To me this deal just illustrates the overriding philosophy of this organization to always play for next year and three years down the road and five years down the road and never play for this year. As a small-market team this is admirable – with those sort of budget contraints it’s difficult to be competitive year in and year out, and the Twins for the 00s (sic) deserve credit for that approach.
This is partially true, as it does appear that the Twins are more interested in the future rather than the present. However, I think many fans seem to ignore the fact that 2010 was the season where the Twins went for it all.
During the offseason, the most notable signings involved Jim Thome, Orlando Hudson, and re-signing Carl Pavano, along with handing out contract extensions to Nick Blackburn, Denard Span, Joe Mauer, and Brendan Harris. The significant trade was swapping Carlos Gomez for J.J. Hardy. This led to a 94-win season and being crowned AL Central Division champions, but the Twins were still ousted in the first round by the New York Yankees in 3 games.
All those moves, along with the trades for Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes, signaled several significant changes for the franchise. First, the Twins showed that they were willing to add payroll. Second, the trade of Capps showed that they were willing to give up a prospect (Wilson Ramos) in order to acquire a current major league player.
Finally, the acquisitions were all one- or two-year commitments, which showed that the Twins wanted to improve the team for the short term. Is this not in contrast to what Ed Bast said above?
Sure, the Twins have made short term signings before. Livan Hernandez signed for one year, and was actually traded mid-season. They traded for Bret Boone and Phil Nevin years ago. However, the acquisitions of Fuentes and Capps brought in not only legitimate talents* but also increased payroll as I said above.
* Yes, even Capps. Three of the past four years, he’s had an ERA at or under 3.02 and an FIP at 3.28 or less.
It is for these reasons that I believe that 2010 may have been the best chance at a World Series run that the Twins have made within the past decade, and while many people feel that the Twins should continue increasing payroll for 2011, I don’t see it happening. Fans keep citing the profit that the Twins made with Target Field, but does anyone actually know what it was? Based on the lack of evidence and the inactivity this offseason, I don’t believe the payroll will rise as much as some fans were hoping. Also, with the moves made by the White Sox (Adam Dunn) and the Tigers (Victor Martinez), the Twins may not necessarily call 2011 a “rebuilding” year, but I think they’ll be a little less aggressive in filling their holes on the roster.
To be honest, I’m not exactly upset if this is the truth. Don’t get me wrong, I do want the Twins to play well and I love seeing them be competitive, but 2011 may not be the best year. They may just tread water, make some cheap moves, and hope that they pay off like Thome last season.
Why am I ok with this? Because I think 2012 is the next year the Twins can strike. Barring any expensive additions to the payroll, the Twins could have around $28.75 million* to play with for the 2012 season. It’s not as much as the Tigers had coming off their books this offseason, but it gives the Twins the ability to make a splash in free agency or acquiring an expensive player through a trade. However, it is important to note that this estimate ignores the likely raises through contract extensions to Delmon Young and Francisco Liriano, along with other differences in expenses that occur between the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the holdover players between those two seasons.
* The money $9.25 (Nathan) + $10.5 (Cuddyer) + $5.25 (Kubel) + ~$7 (Capps) – $1.5 (raise to Baker) – $1.75 (raise to Blackburn) – $2 (raise to Span) = ~$28.75
I want to reiterate one point because I’m sure it feels like I’m saying I’m ok with the Twins throwing away the 2011 season. This is not true, I want the Twins to get into the playoffs, and I would love for them to move past the first round. I just think that 2011 will be tougher than in some past years, and it may not be a bad idea to make some low risk moves in an attempt to still win next season, but won’t hurt the team if they don’t pan out. For sure, 2012 will be the next time the Twins will “go for it all.”