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Article: The Discard Pile


Nick Nelson
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The Red Sox had eight players with bWAR above 3 in 2018, including three above 6.

The Astros had eight players above 2.5, including four above 5.



Just showing how big a gap there is between “competing” and “contending”.

 

You make a good point here. You could make a point that your assertion is why the Mariners opted to rebuild this year as well as Chicago when they traded Sale and others.

 

It's interesting to look at how the true contenders have been built over the past decade. It appears most people just assume big free agents and trades for impact players are the key because recent history does not support that assumption. For all the complaining there should be ample examples of mid market teams building contenders when utilizing premier free agents and trades for established impact players. Lots of noise with no validation.

 

One could make a case that examples like the Red Sox have less validity given their ability to spend. However, I think there is still something to be learned from examples like the Dodgers who tried to buy a team with limited success.They cut around $75M from the 25 man roster in 2017 and put a great team on the field that was deep like the other teams you mentioned.  They produced 104 wins.

 

Here are all of the players from the 2017 team with WAR of 2+.

Corey Seager  - 5.9WAR - Drafted
Justin Turner - 5.4 WAR – Never broke 1 WAR before being acquired by the Dodgers
Chris Taylor - 4.8 WAR – Had .5 career WAR before being acquired by the Dodgers.
Cody Bellinger  4.0 WAR - Drafted
Yasiel Puig - 2.9 WAR – International Draft
Austin Barnes - 2.5 WAR – Dodgers traded an established player (Dee Gordon) for Barnes
Yasmani Grandal - 2.5 WAR – Had a good rookie season (2.4) WAR then .6 WAR in 2013 and 1 WAR in 2014. He was not an established performer after a combined 1.6 WAR in the 2 previous years.
Joc Pederson was hurt a lot in 2017 so he did not contribute like he did the 2016 but he too was drafted.

Clayton Kershaw - 4.6 WAR - Drafted
Kenley Jansen - 3.6 WAR - Drafted
Alex Wood - 3.5 – Traded in a 13 player 3 team trade. The Dodgers gave up very little for him.
Rich Hill - 2.6 – Signed as a FA in 2017 for 3/48. mid-tier where free agent SPs are concerned.  
Brandon McCarthy - 2.4 WAR – Freeagent signed for 3/36M
Kenta Maeda - 2.0 – International FA - $20M signing fee + 25M over 8 years. The cost including the posting fee is an AAV of 5.625M

 

In summary, 4 of the position players were acquired via trade.  All of them fit far better into the unproven category than proven at the time. There was not a single established player acquired via trade. There was also not a single high profile free agent. The 2017 Dodgers team was made-up of players drafted by the Dodgers or acquired as prospects. Just another example of trading established players for prospects being more effective than vice versa. Is there any wonder why the Dodgers have been so ardent about holding on to their prospects in recent years or for that matter why the Twins are not willing to trade our best prospects. The league is adapting.

Edited by Major League Ready
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You make a good point here. You could make a point that your assertion is why the Mariners opted to rebuild this year as well as Chicago when they traded Sale and others.

 

It's interesting to look at how the true contenders have been built over the past decade. It appears most people just assume big free agents and trades for impact players are the key because recent history does not support that assumption. For all the complaining there should be ample examples of mid market teams building contenders when utilizing premier free agents and trades for established impact players. Lots of noise with no validation.

 

One could make a case that examples like the Red Sox have less validity given their ability to spend. However, I think there is still something to be learned from examples like the Dodgers who tried to buy a team with limited success.They cut around $75M from the 25 man roster in 2017 and put a great team on the field that was deep like the other teams you mentioned.  They produced 104 wins.

 

Here are all of the players from the 2017 team with WAR of 2+.

Corey Seager  - 5.9WAR - Drafted
Justin Turner - 5.4 WAR – Never broke 1 WAR before being acquired by the Dodgers
Chris Taylor - 4.8 WAR – Had .5 career WAR before being acquired by the Dodgers.
Cody Bellinger  4.0 WAR - Drafted
Yasiel Puig - 2.9 WAR – International Draft
Austin Barnes - 2.5 WAR – Dodgers traded an established player (Dee Gordon) for Barnes
Yasmani Grandal - 2.5 WAR – Had a good rookie season (2.4) WAR then .6 WAR in 2013 and 1 WAR in 2014. He was not an established performer after a combined 1.6 WAR in the 2 previous years.
Joc Pederson was hurt a lot in 2017 so he did not contribute like he did the 2016 but he too was drafted.

