Fire Gardy

Mismanaging games since 2002

Gardy Actively Trying to Destroy Delmon Young

When the Twins acquired Delmon Young, there were two major question marks that came with him. The first was his off-the-field “problems” (which have so far been a complete non-issue). The second was the fact that he has ZERO plate discipline. The hope was that we’d help him improve that aspect of his game, waiting for his pitches, swinging at better balls (ie, in the strike zone), and taking walks. All of that would drive his OPS up. Well, Gardenhire has other ideas (about 2/3 of the way down):

“I watched Torii Hunter for like 10 years,” Gardenhire said. “You think Torii hasn’t swung? You know what? There’s nothing wrong with swinging. That’s why they give you a bat. This kid’s 22 years old. He’s got everything ahead of him. So let it fly. Learn as you go. He’ll learn the strike zone.

“To start telling a guy to just ‘take, take, take,’ sometimes that’s just not human nature. You don’t get to the big leagues, and you don’t become a big league player, by ‘take, take, take’ and get walks. Some people are paid to drive in runs. You think David Ortiz goes up there to walk? He’s paid to drive in runs. He walks because we walk him. On purpose. And that’s what’s going to happen to Delmon as he goes along, too. Right now, they know he’s going to chase a little bit, but that’s OK. I’ll take my chances with him letting it fly.”

Oh great. It’s good to see Gardy taking an active role in wasting the natural abilities of yet another young slugger. If the Twins tried to teach Delmon some plate discipline, he just might start to take some walks and punish pitchers for leaving a ball in the zone. Instead, he’s going to be Torii Hunter 2.0, except without the above average CF defense.

Perhaps the best part of that quote, though, is Gardy’s complete misunderstanding of David Ortiz as a hitter. Ortiz takes walks because teams are too afraid to throw it in the strike zone. Why? Because he punishes balls that are in there. Why? Because he doesn’t flail at balls he doesn’t like, or ones that are out of the zone. Which, of course, is why he draws a lot of walks. Incidentally, his transformation from “crappy, useless player” to “most feared hitter in baseball” happened immediately after he escaped the swing-destroying tutelage of Gardy and the Twins. (When the Red Sox said: “Bunt? But you’re a big strong guy! Kill the ball. And be patient. If you don’t like it, swing at the next one.” I guess that’s a hitting philosophy that works. Just like anecdotal evidence, statistics, wins, World Series rings, and common sense all seem to agree on. Good to see Gardy’s complete ignorance of that.)

Here’s hoping someone slaps Gardy hard enough that he realizes that this is not how you teach talented young hitters to become feared sluggers. It’s how you teach scrappy little dorks how to scratch their way into the big leagues for a cup of tea and a quick designation for assignment (or, if they’re on the Twins, a multi-million dollar deal … but that’s a story for another day).

51 comments

51 Comments so far

  1. Ganderson April 24th, 2008 2:57 pm

    Wow- I was just putting the finishing touches on my own brilliant post, when I see that it’s already been posted here. But does this clearly not reflect the organization’s philosophy, not just Gardy?

  2. sirsean April 24th, 2008 3:08 pm

    I’ve been complaining for some time about the organization’s hitting philosophy and how it’s outdated and unfit for the modern baseball world. (There are a whole bunch of comments on past posts on this site that allude to it, but I haven’t written a post about it.)

    It was the philosophy of the organization since before Tom Kelly, who perfected it with World Series victories (ignoring the fact that he actually had power hitters at the time) and demonstrated its utter ineffectiveness during the 1992-2000 debacle.

    Gardy was promoted with the express goal of continuing Kelly’s “excellence” (which means “love of scrappy utility infielders, fear of talented hitters”), and of that he’s done a somewhat admirable job.

    The problem is that he’s not “independent”-thinking enough to recognize that the entire league has passed him by. I bet other managers are laughing at him behind his back.

  3. Scotty April 24th, 2008 6:05 pm

    Wow. I am speechless. I am without speech.

    I really didn’t think Gardenhire could be any more ignorant than he already is, but he’s done it. There’s a reason the Twins are DEAD LAST in the AL in team OBP at a pathetic .298, second to last in slugging (.359) and runs scored (76), and last overall in OPS at a horrendous .656, 84 points below the major league average. I agree that it’s an entire organizational philosophy, but Gardenhire goes a long way to reinforcing that.

    “You think David Ortiz goes up there to walk?”

    Are you serious? No, but he does go to the plate trying to produce the best possible at bat, and a lot of times it happens to be a walk. It’s this thinking in the Twins’ organization that a walk is a bad thing. Normally a walk is just as good as a single

    And can you believe we didn’t sign Frank Thomas after he was available for about a third of the price of Craig Monroe? Actually I can believe it. The A’s smartly picked him up, and he’s already producing, coincidentally against us. Although he was hitless in three ABs, he walked twice (there’s that scary word again). Guess what, that’s a still a .400 OBP. My brother formulated a very interesting lineup today on the wild assumption that we had signed Thomas. You DH Big Hurt while moving Kubel to left and Young to center. Once Cuddyer is healthy, he’s obviously your right fielder. Send Gomez and Span down to AAA and use Monroe as a bench bat. Then you have a lineup that looks something like this:

    C Mauer LF Kubel DH Thomas 1B Morneau RF Cuddyer CF Young 3B Lamb/Buscher 2B Harris SS Everett/Tolbert/Punto

    Which is supremely better than what they’re running out currently.

