Moneyball and the Minnesota Twins, which focused on the Twins' payroll ..."/> Moneyball and the Minnesota Twins, which focused on the Twins' payroll ..."/>

World War T: Free Agency, Discord and Delusion


Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Last week I posted Moneyball and the Minnesota Twins, which focused on the Twins’ payroll in the years since Target Field opened in 2010. It ended up being longer than I had originally intended, but I wanted to put some of my frustrations about the payroll—and some of the “Twins’ Way” talking points about it—to bed.

That was the hope at least, as while this past year has served to bookend the trilogy of misery that has been the last three years for the Twins, at some point all of the negativity begins to become counterproductive.

As a number of articles have pointed out, the Twins’ have money to spend this offseason as they will be coming into the year with about $60 million committed to their existing players. Depending upon where line in the sand exists when it comes to the maximum payroll that Terry Ryan would be allowed to reach, this easily gives Ryan $25-40 million to play with.

Due to comments made by Jim Pohlad in recent weeks, it seemed that the organization was getting the message and that this offseason could bring about some changes in the way the club normally handles free agency. Terry Ryan also mentioned that improving the starting rotation via free agency was a priority for the offseason.

Unfortunately, in an all-too-predictable fashion, such talk didn’t last long.

We now cue to the three-part series from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which featured this delightful quote from the Twins’ General Manager: “If we’re going to do anything here [to] succeed in the near and long-term, it’s probably not going to be in free agency.”

Never have so many unreasonable article comments seemed so reasonable.

There are two other quotes that are particularly telling. The first comes from Mike Radcliff, the VP in charge of player personnel for the Twins:

“We are not as staid and conservative as you make us out to be. There is some free thinking going on, and we are not afraid to get outside the box.”

I was lucky enough to attend a small, unnamed, liberal arts college in Southern Minnesota, and as many colleges do, this school had a love affair with marketing the amount of diversity that was present on campus. I am not going to say that we were completely devoid of diversity, but at some point, how many North Face jackets, Burberry scarves and pairs of UGG boots do you need to see before you arrive at the obvious conclusion? If you have to talk about diversity that much, it is most likely something that you lack.

In the same fashion, if the Twins have to say that they aren’t conservative, they probably are. If they have to say that they are free thinking, they probably are not.

The second quote comes from Ryan:

“Free agents aren’t the answer to everyone’s troubles. Not the Minnesota Twins organization, or are they with any team. You might be able to plug a hole for a while, but ultimately just going out and spending on free agents is not the answer. We have a lot of concerns, and it’s not just one player or one pitcher.”

First off, you bet we have a lot of concerns.

Secondly, I am confused by the wisdom imparted by Ryan, that free agency might allow the Twins to plug a few holes for a while. I guess, and please correct me if I am wrong, that this is exactly what we should be trying to do.

No one is expecting the Twins to turn into the Yankees this offseason and begin overpaying for talent like it is going out of style. However, after watching the paltry pitchers the Twins have pursued in free agency recently (Jason Marquis, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey), it appears that we have been “Bringing a knife to a gunfight” while blindfolded.

So when we continue to hear the party line about “Building from within,” and that “Spending money isn’t the answer,” I have to wonder, is anyone else panicking about the fact that few people within Twins’ organization seem to be panicking?

Last week I addressed the comparisons to organizations like Billy Beane‘s Moneyball-Athletics, and as most things go in life, it all comes back around to Brad Pitt.

Spoilers alert for anyone who has not seen World War Z

Zombies are now everywhere, the world as we know it has ceased to exist. Brad Pitt, after saving his family from almost certain death is now searching for a solution to a complex problem (much like Terry Ryan).

He is thoughtful, yet decisive. He certainly makes his mistakes along the way, but he also knows that action is necessary. Because when zombies attack, you have to be the bold guy who is aware of the situation he is in, not the guy that acts like zombies aren’t already swarming the compound.

At one point, after an acquaintance has been bitten on the hand by a zombie, Pitt swiftly cuts off the person’s arm with a knife. Does he know that it will work to prevent the person from becoming a zombie? No, but he is trying something, and his urgency in doing so is convincing.

Now, I am not advocating that Terry Ryan start cutting off arms. Rather, I would like him to go out and sign a few. No one is advocating blind spending for spending’s sake, but for Pete’s sake (Pete, being a Twins fan), the Twins need to begin putting together the roster that will bring the team closer to competing down the road.

We all would love for the Twins to be able to develop from within their own ranks, but with a roster full of questions (especially when it comes to starting pitching), advocating patience while making no effort to provide outside solutions will result in Target Field beginning to resemble the emptiness of a city after a zombie attack.

In both the metaphorical and literal sense, I hope that this does not occur.

Other Notes

1. Terry Ryan was also quoted to say: “Desperate times call for…”

2. I realize that Torii Hunter has very little to do with his article, but I did not feel it necessary to have the photo of a grumpy looking Terry Ryan as the header of a post in consecutive weeks.

3. Also, while the Twins are advocating developing from within and signing our own existing talent, Torii Hunter, along with numerous other players serves as a reminder of players that we could have kept around, and didn’t.