Does the Twins Front Office kill your Offseason Optimism?

Ok, this is now the third rewrite of this post because I’m so distracted/lazy/busy/otherwise occupied that every time I’m about ready to put it up, the Twins front office goes and does something else that changes (AND ADDS TO) at least part of what I had to say.  So… if there are parts that are confusing, just keep all that in mind.

The original beginning of this post covered the seemingly rare ability our team management has to keep whatever discussions they are having so quiet and under the radar that there is virtually no discussion of it – which is a GREAT aggravation to fans who are assembling/disassembling/reassembling the 2011 roster in hopes of coming up with that perfect proposal for Bill Smith if only he would listen to us bloggers.  In fact, some fans mistake that discretion for lack of activity.  Do I know for certain that discussions are actually taking place?  Well, no, not until they do something like sign a couple contracts out of the blue.  Do I prefer to choose the optimistic viewpoint that Smith likes his job and isn’t sitting on his thumbs wondering why no one is calling him? Yes, yes I do.  I’m not sure where the overreaction to silence comes from in the blogging/sports fan community.  But then again, I have never known why there is so much overreaction to any given activity in the fan base.  It’s almost as if it’s an addiction to the drama.  The Twins fan/blogosphere is like an odd combination of American Idol+Twilight+WWE. (Besides, I’m sure that Simon Cowell is already a vampire, right?)

Of course, that’s all setup for this optimist to say I’m still looking forward to the season! Do I agree with all the moves that the team has made this offseason?  Not even close.  It’s about 50% for the moves I like vs the ones that puzzle or annoy me.  It’s hard to settle down my feelings in a general way without covering specifics for a few of them.

So, my offseason commentary will continue with the most recent activity and move backwards:

A) Pavano’s contract is exciting for me.  They stuck to their guns when a talented pitcher wanted to go three years.  It’s my biggest pet peeve that these contract extensions are just getting ridiculous.  This game is just too unpredictable to sustain that level of commitment.  And they didn’t overpay either which leads me to believe that Carl Pavano and his family actually really liked it here and wanted to come back.  I’m sure that he didn’t give the Twins a discount per se but I think he was ready to take whatever they were willing to give (within reasonable negotiations of course).  I like having him in our rotation.  Of course, that gives us 6 starting pitchers.  Yet another calculation that has some fans up in arms.  Is there a trade in the works? Who should go? Honestly? I don’t think there is going to be a trade. I’m not worried that any of my favorite arms are going to be gone (unlike my favorite fielders *sigh*). I am simply looking forward to spring training to see what shakes out. It seems more likely given the emptiness of our bullpen, that whoever doesn’t make the starting rotation in April, will occupy the BP until the inevitable bump in the road for one of the lead-off guys which will be very handy to have an experienced starter ready to step into the spot.  Whoever that pitcher ends up being is probably less happy with that option than I am.

B) Matt Capps being signed is far less interesting for me.  I know this may be hard to believe but I disagree with JimCrikket and his premise that Capps is the new Punto. Maybe I’m projecting my own feelings out there on other folk but this is my perception.  The feelings about Capps just aren’t strong enough about him personally to equate to the love/hate extremes Punto engenders. And for the record, it has NOTHING to do with Ramos. I still haven’t figured out what it is about Capps that people like. There’s just nothing there for me. Maybe it is my love of Joe Nathan and the holdover disappointment that Capps just isn’t it him. But you know, I didn’t have that reaction with any of the other temporary closers we had in Nathan’s place. I actually grew to like Rauch a lot despite his somewhat rocky second half. So, I don’t really think it’s the disappointment factor for me entirely.

I propose that Matt Capps is actually the new Delmon Young. I think he has a LOT of talent but doesn’t employ it consistently enough to give fans confidence in him when he walks out onto the grass. Those who want to see the talent develop and feel like the potential is just too high to let go (especially given Nathan’s uncertainty) are excited by this signing… I’m just not one of them. I don’t despise Capps, that would imply a level of investment that I just haven’t made with him – again much like Delmon. I just haven’t felt the ‘chemistry’ yet. His record is what it is and he could get better or worse – stats just don’t have much to do with it at this point in my book. The one thing I keep reminding myself is that, again like Delmon, he’s a much younger guy than he looks when he’s out there. He’s only 26 and that supposedly gives him time to continue to improve. I hope he does. I wish him well and would love to see him succeed – again like Delmon – I just think we’re paying him too much for I feel is at best a ‘maybe’.