    And who thinks that Liriano needs more time in AAA? Maybe they should give Perkins a chance.

  4. FunBobby April 24th, 2008 6:30 pm

    That is an awesome idea. I like that lineup a lot. It doesn’t really matter what I think, though. Gardy would never construct a lineup like that. Remember how much arm twisting it took for him just to move Mauer from 3 to 2? No way he bats him leadoff. I like Kubel as a 2 or 3 hole hitter. You could bat him third, THomas 4th and Morneau 5th with maybe Cuddyer second. However, this would never happen. And the sad part is, I bet acquiring Thomas is the MOST realistic part of that scenario. Gardy constructing a lineup around OBP? Ha, would never happen. I am shaking my head in despair as I write this.

  5. Ganderson April 24th, 2008 7:04 pm

    I was listening to the game on XM (thank goodness for xm) and the A’s guys dropped this nugget- the Twins had not walked ONCE in the series- not ONCE. (Granted my son had a lacrosse game just as the score went to 11-2, so I missed the rest) They were amazed- all I thought was- you should watch these guys. Yikes. And- my intention was not to let Gardy off the hook, but rather put him in context. And sirsean- I’m glad to know that there’s someone else out there besides me that doesn’t think ‘TK’ was/is a genius

  6. Scotty April 24th, 2008 9:01 pm

    FunBobby,

    Not sure if you saw the Gardy quote on Thomas, but someone asked him about acquiring Thomas and he basically said that he “wouldn’t have room for him because he’s happy with his DH situation.” Never mind getting a little bit creative with positioning and lineups. Here’s one of his actual quotes:

    “You know what, it would be the same situation here,” Gardenhire said of the lack of playing time. “I don’t know how in the [heck] I would get him at-bats because I plan on letting Jason Kubel have all those at-bats.”

    That says it all. Gardenhire is awful at lineup management and won’t go against anything that is considered “conventional” baseball. I really think he strives to build a team with players that will post similar numbers to his when he played.

    Here’s a link to the “we don’t need him” article:

    http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080423&contentid=2574775&vkey=newsmin&fext=.jsp&c_id=min

  7. sirsean April 24th, 2008 10:51 pm

    Actually I’m really encouraged by that quote. I’m a big fan of Kubel (I think he’s going to turn out to be the next David Ortiz, basically), and he absolutely should be getting all our DH at bats. Therefore, Thomas has no place on our team, even though I’d really like that bat in the lineup.

    I should also point out, guys, that Delmon can’t play CF. Even he’s said as much. Joe Maddon played him in CF a couple times last year, and Delmon was pissed because that’s not his skill set. He’s just not a center fielder. So putting him there is not the best thing to do.

    I think it’s clear that Gomez isn’t ready to be in the majors yet, but that doesn’t mean you just stick a corner outfielder (DelBat) in CF just for fun. He’s an RF that we’re sticking in LF because we have Cuddyer. He’s not going to play CF.

    I would like this lineup though:

    Mauer Cuddyer Morneau Young Kubel Lamb/Buscher Harris Gomez/Span Tolbert/Punto/Everett

    But FunBobby’s right. Gardy will never base a lineup on OBP. Even though it’s possibly the most important offensive stat, especially at the top of the lineup. This is exactly what I mean when I say that Gardy (and the entire Twins organization) has a completely outdated view of what an offense is supposed to be.

  8. Scotty April 24th, 2008 11:48 pm

    I do agree with you on Kubel, and it is encouraging that Gardenhire has seemingly finally figured it out (that only took two years). I’ve been a supporter of Kubel for the last two seasons, and it’ll be fun to see what he can do with a full season.

    That’s also a good point about Young. But if Kubel is going to be the guy at DH and the outfield is full, that relegates Monroe to a bench role. I’m so glad they’re paying him nearly $4 million this season.

    Meanwhile a guy like Mike Sweeney signs with Oakland for a mere half million. Granted he’s fought injuries since ‘02, but he’s actually put together a proven career as opposed to a couple of seasons. That’s the type of guy you pick up for a bench spot when you’re paying that kind of money, not Craig Monroe for $4 million.