Clayton Kershaw - 4.6 WAR - Drafted
Kenley Jansen - 3.6 WAR - Drafted
Alex Wood - 3.5 – Traded in a 13 player 3 team trade. The Dodgers gave up very little for him.
Rich Hill - 2.6 – Signed as a FA in 2017 for 3/48. mid-tier where free agent SPs are concerned.  
Brandon McCarthy - 2.4 WAR – Freeagent signed for 3/36M
Kenta Maeda - 2.0 – International FA - $20M signing fee + 25M over 8 years. The cost including the posting fee is an AAV of 5.625M

 

In summary, 4 of the position players were acquired via trade.  All of them fit far better into the unproven category than proven at the time. There was not a single established player acquired via trade. There was also not a single high profile free agent. The 2017 Dodgers team was made-up of players drafted by the Dodgers or acquired as prospects. Just another example of trading established players for prospects being more effective than vice versa. Is there any wonder why the Dodgers have been so ardent about holding on to their prospects in recent years or for that matter why the Twins are not willing to trade our best prospects. The league is adapting.

 

Maybe we should do this for the Yankees and Red Sox too! Because one data point isn't sufficient, probably.

 

Of course, not trading for players like Dozier in 2017 might be one reason they came up a game short......You also left off that they traded for Machado in 2018, so maybe they decided their plan of not trading for great players didn't work.

 

Now, if every team decides this....well, then there are probably market inefficiencies being created in terms of trade value.

Edited by Mike Sixel
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Simply pointing out that a team isn’t going to contend with a handful of 3 WAR players. A team that wins has IMPACT players.

PS: Houston’s payroll in 2017 was $140 mil. They won the World Series that year with nine players of 2.5 bWAR or higher, including three over 5.

 

 

I know you're not suggesting this, but people commonly bring up Houston as a team to emulate, and complain that we're not doing that, or that we're failing miserably at it. 

 

I think they should emulate Houston, and I think they basically ARE following a similar path. They're at a different stage than Houston. Part of that has to do with failings, part of that has to do with injury-related luck, and part of that has to do with happenstance, such as Bregman being there for you.

 

Houston has superstars making a pittance. Bregman made $600k and played like a $30M player. That's a huge part of why they're regarded as possibly the best team in baseball in 2019. For every Altuve, who jumps from $9M to $29M after this year, they have a Correa, who made $1M.

 

Two points: Houston hasn't gone out and made FA splashes very often, For every Verlander and Gerrit Cole, you have a deparure of Charlie Morton because $15M was too rich, or Dallas Keuchel looking for a bump from the paltry $13M they paid him in 2018. Instead, they'll enjoy McCullers at $4M for now, and plug in cheaper players so they can handle George Springer at $12M while grooming Kyle Tucker, and afford Brantley at about the same while taking advantage of Tyler White on the cheap. Their big splash so far was Aledmys Diaz's 1.4 WAR at $2M. They have a team-friendly Yuli Gurriel with a 2019 salary of $10.4M, dropping to $8.4M next year.

 

I like what they're doing but have a question:

 

Exactly what would you have the Twins do, right now, in January 2019, to more closely emulate what Houston has done and is doing? I can see possibly going after a top end pitcher and succeeding as a possibly legit answer, like Houston did with Verlander and Cole and the Twins failed to do with Darvish. What else?

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I know you're not suggesting this, but people commonly bring up Houston as a team to emulate, and complain that we're not doing that, or that we're failing miserably at it. 

 

I think they should emulate Houston, and I think they basically ARE following a similar path. They're at a different stage than Houston. Part of that has to do with failings, part of that has to do with injury-related luck, and part of that has to do with happenstance, such as Bregman being there for you.

 

Houston has superstars making a pittance. Bregman made $600k and played like a $30M player. That's a huge part of why they're regarded as possibly the best team in baseball in 2019. For every Altuve, who jumps from $9M to $29M after this year, they have a Correa, who made $1M.

