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Going Forward - Retool or Rebuild?


mike8791

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Now that it is clear Twins must be sellers, the most pressing issue to the FO must be: Retool or Rebuild?  With the trade deadline in just 4 weeks, many big decisions must be made this month.  Just to restate the obvious: retooling can be defined as fielding a 2022 squad that can be a legitimate contender at least for a playoff spot.  A rebuild means tearing down the core and hoping to contend by 2024/5 at the earliest.

For starters, let's list the key factors that would allow for a retool:

1. Build around the existing core of Berrios, Buxton, Donaldson, Rogers, Arraez, Kirillof and Larnach.  I would also add Pineda and Maeda to this "core", as expecting to contend next season without at least three set rotation pieces would be comparable to entering 2021 with only question marks for the bullpen.  One might argue that guys like Sano, Kepler, Polanco, Jeffers/Garver, could also be considered core players, but at best, these are either fringe players going forward with probably more value as trade pieces.  Despite all the chatter about trading, the Twins need this core in place to have any real chance of contending next year.  This doesn't necessarily mean resigning Buxton, Berrios, and Rogers, but their absence would likely severely limit contention chances next year.

2.  To get higher impact prospects who could expect to contribute to the major league team in 2022,  trade from strength.  This means guys like Garver and Polanco should be available this month(alternatively, Jeffers and Arraez could be substituted but they are much more likely to contribute to squads beyond next year so should only be traded for very high end prospects).   Guys like Sano and Kepler who have obviously fallen short of early promise, should also be marketed but they are not likely to bring back major-league-ready prospects.  Expiring contracts should not be renewed(except for Pineda),  although if Cruz does not bring back at least a medium level pitching prospect for next year, perhaps he should be retained as a player/hitting coach.  He's that remarkable.

3.  Push the best available pitching prospects up by Aug. 1st.  Not a lot to choose from here, with injuries, limited or poor performances from guys like Duran, Enlow, Balozovic, but certainly Winder and Cano, if they both can establish their AA success has translated to AAA in July) should be promoted.  Duran and/or Balozovis could be brought up after Sept. 1st if healthy and if they can turnaround some control issues that have emerged.  They can continue to run out guys like Jax and Ober but they have shown little to warrant optimism for being keys to a pitching rebound. 

With one or two high end pitchers acquired by the trade deadline plus hopefully, one or two minor leaguers who show more promise than the retreads used to date in 2021, the FO should have a clearer idea what the basic needs are in the offseason.  At best,  the Twins could find themselves entering the offseason with the need for one strong starter and one or two late inning relievers rather than a major bullpen overhaul.  At that point it is incumbent upon ownership to step up and declare money is available for signing current stars and adding the necessary high end talent rather than nibbling around for bargains - a strategy that has obviously contributed to our record-setting playoff losing streak, as well as this year's collapse.  And one more thing for the offseason.  Rocco must go and replaced with an old-school, experienced disciplinarian.  It's worked for the Sox.  Why not the Twins?  So give Falvine until June 30th 2022 to see if they're on the right track.  If not, time for a midseason change.  After this year's colossal failure, the rope should be short.

If ownership is unwilling to spend for high level talent and keep the core together for at least one more year, then rebuilding is the only alternative.  Trading Berrios and Buxton would be necessary before 2022 and a 3 year minimum rebuilding program should be instituted.  This rebuild has to be conducted by new FO personnel, ones who are not so risk averse as Falvine and have had experience in successfully rebuilding other franchises.  What about Theo??  Of course, the ultimate solution is new ownership- one who is agressive about wanting a winner and willing to invest in the future.  Mark Cuban, are you listening?  But that's just wishful thinking.   Conservative banking mentality will probably be our albatross for years to come.

So what do you all think?  Is contention likely for this franchise in 2022 or is rebuild under new management the way to go?

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If you go for a rebuild, then you have to admit the current regime is a failure.  Don't think we are there yet.  We still have to listen on Buxton and Berrios and if not extended must sell by this winter.  Problem is the new CBA is an unknown which is likely to make buying clubs reluctant to give major prospects for this year of contention, if there is possibly a short season or no season next year. 

To me it depends on buxton and Berrios.  If the FO does not know the status, they should be fired.  Pohlad will probably need to approve the money to resign them, but this should be known at this time.