C) THOME! Ok, I really like this signing and it does make me feel better about the offseason. Do I think there were other DH’s out there we could have signed that would have had fun hitting in TF? Yep.. and I could have accepted Vlad (he still scares me at the plate) or even Thames in that role but I LIKE Thome and I think he was a natural fit here and still has the ability to play for what we need in that spot. Like Pavano, I think he feels the same way and hearing that he received legitimately good offers from other GOOD teams but chose to stay here for less tells me that he has a lot of faith in what this team can do in 2011. I choose to see that as optimism.

As for the rest of the moves made this offseason (excluding the outlier event of Nishioka), I have been disappointed in the actions. I thought they should have kept more of our bullpen intact and we have a seriously depleted pen now. I would have liked to see us keep Guerrier and possible Rauch but obviously my opinion carries little weight. I’m downright depressed that Hardy is gone, and I’m not sure I will know what to do with a bench with no Punto.  But here’s the thing, I don’t think I need to agree with the moves the Front Office makes in order for me to believe they are actually trying to do what they believe is best for the team. Even when I disagree, I can trust the motive. The track record for this team’s success isn’t when they have miraculous signings or when they got that perfectly right player over the offseason. This team succeeds when they take whoever they have (or have left) and go out and play with everything they have. It’s the character of the guys in the locker room that will or won’t send us to the postseason again.  Whether it happens during Spring Training or August, they rally together and fill the holes.  That attitude is more important to the success of the team and to this fan than any single contract’s consequence.

*Per MLB Trade Rumors: Nick Punto is going to the Cardinals. *sigh* I’m going to miss him for all the flak he got around here.  Good Luck Nicky!  http://bit.ly/e1wGXg

For this optimist, I’m taking it all in stride and looking forward to Spring Training and really curious and excited to see where the 2011 season takes the MN Twins!

16 thoughts on “Does the Twins Front Office kill your Offseason Optimism?

  1. “…I have never known why there is so much overreaction to any given activity in the fan base. It’s almost as if it’s an addiction to the drama.”

    Overreact? Us? NEVER!

    As for being addicted to the drama, I suppose I have to plead guildy (or at least nolo contendere) to that, but I’m pretty sure I have a lot of company in that regard! As a matter of fact, I seem to recall a friend of mine admitting to such an addiction last offseason. I wonder whatever happened to her. :)

    http://knuckleballsblog.com/2010/03/rumor-addict/

  2. ah.. remember I’m very specific with my word choices… I’m addicted to the RUMOR MILL not the drama. ;)

    I can readily admit that I’m a “news addict” in other arenas as well so it shouldn’t surprise me that I’m always haunting twitter and our beat writers for anything and everything. You would think that would make me one of the worst reactors to the silence of the front office but I guess I LIKE that they aren’t blabber mouths for the most part and other than the “Pavano deal coming soon” garbage that went on for two weeks, the only news we get is, for the most part, real news. I think that is a positive thing.

  3. I’m willing to grudgingly agree that it would be counter-productive for Smith to leak it that he and his crew were trying to trade Kubel for a righthanded hitting OF who plays above-average defense, even if that were true. I suppose the potential damage to Jason’s morale, the clubhouse chemistry and the team’s sale of Kubel jerseys far outweighs the benefits of proving how smart I was in my “blueprint” post.

    But Smith coulda dropped me a private email… something like, “You hit it right on the nose that we need better OF defense and we’ve been trying to get someone to take Kubel, but just haven’t gotten any takers so we went with Plan B and tried to upgrade our middle infield speed. And by the way, I’m totally on board with the Zack Greinke plan you posted on your blog, but that dipsh_t GM in KC wouldn’t even return my calls! Please keep this between the two of us (you know how sensitive Kubel can get), but keep up the good work, Crik… and if you ever want a paying job that takes advantage of your baseball genius, let me know! – Billy” I’d have kept quiet about it! It would have been enough just to know that he and I both knew I was right.

    I wonder, though, how much of the lack of news is due to the tightly run Twins ship and how much is due to the less competitive nature of the Minnesota media (at least compared to NYC media). Maybe a bit of both?

