Friday, May 4, 2012

Minnesota Twins Talent Drain

The Minnesota Twins have the worse record in baseball. On May 2, 2012 they were no-hit. The Twins have only one power hitter (Josh Willingham), and two other above average major league hitters (Joe Mauer & Denard Span). Former superstar Justin Morneau is a shell of himself and probably should retire, but will likely hang on till his contract expires at the end of next year. The rest of the Twins hitters are below average role players. The best minor league talent is in Single A ball, not Triple A ball.

The starting pitching is even worse. Carl Pavano is fading. Francisco Liriano is a total mess. Liam Hendriks is an inexperienced pitcher in need of patience from a team with seemingly none. Nick Blackburn and Jason Marquis are end of the rotation starters on a team filled with such pitchers. There are no starting pitchers in Twins minor league system worthy of promotion.

So basically the Twins are a bad team with no immediate help available in the minors. The Twins are in need of a rebuilding job. They should trade Pavano, Marquis, Matt Capps, Ryan Doumit, and Jamey Carroll for prospects. However, I think they will hang on to these guys hoping for a turnaround that is likely not coming.

Many Twins fan might be wondering how a team that had been so successful from 2002 – 2010 could fall apart so quickly. The answer is simple – former GM Bill Smith ruined the team with terrible trades and poor decisions on which free agents to retain. Look below at who Smith traded during his reign as GM.

  • Johan Santana – Best pitcher in baseball from 2004-2007
  • Jason Bartlett - Starting shortstop who would become an All-Star
  • Matt Garza – A promising pitcher who has developed into a top of the rotation starter
  • J.J. Hardy – A starting shortstop and former All-Star
  • Wilson Ramos – A well-thought of young starting catcher
  • Carlos Gomez – A gifted defensive outfielder who cannot hit
  • Delmon Young – A once highly thought of outfield who has had more bad than good
  • Jim Thome – Future Hall of Famer at the tail end of his career but still productive
  • Kevin Slowey – End of the rotation starting pitcher

In exchange for all the above talent, the Twins have the remaining players

  • Matt Capps – An erratic closer hated by the Twins fan base
  • Deolis Guerra – A rising minor league reliever with some upside
  • Lester Oliveros – A minor league reliever with a good fastball and bad control
  • Brett Jacobson – A minor league reliever with no real upside
  • Daniel Turpin – A minor league reliever with little future

Add in that Smith and the Twins ownership allowed top flight talents Torii Hunter, Orlando Hudson, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Jose Mijares, and Nick Punto leave via free agency when they could have traded for prospects, and you see the problem.

Some folks might point out that some of the free agency that left brought back compensatory draft picks. Those picks are below:

For Hunter the Twins got the following picks (Carlos Gutierrez – a reliever stuck at AAA who is now hurt, and Shooter Hunt – a reliever with major control problems who is no longer in the Twins system).

For Guerrier and Crain the Twins got 3rd baseman Travis Harrison and starting pitcher Hudson Boyd, both of whom are about to start their first year in the Twins system.

The Twins have some picks for Cuddyer and Kubel in this year’s draft, but no one is holding their breath the Twins will get anyone worthwhile.

The Twins have lost a lot of good major league talent and gotten little back in return. The Twins supposed brilliance at developing their own talent is a more myth than reality. Like many teams, the Twins hit a good run of success, and now that run is at an end.

Unlike the New York Yankees the Twins cannot buy their way into contention, they have to rebuild through minor league player development. Things are going to get ugly this year, but maybe with some of those high draft picks that come with finishing at the bottom of the standings the Twins can get some young talent that can be future stars. At least that’s the hope, and in baseball hope springs eternal.