Ryan for some reason is trying to make two conflicting situations (a. our philosophy is not to sign free agents because that is a bandaid aka a "bad thing" aka a "square peg", and b. let's go out and sign a bunch because this is what we need to do to improve the team, aka a "good thing" aka a "round hole") match.

And they can with a very single explanation (aka the "truth"), that I really wish Ryan had the fortitude to go out and tell people:

A. The best way to build a sustainable contender is mainly through the draft and international free agency, supplementing the major league team with strategically placed free agents and refreshing your talent pipeline with minor league talent you get by selling stars high (aka the MacPhail way)

A1. The Twins as a team screwed up in this for a while.

B. Thus, in order to compete in the near future, we have to go out and get free agents.

But you got to have the fortitude to publicly admit A1 (i.e. that you have failed) for A and B to mesh...

That's what I see as the most likely explanation here

#5 birdwatcher

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 07:51 AM

Nice article, John. But I question your statement that the top "fact" is that the Twins were in the exact same situation last year. It seems reasonable to conclude, based on Ryan's quote here, that he might dispute this. So much of why some of us cut Ryan more slack and others are harshly critical stems from our amazing ability to see the "facts" so differently, or to create a fact set that supports our agenda.

Regardless, it sure is nice to witness the "fact" that Ryan admits to having resources, admits to having opportunities, and admits to being in the right time to act.

#6 Tibs

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 08:45 AM

My opinion on not spending money last year is maybe Terry Ryan knew we were a well below average team with lots of holes to fill and didn't think it was time to spend money with our top prospects even farther away than they are now. Who were the top free agent pitchers last year? The free agent signings I remember didn't do very well for their teams.

#7 eLee612

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:23 AM

"[FONT=sans-serif][SIZE=2][COLOR=#000000]The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling."[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=sans-serif][SIZE=2][COLOR=#000000]Great book, and great post! [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=sans-serif][SIZE=2][COLOR=#000000]As Thrylos noted, science doesn't provide facts. It yields correlations, p values, significant (or not so significant) effects… all of which are affected by sample size, validity and reliability of design, etc. But when it comes down to it, we - the general public - either buy it or we don't, regardless of how strong the evidence is. As you said, we choose the explanation that is most appealing.

I'm not sure if Ryan's free agent philosophy has truly changed, nor am I sure I 'truly' care at this point. I think the additions we've made were a) smart, and B) have potential, and I'm looking forward to watching them play out.

"The solutions are all simple - after you have arrived at them. But they're simple only when you know already what they are."


[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Helvetica Neue][/FONT][/COLOR]

#8 twinsnorth49

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:39 AM

I just don't think he saw the talent or opportunities to improve the team last year. Other than Sanchez and Grienke, it was pretty weak.

I do think he blew moving Willingham last off season though, if he felt the team wasn't going to improve last year then he really should have sold high on him after the year he had, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for a player who was not going to be a part of this teams next run.

Having said that, I don't really know whether he tried to make that happen but didn't like what he was hearing.

#9 Blackjack

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:40 AM

I'll probably get lambasted for this but I have to disagree, I was assigned 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' in a college novel class, it was horrible, I love to read but I couldn't finish it. If I found a copy at a garage sale I would buy it, take it home, and have a book burning party. Then again I can't understand the facination with the 'The Great Gatsby' either, twice I was assigned to read it, slogged thru it but wouldn't recommend it to anybody.

I think TR is spending some money because he realizes that the 'cash cow' called Target Field is going to dry up if they don't try to put a winning team on the field. Fans will just stop going to games, less $8 beers and $10 sandwiches sold.

#10 Craig in MN

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:42 AM

And they can with a very single explanation (aka the "truth"), that I really wish Ryan had the fortitude to go out and tell people:

A. The best way to build a sustainable contender is mainly through the draft and international free agency, supplementing the major league team with strategically placed free agents and refreshing your talent pipeline with minor league talent you get by selling stars high (aka the MacPhail way)

A1. The Twins as a team screwed up in this for a while.

B. Thus, in order to compete in the near future, we have to go out and get free agents.


This is absolutely Terry Ryan's thought process on the matter, and it confuses me that people who really pay attention to the Twins don't get this. Terry Ryan was always willing to sign big contracts, just not a ton, and not all escalating at the same time, because he values having flexibility for next year. He's always been willing to sign some free agents that fills a void, just not such that it backs him into corner in the future payroll obligations. He made offers to Santana and Hunter, but he couldn't comfortably commit that much and still have the flexibility he wants.

But he's never been in a situation over the past couple years where he's never had ANY young, in-house players to re-sign, or plan to re-sign. He's never had such financial flexibility in the coming years as he has today, because there's been nobody in-house to extend. There has never even been remotely close to this small amount of future obligations.

