With 2011 drawing to a close, Terry Ryan has had about seven weeks back on the job as the Twins GM. So, how’s he doing? Below you’ll find a list of his major personnel moves graded and ranked from best to worst. The grades are completely subjective and based entirely on my opinions. If you disagree, please feel free to tell me what you disagree about and why in the comment field below.
Signed Ryan Doumit to a one year, $3M contract: A
Great move all around. For a minimal price, the Twins acquired a switch-hitter with some power who can back up Joe Mauer and also fill in at first base and right field when needed. Perhaps the best move of the offseason.
I’m sure it isn’t easy for a GM to let three popular players depart in one offseason, but the Twins will be better in the long term without Nathan, Cuddyer, and Kubel. Money is the biggest factor: the Rangers, Rockies, and Diamondbacks spent about $60 million on multi-year deals for these three players. They have all had their moments with the Twins, but none are irreplaceable. The team also collects three high draft picks by letting Kubel and Cuddyer walk away.
Signed Josh Willingham to a three year, $21M contract: B+
This looks like a good idea, at least for now. Willingham has right handed power, and he projects as a cheaper version of Cuddyer. He will probably decline over the three years of his contract, but no need to worry about that now.
Signed Jamey Carroll to a two year, $7M contract: B.
Sure, Carroll is a little old. And yes, he has no power to speak of. But he can play shortstop and second base without making a fool of himself, which means he’s ten times better than any middle infielder the Twins had on their roster when Ryan took over. Carroll should be an decent caretaker until Brian Dozier is ready to compete for a starting job.
Acquired a small army worth of minor league free agents and waiver claims: B
I’m not going to list them all here, but the Twins have accumulated quite a few players in this manner. The most notable are probably Jason Bulger and Sean Burroughs, both of whom could conceivably see some time with the Twins next year. Bulger is my favorite dark horse candidate to win a bullpen slot. Bringing in players on minor league deals isn’t likely to pay huge dividends for the Twins, but there’s pretty much nothing to lose.
Some people complained about this move, but I really have no problem with it. Turpen probably will not amount to anything at the Major League level, but it’s not like Slowey is a very good pitcher, either. Slowey is neither a strikeout artist nor a groundball specialist. He gives up a lot of fly balls and a ton of hits. To top it off, he is injury-prone, having never managed more than 160 innings at the Major League level. This move won’t help the team, but it really won’t hurt either.
Non-tendered Jose Mijares: C
If the bullpen situation is so desperate that the Twins are willing to spend $4.5 million on Matt Capps, why on earth would they not have $750,000 to take a chance on Jose Mijares? Sure, he’s a little hefty, and he walked too many guys last year. But a team that was so willing to overlook Matt Capps’ 2011 struggles was guilty of a double standard when it didn’t give Mijares the same chance.
Signed Jason Marquis to a one year, $3M contract: C-
I understand the motivation for this move, but I still don’t like it. If you accept that the Twins lack the cash to acquire a front line starter, it makes sense for them to acquire a one year placeholder until next year, when there will be better pitchers available. Still, I can’t condone signing Marquis when a pitcher like Rich Harden is still unemployed. Harden probalby won’t cost any more than Marquis, and he has much more potential as a pitcher. He’s injury prone, but so is Marquis.
Selected Terry Doyle in the Rule 5 Draft: D
After watching the Twins stock up on soft-tossing pitch-to-contact guys, I always thought the reason they go after those players is not that they like them per se, but because they fly under the radar and have the potential to be sleeper stars. Since the team often doesn’t draft until the 20th or 25th slot, the power pitchers are all gone, and the Twins have to make do with the leftovers. But I was disabused of that theory when the Twins took Doyle earlier this month. They had the 2nd pick in the Rule 5 draft, and there were quite a few interesting players available, but they still picked an uninspiring strike thrower. I guess the Twins really do like these pitchers after all. I have no idea why, and I find it incredibly disturbing.
Re-signed Matt Capps to a $4.5M contract with a $6M option for 2013: F
Matt Capps was awful last year. He was also awful in 2009. I understand that bullpen pitchers often rebound after bad seasons, and I don’t fault the Twins for thinking Capps deserves another chance in the Major Leagues. There’s at least a 40% chance Capps will be an average or above average reliever next year. But why would anyone in his right mind offer Capps nearly $5 million? A $2 million deal would have been easier to stomach, and a minor league deal might have been the most appropriate. Even at those prices, though, Capps still would have cost the team a draft pick, since he was a modified Type A free agent. And re-signing him after his many high-profile failures won’t exactly motivate fans to buy tickets next year.
In short, there was no compelling reason to bring Capps back, and several good reasons to let him go. This appears to be the worst move Ryan has made so far.