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Matt Capps, Bill Smith and the trade that ruined Twins baseball

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#141 cmathewson

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 01:43 PM

When this terrible situation arose when Smith was the G.M. why didn't Ryan step in and help him out? After all, he was still Smith's boss.


When Smith was GM, Ryan was a special advisor to the GM. He basically became a scouting consultant with little or no input into transactions (other than scouting).
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#142 birdwatcher

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 01:57 PM

Neither do I. That perspective came from you. Well technically from MLR, but you liked his post and then speculated that Ryan had that exact conversation with Jim Pohlad, so I can only assume you agree with that position.


Not to belabor it, but that's an innaccurate interpretation of MLR's post Chief. Nowhere in his post does he claim the Twins are saying 2014 is a lost cause or that FA signings are a bad idea. He isn't claiming this either, nor am I, anymore than you.

#143 thetank

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 02:18 PM

Marlins is the 1st that pops into my head

Cardinals this year are spending less on payroll with a couple of injured pitchers retiring and Beltran going to NY. They have young SP and some position players with favorable contracts.

Twins need to stay on course.

Edited by thetank, 27 February 2014 - 02:45 PM.


#144 spycake

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 03:15 PM

Now, that is some whacky logic. I still think the Drew signing and the Hughes signing are so different, you can't really compare them. In addition to the draft pick, Hughes has upside. Drew does not. He is likely to regress, fairly rapidly in the next two years. That is why no one has signed him.


Sometimes, I think "upside" isn't always a good thing. Hughes only has "upside" because he hasn't achieved the performance level that Drew has, even as recently as last year. Only the broken ankle in 2011 and rehab in 2012 interrupts Drew's streak of five straight 3+ rWAR seasons. Hughes has two 2 rWAR season as a starter, non-consecutive, and fell well short of that level in 2013. (For those that don't like WAR for pitchers, I don't think Hughes fares too well by other measures either -- his fWAR tops out at 2.5, and his IP in particularly seem strikingly low in his full seasons starting.)

True, Drew is 3 years older, but even after applying his standard positional aging curve, Drew could easily top Hughes' career high rWAR for the next few seasons.

I'm not knocking the Hughes deal. I just fail to see how, for a team with similar deficiencies at both spots, a deal for one of these guys is smart but a similar deal for the other is dumb.

EDIT TO ADD: Put another way, what's more likely: a 28 year old equalling or exceeding his career best performance, or a 31 year old continuing his 5 year established performance minus his standard positional aging curve?

Edited by spycake, 27 February 2014 - 03:22 PM.


#145 JB_Iowa

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 03:36 PM

When Smith was GM, Ryan was a special advisor to the GM. He basically became a scouting consultant with little or no input into transactions (other than scouting).


I don't think we know exactly how big a role Ryan did or didn't play OR could/couldn't play. I believe that Terry Ryan is an honorable person so I suspect that he really did try to step away and limit his role but sometimes that is easier said than done.

All of Ryan's underlings basically stayed with the team. Smith didn't fire anybody or bring in a new team loyal to him. It was basically the same "old boys club" that was in place when Ryan was there. In fact, many of them were as long-tenured as Smith.

The more I think about it, the more it seems like a recipe for disaster right from the start. Smith had a few years as assistant director of minor leagues and scouting (86-94 apparently) and then became assistant GM from 1994-2007. While all of the "team" worked together, Smith never had reason/opportunity to develop his own team. Nor did the transition from Ryan to Smith seem particularly well-planned. I remember distinct surprise when it happened.

I hope the Twins learn something from the 1st TR retirement when it comes to the 2nd time he leaves the club. If you look at the top personnel in the Twins baseball operations, many are still very long-tenured and are "Ryan hires". While continuity can be good, that doesn't seem like an optimal formula for a new GM's success. (Of course many of those same people are also getting close to retirement age).

Something to think about.

#146 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 03:38 PM

Not to belabor it, but that's an innaccurate interpretation of MLR's post Chief. Nowhere in his post does he claim the Twins are saying 2014 is a lost cause or that FA signings are a bad idea. He isn't claiming this either, nor am I, anymore than you.

My bad. I interpreted 'even spending $40m more wont get us to .500' as meaning 2014 is a lost cause.

#147 Mike Sixel

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 03:56 PM

So signing an 8th starting pitcher makes sense, but signing 1 starting SS doesn't? It's not apples and oranges. It is "you need a SS every single game" discussion. Having none, as they do now, makes little sense. Signing Pelfrey, when they have Gibson, Worley, Diamond, Meyer, others around, somehow makes sense. Signing Suzuki, when they have a legit prospect makes sense, but not signing Drew?

Sorrry, you can claim it is apples and oranges, but it is about resources and how you apply them. There are 40 and 25 spots to work with. Those are constraints on how you use your resources. You need a SS every game. You need a SP once every 5 games. They are flush with 4/5/prospect types now that they have signed FA pitchers.