    The whole Soriano deal with the Yankees is a perfect example. So many quotes from “senior executives in the organization” telling reporters that the Steinbrenners overruled GM Brian Cashman on that deal. Come on… the only “senior executvies” in the room were either their President (Levine) or someone named Steinbrenner. Does anyone not know where those stories came from? At least Cashman had the balls to respond for attribution.

    I laughed just trying to imagine a story in the Strib to the effect of, “According to a senior Twins executive, Bill Smith preferred to get the two compensatory draft picks that would come with another team signing Carl Pavano and felt the other Twins starting pitchers deserved opportunities to begin the season in the rotation, but he was overruled by the Pohlad brothers, specifically Jim Pohlad, who insisted on paying whatever it took to bring back Pavano.” Then seeing something in the PiPress the next day quoting Smith as saying, “I think the Pohlads were concerned about the perception of the fan base that nothing was being done to improve the team.” I have to admit, it’s been a lot more entertaining reading about the Yankees than the Twins this offseason.

  4. I admire the way the Twins handle negotiations and player targeting. They definitely get the “closed mouth” award — not an unplanned leak to be found. It is a direct contrast to some other teams — I was absolutely appalled by the way the Yankees tried to negotiation with Jeter through the press.

    As for the off-season, I’m a bit ambivalent. I really didn’t expect anything else given the built-in payroll commitments. I was generally against Pavano because I thought he would eat up too many future resources but it is hard to argue with $16.5/million for 2 years. I was pleased to see the Casilla/Nishioka experiment just because it looks like they are trying to add a “speed” dimension back to this team. On the other hand, I’m not convinced the experiment will work (but it should be interesting).

    This team has a lot of question marks but I think that is when Gardenhire and the Twins do best — they seem to be able to handle problems and “underdog” status much better than favored status (playoff debacles aside). I look for them to compete for the crown in the Central — and just hope that there is still some payroll flexibility for them to add some pieces that might help them avert another playoff disaster.

  5. Just noticed your “update” about Punto signing with the Cardinals, Babs… I’ll miss him, too, but I think he could have some success in the NL with St. Louis. At least my mother, the Cardinals fan, can root for him. I’ll have to look in on him from time to time, since we do get a fair number of Cards games televised on our cable system in CR.

  6. Psh, addicted to drama? Me? NEVER.

    Just because you aren’t as attached to the starting rotation as the rest of us doesn’t mean we’re wrong. Just scared for our boys. (Figuratively. I do not in fact have boys, contrary to some people’s beliefs.)

    I do like the Thome signing, and I agree with you that Capps is totally the new Delmon Young. Capps steps on the field and I pour another drink, especially after watching him blow a couple of nice leads.

  7. Hey now…everyone else enjoys it when Capps pitches, because I pour drinks for them too. Sometimes my whole row depending on how I feel.

  8. Capps is only 26? Then I’d like to add one more reason he’s the new Delmon: I’m sure I’m not the only one who would breathe a sigh of relief if he came into camp 30 pounds lighter and showing some muscle, like a certain Boyfriend of mine did last year.

  9. oh surrrrre kirsten. Pretty safe offering to buy your row a drink when the closer enters the game. After all, he comes in for the 9th inning and they shut down alcohol sales after the 7th, right? :)

    Not sure about wanting Capps to lose weight, lisa… I’d have to talk to one of my weight-training friends to make sure it could be done without losing any mph off his fastball. After all, we won’t be asking Matt to run like we do DY!

  10. Some of us bring our own alcohol to the games. It’s easy, just have a giant bag, all your friends’ stuff in it, and flirt with the security guard. It solves the problem of going thirsty those last two innings ;)

  11. Pretty sure the “flirt with the security guard” thing wouldn’t work as well for me., kirsten At least not on the same guard that it works for you.

  12. I’m not sure I want clubhouse access. There’s part of me that’s afraid that if the bullpen goes downhill, Gardy might look around the clubhouse and tell me to put on a uniform. Trust me, none of us want me and the rotator cuff I blew out pitching over a decade ago to get that kind of call.

    Now… season Legends Club access? I’ll listen!

  13. There are a few female security people, I just don’t go and see them because it wouldn’t do me any good.

    I can obtain access to the Legends Club if I’m not on anyone’s shit list at the moment, so talk to me if you’re going to be in town at some point, JC.