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Bingo!  Resigning Buxton and Berrios are keys.  Without either of them in the L/U next year, this team cannot possibly contend,  which is why trading them this season makes no sense unless ownership wants a complete rebuild.  This is a key test for Pohlad.  He must expand payroll to accomplish resigning both, which is why calls to trade Donaldson for freeing up money is illogical.  He is one of the very few professional hitters on this team.  Who is going to replace him?

Even if Twins decide they cannot afford to sign B&B, they should still be retained for 2022 to give this FO one last chance to right the ship.  If they don't by midseason at the latest, they should be dumped and B&B traded at the deadline.  If the team does rebound,  Pohlad would hopefully pony up the $ to resign them.  It's all on ownership here.  Prepare to go over budget or tear it down.  There is just no middle ground.

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I'm hoping the plan is a re-tool, but still with some major changes.  You've laid the basic premise out nicely Mike8791.  I'm going to go with the easy stuff first:

Cut bait on Sano.  Either move him at the trade deadline for a bag of baseballs (for salary relief) or simply buy him out for $2.75 million at seasons end and be done with him.

Look for takers on Max Kepler.  I don't think Max will ever get back to his 2019 form.  I wonder how much of a mirage that was for a LOT of our players.  But he is still a very good defensive RF'er.  He has value and should be moved to a team looking for OF help.

I would leave our catching personnel alone.  Jeffers and Rortvedt are struggling offensively but should improve.  Garver can be used as a catcher/1B/DH type of bat.

I'm not averse to moving Donaldson for the right package.  Arraez can hold down 3B and/or Miranda.  

Cruz COULD be dealt for the right package but I'd be O.K. if we kept him.  It depends what teams would be willing to part with.  I'd be happy to keep Nellie for another year.

With Donaldson, Sano and Kepler gone that would be about $40-$45 million freed up.  Some of that would be used to re-sign Berrios and Buxton.  The rest, to plug holes.  And there are plenty of holes.

I don't think Simmons is back with the Twins next year.  I don't think Lewis will be a SS in the future and with him missing the entire season this year he can't be counted on for anything until late next season at the best.  This means serious money needs to be allocated for a long-term SS.  I see Story and Baez as targets.  Polanco belongs at 2B.  If this team hopes to be relevant the next 2-3 years they need a SS !!  

One other point:  I've finally, after a lot of musing, decided that between Berrios and Buxton if I keep one and part ways with the other, would keep Berrios.  PITCHING is what will make the Twins a playoff-competitive team.  it ALWAYS is.  Look back on Twins history.  In 1962-63 they pitched and finished 2nd & 3rd to the Yankees.  In 1964 they had GREAT hitting, but didn't pitch well and finished 7th !  In 1965 they pitched and won the A.L. Pennant despite missing Killebrew for half the season.  In 1966 & 1967 they pitched and were runner-ups.  In 1969 & 1970 their pitching was good and they won the division.  Fast forward to last year.  They won the division because they pitched much better than they hit.

We will NOT be better next year, if,  as a team that has pitching issues, we trade Berrios or Rogers.  We could possibly be better without Pineda but NOT without Berrios.

In the entire time Buxton has been a Twin it seems like he's played in half the games.  We've learned how to play without him and still be good.  Are we better WITH him ??  Clearly, we are.  But if I'm going to make a blockbuster and get an insane return of value for a player, I part with Buxton (who was playing like an A.L. MVP).  We do NOT trade Buxton for anything less than an insane return.  Someone either blows us away, or we give him a 3-year $80 million dollar contract and see what the next 3-years turns out to be.  If we DO deal Buxton, acquire someone like Kevin Kiermaier to play CF if you don't think Celestino will work out.  And you still have Lewis (who I think will end up in CF).

There has been more disappointment/failure with this front office than successes.  I must admit, I'm not very confident they can turn things around.  The White Sox are crushing the division (as was predicted) despite losing Robert and Jimenez for the entire season to date.  And the White Sox has some young pitchers who are impressive.  Cleveland can flat out pitch.  The Tigers have some very impressive young arms.  This FO has to figure this out or we're looking at another decade of mediocrity.  

Time will tell.