 

Two points: Houston hasn't gone out and made FA splashes very often, For every Verlander and Gerrit Cole, you have a deparure of Charlie Morton because $15M was too rich, or Dallas Keuchel looking for a bump from the paltry $13M they paid him in 2018. Instead, they'll enjoy McCullers at $4M for now, and plug in cheaper players so they can handle George Springer at $12M while grooming Kyle Tucker, and afford Brantley at about the same while taking advantage of Tyler White on the cheap. Their big splash so far was Aledmys Diaz's 1.4 WAR at $2M. They have a team-friendly Yuli Gurriel with a 2019 salary of $10.4M, dropping to $8.4M next year.

 

I like what they're doing but have a question:

 

Exactly what would you have the Twins do, right now, in January 2019, to more closely emulate what Houston has done and is doing? I can see possibly going after a top end pitcher and succeeding as a possibly legit answer, like Houston did with Verlander and Cole and the Twins failed to do with Darvish. What else?

 

Be aggressive with promotions, trust your minor league pitchers more (a lot more) to be RPs, draft better after the top pick (when Houston played games, they ended up with a very good pitcher in round 2....the Twins have a big fat question mark with their Canadian).

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According to LEN III the Twins are viewing Perez as an SP. This makes me dislike this even more. If we aren't going all in for 2019, and this signing implies greatly that we aren't, then this would be a great chance to put one of the youngsters in at #5 and see what they have. We have a half dozen prospects that need to be evaluated so we know if we have something or if we should be moving on. The next wave is soon in need of evaluation and we still have little clue on the present group. 

 

The only way this is a good sign is if Perez happens to have a career year and the Twins win the Central b/c of it. If they dog their way to a .500 or just over record with Perez at #5 it's a very bad signing. 

We are looking to contend in 2019. We evaluated approximately a half dozen prospects last September and I'm sure we will look at a like number next September. Perez was never signed to win the shebang all by himself. 

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To do what the Astros are doing a team needs to draft well and develop well. The Twins are not.

 

Case in point, Messers Sano and Buxton. Both have roughly 3 years MLB service time and no one really knows whether or not they are even legitimate MLB players let alone stars. That’s an organizational problem that needs fixing. Rapidly.

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Be aggressive with promotions, trust your minor league pitchers more (a lot more) to be RPs, draft better after the top pick (when Houston played games, they ended up with a very good pitcher in round 2....the Twins have a big fat question mark with their Canadian).

Are you talking about the Canadian who was 17 when he was drafted? In the 2017 draft, when we played games, we ended up with a very good starting pitching prospect in the 4th round. Let me say this one more time. In early 2017, we had the second youngest team in all of baseball, based on weighted playing time. Can't be more aggressive in promoting players than that.

Edited by howieramone2
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Be aggressive with promotions, trust your minor league pitchers more (a lot more) to be RPs, draft better after the top pick (when Houston played games, they ended up with a very good pitcher in round 2....the Twins have a big fat question mark with their Canadian).

 

 

Hmm. Those are exactly what the Twins should do to emulate Houston here in January 2019? Hmm.

 

Oh well. In any case:

 

1. The Twins have been at least as aggressive with promotions of elite prospects as Houston.

 

2. The Twins have converted May, Rogers, and Romero. Houston Peacock, McHugh...difference?

 

3. A fact check likely will show you that the Twins have a better later round record than Houston. A spot check of 2011-2014 will bear this out for you.

 

4. I didn't follow your last anecdote. But then, well, it's an anecdote..

Edited by birdwatcher
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I like what they're doing but have a question:

 

Exactly what would you have the Twins do, right now, in January 2019, to more closely emulate what Houston has done and is doing? I can see possibly going after a top end pitcher and succeeding as a possibly legit answer, like Houston did with Verlander and Cole and the Twins failed to do with Darvish. What else?

That would be a helluva start! The "what else" part might have limited options now, because it would have involved adding one or two RPs with a proven track record of success and pretty much all of those options are off the board now. Anything like that now would likely require a trade and, frankly, with so many strong RPs available when the offseason FA season started, this was not the year where the Twins should have had to give up prospects of any value in a trade for a RP. If they do that now, it just compounds the ineptitude, imo. You trade for what you can't get other ways.

