Every team's front office makes hundreds of decisions each season. Some turn out better than others, while some make fans shake their heads. On last Friday's episode of Gleeman and the Geek, Aaron and John discussed the possibility that the Twins' front office has difficulty admitting when they are wrong about a player. Teams can't let a player go after one poor performance, but there can be a point where the process and results aren't aligned with the organization's best interests.
Emilio Pagan might be the epitome of the team being wrong about a player, especially since the Twins didn't need to offer him arbitration this winter. In his first season with the Twins, he posted a 4.43 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP, but the numbers don't tell the whole story of what he has cost the team. His -1.26 WPA is the lowest among Twins relievers over the last two seasons, which ranks him down with Jharel Cotton and Trevor Megill. Among AL relievers, he has the fifth-worst WPA since the start of the 2022 season.
The Twins trusted the process with Pagan and believed his stuff would provide value during the 2023 season. Pagan's metrics point to him being above average, but he tends to leave pitches over the plate at the most inopportune times. Even great relievers have bad stretches, but Pagan has never been a great reliever, so the front office will have to decide soon on whether or not he stays on the roster.
Joe Smith, a 38-year-old at the time, was the Twins long free agent relief signing entering the 2022 season. He started the season well with a 1.59 ERA and 0.694 WPA in his first 21 appearances. Unfortunately, things went south from there, and he allowed 11 earned runs over his final 13 appearances while being worth -0.217 WPA. The Twins released him in early August, and he has yet to appear in another professional game. The Twins realized they had made a mistake and moved on when he started to struggle.
Another example of the team admitting they were wrong was trading away Josh Donaldson with multiple years remaining on his contract. Minnesota signed Donaldson with the hope he could push an emerging team over the top and help the organization to more playoff success. Injuries and poor performance marred his time with the Twins. Thankfully, the front office found a trade partner, and Donaldson has been worth 2.2 WAR over the last two seasons in New York. It was a move where the Twins had to admit they were wrong, but it gave the team financial flexibility to make moves over the last two seasons.
In 2021, the Twins signed a group of veteran free agents that struggled to perform. Alex Colome had a disastrous first month of the season and almost single-handedly put the Twins out of contention. He improved in the second half, so the team kept him on the roster for the whole season. The team signed Andrelton Simmons as a shortstop stopgap, but he posted a 57 OPS+ in over 130 games. Both players cost the Twins wins during the season, and the team could have gone in a different direction.
The front office also targeted J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker entering the 2021 season with some disastrous results. Shoemaker made 16 appearances and posted an 8.06 ERA with a 1.66 WHIP. Minnesota sent him to Triple-A to attempt improvements, but the team eventually admitted they were wrong and released him in early August. Happ's performance was only slightly better with a 6.77 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP in 19 starts. The Twins traded Happ to the Cardinals at the trade deadline for Evan Sisk and John Gant. His numbers improved after the trade, but it was his last taste of the big leagues as he retired in May 2022.
There have been countless other examples of players the Twins have kept despite declining performance while also moving on from some players mentioned above. Front offices have to be patient when making decisions because every player will struggle at some point during a 162-game season. Sometimes the process and results don't match, and that's when the team needs to say sayonara to players hurting the team's chances to win.
Do you think the Twins' front office has difficulty admitting when they are wrong? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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