 

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I agree with the basic premise - this team has enough core talent to re-tool rather than having to rebuild. I also agree with your analysis of who’s in that core with one exception - Polanco is a necessary core player that we should not trade unless someone offers strong young pitching with upside. We need his bat and we’re going to possibly need him to play SS the rest of this season and next assuming we trade Simmons. I think this Board has underrated Polanco and overrated Kepler for years. Polanco is a starting caliber MI on a contender (better at 2B to be sure but a passable SS). Kepler is a 4th OF on a contender unless he finds something soon. I’d love to see someone sit Kepler down and tell him we want him to hit .260-.280 with 15-20 HRs, NOT .230 with 25-30 HRs and see if he can alter his approach.

Donaldson is the tougher call. I just think that we’re going to need to trade his contract to free up payroll to sign Berrios. If I’m wrong and we can have both AND Buxton, then only trade him if you can get some young pitching in return. 

Your bottom line is absolutely right though, all of this depends on whether we can re-sign Berrios, Buxton and, to a certain extent, Rogers. If we can re-sign at least Berrios and Buxton, re-tooling is the way to go and I like the plan. If we can’t, time for a re-build. 
 

The timing isn’t now though, not at this trade deadline. Decision time is this winter when we’ll know where we stand with the 2/3 key guys.

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I think it’s a step to far to say the current regime is a failure.  However their first attemp has failed and keeping the core together would only be for one more year unless you really open the purse strings.  Plus to assume we keep Buxton is a stretch. The big thing standing in the way of blowing this team up is the potential that we get low value in return.  No reason to take extreme measures for no payback. I do think it is clear that our new core is the next generation of players. If you can trade the larger contracts, soon to be free agents and focus players you can pair with Arraez, Larnach & Kiriloff.  Don’t know what we will do about pitching.   

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Until the team gets serious about fielding a pitching staff with legitimate major leaguers what's the point?

Berrios, Maeda, Duffey, Rogers, and Alcala are the only guys on this pitching staff that should be given a chance next year.

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Too early to label the FO a failure.  There's enough there to retool, especially with position players.  I'm not convinced there is with pitching, but that's another discussion.  What to do with Polanco is a question in and of itself though.  Assuming that Donaldson, Simmons and even Sano (doubtful) are all dealt, is there enough infield depth to replace an entire infield?  Obviously, something that can help would need to come back in a deal somewhere.  I like Polanco (at 2B, not SS), but I'm not opposed to dealing him because I do think he has decent value.  Tearing down an entire infield feels more like a rebuild rather than a retool though.

Regarding Buxton and Berrios, this question will hang over this team until they're either extended or gone.  However, it's an important one to answer to determine the direction of the team long term.  If they're both gone, the team has further to go to reach serious contender status.  There's already too much to do on the pitching side.

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Thanks for all the comments above.  Just a few more thoughts:

1.  The only reason I'm willing to give the FO a last chance in 2022 is because of the Minor League 2020 lost season and a late start to this one.  If by midyear they have re-established Twins as contender, ok.  But if deadline and offseason moves have not substantially moved the needle in team's performance by July 1st at the latest, they should join Rocco in the delete column.  Frankly, this FO has not earned trust in drafting or signing FA pitchers, nor have they been agressive in the trading department.  Of course, no way of knowing what payroll limitations they faced, but that's another story.

2.  With Cruz likely gone at the trade deadline and Sano no longer a productive bat, can the Twins offense click without JD in 2022?  Too much hope and not reality in my opinion.  Can Kirillof and Larnach avoid a sophomore slump?  Is Gordon a flash in the pan(pun intended)?  Can Miranda make the jump to 3B?  And the big question:  will Buxton be healthy and a Twin next year?  Yes, emphasis needs to be on pitching improvements, but that doesn't mean we can ignore fact that Twins' offense has been highly erratic, especially in run-scoring situations.  The current lineup has improved in the last few weeks, but is it sustainable, especially if Cruz and Donaldson are gone?

And finally, I still contend the only way for the Twins to return to contention next year is if money is made available to resign Berrios and Buxton, plus signing a high end starter, one of the top FA SS's available in the offseason, and 2-3 relievers who have a higher possibility of nailing down a win in late game situations, at least much higher than guys like Colome, Duffy, Thielbar and Alcala.  JP has to step up to the plate here and Falvine has to make the right roster decisions this time;  otherwise, we are looking at a 3-4 year rebuild.