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Hmm. Those are exactly what the Twins should do to emulate Houston here in January 2019? Hmm.

 

Oh well. In any case:

 

1. The Twins have been at least as aggressive with promotions of elite prospects as Houston.

 

2. The Tins have converted May, Rogers, and Romero. Houston Peacock, McHugh...difference?

 

3. A fact check likely will show you that the Twins have a better later round record than Houston

 

4. I didn't follow your last anecdote. But then, well, it's an anecdote..

Wait, when did Romero get converted to reliever?

I know it's been discussed as a possibility, but for now he's made 0 mlb relief appearances, and 3 in milb when he was hitting his innings limit.

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That would be a helluva start! The "what else" part might have limited options now, because it would have involved adding one or two RPs with a proven track record of success and pretty much all of those options are off the board now. Anything like that now would likely require a trade and, frankly, with so many strong RPs available when the offseason FA season started, this was not the year where the Twins should have had to give up prospects of any value in a trade for a RP. If they do that now, it just compounds the ineptitude, imo. You trade for what you can't get other ways.

Actually it's the other way around. Free agency is the market of last resort to most teams. 

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Both the 25 man roster and the 40 man roster are antiquated and totally out of date given the current conditions of the game.

The 25 man roster should be increased to at least 28.

The 40 man roster should be increased to at least 45.

Perhaps not 45 across the board, as the big spenders could be kept at 40.

In that way their spending puts in play one of their top 40 to a lower revenue team.

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Both the 25 man roster and the 40 man roster are antiquated and totally out of date given the current conditions of the game.

The 25 man roster should be increased to at least 28.

The 40 man roster should be increased to at least 45.

Perhaps not 45 across the board, as the big spenders could be kept at 40.

In that way their spending puts in play one of their top 40 to a lower revenue team.

There is no way MLB is going to have different roster sizes based on payroll.

 

I think the 40 man roster is more than adequate. The Twins over the past 8-10 years have simply done a poor job of managing it.

 

I’ll agree on the 25 man, with a caveat. I think I would be fine with 25 active players for a particular day with a 3-4 man “taxi-squad” that can be changed daily. Players on the taxi squad would be paid at the MLB level and accrue service time.

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Are you talking about the Canadian who was 17 when he was drafted? In the 2017 draft, when we played games, we ended up with a very good starting pitching prospect in the 4th round. Let me say this one more time. In early 2017, we had the second youngest team in all of baseball, based on weighted playing time. Can't be more aggressive in promoting players than that.

 

17 or 22, Houston ended up with a great pitcher. We won't know about Enlow for years. Houston did it in less time. He asked what I wanted them to do to be more like Houston.....

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I said players CALLED UP SINCE 2006.  Why did you quote me? 

I wasn't trying to argue, calm down. I was even more or less agreeing with you. It's reasonable to interpret that statement the way I did. This is a baseball forum, not a courtroom.  That may be what you were trying to say, but that's not how I interpreted this:  "Aside from Sano where is are players who came through our system since 2006 ended who has been in an ASG?It's abysmal.It is embarrassing."  

 

That said, the answer to your rhetorical question is Dozier and Berrios, but Perkins was a rookie in 2006. It's still an issue, but not nearly as dire as you're making it to out be.

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Maybe we should do this for the Yankees and Red Sox too! Because one data point isn't sufficient, probably.

 

Of course, not trading for players like Dozier in 2017 might be one reason they came up a game short......You also left off that they traded for Machado in 2018, so maybe they decided their plan of not trading for great players didn't work.

 

Now, if every team decides this....well, then there are probably market inefficiencies being created in terms of trade value.

 

Actually, as I pointed out, examples of top 5 markets are not all that relevant in determining best practices for a mid market team. However, the Dodgers provide a very good example of effective strategy and why they refuse to trade top prospects even though they are a top 3 market.

 

Since you are so interested in proof, how about showing some relevant examples of mid market teams employing the strategies you constantly harp on. I even outlined the parameters for you. Of course, we can just ignore the relevant facts and continue to bit#$ about the Twins NOT following strategies that have been largely ineffective. 

 

There should be plenty of examples if the tactics you prescribe have merit. For once back up conclusion with evidence.

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They were in on Darvish last year till the end, and you see how that worked out.