Yet somehow, using those roster spots and dollars on another SP makes sense, using money and a spot on a catcher makes sense when you have Pinto, but signing Drew does not when you have Floriman and a bunch of question marks at SS.

There's always next year, or the next, or maybe by the time I'm Chief's age, I guess....


#148 jokin

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 07:14 PM

I don't think we know exactly how big a role Ryan did or didn't play OR could/couldn't play. I believe that Terry Ryan is an honorable person so I suspect that he really did try to step away and limit his role but sometimes that is easier said than done.

All of Ryan's underlings basically stayed with the team. Smith didn't fire anybody or bring in a new team loyal to him. It was basically the same "old boys club" that was in place when Ryan was there. In fact, many of them were as long-tenured as Smith.

The more I think about it, the more it seems like a recipe for disaster right from the start. Smith had a few years as assistant director of minor leagues and scouting (86-94 apparently) and then became assistant GM from 1994-2007. While all of the "team" worked together, Smith never had reason/opportunity to develop his own team. Nor did the transition from Ryan to Smith seem particularly well-planned. I remember distinct surprise when it happened.

I hope the Twins learn something from the 1st TR retirement when it comes to the 2nd time he leaves the club. If you look at the top personnel in the Twins baseball operations, many are still very long-tenured and are "Ryan hires". While continuity can be good, that doesn't seem like an optimal formula for a new GM's success. (Of course many of those same people are also getting close to retirement age).

Something to think about.


The switch to Smith concerned me at the time and it does give me great concern about the next succession plan. Rob Antony seems like a nice guy and all, but I fear that he might be already tabbed as the heir apparent, and his lack of portfolio is similar to Smith's.

#149 howieramone1406390264

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 09:26 PM

So signing an 8th starting pitcher makes sense, but signing 1 starting SS doesn't? It's not apples and oranges. It is "you need a SS every single game" discussion. Having none, as they do now, makes little sense. Signing Pelfrey, when they have Gibson, Worley, Diamond, Meyer, others around, somehow makes sense. Signing Suzuki, when they have a legit prospect makes sense, but not signing Drew?

Sorrry, you can claim it is apples and oranges, but it is about resources and how you apply them. There are 40 and 25 spots to work with. Those are constraints on how you use your resources. You need a SS every game. You need a SP once every 5 games. They are flush with 4/5/prospect types now that they have signed FA pitchers.

Yet somehow, using those roster spots and dollars on another SP makes sense, using money and a spot on a catcher makes sense when you have Pinto, but signing Drew does not when you have Floriman and a bunch of question marks at SS.


Mike, you are creating artificial barriers here. Our favorite team has plenty of money and roster space to sign Drew if they are so moved, even after signing Pelfrey and Suzuki. It's not an either or thing.

Edited by howieramone, 27 February 2014 - 10:11 PM.


#150 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 07:46 AM

Sometimes, I think "upside" isn't always a good thing. Hughes only has "upside" because he hasn't achieved the performance level that Drew has, even as recently as last year. Only the broken ankle in 2011 and rehab in 2012 interrupts Drew's streak of five straight 3+ rWAR seasons. Hughes has two 2 rWAR season as a starter, non-consecutive, and fell well short of that level in 2013. (For those that don't like WAR for pitchers, I don't think Hughes fares too well by other measures either -- his fWAR tops out at 2.5, and his IP in particularly seem strikingly low in his full seasons starting.)

True, Drew is 3 years older, but even after applying his standard positional aging curve, Drew could easily top Hughes' career high rWAR for the next few seasons.

I'm not knocking the Hughes deal. I just fail to see how, for a team with similar deficiencies at both spots, a deal for one of these guys is smart but a similar deal for the other is dumb.

EDIT TO ADD: Put another way, what's more likely: a 28 year old equalling or exceeding his career best performance, or a 31 year old continuing his 5 year established performance minus his standard positional aging curve?


This was a good post, but my big concern is looking at it in a vacuum. I'm not sure either scenario is necessarily "likely" but both are possible. Contex, however, has to come into play here. In Hugh's case, he was pitching in parks that tended to amplify his weaknesses. That goes away going to TF. He was also in a very unfriendly media environment of NY. Some players have shown the ability to thrive outside of that environment? Is it a guarantee? No, but I do think that the Twins made a calculated gamble that this FA would be more likely to meet or exceed his contract than say Garza, and to be clear I think this is true b/c the Twins put a very high value on the ability to last an entire season, not necessarily the ERA/FIP/etc. at the end of the year. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

#151 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 07:52 AM

This was a good post, but my big concern is looking at it in a vacuum. I'm not sure either scenario is necessarily "likely" but both are possible. Contex, however, has to come into play here. In Hugh's case, he was pitching in parks that tended to amplify his weaknesses. That goes away going to TF. He was also in a very unfriendly media environment of NY. Some players have shown the ability to thrive outside of that environment? Is it a guarantee? No, but I do think that the Twins made a calculated gamble that this FA would be more likely to meet or exceed his contract than say Garza, and to be clear I think this is true b/c the Twins put a very high value on the ability to last an entire season, not necessarily the ERA/FIP/etc. at the end of the year. That's not necessarily a bad thing.