 

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I think I would rather to a fire sale this month and stockpile money and prospects.  I think the roster below would be more fun to watch in 2022 than this year's team.

Catchers:. Garver and Jeffers

1B: Kirilloff

2B: Polanco

SS: Free Agent Signing

3B: Miranda

LF: Larnach

CF: Gordon

RF: Celestino

DH: Rooker

SP: Ober, Winder, Duran, Balazovic, Sands, Barnes, Viallmont

RP: Moran, Cano, Law, Jeff, Vasquez, Hamilton, Rogers

That's 24 roster spots.  I left two vacant for unknown acquisitions.  I would bet you would at least see hustle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wow!  Now that's what I'd call a total rebuild!  Depending on this offseason budget constraints, your plan might be the only viable one left..It would probably make the banker happy, allow Falvine another 4-5 years to justify their existence, guarantee 2-3 yrs. of dead last finishes and probably reduce attendance by 50%.  Might be ok for you young guys but we seniors don't have time left to wait that long.  I just want one more World Championship!!

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Mike8971 wrote: “… At that point it is incumbent upon ownership to step up and declare money is available for signing current stars and adding the necessary high end talent rather than nibbling around for bargains - a strategy that has obviously contributed to our record-setting playoff losing streak, as well as this year's collapse.”

Couldn’t agree with this more. Losing Berrios would be disastrous for the near future, the mid 2020s, on this team. 

We can speculate forever about Sano, Pineda, Polanco, Kepler, etc., but we simply don’t have enough quality pitching—especially guys who can give us close to 200 good innings a season—to believe we measure up with the elite teams come October.

If they want to see these players contend, the bottom line is that the Pohlads and the FO have to decide to spend what it takes to get the pitching we need to leverage our depth of hitting—a huge plus on this team—to bring this roster to the level of the elite teams.

 

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I think the two options are all in for 2022 or set your sites of 2023 and beyond.

All In- the Twins need pitching and lots of it. The all in plan sells off the best prospects for players who can make an impact next year while Rogers, Donaldson, Buxton and Berrios are in team control. Trade guys like Winder, Balazovic, Duran, Lewis and Miranda to bring in pitching. They can’t expected to be impact players next year and the core leaves after 2022. the Twins need to spend all of their resources to improve the 2022 roster.

Fold and focus on the next window- the Twins needs at pitching are so great that it can’t be fixed to build a World Series contender next year. Trade off all expiring assets. Trade off Rogers, Duffey, Garver who will be 32 and likely in decline in 2022. Don’t pay for their decline. Trade Donaldson. Offer Buxton and Berrios deals they shouldn’t refuse. If they do trade them now. Plan for the growing pains of young players like Winder, Balazovic, Duran, Lewis, Miranda and some acquired by trade. Let them try to pitch out of jams even though they will fail too often. Play them through rough patches. Set the foundation for the next open window.

I think this window has closed. The worst path to me is trying to compete by trading expiring assets this year for a marginal return in attempt to be competitive next year only to fail to make or advance in playoffs. The Twins are left in 2023 with no Buxton, Berrios or Rogers and little foundation to move forward. 

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I have to go the retool way. This team has a good core offensively, just horrible pitching. I think to trade Berrios would be a major mistake unless he just wants to move on. I think we have 3 capable starters going forward with Berrios, Pineda, and Maeda. The bullpen is a total mess. After Rogers there is maybe Alcala and really who else? Thats alot of retooling to do. For sure we need to shed some players like Kepler, Sano, Cave, and listen to all offers on others. But dont get taken for a ride on low level prospects that MIGHT develop in 4-5 years. Keep Cruz unless the offer is really worth the trade, if you can get value for Donaldson pull the trigger, but I really hate to pay a part of his salary to play for another team. Im glad I dont sit in Falvines chair right now.

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I think they could retool, but it will take some good free agent signings.

Let's look at starting pitching free agency from last year.

Twins signed Happ and Shoemaker which has been a mess.

Here were some low cost free agents that have had good years.

Charlie Morton, Kevin Gausman, Anthony Desclafani, Rich Hill, Carlos Rodon, Taijuan Walker, Corey Kluber, Alex Wood.

They're out there, but the Twins aren't getting them.

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