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Article: One Year In, Rebuilt Twins Front Office Is Crushing It


Nick Nelson
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Very, very, few players under thirty are ever free agents. Good luck if that is your rule. Go look at the lists the last few years, and see who makes your cut.

Absolutely correct.  That's why teams sign them to an extension (see Phil Hughes) and then let them go at the magic age.  Full discolsure, I thought Santana's signing was bad and that worked out for us.  I thought signing Phil Hughes to an extension at 28 wasn't a bad move and that didn't work out so well for us.  Typically, starting in their early 20's their athletic ability tops out while their baseball IQ increases.  Somewhere around their late 20's to early 30's, their athletic ability starts the downward curve and they become more reliant on their baseball IQ.  Their ability to extend their career beyond age 30 really depends on their baseball IQ.  So, if I were evaluating a pitcher north of 30, I would focus primarily on baseball IQ rather than fastball velocity, or the snap on their breaking ball as those can fall off quickly.  Hopefully, they don't get dumb overnight.

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Fangraphs just posted about the trading international bonus money for prospects. More thorough than my earlier comment:

https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/what-do-you-get-for-your-international-bonuses/

This is a pretty new phenomenon, trading this bonus money. Edited by Hosken Bombo Disco
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The IBP money fiasco this year isn't, in my mind, an example of them being creative. They went from a top Latin American prospect to two c prospects with a few failed targets in between. 

This is a good point. It does kind of feel like they exchanged a quarter for two dimes.

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So Drew Hutchison or Jacob Turner then? 

 

28-year-old free agents starters are rare. Useful ones are even more rare.

 

I agree.  So, do you think signing a 31 year old pitcher to a 6/160m deal would be a good thing for the Twins to do?

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Very, very, few players under thirty are ever free agents. Good luck if that is your rule. Go look at the lists the last few years, and see who makes your cut.

Better exercise would be to see how many 30+ free agents who signed 4+ year deals gave full value to the team that signed them.

 

I'd wager it's much easier to find bad contracts than good ones.

Edited by Monkeypaws
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Fangraphs just posted about the trading international bonus money for prospects. More thorough than my earlier comment:

https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/what-do-you-get-for-your-international-bonuses/

Spoiler, they say the Twins moving the $1 million each for two 45 value prospects   were small but excellent moves.

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Better exercise would be to see how many 30+ free agents who signed 4+ year deals gave full value to the team that signed them.

 

I'd wager it's much easier to find bad contracts than good ones.

Again... Who cares? Is it better the owner pockets the money than they spend it less than perfectly efficiently?

 

Because that is pretty much the alternative

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Two specific moves they could have made would have been adding a veteran bat and a solid reliever. Could have had a different result against the Yanks. And next round who knows.

I really don't see myself as half empty, but I also won't accept crusing it either. They've done ok, considering the deadline blunder and the circumstances with international money this offseason.

One thing that was conveniently not mentioned in the prospect additions is that the Twins may have also traded away the second best prospect of group. It wasn't just moving money.

 

When your playoff odds are under 10% and you're team on the rise, that would be irresponsible. The front office shook off the temptation to blow things up and let the guys play while still getting some pitching depth for unneeded pieces.

 

What are you referring to in the prospect part? Ynoa? He's a lottery ticket - it could come back to bite you but bad results doesn't mean the process is wrong. They got better prospects and more prospects out of the deal (basically Ynoa for Littell, Enns and Moya).

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When your playoff odds are under 10% and you're team on the rise, that would be irresponsible. The front office shook off the temptation to blow things up and let the guys play while still getting some pitching depth for unneeded pieces.

 

What are you referring to in the prospect part? Ynoa? He's a lottery ticket - it could come back to bite you but bad results doesn't mean the process is wrong. They got better prospects and more prospects out of the deal (basically Ynoa for Littell, Enns and Moya).

 

Who said anything about blowing things up? I have said a veteran bat (who were basically free last deadline) and a reliever. Or, at the very least, not trade an existing good bullpen piece.

 

Moya was an unrelated trade to any of these moves (and a good one too).

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I agree.  So, do you think signing a 31 year old pitcher to a 6/160m deal would be a good thing for the Twins to do?

 

At this point with absolutely no one on the MLB staff or prospects in the minors that can line up with Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, Corey Kluber or Luis Severino in a one game playoff? Yeah, absolutely. 

 

I'm done with early exit playoff appearances the status quo isn't cutting it for me. I don't care about the back end of that deal if it will give the Twins a shot to win in the front end.

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Wait and see.  This is the cosmetic phase.  New paint, new parts, but same old car.  I have nothing against the new FO, I just have a real hesitancy to jump on the band wagon until I see how their moves work out and more important, what their next moves will be.  The on-the-field product is still the TR team. 