 

A franchise can spend a ton on players and have it blow up in their face.

 

So, the best strategy is to hedge bets, spend what is prudent and pick up what looks like under-valued talent

 

The hope is the same with home-grown talent as what you pick up on the free market.

 

Twins will never win by out-spending New York, LA, Houston and Boston.

 The last line in this post is so TRUE. However it would also be very safe to just say "The Twins will never out-spend New York, LA, Houston and Boston". So, winning is a moot point.

Edited by rv78
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17 or 22, Houston ended up with a great pitcher. We won't know about Enlow for years. Houston did it in less time. He asked what I wanted them to do to be more like Houston.....

You lost me.  Are you saying Enlow is a Canadian?  I think he is from Louisiana.  They did get a couple Canadian's lately, Balazovic and Leach.  

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I think the Twins can use teams like Houston, Cleveland and St. Louis as a model of how to operate in a mid market with success. Cleveland had a dry patch during the Twins run of the early 2000s, but they have won nearly half (10) of the AL Central titles since the division was formed in 1994. The Twins have won 6, Chicago and Detroit four each and the Royals won one.

 

St. Louis has been a consistent winner despite being in a mid market for decades. Indeed, just one sub .500 season since 2000. Their worst non strike season win total going back to 1980 is a 70 win total in 1990.

 

The Astros were clearly tanking in the final few years of the Drayton McClane era, but have been great since and were consistently good in the Biggio-Bagwell years despite being in the division of the Cubs and Cards and had a solid run in the first half of the 80s.

 

Again, the model is dependant on drafting and developing well. THAT is the model for sustained success. There really is no other way for mid market teams. Those teams lack the resources to buy top free agents year after year and they can’t trade to get impact players if the players they have to offer haven’t developed into players other teams want.

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To do what the Astros are doing a team needs to draft well and develop well. The Twins are not.

Case in point, Messers Sano and Buxton. Both have roughly 3 years MLB service time and no one really knows whether or not they are even legitimate MLB players let alone stars. That’s an organizational problem that needs fixing. Rapidly.

 

The Twins' draft record over the past decade stacks up very well against other clubs, even Houston.

 

Buxton was a good selection, picked right after Houston's Correa. Sano was an exceptionally good international acquisition. Houston, nor any other club, could have foreseen what's happened with those two so far. It's simply absurd to point to them as an example of inferior talent evaluation skills.

 

The new FO has concentrated on improving development. What would you have them do that they haven't done? What is Houston now doing better?

 

We can't keep commiserating about the past.

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Actually it's the other way around. Free agency is the market of last resort to most teams. 

Only high priced FAs are "last resorts" and that's because, to get a really good FA, an owner has to *cringe* spend money and maybe even risk it being more money than someone's idea of what a player will turn out to be "worth."

 

The types of inexpensive (and worth even less) RP FAs left on the board are often what the Twins look for every season.

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Quote:

Twins will never win by out-spending New York, LA, Houston and Boston.

 

Umm, Houston? New York, LA and Boston routinely have payrolls over $200 mil. Houston is starting to get up there because they have a bunch of guys starting to “get theirs”. Even so, they “only” ranked 7th in payroll last year and were in the teens the two previous seasons. I suspect they will have to make some choices soon. But their organization is strong enough to do so.

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The Twins' draft record over the past decade stacks up very well against other clubs, even Houston.

 

Buxton was a good selection, picked right after Houston's Correa. Sano was an exceptionally good international acquisition. Houston, nor any other club, could have foreseen what's happened with those two so far. It's simply absurd to point to them as an example of inferior talent evaluation skills.

 

The new FO has concentrated on improving development. What would you have them do that they haven't done? What is Houston now doing better?

 

We can't keep commiserating about the past.

If you don’t learn from the past, you are condemmed to repeat it.

 

Also, you ignored a key part of my post. I said the Twins need to draft AND DEVELOP well.

 

I won’t get into whether or not Buxton and Sano were good signings. But it is undeniable that neither has developed well.

 

As for the current regime’s impact on development, how does that explain Nick Gordon, who was easily the top position prospect they inherited? How does it explain them simply walking away from a half dozen fairly highly regarded pitching prospects over the past couple years?