  9. Scotty April 24th, 2008 11:58 pm

    And maybe you guys have touched on this previously, but does it sicken anyone else that the Twins’ payroll is nearly $15 million less this season? That’s essentially the difference of Santana’s salary, but with the money they gave Nathan (which I disagree with) after dealing Santana you know they fleeced the fans with the whole “we just can’t afford him bit.” And then they try to tell us that they’re not rebuilding, but still contending. Right. And if they try to say that the issue preventing them from signing Santana was the length of contract, that’s also complete BS. Does anyone realize that they signed a 33-year old relief pitcher to $11.25 million a year at least until he’s 36? This coming after they claim they couldn’t sign the BEST starting pitcher in baseball until he’s 35.

    This is part of the reason I’ve become a little disconnected this season.

  10. sirsean April 25th, 2008 8:26 am

    Yes, the OF’s full, which means Monroe’s just a bench player. You need those on your team, and it was a huge problem that the Twins didn’t have anyone on the bench last year. So we got a decent bench player in Monroe.

    You can’t really compare him to Sweeney as a bench player, since Sweeney’s defensive “skills” aren’t really in the same league (which is saying something, considering Monroe’s deficiencies). At least Monroe could spend a day or two in CF if we needed him to (which is an important consideration for a 4th OF).

    The closest comparison is probably Emil Brown, who signed for much much less, but again, Brown can’t play CF at all. I think we’re paying a bit too much for Monroe, but we had the money to spend after Johan and Torii took their contracts and got out of Dodge.

    Oh, and Scotty … the contract/payroll situation isn’t a reason to be disconnected from the team. Johan and Torii both wanted to leave, and they got their wish. Long term contracts for pitchers are EXTREMELY risky, and I don’t fault the Twins for not going to 7 years. They offered 5/$100M, and Johan thought it wasn’t enough. That’s wanting to leave. So the two highest paid players on the team left for bigger paychecks, which obviously brings our payroll down. And so we sign a few of our other guys long term. What does it get us? This:

    1) A young core of star-caliber players who’ll be here for a long time. 2) A 1-2 year “tryout” period for our 250 young starters who want to break into rotation. 3) The best closer in baseball over the last 4 years, signed with us for another 4 years. Most notably, the contract does NOT have built-in raises every year regardless of performance. (I hate those.) That makes it a good contract. Two years from now, it’ll probably be WAAAY below market rate. 4) Room under the budget to acquire a pressing need in free agency (3B? SS?) and/or pay our players once they start hitting arbitration in droves and we have to pay them as if they were free agents.

    It’s not as rough or insidious or cheap as some people try to make it out to be. Plus, there are a bunch of likable guys on the team … and the players are much more important than the dorks in the front office.

  11. Scotty April 25th, 2008 9:10 am

    But the fact that they lessen the payroll by $15 million and at the same time try to tell the fans that they’re still contending doesn’t bother you a little? It bothers me. Because anyone with a little sense of the current situation knows the only thing they’ll be contending for is third place in the AL Central. Fine, cut the payroll, but don’t tell me you’re still contending.

    And I’m not directly comparing Sweeney and Monroe. I’m talking strictly in terms of hitting, which is what the Twins were hoping to acquire. Monroe may provide OF depth, but the guy just isn’t that good of a hitter. You just don’t give someone $3.8 million to sit on the bench when you’re operating on a $56 million payroll. You have to admit that there were much cheaper options who could provide the same production, if not more.

    In regards to Hunter, I was glad they didn’t give him that money. It wasn’t worth it. However, I’m not convinced that Johan wanted to leave, or that they couldn’t have signed him. He only signed for an additional five years with the Mets with an option for a sixth. And I understand the risk involved, but giving a 33-year old relief pitcher one-fifth of your payroll isn’t risky? Yes, he’s one of the best, but the closer roll is vastly overrated. And since Gardenhire rarely uses Nathan in anything but a “save” situation, his overall value declines.

    So I think I have legitimate gripes about the payroll and contracts.

  12. sirsean April 25th, 2008 9:26 am

    Well they can’t say they’re NOT contending. The whole point is that they’re supposed to be trying all the time. And they didn’t hold a big press conference about it or have a Steinbrenner-like explosion to the media to announce that they planned to contend. It was journalists who thought they were asking “the tough questions” by asking “Do you think you can contend with this team?” The answer to that question simply CANNOT be “Well, no, these guys pretty much suck. You can tell the fans to stop watching.”

    You can try to come back with something about the gray area in between (which is where the actual truth lies — they’re trying to win games this year, but they don’t legitimately expect to make the playoffs for a couple years) … but the media doesn’t allow for a gray area. If they’d said “We’re positioning ourselves to contend hard in 2010,” or something that would have made you happy, the headline the next day would have been “Twins Give Up On Season!” And you wouldn’t have been happy anyway.

