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Should Be More Scrutiny Over Twins Playing Time, Not Payroll


Tom Froemming

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If you've been a fan of the Minnesota Twins for a while, you're probably sick of hearing about payroll. It's a topic that's beaten to death, and the criticisms are often contradictory.

 

People will rip the ownership for not spending more out of one side of their mouth and ridicule them for overpaying Joe Mauer out the other. You can't have it both ways.

 

In no way am I trying to suggest ownership or the front office shouldn't be questioned. I'm just saying those are tired and lazy arguments and it's time to point frustrations in a new direction.

 

The most important positive step the organization could take would be to stop taking into account how much money it has invested in a player when making roster decisions. They need to stop being so cheap, and accept the fact when they've made a poor investment.

 

As much as I would have loved to see the Twins sign an ace or dump a bunch of money into the bullpen, the team's decision not to is entirely defensible. Big, long-term contracts almost never work out and relievers are pretty unreliable from one year to the next.

 

It wasn't long ago all these multi-year contracts to relievers would have been met with pretty much universal disdain. But, of course, the Royals have changed all that. It's a copycat league.

 

What is indefensible is to refuse to give up on guys like Mauer or Ricky Nolasco in an attempt to save face despite having numerous better options.

 

As a big Mauer apologist, I'll always hold out hope that he'll get back to being an on-base machine. Maybe the farther Mauer gets from his concussion the more likely it gets he'll regain his hand-eye skills. And I don't think we've ever seen Nolasco healthy in a Twins uniform. There's some reason to hold out hope for him, too.

 

But if it starts to look like more of the same from either Mauer or Nolasco the club must move them into lower profile roles. The goal has to be winning games, not protecting egos.

 

The Twins don't necessary need to spend a bunch of money to build a playoff team. All they need to do is put the best 25 guys on the roster and set roles based on skills and performance rather than service time and contract status.

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+1, +1, +1

 

How many time and in how many ways can I like this post?

 

I have said the exact same things numerous times on Nolasco myself. I liked the signing. It was a good move. It just didn't work out. Healthy, he can still be quite good for somebody. I truly believe that. But it's time to move on for both sides. That's just how it goes sometimes, whether it is a job, a romance or an athlete on a sports team. I don't know that anyone from the Twins has come right out and said anything resembling giving up on Nolasco and selling low. But it has been intimated by others. And I think it is ridiculous if at all true. You would play someone over another player just to increase potential trade value, but let the other, better player languish and the team lose to make your trade point/objective?

 

As I stated in a somewhat lengthy post earlier today, (Mauer to the OF), I also am a Mauer apologist. But while an appreciative fan, I can be an apologist no longer. Now, or in the near future, the Twins will have ready Plouffe, (assuming he really isn't traded), Sano, Park, Kepler, Arcia, Vargas, Walker, amongst others potentially, needing AB's to produce, or at ,east show what they can do and are capable of. And most of those guys are about 25 or younger. And to a man, they all have greater offensive potential that what Mauer has produced the past two seasons. Again, OK BA and OB in '14 but zero power, a little more power in '15 but mediocre BA and OB, (especially for him)

 

Mauer hitting .285 with a .370 OB and 34 Dbl and 12 HR, (HR's based 150 game Mauer flat out hitting better) is valuable. What we have seen the last two seasons, in comparison to what is here and coming, is not. For the good of the team, an ongoing version of this Mauer should be turned in to a bench player and veteran PH. There is no shame in this, only reality.

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Three things I believe.  1.  We will see a better Ricky Nolasco this season.   

 

2.  The Twins will release or put him in the BP him if he isn't good.   

 

3.  Mauer is the hub of the wheel for this team, offensively, and I don't mean that he propels them.   If he is hitting, he's the 1B, and everything revolves around that (Plouffe, Sano, Park, Arcia, the Hicks trade, Kepler, ABW).  If he isn't, he has to move down in the order; he has to move away from 1B, letting Sano play there (or Park with Sano at DH), and opening up the OF for the three best two-way players (probably Buxton, Rosario, and Kepler).   

 

 

It doesn't leave any room for Joe.  But I completely agree that you can't just plug him in to that spot in the order and in the defense with the current (and future) alignment of the team.

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It was a lot easier to defend Mauer last year at this time. He was only coming off one bad season, after being really good the two years prior. He wasn't even really blocking anyone, either. Vargas was gonna DH and I didn't really expect Sano to come up until way later in the year, if at all to be honest.

 

Now, we have Mauer coming off an even worse year and it seems there are at least three guys who deserve an everyday 1B/DH spot over him (Sano, Park, Vargas), and like you said more on their way. I hope he can turn it around, but if he can't he has to be a part time guy.

 

Plouffe isn't the guy whose gotta go to solve the roster crunch. They don't have to try to get Sano slimmed down and ready for outfield. They just have to put their best players in their most appropriate roles.

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Great post Tom, and a sentiment that does in fact need to be replicated more often. Payroll by and large is a product of TV contracts, something the Twins don't have (or at least in the lucrative sense). Rather than to voice displeasure about a false reality, shifting focus to a much more fixable situation would no doubt be a great measure.

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I agree wholeheartedly with everything but this. Their is a difference between the rosters and the starters. Plouffe is the only one who can reasonably solve the roster issue. Mauer cannot be traded. He can be cut, but that's not a reality worthy of discussion. You can reduce his AB's. But not his roster spot. Something often ignored is that the Twins lineup was so putrid last year that as much as I do not believe Mauer is a 3 hitter, I could not come up with another. Dozier? Plouffe? Sano? The HR were there, but for two of them only half the year. Sano might soon be though. But Dozier remains an all or nothing hitter, and truthfully despite Plouffes HR's, does anyone think he strikes fear in any pitcher? The DP's and SO's are too easily coerced.

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Great post.  They seem to be stuck in the middle of a youth movement and still trying to sign veterans with little to no value - which irritates the heck out of me.  Mauer isn't going anyway, that's pretty obvious.  He can't be traded and he doesn't really deserve to be cut either.  He's not a 3 hitter anymore and I don't care what position he plays because it's meaningless at the plate.  I would have moved Mauer to RF instead of Sano and played Sano at one of the corners before I moved him to the OF.  I liked the Nolasco signing and still think it was a good move that simply didn't work out.  It happens, but they need to move on.  He's blocking younger talent that deserve to be on the roster and gives the team a higher chance of winning in the long term.  Pelfrey was in the same scenario.  Didn't mind the initial signing, but hated that they brought him back.  They showed too much willingness to keep throwing him out there when you have kids that could be learning how to win at the major league level instead.  That's what I'm talking about being stuck in the middle.  Either stick with aging vets or go with a full out youth movement with a few veteran backups to help guide the way, not something in between like they're doing now.

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