I agree with the wait and see perspective but I disagree with your assessment of why. This is not cosmetic. They are working on infrastructure.

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I agree with the wait and see perspective but I disagree with your assessment of why. This is not cosmetic. They are working on infrastructure.

They’re getting young players with potential, instead of expensive players at the end of their careers. It will take time to pay off. It seems like the impatient argument is that some people wanted them to keep doing what Ryan was doing, only to spend more and be more successful. I prefer the new strategy.

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They’re getting young players with potential, instead of expensive players at the end of their careers. It will take time to pay off. It seems like the impatient argument is that some people wanted them to keep doing what Ryan was doing, only to spend more and be more successful. I prefer the new strategy.

This is the same strategy, isn't it?

 

Sano and Buxton are here three or four more years. Should they just punt this next one, and keep waiting?

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God, are we STILL fighting the "did the twins screw up or do ok at the trade deadline last season" fight?

 

So far i like the twins off-season. The draft looks very good and the FO made a number of moves and decisions like look smart, and it wasn't exactly a draft where every pick was obvious and they just had to wait for it to come to them. I like the trade of the int'l cap money for the prospects. Grabbing a catching prospect is especially good for our system and we gave away so very little for them that it's almost impossible not to call this a win. Bringing back Molitor was a good move as well and they handled it a way that was professional. They're continuing to remodel the organizational structure and minor league system the way they want to see it, which I'm fine with. (Dumping Doug Mienkiewitz is fine; he's the one who came off like a jackass to everyone who isn't in his pocket)

 

Has anything else happened this hot stove?

 

Yeah, we missed out of the stud from Japan, but that one was kind of a long shot form the get-go, wasn't it? Real free agency and trading hasn't even gotten started yet. but so far, they seem to be doing everything right and it lends confidence they';ll make smart decisions in the upcoming.

 

 

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If it was a positive result, then maybe it was an astute move? If not astute, than perhaps just dumb luck? The bullpen improved once Kintzler was gone, but it doesn't much matter. 

 

We can argue about the Twins deadline moves all off season but I don't see how they made a lick of difference. The Twins were heading into the playoffs with a high contact, homer-prone Ervin Santana leading the way while the other clubs were leading off with Sale, Verlander, Severino and Kluber. Getting upset about Kintzler and Garcia is like getting into a car accident because you ran a red light and the cop at the scene says, "Hey, your tail light is out too." No matter how it's sliced, Kintzler, Garcia and the tail light had nothing to do with the wreck of the post season.

Perhaps it was luck. I think that's a pretty clear cut situation where correlation doesn't equal causation. 

 

It directly contrasts with the premise of the article. The article was praising the new FO for the moves they've made. Some have pointed out that they may be getting credit for moves that weren't necessarily helpful. Given the limited number of moves/decisions this FO has made I'd say the deadline decisions do make a difference in how the FO is viewed. 

 

If you're looking for an argument about whether or not the Twins need front end rotation help I doubt you'll find it.  

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This is the same strategy, isn't it?

Sano and Buxton are here three or four more years. Should they just punt this next one, and keep waiting?

Not answering Socratic or argumentative questions, but I will say that trading veterans and IfA cap room for young players is tremendously different from hanging onto Josh Willingham or extending Phil Hughes.

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God, are we STILL fighting the "did the twins screw up or do ok at the trade deadline last season" fight?

 

So far i like the twins off-season. The draft looks very good and the FO made a number of moves and decisions like look smart, and it wasn't exactly a draft where every pick was obvious and they just had to wait for it to come to them. I like the trade of the int'l cap money for the prospects. Grabbing a catching prospect is especially good for our system and we gave away so very little for them that it's almost impossible not to call this a win. Bringing back Molitor was a good move as well and they handled it a way that was professional. They're continuing to remodel the organizational structure and minor league system the way they want to see it, which I'm fine with. (Dumping Doug Mienkiewitz is fine; he's the one who came off like a jackass to everyone who isn't in his pocket)

 

Has anything else happened this hot stove?

 

Yeah, we missed out of the stud from Japan, but that one was kind of a long shot form the get-go, wasn't it? Real free agency and trading hasn't even gotten started yet. but so far, they seem to be doing everything right and it lends confidence they';ll make smart decisions in the upcoming.

As you say. They also hired a leading scout and perhaps others, and have revamped analytics. Also, it doesn’t make the news, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they have introduced new methods for player health, both mental and physical.

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Again... Who cares? Is it better the owner pockets the money than they spend it less than perfectly efficiently?