  13. Ganderson April 25th, 2008 9:37 am

    Let’s face it-the reason many of us read and post is it gives us the chance to bitch (at least, that’s why I do)I know my wife is not interested in listening to me, nor are all my Red Sox fan pals. I don’t have an issue with any of the off season moves- especially Hunterwho was perennially overpaid. (although I never quite got why Gardenhire disliked Bartlett so much). And I don’t mind positioning a team for a run down the line- I’d just like to see a game where the opposing starter has to average more than 5 pitches per inning (I exaggerate for effect…)

  14. FunBobby April 25th, 2008 9:40 am

    I agree, they can’t say “we expect to lose lots of ballgames this year” Because that is dumb, and bad PR. They want to have a group of good, young players who fans will become attached to so when the new stadium opens we have a serious fan base. Get people to follow Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, Gomez, Young, etc. now so we can minimize the bandwagon idiots in two years. I like the Nathan signing simply for the fact that the cost of closers is going up so rapidly, that if we were to let Nathan go we would have to pay about 80% as much for someone who is terrible or unproven. And I don’t think age is as big a factor as people are making it. Rivera is breaking down a little bit, but think how many more innings he has pitched than Nathan. While Nathan had mostly 3 out saves, Rivera seemed to have lots of 5-6 out saves. Having good (until recently) set-up guys around Nathan will greatly increase his longevity, I think this is one of the big reasons why the front office felt comfortable extending him until he is 36.

    There is a certain amount of risk involved in every contract given, but you have to take risks. It is really hard these days to get a player to sign a contract that DOES NOT extend a few years into declining performance. For example, in the deal Torii Hunter signed he probably won’t be worth anywhere near 18mil for the last two years, but LA thinks he will be so helpful to the team in the first few years of the contract, that it is worth it to basically eat the last two years. Thats just how I see it.

  15. sirsean April 25th, 2008 9:42 am

    Well that’s true. And it harks back to the earlier discussion about the organization’s utter lack of patience at the plate and disdain for the BB, as if it were not actually part of baseball.

    One of the reasons teams like NYY, Boston, Detroit, etc, have such great offenses is that they force the opposing pitcher to work hard and leave the game early, then get to the secondary relievers and win the game against them.

    On the other hand, it’s my personal belief that Boston’s strategy is to make the game last so long that they other team gets bored and tired and no longer cares who wins, at which point the Red Sox win. It’s kind of a lame strategy, but it seems to work.

  16. sirsean April 25th, 2008 9:44 am

    FunBobby’s right about the Angels and Torii Hunter. The problem is that you have to have a lot of money in order to be able to operate like that.

    So the Twins have to be more risk-averse than most teams.

  17. Grizz April 25th, 2008 12:17 pm

    Did Gardy forget how much Hunter’s numbers improved last year when he became a much more disciplined hitter? Before he was always a guy who would punish mistake pitches, but strike out a lot chasing pitches out of the zone. I realize that it is difficult to become a patient hitter when you are used to swinging at everything, and it may go against your nature, but it is extremely important. Almost every great hitter in the history of the game has had a discerning eye at the plate. (The exception here being Vlad, who swings at terrible pitches and somehow hits them out of the park) Hey Gardy, here are the 8 players with the most walks of all time, Barry Bonds Rickey Henderson Babe Ruth Ted Williams Joe Morgan Carl Yastrzemski Mickey Mantle Mel Ott Boy this sounds like a pretty terrible list of players. It is these players ability to quickly tell after a ball leaves the pitcher’s hands of whether or not it will be a strike allows them to swing only at hittable pitches. It seems like Young right now makes up his mind whether or not he is going to swing before the pitch is thrown. The same can be said for Gomez. It would be nice to have a manager who would discourage this rather than support this. It is almost the equivalent of telling pitchers it is OK to walk hitters. This is insane.

  18. IowaWigman April 25th, 2008 12:21 pm

    Regarding the risk of signing Nathan to a deal that will put him at 37 at the end of the contract vs. having Santana under contract until he’s 35, I think there is a lot more risk involved in signing a starting pitcher to that long of a deal than a closer.

    When you are throwing 220 innings a season vs 70 innings, the risk of injury is a lot greater.

  19. sirsean April 25th, 2008 12:29 pm

    The Twins, when teaching their pitchers, stress how important it is not to walk anyone … because when you walk someone they have an extra baserunner, the pitcher gets out of rhythm, and the other team is much more likely to score.

    That assessment is completely correct.

    I find it alternately amusing and depressing that they fail to realize, however, that if the offense could DRAW walks, then they’d get more baserunners, get opposing pitchers out of rhythm, and score more runs.

    A couple years ago some players were actually complaining about that. “If walks are so bad for the pitcher, why don’t they teach us how to get walked?”

  20. Ganderson April 25th, 2008 1:18 pm

    The point about Sox games is well taken- I know- I see/listen to a lot of them- but that leads us to a discussion about ways to move the game along…

  21. sirsean April 25th, 2008 1:28 pm

    Alas, I have no solution to it. It’s not like they break any rules … other than “it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, you douche.” But I don’t think that rule actually made it into the rulebook. More of a guideline, really.

    My solution is to avoid watching the Red Sox. I find I do a lot less shouting angrily at the commentators who don’t seem to realize that there are a whole bunch of teams other than the Red Sox and Yankees. Screaming hysterically isn’t good for the lungs.

