Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Falvey Has To Fix A Massive Minnesota Flaw
As the Cubs reached the World Series this season, I've thought back to this piece I wrote in June about where the Twins got off the path Chicago has been on. Both teams found themselves in similar situations, and while the Cubs operate with bigger budgets, it's the Twins that have not done much to stack the deck in their favor.
Prior to their World Series appearance, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball looked at seven moves that made the Cubs winners. What's of note, is that not a single one of these seven moves includes a free agent acquisition. Of the Cubs most important and best decisions, you'll find a path littered with key deals and well scouted draft picks.
Sure, the Twins have plenty to fix when it comes to their draft. Tyler Jay could turn around to be a reliever, Kohl Stewart has regressed, and Nick Gordon may not stick at shortstop. All that said though, it's on the trade front that the Twins have done absolutely nothing. Looking back, there's very few highlights when it comes to swaps made by the Twins in recent memory.
Starting in 2010, there's one of the worst trades the Twins have made in franchise history. Wilson Ramos was a 22 year old top 100 prospect for Minnesota. He was behind Joe Mauer, but sending him to the Washington Nationals for Matt Capps seemed foolish. Relievers are fickle, and even an elite closer (which Capps was not), should cause some pause on the trade market. Capps saved just 45 games over parts of three seasons with the Twins. Ramos has gone on to be (when healthy) one of the best two way catchers in the big leagues.
Fast forward to 2012, and we watched as Ryan decided centerfield was ready for Aaron Hicks. First, Denard Span was sent to the Nationals for top pitching prospect Alex Meyer. Then a week later, Ben Revere was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies for Vance Worley and Trevor May. I'll touch more on Meyer later on, but the Phillies deal was always about May. Worley pitched only 48.2 innings with the Twins, and has become a bullpen piece that bounces around since. Trevor May remains with Minnesota, and it's time he contribute in a more drastic way. Getting him back into the rotation could help to unlock that.
2013 wasn't a big year for the Twins and moving pieces. They sent Ryan Doumit to the Atlanta Braves for Sean Gilmartin, but neither player contributed a whole lot. Gilmartin went to the Mets eventually in the Rule 5 Draft, and Doumit's career came to an end due to his concussion issues.
If 2013 was quiet, then 2014 was a fire sale for Minnesota. After making an odd decision to sign him, the Twins dealt Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners for Stephen Pryor. Pryor never pitched for the Twins failing to impress at Triple-A while remaining injured. Morales was terrible with Seattle, but won a World Series and a Silver Slugger in 2015 with the Royals.
Staying in 2014, Minnesota made one of the deals in recent memory the organization can hang their hat on. Sam Fuld was signed after the Athletics DFA'd him, and Terry Ryan flipped him back to Oakland for major league starting pitcher, Tommy Milone. Neither player had a ton of upside, but getting big league pitching for a castoff was a nice win., Kevin Correia was given away to the Dodgers in August of 2014, and Josh Willingham was sent to the Royals for Jason Adam. Minnesota had hung onto Willingham too long, and he was nothing like the player that he was a year prior.
Over the winter prior to the 2016 season, Minnesota swapped depth catcher Chris Herrmann for Daniel Palka of the Diamondbacks. Herrmann had a nice 2016, but Palka's power potential alone makes him more intriguing than Chris would have ever been for Minnesota.
At the deadline, Minnesota made moves to acquire Pat Light for Fernando Abad, and somehow got a top 100 prospect in Adalberto Mejia for the mirage that was Eduardo Nunez's season. The big one to cap it off was the swap of Ricky Nolasco's ugly contract and Alex Meyer, for Hector Santiago and Alan Busenitz. Mejia looks like a clear win for Minnesota, but even the ridding of Nolasco's deal could come back to bite the organization if Meyer's early returns in LA are to be trusted.
While there's some up and down, the reality is that the Twins have been on the bad side of trades far too often in recent memory. When they make moves, it generally doesn't work out in their favor. There's also the reality that they just simply haven't made enough quality deals. While teams like the Cubs give from positions of strength to get better, Minnesota has combined drafting poorly, and scouting other organizations less than ideally when it comes to acquiring talent.
Fortunately for Minnesota, it appears new Baseball Operations President, Derek Falvey should have some expertise here. He's helped to land Cleveland some really nice pieces, and doing so for the Twins would be putting the organization's best foot forward.