So he has money to spend. A lot of us might think of that as an opportunity, but Ryan considers that a failure...a failure of Plan A. Plan B is to do the next best thing and sign some notable free agents, but to try to get back to Plan A as fast as he can...by developing more young, good players to extend, instead of going to free agency next time. He's right.

#11 Thrylos

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:48 AM

I'll probably get lambasted for this but I have to disagree, I was assigned 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' in a college novel class, it was horrible, I love to read but I couldn't finish it. If I found a copy at a garage sale I would buy it, take it home, and have a book burning party. Then again I can't understand the facination with the 'The Great Gatsby' either, twice I was assigned to read it, slogged thru it but wouldn't recommend it to anybody.


Or War and Peace or The Iliad. All those books were great for the time they were written in the context of the time they were written. When Zen and the Art was written this country was in a war that brought a whole bunch of people who did not want to go there back either in body bags or in mental incapacitation and was losing a war for the first time, its president was about to resign before he was impeached, and the thread of a nuclear world war III was very strong.

Great time to question truth.

Fast forward 40 years and things have changed (maybe.)
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#12 Shane Wahl

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 10:20 AM

Whoa, a reference to a fantastic philosophy book (mainstreamish, but that is what it essentially is) and to Aristotle, John? You had me at hello . . .

#13 mike wants wins

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 10:24 AM

I think it is funny that at least one poster has stated he knows the truth already......

McPhail had no problem handing out huge (for the time) free agent contracts. Ryan never did until this year.

We really have no idea what has or has not changed. What we do know is that instead of dumpster diving, TR has decided to spend real money this year. We should all be thankful for whatever caused that to happen, and hope it continues.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is both a good and bad book, imo. I enjoyed reading it, but I read it when I was in a spot where thinking about important stuff was important to me. I remember wondering about some of the writing, but mostly I remember it making me think.

Maybe we should have a book thread someplace around here.....

#14 ND-Fan

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 10:33 AM

I think business side of Twins finally got through to ownership that slow rebuild was not in the best interest of Twins brand and financial health of the Team. I think Twins have been doing internal evaluations and saw what loosing can do to revenue streams for baseball team. A prime example of this is Seattle where attendance has dropped 50% since they opened there new field in Seattle ten years ago. So now to get their brand back up they are buying players like Cano at very high prices and a lot of risk to the organization. Baseball has changed for Terry in that things have speeded up in that slow rebuild is two to three years not like they did in 90's where it took nearly 10 years to put a winner back on the field. The risk also has gone up and that's why there's such more money being spent on analytical side of baseball with saber metrics as well as scouting and wheel and dealing of players to maximize performance.
I think Terry will adapt to this change and Pohlads have been good employers in that continue to keep people in positions if they are willing to adapt and change with organization philosophy. I also think Pohlads are changing as owners also they have been hiring internal studies to how to adapt this organization to compete and remain competitive year in year out. The bottom line for them is too remain profitable and continue to grow brand name Twins so it has more value each year. With this Brand name increasing in value it lets Pohlad family gain business with ever more businesses and crosses over into their other businesses ever increasing the empire they have built.
Terry is right that spending totally on free agency to build club is disaster waiting to happen unless your one of couple of franchises with unlimited funding and even these organization are running into trouble if they don't develop their own players also. I believe NY is becoming example of this its getting harder and harder to fill their needs with FA and payroll with luxury tax has begun to even the playing field some. Its teams like Boston and ST. Louis that have used FA to fill needs that they have failed to do so with their farm system. The Twins failure these past three seasons is from reaction of FA when Twins lost key players to Free Agency or were about to loose players to Free Agency. They made series of Trades in which Twins lost talent and received little in return in the final end. Also their development players wasn't there either because of some bad luck or I also believe their unwillingness to spend more money on top line draft picks which had changed with some smaller market teams willing to spend more money here than on Free Agency. Some this has gone away now with new caps put in place by baseball. Because if you look now some of better prospects the Twins have now is because they did spend money like Sano signing.

I do believe that Terry Ryan does feel pressure of getting talent back on the field and putting somewhat competitive team for this coming year. I also think its been harder this year because Free Agents don't believe they are close enough to be winners again and my guess were a lot closer to being a winning team that we think. Its just matter getting right talent assembled with prospects coming up and i also think we need to get a little lucky in that players start to also believe in that they can win.

#15 johnnydakota

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 11:08 AM

Terry says...If we are still in the dome these 2 signings ,probally dont happen?
Why ? wasnt our payroll in 2009 about the same as it is now 79 million?
and if you add in inflation at about 40% arent we at about 50 million in dome dollars.
Using owner Jim Pohlads restrictions of 50-54% of the teams income, shouldnt we have a payroll of 128.5 - 135 million this year?