    At least the Red Sox aren’t on the West Coast. Then their games would end at like 4 AM. (Maybe that’d be better, since it’d be so much easier to just ignore them.)

  22. Scotty April 25th, 2008 1:40 pm

    But there are such things as rebuilding years, and there is nothing wrong with it. No one comes out and says “yeah, we’re going to suck, ” but teams do admit to rebuilding. But by signing guys like Livan and Monroe, you’re saying that you’ve got a chance to contend. Instead of just letting the young guys have a shot.

    Also, it’s not true that the Twins would have had to pay someone almost as much as Nathan to close. His name is Pat Neshek and makes less than a half million and is still almost two years from arbitration eligibility. It’s just my belief that closers are way overvalued, even more so on a team that’s not going to win more than half their games, and with a manager that under utilizes that pitcher in the first place. If Nathan “saves” 40 games this season in 45 opportunities and the Twins win 81 games, but Closer B “saves” 35 games in the same amount of opportunities and the Twins win 76 games, what’s the difference? There’s no real added value there because there’s no real difference between winning 81 games and 76 games.

    As for my argument for Santana over Nathan, a starting pitcher is WAY more valuable than a relief pitcher, especially a starter who’s one of the best in baseball. Even in a “down” season last year, Santana’s VORP of 57.7 ranked 10th amongst pitchers in all of baseball. Nathan’s VORP of 32.9 ranked 52nd, even less valuable than Carlos Silva. I would take Santana for two years over Nathan for four.

  23. sirsean April 25th, 2008 1:54 pm

    Um, we didn’t have the option of Santana for two years. Just saying.

    Signing guys like Livan and Monroe were partially done for their minimal value on the field, but a big part of getting guys like that is to help mold the young players in the clubhouse. A young, confident up-and-comer is MUCH more likely to listen to what his coaches are telling him if he sees the millionaire veterans who’ve been there for many years doing it without question. And maybe those wily old veterans have some wily old tricks they can pass on to the younger, more talented generation.

    These are things the front office has to consider before signing people. They haven’t done a very good job these past few years, but I’ll take Livan+Monroe before I’ll take Ponson+ROrtiz+Cirillo+RonDL+etc. (The fact that I can use “et cetera” and you all know what I mean says a LOT.)

    Oh yeah … and if you’re valuing Nathan as about half as valuable as Santana, perhaps it’s worth pointing out that $135M is quite a bit more than $45M. The market agrees with you that the top starter is worth a lot more than the top closer. The problem isn’t that the team is stupid and disagrees. It’s that the team just can’t afford that.

  24. Scotty April 25th, 2008 2:04 pm

    Yes, I know this, but I posed the question to make a point about their value. And I realize the difference in contracts, but you said it yourself, it’s because of their value.

    And the present-day value of Santana’s contract is $123.1M because of the $5M being annually deferred. Just saying.

  25. FunBobby April 25th, 2008 2:06 pm

    I’m not sold on Neshek being a closer. I also agree that closers are overvalued to a certain extent. But I also don’t think you can make just any reliever a closer. There is that certain mentality, you are the last line of defense on a pitching staff. Jesse Crain and Juan Rincon were supposed to be great closers. Latroy Hawkins saved a bunch of games in the first half of 2001, then in the second half when ever game mattered in the pennant race he couldn’t get a guy out to save his life. Maybe Neshek has it, maybe he doesn’t, but I don’t think there is a way to have a “trial run”. We all know that bulpen by committee doesn’t work. I think just having that sure thing in Joe Nathan gives everyone in the organization some comfort.

  26. sirsean April 25th, 2008 2:09 pm

    The $5.5M deferment/buyout brings the value of Santana’s contract (without it) to $132M. But that’s not really how you count the dollar value of contracts.

    Of course, that ignores the $25M club option for 2014 (that very well may be below market rate by then) that the Mets will pick up if Santana pitches decently in 2013.

    You can argue the semantics of contracts all you want, but the point is that it’s a lot of money. And the difference between $120M, $130M, and $137M is 100% meaningless to the Twins, since they’re not going that high (or, more importantly, for that many years).

  27. Scotty April 25th, 2008 2:16 pm

    I’m not convinced that we couldn’t afford him. It’s just that we didn’t want to.

    It’s also a lot of money to pay a relief pitcher $11.25M a year.

  28. FunBobby April 25th, 2008 2:18 pm

    The twins have an ogranizational policy not to go over5 years for a starting pitcher. We just have to deal with that and move on.

  29. sirsean April 25th, 2008 2:20 pm

    Well sure, Pohlad could have dug into his coffers and spent the money. He could afford Santana. But this is a mid-level team with a budget. And Santana’s contract is too big for our budget.

    Look at it another way:

    I could afford to buy a nice flashy Mercedes and a big house. I could scrape up the money and the loans to get that done. So could you.

    But I didn’t. Does that mean I just don’t want a flashy Mercedes and a big house? Not necessarily … it means that on my budget, such things are foolish and I can’t realistically afford it.