Because that is pretty much the alternative

As you mentioned, very few players in their primes (under 30)hit free agency.

 

Look at high profile free agents: Zito, Fielder, Pujols, etc. Albatross contracts that hamstring an organization. I'm sure there are some that work out. Greg Maddux comes to mind, but he was 27 and the and the Cubs had issues, and arguably that was a different era.

 

Big money contracts are rarely worth it, especially for those that get themselves in the position to reap the rewards.

 

Age, satisfaction, many factors contribute.

 

Adding a sensible free-agent to address a weakness in a mature team? Hell yeah. Chili Davis, Jack Morris, good adds that helped put their team over the top, all low risk short term deals.

 

Big money free-agency is a fool's game.

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I've been relatively happy with the direction the franchise is moving since the new front office took over. With that said, it is way too early to say that Falvey and Levine are "crushing it". To me :"crushing it" would mean they've managed to assemble a team capable of legitimately competing in the playoffs. At this point the pitching staff is still quite a ways from being able to match up against the better teams in the league and seeing how this is addressed will be a big factor in evaluating the new regime.  There are plenty of avenues to upgrade the pitching and at this point I'll take an optimistic wait and see perspective on the new front office.

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As you mentioned, very few players in their primes (under 30)hit free agency.

 

Look at high profile free agents: Zito, Fielder, Pujols, etc. Albatross contracts that hamstring an organization. I'm sure there are some that work out. Greg Maddux comes to mind, but he was 27 and the and the Cubs had issues, and arguably that was a different era.

 

Big money contracts are rarely worth it, especially for those that get themselves in the position to reap the rewards.

 

Age, satisfaction, many factors contribute.

 

Adding a sensible free-agent to address a weakness in a mature team? Hell yeah. Chili Davis, Jack Morris, good adds that helped put their team over the top, all low risk short term deals.

 

Big money free-agency is a fool's game.

You really didn't answer the question. Is it better the owners pocket the money than it be spent inefficiently? Morris signed the largest FA contract ever, at the time.....

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Not answering Socratic or argumentative questions, but I will say that trading veterans and IfA cap room for young players is tremendously different from hanging onto Josh Willingham or extending Phil Hughes.

Span, Revere, Morneau, Liriano, Slowey, Doumit, Hammer, Fuld, Buetera ....

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I agree with the wait and see perspective but I disagree with your assessment of why. This is not cosmetic. They are working on infrastructure.

I understand that and I would not say it is unimportant, but we have no metrics to measure the moves of FO personnel.  Right now we know a lot has changed and we hope it is a good change, but when will we know?

 

Until recently there were only 4 GMs in the HOF and I suspect it is because we do not know how to really measure their performance.http://a.espncdn.com/mlb/columns/bp/1399247.html

 

Scheurholtz and Duquette have now joined them, but why?  There is no clearcut tool - longevity, winning teams, owners with big checkbooks????????????

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Small moves become additive. These prospects are actual people, but in some ways, we're better off viewing them purely as assets. The Falvey/Levine team have done a great job upping the assets in the bank. They can choose to have them mature or use them to buy talent elsewhere. They clearly get it.

 

I am over the moon with their first year. Bring on year 2.

Assets is right. The previous regime was thought to be too unwilling to trade a prospect or two, perhaps because they had so few of them. Now that several of those one-time prospects are on the field, and the pipeline is refilling, the team has some assets that can be packaged not to plug a hole, but make a difference. What if you were to put a couple of those together to get, say, an Evan Longoria from the salary dumping Rays to play 3rd base, strengthen the lineup and provide some veteran moxie? Let Sano DH and then let him show you he's willing to do what it takes to be an on the field player. 

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Man, it'll be interesting to see how TD rejoices once the new FO actually makes a move for something slightly better than a C prospect or mid-level FA.

 

I'd venture to say that the new pitching coach, the new bench coach and all the changes in the player development side have been the biggest moves this off-season, with the first 2 very likely to pay large dividends for the Twins in 2018

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‘Crushing it’ and recouping 3MM by voiding an agreement on a failed physical by Marte? Isn’t that sort of like knowing how to balance a checkbook and using a stop payment maneuver in a bank transaction so you don’t waste your own cash? Seems like they did something anyone else would have, hardly crushing it.

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Of course I believe this. I don't think playoff spots can be taken for granted. Certainly it was a long shot, but they were there. Adding some marginal prospects doesn't make me feel better for taking less of a chance.

Imagine a veteran dh coming up in the first inning instead of Buxton, having extendes the luneup, and really blowing the game open.

As you said, it's an imaginary scenario, because a veteran DH can make an out almost as easily as Buxton. You could just as well imagine Buxton lining a dinger to left.

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