#16 JB_Iowa

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 11:16 AM

It's been almost 40 years since I read the book (and wrote some paper on it applying the ideas to something else -- all of which I've totally forgotten).

But the older I get, the less I believe in any one truth. In any situation, there are a myriad of factors that come into play. It's why, so often as human beings, we seem to be speaking out of both sides of our mouths. We just react differently to different people, ideas and situations.

I think you could highlight a number of John's reasons and they would be part of why we are seeing what we are seeing and include in that fact that there was $25m in "free money" (so to speak) from the TV deal. TR didn't even spend all of that annual TV money on Nolasco and Hughes (I think this would appeal to TR's conservative side). Add in a green light from his owner to spend plus (I would guess) some impetus from both the business AND baseball sides (underlings plus field staff) to improve the club (I think TR probably felt some guilt about the crappy hand he dealt Gardenhire last year).

I don't see an organizational shift in philosophy. Under TR, the Twins are always going to build from the farm system but I think last year showed that some of those prospects may be a little farther away than we think. I believe that keeping that farm system mostly intact is important to TR and that's why he seems reluctant to make trades this season (and actually sounds a little more reluctant now than he did when the off-season started). He is able to hold onto the core philosophy of building the farm and club from within -- while, hopefully, satisfying his bosses (plus underlings, fans and media) just by risking some monetary resources. If you had the green light to do that, why wouldn't you?

#17 Dman

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 11:18 AM

It is interesting how putting together various statistics, life experience, and observation we can build a case for our perception of how things are or what they should be. I am glad that we do though because the diversity of opinion makes me look at things differently and quite frankly is a lot of fun. In the end none of us are typically right about what TR thinks but it is fun to talk about.

#18 mike wants wins

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 11:21 AM

The Star Trek Next Generation episode on lenses/perspective/truth where Riker is accused of murder is a great episode to watch for a philosophical view on truth (remember when TV used to have philosophical discussions?).
Lighten up Francis....

#19 TheLeviathan

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 12:04 PM

The Star Trek Next Generation episode on lenses/perspective/truth where Riker is accused of murder is a great episode to watch for a philosophical view on truth (remember when TV used to have philosophical discussions?).


I remember when it had awesome sci-fi too!

#20 Major Leauge Ready

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 12:39 PM

I think people need to put in perspective that until 2010, the Twins were a small market team. Revenues were just slightly above TB, OAK, and KC. So, it makes no sense to complain about the Twins no spending in the past. It also makes no sense to draw comparisons to Kirby’s contract and ask why we could award the largest contract at that time. The financial metrics are very different today. And, the same people who use this argument somehow fail to recognize the Twins signed Joe Mauer to a much longer term deal @ $23M/yr or 7.66X Kirby's annual amount.

The bottom line is the Twins have generally spent the available budget on talent. We have had one year (last year) where TR opted to not spend on the available talent. He was crucified here any many went off on how much better Marcum, Dempsey, Saunders, Jackson, etc would have been. Well, who was right? People still cursed the not spending even after it was proven that those acquisitions would have been detrimental to the team. Many seemed to completely ignore this fact. Success has a thousand fathers while failure is an orphan. For some, there is a spend every available penny no matter what edict. Given we are talking about long-term contracts, that is a very ill-conceived strategy. IMO, this is the root of much of the discontent.

#21 Willihammer

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 12:48 PM

He was crucified here any many went off on how much better Marcum, Dempsey, Saunders, Jackson, etc would have been. Well, who was right?


We were. We were right

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[TD][TABLE="width: 594"]
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[TD]Row Labels[/TD]
[TD]Sum of IP[/TD]
[TD]Average of ERA[/TD]
[TD]Average of FIP[/TD]
[TD]Average of xFIP[/TD]
[TD]Average of WAR[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Marcum,Dempster,Saunders,Jackson[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]607.30[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]5.03[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]4.21[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]4.13[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1.28[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Albers,Walters,Gibson,Hendriks,Hernandez,Worley,DeVries[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]316.60[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]6.89[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]5.59[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]5.05[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-0.01[/TD]
[/TR]
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#22 johnnydakota

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 12:54 PM

Or 7.66 x Kirbys annual amount....ok Now riddle me this, how much have ticket prices increased since then? How much has revenue increased? How many more avenues of revenue werent avalible back then?

#23 cmathewson

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 01:18 PM

The main difference between this year and last year is the depth of the free agent pitching pool. Because the class had few quality arms beyond the top two, the whole class was overvalued, by the rule of supply and demand. So lots of guys got a lot more money than they deserved, and the Twins should be credited for not going after them.

At the time, Ryan was quoted as saying he thought the class was "thin", and he did not want to spend money unwisely just for the sake of spending money. It turns out he was right about this, and you can hardly argue that the FA class heading into 2013 was much better than he said it was at the time based on the stats they put up.