  30. Scotty April 25th, 2008 2:22 pm

    Well, that seems to fit right along with some of their other organizational policies. But I’ll maintain that I’d rather have Santana than Nathan.

  31. FunBobby April 25th, 2008 2:24 pm

    I’m also convinced that Johan wanted to play in a big east coast market. He was sick of this one horse town. Even if we could and wanted to afford him we probably wouldn’t have been able to keep him.

  32. sirsean April 25th, 2008 2:25 pm

    Look, given the choice between Santana or Nathan, everyone takes Nathan.

    If Santana had taken Nathan’s contract, he’d still be a Twin.

    If Santana had accepted a contract that was 2.5 times as big as Nathan’s he’d still be a Twin.

    The point is it just wasn’t an option.

    I mean, I’d rather have David Wright than Nick Punto … so why didn’t the Twins make that happen? Because it wasn’t an option.

    Nobody disagrees that Santana’s good. Everyone wants him on the team. The team didn’t say to itself “Boy, I’d really rather have Nathan than Santana! Let’s get rid of that loser Johan!” I promise you. They didn’t.

  33. Scotty April 25th, 2008 2:29 pm

    That’s not even a good analogy, because the Twins could realistically afford Santana. And I can’t afford a Mercedes or a big house at any level of reality, because you have to be worth so much to acquire certain things.

    Pohlad happens to be the richest owner in baseball, but he only cares about filling his already rich pockets, instead of maybe turning a profit AND winning. It’s funny how some teams manage to do both. And since you and I are paying for part of his new stadium, it’s probably the least he could do.

  34. sirsean April 25th, 2008 2:36 pm

    It all depends on how the owner views his team. If he views it as a hobby — like the owners of the big-money teams — then yes, they spend their own money. As much of it as they want.

    But if they view it as a business, then they can’t spend more than they take in. And the Twins make a decent amount of revenue … just not an assload.

    So Pohlad could have spent his own money to sign Santana. He could have. Steinbrenner would have. Illitch would have.

    But I have a bit of a problem with the concept that this rich guy “owes us” just by virtue of being rich. (I also have a problem with the fact that we gave him a half a billion dollars in the first place — seriously, anyone can be rich if they get half a billion dollars for free.)

  35. Scotty April 25th, 2008 2:42 pm

    Well, saying that he wanted to play on the East Coast is pretty speculative.

    And you can’t make a blanket statement that “everyone would take Nathan” given the choice. That’s simply not true. If they don’t exercise the option on Nathan this season, they could have easily “afforded” Santana. Even with Nathan on the payroll, they could have made it work.

    What do you mean it wasn’t an option? It WAS an option! They’ve made you believe it wasn’t and you’ve gone right along with it. And with comparing it to getting Wright you’re comparing something that very well COULD have been done to something that’s not even in the realm of possibility.

    And my point has never been that Santana is “good.” Who doesn’t realize that? It’s that he’s multiple times more valuable than Nathan, and worth signing to the contract that he did, much more so than the money that was given Nathan.

  36. Scotty April 25th, 2008 2:52 pm

    I don’t think that guys like Steinbrenner and Wilpon are owning baseball teams for hobbies. They still turn a very nice profit while winning at the same time. Something that’s completely lost on the Pohlad family.

  37. sirsean April 25th, 2008 3:05 pm

    Actually it’s not speculative at all. Santana said, out loud, that he wanted to play in a large Latino market, and his agent told the Twins to take everybody out of play except the East Coast teams. This all happened in December.

    I will also point out that nobody said “Everyone would take Nathan.” I said that everyone would take Santana. In fact, if you go back up and read it again, you’ll find that what I said was that nobody would make that mistake.

    The Yankees turn a small profit, and the reason they do is NOT, in fact, because they sign players to big contracts. It’s because they’re in the biggest market there is. Winning and market-size go hand in hand with profits.

    If you win, you’ll get the revenues possible from your market. The Twins are doing a reasonable job of that, matching their spending with the market size and doing well enough to make a little profit. But I see absolutely zero indication that “spending more money” would guarantee more financial success for the team. What if it’s just not there?

    “Spending less money” is a surefire way to piss people off, especially when those people just wrote you a huge check. Kind of a douchey thing to do. But I’m pretty sure the Twins have people doing market research about this … and the budget (for player salaries) is set at 52% of revenue. That’s just how it is with the Twins, and will be for as long as the Pohlads — who run it like a business — own the team.

    And how many times do I have to repeat myself about this? Santana is multiple times more valuable to a team than Nathan. The market agrees with that. So the market set a price for Santana, and the Twins opted not to pay that price. (Instead, they only offered the largest yearly salary in history for a pitcher. It’s not like they were lowballing him, in the classic sense of the word.) Signing Santana would have raised the payroll pretty significantly, tying a huge percentage into one player who plays every five days and plays a position which has a huge injury risk, and it would have had exactly ZERO positive impact on the team — I say that because Santana would not have pitched better once he got the big contract. He’d be exactly the same pitcher.

