Fire Gardy

Mismanaging games since 2002

The Indians Have Lost Their Sense of Identity

Remember Jason Tyner? When the Twins had finally had enough of his “perfect Twin” hitting line,* they got rid of him. Since he, of course, sucked … he couldn’t find anyone willing to give him another job.** Then the Indians signed him to a minor league deal and assigned him to their AAA team.

* For newer readers of Fire Gardy, that’s .300/.300/.300 — ie, “they’re a .300 hitter!” but with no plate discipline and no power.

The Indians were roundly praised for the move, and everyone said it demonstrated that the Indians valued more than just winning at the major league level — they’d signed Tyner solely to help their minor league team win, to plug an obvious hole on the AAA club’s roster. That this demonstrated a devotion to winning on an organization-wide level.

Well, they’ve continued along the same path.

The Indians have signed former Twins Brian Buscher, Luis Rodriguez, and Mike Gosling (who was a minor leaguer), all to minor league deals.

Maybe this is more of what they were lauded for with the Tyner move, and they’re filling holes on the AAA club so their players “get used to winning” while they’re in the minors. (The Twins organization does the same thing with their Elizabethton Twins, constantly bragging about the competitiveness of that short-season rookie league team, as if anyone in the world cares.)

Maybe, though, it indicates something more … like the fact that the Indians’ farm system is weak enough that Buscher/L-Rod/Gosling can actually fill holes for them at the AAA level. As you can probably guess, I don’t think these are particularly strong baseball moves.

But if you want to know my real opinion, I think these moves truly are a continuation of the original Tyner move. And it’s not something to be praised.

The Indians, like the Twins, are a small/mid market franchise, with a bottom-third payroll. They, like the Twins, have done a great job of collecting top shelf talent despite lacking the resources it normally takes to do that. For years, the Indians have been one of the model franchises — in fact, I think they’ve done a better job than the Twins have of putting talent on the field.

And yet, the Twins have proved far more successful in this decade. The Indians are surely doing plenty of soul-searching trying to determine why. Maybe Eric Wedge was the reason — so he’s gone. Maybe the Twins have just been doing a better job of filling out the fringes of the roster with “winners,” guys like Tyner, Buscher, and Rodriguez that the manager can trust* with the game on the line.

* Inexplicably, mind you.

I think these moves show that the Indians have lost their sense of direction, or perhaps their sense of identity as a franchise. And while I think that sucks for them … it means that the Twins will probably continue to do (at least) slightly better than “contend” in the division for the foreseeable future.

**Oh … and has anyone else noticed that basically every player the Twins let go can’t find another major league job? That they all go to Japan or struggle to get a minor league deal? What does that say about the organization’s roster construction and player valuation? Something … bad, probably.


7 Comments so far

  1. FunBobby December 2nd, 2009 7:42 pm

    I’m sure nobody would hire Nick Punto. Or Matt Tolbert. That is why they will be Twins for life. Gardy loves them, but knows nobody else would want them, so we will keep them and suffer before those two face the humiliation of a minor league contract.

  2. sirsean December 2nd, 2009 7:48 pm

    You know the Twins are improving when those are close to the only two guys on the roster who wouldn’t be able to play on any other team. (Though Delmon is working his way there, and I’m sure we can find some bullpen guys that nobody would want if people didn’t still believe in the magic of “a change of scenery” and randomness for relievers.)

    But … I don’t know. I do feel like someone else would give Punto a shot if we let him go right now.

  3. FunBobby December 2nd, 2009 7:55 pm

    But would anyone else gift wrap him a starting spot?

  4. sirsean December 2nd, 2009 8:00 pm

    Heh. That I seriously doubt.

  5. joe December 3rd, 2009 9:45 am

    Tyner was a 5th outfielder who was around because he could play all outfield positions.

    Tolbert isn’t a starter either. He was between AAA and the majors last year. And Punto had other teams after him last winter. He was one of the more attractive free agent MI options.

  6. Ragstoriches December 3rd, 2009 3:28 pm

    “He was one of the more attractive free agent MI options.”

    Ha! Yeah the St. Paul Saints were looking for a 2B.

    Seriously, who are these “other teams”? You must mean Japan or Double A.

  7. sirsean December 3rd, 2009 3:42 pm

    The Phillies were negotiating with Punto, but either the Twins offered more money or he wanted to stay with the Twins (possibly because he was much more likely to get regular playing time if he weren’t on a team with Rollins and Utley).

    I don’t know if there were other teams involved — but it’s pretty unlikely that the Twins would have been forced to pay him $8M if there were no other teams showing interest.

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