Since this is the 46th thread about how cheap Ryan was last year, I assume I am missing something. Please enlighten me.

#24 mike wants wins

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 01:21 PM

Actually, he was right for one year....what if Marcum is healthy this year, and good? Will you all come on and say he was wrong?

And, man, this went off topic to the same old arguments fast....it had the chance to be a fun thread.
Lighten up Francis....

#25 PseudoSABR

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 02:33 PM

I like these kinds of discussion. One of the problems I've had with criticism of the Front Office is the assumption that we are all working from the same data. While data is already finite, each of our access to that data is even more limited. Simply put, the Twins FO has more data to work with than we do. From medical reports to their own scouting reports to pay-for-data services, there's so much more information available to the Twins to make discerning moves (whether they discern appropriately, well, that's up for debate, and such judgments usually come with only hindsight).

To answer the question of why not spend last year, I think is two fold, and John approached these. 1) the Twins didn't like the pitchers available last year at the prices the market set 2) it was one more year removed from what help would come from the minors. To answer the question of why spend this year: 1) we were unthinkably awful again last year 2) our young talent on the ML roster fell flat on their face 3) the minor league system looks like it might produce impact players sooner than expected. In both these instances, I think the budget played a limited role in their thinking.

#26 John Bonnes

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:18 PM

The main difference between this year and last year is the depth of the free agent pitching pool.


Speaking of facts and perception - I wonder how one would try to measure this. I'm not sure it's that important to the discussion, because what is important is Ryan's perception of that free agent pitching pool. But my perception is completely the opposite. I don't think last year's was worse.

I tried to show this before last offseason started, by comparing it to the previous five years, using the dollars likely to be thrown at them (and still underthrew the mark on those dollars considerably). But I suppose one could say that the dollars show how thin it was, though I would disagree.

I wonder how we could do that. Maybe compare some basic metrics from teh year before for each pitcher?

#27 birdwatcher

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 04:39 PM

We were. We were right

[TABLE="width: 500"]
[TR]
[TD]
[TABLE="width: 594"]
[TR]
[TD]Row Labels
[/TD]
[TD]Sum of IP
[/TD]
[TD]Average of ERA
[/TD]
[TD]Average of FIP
[/TD]
[TD]Average of xFIP
[/TD]
[TD]Average of WAR
[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Marcum,Dempster,Saunders,Jackson
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]607.30
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]5.03
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]4.21
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]4.13
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1.28
[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Albers,Walters,Gibson,Hendriks,Hernandez,Worley,DeVries
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]316.60
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]6.89
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]5.59
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]5.05
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-0.01
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[/TR]
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[TD][/TD]
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[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
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In light of the reality that we signed Correia and Pelfry instead of those four, why would you ignore their production?

Also, are there some remaining financial obligations to any of those four that would make it logical to wait to draw a conclusion?

#28 old nurse

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:08 PM

When it comes to looking at the Twins, looking for the truth is filtered by the observer bias.

#29 old nurse

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:21 PM

We were. We were right

[TABLE="width: 500"]
[TR]
[TD][TABLE="width: 594"]
[TR]
[TD]Row Labels[/TD]
[TD]Sum of IP[/TD]
[TD]Average of ERA[/TD]
[TD]Average of FIP[/TD]
[TD]Average of xFIP[/TD]
[TD]Average of WAR[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Marcum,Dempster,Saunders,Jackson[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]607.30[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]5.03[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]4.21[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]4.13[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1.28[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Albers,Walters,Gibson,Hendriks,Hernandez,Worley,DeVries[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]316.60[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]6.89[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]5.59[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]5.05[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-0.01[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]
[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]


When looking at free agent signings Pelfrey and Correia pitched 338 IP and combined for a 4.65 ERA. Try to find two pitchers that signed short term contracts similar to those two for comparison.

#30 jokin

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:41 PM

Nice article, John. But I question your statement that the top "fact" is that the Twins were in the exact same situation last year. It seems reasonable to conclude, based on Ryan's quote here, that he might dispute this. So much of why some of us cut Ryan more slack and others are harshly critical stems from our amazing ability to see the "facts" so differently, or to create a fact set that supports our agenda.

Regardless, it sure is nice to witness the "fact" that Ryan admits to having resources, admits to having opportunities, and admits to being in the right time to act.


In other words, in "discovering" these "facts", Ryan is admitting that his Plan A was a colossal failure on the field, anyway (Financially, they did just fine, hollowing out the team, failing to use short-term contracts for flipping purposes....... Going forward, I've got a strong feeling the financials didn't look nearly as good, but for the "found" $25M in media money, hence, "Time for implementing the Plan B!.... just ignore that we said it was next to impossible, just a year ago") .

Edited by jokin, 13 December 2013 - 05:43 PM.