Three years from now, I'd bet even money on Hughes being worth more wins than Garza. Not a slight on Garza but Hughes' upside and age gives him room to grow.

Not saying the Twins shouldn't have signed Garza, just pointing out that past performance and expected future performance are not the same thing, especially when talking about aging pitchers with questionable elbows.

#152 johnnydakota

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 08:07 AM

Mike, you are creating artificial barriers here. Our favorite team has plenty of money and roster space to sign Drew if they are so moved, even after signing Pelfrey and Suzuki. It's not an either or thing.

deleted

Edited by johnnydakota, 02 March 2014 - 12:11 AM.


#153 johnnydakota

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 08:12 AM

Three years from now, I'd bet even money on Hughes being worth more wins than Garza. Not a slight on Garza but Hughes' upside and age gives him room to grow.

Not saying the Twins shouldn't have signed Garza, just pointing out that past performance and expected future performance are not the same thing, especially when talking about aging pitchers with questionable elbows.


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Edited by johnnydakota, 02 March 2014 - 12:11 AM.


#154 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 08:17 AM

Basically betting the houses money on another Pavano affect?


Not quite the same thing... Pavano's issues were mainly injury-related. He just couldn't stay on the field in NY.

Hughes, on the other hand, is still in his prime seasons and his issues seem to be ballpark related. Maybe a younger AJ Burnett might be a better comp.

#155 Steve Penz

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 08:29 AM

I'm sorry, when has Wilson Ramos been a reliable, healthy Catcher option? Not to say he cant be at times, but Carlos Gomez and/or JJ Hardy have both been far more reliable than him to date, and those are both position players where the Twins have lacked depth for at least one of the last few seasons


I can't help but agree here. Ramos has not been an ironman by any stretch of the imagination. Also, I know this will be unpopular but I am so glad Gomez is not on our team. He is a now a great player; I get it. It is really hard for me to cheer for supremely stupid people. The stunt he pulled against the Braves last year that caused the benches to clear was amazing. He could turn into a hall-of-famer and I would never like him. Maybe when they traded him they could have gotten more but I am glad he is gone.

#156 Steve Penz

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 08:37 AM

Although it is seen as a horrible fail, it surprises me that the Nishioka acquisition does not get more negative attention. He was brought in as the next SS and it was determined in a minute that he did not have nearly the arm to play the spot. Who evaluated him in Japan and thought that he had it? The fact that he did not hit may have been a mental thing but if you don't have the arm then you don't have it. The repercussions were poor play, negative attitudes in the clubhouse and it seemed like there was also a spike in thoughts that the front office was doing a really poor job. I remember when Nishi missed covering 1B and Pavano covered for him and then went to the dugout and launched a Gatorade tub in anger. It surprises me that one or more people did not get fired from that acquisition.

#157 cmathewson

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 08:51 AM

EDIT TO ADD: Put another way, what's more likely: a 28 year old equalling or exceeding his career best performance, or a 31 year old continuing his 5 year established performance minus his standard positional aging curve?


The first option, which is why I say Hughes has upside while Drew does not. Also, Hughes has park adjusted upside while Drew does not. Put them together and I would put money on Hughes producing more WAR over the next two years than Drew. Factor in the draft pick, and the case gets better for Hughes.
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#158 YourHouseIsMyHouse

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 09:02 AM

Smith wouldn't have been as bad a GM if we'd have cut his phone line. His international scouting was brilliant and he was willing to take risks. A number of poor trades, inheritance of a doomed club, coaching, small payroll, and bad drafts are a variety of causes to his failure...you know, besides his incompetence.

#159 jokin

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 09:12 AM

Mike, you are creating artificial barriers here. Our favorite team has plenty of money and roster space to sign Drew if they are so moved, even after signing Pelfrey and Suzuki. It's not an either or thing.


Our team has money to sign Drew,Morales and E.Santana ,and still have space to pickup some help mid season...But that doesnt mean they will


So in a nutshell, it's not an either/or thing, it's more like a neither/nor thing...X 3...?

#160 birdwatcher

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 10:07 AM

Smith wouldn't have been as bad a GM if we'd have cut his phone line. His international scouting was brilliant and he was willing to take risks. A number of poor trades, inheritance of a doomed club, coaching, small payroll, and bad drafts are a variety of causes to his failure...you know, besides his incompetence.


I agree 100% about the phone line, but let's not credit Smith too much. Smith was part of the front office's lobbying effort to get ownership to allow them to expand the budget for improving their international scouting capabilities and assets. Smith played a key role, maybe even a crucial role, over many years, in the building of that capacity.

After that, the dozens of employees in that department went to work. None reported directly to Smith, and Smith, by his own admission, never weighed in on a single prospect, because he has very limited aptitude as a talent evaluator. Even at the signing hour, it was not Smith in the role of the primary negotiator, I don't believe. So we should give him some credit for the terrific success internationally, but we shouldn't overstate it.