    You have to decide if it’s worth it for you. The same with everything. You have obviously decided that Santana is “worth it” at any cost. The Twins, who have both the money and the power, thought long and hard and decided otherwise.

  38. rageon April 25th, 2008 3:15 pm

    Wow, just a whole bunch of craziness around here.

    • 1 – Why is a contract with “built-in raises every year regardless of performance” a per se bad idea? I won’t get a calculator out, but there are circumstances in which a $50M/4 year deal is a “cheaper” deal for a team than a $55M/4 year deal, depending on how it’s structured. If you were a team, wouldn’t you rather pay a player (over 4 years) $1M-$2M-$3M-$44M than $13M-$14M-$14-$14M? Heck, if someone is capable of owning a team, I’m pretty sure they can figure out a way to turn some of that deferred money into an investment, don’t ya think? Baseball has no salary cap, and the Twins aren’t even going to pay a luxury tax, so don’t spend too much time worrying about unearned “raises” already built into contracts.

    • 2 – Let’s run with the idea that Santana is twice as valuable as Nathan, which is more or less where I’d put his value. Why would you expect Santana to cost only double what Nathan does? The value of players is not linear, it’s exponential. Finding those premium players costs something extra, but it also means being able to carry less productive players elsewhere. That Santana and 2 average pitchers are more productive overall than 3 slightly above average pitchers is WORTH SOMETHING SPECIAL.

    • 3 – YES, the Twins CAN tell people they are rebuilding! It’s OK. Like Scotty pointed out, there is nothing to be gained from going from 76 to 81 wins, it’s the jump from 88 to 93 that has value, though that’s not really an option for the Twins this season. So basically, what does adding Monroe, Lamb, etc… do, exactly, for this team, other than make them even more mediocre? And you don’t have to pretend you are going to win all the time. Billy Beane ADMITTED he traded Haren because he didn’t think the A’s would make the playoffs either with or without him. And yes, he signed Thomas, which would seem to indicate that the A’s are trying to make a run afterall. But the difference is the A’s are paying him the freaking minimum, not 4 million.

  39. rageon April 25th, 2008 3:20 pm

    You’re right, signing Santana wouldn’t have had a positive impact on the team. But it sure as hell will have a big ass negative impact on the team. You’re splitting hairs. Poorly.

  40. sirsean April 25th, 2008 3:25 pm

    1) I can think of a circumstance where 4/$50M is less than 4/$55M too. My answer is “always.”

    1.5) I would absolutely HATE a 1-2-3-44 structure on that deal. That means that in that 4th year, you’ve got to cut half your team just to make budget, or assume that this guy is going to be 10x better just because he’s got a lot more money (the opposite is usually true). The reason I don’t like the automatic-raise contracts is that your team payroll increases every year even if you don’t make any moves and it contributes to rampant salary inflation — I have no problem with A-Rod making $300M, or Johan making $130M, or Mauer making $32M. What I DO have a problem with is that we’ll be paying Mauer $11M in a couple years even though he probably won’t actually be worth that much.

    2) I agree with that.

    3) What Monroe gets you is a bench bat. What Lamb gets you is some more time to develop in the minors for a couple guys. What Livan gets you is flexibility with the rotation and more time to develop some young guys. A lot of these guys are built on confidence, and being overmatched at a young age is NOT going to help them.

    Payroll-wise, and I’ve said this before, I just don’t like the idea of bumping up the payroll significantly just to spin the wheels and not improve. It’s more than possible that despite spending almost $20M less this year, the team’s record will be within a couple games of last year’s and we’ll be better positioned for the future.

    It’s more like “retooling” than “rebuilding.”

  41. Scotty April 25th, 2008 3:30 pm

    “Look, given the choice between Santana or Nathan, everyone takes Nathan.”

    That’s exactly what you said. First line of five posts up. Maybe you meant to say everyone takes Santana.

    And you haven’t really been arguing that Santana is a lot more valuable than Nathan, I have. Read your previous posts. You don’t say that anywhere.

    “Signing Santana would have raised the payroll pretty significantly, tying a huge percentage into one player who plays every five days and plays a position which has a huge injury risk, and it would have had exactly ZERO positive impact on the team — I say that because Santana would not have pitched better once he got the big contract. He’d be exactly the same pitcher.”

    Can’t the exact same argument be made against Nathan? His salary is taking up one-fifth of the payroll this year, and a significant portion of it for the next three seasons. He’s also a guy that will pitch about a third less innings than Santana. And how can you say that Santana would have zero positive impact on the team? Zero? Think about that. He’d be the best player on the team even considering the fact that he only plays once every five days. And to say there’s absolutely no way he could pitch better just isn’t true. He doesn’t sell more jerseys than Nathan? Sell more tickets than Nathan?