Edited by yarnivek1972
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That would be a helluva start! The "what else" part might have limited options now, because it would have involved adding one or two RPs with a proven track record of success and pretty much all of those options are off the board now. Anything like that now would likely require a trade and, frankly, with so many strong RPs available when the offseason FA season started, this was not the year where the Twins should have had to give up prospects of any value in a trade for a RP. If they do that now, it just compounds the ineptitude, imo. You trade for what you can't get other ways.

 

 

I agree, the failure to make a play for one of the top 10 RP's in FA is nothing short of frustrating and perplexing. We have no explanation. Waiting For LaVelle, a tragedy. Conjecture: they like what they have, they thinks there's a solution still out there, or they have trade discussions going? Inexplicable.

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Actually, as I pointed out, examples of top 5 markets are not all that relevant in determining best practices for a mid market team. However, the Dodgers provide a very good example of effective strategy and why they refuse to trade top prospects even though they are a top 3 market.

 

Since you are so interested in proof, how about showing some relevant examples of mid market teams employing the strategies you constantly harp on. I even outlined the parameters for you. Of course, we can just ignore the relevant facts and continue to bit#$ about the Twins NOT following strategies that have been largely ineffective.

 

There should be plenty of examples if the tactics you prescribe have merit. For once back up conclusion with evidence.

I've answered, I can show decades of your approach not working, across nearly every mid market team. Maybe the lesson is mid market teams are largely doomed no matter what they do.

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Wait, when did Romero get converted to reliever?
I know it's been discussed as a possibility, but for now he's made 0 mlb relief appearances, and 3 in milb when he was hitting his innings limit.

 

 

They've hinted. I'm going with it.

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Actually, as I pointed out, examples of top 5 markets are not all that relevant in determining best practices for a mid market team. However, the Dodgers provide a very good example of effective strategy and why they refuse to trade top prospects even though they are a top 3 market.

 

Since you are so interested in proof, how about showing some relevant examples of mid market teams employing the strategies you constantly harp on. I even outlined the parameters for you. Of course, we can just ignore the relevant facts and continue to bit#$ about the Twins NOT following strategies that have been largely ineffective.

 

There should be plenty of examples if the tactics you prescribe have merit. For once back up conclusion with evidence.

I'll accept that the Twins cant win by acting like a mid market team when they've spent a decade or so acting like a mid market team.

 

To date, we only know their practice of acting like a bottom market team ain't getting the job done.

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I'll accept that the Twins cant win by acting like a mid market team when they've spent a decade or so acting like a mid market team.

 

To date, we only know their practice of acting like a bottom market team ain't getting the job done.

This, exactly.

 

Since 2000, the Twins have 5 seasons with a payroll that ranked higher than 20th. The first three years of Target Field the Twins ranked 10th, 9th and 13th. They ranked 18th last year and way back in 2003.

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I'll accept that the Twins cant win by acting like a mid market team when they've spent a decade or so acting like a mid market team.

 

To date, we only know their practice of acting like a bottom market team ain't getting the job done.

I like this comment because it's correct.

 

I hate this comment because it's correct. :(

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If you don’t learn from the past, you are condemmed to repeat it.

Also, you ignored a key part of my post. I said the Twins need to draft AND DEVELOP well.

I won’t get into whether or not Buxton and Sano were good signings. But it is undeniable that neither has developed well.

As for the current regime’s impact on development, how does that explain Nick Gordon, who was easily the top position prospect they inherited? How does it explain them simply walking away from a half dozen fairly highly regarded pitching prospects over the past couple years?

 

 

They HAVE learned from the past. I didn't ignore it at all, I addressed it. Don't ignore MY question please. What else should they do, today, to more closely emulate Houston? If we fixate on what happened in the past, we can miss the clues about what's happening now. They fixed development.

 

You want to blame Sano and Buxton's delays all on development? I don't buy it.

 

You think we should think of Gordon as proof of something? A kid two years younger than level who the pros still like a lot? And then ignore Kirilloff, who exploded last year and is as highly regarded as anyone coming out of that talent-rich 2016 draft?

 

Again, the point I'm making is that they're now doing a fine job of following the pattern of the Astros in their long-term quest to buils something, and this year, their third, is logically when we should expect to see their efforts filter up into the MLB roster. We shall see.

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