    The fact that the Twins chose Nathan over Santana (which is what they did), and the fact that you guys agree with it is absolutely absurd.

  42. Scotty April 25th, 2008 3:35 pm

    But like I’ve said about Monroe, why are you paying someone nearly $4 million to sit on the bench when you’re operating on a $56 million payroll. That is absolute idiocy defined.

  43. sirsean April 25th, 2008 3:37 pm

    Ah. I even searched for that to see if I accidentally typed “Nathan” when I meant “Santana” and I didn’t find that. Oops.

    I’m not going to go back and quote the dozen times I’ve said that Santana’s more valuable than Nathan. It seems pointless.

    And yes, the same argument can be made about Nathan. And both contracts were market value for their skills. But there’s one major difference: The Twins could afford Nathan’s contract, and he didn’t demand an absurdly long deal that makes it extremely unlikely that it comes out well for the team in the end. Santana was out of the price range and wanted too many years.

    Do you really think the difference between having Santana and not having Santana is worth $20M in jersey sales? In Minnesota? He’s worth that if you’re in a huge market with a huge fanbase. We don’t have that.

    The fact that you guys are so willing to spend hundreds of millions of someone else’s dollars is pretty absurd. And that you seem to think that everyone in the Twins organization is a complete idiot is, too.

    Me, I think you’ve been reading too much Reusse. He’s rubbing off on you.

    Homer Simpson, though, would probably agree. “That’s why everybody does everything. Because they’re STUPID!”

  44. FunBobby April 25th, 2008 3:43 pm

    I still believe we did not choose Nathan over Santana. Johan didn’t want to stay here, he wanted to play in a large market. Which is fine. To each his own. His per year salary for the Mets is roughly what our last ditch effort offering was. So, keeping him wasn’t an option, at least not long term. Sure, we could have kept him for 2007, and hope he changed his mind about staying. That is too much risk for me.

    Now, can we get back to the topic of the twins organizational policy on developing hitters? Not Carl Pohlad is a cheap SOB who won’t buy me good players?

  45. Scotty April 25th, 2008 3:45 pm

    Well, if you do search for it you won’t find it.

    Okay, I guess if you’ve been brainwashed to think the Twins couldn’t “afford” Santana, then go ahead. And an additional five years isn’t absurdly long. And I didn’t say that Santana is worth $20M in jersey sales, but he is worth more overall than Nathan, in many aspects.

    The fact that you agree to waste $9 million on Craig Monroe and Livan Hernandez is moronic.

    And I don’t read the Strib, and especially not Reusse.

    Also, I don’t think everyone in the Twins’ organization is an idiot, but there is some obvious incompetence.

  46. Ganderson April 26th, 2008 8:10 am

    The ‘marketing of the team’ issue is one that’s come up peripherally here; and I think those of us who post on these websites tend (IMHO) to not have a feeling for that aspect of running a franchise. I know that I see the Twins in person about 10 or so times per year- since I don’t live in the Twin Cities it’s usually a couple times at the Dome and mostly in other venues- How many games do the rest of you see?- I know that the teams’ revenue stream is more than tix sales; it seems to me though that the really successful teams are ones that get the ‘pink hats’ and the band-wagonners to go to the park. I’ve lived in MA for almost 20 years- when I first moved here the Sox were a very successful club on the field, and I’m sure they made money, but at that time it was still possible to make a game day decision to go to Fenway. Now you can’t.(The Fenway experience is HIGHLY overrated BTW). There are more baseball fans in New England than the Upper Midwest, I guess but the vast majority here are Sox fans, not baseball fans. The marketing of the Sox is a great success story, made easier by two world championships to be sure, but a success nonetheless. Could the Twins do the same? My feeling the marketing guys do OK, and the baseball guys have done better of late- remember the 90’s? To bring this around to the discussion at hand, perhaps the Twins felt that they afford (marketing wise) to lose two of the Nathan, Santana, Hunter troika, but not all three- Hunter I won’t miss at all, and while my instinct is to wish that something better came back in return for Santana- we have no way of knowing what was really on the table- I was looking forward to seeing Ellsbury in center, but perhaps that was never a realistic offer. (Whew- I got carried away, I guess, sorry)

  47. sirsean April 26th, 2008 9:39 am

    I certainly got a little carried away yesterday (and made a couple of mistakes to remind me that I shouldn’t try to do that at work).

    I think you’re spot on about the “pink hat” phenomenon and that being what makes a team the most money. There’s only so much money you can extract from your hardcore fanbase, but if you can get a big bandwagon crowd, the sky’s the limit.

    But I don’t think the Nathan signing was a marketing decision. A closer isn’t as marketable as a starting pitcher or a position player. I think it was a baseball decision, based on an assessment of our bullpen and the fact that Nathan was the only one of the three who was actually willing to negotiate with the team and sign a deal that was at least a little team-friendly.

    (I’m going to cut this post “short” now, and I’m going to work a little harder not to get so heated up. Thanks for showing up, everyone!)

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